Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The truth about Jisr Ashoughour

Syrian troops take to the hills of Jisr Ashoughour not to pursue armed gangs, but to prevent a stream of refugees from crossing the border into Turkey.

Monday June 13, 2011

Atef Najib, maternal cousin of Bashar Al-Assads banned from leaving country, a largely hollow gesture as far as the protesters are concerned… Tanks and army troops enter Alboukamal, a small city in Eastern Syria on the border with Iraq… Turkish sources say over 7,000 Syrian refugees have so far entered their territories… International media finally begin to get a clearer grasp of the so-called “mutiny” in Jisr Ashoughour as residents continue to take to the hills, pursued by Assadist army troops… In statements published by local newspapers, Bashar Al-Assad says he does not blame demonstrators rather, he blames only those who take and upload videos of the demonstrations!!!...  

“The Syrian government's claim that 120 soldiers were murdered by "armed gangs" is rapidly being exposed as a cover story for its own murder of soldiers who disobeyed orders to shoot civilian demonstrators. Refugee after refugee has testified about soldiers being shot by other soldiers or by plainclothes members of the security forces.”
"They killed my uncle's son and I helped lift several dead bodies into cars with my own hands. There is a war going on in Syria against the people."
The actual number of soldiers who have flipped to the opposition is extremely limited and what forces do exist are, by their own admission, incapable of mounting a serious resistance to Assad’s death squads.
More than 10,000 Syrians have fled the violent repression of opposition led by President Bashar al-Assad and his brother, Maher, the United Nations said. But many more are playing a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with the armies on both sides of the border as they seek refuge as well as food and supplies for their families.
The Arab League has been largely reticent on the situation in Syria, which unlike Egypt and key Gulf Arab states is allied with non-Arab Iran. Moussa, who steps down this year, said Arab states were trying to agree on a common position regarding Syria. "Continuation of the status quo could lead to what may not be desired ... for Syria," he said, without elaborating.
Confident they have nine votes on the 15 member Security Council they are now focusing, with US support, on lobbying Brazil, South Africa and India who have also expressed reservations.

Current official figures regarding the campaign in Jisr Ashoughour give the lie to earlier official reports about the size of the alleged mutiny-cum-rebellion-cum-insurrection-salafist take over. Let assume all these reports are true (take a sack-full of salt to make it happen): there was a mass grave containing 16 bodies belonging to security officers, “many” of rebels were captured, “2” were killed, 1 “confessed” his crimes on Syrian TV, 1 soldier died and 4 others were wounded during the operation. Contrast these figures with earlier reports of 40, no 80, no 120 security officers killed (official figures kept jumping upward from one hour to the next until they settled on 120). Now tell me you don’t feel stupid for relying on official reports, if you were one of those who did!

It’s not only a question where gang members went, because we know there never were any armed gangs, and it’s not question of who killed the 120 security officers, because the numbers are simply fictitious. The truth is simple: there were some defections, and there was a brief clash between the few defectors and the army of loyalists, one that proved more deadly to the defectors than to the loyalists. But the scale of what happened was nowhere near a mutiny, nor was it a battle against defectors or gangs, but a terror campaign against an unarmed civilian population whose basic demands for freedom and justice remain an anathema to the Assads and their loyalists.

But don’t take my word for it. Take it straight from the horse’s mouth: the leader of the “insurrection” himself whose statements were so exaggerated by some experts and journalists as to make them honorary members of the Assadist media.

Interview on Al-Jazeerah with the defecting Colonel Hussain Harmoush
Colonel Harmoush repeatedly said that his hastily put-together unit of Free officers is lightly armed and has not offered any direct resistance to Assads’ armies, because it’s not equipped for such combat. Rather, the purpose of the unit, he said, was simply to delay the advance of Assad armies to give more time to local residents to go to the border with Turkey. His unit, he assures, had only minor skirmishes with the Assad loyalists as his troops number no more than 100 at best, including only one ranking officer besides himself. But, he said, he was promised that 200 more troops will be joining him soon, including 4 ranking officers. Seeing that this interview was made before Assad troops poured into Jisr Ashoughour and reestablished their control there on Sunday, it seems the promise was never fulfilled.

So, this is the size of the mutinous army: 100 lightly armed soldiers, with little or no access to supplies and munitions. In Deraa, the number of defectors who clashed with the 4th Division was put at 250 by most eyewitness accounts. Such facts and numbers do not a mutiny make. Still, this testimony seems to be the basis for all reports of munity we keep getting.

For a true picture of what actually happened and is happening in Jisr Ashoughour, please read as well the following two reports by brave Time’s correspondent Rania Abouzeid – she’s been there!

Although, Rania still accepts the figure of 120 dead security officers without questioning, the whole affair becomes insignificant once you begin reading eyewitness accounts of what took place, and then go through her interview with Colonel Harmoush himself, “The Soldier Who Gave Up on Assad to Protect Syria's People”:

Abu Taha remembers helicopters roaring overhead last Sunday as he scrambled to save the "hundreds" of wounded he saw mowed down in Jisr al-Shughour's public garden. He says up to 10,000 people were gathered in the space, after burying a young man, Basil al-Masry, who was killed by security forces the day before. "The garden was packed, we were shoulder to shoulder. Then the bullets started raining down on people from all of the government buildings around the garden," Abu Taha told TIME from his hospital bed in Antakya. "They were shooting from helicopters, using machine guns with 14.5 caliber bullets. Do you know what a bullet like that does to a human body?" Abu Taha does. A day earlier, he says he saw a man with his skull split open by such a bullet in front of the Post Office building adjacent to the garden. (Read more)

According to Harmoush, the soldiers headed toward nearby Jisr al-Shughour. More soldiers joined them. Soon, Harmoush says he had 120 men under his command, including a lieutenant called Mazin who joined him along with his unit. They were there after June 5, the day hundreds of people gathered in a public garden were shot. "In Jisr al-Shughour we decided to defend the people until the last moment, but we had light weapons, rifles; they had tanks. We set up traps, an ambush. That brought us some time to evacuate civilians."

In both videos below above, note that soldiers are clean shaven. Syrian TV has shown several funerals for officers who sported long thick beards. These are not regular soldiers, but members of the Death Squads who have been recruited from the smuggling rings known as the Shabbiha.

Protesters in Jisr Ashoughour defying army troops (uploaded on 12, but obviously refers to an earlier period)
France 24: interview with defecting soldiers in Turkey

Damascus / Midan: a long video taking from a taxi cab that was stuck in traffic showing security forces trying to control a demonstration near the Hassan Mosque in Midan Neighborhood. The first couple of minutes and the end of the video show how security officers snatch protesters and hapless passersby, beat them and haul them away. Between 3:30 and 5:00, we hear protesters from afar as they chant “the people want to topple the regime,” security officers try to respond by seeing “we sacrifice our blood and soul for you Bashar” but their chants are quickly drowned by cries of Allahu Akbar, and then again, “the people want to topple the regime.” This is becoming a daily routine in certain parts of Damascus now.

Woman Poet defies end Embarrasses official media
Caller on Syrian TV speaks against bloodshed in Jisr Ashoughour and Deraa and decries the lies perpetrated by official media. At first, the anchorman says he hears her clearly, but once he hears more of what she has to say, he says there is a problem with audio quality and asks the editor to go into break to fix it. Freedom of Speech Assad Style!

Hama: As Assad Death Squads attempt to reassert control over Jisr Ashoughour and other rebellious communities in Idlib and Alboukamal, the people of Hama continue to defy the regime: “the people want to topple the regime”

Army tanks in the city of Deir Ezzor

Meanwhile, the daily protests and nightly vigils continue throughout the country

Damascus / Qaboun
Damascus / Qaboun: an all-women demonstration
Deraa /Basr Al-Harir
Deraa / Al-Mseifrah: an all-women demonstration
Aleppo City
Deir Ezzor / Qouriyeh
Deir Ezzor City
Deir Ezzor / Mayadin
Damascus / Kafar Sousseh
Damascus / Arbeen
Damascus / Saqba
Damascus / Al-Qadam
Hama City
Homs / Qseir