Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Simple Vow!

Every passing day brings with it new stories of rape, torture, child abuse, wanton destruction and more killing. Yet, somehow, in the midst of all this mayhem and abandonment, people still find the will to go on! This resoluteness may not be brought on by hope, but it is, by necessity it seems, conducive to it. What is happening in Syria today is the defining experience of many of her future generations, and is bound to pave the way to a better place, for all. This is where failure can never be an option. This suffering will not be in vain.

Wednesday April 3, 2013

Today’s Death Toll: 130 martyrs, including 6 women and 11 children: 48 martyrs in Aleppo; 40 martyrs in Damascus and its Suburbs; 11 martyrs in Homs; 9 martyrs in Idlib; 8 martyrs in Daraa; 5 martyrs in Hama; 4 martyrs in Deir Ezzor; one martyr in Raqqa and one martyr in Lattakia (LCCs).

Points of Random Shelling: 352, including: Shelling with warplanes was reported in 33 points; 9 Surface to Surface missiles were reported in Deir Ezzor, Damascus, Daraa and Homs; explosive barrels reported in Atareb and Deir Jammal; shelling using Scud missiles reported in 3 districts; phosphoric bombs [more likely incendiary cluster bombs) reported in Mleiha; cluster bombs reported in Binnish, Anadan, Karm Nuzha, Dael and Soura; vacuum bombs reported in Abel in Homs; mortar shelling reported in 109 points;  artillery shelling reported in 116 points; rocket launchers shelling reported in 73 points (LCCs).

Clashes: 138. Successful rebel operations include downing a warplane over the village of Sahlabieh in Raqqa, and taking control over the 49th battalion affiliated with the Air Force on the Khirbet Ghazaleh – Alma  highway in Daraa Province. In Suweida Province, FSA rebels stormed the Hajaneh battalion 66 at the east end of Tal Milh City and killed a number of soldiers. In Hama, FSA targeted the checkpoint at Breidij with a Grad missile. In Damascus, FSA targeted positions of 4th Division in the town of Zabadani, and shelled the state security headquarters in Jaramana Suburb (LCCs).

Rebels Capture Military Base in Southern Syria The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels seized the air defense base, home to the Syrian army's 49th battalion, on the outskirts of the city of Daraa, the birthplace of the country's uprising, on Wednesday after battling Assad's troops in the area for several days. The capture follows a string of other rebel victories in the southern province of Daraa, a largely agricultural region predominantly populated by Sunnis. Last month, opposition fighters seized Dael, one of the province's bigger towns, and overran another air defense base in the region.
Syria military warns rebels against taking Damascus, says push into city means 'certain death' Rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad have established strongholds in the suburbs surrounding the capital during the two-year-old-conflict. In recent weeks, they've stepped up mortar attacks on the center of the city, bringing the conflict closer to the seat of Assad's power.
Damascus violence forces even most resolute Syrians to flee For many the tipping point was a hail of mortar bombs and rockets that shook Damascus for several days last month as rebels and troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad brought tit-for-tat bombardments to the core of the capital… In response, families once determined to remain in the city are packing up and leaving. Others are scrambling to pull together limited resources and, with a heavy heart, are planning an indefinite absence from the only home they have known.
Syria’s ancient oasis city of Palmyra threatened in fighting Shaky amateur footage filmed by the resident shows the facade of the first century Temple of Baal with a large circle where a mortar bomb has blasted the sandstone. The columns of the great colonnade that extends from the temple have been chipped by shrapnel. “The rebels are around the town,” said the resident, who asked not to be named for fear of imprisonment. “They hide in the desert, some to the east and some to the west.”
Syria jet flies into Lebanon and fires missile Local residents say an army helicopter was also hovering near Arsal
Israel issues warning to Palestine and Syria Israeli defence minister says Israel will not tolerate any attacks on its territory and will retaliate against source.
Syria conflict drawing hundreds of jihadists from Europe, says report Up to 600 people from 14 European countries have taken part in fighting since 2011, finds King's College study
Helping the child victims of Syria's civil war walk again Isra is 9, and she lost the use of her legs after she was hit by a sniper's bullet in Syria. She is just one of many thousands of young people whose lives have been permanently scarred by the fighting which is tearing the country apart.
Abandoned newborn is Syria family's 'Gift from God' "She was lucky. In 12 hours, she was seen by 20 doctors in five hospitals. She was blue in the face and needed oxygen, but hospitals in liberated (rebel-held) areas did not have the electricity needed to run the incubator. "Eventually I found a hospital in an occupied (army-held) area willing to keep her for two days."

Special Reports
Syria's Rape Crisis: Women Under Siege Project Maps Sexual Violence Some of the project's findings: * 80 percent of the reports include female victims; 20 percent of reports include male victims
Ages of female victims ranged from 7 to 46. * Gang rape allegedly occurred in 40 percent of the reports about women. * Nearly 50 percent of reports about men involve rape, while 25 percent detail sexual violence without penetration, such as shocks to the genitals
Syrian Rebels Set Their Sights on Strategic South “Damascus will be liberated from here, from Daraa, from the south,” declared an armed fighter, a rifle slung over his shoulder and a kaffiyeh tied around his face. Videos posted online by activists showed him and other unidentified rebels celebrating inside the Syrian army’s 49th battalion in the village of Alma, on the outskirts of Daraa. “We will march to the presidential palace from here,” said another fighter, amid bursts of Allahu Akbar, or God is great. The videos showed rebels from the Suqour Houran, or Eagles of Houran brigade, driving a Russian-made armored personnel carrier inside the base. “These missiles are now under our control,” said a fighter, standing before a missile loaded on a truck.
Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: influential, organized, but mistrusted “They are well-organized politically, militarily and financially. That’s why they are taking over,” said a rebel fighter in the northern city of Aleppo. Damascus accuses the Brotherhood of acting as instruments of Qatar and Turkey, where their chief, Mohammad Riad al-Shaqfa, is based. And though the group pays lip service to a civil state based on human rights, among anti-regime activists “there is a deep suspicion that they are using democracy to come to power, and then once they come to power, they will use the laws in order to suppress their critics as we see today in Egypt,” Landis added.
The Zaatari Refugee Camp Having devoted a good deal of my professional career to refugee law, and yet never having worked in a refugee camp in the midst of an ongoing refugee crisis, I decided to respond to a call put forth by the UNHCR, and spend some time working at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. I only spent three months in Zaatari (November 2012 to February 2013) and what follows are my thoughts based on this limited time period and reflects only my experiences and opinions, and not those of the UNHCR.

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.

Quickly Noted

* The Assad regime is reportedly planning to create new provinces in the country by way of clarifying which areas are still under its control. The new plan calls for the creation of three new provinces resulting from splitting of the provinces of Al-Hassakeh in the northeast giving birth to the new province of Al-Qamishly, Homs in central Syria giving birth to the province of Tadmor, and Aleppo in the north giving birth to the province of Rural Aleppo (or Aleppo Suburbs). Of the three new provinces, Al-Qamishly is effectively under Kurdish control, especially the YPGs, the popular defense committees affiliated with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) but it is still nominally under regime control. Tadmor or Al-Badiyeh is a desert area, with a total population ranging between 50,000 and 100,000 inhabitants. The main route connecting Damascus and Baghdad goes through her. Aleppo Suburbs encircles Aleppo City and is almost completely controlled by rebels, while Aleppo City itself is divided.  

* A pro-regime figure and expert on everything, Dr. Imad Fawzi Shouaibi announces during an interview with the pro-regime Mayadeen TV that there are 14 oil fields below the sea along Syria’s coastal areas, 4 of them have production capacity that exceeds that of Kuwait. This is the reason it seems, for Syria’s current travails

Video Highlights

Rebel strongholds in Eastern Ghoutah continue to be pounded using MiGs: Zamalka Irbeen Husainiyah Saqba Kafar Batna at dawn