Monday, August 29, 2011

Unity, Finally!

As Bashar Al-Assad continues to lie to his people, his death squads continue to kill them, and members of the Assad family go to Spain to celebrate the wedding of the granddaughter of Bashar’s late uncle, Jamil, to the grandson of his infamous living uncle, Rif’at, the miracle workers behind the Syrian revolution finally announce their choices for a national council, an event that will celebrated soon on the soil of an Assads-free Syria.

Sunday August 28, 2011

15 protesters were killed on Saturday, and 12 in Sunday as a result of security crackdown that swept across protest communities all over Syria.

On Sunday, 3 were killed and scores wounded in Albou Kamal on the order with Iraq, as security forces made a new sweep of the community. In what has rapidly become a pattern by now, security forces shelled the minaret of the Great Mosque at the city center. 2 were killed and 9 wounded in the town of Khan Shaikhoon in Idlib Province. 2 more dead were confirmed in Homs and Ankhel Town in Hauran/Deraa Province.

In the Damascene suburb of Harasta, eyewitnesses reported that scores of army soldiers defected then clashed with loyalist troops. No figures on casualties were provided. The defections were confirmed through a YouTube video posted on the internet by the Free Officers Movement. This is the first major defection to take place in Damascus itself.

In the town of Rastan in Homs Province, and shortly after a major nighttime protest, security forces stormed the city and clashed with the scores of defectors who vowed to protect it.

In Deir Ezzor, military sweep operations included raids into the towns of Ayyash, Kharitah and Hawayij culminating in dozens of arrests. In Idlib, operations focused on the eastern suburbs of Ma’arrat Al-Nouman which witnessed mass demonstrations in the last few days demanding departure of Bashar Al-Assad.

The death toll on Saturday includes 2 in the Damascene suburb of Saqba, 2 in Harasta and 1 in Qaboun, 1 in the town of Marei near Aleppo City, 3 in Lattakia, 2 in Ma’arrata Al-Nouman and 1 in Al-Bayadah neighborhood in Homs City and 1 in Ghabaghib town on Deraa/Hauran Province.

Links
“Today in the world there is no place for authoritarian administrations, one-party rule, closed regimes,” Mr. Gul said, adding that such governments could be “replaced by force” if their leaders did not make changes. “Everyone should know that we are with the Syrian people,” he said.
Assad promises to loosen restrictions on access to information; decree bans journalists from publishing 'any content that would prejudice the national unity and security'.
As the smaller of the two countries and facing its own domestic tensions, Jordan has been sensitive to Syrian concerns. When Syrian dissidents, including renegade soldiers, activists and ordinary citizens, began coming across the border, Amman imposed a media gag on refugees. By comparison, the approximately 7,000 Syrian refugees who have cross into Turley, on Syria’s north, have been interviewed by the media while dissident leaders routinely meet in Istanbul, the Turkish capital.
While Syria's president provides valuable support for the pursuit of Hezbollah's objectives, the survival of his regime is not vital.
“I called all my tribesmen not to show weapons or use them. We will work hard to keep our uprising peaceful, but I cannot say what will happen in two months if the regime maintains the military crackdown on us.”
Dubai: Syrians in the UAE have been left stranded after Visa and Mastercard blocked all credit cards issued by Syrian banks. The ban, which was put in place last week, is the result of severe US sanctions imposed on Syria in the face violence against protestors in cities across the country.
"Businessmen think of their business first and do the best for that," said one economist in Damascus. "To get a real split, the opposition needs to prove it can provide a stable alternative."

With thinker Bourhane Ghalyoun selected as leader, representatives of the Syrian protest committees speaking in Ankara announced on Al-Jazeerah the names of the members of the National Transitional Council selected by their colleagues inside the country. I will publish the full list of names tomorrow. But this is the real deal indeed.  

Casualty Figures

There is much controversy these days surrounding the casualty figures offered by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and its director Rami Abdul Rahman. Innuendos and accusations aside, the figures offered by Rami do indeed fall way below those offered by more established Syrian human rights figures and organizations, especially those operating inside Syria, including the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, among others.

For example, Rami offers an estimate of 2200 killed since the beginning of the Revolution, a figure that includes security officers, most other organizations agree that the more accurate figure is closer to 3,000. A more glaring example, however, is manifested in Rami’s estimate that only 100 protesters were killed during Ramadan, at a time when all other human rights figures and organizations emphatically assert, as reported on this blog, that over 100 protesters were killed on the first day of the invasion of Hama City alone, which took place in the early days of Ramadan. And there have been killings every day since, for a total closer to 300 so far.

International media organizations should take these different figures under consideration when reporting on the ongoing crisis in Syria. They should also bear in mind that, once the dust settles down, the final figures might be much higher, as was the case in Egypt for instance.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrel

Bashar Al-Assad addressed a crowd of religious scholars in the final days of Ramadan http://youtu.be/izmXIAEtXBc and assured them that the Syrian Army was not responsible for the shelling of the minaret of Othman Mosque in Deir Ezzor City. He says the Minaret was rigged to explore by terrorists. This is of course a clear lie as this video clearly demonstrates http://youtu.be/DF23vYjnFlU

But the reality is worse. The targeting of mosques and minarets have been part and parcel of the official crackdown since the first days of the Revolution and the sacking of Al-Omari Mosque in Deraa City at a time when it was used as a makeshift hospital for wounded protesters http://youtu.be/SMfODnigER4        Similar incidents took place in Baniyas (where Ayrout Mosque was virtually occupied by the army) http://youtu.be/00_VSgh_CVQ , http://youtu.be/8mbBf8uDPgI Talbiseeh (Abou Obeidah Mosque) http://youtu.be/htt9Mmi1mTI and more recently Damascus itself http://youtu.be/PJjF6dbYfH4 , http://youtu.be/JGB4X-CqfeU .

Targeting minarets have also taken place in Hama City (Rahmeh Mosque) http://youtu.be/aoXfHkQu3uQ Homs City (Bin Nafei Mosque) http://youtu.be/4uaJ55jWzNY Talbisseh (Ali bin Abi Talib Mosque) http://youtu.be/Vf7_vcOkaPU and today Albou Kamal  

In his address Assad also described those soldiers and followers of his people who bow to his image and force defectors and protesters to say “there is no God but Bashar” as “kafirs” (unbelievers). In doing do, and considering how widespread the practice is among the ranks of his most ardent followers, Bashar is actually demonstrating a willingness to turn against his own followers for the sake of appeasing the Sunni religious establishment, the one institution that his followers, be they Alawites, Christians or secular Sunnis, hate more than anything else. I bet this might have cost the Assad a few “votes.” In one stroke, he transformed himself from demi-god to demi-man.

One final point, and for all those who keep denying that tanks were being used in cities and that the crackdown is that intense and that serious, here it is, their own illustrious leaders admitting to the use of tanks, albeit he claims that they were used only as a show of force meant “to terrorize the terrorists.”

Assad Embassy staff in Paris attack pro-democracy demonstrators at the gate http://youtu.be/vTPqaGval3g

Most Damascene suburbs are currently under siege in a move designed to prevent people from pouring into central Damascus http://youtu.be/09kmFYeDWFU

More defections: more officers join the Free Syrian Army http://youtu.be/GPqdHuQUWrY In Jabal Al-Zawiyeh Region in the Idlib Province, eyewitnesses claim that the sound of heavy gunfire and shelling heard in this video come from a battle between loyalists and defectors http://youtu.be/iO5yi3L-E_4

A video of cartoonist Ali Farzat after the attack http://youtu.be/ksqcJSqxzSE His hands were broken, his wrists showed cigarette burns, and his beard was partly burnt.

In Hama City, people are forced to dig up the bodies of martyrs in order to save them from being snatched by army troops trying to hide every trace of their crimes http://youtu.be/p7nHDaPLu5s , http://youtu.be/Ltcae8idwcE , http://youtu.be/K4fr0C_VyHc , http://youtu.be/ke6eUzA2iVI

More videos from the storming of Al-Rifai Mosque. Here we hear Sheikh Osama trying to admonish security forces not to come in, as worshippers barricade themselves in http://youtu.be/lokglTd8Uzc Security forces go on a rampage inside the Mosque after they come in http://youtu.be/ajEfX2esEYY Protesters had briefly taken one of the security officers as hostage, but they later released him http://youtu.be/XCVdw2mYRpQ .

HOMS

Bab Houd “the Arab League ignored us, Russia killed us, Turkey confused us” http://youtu.be/qSWO65IQugA “We ask for freedom, he detained us, we asked him to leave, he killed us, we asked for democracy, he dispersed us, shelled minarets and defamed mosques. But that only made us more determined” http://youtu.be/qSWO65IQugA Qoussour “the heart of the army is dead, and all sense of solidarity, why do its soldiers kill us when the people and the army are brothers?” http://youtu.be/krhQpps0rik Protesters hope for an academy award for best directed protest http://youtu.be/_J4Yz7unVmk And they are so dedicated to that, they also come out at dawn http://youtu.be/r3wrjsBPyo4 , http://youtu.be/P53zYen-gr4 Dablan “Lift the banner high, Bashar Al-Assad is not worth an old shoe” http://youtu.be/gDwwGeSD4gk Meanwhile, shop-owners in teh neighborhood observe a strike http://youtu.be/ZTlqsLUf3Ck Baba Amr: a small gathering on their way to the larger gathering http://youtu.be/l2WzJoW0s7k Karm Al-Shami http://youtu.be/VJFIbAMFI7M

Thousands took to the streets in the usual communities around Homs City, despite the ongoing siege and the crackdown Rastan http://youtu.be/mSDsHspwU_k , http://youtu.be/Zyyt-i2WXaU , http://youtu.be/4jSkrpT9MOw , http://youtu.be/NIaNPcJwG2k Tamor/Palmyra http://youtu.be/H2ZKA-Qcg9o , http://youtu.be/WGQPoY0JI6w Deir Baalbah http://youtu.be/_dFqwta7Of0 , http://youtu.be/XTQNJ_JAzxk Qseir http://youtu.be/jVCndxoTAjA Houleh http://youtu.be/P6XmDuF5gV0

IDLIB
Despite ongoing military operations, people took to the streets in the thousands in various local communities

Crackdown and martyrs in Khan Shaikhoon http://youtu.be/kBMxlXy-Tcg the two martyrs http://youtu.be/MnSzl6Kde_k , http://youtu.be/U0gRg0zo0FY People later held a funeral http://youtu.be/u6lxq76uHZI and prayed for the two martyrs http://youtu.be/wLkHwfoeV5c  Meanwhile, In Kafroumah, the army has in effect occupied the city http://youtu.be/0PkL_ZcknWg

Nighttime

Daytime

Dawn of August 29

DAMASCUS

Douma http://youtu.be/xq0aVRINSlE , http://youtu.be/VFXmIQuBc8Y , http://youtu.be/PockBMTOAPQ Protesters come under heavy gunfire, as fire engines and security vehicles step in http://youtu.be/f1yNW0qPZTI , http://youtu.be/6QuoNsCd5m4 this comes as a repeat of what took place earlier that morning, and the previous day, Saturday http://youtu.be/Vueke67RDfs Earlier on Saturday, a large demonstration started at the main mosque in Douma and headed towards Kafar Sousseh in order to reach Al-Rifai Mosque as protest for the crackdown on Friday, and which was eventually by security forces using water cannons http://youtu.be/ziOPgB2vF5E


Flash protests (brief small demonstration held in sensitive areas, mostly at night, to make a point)

Daytime
In Saqba, protesters swear to stay the course http://youtu.be/SYJcrwnveZs Dmeir http://youtu.be/8OGBn5COrfY Harasta http://youtu.be/9GUzZDJSAxg

HAURAN


In Mleiha Gharbiyeh, residents try to prevent the passage of tanks going to Hraak through their village http://youtu.be/sX9dkCMV8vk

Nawa: military checkpoints around the city http://youtu.be/zjKj9pDws4s tanks in the city http://youtu.be/AzT9Um5pFkk

A recently obtained video from March showing the “liberation” of Deraa City by Assad troops http://youtu.be/wS5sa2nd1kM

ALEPPO

Nighttime

Dawn of August 29

HAMA

Taybat Al-Imam http://youtu.be/0zqAUBj3x64 Protesters carry a large banner asking for Saudi intervention http://youtu.be/a7_dJ95qBL4 , http://youtu.be/0zqAUBj3x64 Kafar Zita on strike http://youtu.be/Zqt04DVMgMs

Hama City: (march 15 Streets) http://youtu.be/m_gj8XHsT7Q , http://youtu.be/Mk51dM5dcLs Assad security forces chasing out street peddlers http://youtu.be/8KIiN3aw9wQ

LATTAKIA

New videos from the crackdown on August 14 http://youtu.be/hqTfILzcHag , http://youtu.be/2LzAwyWHvK8 The martyr Ahmad Soufi http://youtu.be/MOSWphMa4AM , http://youtu.be/TYmkiSfABS4

ELSEWHERE
Deir Ezzor City http://youtu.be/0VMuqRhvwsM (dawn of 29) Nighttime http://youtu.be/tKSWgac9SJo