Al-Nusra establishes a Sharia Council, and Assad declares Jihad. The 21st Century is officially on leave in Syria.
The delay in choosing a provisional government by the opposition is not simply about failure to agree on its general makeup. There is an actual ideological war going behind closed doors between the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies who, as usual, are trying to impose their candidates and manipulate the process and Coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib who is trying to streamline the process making more transparent and inclusive, especially of women, secular currents, in-country figures and minorities.
Moreover, Alkhatib is trying to push for establishment of a system of accountability that can keep the government in check to prevent cronyism, corruption and mismanagement, or stop them in time. The Brotherhood has been trying to railroad the process by inserting its nominees at the last minute and trying to manipulate the media through carefully orchestrated leaks of names of possible nominees and internal correspondences trying to showcase Alkhatib as stalling and painting him as a stooge for the Americans.
Indeed, a provisional government is needed but not just any government. Moreover, if this provisional government is not able to operate freely and safely in liberated areas, it will simply fail to serve the purpose for which it was established: to unify these territories under one leadership and prevent the fragmentation of the country. The conditions that can allow for a provisional government to operate on Syrian soil are not there yet, Mr. Alkhatib realizes this, and he realize that the current push for establishing a provisional government is meant simply to undermine the Coalition authority and bring us back to the days when the Muslim Brotherhood dominated the political process.
This is not about keeping Syria together. It’s more about who will be the top warlord in liberated areas. In this connection, Jabhat Al-Nusra has a slightly different answer (see below).
The Qaradah Conundrum
Local activists in Latakia report that new clashes took place between pro- and anti-Assad Alawite clans in the town of Qardaha, the Assads hometown. Around 14 people from both sides are said to have been killed. Reports could not be independently verified, but the incident is said to have taken place on Sunday morning.
Social media is also abuzz with reports of the assassination of Hilal Assad, a cousin of Bashar and one of the chief figures behind pro-Assad Alawite militias in the province of Latakia. Once again, this could not be independently verified.
The Assadist Jihad
The High Religious Council of Syria, an official religious body controlled by the Assad regime, declared Jihad against the rebels and called on all able bodied young men to join the Syrian army. The call is not likely to be heeded except by the brainwashed few, but the significance of the call is it indicates a further weakening of the regime, and seems to be part of its strategy to prepare for Guerilla warfare in Damascus.
Another element of this shift might be the recently circulated ordinance calling on all state ministers to relocate to Doummar Projects, a suburb located near the top of Qasayoun Mountain just outside of Damascus city. The decision was made for “security reasons,” and seems to come as a prelude to unleashing hell on the city itself from the surrounding mountains.
The north bank of the Euphrates River in Syria is now effectively liberated.
In the town of Mayadeen, Deir Ezzor, Jabhat Al-Nusra held a military parade celebrating the establishment of a Sharia Council to rule the Eastern Province. The troops we see here are called the policemen or the enforcers of the rules of the Sharia Council http://youtu.be/gjE1OHlqkDc , http://youtu.be/yNhV-qwqrFY
Local activists say that the local population that remains in the city, around 30,000 (half the population was forced to flee over the preceding year on account of pounding by pro-Assad militias) is not happy with this development, nor are other rebels groups in the city. Al-Nusra members have been trying to impose Sharia rule on the city. At night, local inhabitants took to the streets demanding Al-Nusra’s departure chanting “Syria is free, Al-Nusra should leave.” http://youtu.be/McTlm99Igy8 People are also afraid that Al-Nusra presence could leave to aerial or Scud bombardment of their town. The people were not wrong, soon after Al-Nusra’s parade the rural areas around the city were targeted by a Scud http://youtu.be/LiTFJfiC338 An aerial bombardment soon followed http://youtu.be/hufRvlYGn4s , http://youtu.be/mqXneSb1wAo
Seeing that the Council’s jurisdiction is meant to encompass the entire Eastern region and not only Mayadeen, the town, in a sense, has become the provisional capital of the Islamic Caliphate of Syria. But the issue is not settled yet, as tensions between Al-Nusra and its affiliates and more moderates groups in city continue to grow, the two sides might end up clashing.
Meanwhile, battles elsewhere in the province continue, as rebels assert their control and destroy more of pro-Assad troops and militias. Here they chase away troops from the 113th Brigade http://youtu.be/bDZQ2L8YZ60 , http://youtu.be/r5vNDpGShNA Rebels from Liwa Al-Ikhlas, an affiliate of Jabhat Al-Nusra, fire at a helicopter gunship that landed to evacuate the last of the pro-Assad militias on the scene http://youtu.be/tZAIzkMjD2A , http://youtu.be/FV9EZ21mzU4 The spoils http://youtu.be/L91sVFSDvMQ , http://youtu.be/-N_t_hcDe04 The Euphrates Storm Brigade also took part in the operation http://youtu.be/GhvMBk3hw7Y A long video surveying the scene of the battle http://youtu.be/naWLJtg2yv4 One of the confiscated armored vehicles http://youtu.be/LDjNeVPmlz4
Elsewhere, members of Jabhat Al-Nusra hold an auction for the tanks and BMPs they confiscated http://youtu.be/pF3-Hq2-v1U
Rebels declare that the famous refinery of Homs has been shelled by the regime. This is Syria’s main refinery, and one of only 2 refineries in the country http://youtu.be/3m0WSS4ckfI Some of the installation were set ablaze http://youtu.be/yH5fn4rIMHY
The pounding also destroys the paint factor http://youtu.be/hZq6s8d1NRQ
Ghanto, Homs Province: the village is attacked using incendiary cluster bombs http://youtu.be/p8dzKS0l1aA
These bodies belong to pro-Assad militias who tried to invade rebel strongholds in Homs City http://youtu.be/KYAZ1jWFkh8 the strongholds have been under siege for close to 18 months now, but rebels, as few as they are, remain entrenched. Assad needs to control Homs City and province in order to secure access to the Alawite-majority coastal enclave. Rebel strongholds come under renewed shelling after the failure of the attack http://youtu.be/WPkvsHveOyw , http://youtu.be/zyEY4J7RzS8 Scenes of devastation http://youtu.be/LPbK6CE5-xo The neighborhood of Baba Amr gets pounded by MiGs soon after its liberation http://youtu.be/bX2NLzzobKU , http://youtu.be/44x37csXdag , http://youtu.be/5hcNrOR5vvc
Jabhat Al-Nusra documents some of their recent operations in Homs (Dar Al-Kabirah) and Hama provinces where with pro-Assad militias and occasionally with Hezbollah fighters have intensified over the last few weeks http://youtu.be/6BVLAEMNaPg
Rebels from the Farouq Brigade (members of the Syrian Islamic Front) attack a loyalist convoy on a road in Sahel Al-Ghab, Hama Province http://youtu.be/B6ehJov7h0k
In Aleppo Province, Col. Abdul-Jabbar Al-Oqaidi, helps in pounding the Minnigh Airport http://youtu.be/R92aXDZqlGg
A new massacre takes place in Aleppo along the Quwaiq River in Boustan Al-Qasr Neighborhood in Aleppo City: local activists find over 20 bodies strewn along the banks http://youtu.be/4fpYQXDAxPw , http://youtu.be/EKFmMPy-b-k Removing the bodies http://youtu.be/bcpLQJHjIqw
Rebels from Shuhada Al-Yarmouk Brigade, Daraa, release the UN observers http://youtu.be/ZTTy4yt_bZE Reception by Jordanian authorities http://youtu.be/ueVrpaAnXjU UN Observers cross over to the Jordanian side http://youtu.be/nHli334QV_0
Elsewhere in Daraa, in the town of Abdeen, rebels take control of the positions of the heavy artillery operated by regime loyalists http://youtu.be/hso3Eh0f_NM Spoils of war http://youtu.be/DPtr--13XwY Survey of the scene http://youtu.be/ZebDvRENcLQ , http://youtu.be/nbfh75RBX3Y
In Daraa City, rebels destroy a tank http://youtu.be/qClWKeTurfM
Elsewhere in the province, the battles continue to rage http://youtu.be/UTB-iqD-Jx8
Rebels in Damascus City target the March 8 Complex in Abbasid Square now used by pro-Assad snipers http://youtu.be/FVBa8xfdzMQ , http://youtu.be/ilyrtTUybds Packing up http://youtu.be/Btum98fPLow Pro-Assad militias reapond by pounding Jobar Neighborhood http://youtu.be/ro1sAFoxwlk
Rebels destroy a tank in Mleihah, Eastern Ghoutah http://youtu.be/1qlogJVy_88 On the outskirts of town, people find 14 bodies belonging to people who seem to have been field executed: 2 men, 4 children and 8 women http://youtu.be/SBhTTiDQuBA , http://youtu.be/5DWu0FOVFHs The burial http://youtu.be/tvB6J76UBeE At first, locals had found pieces of clothes buried in the field, which made them dig up the fields and find the bodies http://youtu.be/0GiBJZ4NQB0 , http://youtu.be/3q_76b-NwHg , http://youtu.be/w_ztCQ14K2c
Other towns in Eastern Ghoutah also come under intense aerial bombardment: Jisreen http://youtu.be/uuq6Gw5XpEw Kafar Batna http://youtu.be/G0hKOcjW4to Saqba http://youtu.be/VDnRBtxdMHI
An aerial raid leaves many dead in Al-Rumaila Neighborhood in Raqqah City http://youtu.be/4KFGVBhkung
In a sign of increasing extremism in the ranks, rebels somewhere in Syria (they don’t identify their location) destroy a Shia shrine http://youtu.be/0PFowslfXm4 Some activists questioned the authenticity of the video, but it is clear by now that some rebel groups are operating as extremist criminal gangs.
Rebels force their captives to curse Bashar Al-Assad, just as pro-Assad militias use to force their rebel captives to praise him http://youtu.be/5FjuEbCrbQc
Rebels bring down a plan with heat-seeking missile http://youtu.be/LeSWoGOldeY
Member of Jabhat Al-Nusra arrest a loyalist soldier pretending to be dead http://youtu.be/-bCugKEZDOU
Haass, Idlib: pulling bodies from under the rubble in the aftermath of a Scud attack http://youtu.be/xYEd_AWFFJI , http://youtu.be/LJ2N1nWLOZ8 The general scene http://youtu.be/nkoC9N8WSGc , http://youtu.be/e0E4H-RsXE8