Sunday, February 3, 2013

Leader in Action!

Let’s be clear: opposition leader Moaz Al-Khatib’s recent activities and statements will not change the positions of Russia and Iran on transition in Syria, and will not convince the regime to halt its crackdown, release political prisoners and enter into serious negotiations to hand power over to the opposition. But what Moaz managed to accomplish is to show the world that a potential leader with a vision and moral gumption is emerging on the scene. Too bad, his fellow opposition members have for the most part chosen to vilify him rather than understand the true nature and measure of his activities. What Syrian opposition groups need to understand is that military means are not going to seal the deal for change in Syria, and will only get you so far before politics have to weigh in. People like Moaz Al-Khatib will be instrumental in ensuring that the interests of the average Syrian are represented and not only those of various ideological groups.

Sunday February 3, 2013

Today’s Death Toll: 140 martyrs, including 11 women, 15 children and 3 martyrs under torture: 41 in Aleppo; 36 in Damascus and Suburbs; 16 in Homs; 13 in Idlib; 13 in Hama; 8 in Deir Ezzor; 7 in Daraa; 6 in Raqqa (LCCs).

Points of Random Shelling: 309 points, including 21 points of warplane shelling, 2 of which were bombed with explosive barrels, 2 with vacuum bombs, 1 with cluster bombs. 122 points shelled with artillery, and 100 points with mortars. 61 points were shelled with rockets (LCCs).

Clashes: 107. Successful operations include shooting down a regime helicopter in the Raqqa suburbs, and storming the police headquarters and seizing a large amount of ammunition and arms. In Damascus Suburbs, FSA rebels destroyed one of the checkpoints at the intersection of Baghdad and Adawi streets (LCCs).

News
Syria Rebels Blame Regime for Civilian Massacre Video footage posted by activists on the Internet and purported to be of the attack's aftermath showed several residential buildings in a neighborhood identified as Ansari reduced to heaps of rubble and engulfed in smoke. Rescuers, many of them appearing to be rebel fighters by their dress and weapons, could be seen on the video frantically pulling out the dead and wounded, including children.
Syria: 'Children Are Biggest Casualty' Doctors in Aleppo tell Sky's Stuart Ramsay that more children are being killed and injured in greater numbers than rebel fighters.
Israeli Strike Into Syria Said to Damage Research Site While the main target of the attack on Wednesday appears to have been SA-17 missiles and their launchers — which the Israelis feared were about to be moved to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon — video shown on Syrian television appears to back up assertions that the research center north of Damascus was also damaged. That complex, the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, has been the target of American and Western sanctions for more than a decade because of intelligence suggesting that it was the training site for engineers who worked on chemical and biological weaponry.
President Assad accuses Israel of destabilising Syria President Assad said on Sunday that last Wednesday's raid "unmasked the true role Israel is playing, in collaboration with foreign enemy forces and their agents on Syrian soil, to destabilise and weaken Syria". But he said, in a meeting with Saeed Jalili, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, that his country's military was able to confront "current threats... and aggression".
Syrian opposition chief under fire for talks with Assad allies The Russian and Iranian foreign ministers, and U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, portrayed Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib's new willingness to talk with the Assad regime as a major step towards resolving the two-year-old war.
Hopes of Syria talks rise as 5,000 die in a month Assad backers Iran and Russia speak to opposition as January toll reported amid worsening refugee crisis.
Syria opposition creates Aleppo police force The move is part of rebels' attempt to restore law and order in areas under their control in the northern city.

Special Reports
The top priority is bringing an end to the slaughter. But we must ensure that, after Assad, revenge does not lead to abuses.
Israel's defense minister indicated that his country was behind the airstrike on Syria last week, noting that Israel has issued warnings against moving weapons into Lebanon.
In a small town in Syria's east [Mayadeen], Islamist militants have taken unclothed mannequins they see as sexually enticing out of the shops. Members of the al-Nusra Front, al Qaeda's Syria affiliate, have also prevented women from wearing trousers, preferring that they adopt the shapeless head-to-toe black veil. The town of 54,000 on the Euphrates river offers a snapshot of what life could be like if Islamist rebels take control of significant areas of Syria as President Bashar al-Assad loses further ground… Government forces left the town in November and half its inhabitants fled during the fighting. Now al-Nusra, the Free Syrian Army, local militia and tribal groups have carved the town into fiefdoms. Residents say there are around 8,000 armed men in total.

Syria Deeply
As part of our series of interviews with journalists covering the Syria crisis, we reached out to Miriam Elder of The Guardian. Elder, the newspaper’s Moscow correspondent, discusses Russian media’s coverage of the war in Syria, its longtime ally. “The last report I can remember seeing from Syria,” she says, “was at the beginning of September.”
As part of our series of interviews with journalists covering the Syria crisis, we reached out to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. Kristof is a bi-weekly columnist and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He has been covering the Syria story since its earliest days, reporting from Syria in late November. ‘It’s frustrating that we have this apathy,’ he tells us.

Al Husseini hopes to leverage his good reputation, religious credentials and independence into a political organization that would take root during Syria’s transition, hoping to attenuate calls for vengeance and help bring to fruition a civil and modern government. He has teamed up with roughly 100 civil and religious leaders to establish the Building Civilization Movement. The only name he would mention among them is a famous Sufi scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Al Yaqoubi. Preaching a tolerant brand of Islam that has deep roots in Syria is both the natural and only way for the country to heal after the war ends, Al Husseini said. Salafism, a conservative branch of Sunni Islam which is gaining in prominence due to support from Arab Gulf countries, will subside “when the fighting ends and the money runs out, and people will return to their true nature,” he said.
In our effort to showcase unseen images of the Syrian crisis, we’ve featured the work of photojournalist Nicole Tung. Tung is a 26-year-old American whose photos from Syria have been published in TIME magazine, The New York Times, and other global news outlets. The Hong Kong native is a graduate of New York University and has traveled in and out of Syria since the early months of the war. Here, she photographs patients in and around the hard-hit Aleppo suburb of Sha’ar, including the Sunni stronghold’s since-destroyed Dar al-Shifa Hospital.
It’s also important that we not get caught be the dreaded gandarma, the Turkish border police, who patrol these routes with frequency. If we stumble upon one, I am instructed in the car, I am to ditch my flak helmet in the brush or hand it off to the fixer. I am to say two words, in Arabic: “Ana Suria.” (“I am Syrian.”)
Carl F. Hobert – Teach Deeply: Why We Need to Educate America’s Students About the World Syria Deeply’s founder, Lara Setrakian asked me to coordinate a new education initiative called Teach Deeply, addressing that need. Today, we’re very proud to launch our first project, Teach Syria. It’s a simple tech-savvy solution for increasing foreign policy education in our nation’s schools, in partnership with IAmSyria.org and President-Elect Steve Armstrong of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) as an Advisor. (Note: for the sake of transparency, I have to say that I am the President of IAmSyria.org).

My new paper, prepared for a briefing in Washington, D.C. that took place on January 15, 2013, is now out and is titled “Syria 2013: Rise of the Warlords.” It should be read in conjunction with my previous briefing “The Shredded Tapestry,” and my recent essay “The Creation of an Unbridgeable Divide.

Video Highlights

Rebels in Karnaz, Hama, bring down a MiG fighter http://youtu.be/A-qqITlr04U

Rebels in Basr Al-Harir, Daraa, confiscates Iranian-made munitions from a depot belonging to pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/Z2aQrZWRWJk

An aerial raid on Al-Ansari Al-Sharqi Neighborhood, Aleppo City, leaves scores of civilian casualties http://youtu.be/h3K-nncuRoo Locals dig through the rubble in search of the dead and wounded http://youtu.be/ynnUeprnSo8 , http://youtu.be/-Mdps0qOWGg , http://youtu.be/4thOF70OhE4 Local are angry, threaten Assad with death. Some claim that an ambulance that entered the neighborhood was somehow involved in helping MiGs target the building that was hit. The building was mostly hosting refugees from nearby neighborhoods http://youtu.be/zHVz2J5pwpc

Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Hanano, members of the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria carry out a garbage collection campaign http://youtu.be/Fn-VLY8mmPY , http://youtu.be/BI3T-C7wIAo

MiGs continue their pounding of rebel strongholds in Homs City: Jobar http://youtu.be/9Qo0mBQwqBs , http://youtu.be/twB18J98naQ

Elsewhere in Homs Province, the pounding of the town of Al-Hosn continues http://youtu.be/zJuRTUJ6hTQ

Rebels bring down a helicopter gunship in the town of Tabaqa, Raqqa http://youtu.be/miyNDw2sxYE Local reports speak of some damage caused by the shelling to the nearby Euphrates Dam. Should the Dam burst, hundreds of thousands of people will be affected, especially the inhabitants of Tabaqa and Raqqa City.

An IED explodes in Baghdad Street, Damascus City, injuring one passerby http://youtu.be/ebgkdpuVfnM

Meanwhile, deadly clashes between rebels and loyalist militias continue in Southern Ghoutah http://youtu.be/R15uArmZgyk The pounding of the town of Daraya continues http://youtu.be/ZoWld85RqQU , http://youtu.be/wS38974ZcYI

Rebels in Daraa City mount on an attack on loyalist headquarters in Al-Balad District http://youtu.be/H1qt34IhvYo , http://youtu.be/gUcBdqwZgSY But pounding by regime loyalists continues http://youtu.be/vdaoCspZQOw

In this video, fighters claiming to be members of Jabhat Al-Nusra claim to have discovered documents showing where chemical weapons are stored. They promise to invade thee locations take over the weapons for future use against Alawites and Zionists. The video appears something manufactured by the regime, since the speakers misquote the Qur’an on several occasions http://youtu.be/S-nO8vzlR80