We don’t get reports of individual deaths anymore; it’s always a massacre here, a massacre there, accompanied by videos of mangled bodies and body parts, and ravaged surroundings. Mass murder and destruction in staccato mode, quickly accelerating, continuing ad absurdum, making assertions of common humanity seem rather meaningless if not hypocritical.
Safe Zones and Summary Executions
Only through the establishment of safe zones can revenge killings and summary executions be minimized. Towns and villages controlled by rebels at this stage are under siege and under constant shelling by Assad’s heavy artillery, helicopter gunships and now even MiGs. This situation is not ideal for holding prisoners over longer periods of time, or ensuring their safety. Rebels who can barely feed themselves and who have to continuously fight against incursions by pro-Assad militias cannot afford to take many prisoners, yet, they cannot just afford to let prisoners go and have to face the again in the battlefield. Unless rebels have secure places to which they can transport prisoners of war, their decisions in this regard will be dictated by the prevailing chaotic and emotional conditions in the battlefield, and the requirements of basic survival.
We have been clamoring for the establishment of safe zones in Syria for over a year now, because such zones offer safety and security not only to civilians running away from Assad’s oppression, but also to prisoners of war captured by the rebels. Those who are truly concerned about decreasing violations and infringements of basic rights should help us establish the necessary conditions that can minimize such occurrences. By helping rebels establish safe zones in liberated areas of Syria, international conventions regarding treatment of prisoners of war can be respected and transitional justice processes can begin at earnest, creating a credible alternative to warzone justice.
By continuing to oppose the idea of safe zones, targeted airstrikes and arming rebels, western leaders are saving themselves many headaches, but they are not saving Syria. Eventually, rebels will force Assad out of Damascus and Aleppo, but the two oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world will be left in ruins, and Assad will still be there in his enclave along the coast, and the war will still go on. Those who think they can wait until Assad is gone and that the only thing “a coalition of the willing” can do at this stage is to “begin preparing for the massive task of stabilizing and rebuilding Syria once al-Assad is gone” are delusional. Assad’s designs are clear: he intends on staying as player in the field, one way or another. Russia and Iran are unwavering in their support of him, because so long as he remains in charge of even a sliver of Syria, their interests are served. You can’t rebuild an Aleppo or a Damascus once they are destroyed. And if we wait until these scenarios begin to play out at earnest, the same experts advising nonintervention today will have more reasons to advise the same tomorrow.
For that’s what it is all about really: Syria is another Sykes-Picot state that many experts are already willing to consign to the dustbins of history. What yesterday’s intervention produced, today’s nonintervention destroys, the human cost of it all notwithstanding.
These soldiers captured by rebels in Daraa Province say they were forced into service. They hail from all parts of Syria, including Aleppo, Hama and Damascus Suburbs, all are Sunnis: the cannon fodder for Assad’s war http://youtu.be/eeN0HLbmYxw
A smuggled video from the town of Kafrenbel, Idlib province, shows how Assad troops use civilians as human shields, forcing them to chant for Assad http://youtu.be/KfV1Cd2FVgQ
A local activists speaks to a NBC reporter and his Arabic interpreter explaining that, as an activist, he is not a neutral observer but he does not fabricate news: “there is something more powerful than fabrications” http://youtu.be/lBUba-3Ghjo He says that he wants to speak out more on camera now in order to correct mistakes. Newer figures are emerging on the scene who exaggerate the number of the dead in certain circumstances, not realizing that this hurts the credibility of all their work http://youtu.be/lBUba-3Ghjo The interview took place in the town of Marayan, Jabal Al-Zawiyeh Region, Idlib Province. At one point, the activists turn the table on their guests and interview NBC correspondent Richard Engle. His description of how different towns are attacking the convoys sent by Assad as reinforcements to loyalist troops besieging Aleppo City is pretty telling
In Hama City, an attack on the local neighborhood of Bab Qibli begins even as some of the local rebels are performing prayers http://youtu.be/p5hA4oiNJRo
Battles in Aleppo City intensified after rebels took control briefly of the local state TV and Radio headquarters. Eventually, MiGs were called in and they took part in pounding the complex and surrounding areas http://youtu.be/GtbVAr17sj0 , http://youtu.be/1m73d9-DLmA , http://youtu.be/dfDZXorvQIw , http://youtu.be/qfD57S9lxOw MiGs took part in the pounding of Salaheddine Neighborhood as well http://youtu.be/S4KIb00JYGA , http://youtu.be/rJgN3qg7i5Q , http://youtu.be/pInIMYodWhY The neighborhood was pounded with heavy artillery as well http://youtu.be/ILRBYeXOMyQ A victim of sniper fire lies in the street http://youtu.be/62tc6ZDqNbw Another http://youtu.be/Of-5ecsdPCk
In other parts of the city, rebels take part in cleaning the city and collecting the trash, as Al-Jazeerah correspondent looks on http://youtu.be/VYg6QHAyyYU While attention shifted over the last few days to the issue of retribution killings, the main story remains that of summary executions by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/aPWe4nczUCA
In the nearby city of Elbab, the local Brigade affiliated with the FSA promise to join the fight for the liberation of Aleppo City http://youtu.be/efTnEogchXU
The pounding of Deir Ezzor City intensifies http://youtu.be/mt2ks_T1N-A , http://youtu.be/3VFkxTA3piM So do the clashes http://youtu.be/Bbsm0ZeTEak , http://youtu.be/38FglyKPkRk Dead bodies of locals fill the street, activists unable to retrieve them on account of sniper activities http://youtu.be/rWdHdt51J-o A local rebel addresses the camera promising liberation and victory even as the clashes continue http://youtu.be/ErWX4gI35Z8 Due to lack of media attention to their plight, local activists produced their own reportage of the situation in their city (Arabic) http://youtu.be/_54onApAU74
In the nearby town of Mayadeen, local rebels manage to “liberate” a local security station in an early dawn raid http://youtu.be/OBVI8cNHJxU , http://youtu.be/xdTwxuB-R_U taking over some tanks in the process http://youtu.be/WTpkzI5HJZo , http://youtu.be/RSd1P9pb4mg , http://youtu.be/M-YNgt6FD7Y
The pounding of Rastan, Homs Province, continues http://youtu.be/bjNPMIQyVVk and of Houla http://youtu.be/aUClSOf8tyI , http://youtu.be/CXuZFjkaKb0
The pounding of Tadamon Neighborhood, Damascus City, leaves many injured http://youtu.be/NDabwEpTf2k and dead http://youtu.be/4DB522oZBjI , http://youtu.be/GDHNaEzfLnk
The adjacent neighborhoods of Assaly, Dafelshawk, Yarmouk, Al-Qadam and Al-Hajar Al-Aswad were pounded as well: Assaly http://youtu.be/zN-6oBsCOZA , http://youtu.be/Wd5rtXS2v78 The adjacent suburbs of Saqba and Houmriyeh in Eastern Ghoutah Region were also pounded http://youtu.be/KjyNPUwNOlo
To the West, the pounding of the towns of Zabadani and Madaya continues http://youtu.be/SMzlj-v1MME
The pounding of Bosra Al-Harir, Daraa Province (August 2) leaves many dead, including local rebels http://youtu.be/m9bo3vgfNQM , http://youtu.be/73Wasz309jQ , http://youtu.be/NVE2WxJyEMs , http://youtu.be/26BhAJOnzKw
In Lattakia Province, the village of Ouwaynat in Jabal Al-Akrad Region continues to be pounded http://youtu.be/20ZEl6QTwHA