Sunday, July 31, 2011

Red Ramadan Begins!

While world leaders are appalled, the protesters in Syrian are undaunted. Thousands take to the streets in Syria after the Night Prayers.

Sunday July 31, 2011

The official death toll of today’s carnage is provisionally put at 145, though the final figures are expected to be much higher. Unfortunately, different news organizations keep different figures, depending on what sources they consider more credible and when their reports were published.

Links
The request came after human rights groups said 80 people had been killed in the Syrian city of Hama when government troops stormed in on Sunday to crush protests amid a five-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
The army took action the day before the start of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and prayer. Tanks shelled Hama, Syria’s fourth-largest city, where at least 113 people were killed, the Qatari-based television network said, citing the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.
(Reuters) - Syrians began the Muslim Ramadan fast in somber mood on Monday after troops stormed into Hama, scene of a 1982 massacre, in one of the bloodiest days of a five-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Syria uses tanks in Hama and other cities, and 70 people are reported killed. Most of the deaths are in Hama, where witnesses say Sunni mosque minarets are also targeted, just before the start of Ramadan.
In a statement, Washington-based opposition figure, Ammar Abdulhamid said the campaign constituted a “calculated move on part of the Assads that reflects an internal consensus within the upper ranks of key divisions in the army and all security chiefs.”

After weeks-long mass detention campaign, the Assads sent their troops, tanks and death squads into major protest communities in a calculated move to snuff out the spirit of the protest movement. Indeed, this move seem to risk the occurrence of major defections, but defections are a small price for the Assads, in fact, defections seem to be an integral part of their plan as they might help transform the revolution into a confessional civil war scenario, which is what the Assads have been itching for from the beginning.

The Arrest of Nawaf Al-Basheer, the chieftain of the Baggarah Tribe, with over 1.5 million in Syria alone, not to mention its extensions in Iraq and the Gulf, seem designed for this purpose as well, especially considering Nawaf’s role in preserving the peaceful character of the protests in his community. Now, reports from Deir Ezzor City, capital of the Baggarah Tribe, speak of young men arming themselves and swearing to defend the City, having evacuated most of the women and children, and moved them to neighboring communities. But so far, there has been little violence on their part. Most of the violence witnessed in the region seems to be restricted to clashes between pro-Assad troops and militias, and the band of defectors.

There will be more defections and more clashes throughout Ramadan. The troops commanded by the defector Colonel Riyad Al-Asaad, seem serious and could become the nucleus of a larger movement. But, barring few individual incidents here and there, the protest movement itself will remain peaceful.

Other parts of Syria that witnessed violent incursions by Assad loyalists today include Deir Ezzor City, Ma’arrat Al-Nouman and Jarjanaz in Idlib, Deraa City and Al-Hirak in Deraa/Hauran Province, and the Damascene suburbs of Mouaddamiyah and Kisweh.

More videos from Hama City:

http://youtu.be/1QPSLXVEvzM (army troops and militias establish barricades and roadblock)

Demonstrations and vigils in support of Hama
Night-time demonstrations took place after Taraweeh Prayers, held only during Ramadan. These demonstrations are meant to get bigger and larger from day to day until the end of Ramadan.

Damascus / Midan: 20,000 protesters take to the streets after Taraweeh Prayers. This is the largest demonstration in Midan since the beginning of the Revolution.
Damascus / Douma http://youtu.be/LqzTqh-ya94
Damascus / Kisweh: tanks in the streets, after days of protests and violent crackdown by Assad security forces http://youtu.be/2qqCg1RiJCU , http://youtu.be/AYALlWrox84
Damascus / al-Qadam: despite the crackdown, the deaths and the hundreds of arrests http://youtu.be/8ZIrh-CPNgc , http://youtu.be/eppJoRVyJa0
Damascus / Barzeh http://youtu.be/73VAPDwh1j4
Damascus / Daraya http://youtu.be/RoHQPKtq0p0
Damascus / Al-Qalamoun / Al-Qarrah http://youtu.be/DfB4UdrPEHk , http://youtu.be/Ug3Qefoj924

Lattakia / Al-Sleibeh http://youtu.be/QPk0eLv7Svc

Homs / Stadium Street http://youtu.be/N7s5vSWvL_Q
Homs / al-Wa’er http://youtu.be/ZOSMdFrfx7k
Homs / Al-Khaldiyyeh http://youtu.be/WZy7qhTENB0
Homs / Bab Al-Sibaa http://youtu.be/hgzv9PmZvJg
Homs / Al-Ghoutah http://youtu.be/7ma_uZ42Xcc
Homs / al-Warsheh Neighborhood http://youtu.be/55F_SDKMwWc
Homs / Al-Khaldiyyeh http://youtu.be/nFFioWRh4dI
Homs / Al-Dablan http://youtu.be/xQOverG-VfM

Hama Province / Salamiyyeh http://youtu.be/rEous5Yb5aM

Deir Ezzor City: despite military crackdown, protesters take to the streets after Taraweeh  http://youtu.be/LjWkRlSvtGI
Deir Ezzor / Qouriyyeh http://youtu.be/XGq7sqvRVNY

Deraa City: protesters come under fire after Taraweeh prayer for showing solidarity with Hama http://youtu.be/VeBaoYvQdEw , http://youtu.be/8zpHspk4oYU , (one of the martyrs) http://youtu.be/iVBGr9z3iMI.
Deraa / al-Hraak: today’s martyrs included a child http://youtu.be/2PuhWnD4iOY
Deraa / Kafar Shams http://youtu.be/a6Ixlgt8C-k

Idlib / Ma’arrat Al-Nouman: despite the crackdown earlier in the day http://youtu.be/Im5YIB9v4vI
Idlib / Jarjanaz: protesters come under fire from security officers http://youtu.be/BWkwVWIL89w , http://youtu.be/l7cBO0tQMcw , http://youtu.be/wX2wRmxuRlI
Idlib / Kafar Nabbol: a funeral for a martyr http://youtu.be/K32Oo2M80eQ


The Appalled!

Obama and EU leader are “appalled” by the current goings-on in Syria. I guess that will make it all go away.

Sunday July 31, 2011

Current figures put the death toll at: 200 dead in Hama City, 40 in Deir Ezzor, 16 in Deraa City, 16 in Idlib. Figures are being continuously revised upward as the crackdown is ongoing, and many wounded end up dying. 

Links

According to an eyewitness interviewed by the Time, reports of defections in the army in Hama City are false:

Habbal denied reports of military defections in the city. Three or four tank crews did claim to have switched sides, he said, "but it turned out to be a ploy." The "thousands" surrounding the tanks — two of which reportedly entered from the north and two from the south — started celebrating, Habbal said. "They were chanting 'the people and the army are one' and 'this is a great victory.' It was a trick, so that (the tanks) could move deeper into the town. They started firing on the citizens."

In a typical reversal of reality, Assad promises in a print interview with a local publication to “bury sedition” and to “export an example of democracy, freedom and political pluralism. “We will let war-makers and blood traders suffer the bitterness of defeat, disappointment and frustration,” he said. How Brave!

Hama City / Sibahee Neighborhood / July 31

Syrian Apocalypse NOW!

Several Benghazis are unfolding in Syria at this stage in Hama, Deir Ezzor, Idlib, Deraa and several Damascene suburbs. World leaders had ample warning, yet all seem to be caught unawares somehow, and the best they could do is feel “appalled.”

Sunday July 31, 2011

Current figures put the death toll at: 200 dead in Hama City, 40 in Deir Ezzor, 16 in Deraa City, 16 in Idlib. Figures are being continuously revised upward as the crackdown is ongoing, and many wounded end up dying. 

Links

The current crackdown throughout Syria is not a simple act of desperation, but a calculated move on part of the Assads that reflects an internal consensus within the upper ranks of key divisions in the army and all security chiefs, and that takes advantage of following factors:

1)       the failure of the U.S. and France to obtain a UNSC resolution,
2)      the existing consensus in NATO not to interfere in Syria, with or without such a resolution,
3)      the inability of the U.S. and France to publicly call on Assad to leave,
4)      Turkish PM Erdogan’s post-election silence and his current preoccupation of Turkey with its own internal problems with the army, and
5)      attempting to avoid through maximized use of violence the scenario everyone expected to unfold in Ramadan and which will have included mass protests in Damascus and most likely Aleppo as well.

Moreover, the current development was not exactly unexpected, Syrian dissidents have warned repeatedly since the beginning of the Revolution that, unless the international community took a strong stand on the tragic developments in the country, the specter of multiple massacres unfolding simultaneously in different part of Syria could easily become a reality overnight. Yet, no one seems to have developed any contingency plans for dealing with the situation. Now we can all watch multiple foretold massacres unfold, feeling like President Obama, appalled.

This is the kind of reaction that is bound to leave many protesters feeling betrayed, and many will not believe the long-simmering rumor that a deal has been made to keep Assad in power.

Still, the impotence and incompetence of world leaders aside, protesters are unlikely to cower down in the corner or go back home. Death is better than humiliation. Ramadan will not be stopped. 

Hama City / July 31:

Snipers and shooting protesters in the head using explosive bullets continues to be one of Assad Death Squads favorite tactics (extremely gruesome) http://youtu.be/ok50v9KGDsM, http://youtu.be/ANSL2sswejI.

Snipers posted on top of the Baath University in Hama http://youtu.be/Y2_x7KnQ7vk, http://youtu.be/DJ27OGv1Zco.

The Massacre at Sibahee Neighborhood http://youtu.be/fHEXP7Dmivw

Protesters pleading with a sniper not to fire at them, saying that they are his brothers and that they mean him no harm, but he does http://youtu.be/PAOYTS_N1fI.

Some defectors and their tanks at the entrance of the city: http://youtu.be/BoJMUtCaY-s, http://youtu.be/TyOeeuAWviQ. A clarification: when soldiers defect they leave their tanks and weapons behind. The protests are still a nonviolent affair. Protester try to encourage more defections by chanting “the people and the army are one” http://youtu.be/fAFCixeFqLQ.

http://youtu.be/Bi0Pey5aKaM (troops shooting at protesters in the distance)
http://youtu.be/FlZ9_vphbK0 (Tanks entering Sauran Suburb)

Many of the dead, like this one, cannot be identified, because they come from nearby communities, and they are not carrying their ID cards http://youtu.be/Ym831qqOFQE



According to the cameraman, this is a scene from a battle between loyalists and defectors http://youtu.be/HdrHJ6td6Vc.


Protesters come under fire in Kazo Neighborhood http://youtu.be/V_8PP33WVmE.
The first few martyrs http://youtu.be/4-jqd13KjxY.
Protesters pulling bodies of the fallen and wounded from the streets http://youtu.be/Y8FvvcCeNK4, http://youtu.be/r7ye1QAye7M, http://youtu.be/R1lXSKY-pP4.


Army tanks invade Al-Hraak in Deraa Province http://youtu.be/zLgk98sEYPM. People take to the streets shouting “Death is Better than Humiliation” despite coming udner fire http://youtu.be/NrONtpNQFkA.  

Army tanks invade Jabal Al-Zawiyeh region in Idlib Province http://youtu.be/0krtHa8AzFg, http://youtu.be/QXUIklCLGaM

Tanks pass through the city of Raqqah on their way to Deir Ezzor http://youtu.be/PcMW5Qrqxtg.

Protesters come under fire in Idblib’s Ma’aarrat Al-Nouman http://youtu.be/qdT0yrJvdJU.

Layal, the baby martyr from Al-Hraak City in Deraa/Hauran Province: http://youtu.be/VwjMWVI8T2I

A tank in the Damascene neighborhood of Moaddamiyeh http://youtu.be/3JRo5xH9Z28.

The Slaughter: Hama Part II, NOW!

It’s 1982 all over again in Syria, and not only in Hama. Deir Ezzor and several Damascene neighborhoods are receiving a similar treatment. Where in the world is Obama, Sarkozy, Erdogan?  

Live Coverage of the Hama Situation

Saturday July 30, 2011

The invasion of Hama began earlier today with dozens of tanks pouring into the city firing indiscriminately into neighborhood. The operation has been ongoing for several hours now and there has been no lull in the crackdown. Snipers have taken up positions around the city, and hospitals are getting filled rapidly – a massacre is under way. But there are reports of army defections and internal clashes as well … 5 people were killed when tanks fired at a residential neighborhood in Deir Ezzor … 1 person was killed and 500 were arrested in a raid orchestrated by security forces in the Damascene neighborhood of Al-Qadam … Tanks have also raided the Homs neighborhoods of Bab Amr and Al-Bayadeh, among others, shelling their way through …

Syrian authorities launched a new satellite station, Nour Al-Sham, dedicated to religious programming in a gesture of appeasement aimed at certain segments within the country’s majority Sunni communities … Syrian authorities organize a loyalist cultural festival in Aleppo City with major participation from Lebanese politicians and artists … And at the moment of writing this, Security forces are carrying out a raid against the Damascene neighborhood of Al-Moaddamiyeh …

Links
Dramatic and disturbing video footage from Friday's anti-government protests in Syria against President Bashar Assad, in which Syrian activists say at least 22 people were killed, has emerged on the Internet.
(Reuters) - When former Syrian diplomat Bassam Bitar was stationed in Paris three decades ago, a secret policeman from the embassy knocked at his apartment door to deliver a thinly veiled death threat if he did not stop criticizing the ruling Assad family.
Every fall, around 250 Druze leave the Golan Heights to spend the year studying in Syria; when the students returned this summer, they were full of stories about the revolution and what really happened on the roads to Damascus.

It’s is indeed as I said yesterday, Bashar Al-Assad 7 family seem to have concluded a new pact with his security and army chiefs, and now we can see its fruits. With Turkish PM, Erdogan, silent and with his own growing troubles with his own army, and with France and the U.S. unwilling to play any active role in pressuring the Assads over the last couple of weeks, the Assad and his generals seem to think this is their moment to strike to reassert their control over the country before the beginning of Ramadan. This is indeed a major setback for the protest movement.

In Deir Ezzor City, loyalist troops bombarded Al-Jourah Neighborhood lying on the highway connecting Deir Ezzor and Aleppo and where over 50 defectors from the 7th Regiment are said to be barricaded, killing 5 inhabitants. Meanwhile, reinforcement entered the city and surrounded the Governor’s mansion. Still, most neighborhoods in the City remain for the most under the control of the protesters who used minarets to warn loyalists against intruding any further in the city. For his part, Colonel Riyad Al-Asaad who announced his defections with his troops, said to be in the hundreds staying in an unspecified area near the Turkish border, vowed in a telephone call with AFP that he will said his troops to Deir Ezzor in case of a major military incursion. The situation throughout the City and the province remains pretty tense.

As for Hama, well earlier today:

Hours before the invasion, the city was still celebrating its freedom and security http://youtu.be/B8f0naDlxwQ, http://youtu.be/9NPtWHZCfpY, http://youtu.be/4LFguOgrSks.  

Damascus / Kisweh / July 30: thousands of protesters venture against the siege to mourn their comrade and assert their commitment to toppling the regime.
Damascus / Douma / July 30: a funeral for a fallen hero also attended by thousands, despite siege
Damascus / Al-Qalamoun / Al-Qarrah / July 30: “come one Bashar, leave”
Damascus / Midan / July 30

Homs / Bab Amr / July 30: tanks and shelling

Hama / Hilfaya / July 29: people write their own play starring Bashar and maher Al-Assad http://youtu.be/0wl6_LOq__g