Saturday, October 6, 2012

Showdown in the Air!

Rebels might have occasional successes in bringing down some of the helicopter gunships and fighter jets taking part in bombarding their towns and villages, but the battle cannot be won without serious support from external parties. If Turkey and the world want to make a real difference in this fight, rebels should be given what they need to neutralize Assad’s air power. Otherwise, the pounding of Syria back into the Middle Ages, in terms of minds as well as infrastructure, will continue.

Friday October 5, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 127. The Breakdown: 10 children and 4 women included. 36 in Aleppo, 28 in Damascus and Suburb, 19 in Daraa, 16 in Deir Ezzor,12 in Homs, 11 in Idlib, 3 in Lattakia and 2 in Hama. 464 rallies took place, including: 123 in Idlib, 117 in Hama, 63 in Aleppo, 53 in Deir Ezzor (banners were raised saluting the Green Revolution in Iran out of appreciation for recent show of support by Iranian protesters), 47 in Damascus and Suburbs, 29 in Daraa, 20 in Hassakeh, 7 in Homs, 3 in Raqqah, 2 in Lattakia (LCC).

News

Special Reports
…if Turkey takes a more active role by exerting control over the border area inside Syria, then the United States, its allies, and other countries interested in regional stability should all lend their support. This includes increased military, political, and humanitarian support to the opposition. For its part, Washington should provide assistance that helps defend and support areas in northern Syria where the FSA has a measure of control, and where free political and social institutions are emerging. These measures would help end the conflict, ensure direct and immediate aid for the Syrian people, and give the United States a chance to influence events after the regime falls.
In the coming days, Ankara is likely to press Washington for more aggressive action against the Assad regime, including U.S.-supported havens for refugees in Syria and measures to hasten Assad’s fall. Washington’s response is likely to be sticking to the soft-landing strategy while trying to slow Erdogan down…. given Obama and Erdogan’s divergent policies on Syria, a storm between them appears almost unavoidable.
Civilians and rebels say Bashar al-Assad’s forces have been targeting medical facilities—even ambulances—in the battle for key opposition city.
While the US and other Western nations resist being drawn into the fighting in Syria, Turkey is feeling the direct effects of bloodshed and refugees, putting pressure on Ankara to act.
Majed al-Muhammad, the commander of a Syrian antigovernment fighting group, slammed his hand on his desk. “Doesn’t America have satellites?” he asked, almost shouting. “Can’t it see what is happening?”… If the West continues to turn its back on Syria’s suffering, he said, Syrians will turn their backs in return, and this may imperil Western interests and security at one of the crossroads of the Middle East.
While the Syrian conflict has been characterised by fighting between the Sunni majority and ruling Alawite minority, it has also given birth to some movements which aim to bridge the sectarian divide, as Samer Mohajer and Ellie Violet Bramley report from Beirut.

Al-Arabiyah Leaks
Al-Arabiya television published confidential security documents revealing that Iran assisted its ally Syria to move chemical weapons. Also another leaked communiqué highlighted Syrian-Israeli collaboration on joint border.  

Ammar Abdulhamid & Khawla Yusuf: The Shredded Tapestry: The State of Syria Today

On funding of Rebel Groups

To be clear on the issue of funding of rebel groups, by now both Saudis and Qataris are funding Islamist and Salafist militias, it's the not the ideology that matters anymore, but loyally. Still, the larger groups on the ground are so intermeshed that they use smaller units that keep changing affiliations so all end up getting funding from both sides. The funding is still minimal of course, and most of it disappears along the way before reaching the fighters on the ground.

On Al-Arabiyah Leaks

I really don't know what to make of the current documents being published by Al-Arabiya channel. They look and sound too good to be true. On the other hand, the regime has often done things to damage itself and its image and seems unconcerned about that. From my own experiences with security apparatuses, I know that the amount of paperwork they generate is prodigious, it's really a wonder that we haven't had such leaks before.  Now that we have so many defectors from security apparatuses, it makes sense that leaks are happening. Still, how can we authenticate anything really?

Video Highlights

The Douma Martyrs Brigade declare capturing a military airport in Eastern Ghoutah, Damascus Province, even as regime forces continue to pound the region with helicopter gunships and MIGs http://youtu.be/miHEfZ3GPls Rebels also took control of a number long-range missiles http://youtu.be/jOFFrRlCV3M The Brigade is part of the Syria Martyrs Brigades, led by Jamal Maarouf, a pragmatist rebel leader based in Jabal Al-Zawiyeh Region in Idlib Province. Attacking airports have become part of their strategy to try to neutralize Assad air power, and they have done this before in Idlib, Hama and Aleppo. This is the first such attack in Damascus. More on Jamal and the rebels can be found in this report, and my recent op-ed in Foreign Policy.

Still in Eastern Ghoutah and in Douma, rebels bring down a helicopter gunship http://youtu.be/fIMGrNjPFe4 , http://youtu.be/nlpbXWyqsLQ , http://youtu.be/BCgrz1HVJF4 Wreckage http://youtu.be/-akAwNWhQjA , http://youtu.be/kPZ16058FM8 The moment when the chopper was hit http://youtu.be/XQspTyWV_2k

In nearby Saqba, many were killed http://youtu.be/O_8x_d8-kBE , http://youtu.be/lR8S0sIarww in a new massacre caused by continuous shelling in which MIGs took part http://youtu.be/5SNEYokSjV4

In the town of Mouhassan, Deir Ezzor Province, rebels managed to bring down a fighter jet: plane on its way down http://youtu.be/-W8f7bZDrLM Wreckage http://youtu.be/BLniTBwvYbU Rebels find the parachutes of the pilot http://youtu.be/6bQ44B9HbNw

Meanwhile, MIGs pound the neighborhood of Sakhour in Aleppo City http://youtu.be/JNfPTlKe9_4 , http://youtu.be/ID6ZWdWOciQ As heavy artillery pound the neighborhood of Sulaiman Al-Halabi http://youtu.be/UJJWMaeTJkU

In Homs City, the pounding of restive neighborhoods with missiles intensified: Khaldiyeh http://youtu.be/pO_1D0dh-bc , http://youtu.be/EKNKS-MrneQ , http://youtu.be/wHmStU-5NXE