Monday, January 30, 2012

The Road to Damascus!

Long ago someone saw God, today freedom fighters are seeing the Devil. Indeed, there has always been a rather epic quality to encounters taking place on the Road to Damascus.

Sunday 29, 2012

Today’s death toll: 80, including 9 defectors affiliated with the Free Syrian Army. The Breakdown: 25 in Shaizar in Hama Province killed in loyalist pounding, 6 in Damascus City, 12 in different communities in Rural Damascus, 8 in Homs City, 4 in Hama City, 4 in Idlib Province,

26 loyalist troops were killed in clashes with rebels in Rural Damascus and Idlib province. 5 more were killed in clashes near Zabadani, and an addition 6 when a roadside bobm hit their bus along the road to Damascus International Airport.

The pounding of Rankous and Eastern Ghoutah in Rural Damascus continues, with more than 50 tanks taking part in the operations.

While Damascus International Airport remains open, traffic has declined to a trickle. 

Links

Damascus

The situation in Damascus has become increasingly tense today as evidenced by the proliferating rumors concerning the escape of Assad from the country or the foiled attempt by his wife, mother and cousin to do the same. Sifting through these rumors is not easy, but several reports of explosions and heavy gunfire exchange in Central Damascus can be confirmed.

Some reports claim that a major attack on the General Headquarters of Air Force Security near Damascus’ own Tahrir Square in Central Damascus did take place. Others speak of an attack on the local police station of Naher Eisheh in Old Damascus. There have also been reports of clashes between loyalists and rebels in Rabweh Region to the northwest of Damascus. Security forces did open fire on protesters in Jobar neighborhood in the eastern parts of Damascus. The neighborhood is practically an in-city extension of Eastern Ghoutah Region.

Still Assad loyalist troops have managed reestablished their presence in various communities in Eastern Ghoutah and Qalamoun, but this is far from reestablishing control. Rebels simply don’t have enough arms and ammunition for direct head-on combat at this stage. Mounting Guerrilla Warfare, on the other hand, is a different matter. Indeed, and for the foreseeable future, attacks on loyalist troops and security headquarters, checkpoints and convoys will become part of daily life in Damascus and its suburbs in tandem with loyalist crackdown, killings and detentions. 

But the Assads, buoyed over by the support of their Russian and Iranian backers, will keep fighting on holding fast to the illusion of victory, while analysts will keep recommending a course of action that has never been tenable when dealing with the likes of Assads. The protesters and rebels will soldier on on their own and victory will be theirs down the road, but the price will be very heavy, as it has always been in our part of the world. 


Peter Harling of International Crisis Group makes a cogent analysis here, his best, and perhaps only of the situation so far. He gives the protest leaders on the ground their just due, rightfully rails against the disunited opposition abroad and corrects misperceptions of the situation on ground, refuting regime propaganda in this regard. The problem in the article, however, lies with the recommendation Harling ended up making:

“A Security Council resolution is the one available lever that could be brought to bear on a Syrian leadership that feels sheltered by the prevailing divisions on the international scene, and would rather take the country down the road to civil war than negotiate in order to obtain what still can be achieved (not least guarantees for the Alawite community, a phased hand-over of power, and the assurance of institutional continuity) at the cost of giving up on the hope that hunkering down and making reforms that only satisfy its supporters somehow will enable it to stay in power.”

Basically, Harling believes that a UN resolution would reflect a united stand by the international community which would compel the Assads into entering a serious dialogue over a phased transition. This is, of course, a pipedream. The very fact that Russia is doing its very best to ensure that only the most watered down resolution is passed, one that does not single out the Assads for blame or call for their departure, comes as a clear indication that such a resolution would not represent a solution.

In reality, a UN resolution is no longer necessary, and might even be counter-productive if it was phrased in such a way as to equate Assads’ mindless crackdown with the legitimate rebellion it succeeded in instigating. What is needed at this stage is the ability and willingness to provide the necessary material and logistical support to the rebels and to provide protest leaders with the training and advice necessary to lead the transitional period themselves, something that can be done in any number of ways despite the ongoing mayhem.

Yes, this is quite the treacherous path, especially considering the growing sectarian divides in the country and the willingness of the Assads to push it to the brinks and beyond. But thanks to prolonged dithering of the international community, it is the only one path left at this stage. So, optimal or not, treacherous or not, here we come. 


An officer from the FSA shows off a sample of the bullets that the regime itself is peddling on the black market: extra explosive materials will make rifles and guns using these bullets blow up in the hands of the shooters http://youtu.be/-THpt4jODtE

Homs

The City

Baba Amr: T-72 tanks pounding the neighborhood http://youtu.be/UmiKWafqQ5s Pounding by a passing BMP http://youtu.be/y9L6p86usR4 The pounding continues http://youtu.be/5IeRWYCkU1A and intensifies http://youtu.be/S_98gUi1phQ More houses are demolished http://youtu.be/swjCIJFT56E , http://youtu.be/uJgqVqioR_g A martyr http://youtu.be/niLL_Dyy9XU Wounded http://youtu.be/7zZGnnaN3P8 , http://youtu.be/GWX8THNt0Ik , http://youtu.be/esrsUwiPJ9A , http://youtu.be/m3Rb7-FmxuE , http://youtu.be/OSHcHmROFLQ , http://youtu.be/BnRTgNiHBbM A doctor from the local field hospital tells us that some of the wounded he is currently treating are victims of attacks with nail bombs used against people standing in line to buy bread http://youtu.be/Nef8rZfmUg8 A child that was just pulled from under the rubble http://youtu.be/sWGlk_u6AbE Treating to revive a patient http://youtu.be/Q0pV2NhmSNI Martyrs http://youtu.be/cA38F61uoFc At dawn of January 30, the neighborhood comes under renewed assault http://youtu.be/FNcq80gp0gM

Wadi Al-Arab: a child falls victim to a sniper attack http://youtu.be/oWe7kApaGms More sniper victims http://youtu.be/lTIvgOaEPDY , http://youtu.be/juXoe-zIezI , http://youtu.be/EY68iRi9CxA , http://youtu.be/9KG02KJMtzU Snipers in action http://youtu.be/mV3uhveBIiw Local Activist Abdebassit Sarout eulogizes two martyrs http://youtu.be/fCJBvxncx0M Both were victims of torture http://youtu.be/HAcN_Odnwp0 , http://youtu.be/h4DwLl6XWO0 Another martyr http://youtu.be/Oal8s0OW13E And another http://youtu.be/01M05rOEeJc And another http://youtu.be/bObIA1Z1Zbg

Jub Al-Jandali: victim of sniper attack http://youtu.be/UCbYOY36Ndk Another http://youtu.be/SBCyR47Goks

Karm Al-Zeitun: The neighborhood is pounded in the morning http://youtu.be/qy4upuTKSrU Victim of sniper attack http://youtu.be/1OZDqqrn3Zc This young man died of kidney failure, locals were unable to take him to the hospital die to the siege of their neighborhood http://youtu.be/7vpeFMQVgeU An injured girl http://youtu.be/zh7SZgRH4-g A little girl tells the cameraman that they had to leave because their home was bombed, she says that they will be going to her aunt’s house taking only their clothes  http://youtu.be/IJ2fD3_NXJE

Deir Baalbah: a funeral http://youtu.be/YztrMVSFQ-Q for this martyr http://youtu.be/bOc3Wfn9YA8 Three wounded children http://youtu.be/gqSQR1HrbqY

Al-Rifai: The neighborhood is pounded http://youtu.be/WOjo4sfd42k sample of the shells used http://youtu.be/9dfbbzy9S_s More demolished homes http://youtu.be/q-e423s51mc Snipers take up positions http://youtu.be/yNF9s8DgLaU and go to work http://youtu.be/X7u73qdCQRM

Bab Tadmor: a funeral http://youtu.be/evw7Rouyn3E for this local http://youtu.be/hfVf6W2Fgnw At night, the neighborhood comes under attack http://youtu.be/6I9KYhWfUDA

Malaab: protesters burn the Russian flag http://youtu.be/CQ4PPjdRowk

Daytime Rallies Qoussour (all-women) http://youtu.be/of5VcqBsr1s


The Province

Rastan: Local members of the FSA declare the western parts of the city liberated, and promise to liberate the rest http://youtu.be/IWbSzINVul8 People rally under the protection of the FSA http://youtu.be/c9DHeLuGZT8


Houleh: Protesters come under heavy gunfire from loyalists http://youtu.be/WpiN8kfhwYM an injured little girl http://youtu.be/688n3QWUyFM

Qseir: impact of shelling http://youtu.be/uR9VtgQQT14

Tadmor: loyalist troops stand on the outskirts of the historic city and begin shooting http://youtu.be/jWqejK4tOqU



Damascus

The City

Jobar: protesters taking part in this funeral http://youtu.be/zEpRl5e9JXM come under fire leaving several more dead and wounded http://youtu.be/NT2TW5nDXNY , http://youtu.be/QLKQroiER9w The blood of the dead and wounded covers the streets http://youtu.be/o62cyq_zehA A nighttime funeral http://youtu.be/PmDrLR1coIE

Al-Hajar Al-Aswad: nighttime protesters http://youtu.be/0ky7lEyrHtE come under fire http://youtu.be/AvAdhcb4zPo 

Daraya: nighttime rally http://youtu.be/N-InIQ5zejk comes under fire http://youtu.be/vYlvbk9q5Kg



Eastern Ghoutah

The pounding of Eastern Ghoutah continues http://youtu.be/VmruA6mPcBI

Arbeen: the town gets pounded again http://youtu.be/ScOA1NsXzM4 , http://youtu.be/CMSp19MC2Zg , http://youtu.be/PjE4zxVsuzI Samples of the shells used http://youtu.be/5kDXNlO8fNg Assessing the damage http://youtu.be/4ydGwbEiWxc  A plume of black smoke rises in the air after a home was hit http://youtu.be/YJrq8umc9aI , http://youtu.be/5Wv1vhyNt9M A home catches fire http://youtu.be/SOltkC9WU-A Treating the wounded http://youtu.be/Y-n0y7NwXoQ A martyr http://youtu.be/SN3KKCCtiOg At night, locals hold a funeral http://youtu.be/_zMjOIUnpqU

Ain Terma: tanks and loyalist troops pour into the restive suburb http://youtu.be/EG0cpEAxkHM , http://youtu.be/Hb8MVPuMTlE


Kafar Batna: a 7-year old girl is killed http://youtu.be/llhqZo-p2hw Treating the wounded http://youtu.be/z2QpKoQrT2Q

Zamalka: black smoke and the independence flag hovers over the skies of the suburb http://youtu.be/4efXUzyl-Y8




Damascus South

Moadamiyeh: local high school girls stage an after school rally http://youtu.be/XfmD7iuHDfE , http://youtu.be/9cREwnjIHOA

Daytime Rallies Moadamiyeh http://youtu.be/rPz4CmNFaa8

Nighttime Rallies Artouz http://youtu.be/CKgJKM19R28

West (Zabadani and Wadi Barada)

 Zabadani: funerals for a local killed in skirmishes at the outskirts of the town http://youtu.be/BjeGjZhLJcg , http://youtu.be/SP78u_h_K0Y


North (The Qalamoun Region )

Dmeir comes under heavy pounding at night http://youtu.be/Ufiq7qkLL8I

Rheibeh: A tank patrol streets http://youtu.be/Yra8NPTmxMQ Yabroud: loyalist pour into town http://youtu.be/h16IMBBlL9E

Nighttime Rallies Eltal http://youtu.be/f_WqrAow3uU

Hama

The City


Bab Qibli: aftermath of pounding http://youtu.be/Q5nszLftLx4 , http://youtu.be/vwwRXRg974M

The minaret of the Sirjawi Mosque all but completely destroyed http://youtu.be/g443Su7D2rE


The Province

Shaizar: the town is pounded http://youtu.be/53F5sgI16ok , http://youtu.be/m4KU0Ixl0I0 Locals say 25 people were killed http://youtu.be/-Fy2_84v36s

Kafar Zeiteh: burning the Russian flag http://youtu.be/tWKmn3hJqWM

Treimseh: funeral http://youtu.be/X_GySDxYzeQ

Khattab: locals in this predominantly Sunni community say that they are being pounded from position inside the nearby community of Arzeh, an Alawite community http://youtu.be/hYGq_h9qE5M 


Nighttime Rallies Misyaf http://youtu.be/I6_adN6zJEQ

Idlib


Loyalists opened dams and flooded the agricultural lands as a form of collective punishment http://youtu.be/SotLM0jRqnU


Ma’arrat Al-Nouman: a martyr http://youtu.be/UA9pRMnD8H4 A funeral http://youtu.be/Vf9pK8phLXU

Khan Shaikhoon: a martyr http://youtu.be/vqrDecdi2QI A martyred child http://youtu.be/Lq-8FSNFrgE Treating the wounded of yesterday’s pounding http://youtu.be/50YO4oom3xY , http://youtu.be/z24ZkWCfncg A funeral http://youtu.be/PCLstswehTk , http://youtu.be/VmWeGLMaXHU

More defections http://youtu.be/ov1qVDatDLs

Kafrenbel: a rally with participation from local members of the FSA http://youtu.be/iuXTZozO2os

Daytime Rallies Mar Ayan http://youtu.be/FgeKdT72F1U


Deraa/Hauran

Deraa City

At night, the sounds of  battle between loyalists and rebels can be heard in the distance http://youtu.be/ecF4HAIE6lo And a little closer things heat up http://youtu.be/E4HpGhLxP-w


Hauran Province

Jassem: even student rallies get shot at. Locals say that one student was killed when this students rally came under fire http://youtu.be/of3j_y5qveU Elsewhere in town, a funeral http://youtu.be/8SfmaEmTiQs for a victim of torture http://youtu.be/6OfKS8J08TM

Harrah: a funeral http://youtu.be/6c1ZNsxOaZg for this martyr http://youtu.be/8o5L1Kl235E

Mseifrah: the town is pounded at dawn http://youtu.be/ZATyb1iY-g4 , http://youtu.be/f4IPJHRVIoE so is Khirbet Ghazaleh http://youtu.be/qpLm7j4U_eI



Aleppo

The City

Aleppo University: Medical students couldn’t school today courtesy of Assad loyalists http://youtu.be/eXQX-YXuNKc Elsewhere on campus, a rally http://youtu.be/2amu9_cuLeQ , http://youtu.be/01hOkcdsDd4 Soon, they come under fire (near end of clip) http://youtu.be/MsJApTfU0Bg

Nighttime Rallies Rawdah http://youtu.be/LS5mmledN30 Salaheddine http://youtu.be/LONekf1nbB8 Taqwa Mosque http://youtu.be/icaAbWAcjCQ

Aleppo Province

Dar Azzah: a convoy of tanks and armored vehicles enter the town http://youtu.be/bCk5DoWjH7Q , http://youtu.be/xS0vUU7EkM0


Deir Ezzor


Deir Ezzor City: The city comes under heavy gunfire at night just as Orient TV was life streaming a rally http://youtu.be/komy_L6qOvQ a martyr http://youtu.be/y3kpC9GSNBk

Daytime Rallies Deir Ezzor City (Takaya St.) http://youtu.be/HDP4eVLWhMo

Nighttime Rallies Albou-Kamal http://youtu.be/ulzWhcfQ2r8 Deir Ezzor City (Takaya St.)  http://youtu.be/JG6pbjoQD44 (Jbeileh) http://youtu.be/tCZWtjXYxsA
Hassakeh


Nighttime Rallies Amoudeh http://youtu.be/FOP2Bn4cePs

Lattakia


Alouaineh: protesters come under fire (3:20) http://youtu.be/3WvbVi2UwnU Elsewhere in town, high school girls conduct their rally http://youtu.be/PZXujht3Lew