Sunday, March 3, 2013

Turf War!

There is no way to prevent the disintegration of Syria without a no-fly zone. For in the absence of a no-fly zone, there is zero chance for the establishment of a transitional government in the liberated territories providing one leadership for them and compelling all the fighting groups to fall in line. But, considering that no one in the international community is interested in doing this, and that the strategy of both the Assad regime and rebel militias call for carving out turfs rather than securing a country, the disintegration of Syria is a done deal.  

Saturday March 2, 2013

Today’s Death Toll: 133 martyrs, including 9 children, 5 women and 2 martyrs under torture. 36 in Damascus and Suburbs, 30 in Aleppo, 19 in Homs, 12 in Raqqa, 10 in Hassakeh, 7 in Daraa, 6 in Idlib, 5 in Hama, 5 in Deir Ezzor, 2 in Qunaitra and 1 martyr in Banyas (LCCs).

Points of Random Shelling: 365 points, including 21 points shelled with regime warplanes, 3 points with SCUD missiles, 3 points with explosive barrels, 4 points with cluster bombs, 1 with vacuum, and 1 with phosphoric bombs. Shelling with artillery was reported in 142 points, where 102 points were shelled with mortars and 88 with rockets (LCCs).

Clashes: 128. Successful operations include downing a helicopter gunship in Minnigh Airpot, in Aleppo Province and storming the police academy in Khan Assal. Major battles were also reported around Raqqah City, where rebels managed to take control of the central prison. In Damascus, rebels pushed back a loyalist attack on the town of Daraya, and on Jobar neighborhood and the town of Eastern Ghoutah (LCCs).

Rights Group: Cluster Bomb Attack in Syria Kills 19 An Amnesty official on the scene reported that nine Soviet-made cluster bombs, each carrying up to 150 cluster submunitions, were dropped on a heavily populated area.
Syria: Fierce clashes in provincial capital Raqqa Ferocious fighting has erupted around the northern provincial capital of Raqqa in Syria - one of several clashes between government and rebels forces. Government forces shelled several areas of the city, while running battles on the outskirts of the city since dawn had left dozens dead, activists said.
U.N.'s Ban, Syria mediator frustrated at failure to stop war Ban and Brahimi met in Mt. Pelerin, Switzerland, to discuss the two-year-old war that has killed more than 70,000 people. In a joint statement, they said "they regretted that the government and armed opposition forces have become increasingly reckless with human life and stressed the importance of accountability for war crimes against humanity." … "The United Nations would welcome and be prepared to facilitate a dialogue between a strong and representative delegation from the opposition and a credible and empowered delegation from the Syrian government," they said in a joint statement.
Syria and Iran condemn U.S. plan to aid anti-Assad rebels In an television interview with The Sunday Times newspaper shown in London late on Saturday, Assad said Britain's involvement in the Syria crisis had been naive and unrealistic. "I think they (Britain) are working against us, and they are working against the interests of the UK itself," Assad said in English-language remarks broadcast by Britain's Sky TV. "This government is acting in a naive, confused and unrealistic manner. If they want to play a role they have to change this, they have to act in a more reasonable and responsible way." Assad added: "How can you ask them to play a role in making the situation better, more stable, how can we expect them to make the violence less when they want to send the military supply to the terrorist?" (CNN Coverage, Ynet)
Syria, Iran Say Assad to Remain in Power Till 2014 "Assad is Syria's legal president until the next elections. Individuals have the freedom to run as candidates. Until that time, Assad is Syria's president," Salehi said at a joint news conference in Tehran. Al-Moallem said the Syrian people have the right to choose their leaders through the ballot box. The remarks are likely to complicate already faltering diplomatic efforts to start a dialogue between the government and the opposition, which has offered to join talks with regime elements but insists that Assad must step down.

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

According to many local activists, the fall of the village of Tal Shghaib in southern parts of Aleppo province seems to reflect an internal dispute within the rebel movements which delayed the sending of reinforcement to the area. This testimony by one of the fighters who had evacuate from the village seems to corroborate these reports (Arabic)  

The main street of the neighborhood of Seif Al-Dawleh in Aleppo City as it looks today

Rebels laying siege to the Minnigh Airport in north Aleppo shoot down a helicopter gunship as it was making its landing A closer look at the remains ,

The storming of the Police Academy in Khan Al-Assal, Aleppo Province ,

Rebels in Jabal Al-Turkmen in North Lattakia claim to have liberated a number of villages only 25 Km away from the provincial capital of Lattakia City. Albeit most of these villages are inhabited by Alawites, rebels claim that they have neither harmed nor chased away the inhabitants of the villages, asserting that their guns are meant to fight those with guns, not civilians

Part of the strategy employed by Jabhat Al-Nusra to win hearts and minds even with communities that fought actively against the Jabhat at one point is to forgive. This video tells the story of JAN’s relation with the town of Fleitah in the Qalamoun region in Damascus Suburbs. At one point, locals clashed with the local JAN unit and killed one of its leaders, but after a peacemaking effort, the village delivered the accused of carrying out the murder, and JAN leaders forgave them all. Afterwards, JAN fighters became welcome in town, and all performed the Friday prayers together

An interview with an Aleppo boy whose neighborhood was destroyed with a Scud attack on Al-Ard Al-Hamra in Aleppo City: “We came out looking for people to help us, but the people needed our help.” “I lost my cousins, 40 of them, my grandparents.” “My grandmother was found in 4 pieces. We can’t find my aunt.” “My cousins were all young, one of them was killed while praying, he was kneeling, they were beautiful, they smelled like musk.” “Why is he doing that to us? Is it the rule of the strong over the weak?” “One man lost his mind, he sleeps in the cemetery where his boy is buried.”

In Damascus City, the pounding of Jobar District continues , MiGs targeted as well nearby Zamalka and tanks