Saturday, 22 November 2014
Syrian rebels, increasingly desperate, turn to tunnel warfare
There isn't any mention of the advances the rebels have made in the South, but there is a desperate need to get rid of Assad, that gets more urgent each day.
'When Assad's soldiers stormed through towns and villages in the early days of fighting, they left behind threatening graffiti: "Assad or we burn the country." And though the rebels say they are torn over their role in Syria's gradual demolition, their desperation has pushed them toward extreme strategies.'
In search of a reliable and trustworthy FSA
"The FSA commander was full of disappointment, emphasizing the FSA’s moderate attitude and its ability to secure such weapons from being seized, sold or channeled to extremists. “We don’t want tanks or any other vehicles. All we need is anti-aircraft equipment,” he said, pledging the FSA ability to win the war once such weapons are channeled. The U.S. source was skeptic about the “full moderate” attitude of the FSA, saying that the White House still sees the FSA as made up of hundreds of radical fighters who have links with al- Nusra and ISIS. “The U.S. administration is certain that hundreds of radical fighters from the Syrian Islamic Front, Fajr al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, and others have been enrolled in the FSA.”
Back to front as usual. Most of the media is reflecting the shock at ISIS atrocities (which get more publicity than those of Assad), but there is no clamour for British forces to go and fight there. The Independent takes its line from Robert Fisk, whose most recent contribution was a friendly interview with a commander in the shabiha, the thugs who rape and torture where their aren't enough of Assad's soldiers to do it, and Patrick Cockburn, who now promotes a Western alliance with Assad, having seen him as the lesser evil all along. Richard goes on to discuss classic lies in support of US foreign policy, like the story of Kuwaiti babies being ripped from incubators. The big lies of the Syrian conflict last year were that it wasn't Assad who used chemical weapons to kill 1500 people, and that the claim was a ruse to justify an American invasion. It should be clear today that there was never going to be an American invasion, and our concern about media lies should be on the actual victims of this conflict, the Syrians murdered in their hundreds of thousand by Assad, the tens of thousands tortured every day in his prisons, today. I did not bother to watch any more of this video.
Friday, 21 November 2014
"On Nov. 14, rebels destroyed an army Fozdeka combat vehicle using a Russian-made Fagot missile targeted at the outskirts of Brigade 82.
The opposition media office in Nawa stated on its Facebook page that 25% of the homes of the city are no longer habitable and called on “revolutionary bodies working in the field of human rights” to secure housing and shelter for hundreds of displaced families that returned to the city and found themselves homeless."
What a gay day. It is easy to overestimate the effect that opposition victories have, but there is hope that Syria might wake from the nightmare that is the fall of the House of Assad, and that's vitally important. Let's hope that pressure doesn't mean allowing the régime to survive Assad, the more Syrians are empowered militarily rather than having outside powers determine their future, the less likely that is to happen.
"Syrian rebels in the south are trying to present a model of a moderate opposition capable of achieving field victories, far from the Islamist character that has so far marked most rebel factions. Jabhat al-Nusra has a limited presence in the south and the military structure of the opposition’s joint command in Daraa was restructured to include a civilian administrative structure. This might encourage Western powers and their regional allies to support rebels in the south as a means to exert pressure on the Assad regime in Damascus."
Without Damascus, the régime would have no legitimacy as a state actor, and the recognition of a new government would likely be swift, if there is anything of Syria to recognise by then.
"The southern front is the most dangerous for Damascus. Through all the battles to the south of the capital and to the east toward Ghouta, the regime aims to protect Damascus as its center of power and to confirm its continued control of the Syrian central state. Without Damascus, the regime is little more than another armed faction on the ground in terms of power and influence."
So there aren't any mass defections.
Bell: "The regime has launched counteroffensives that have failed, resulting in ensuing regime frustration, which manifests itself in the execution of Syrian Arab Army officers and defections of generals because they’re afraid they are going to be executed or penalized.
There was a report of the president sending the Minister of Defense south to personally oversee a counteroffensive after Syrian Arab Army officers were executed as punishment for the strategic loss of Tel-al Hara in the south.
When the regime faces a major setback, they frequently lash out with air power, which can take the form of surface-to-surface scud missiles etc. We’ve seen barrel bombs with chlorine gas canisters in them in Damascus, reports of at least three chlorine gas attacks on a very consistent north-south axis along supply lines, responding to rebel advances."
Thursday, 20 November 2014
In Syria, struggling to shine a light on victims of sexual violence
"She said, 'There was a lot, a lot of torture,' and I said, 'What kind of torture?' She kept repeating, 'A lot, a lot of torture,' and I kept pressing until I wore her down and she finally began telling me specifically about the rape."
Men, women, children tortured, left to die in infamous regime ‘Air Force Intelligence’ branch in Al Mezze: former inmate"Asked to calculate the number of prisoners detained in the Mezze prison, the activist said that by adding together the dungeons and dormitory cells and the information he had received from other inmates during his time there, as well as the statistics on the numbers held in solitary confinement, he would estimate that around 40,000 people are incarcerated in that Hell on Earth."
Syria's 'hospital' of horrors"Douma, where I live, is hit practically every day by artillery fire and air and ground raids. It is also located in the Gouta area, which is held by the Free Syrian Army and which was attacked with chemical weapons by the regime in August 2013."
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
A Syrian's Struggle To Get By"What are people saying about U.S. policy toward Syria?"
"It's either stupid or [people] don't care. They say that the [Syrian] regime killed more than 200,000 people and no one in the world did anything. When ISIS killed 3,000 people, all the world gathered and said we should fight it. When the Syrian regime strikes with chemical weapons and kills 1,500 in one day and none of the world did anything to stop that.
So people, they have no hope in the universe. They see themselves as so alone and depend on nothing but themselves. Under the very heavy need in every sort of life comes a new creativity we did not know about before."
When Waed and Hassan fell in love, they were students in a neighborhood of internet cafes and all-night parties. Then the Assad regime turned their world into a medieval hellscape.
"While the Syrian regime made global headlines with its use of chemical weapons, its use of starvation has largely slipped under the radar, even though it is far more pervasive. Assad has been trying to prevent food and medicine from entering opposition-controlled parts of Syria, while also destroying 60 percent of the country's hospitals. Parts of Homs were cut off from the outside world for three years, and most of southern Damascus came under siege by last year, as did large parts of Aleppo. As this story went to print, some 250,000 people—the population of Orlando, Florida—were living under siege in Syria, completely cut off from outside food or aid."
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
An Open Letter to Lars Klevberg, The Norwegian Film Institute and Arts Council Norway"Syrian children have been the target of snipers, barrel bombs and massive atrocities for over three years, much of which has been documented, painstakingly, by citizen journalists and journalists alike in the most dangerous and dire of circumstances. This film undermines the work and the people who continue to document crimes against humanity. Rather than engage in thoughtful debate using existing evidence, of which there is plenty, the film calls to question, both ethically and professionally the work being done to document these crimes inside Syria."
Monday, 17 November 2014
"If I could apologize to each American, one by one, I would," Agha said, weeping. "Because Peter died in Syria, while he was helping the Syrian people. And those who killed him claimed to have done it in the name of Islam. I am a Muslim, from Syria, and he is considered a part of the Syrian revolution."
Sunday, 16 November 2014
The Greens have generally been as shit on Syria as the left. Good for Jean-Pierre Filiu.
"Already a year ago, he spoke out strongly against the Western reluctance to arm the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The inevitable result would be an increase in the influence of jihadist factions on the rebel side. The only way to save the Syrian uprising from being hijacked by the extremists, according to Filiu then, would be the establishment of a revolutionary government of moderate nationalists and Islamists inside Syria. The anti-Assad administration should be given a chance and the only way to shield them would be the establishment of safe zones where they would be protected from air raids and artillery bombings. It was basically what the Turkish government has been saying for a long time now."