Saturday, October 15, 2011

Will they or won’t they?

By declaring their support of the Syrian National Council and now of the Free Syrian Army, the protesters are urging unity and the development of an overarching political platform that goes beyond rhetoric of violence and nonviolence and into a discussion of realities and necessities. The people want international protection, even if it led to military intervention, and they want both their political and military leaders to work together to garner support for it. Will they get the message?  

Friday October 14, 2011

21 killed as pro-Assad militias continue their violent crackdown against unarmed protesters on a day dedicated to calling on the army to stand by the people. The dead include 18 in Deraa/Hauran (10 in Da’el and 8 in Ankhel), 2 in Damascus in the suburbs of Qadam (a child) and a Saqba, and 1 in Andan, a suburb of Aleppo.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses reported defections in the Damascene Suburbs of Saqba and Kafar Batna leading to clashes with loyalists.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights declared that the official death toll in Syria has now exceeded 3,000.

Links
Rula Amin on Syria's Friday demonstrations: and the debate over military intervention   

The Free Syrian Army
“Our army is the Free Syrian Army” says this banner from Insha’aat Neighborhood in Homs City http://youtu.be/FUPUEyk_y5Q.

On a day dedicated to call on the army to protect the people and join the ranks of the Free Syria Army, it seems important to review what we so far know about this rising institution:

The formation of the FSA was announced on July 29, 2011 by Colonel Riyad Al-Ass’aad shortly after his defection http://youtu.be/SZcCbIPM37w With this announcement, the FSA became the second military wing appear on the scene, having been proceeded by the Free Officers Movement.

On September 23, shortly after the disappearance of Lieutenant Colonel Hussain Harmoush, leader and founder of the Free Officers Movement, the two military wings announced their unification under the banner of the FSA http://youtu.be/w8fCuS-beZc

On October 12, Colonel Ahmad Hijazi, the FSA’s Deputy Commander-in-chief, announced the formal structure of the FSA http://youtu.be/L4CoItIFtcM According to this announcement, the FSA is made up of the following brigades:


Brigade Name
Region
Commander’s Name




1
Hamzah Al-Khateeb
Idlib City and Suburbs
Abdul-Sattar Yuso
2
Moawiyah Bin Abi Sufian
Damascus City
Maher Al-Rahmoun
3
Al-Ababeel
Aleppo
Ammar Al-Wawi
4
Al Harmoush
Jabal Al-Zawiyeh (Idlib Province)
Youssef Yahya
5
Alhouriyeh
Aleppo
Rami (?) Majbour
6
Al-Suqur
Lattakia
Muhammad Tayseer Ousso
7
Salaheddine Al-Ayoubi
Jisr Ashoughour
Alaaddin
8
Abu Obeidah bin Al-Jarrah
Damascus Province
Wassim Al-Khalid
9
Al-Omari
Deraa/Hauran
Qais Qata’neh
10
Sultan Pasha Al-Atrash
Suweidah
Unnamed
11
Khalid Bin Al-Walid
Homs City
Abdurrahman Sheir
12
Omar bin Al-Khattab
Qseir
Unnamed
13
Al-Qashoush
Hama
Ayham Al-Kurdi
14
Saad Bin Moaz
Sahel Al-Ghab (Hama Province)
Unnamed
15
Aboul Fidaa
Hama
Unnamed
16
Al-Qassam
Jableh
Mazen Ezzein
17
Samer Nunu (?)
Baniyas
Riyad Ahmad
18
Mishaal Tammo
Qamishly
Unnamed
19
Odai Al-Tayi
Hassakeh
Unnamed
20
Moaz Al-Raqad
Deir Ezzor
Unnamed
21
Allahu Akbar
Albou Kamal
Unnamed
22
Ahmad Nayif Al-Sukhni
Al-Raqqah
Unnamed

We should bear in mind here, that when it was first announced 2 months ago the FSA was a mere project, but it soon acquired a reality, aided by the increasing number of defectors and of civilian joining its ranks. The civilian component seems to make the bulk of the army at this stage, but the civilians are either retired members of the army, or young people who have performed their obligatory military service, hence, they have already received some military training and know how to operate within the command structure of an army. They have also been receiving some training by defectors over the last few weeks. The figures for the FSA membership range between 8 and 15,000, weapons are more often acquired locally from attacks on loyalist army posts and convoys.

The FSA includes as well as number of navy defectors http://youtu.be/0OrrP22djuA

While most operations conducted in the name of the Free Syrian Army have been mostly focused in Idlib and Homs provinces, and around the town of Albou Kamal ear the Iraqi border, eyewitness accounts indicate that over the last couple of weeks a number of operations against loyalists have taken place in the rural areas around Damascus, including Saqba, Kafar Batna and Arbeen.

As the militarization of the revolution continues, couple of with rising despair and anger on part of the protesters, be it with world leaders, or opposition groups. As this banner from the town of Kafar nabbel in the Idlib Province, clearly shows:

Down with the Regime and the Opposition, Down the Arab and Islamic Nation, Down with the Security Council, Down with the World, Down with Everything… Occupied Kafar Nabbel, October 14, 2011

But, clinging to some hope, protesters carry as well a banner addressed to the American people http://youtu.be/kyLsZXivFXY “If you don’t topple Al-Assad now, don’t boast about democracy again”

Featured Videos

In Deraa/Hauran, in Da’el protesters come under fire, 10 are killed http://youtu.be/n_Loo3U_kUQ , http://youtu.be/3hte05THNGY A martyr http://youtu.be/KdurbRMnUtw In, Ankhel locals face tanks with stones as they get under fire. 8 were reported killed http://youtu.be/_RubiII6iVA A martyr from Ankhel http://youtu.be/gie43Q-4L7s Still, locals chase the tanks with their stones http://youtu.be/Q3NDAZDs_F0

In Qamishly, more than 20,000 Kurds took part in today’s demonstration http://youtu.be/8fktAlyszLY and carrying banners saying “we won’t serve in an army that kills us.” Many wore T-shirts commemorating the assassinated Kurdish rights activist Mishaal Tammo http://youtu.be/6WpmtaqUGXc

In Damascus, a child, Ibrahim Shaiban, was killed as he took part in a protest in the neighborhood of Al-Qadam http://youtu.be/GCKzK8cuYTY

In Bab Al-Sibaa Neighborhood in Homs City, leaving the local mosque has become an art of dodging snipers’ bullets http://youtu.be/9h_yUpO4O4c

Despite weeks of violent crackdown, including random shelling from tanks and sniper activities that left hundreds dead, and detention campaigns that touched thousands, tens of thousands of local residents in Homs City took to the streets to show their support to the Free Syrian Army.


Homs Province: Despite the occupation, the people of Talbisseh take to the streets http://youtu.be/BqIWt-mDjLA Tadmor (Palmyra) http://youtu.be/tZoBhOUD1E4 (night) http://youtu.be/PPMUe05ek80 Ghantoo http://youtu.be/R-x3TO3fE_U Qseir http://youtu.be/7ti0gbB-UhM Bouaydah http://youtu.be/Kv-YOm2GTBY Wadi Al-Arab http://youtu.be/Az2W4wTG2ag Sukhnah http://youtu.be/9mwJp28N0_s





Deir Ezzor: Qarayah http://youtu.be/mQ56mjcv4CY

Aleppo: A protester was shot dead in Andan http://youtu.be/-Wra0l1AY9U protesters come under fire http://youtu.be/P_PRjQtKbdM A hasty funeral is arranged http://youtu.be/aGu4-iUHEbI Tal Rif’aat http://youtu.be/b6dfd2GgZUA Marei http://youtu.be/hKxqdu3rQ6E Elbaab security forces attack demonstrators http://youtu.be/hpfiUhVHn7Y Efreen http://youtu.be/AiQlKnuB7IQ