Saturday, 14 February 2015

Image result for valentines day amid massacres a message from syria

‘From Syria With Love’: A Valentine’s Day message that puts today in context"Syrians send their love to all of those who remember us in these traumatic times. 

We send our love to the Free Syrian Army who have done their best to protect us and our dreams."

Syria crisis: The harrowing stories that show why the atrocities committed by Assad's forces must not be forgotten
"Around 200 to 250 people were gathered in the public square when it was bombed by a fighter jet. Ambulances were immediately directed to the area to evacuate the wounded. The first batch of wounded arrived few minutes later: 20 bodies and 15 wounded. The triage started right away and priority was given to people with life-threatening wounds..."

Illustration by Wissam Khattar (NOW)

The Assad regime’s Daraa campaign is a desperate defensive maneuver
"Across an area of more than 50 kilometers, southern Syria is witnessing fierce battles: the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is pitted against fighters from Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRCG) Qods Force, supported by Iraqi and Afghan fighters.
When asked about Syrian troops fighting in the battle, Abu al-Majd al-Zoabi, executive director of the Southern Front’s press office, says that their presence is marginal; that they are being used as bait for the FSA; and that foreign fighters are shooting and killing them if they are hit so as to prevent their capture.
“We have actually come close to the gates of the west Damascus countryside, and that is what’s keeping the regime up at night. We are fighting to defend our land, our homes and our people, and [the regime] is fighting to defend an occupation project.” "

Douma exterminated, and the full horror of war
Douma exterminated, and the full horror of warCampaign member Firas al-Abdallah: "Activists in the city know very well that, once again, the world is turning a blind eye, which they know from their four years of similar experiences, but they are hoping to send a message that inspires those with an ounce of humanity in them to call on their government to do something.
Since the beginning the month, they have documented 103 civilian deaths. This number could rise at any moment because the continued digging through rubble to uncover dead bodies and the hundreds of injured people, who the swamped medical posts can no longer take in."

Friday, 13 February 2015

Syria crisis: Assad holds on in war without end

Adra damage, Damascus, 11 November 2014

 Jeremy Bowen is full of bollocks. We start with him talking to FSA fighters in his only trip to the rebel side. They probably told him they wanted a democratic state that respected minorities (as you can see from the reference to Turkey), but all he hears is Islamist flavour and all he sees are beards.

 "I managed to cross from government-controlled Damascus to meet them last summer. Their commanders were bearded, pious Muslims who said they condemned the brutality of the jihadists. They said they were prepared to die to destroy President Bashar al-Assad and his regime, and wanted to build a state modelled on 21st Century Turkey, under a government with a distinct Islamist flavour."

 He then interprets the teachers words as blaming all sides equally, after throwing in the she is a 'devout Muslim'.

 "It's President Assad's duty to leave the children out of this war. He needs to stop shelling the schools - but both sides need to stop attacking the children. They have nothing to do with this war. Adults started the fighting - and they can carry on - but they can't use their children to further their aims."

 There is nothing that can be done is the cry of the liberal who wants to excuse injustice.

 "Is there a way to end the war in Syria? Not at the moment, or in the foreseeable future."
People are afraid to say how much they hate him because they know they may be arrested and tortured.

 "President Assad was never as unpopular as the leaders who were deposed in 2011."

 He has support, most noticeably among the Alawis who have dominated his state, much as whites did in South Africa, to them the anti-apartheid movement must have been a cruel joke.

 'President Assad has survived, and that would have been impossible without a degree of popular support. For his supporters, and others who just wanted a quiet life, the so-called "Arab Spring" has been a cruel joke.'

 Civilians in areas besieged my Assad have had no food and face barrel bombings. The civilians in Adra were kept out of the fighting for three weeks. The BBC has generally gone with mentioning Nusra involvement in any attack to the exclusion of the FSA (see the Golan Heights border crossing). There was a disinformation campaign by RT claiming that the rebels had killed many civilians.*

 "Adra was damaged badly in the battle to eject a coalition of armed rebels, dominated by the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate. 
Mohammad Raja Mahawish, a 40-year-old surveyor, was held in the cellar of his block of flats with his wife, children and 60 others for 22 days after the rebels seized the town almost a year ago."

 It is only the foreign support that has kept Assad in power. He does not have widespread support among Sunni Muslims. Much of the business elite continues to support him, but it is fear that keeps others from expressing their opposition. And even the Alawis are beginning to demonstrate, such as against the governor of Homs for bombing schoolchildren in an attempt to blame rebels. The idea that the armed forces are intact is a joke. They've shrunk from 320,000 to 80,000 with the mass defections, and those remaining don't really want to fight, which is why he needs the Iranians so badly.

 "It has had military, diplomatic and financial support from Iran, Russia and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement. But just as importantly, it has kept the support of most of Syria's minorities and enough of the majority Sunni Muslims to survive. That has helped deliver the loyalty of most of the armed forces, another crucial factor. Wholesale defections were often predicted in the first few years of fighting, but never happened."

 Truth isn't important when reporting on Syria. What needs to be done is to interview rĂ©gime supporters, put a weak version of the truth to them, and let their denial be the story, which is how you achieve balance.

 "What is important is not the truth or otherwise of his views."

 Because they weren't armed they didn't cohere. They were right to blame the West. They had plenty of appeal, but power grows out of the barrel of a gun and only Assad was allowed to have them.

 "An effective and influential alliance of secular, moderate Islamist rebels never emerged. They blamed the West for failing to support them properly. But they were never able to come up with a coherent way to appeal to millions of Syrians locked in their own personal struggles to survive the war."

 No, the US dismissed them as jihadists too, because the demands for removal were just rhetoric, and the US made no attempt to remove him.

 "The president's version of events was rejected and ridiculed by countries who demanded his removal, including the US, Britain, France and Saudi Arabia."

 The truth, but discredited by Bowen as just one of the competing narratives, and one that he knows as a Western journalist doesn't fit things as well as his own insights, and the reality of Assad still being in power.

 "Opponents of the regime say that he worked from the beginning to create the stark choice between the regime and the jihadists, the reality he claimed existed from the start of the fighting.

 His method, they say, was to target more moderate rebels and keep the pressure off the jihadists, first from al-Qaeda and now from the group that calls itself Islamic State."


The War Nerd: Islamic State and American Narcissism
I remember when Assad launched his chemical attacks in August 2013, so many idiots on the left were insisting the real news was that the US used napalm in Vietnam forty years ago.
"For people like Chauncey’s fans or Moyers’s admirers, nothing that happens outside the US matters at all. Only our sins are important. So a man burned alive in the Syrian desert becomes nothing but an excuse for a sermon on American History X, because only America matters, only America’s sins are real.
Kinda patronizing, Chauncey. Kinda chauvinistic, even.
The “foreign fighters” are an obnoxious nuisance, and a belated, kind of pathetic echo of generations of Western European male fantasies, but that’s all they are.
They’re not the good guys, or anything close to it. In fact, the whole lot of them, whether there are 30,000 or 100,000 of them raping and massacring their way to Raqqa, aren’t worth the life of the heroic socialist fighting woman who died at their hands just as Kobane was being liberated.
She’s the life we should be celebrating here, but I’ve learned better than to expect any respect for real socialist fighters like her from the fools who pass for leftists in America. All you can ask of these morons, the Chauncey de Vegas and Bill Moyerzez, is just shut the fuck up."

Damascus under fire

Damascus under fire
"Mohamed Al-Wazir of the NCSROF said that the Army of Islam’s rockets targeted solely military positions and that the regime reacted by shelling other parts of the city to incriminate the revolutionaries. People who examined the trajectory of the shelling support this view, saying that the capital came under fire from the Qasyun Mountains, known to be in regime hands.
Alloush, who ordered the shelling of Damascus, is a controversial figure. Some members of the opposition describe him as a “fifth column,” noting that he was one of the first men to be released from prison by the regime after the outbreak of the revolution, having promised to cooperate with the authorities.
Alloush later broke this promise, formed his own brigades, obtained funding from Arab sources and managed to increase the size of his forces until it numbered in the thousands. He has refrained from major engagements with regime forces, even when much smaller groups were regularly harassing them.
Many opposition members note that Damascus, a city of five million people, is not necessarily pro-government, but is rather being held hostage by the regime.
Damascus residents do not see the regime as a benefactor, but instead testify to the years of negligence and corruption that have defaced the city, and to the regime’s pro-Iranian policies that have virtually turned the city’s famous Umayyad Mosque into something akin to a Shiite shrine."

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Streets Run Red

Image result for douma syria

 Douma, ten miles north-east of central Damascus, where Assad appears to be trying to exterminate the local population with barrel bombs, to the extent that the streets run red with blood.

US warning as pro-Assad Hezbollah fighters launch assault on Syrian rebels

Syrian government forces walk in Deir al-Adas in the Daraa province.

 Not warning about Hezbollah, but about any foreign fighters not on Assad's side. Why do they hate us so much? Not because the US are bombing Syria, but because they are ignoring the real threat to Syrians. The story reports the SOHR's repetition of Syrian state media claims about their advances, without giving the reports that the advance has been repulsed.

Fresh off victory over ISIL in Kobani, Kurds seek more success

Syria, free Syria, Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL, Kurdish, YPG, Kobani, World News

 'Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi, a senior FSA commander, said fighting alongside each other has built confidence between the Kurds and the FSA, and it has also dispelled suspicions among many FSA members that the Kurds were Assad supporters.
 "It will shape the future of a free Syria," he said. "We are proud of their (FSA) presence with us. ... They have a history and have offered up martyrs, and this we will never forget," said Shorsh Hassan, an YPG spokesman based in Kobani.'
The Syrian town of Kobani has been won back from Isis by Kurdish forces

Isis 'forces Raqqa citizens to give blood to fighters' badly wounded by coalition air strikes
"Mr Mohammed, 26, graduated from the Faculty of Law in Damascus before travelling to Raqqa when civil war broke out to become an activist. He said: “I went to Raqqa in 2011 to join the revolution against [Syrian President] Bashar-al-Assad. Me and my friends later founded the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently campaign.” "

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Hezbollah leads fight to retake Syria’s south

 "The south is one of the last remaining areas where mainstream, non-jihadi rebels fighting President Bashar Assad have a foothold."

 That's why Assad gets Hezbollah to fight them, not Jabhat al-Nusra in the North or ISIS in the East. They are murderous scum. The quote does underestimate how much the mainstream rebels are in almost all parts of Syria, and have support greater than their numbers. And the south is quite a foothold. And the Syrian government and its partners lie constantly about how succesful their military operations are, and who the targets are, so we'll have to wait and see if they can reduce any more of Syria to rubble which seems the only success they ever achieve.
Lina Sinjab: "Since the start of the uprising, and the start of ISIS in 2013, Assad's forces never targeted these extremist groups, but rather eliminated all other groups from the equation. He wants to reach, what the world has reached today, in basically seeing Syria through the prism of ISIS, and thinking he is the better from them, but there is a majority of Syrians that don't want both, that have their voices not heard at all."
BBC's Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen interviewing President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus

War with Isis: Syria's President Assad is overplaying a weak hand – he needs the West to keep militants from Damascus
Assad is the only force that can take on ISIS, but he needs the Americans to save him from the moderate rebels, who don't exist, but Assad has made a mistake by not conciliating with them. Assad tells lies, but everyone but Patrick Cockburn will be taken in by them. When will he collapse under the weight of his own contradictions? And his mate Cockburn too.

A handout picture dated February 8, 2015

The Guardian view on Bashar al-Assad’s BBC interview: the lies of a tyrant
Not just part of the problem, but the fount of them.
"Sticking one’s head in the sand and hoping the war on Isis will bring peace to Syria is a delusional approach. Syrian civilians are not helped when the west has no credible strategy to offer beyond air strikes on Isis and letting military data be communicated to the Assad regime. Nor are the Sunni constituencies that the coalition is supposed to rally against Isis ever going to be convinced of the efficiency of the strategy if Mr Assad, supported by Iran and Russia, is allowed to portray himself as part of a common fight. He is, as ever, part of the problem, not the solution.
There were no words of empathy for a population that his troops have massacred, leaving whole cities, including Homs and Aleppo, in a state of ruin reminiscent of such 20th-century horrors as Guernica or Dresden. Thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of Syrians have been detained and tortured, some to death, in Mr Assad’s dungeons. Behind the slick images of an interview in a presidential palace, a whole country is being methodically and ruthlessly sacrificed to the interests of the Assad dynasty."

Syria's President Assad Is Still Pounding Damascus Residential Districts, With Dozens Killed In Ghouta
"Everything Daesh is doing now, the (Syrian) regime has done before and is still doing," said Syrian activist Ahmed al-Ahmad, referring to the Islamic State group by its Arabic acronym. "But the world protects Assad and only cares about Daesh crimes."

"Footage shows them being used in Syria, but President Assad denies civilians have been harmed."
And the BBC gives greater prominence to his lie than the truth. And Jeremy Bowen's response it to suggest inadequacy, "either callousness, an awkward attempt at humour, or a sign that Mr Assad has become so disconnected from what is happening that he feels overwhelmed," while Jonathan Tepperman of the Washington Post was less forgiving, "Either Syria’s president is an extremely competent fabulist — in which case he’s merely a sociopath — or he actually believes his lies, in which case he’s something much more dangerous (like a delusional psychopath)."*
Here** is 37 minutes of footage of Assad's forces dropping barrel bombs from last year.