Monday, May 6, 2013

“Cleanse and Liberate!”

As a pro-Assad militia leader explained that the driving philosophy behind the current operations in Banyas and its surroundings is to “cleanse and liberate” the only coastal town in Syria where Sunnis make up a majority, and as hundreds of Sunni families are indeed being forced to flee, world attention seems destined to focus over the next phase on the allegations just brought by Carla Del Ponte that rebels were behind the use of Sarin gas in Syria! And yet, miraculously, it’s the rebels and their supporters who are being killed and displaced! Cut the bullshit!, pardon my Italian! Had rebels had access to Sarin gas and had they had the necessary knowhow to deploy it, they might have been tempted to use it during their months-long siege of various military airports that keep raining death and havoc on their communities. The fact that they haven’t reflects either a principled stand on their part, lack of access, or both, but in all cases, it makes clear that the Sarin call in Syria has been heeded by the Assadists only, not the rebels. QED

Sunday May 5, 2013

Death Toll: 116, including 16 women and 21 children: 29 were reported in Damascus and its suburbs; 21 in Banyas; 19 in Homs; 10 in Idlib; 10 in Aleppo; 9 in Deir Ezzor; 7 in Daraa; 7 in Hama; 3 in Lattakia; and 1 in Raqqa (LCC).

News
Syria Blames Israel for Fiery Attack in Damascus The attack, which sent brightly lighted columns of smoke and ash high into the night sky above the Syrian capital, struck several critical military facilities in some of the country’s most tightly secured and strategic areas, killing dozens of elite troops stationed near the presidential palace, a high-ranking Syrian military official said in an interview. Israel refused to confirm the attacks, the second in three days, and Israeli analysts said it was unlikely that Israel was seeking to intervene in the Syrian conflict. They said the attacks in all likelihood expanded and continued Israel’s campaign to prevent the Syrian government from transferring weapons to Hezbollah, the Shiite militia and political party in neighboring Lebanon that is one of Israel’s most dangerous foes.
U.S. received no early warning on alleged Israeli strikes in Syria, American official says Meanwhile, Syrian official tells the New York Times strike hit elite Republican Guard units; local doctor reports at least 100 soldiers killed.
Syrian Rebels May Have Used Sarin “Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals,” Ms. Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television. “According to their report of last week, which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated.” “This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added, speaking in Italian… The United States has said it has “varying degrees of confidence” that sarin has been used by Syria’s government on its people.
Syrian rebels enter northern air base The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels moved deep inside Mannagh air base, near the border with Turkey, despite fire from government warplanes. The Aleppo Media Center says rebels captured a tank unit inside the base and that the base commander, Brig. Gen. Ali Salim Mahmoud, was killed. The fighting came hours after Israeli warplanes struck areas in and around the Syrian capital, setting off a series of explosions as they targeted a shipment of highly accurate, Iranian-made guided missiles believed to be bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, officials and activists said.

Investigative Reports
Exclusive: Syrian aid in crisis as Gulf states renege on promises Food rationing for refugees planned as $650m pledged to UN remains undelivered

Analyses & Op-Eds
Bill Keller: Syria Is Not Iraq t in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarged tragedy. The United States has supplied humanitarian aid and diplomatic pressure. But our reluctance to arm the rebels or defend the civilians being slaughtered in their homes has convinced the Assad regime (and the world) that we are not serious. Our fear that arms supplied to the rebels would fall into the hands of jihadis has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, because instead of dealing directly with the rebels we left the arming to fundamentalist monarchies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and they are predictably using lethal aid to appease the more radical Islamists.
Strikes on Syria Signal an Emboldened Israela civil war that has gone on for more than two years has changed Israel’s calculus. Israeli officials are betting that Assad will not retaliate, both because his forces have their hands full already and because any strike against Israel would risk Israeli counterstrikes that might seriously degrade his advantages in the civil war, like airpower. “They don’t want to open a new front that might be the last one they open,” says one Israeli military official. “They would suffer a knockout punch.” One measure of Israel’s confidence was the whereabouts of its Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu left on Sunday for a long-scheduled state visit to Beijing.

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.

“Cleanse and Liberate”

In this leaked video we see a leader of a pro-Assad militia known as Al-Kayyal speaking to supporters during a recent recruitment rally explaining the philosophy behind the current loyalist campaign in the coastal town of Banyas. Al-Kayyak is a Turkish Alawite and leads a small militia of Turkish Alawite recruits fighting for Assad in Syria. The religious scholar to his left is an Alawite religious figure known as Mouaffac Ghazal. Al-Kayyal says that Banyas (a town where the majority population happens to be Sunni Arab whereas the population of the larger province happens to be Alawite) is the only outlet the “traitors” [AKA the Sunnis] have to the sea and could be used to bring enemies from abroad, hence the need to “besiege” and “cleanse” the town, “sooner rather than later.” The essence of their resistance, he says, is to “cleanse and liberate.” Politics is not their concern, he says. http://youtu.be/y0P4rhRjR9I Indeed, the city of Banyas is now being targeted by heavy artillery http://youtu.be/HGGWTJpNdJM

Cleanse Your Mind

Meanwhile, member of the UN commission member investigating possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, Carla Del Ponte, made a statement in a press conference in Geneva in which she seemed to assume that rebels were beyond the use of Sarin gas in the incidents under investigation. While she claimed that the results of the investigation provided “strong, concrete suspicions” that Sarin was used, she said that the evidence was not “incontrovertible.” She then added matter of fact that the use of Sarin was “on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.” She offered no evidence in this regard, but she seems to be referring to official claims made by the Assad regime after an attack took place against the town of Khan Al-Assal for which the regime blamed rebels – a ludicrous and unsupported claim that was nonetheless widely circulated by international media at the time.

However, Del Pone’s statement, as sensational as it is at this stage, does not seem to reflect an official position by the commission itself, as such, an official clarification needs to be issued soon. For the real story in Syria today is the all too visible and ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign against the Sunni population in coastal and central areas in Syria and the repetitive incidents of Sarin gas use in a variety of locations across the country by regime forces. Incidents of the regime use of Sarin have been corroborated by the Americans (shyly), the French, the British and the Israelis.

Airport Cleansed!

Rebels took over huge segments of Minnigh Military Airport today. The progress comes after a defector killed the Airport’s chief, Ali Salim Mahmoud, and some of his top men two days ago. This is a rebel commander announcing the development two days ago.

Video Highlights

Rebels in Deir Ezzor brought down a government chopper killing its 6-men crew http://youtu.be/LjHU9-s5VHw

Unfazed by Israeli raids, regime forces pound rebel strongholds in Damascus City using rockets launchers on top of Mount Qasayoun https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151449186943577&set=vb.558523576&type=2&theater Yarmouk Camp http://youtu.be/v_rqmAOd6B0 , http://youtu.be/RHqkmrtcOPk Southern neighborhoods http://youtu.be/C0zSgzdz5L4 Jobar http://youtu.be/YdoetQKoE6c


To the West of Damascus, the town of Moadamiyeh continue to be pounded http://youtu.be/bVcSPLsDOQw , http://youtu.be/1nK4hd4unVc

News editor at Syrian Satellite TV, Khalid Khalil, declares his defection and apologizes to the Syrian people for the lateness in announcing his decision, but says he was providing reports to rebels since the beginning of the revolution http://youtu.be/VtTMMjQGWTA