Friday, March 8, 2013

Enough Bullshit!

Let’s stop kidding ourselves, for the disintegration of Syria to stop a no-fly zone is needed. Anything less will not do. You cannot create a provisional government, or prepare people to handle the challenges of local governance if the air is insecure. Rebels and activists have been trying to do that for months now, and failing. Every potential success story in this regard is being pounded into oblivion by helicopters, MiGs and now Scuds. So, until the international community develops the will, the balls, the moral backbone to do it, the bleeding and the disintegration will continue.

Thursday March 7, 2013

Today’s Death Toll: 111 martyrs, including 5 women, 8 children and 2 martyrs under torture. 23 martyrs reported in Damascus and Suburbs, 23 in Aleppo, 18 in Homs, 17 in Idlib, 12 in Daraa, 9 in Deir Ezzor, 8 in Hama and 1 martyr in Raqqa (LCCs).

Points of Random Shelling: 395 points. Warplane shelling was reported in 19 points with the fiercest in Homs. 3 areas were targeted using cluster bombs in each of Talbesa in Homs; Heesh and Sermeen in idlib. 1 point was shelled using Surface- to- Surface missile. 5 points were targeted by detonating barrels while mortar shelling was reported in 117 points and artillery shelling in 147 points, 107 points were documented as targets of missile launchers. In addition ,Launching of 6 Scud Missiles by the regime Brigade located in Qutaifa was also documented (LCCs).

Clashes: 122. Successful rebel operations include downing a MiG in areas south of Idlib Province. In Daraa, fierce clashes were reported in the Golan, as FSA rebels succeeded in liberating Aljazeerah Detachment. In Damascus Suburbs, the FSA managed to repel attempts made by regime forces to storm Daraya as the siege enters its 115th consecutive day. In Damascus City, rebels also fought off regime attempts to take back control of the Jober-Abbasid Square Road considered to be the eatern gateway to the city. In Besieged Homs, several regime attempts to invade rebel strongholds were repelled. In Raqqa City, rebel forces continue their battle to assert their full control over the city (LCCs).

In the video, a man who identified himself as a captain in the Philippine battalion of the United Nations mission that patrols the cease-fire line in the region said the group was “safe in this place.” He said that the group had been rescued by “civilian people” during bombing and artillery fire near a United Nations observation post close to the village of al-Jamlah. Speaking in English, the captain said: “Civilian people helped us, for our safety and distributed us in different places to keep us safe. And they gave us good accommodation and gave us food to eat and water to drink.”
Syria rebels want troop pullback before freeing U.N. men "They will be passed to safe hands when possible - because the area is surrounded and the Assad regime is bombarding it," said Abu Essam Taseel, from the media office of the "Martyrs of Yarmouk" rebel brigade which detained the Filipino peacekeepers… Wednesday's detention of the peacekeepers by around 30 gunmen will also reinforce Western concerns that any weapons supplied to rebels fighting to overthrow Assad could end up being turned against Western interests.
Hezbollah backs end of Syria suspension from Arab League The show of support is the latest example of the Lebanese group's increasing intrusion into the conflict on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad. A rise in clashes between Hezbollah fighters and Syrian rebels along the border of Lebanon indicates that the massive militia, which the U.S. designates a terror group, is getting more active in defending its ally.
Germany says EU right not to arm Syria rebels, risks too high "The decision of the EU not to lift in total the embargo was wise and was right. But it is necessary to show more flexibility and to understand that we have of course to support the ... opposition in a responsible way," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters at a briefing in London. "We have to avoid a conflagration in the whole region," he added.
Syria's healthcare system in tatters, aid group warns Almost two years of violence have devastated Syria’s once-extensive healthcare system and left many Syrians unable to access even basic services, representatives of the international aid group Doctors Without Borders said Thursday. “The situation for Syrian civilians inside Syria is catastrophic,” Christopher Stokes, the group’s general director, told reporters in a conference call. “The aid system is way too limited, and the health system inside Syria has collapsed.”
Thousands Flee Northern Syria After Latest Airstrikes A new flood of Syrian refugees is streaming into southern Turkey after the Syrian air force bombed the city of Raqqah, a provincial capital that the government lost control of earlier this week. The Syrian rebels overran Raqqah, capturing several high-ranking prisoners, including the provincial governor. Many residents supported the rebels, but when the air strikes began, they packed in a hurry and fled, believing it was safer to make a dash for the border than stay at home.
Syria opposition to pick interim PM next week Meeting to choose leader who will oversee creation of interim government is to be held in Turkish city of Istanbul.
Syria: Israel Spy Devices Allegedly Found In Coastal Region Syrian authorities have discovered Israeli spying devices that were apparently hidden in objects that resembled rocks, Syria's state news agency said Thursday. SANA's report said the devices are designed to photograph, register and transfer data. The agency said the objects were uncovered in Syria's coastal regions, but gave no further details. The Israeli military declined comment.

Special Reports
There are so many things to hate about Syria’s brutal civil war. But here’s a very small one to like: photos on Facebook of Syrians transforming war’s leftovers into useful everyday objects. It turns out that reclaimed bomb casings are great for making everything from motorcycle frames to water storage tanks. This is a glimpse of what hope looks like in the middle of one of the world’s bloodiest war zones...
The common man is paying the price for a brutal regime, pathetic opposition and an international society that cares only about its own national interests… Given the inhomogeneous societies of the Levant, Al Assad’s intention might be to get the region involved in a grand sectarian war. To survive, he may even decide to play his final card — starting a regional war. On several occasions, he threatened to set the whole region on fire should his regime collapse. His arsenal of Scud missiles with approximately 700 warheads can hit deep inside Turkey. His arsenal of chemical weapons is also frightening and, should he approach the end of his political life, he might choose to use it. This is what many dub as the Samson Option — the choice in the absence of choices.
Surely the present Assad regime reads the splits about Syria policy on the U.N. Security Council, and the hesitancy of the Obama Administration to involve itself deeply in the war by supplying weapons to the opposition, in a similar way. “He’s not going to give up,” Al-Abdallah said of Assad. “He’s not going to leave the country. He’s going to stay until he dies or somebody forces him to leave power.”… This is no time to yield the arguments about international justice to the pessimists. Syria proves that stability built on cynicism and expediency is not stability at all.
Washington should also push back on Baghdad's emerging narrative that Sunni protests in Iraq are simply "spillover from Syria," as National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayadh intimated on February 25. His statement that "the divisiveness in Syria might affect the unity of Iraq" conceals the fact that Baghdad's own failure to support sectarian reconciliation since 2009 has been a key driver of Sunni unrest and should be corrected. The current wave of "preventive" arrests in and around Sunni portions of the capital only increases the risk of the spillover Fayadh warned against. The Sunni community would be reassured if Baghdad dealt firmly with new Shiite vigilante groups such as the al-Mukhtar Army, which seeks to exploit growing sectarian dread in the Shiite community by threatening to purge Sunnis from mixed neighborhoods.
Islamic extremism is the top priority for Fares and his secular-minded peers these days. He met with a local emir of Jabhat Al Nusra, which the U.S. designated a terrorist organization with ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq, a few weeks ago, and the emir said he wanted to raise their flag at Kafranbel’s protests. Fares refused, and now the town holds two protests each week. “They don’t like being called extremists but the truth is they are,” Fares said. “They want to impose their views on everyone. They see Islam through a pinhole and I see it through a window.” Fares said Jabhat Al Nusra was gaining followers because it’s organized, and has an established hierarchy that holds its members accountable, unlike the disorganized civilian activists and the Free Syrian Army. Nusra also has access to weapons, and is delivering much needed humanitarian aid, which the secular opposition can’t match due to a lack of resources. The confrontation in Kafranbel today is in the realm of ideas, and Fares hopes that it will remain that way. Nusra and other extremist groups have a “totalitarian vision for Syria that is the same as the regime’s and I fought the regime,” he said. Nusra and its followers deny the existence of a revolution in Syria, Fares said, claiming that revolution is “just a word invented by Che Guevara, and that we are in jihad. I’m not a jihadist, I’m a revolutionary.”
Syria’s northern towns and villages, with their complex ethnic and religious divisions, are a tinderbox for internecine fighting. They contain fault lines between ethnic groups, Kurds and Arabs, and among competing forces within each group — battle lines that could trigger a disintegration of the Syrian state. Ras Al Ayn is a microcosm of them, arguably the most complex town in the region.
Syria Deeply: As part of our series of interviews with journalists covering the Syria crisis, we reached out to ABC News correspondent and “Nightline” anchor Terry Moran, who reported last month from the streets of Damascus. Here, he discusses the changes he saw in the Syrian capital. “Part of the horror of what’s happening in Damascus,” he says, “is just… the demoralization.”
Giulio Douhet, Hugh Trenchard, Billy Mitchell, and Henry “Hap” Arnold were some of the greatest airpower theorists in history. Their thoughts have unequivocally formed the basis of modern airpower.1 However, their ideas concerning the most effective use of airpower were by no means uniform and congruent in their determination of what constituted a vital center with strategic effects. In fact the debate continues to this day, and one may draw on recent conflicts in the Middle East to make observations on the topic. Specifically, this article examines the actions of one of the world’s largest air forces in a struggle against its own people—namely, the rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
In the case of Syria the only realistic option is to hasten Assad’s downfall through the provision of weapons and training to the rebels and the use of Western airpower to create a no-fly zone and to assist the rebels with close air support in their operations. Those options may not seem very palatable (especially at a time when sequestration is badly hurting military readiness) but unless the administration changes course, the spillover and slaughter will continue to worsen.

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

Some of the captured UN observers are seen in this video saying they are safe in and being held by civilians

Brining down a MiG in Jabal Al-Zawiyeh, Idlib Meanwhile regime force pound nearby Heesh with explosive barrels MiGs pound the town of Saraqib

Yarmouk Camp, Damascus City: this Palestinian woman, we are told, discovers soon after her sister was killed in the pounding of the neighborhood that her brother-in-law was a regime informant. She reports him to the rebels and witnesses his execution The pounding of the restive neighborhoods soon continues

Meanwhile, the pounding of rebel strongholds in Eastern Ghoutah and adjacent neighborhoods in Damascus City continues ,

Rebels in Raqqah City show some of their prisoners: Sunni soldiers from different provinces doing their compulsory service:

Rebels document signs of shelling of the historic temple of Bel in Palmyra City

The aerial pounding of Deir Ezzor City continues ,

The pounding of Daraa City continues