The world, led by the U.S., waited until the water was muddy, now they want to do something! But most of their taboos remain unchanged: no no-fly zone, no peacekeepers, but some arms to some rebels. That’s a recipe for making things worse. A political process cannot take place without a no-fly zone, so, arming the rebels without imposing a no-fly zone will only lengthen the civil war and make it bloodier by drawing in more and more actors from abroad to join both sides of the Divide. Arming the rebels can help change the realities on the ground in their favor, and that is good, but only a no-fly zone can help jump-start a real political process. That process needs to take place inside the country, because it is not only about dialogue between regime and opposition, but also about internal dialogue within each camp, and about connecting with the grassroots. Should the world wait even longer before grasping the need for this, even a no-fly zone will become moot, because Syria as a viable state will have been made moot.
Minorities, secularists, moderates and democrats have a right to fear from the rise of Jabhat Al-Nusra and affiliated groups. In recently liberated Raqqah City, members of Nusra circulated a pamphlet that described those who believe democracy as “infidels.” That does not augur well, but it does show to more and more people how dangerous this group is. The aura of saintliness and sanctity is being undermined, and the people are not afraid to tell Al-Nusra what they really think.
The problem is: it’s not just Al-Nusra, there are so many radicals now, and, then, the pro-Assad militias, then foreign fighters on both sides. Turf war is looming, and guns trump words.
Meanwhile, Jabhat Al-Nusra is taking control of the southern parts of the country as well, including the border with Israel:
Tanks operated by rebels from Jabhat Al-Nusra take part in pounding loyalist positions in the town of Saida, Daraa Province http://youtu.be/Gf7fcgMlkFs , http://youtu.be/mdbAD8CFOVk The spokesman, who clearly identify that the tnaks belong to Al-Nusra, was the same one relating the massacre against imprisoned regime loyalists that took place in Al-Jamla region a few days ago, meaning that it was Al-Nusra who was responsible for perpetrating it all along, contrary to what I thought at the time. This also means that it was Al-Nusra who was holding the UN observers. It’s Al-Nusra that is now controlling areas along the border with Israel.
This is how I covered the massacre of Jamla at the time (March 4): After liberating a loyalist checkpoint in the village of Jamlah, rebels executed their prisoners despite heated protestations from some in their ranks http://youtu.be/T5Z0E1EIBbc The fighters, however, are not affiliated with Jabhat Al-Nusra or any other Jihadi groups, their rhetoric and their adherence to the independence flag indicate that they are the “moderate” Islamists we hear so much about. There are no more moderates in this fight. We have waited too long. http://youtu.be/Mly9pm9FeDA “Those who don’t defect, will be killed” http://youtu.be/W7_qUMqtjcg The incident took place on March 4.
The same man also shows us the havoc wrought by regime shelling of the town of Kateebah http://youtu.be/dbxmHdeaB6k And Khirbet Ghazaleh http://youtu.be/Ga1cHWj5uAs And Western Ghariyeh http://youtu.be/rgBoljG4yn4 And the International Highway connecting Damascus and Amman http://youtu.be/UDBX3Ee0tGs The significance of this is to note that now it is Jabhat Al-Nusra that is taking control of the southwest parts of Syria, after taking control of much of the East.
(Reuters) - One hot night last summer, Rajaa Taher grabbed a few essentials and fled her home in the Syrian village of Saqarja with her husband and children, escaping across farmlands to Zayta just a few hundred meters away.
Taher, a Shi'ite, said she was threatened by Sunni Muslim rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad in the largely unmarked border region where Syria merges into Lebanon - an old smuggling area where Syrians and Lebanese, Shi'ites and Sunnis once lived together oblivious to national or sectarian boundaries.
Now the border region has become one of many flashpoints in Syria's increasingly violent and sectarian conflict, which threatens more and more to drag in its tiny neighbor Lebanon, where many Sunnis back the revolt and many Shi'ites back Assad, a member of the Alawite offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
If the bloodshed seeps into Lebanon, where sectarian faultlines have been exacerbated by the nearly two years of crisis in Syria, the countryside around Taher's village nestled just north of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley may be one of the gateways for the spread.
The area is of strategic importance for the rebels who would be able to link Homs province in Syria to Sunni areas inside Lebanon for weapons and fighters. It is important for Lebanon's Shi'ite militants Hezbollah to stop the rebels from taking over these Shi'ites villages as they will be a stone's throw away from Hermel, one of the group's strongholds.
Already rebels accuse Hezbollah of sending forces into the area to fight alongside Assad's army - a charge the group denies, although it says there are Hezbollah members living and fighting among the estimated 30,000 Lebanese nationals in two dozen religiously mixed villages but with Shi'ites in the majority just inside Syria.
Taher and other Shi'ite and Alawite villagers tell another story, saying Sunni rebels have intimidated, expelled and killed Shi'ites as they seek to control territory close to Syria's third largest city, Homs.
"We were neighbors. We lived there together for years and years," said the 39-year-old woman, dressed in black like many others displaced from nearby villages.
"Then they sent us a message...that we are Shi'ites and we have no right to own land or a house or anything and we have to leave. They burned the house. They took our cows," she said.
"They took my brother-in-law and we don't know what happened to him. We left the village when they started calling from the mosque speakers for Jihad. We left under bullets," she said tearfully, adding that her nephew was recently killed.
"What do they want from us? We were all one family living together ... Do they hate us just because we are Shi'ites?"
In a response to the Grand Mufti’s recent call for Jihad, gets a death fatwa from a defected member of the Syrian Sunni religious established, Sheikh Anas Al-Suwaid http://youtu.be/gQCR3wf1SDs The sheikh says that if the call for Jihad led to an increase in the number of Shia fighters from Iran, Hezbollah going into Syria, then the blood of the Grand Mufti will be forfeit.
Rebels from Liwa Al-Islam shows a mortar round made in Israel claiming that it has confiscated it from the regular army, and using it to bolster their claim of a secret agreement between Israel and Assad. This is the kind of conspiracy theories now prevalent in rebel circuits http://youtu.be/ZQHT4jptJ9Y Rebels from the same unit take control of the headquarters of the loyalist militias, Jaish Al-Sha’bi, in the town of Adra, Damascus Suburbs, and confiscate the ammunition http://youtu.be/vHeIAeewn9Y Jaish Al-Sh’abi is a loyalist militias classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury Department. The Liwa used its own confiscated tanks to pound the headquarters http://youtu.be/JvMXfooxNOI , http://youtu.be/m88fHJML_Tc
Loyalist troops from 113th Battalion in Deir Ezzor Province destroyed their stockpile of rockets before giving up the site to rebels http://youtu.be/fadHGGwwmqY
Relief workers from a local volunteer organization, Rawafid, distribute food rations in Deir Ezzor City http://youtu.be/wbpvMeC5uLQ , http://youtu.be/K3FvuBFwmn4
This fire in Baramkeh Neighborhood in Central Damascus City is the result of rebel pounding of the City by rebels. The rebels were aiming for the military security complex in the neighborhood but missed. Their rockets civilian targets: cars and dwellings http://youtu.be/IumCnj9qjkM , http://youtu.be/spN8oQf22aA Nearby Fahhameh was also targeted http://youtu.be/kigJzd7d2Ek
Meanwhile, regime forces keep pounding rebel stronghold in and around the city of Damascus: Jobar http://youtu.be/jm_PLGAihtE , http://youtu.be/NS-UxsYE0UE
Scenes from the battlefield that is the town of Daraya, Damascus Suburbs http://youtu.be/A318LFTA15g , http://youtu.be/_VVLnuXNi6c , http://youtu.be/m28K4hnpv6g , http://youtu.be/eHWR1dIGs68 , http://youtu.be/BNEK6u5vhlg , http://youtu.be/vFqtEZPKjYE
In Daraa City, rebels pound loyalist troops headquarters at the main Post Office http://youtu.be/2n34lIgmWyw , http://youtu.be/FsNrtI7OVxo , http://youtu.be/i8HhYZTLKqc