Monday, March 25, 2013

Confirmations!

Though we cannot confirm reports claiming that Bashar Al-Assad was assassinated, we can definitely confirm that he is/was indeed an ass. We can also confirm reports of an attempted assassination on the life of Col. Riad Al-Ass’aad, founder of the Free Syrian army, and that the resignation of opposition leader Moaz Al-Khatib stemmed from the fact that he was too much of a no-bullshit man for the bullshit of Syrian opposition politics. Finally, we can confirm the complete irrelevance of conscience and its dictates in world politics.

Sunday March 24, 2013

Today’s Death Toll: 139 martyrs, including 8 women,15 children, 2 in a reported chemical weapons attack (in Adra) and 6 under torture: 75 in Damascus and Subrubs, 26 in Aleppo, 20 in Homs, 8 in Daraa, 3 in Deir Ezzor, 4 in Idlib, 2 in Hama, and 1 in Hassakeh (LCCs).

Points of Random Shelling: 357 points.  Aerial bombardments counted in 27 points. Scud bombing counted in 1 point. Shelling using Surface-to-Surface missiles counted in 1 point. Shelling using cluster bombs recorded in Sarmeen in Idlib. Thermobaric bombs recorded in Rastan in Homs. Chemical Weapon recorded in Adra in Damascus Suburbs. Mortar shelling counted in 116 points. Artillery shelling counted in 115 points. Rocket shelling counted for 89 points on various parts of Syria (LCCs).

Clashes: 135. Successful rebel operations include the liberation of many buildings in Teshreen Neighborhood and targeting the Omayad Square and the State TV premises in Damascus City. In Daraa, rebels facilitated the defection of more soldiers serving at the Eastern Checkpoint in Hraak. In Raqqa, rebels targeted the Tabqa Military Airport using two homemade rockets (LCCs).

News
Syrian Opposition Leader Quits Post he resignation of Mr. Khatib, who has pushed for talks between the Syrian government and its armed opponents, came five days after the coalition elected an interim prime minister, Ghassan Hitto, who rejects any such dialogue. The announcement threw the Syrian Opposition Coalition into disarray. It underscored the challenges that the group still faced in establishing legitimacy and effective leadership, evn though it was recognized by dozens of countries four months ago as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Adding to the confusion, the coalition’s media office said later on Sunday that Mr. Khatib had agreed to stay on, while a spokesman for Mr. Khatib said that he had not.
Syrian rebel army chief severely wounded in car blast Reports in Arab media say an explosive device was attached to Riad al-Assad's car; attack comes as rift in opposition deepens.
Syrian forces fire chemical weapons at rebels near Damascus, opposition says Opposition sources say Syrian military used chemical arms on outskirts of Damascus, killing two, wounding 23; no independent confirmation of attack, which follows death of 26 in a rocket attack near Aleppo last week.
Fearing stark future, Syrian Alawites meet in Cairo In the first meeting of its kind by Alawites who support the revolt, delegates aimed to draft a declaration supporting a united Syria and to invite other opposition groups to cooperate on preventing sectarian bloodletting if Assad falls. "We are inviting all of the opposition to confront the sectarian problem being ignited by the regime. The last card the regime can now play is civil war and the partition of Syria," said veteran opposition campaigner Bassam al-Youssef, an Alawite who spent more than a decade in jail under the iron rule of Assad's father, the late President Hafez al-Assad. As the war takes on an increasingly sectarian bent, distancing the Alawites from Assad could be crucial for the survival of the community, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that makes up about 10 percent of Syria's population. "The meeting is happening almost two years late," a Western diplomat said. "But it will help disassociate the sect from Assad. Every effort is needed now to prevent a wide-scale sectarian bloodbath when Assad eventually goes, in which the Alawites would be the main losers."
Kerry Tells Iraq to Help Stop Arms Shipments to Syria Mr. Kerry’s visit was the first by an American secretary of state since Hillary Rodham Clinton went to Iraq in 2009, and it came amid growing concern over Iraq’s role in the Syrian conflict. Flights of Iranian weapons to Syria through Iraqi airspace, which a senior State Department official said were occurring on nearly a daily basis, have been crucial for the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, which faces increasing pressure from rebel fighters. Mr. Kerry said he had a spirited discussion with Mr. Maliki about the issue, but there was no tangible sign that the Iraqis would alter their position.
"Red line has been crossed" in Syria, Rogers says There's mounting evidence that over the last two years the Assad regime has used "at least a small quantity" of chemical weapons against rebel forces in Syria's raging civil war, House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said today on "Face the Nation," adding that the time is now for U.S. intervention… hough a senior administration official has said intelligence this week suggests weaponized chemicals were not used in the recent strike, Rogers said the fact that President Bashar al-Assad has ordered scud missile attacks on civilians "in and of itself should prompt action." The "wholesale slaughter" of Syrian rebels and civilians, he said, "is now spilling up to the doorstep of Israel." "This is a growing, destabilizing event in the Middle East," Rogers continued. "Our Arab League allies talk to us frequently, and they are as frustrated as I have seen them because of the lack of U.S. leadership at the time table." Senior Arab diplomats this morning announced the Arab League has decided to transfer Syria's seat away from Assad and to opposition forces.
Israel fires into Syria after Golan attack on troops It was not immediately clear whether Israel held Syrian troops or rebels responsible for what a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said had been a deliberate attack on Israeli patrols in the occupied territory. Israeli forces "destroyed a Syrian machine gun nest that fired twice in the last 24 hours on Israeli patrols operating to safeguard the border," the spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, said on his Twitter page.
I flew secret missions carrying cash and weapons into Syria for Assad, pilot reveals A former Syrian army cargo pilot has revealed how he flew secret missions for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to carry cash and weapons into the country in the face of international sanctions.
Daughter of Syria's slain cleric speaks out Al-Bouti's daughter, Sumayya, however, said that her father could not have changed his position. She said those who killed him were "unjust" and "criminal" - but refused to say who she thought might have been responsible for his death. "My father's position is clear. It was based on conviction and religious texts. He believed one should not disobey the ruler. Disobeying him may lead to strife and strife would lead to a cycle of more disorder," she said, speaking from Saudi Arabia.
Multiple mortars slam central Damascus, causing injuries Multiple mortar shells fired by Syrian armed rebels landed Sunday near the state TV's office building and Sheraton Hotel in the heart of the capital Damascus, causing injuries and material damages, witnesses told Xinhua. According to Xinhua reporter at the scene, thick clouds of smoke permeated the area and heavy security forces were deployed in the streets, cutting off all routes leading to the Umayyad Square, where the state TV's office building is located.
Aid-filled ambulances from Poland speed to Syria refugee crisis Poland's tiny Syrian community -- estimated to number 500 people -- organised the aid drive because the international community has been too slow in responding, the organiser of the initiative said. "The world is dragging its feet in finding a solution for the Syrian people and refugees are in a dramatic situation," Imat Aldahari, a Syrian who has been living in Poland for two decades, told AFP as a team of volunteers packed the ambulances purchased through donations with medical and other supplies. "We can't wait any longer," said Aldahari, adding that two other ambulances are due to join them in Romania.
Malta recognises Syrian opposition Malta on Friday officially recognised the Syrian Opposition National Coalition as the sole legal representative of the people of Syria. In a short statement, the island nation's foreign ministry said its position was made known during an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Dublin which was being attended by Foreign Minister George Vella.
IDF turns attention to Lebanon as Syrian army falls apart While Assad's forces have reportedly lost some 13,000 men, and some 40,000 soldiers have deserted, Iran and Hezbollah are gaining access to treasure trove of weapons in Syria.

Latest Rumor

Special Reports
Current and former U.S. officials acknowledged that confirming a small-scale chemical weapons attack poses technical challenges that have been compounded by limitations on the ability of U.S. spy agencies to gather reliable intelligence, let alone air or soil samples, inside Syria… The course Obama intends to take if confronted with proof of a chemical attack is equally unclear. The Pentagon has prepared calibrated options, ranging from airstrikes to sending troops to seize weapons sites. But officials said they haven’t taken the advance steps necessary to carry out such orders because planning has been hobbled by concerns about the political backlash to a potential U.S. intervention as well as struggles to coordinate with regional allies.
In Syria’s Civil War, Doctors Find Themselves in Cross Hairs Embattled cities like Aleppo and vast swaths of the countryside suffer from an acute shortage of doctors and medical supplies, with the government’s deadly campaign an important factor in prompting doctors to flee. Because of the shortage, all kinds of people with little previous surgical experience — dentists, medical students and nurses, not to mention car mechanics and bakers — are now performing minor surgery. Numerous untrained volunteers have been talked through operations to the point where they can now extract a bullet from an arm or a leg, but not from more complicated spots like the chest or the throat.
How Islamist Rebels in Syria Are Ruling a Fallen Provincial Capital So far, the city has avoided the disorder of a postregime security vacuum. Very few homes were looted. The banks and the money in them have been secured, while government and security offices were not ransacked and the paperwork within them was not burned. Instead the files have been collected and are being studied. The city’s two churches in this majority Sunni Muslim area are untouched and protected, although the townsfolk speak of Alawites being killed just for being Assad’s coreligionists. So why and how did this happen in Raqqa? Put simply, it’s because the regime had diluted its forces there, deploying them to other parts of the country, and because the forces aligned against Assad were mainly Islamists, largely outside the broad umbrella of the more secular, loosely organized and in some cases poorly disciplined Free Syrian Army (FSA).

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

Founder of the Free Syrian Army, Col. Riyad al-Assaad was the subject of an assassination attempt on the eve of March 24 during his visit to the town of Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor Province. He was rushed to the local hospital and there are conflicting reports as to his current state, but the most reliable ones indicate that he survived having lost a leg. It is not clear who the perpetrators were. Mayadeen is completely controlled by Jabhat Al-Nusra http://youtu.be/WZfyZLbp6dE

Newly elected head of the provisional government, Ghassan Hitto, paid a visit to the liberated parts of Aleppo City on March 24 where he met with the newly elected members of the local Revolutionary. http://youtu.be/ubnsMlbT87g The appointment of Hitto remains quite controversial, with many rebel leaders voicing their concerns in this regard. But chatter in opposition circles points to disagreements between Saudi Arabia and her camp within the Syrian opposition and Qatar and her camp (the Muslim Brotherhood) who managed to impose Mr. Hitto. Mr. Hitto himself is not affiliated with the Brotherhood, but his views reflect an endorsement of political Islam. It is not clear to which extant this will affect his choice of cabinet, but he is unlikely to be given much leeway by his allies. Also, it’s not clear whether his appointment will survive for long. 

Marwan Afif, the chief magistrates for the Druze sect in Suwaida Province announces his defection. He also declares his support for the revolution against “the criminal regime” and says that he would join of the Union of Free Syrian Magistrates and the Association for the Protection of State Institutions  http://youtu.be/EHjoEPR1thY

The Art of Surviving in the town of Douma, Eastern Ghoutah, Damascus Suburbs http://youtu.be/28d1-AgGOW0

The Disaster Emergency Committee in the United Kingdom appeals for help on behalf of Syrian refugees http://youtu.be/J4kr_Au5IHw

Clashes

Rebels in Daraa Province take control of the headquarters of the 38th Battalion near the town of Saida, killing its commanding officer. Dividing the spoils http://youtu.be/MOih2D_Pg74 , http://youtu.be/qbPH-TxPpcs , http://youtu.be/7wBj5D8IXBA Tour of the facilities after liberation http://youtu.be/o-80Rb1IOx8 Loyalist prisoners http://youtu.be/BT0CAnQCZH0 Rebels vow to put the prisoners on trial in accordance with Sharia and the international law http://youtu.be/O-HAeJOeqgU Prisoners who were held by the loyalists and who have been liberated by rebels http://youtu.be/yE3gK5pkbjA , http://youtu.be/g8jADZfmLj0 , http://youtu.be/gFXKXV-wd0w , http://youtu.be/roCsIWmeWQ4 Rebels exhibit the ID of Brigadier General Mahmoud Darweesh, an Alawite officer from the town of Qardaha, the Assads’ hometown, whom they killed in the bathroom of the facilities http://youtu.be/aXRtE12iBg0 The body of the General can be seen here http://youtu.be/IHS49Axj-EA And here http://youtu.be/GiHZxy2F9t4

Elsewhere in Daraa, rebels take control of the main checkpoint in the town of Yadoudah http://youtu.be/zR-o9wDXR6k

With these developments the liberation of the Daraa Province is now half done, the next major battle will take place in the provincial capital. Meanwhile, in Daraa City, rebels took control of the main postal office after weeks of siege http://youtu.be/2u-HPTQh2Qo , http://youtu.be/9kR9eK0h7os

In the province of Quneitrah along the Israeli borders, battles between rebels and loyalists continue to rage. This leaked video shows the bodies of rebels killed by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/sRFssoHvV-8

Clashes between loyalists and rebels intensify on the outskirts of the city of Hama in central Syria http://youtu.be/lykScBSboqk

In Damascus City, rebels take control of the “Music” Brigade in Jobar neighborhood http://youtu.be/hRymRBrPmxE Removing the dead bodies of loyalist soldiers http://youtu.be/DWdbirXnlQA

In nearby Douma, rebels claim that these wounded rebels are the victims of a chemical weapons attack. Rebels keep insisting that some form of chemical weapons is being used against local population in Eastern Ghoutah. We have no way of verifying this. Reported symptoms include respiratory problems, sweating, convulsions and drooling http://youtu.be/_OibQ0NlWuY , http://youtu.be/-sIbN_w1sPU

On March 24, rebels targeted Syrian TV and the Omayad Square in Damascus City with a barrage of homemade rockets http://youtu.be/Ak0RWLf2Yz4 , http://youtu.be/hXPSKPzdCBY State TV covered the event as well http://youtu.be/TMYUjNWs_nk

In Aleppo, MiGs target positions of rebels taking part in laying siege to the Minnigh Military Airport http://youtu.be/f4oEL3wQVKI