Friday, February 17, 2012

Clap Off!

The story in Syria is still quite simple for all attempts at muddying the waters, motives and intentions: the Assads are trying to survive by doing everything they can to plunge the country into civil strife. The international community has an obligation to stop them, something that cannot be done by leaving protesters to fend for themselves or by adopting the Assads’ version of events.

Thursday February 16, 2012

Today’s death toll: 70, including 19 political detainees who were executed by loyalist militias along the Ariha-Jisr Ashoughour Highway in Idlib Province. 12 more were killed in the town of Kafrenboudeh in Hama Province, 3 in the town of Madaya In Rural Damascus. More deaths reported in Deraa City and Albou Kamal (Deir Ezzor Province) and in Homs City as well as the towns of Houleh, Rastan and Qusayr in Homs Province.

The bombing campaign against Baba Amr and Insha’aat neighborhoods in Homs City has witnessed further instantiation.

More locals have been arrested in Zabadani, amidst worsening humanitarian conditions. 4 loyalist troops were killed in clashes with rebels in Hama Province.

In Damascus City, a major funeral for an activist killed by loyalist militias came under fire.

More high level defections continue to take place, with Major General Fayiz Amr coming as the latest case. In taped statements. Maj. Gen. Amr confirmed the use of poison gas against protesters in Rastan but “on a limited scale.” He also spoke of the presence of Iranian advisors taking active part in planning the ongoing crackdown. 

Important Note: There is much confusion concerning the official website of the SNC. So let me clarify this: the first result that comes on the search engine is not it and is actually a fake website meant to discredit the SNC by making seem that it is connected to Al-Qaeda. This here is an Arabic website created early on by people affiliated with the SNC but is not the official the website of the SNC. This is the official website of the SNC.

Op-Eds & Special Reports

I just wish that a different title was used in this Washington Post article. Syrian resistance leaders have no sympathy or ties to Al-Qaeda. Moreover, what James Clapper actall;y said does not allow for this sweeping assertion. He said that the attacks in Damascus and Aleppo bear 'all the earmarks of an al-Qaida-like attack.' Previously, intelligence officials said that they have no conclusive evidence to say that these were indeed Al-Qaeda attacks. In other words, what we have here are theories and suppositions, and that’s how they should be reported.

Let’s not forget here what we know about the Assad regime:

·         They have staged in-country terrorist attacks before, especially when they needed to detract attention away from their troubling behavior (the attack on the U.S. Embassy in 2006, among others that took place in that period)
·         They have from the very beginning of their current predicament shown that their main plan calls for plunging the country into a sectarian quagmire. As such, they are the greatest beneficiaries of such attacks. 
·         Previous intelligence reports dating back from the 2003 onward have shown that the Assads have managed to infiltrate Al-Qaeda network in the Levant, effectively taking control of it and manipulating it to their interest.
·         Ever since the beginning of the Revolution, the Assad have released hundreds of jihadi elements that they have had languishing in their prisons, including the Al-Qaeda Number Four and the mastermind of the 7/7 attacks in Madrid.

So, if there is AQ activity in Syria, it’s not a case of the chicken coming home to roost but of clientalism and manipulation taking to the next level. Jihadi networks, including Al-Qaeda, have for long been one of the main weapons the Assads have in their arsenals. If they are active in country now, we know who to blame, if we choose to analyze things with our minds wide open. Otherwise, we’re better off shutting our Clapper.

As I follow up on the Skype call I helped arrange at Foundation for Defense of Democracies between resistance leaders on the ground in Rural Damascus and Washingtonian policy experts and members of the media, I facilitated communications with one of those leaders, Muhhamd Zuka (AKA Mohamad Zoka), and translated an article by him highlighting the main demands and expectations of the Syrian resistance to Assad rule at this stage, as well as serving to introduce us to these rebels.

“The world has no reason to be afraid of us. This revolution was launched to reclaim the future for freedom and democracy. For this, we should be engaged and supported. We are not one color, but a rainbow, committed to protecting our national diversity and the values of tolerance for which Syrian society has always been known -- not because the world wants it, but because it is our heritage. Had we had any other agenda, the world would have already seen signs of that on the ground. It has been almost a year since the revolution began, yet, despite the regime's provocations, we remain committed to national unity, and we shall not waver.”

Defections on the increase all over the country: These are just a few of the defections that took place over the last 2 days only

Over 200 troops announce their defection on Al-Jazeerah in the Jabal Al-Zawiyeh region in Idlib Province

Former loyalists announce their defections

New fighting unit established And another

Major General Fayiz Amr, head of the Director of the Air Technical School, announced his defection Colonel Muhammad Ali Khateeb, Office of the Inspector General of the Armed Forces, announces his defection

Rallies continue to take place all over the country as they have been over the last few months. Student rallies (high school and junior high students) in particular have become part of daily life, often compensating for failure by adults to stage their own due to heavy security presence. By now clips of these rallies have become too familiar which is why I am not covering them as much as I used below both in order to save time, as well as to keep the focus on the main events.


Homs City

Insha’aat: the pounding continues under the rain Loyalist tanks and troops patrol the streets Impact of pounding

Nighttime Rallies

Homs Province

Houleh: martyred baby

Rastan: children climb on top of a tank captured by the FSA Impact of shelling

Teer Ma’allah: funeral

Daytime Rallies

Nighttime Rallies


Damascus City

Mazzeh: thousands attend a funeral for local activist in a neighborhood a short drive away from the presidential palace , , , ,

Daytime Rallies

Nighttime Rallies

Eastern Ghoutah

Douma: Funeral for a local who died under torture in detention

Damascus South

Defectors sabotage the communications lines to Damascus Airport

Daytime Rallies
Qatana (all girls rally)

West (Zabadani and Wadi Barada)

Zabadani: local FSA fighters blow a tank that was shelling the town

North (The Qalamoun Region )

Nighttime Rallies


Hama City

Daytime Rallies

Nighttime Rallies

Hama Province

Kafrenboudeh: victims of a recent round of pounding (gruesome) Their funeral There are twelve martyrs in all

Salamiyeh: Funeral

Daytime Rallies


19 locals from the village of Sanfarah and neighboring villages in the Sahel Al-Rouj Region were taken away from their homes in a raid by loyalist militias then executed on the highway connecting Ariha and Jisr Ashoughour ,

Ma’arrat Al-Nouman: Funeral

Sarmeen: Funeral

Daytime Rallies


Deraa City

Al-Balad: Sounds of gunfire can be heard in the areas surrounding the city at dawn denoting a battle between loyalist militias and members of the local resistance , , Qoussour: more armored vehicles head towards Al-Balad Gunfire intensifies soon after their arrival , , Occupants of this car were hit

Deraa/Hauran Province

Basr Al-Harir: tanks pound their way into town Gunfire reverberates in the streets

Mhajeh: funeral

Da’el: student rally disperse when tanks pass through the streets

Daytime Rallies


Aleppo City

Nighttime Rallies

Aleppo Province

Al-Atarib: the pounding went on for another day Martyrs ,

Nighttime Rallies

Deir Ezzor

Nighttime Rallies


Daytime Rallies