Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Killing Fields!

The Responsibility to Protect is not going to go away just because the international community is choosing to ignore it. Sooner or later the world has to acknowledge the serious nature of the situation in Syria, and come to terms with its responsibility to act more boldly in this connection. Let’s hope that by that time the mess will still manageable and that there will be enough goodwill left in the ranks of the protesters to facilitate the task.

Friday 27, 2012 – The day was dubbed “We have the right to defend ourselves.” Despite the freezing rain, over 550 rallies were reported throughout the country.

Today’s death toll: 102, including 6 children and 4 women. The Breakdown: 38 in Rural Damascus, 21 in Hama City, 15 in Nawa City (Deraa/Hauran Province), 14 in Aleppo City (Majreh), 10 in Homs City (including 2 children and a woman), 3 in Idlib.

The indiscriminate pounding of cities and neighborhoods and shooting using life ammunition at protesters continue throughout the country. Among the towns pounded today is the town of Rankoos in the Qalamoun Region north of Damascus where more than 20 locals were killed and dozens were wounded.

Clashes between defectors and loyalists were reported in Eastern Ghoutah in Rural Damascus.

In Hama City, the bodies of 14 people were found in five different locations, they belonged to locals who have been detained over the last few days by loyalist troops as part of the current crackdown.


Back on April 8, 2011 I wrote: “With the bat of an eyelid, a number of massacres could take place simultaneously, and the death toll could be enormous. We could easily wake up one day to find out that hundreds if not thousands of unarmed civilians have been killed overnight. That day could be tomorrow. Urgent Action is needed now.”

At the time I was arguing that “there is urgent need for an immediate international push to contain the situation before it escalates out of control. A strong message with warnings that violence would have major consequences needs to be sent to the Assads now, before it’s too late.”

The point: had world leaders heeded these warnings then, had policy experts took more time to examine the facts on the ground as they are not as they wished them to be, we might have been able to prevent these “predictions” from coming true.

Obviously it’s too late. We now have multiple massacres taking place simultaneously, and the challenge ahead of us is not how to prevent further escalation, but how to ensure that the right side, that is, the revolutionaries, prevails and soon. For in practical terms, an attempt at preventing further escalation, while reasonable on the surface of it, is actually an argument for doing nothing to support the rebels or to alleviate the suffering, in other words, it’s an argument for engaging in the same kind of good-for-nothing initiatives such as the Arab League Observer Mission. The simple truth, the one we have to finally confront, because the evidence in this regard is so damn overwhelming by now, is that the Assads are not the kind people with whom a reasonable dialog can be established. They are murderous thugs and it’s for the reign of terror to end.

For all the fears about the potential alternative, it’s the prospect of Assad survival, no matter how dim it seems, that we should fear not the dissolution of their regime. Each and every community that fell under the control of the protesters has been able to run its affairs without any major incidents taking place, not mention breakdown of social order. It’s only when loyalist troops invade the community that we see violence. In Homs City itself, and for all the talk about “tit-for-tat sectarian killings,” as some journalists put it, what we have in reality are dozens of cold-blooded massacres perpetrated by loyalists claiming thousands of lives compared to a handful of reported incidents that might have been motivated by vendettas, many of which, to boot, turn up to have the fingerprints of the regime all over them when examined closely.

The point: after 10 months of bloody crackdown, the ability of the protest leaders on the ground to keep the level of violence on their side in check bespeaks of high networking capability and sophisticated organization. Yes, protesters are fighting back now, there is armed resistance of sorts taking place, but it’s organized and disciplined. The future leaders of Syria are there on the ground and already taking charge of the situation. The smart thing to do at this stage is to engage them and support them, because this is the only scenario that will keep whole and stable.

While the Assads are busy trying to sew discord and chaos, the protest leaders have from the very onset of the revolution been trying to save the country from their machinations and protect its stability. As such, those interested in the long-term stability of Syria have to bet on change then hedge their bet by supporting the advocates and leaders of that change. 

Damascus – North

Rankous: tanks laying siege to the town The town was pounded shortly thereafter leaving dozens dead and wounded.

Rheibeh: tanks patrol the streets But their presence did not prevent a major rally from taking place ,

Eltal: protesters clash with loyalist security forces ,

Damascus – East

The day begins with protesters hoisting the independence flag high on a local water storage facility

Douma The day begins with a rally , , , After the rally, clashes take place between loyalists and FSA members on the road connecting Douma and Misraba (faint sounds of gunfire can be heard from a distance) , martyr

Saqba: The martyr Mazen Abou Al-Dahab Loyalist troops had stormed Mazen’s home last month and burnt it to the ground, along with the houses of his 4 brothers, this is what turned them into revolutionaries. Mazen Apartment His brothers’

Yelda: loyalist security forces patrol the town to prevent rallies

Hamouriyeh: a child martyr

Damascus City

Naher Eisheh: protesters come under intense gunfire , Loyalist troops patrol the main entrances into the neighborhood

Daraya: protesters rescue one of their own after coming under fire Loyalist troops patrol the streets  

Loyalist militias in Qaboun patrol the streets But a small rally does take place

In Barzeh, protesters burb the Russian flag

Zein Al-Abdeen Mosque: hundreds of worshippers stage a rally inside the mosque And hundreds more stage another just outside a mosque in Kafar Sousseh:

In Midan, loyalists and Addounia TV down on protesters calling for execution of Assad

Meanwhile, in Central Damascus, a loyalist rally takes place: Gone are the days of mass sycophant rallies

Damascus – West

Madaya: a rally under the snow and the protection of the FSA , , , , The people of nearby town of Sirghaya also take to the streets despite the snowfall

Damascus – South

Qatana: loyalist troops patrol the town’s streets to prevent rallies Here they are seen at the outskirts of the town Locals say that 2 explosions rocked the town before noon coinciding with the arrival of loyalist troops. No one is sure exactly what happened.

Homs City

Amidst the death and the ruins, a new life is born in a makeshift hospital in Khaldiyeh neighborhood

Insha’aat: Loyalists execute 5 protesters and dump their bodies in the street

More defectors join the rallies in Old Homs

Bab Al-Sibaa: Local members of the FSA bring food to the neighborhood
Karm Al-Zeitun: a mother saying goodbye to her martyred little girl Preparing some of the martyrs of yesterday’s massacre for burial , , A funeral for some of yesterday’s martyrs , And for all the grief, locals still hold a rally , The pounding resumes after the rally leaving new martyrs and wounding many, including this child

Baba Amr: saying goodbye to a martyr and another But locals hold major funeral and a rally , , , Today a 12-year old is killed

Homs Province

Talbisseh: Homes that were shelled with RPGs

Hama City

Hamidiyeh: a martyr

But during the lull times, locals manage to find corners to rally in relative safety Aleppo Road , Kazo Sawa’iq Dahriyeh Sabouniyeh

Nighttime Qoussour

Hama Province

Karnaz: despite the flooding in some part of town people still a rally ,


A spokesmen for FSA units in Idlib says that the province is about to call on her all children to desert the army and join the FSA and he encourages people in other provinces to do the same

Ariha: the town gets pounded Protesters try to hold their ground

Kafrenbel: flooding disrupt planned rallies, but some brave souls still come out ,

Deraa City:

In Mahatah, protesters were dispersed using water canons and tear gas

Deraa/Hauran Province

Nawa: mourners in a funeral for this young man come under fire , , , Loyalist troops shooting at protesters , Mourners taking cover Trying to rescue one of the people who were hit A martyr Another A young man is hit and falls only to find himself lying next to a dead child Mourners insist on going ahead with their funeral despite the gunfire Martyrs , A total of 15 protesters are said to have been killed.

Ankhel: Loyalist troops storm the town and begin firing

Mhajeh: funeral

Sanamein: snipers watching the small rally below loyalist troops are also watching from the ground

Nahteh: clashes between loyalists and local FSA members take place at night

Aleppo City

Marjeh: protesters stand defiantly , , as they come under fire many were killed This young man takes his last breaths on camera Rescuing the wounded , , , The loyalist militias who perpetrated the massacre were from the neighborhood of Beit Hamrah A total of 14 protesters have reportedly been killed.

Aleppo Province

There were rallies as well in the Kurdish towns of Efrin , , and Kobani and Qabbasseen


Deir Ezzor

Albou Kamal: the town comes under heavy machinegun fire