Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lipstick on a Pig!

Assad’s amnesty deal could free up to 7,000 prisoners, we are told, leaving 150,000 to go. How generous is the Lord! How widespread the rejoicing!

Tuesday April 16, 2013

Death Toll: 119 martyrs, including 19 women, 21 children, and 3 under torture: 49 in Aleppo most in Sakhour neighborhood; 19 in Damascus and Suburbs; 16 in Daraa; 14 in Idlib; 8 in Raqqa; 5 in Homs; 5 in Deir Ezzor; and 3 in Hama (LCC).

News
Rebels push Assad's army away from vital north Syria highway The two sides are struggling for control of a highway that serves as the main route into Aleppo, Syria's largest city, after President Bashar al-Assad's forces broke through a six-month rebel blockade of two bases near the road. Rebels are determined to re-establish the blockade of the bases, located outside the town of Maarat al-Nuaman in Idlib province, because a government advance could upset the balance of power in the heart of the rebel-held north. No side now fully controls the highway.
UN agencies call for end to Syria 'carnage' Leaders of five UN agencies in rare joint appeal urge international community to find a political solution to conflict.
Syrian guns fall silent to allow Aleppo's dead to be collected Red Crescent workers and members of an opposition local council drove into the edge of the working class al-Sakhour district in north Aleppo to pick up the mostly civilian dead, many of them hit by army sniper fire, as fighters from the two sides looked on, activists and rebel military sources said. The opposition Aleppo Media Centre said the majority of the bodies, which included children, had already decomposed. Some had been lying in the streets and between buildings for months. Three bodies were found with their hands tied and four were burnt beyond recognition, the monitoring group said.
Syria's Assad cuts jail terms, activists not satisfied The move reduced prison terms of inmates held for both crimes and misdemeanors and also cut by a quarter the jail terms of "Syrians who had joined the terrorists" - the term used by the government to describe the rebels trying to topple Assad… Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib said the reductions would be seen as a positive gesture only if the women and children among the detainees were released in the coming days. "We want an amnesty on crimes and the release of all innocents of which there are more than 160,000. Most importantly among them are the women and children. If this happens we will say it is a token of a Syrian solution," he wrote on his Facebook page.
Turkey Holds 10 Suspected of Arming Syria Islamist Rebels-Media The suspects were arrested in Konya province, some 250 km south of the capital Ankara, after police were tipped off that a "radical Islamist group'' was persuading young men to join the Syrian insurgents, Turkey's private Dogan News Agency said. According to the report, the men were also suspected of supplying handguns and rifles to the rebels, who have been fighting to overthrow Assad in a civil war that started as a peaceful street uprising two years ago. Konya police declined to comment on the detentions.
NPR website defaced by hackers supporting Syria: Syrian Electronic Army posts messages in support of President Bashar Assad The group tweeted that it would not say why it attacked @NPR. "They know the reason and that is enough," it said… A subsequent Twitter exchange suggested that it had to do with coverage of the conflict in Syria by NPR reporter Deborah Amos who "has told of the hard toll the fighting there is taking on the Syrian people," the blog post said.

Special Reports
In rebel fighter's personal story, the arc of Syria's war When The Monitor first met Syrian rebel fighter Abu Omar last July, he was buoyant and determined to bring down the Assad regime. Now his outlook is a bit more grim.
Syria’s Forgotten Front Israel and the Syrian opposition don’t have much in common, but they do share some important mutual enemies, namely Hezbollah and Iran, both of which are fighting furiously to save Bashar al-Assad’s government. This convergence of interests provides an opening for America to quietly strike a deal between Israel and the leadership of the Syrian opposition: Israel should agree to refrain from arming proxies inside Syria to protect its border; and the Syrian opposition should work to keep extremist groups like Hezbollah and Jabhat al-Nusra and other affiliates of Al Qaeda far away from the Israeli frontier. This would demonstrate the Syrian opposition’s bona fides to potential Western supporters and dissuade Israel from intervening or arming allies in Syria.
Syria Is Complicated -- Simultaneous Conflicts Always Are The war in Syria is so enduring and vexing precisely because it is such a multi-layered conflict, comprising at least six separate battles taking place at the same time, argues Rami G. Khouri.

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

* Yesterday, I put the wrong link for Moaz Al-Khatib’s speech. Sorry. Here is the correct link http://youtu.be/aeL0nJ415gc.  

Video Highlights

In cooperation with the local chapter Red Crescent, a ceasefire was observed in certain parts of Aleppo City to allow for rebels to retrieve the bodies of dead civilians strewn in the streets. Most were in various degrees of decomposition. The dead were victims of pro-Assad snipers http://youtu.be/9ZJ7lowPSGI

Rebels in Marrat Al-Numan, Idlib, repel an offensive by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/DCGhcPZ4VE8 , http://youtu.be/TWkTxFYew6M Fighters in nearby Babouline do the same http://youtu.be/GfIsNe7A0x8  

Pounding of neighborhoods on the outskirts of the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishly in Syria’s northeastern parts leave many dead http://youtu.be/CWSaUrqb3lY

Amidst growing concerns over the possible use of chemical weapons by pro-Assad militias, activists in the Kurdish majority town of Efrin, Aleppo Province, organize a small workshop to inform people on how they could protect themselves of treat the aftermath of exposure http://youtu.be/Uy9z-DbnYD4

This video purports to show a Jordanian intelligence officer declaring his defection and his decision to join Jabhat Al-Nusra and its fighters in Syria. The officer says that he made his decision after he was tasked with monitoring the activities of JAN http://youtu.be/EoH_gWD8Ybs

Rebels in the town of Tabqa, Raqqah Province, bring down a MiG fighter http://youtu.be/xd6Z0F-Hpdg