Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Holy Shit!

Battle fatigue on part of pro-Assad troops and militias coupled with the call to Jihad might just act as prelude for the introduction of foreign Shia militias, and perhaps for official Iranian intervention similar to the old Syrian intervention in Lebanon. The Islamic Reformation has found its new theater of operations. The plot thickens, and the blood flows.

Tuesday March 12, 2013

Today’s Death Toll: 103 martyrs, including 5 women, 2 children, and 1 martyr under torture: 50 martyrs in Damascus and suburbs including 30 FSA rebels, 16 in Aleppo, 12 in Daraa, 11 in Hama, 6 in Homs, 2 in Idlib, 1 in Quneitera, 1 in Hassakeh and 1 in Lattakia (LCCs).

Points of Random Shelling: 276 points. Aerial bombardments in 21 points. Scud bombing in 2 points. Shelling using Surface-to-Surface missiles in 2 points. Shelling using Thermobaric bombs in Raqqa city. Artillery shelling in 96 points. Mortar shelling in 90 points. Rocket shelling in 65 points (LCCs).

Clashes: 135. Successful operations include liberation of the Industrial Institute in Deir Ezzor City, repelling attempts by regime forces to retake Barzerh Neighborhood in Damascus City (LCCs).

In Secular Syria, Top Muslim Cleric Picks Sides In Civil War Hassoun's decree struck many Syrians as very strange because Assad's government has long dismissed the uprising as the work of jihadis. The regime has often claimed that extremists from abroad have been inciting violence within Syria. In addition, the Assad regime has long championed itself as secular. The Baath Party, to which Assad belongs, has ruled Syria for over 40 years, sometimes acting in ways that were hostile to religiosity.
Syria’s Assad running out of troops to fight rebels Jeffrey White with the Washington Institute reports that an estimated 40 government soldiers are killed every day. Mr. White’s just toured Syria, and his estimate comes from the country’s funeral data. “In [the funeral worker’s] view, the army was exhausting itself,” Mr. White said, in The Guardian. Mr. White also confirms what the United Nations just reported — that Syria’s government has been increasingly relying on armed militia groups for aid.
Signs of Strain on Syria’s Military Build The government has long lacked enough reliably loyal troops to blanket contested areas with patrols or take them with ground operations, so instead has relied on indiscriminate air strikes and artillery attacks that have pushed the death toll well above 70,000, according to United Nations estimates. Now, to fill the gap, the government is increasingly relying on paramilitary groups, according to analysts and a recent United Nations report.
Syria's Children Risk Becoming 'Lost Generation,' UNICEF Warns "Millions of children inside Syria and across the region are witnessing their past and their futures disappear amidst the rubble and destruction of this prolonged conflict," UNICEF chief Anthony Lake said in a report published two years to the day after the Syrian conflict began. The Geneva-based agency pointed out that nearly half of the four million in dire need of aid inside Syria are under the age of 18, and 536,000 of them are children under the age of five.
Britain could sidestep EU ban on arming Syria rebels: PM Asked by a parliamentary committee whether Britain would veto the arms embargo when it comes up for renewal in three months' time, Cameron said he would "like to continue with an EU approach." "I hope that we can persuade our European partners if and when it becomes necessary (to provide weapons) they'll agree with us," he told the House of Commons Liaison Committee. "But if we can't, then it's not out of the question we might have to do things in our own way. It's possible. "We are still an independent country, we can have an independent foreign policy." Pressed on whether Britain could sidestep the arms ban, Cameron said: "If for instance we felt that action needed to be taken to help bring about change in Syria, to help end this appalling bloodshed, and if we felt our European partners were holding that back, then we'd have to change the approach."
Israel's Peres urges Arab intervention in Syria Israel's Shimon Peres called Tuesday for Arab intervention "to stop the massacre" in Syria as he delivered the first speech by an Israeli head of state to the European Parliament in almost three decades. The free world "cannot stand by when a massacre is carried out by the Syrian president against his own people and his own children. It breaks all our hearts," he said. Saying "the intervention of Western forces would be perceived as foreign interference," Peres said the best option to end two years of tragedy in Syria "might be achieved by empowering the Arab League, of which Syria is a member, to intervene." The 22-member Arab League pulled out its observer mission to Syria after only a month in January last year amid controversy after failing to halt the regime's campaign against the rebels. "The Arab League can and should form a provisional government in Syria to stop the massacre, to prevent Syria from falling to pieces," Peres told the 754-member European Parliament. "The United Nations should support the Arab League to build an Arab force in blue helmets," he said. Asked at a news conference immediately afterwards whether he was indeed calling for military intervention by an Arab force, Peres said he did mean "a force" but that its actions could be as a peacekeeping force and "not necessarily military".
Fearful Syrian voters will keep Assad in power: Qassem Sheikh Naim Qassem, who predicted a year ago that Assad would not be dislodged from power, said the Syrian leader would win a vote because his supporters understood that their communities' very existence depended on him. "I believe that in a year's time he will stand for the presidency. It will be the people's choice, and I believe the people will choose him," said the bearded, turban-wearing Shi'ite cleric, speaking carefully and deliberately. "The crisis in Syria is prolonged, and the West and the international community have been surprised by the degree of steadfastness and popularity of the regime."
Syria crisis: Clashes as rebels target Baba Amr in Homs For a third day, rebel forces tried to regain control of the Baba Amr neighbourhood; pro-regime troops responded with artillery attacks. There have also been clashes on the key road between Damascus and the airport, as well as in the city of Aleppo.
U.N.: Both Syrian rebels and government forces guilty The Syrian war has never been a simple fight between good rebels and evil government forces, and the United Nations has said so several times in the past. But this week, U.N. investigators released a particularly detailed and horrific report that slams both sides, accusing rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad of murder, rape, torture and forced disappearances. Government forces and the rebels have violated international humanitarian law in the two-year war, said Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. "The war displays all the signs of a destructive stalemate," he told the U.N. Security Council this week.
France says Syria balance of power must be changed "France is thinking - although it is a European decision - of going further in lifting the embargo," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a parliamentary committee. Just days after EU governments agreed a hard-fought compromise on a limited easing of the arms embargo to help Assad's opponents, Fabius said there would be steps taken to go further. He did not give more details. "You will ask me is that not contradictory with finding a political solution, but we don't think so," he said. "If we want President Bashar al Assad to shift then he must be made to understand that he cannot win through military force. There is a new balance of power that has to be created."
UN peacekeepers held in Syria ‘reach Israel’ UN peacekeepers held by rebels for several days in southern Syria and freed at the weekend crossed into Israel from neighbouring Jordan last night, a military spokeswoman said. The spokeswoman would not comment, however, on a report by an Israeli newspaper that Israeli troops had later escorted the 21 Filipino peacekeepers back to their base along the Syrian frontier with the Golan Heights, which are occupied by Israel.

Special Reports
With Al-Assad driven out, the Saudi-based, fundamentalist Wahhabi Sect that had been established among the Syrian tribes can, the reasoning goes, secure the continuation of Sunni domination there. That would protect the security of the Kingdom and the wealth and power of all of the other rulers along the Gulf… The Saudis may be able to get the Russians to bend. Saudi Arabia has the means to make life for the Russians dangerous. Wahhabi cadres operating in the Moslem regions of Russia are already starting uprisings. Once-peaceful areas in Russia are no longer safe, and Moscow has not figured how to deal with the problem. Is Russia prepared to sacrifice its own stability to save Al-Assad? The Saudis are in a position to force Putin to consider seriously the answer to that question.

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

This leaked video from the majority-Alawite village of Al-Amriyeh in North Homs shows a regime representative reading a list of names of people who will be given weapons by the regime. The scuffle that ensures when he is done reading the names reflects the anger of people whose name was not on the list. The video basically corroborates the existence of a policy calling for arming Alawite and Shia villages to use them as part of popular militias to help regime operations in their areas

The town of Maarbah in Daraa Province comes under intense shelling

Aerial raids on the town of Heesh, idlib Province, intensifies Scenes from the clashes around Heesh

In Damascus City, Jobar Neighborhood and surroundings come under renewed shelling and bombardment ,

In Mazzeh Neighborhood, regime forces destroy homes near the Mazzeh Military Airport

In Western Ghoutah, Damascus, rebels attack a loyalist outpost and take it over. We see them here pulling the dead bodies of regime loyalists from under the rubble in preparation or mass burial

Rebel strongholds in Homs City come under renewed pounding: Bab Houd Khaldiyeh Rebels attack loyalist outpost near Baba Amr

An Alawite opposition figure claim on Al-Arabiya TV that the number of Alawite soldiers and officers who have been killed since the beginning of the Revolution is around 40,000. No independent confirmation is available