Saturday, 10 October 2015

Does the Free Syrian Army no longer exist?

fsa 2

 'As always the Free Syrian Army [FSA] proves to be an active military force combating against Assad regime forces and its allies throughout Syria, and also actively contributing in liberating territories from Assad regime and from the Iranian and Russian occupation in Syria. Western media don’t give the FSA enough coverage despite they are fighting throughout Syria and they are operating on many fronts against Assad regime troops and Islamic State fighters. The Free Syrian Army do have a weak presence in north-western [Idlib] of the country but they have a strong presence in Aleppo, Central and in the South, also they have contributed a lot in liberating territories from the Assad regime forces.
 On 7th October, the Assad regime backed Russian military personal and airstrikes launched an offensive on northern suburbs of Hama, in order to re-capture the opposition held territories in northern suburbs of Hama from two sides. Syrian Army [SAA] are willing to capture the Highway [Hama – Talbiseh] and also capturing all opposition territories from Rastan to Talbiseh. The FSA units have managed to stall their offensive and destroyed more than 20 Tanks and armoured vehicles using TOW missiles despite the heavy shelling and airstrikes from the Russian airforce, the FSA have managed to hold their line of defence.
 The Free Syrian Army proved to the world that they do exist and they are fighting for freedom of the Syrians, Syrian people who are sacrificing for the revolution do support the Free Syrian Army because they are fighting clearly for the revolution and to bring an end to the Assad regime."

 No kidding on the Western media. Just this morning there's an interchange between Gavin Esler and Jim Muir on the BBC news channel.
Gavin Esler: "There really isn't any moderate opposition in Syria, is there?"
Jim Muir: "No. There is al-Qaida, and other Islamists."
Jim Muir went on to say that the supply of weaponry by regional powers to these Islamists was part of a CIA plan B when the training programme only produced a handful of fighters (he said it was that they were fighting ISIS, rather than having to promise not to fight Assad that made them targets). He had heard this from 'a diplomat in the region', which seemed to be Patrick Cockburn's code for someone in the Iraqi government who supports Assad.'

Friday, 9 October 2015

Cartoonist Pronounced Dead, Believed Murdered by Syrian Regime

A cartoon by Akram Raslan (Image via Twitter)

 ' “Akram Raslan is a martyr, and a witness to the fact that the regime and Islamic State are two sides of one axe,” cartoonist Ali Ferzat wrote on his Facebook page following the news. “They both represent the death of art and of thought.”
 Raslan was arrested by Assad’s mukhabarat agents on October 2, 2012, while working at the Al-Fida newspaper in Hama. Then 34 years old, he had been criticizing the Syrian regime since the 2011 siege of Daraa through cartoons — he published more than 300 of them. One shows the suited president grinning devilishly by a pile of bloody bodies; another depicts him as an anaconda strangling Syria to death. The cartoon that purportedly got him jailed has Assad surrounded by flames and holding a sign that reads, “Assad, or the country burns.” '

Russia just handed ISIS a 'big win' in Syria's largest city

Image result for isis gains aleppo last 24 hours

 'ISIS militants seized five villages on the northern edge of Aleppo, putting them within 1 mile of territory held by the Syrian regime, Reuters reports. Russian airstrikes in the area reportedly killed hundreds of anti-regime rebels, many of whom ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, and Daesh) was also fighting. "Daesh has exploited the Russian air strikes and the preoccupation of the (rebel) Free Syrian Army in its battles in Hama, and advanced in Aleppo," one rebel commander told Reuters.

 "The Russians are following the same script as the Syrian regime, which is basically to avoid ISIS as much as they can because ISIS is useful," Hassan said. "ISIS can attack the rebels. It’s not in the heartlands, it's in areas that are farther away. ... If ISIS attacks the rebels in Aleppo, that’s good news for the Russians and the regime." Consequently, Russia would hit ISIS harder only if the group creeps into regime strongholds. "The regime and Russians will focus on the heartlands — Hama, Damascus, but not Palmyra," which is an ISIS stronghold, Hassan said.'

 Compare that to Patrick Cockburn's latest litany of misdirection*:
"There have been a lot of air strikes around Palmyra, and I think that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which [is pro-opposition], I think yesterday they said there have been 34 strikes there. And to the west of there. There seem to be a lot of strikes there. It's fairly clear that the Russians are attacking ISIS and they're also attacking Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, which are--Jabhat al-Nusra is the Al-Qaeda representative. Ahrar al-Sham is not much different. These are all from some, in the Western media, described as [moderates]. I don't know why, because they really are not. They're very much the same ideology as the Islamic State. A lot of their commanders are former Islamic [State], ISIS people."


Local Syrians watch crisis from a distance

Shrewsbury, Massachusetts - 9/22/2015 - College student Fouad Faris poses of a portrait in his car in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, September 22, 2015. Faris emigrated to the United States after leaving Syria's civil wall three years ago. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)

 ' “It’s a very close community, and it was not before the revolution,” said Salem, who grew up in Damascus and came to the United States in 1996. “After 2011, when it started, a lot of Syrians started looking for others.”
 Like many others, Salem spends his days worrying about relatives who are unable to leave his homeland. Salem’s parents now live with him and his family in Sharon; his wife’s parents became homeless two years ago after a rocket destroyed their home in Homs, Syria’s third-largest city. He also has two sisters who still live in Damascus and suffer through bombardments and a lack of water and electricity.
 “We’ve lost multiple family members, cousins mostly,” Salem said. “Some were detained and tortured to death in regime prisons and others [died] due to Syrian Air Force aerial bombing.” '

What Syria’s refugees think about Israel

Germany is struggling to process and accommodate the 10,000 refugees streaming into the country every day. (Uriel Heilman/JTA)

 ' “Israel and Bashar [Assad] – same-same,” said Khalid el-Hassan, a 17-year-old from the Syrian coastal city of Tartus who recently made his way to Berlin.

 “I think what’s happening now is Obama’s responsibility; if Obama wanted he could stop the war,” said Suleiman, who has five surviving children. “For 10 years I worked to build a house, and now it’s all crushed by Assad’s bombs,” she said. “I tried living under ISIS control, but anybody who said anything that disagreed with ISIS was beheaded.”

 Idris Abdulah, 30, an unemployed Syrian Kurd who came to Germany a year ago, said it wasn’t fair to blame America for ISIS; he fingered Assad for creating the ISIS problem by releasing Islamic militants from Syrian prisons shortly after the outbreak of the civil war. “We all hate the American government because it’s not doing anything for the Syrian people even though it can. We don’t hate American people.” '

80,000 displaced from northern Hama following Russian strikes

File photo of rescuers searching for survivors after a Russian airstrike in the Idlib province of Syria last weekend

 "Al-Masri said that the Assad regime is backed by the Russian regime and its warplanes, and that he believed the regime is now able to control north Hama, a precedent that demonstrates the regime's treachery and non-compliance with the truce as a peaceful solution. He added that Assad's regime only understands the language of aggression.
 He added that Russia is the Syrian people’s enemy and the regime’s partner in killing their children, and appealed to the free world to support Syria’s women and children. He also called on all factions to stand up to the regime's brutality.
 Syrian citizen, Abu Ahmed, said that he fled the regime's shelling of his city of Al-Lataminah two years ago and headed to Kafr Nabudah, but he can now sense the spirit of displacement looming once again.
 Abu Ahmad said that Syrians only found olive groves for shelter after the town was shelled. He noted that the world has abandoned Syrians leaving them in the hands of Russians and Iranians."

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Majority of Syrian Refugees in Germany Blame Assad for Fighting

Refugees tell Germans: we won't stay forever

 'Adopt a Revolution spokesman Elias Perabo said that the results show clearly that Syrians want to return – although the essential precondition was the removal of dictator Bashar al-Assad.
 More than two-thirds of the refugees – 70 percent  – said the Assad regime was responsible for the conflict in their country, while 32 percent blamed Isis.
 "The German government and the EU must recognize that the greatest cause of flight in Syria is Assad and his barrel bombs [improvised explosives dropped from aircraft] and adapt their policies accordingly," Green party leader Cem Özdemir said in response to the findings.
 "We have to bring an end to the brutal terror of Isis in the region, but as long as Assad rules in Syria, the country will not find lasting peace." '

Syrian Journalist Wins Award for Courageous Reporting Despite Dangers

Winner of the 2015 Anna Politkovskaya Award, Kholoud Waleed, journalist and editor of the Syrian underground newspaper ‘Enab Baladi.’ (Credit: Chloe Fairweather)

 ' "The Syrian media always conveyed the same, that there was no conflict, no demonstrations, no shelling, no bombardment, nothing. The message from the regime is 'the sun is shining, the birds are singing, nothing, nothing at all is happening in Syria. 
 If we stop, no history will be recorded, and only the loud voices will be heard - the voices of the most powerful, whether it's the regime or the extremists," she said. "If we stop, no one is going to hear the voice of the vulnerable."
 Elena Kudimova, sister of Politkovskaya and a member of the RAW in WAR nominations committee, said: "This brave woman ... is doing the same dangerous work as Anna did.
 The newspaper she runs is a rare source of truthful facts for the people in Syria, who are left either in an information vacuum or are subjected to heavy state propaganda." '

Syrians should not be told Assad can stay. He must go

Syrians should not be told Assad can stay. He must go

 'Every so often, I’m asked to make the argument why Mr Al Assad and his deadly regime no longer have a place in Syria’s future. The very question seems like an insult. Then I remember to not answer would be a greater insult to our dead who were killed chanting for the tyrant to leave.
 So why should Mr Al Assad go? He should go because the Syrian people deserve to live free from the regime’s security apparatus that has terrorised thousands of innocents over four decades.
 He should go because no people in the world should live under the constant threat of barrel bombs on their homes. He should go because why must millions flee in exchange for the few to stay?
 He should go because even when we convince ourselves that we live in a world of “no more good options”, it’s never acceptable to justify genocide. He should go because there will never be peace in Syria with him or his regime in power.
 My greatest fear, one that has materialised over and over since 2011, is that these very lines may also read like a cruel joke 36 months from now. It is when numbers like 250,000 dead and 11 million displaced make us wince and ask: Were there really so few dead, only that many refugees, back in 2015? Why didn’t we stop the violence when we had a chance?'

Syrian government forces responsible for more civilian deaths than Isis, human rights group claims

 'Amnesty International UK’s Syria Campaign Manager Kristyan Benedict told The Independent: “It’s absolutely no secret that the vast majority of civilian deaths in Syria have been at the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
 Syrian government forces have launched indiscriminate attack after indiscriminate attack on the country’s beleaguered civilian population. 
 Barrel bombings have become the most notorious of Assad’s forces’ tactics, but we mustn’t forget that countless people have also died at the hands of army snipers, through starvation in besieged areas, and at the hands of torturers in government detention centres.
 It’s important that ISIS’s many crimes are properly documented and the perpetrators brought to justice, but the far bigger killing machine in Syria is the one made in Damascus." '

Russia’s Giving ISIS An Air Force

In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 a bomb is released from Russian Su-24M jet fighter in Syria. NATO strongly criticized the Russian air campaign in Syria that began Wednesday. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

 'YouTube shows the burning wreckage of the Russian airstrike, in Mansoura, in the western suburbs of Aleppo, as the local commander known as Abu Mohammed taunts his enemy: “Thank God, we are all fine,” says Abu Mohammed. “We don’t fear Russia or anyone helping the Russians. Bashar, we will remain resistant fighting you even without any ammunition or bullets. We will fight you with knives. We don’t need ammunition, Allahu Akhbar.”

 The cameraman then adds that the Russians weren’t the only ones hitting the brigade yesterday. “The Russian airplanes are targeting Suqour al-Jabal’s weapon depots in Aleppo and ISIS attacked the bases with explosives at the same time.”

 Today, Russian warplanes heavily bombarded several targets along a salient in Hama province, reportedly using thermobaric munitions and the same multiple launch rocket systemsearlier employed to devastating effect in east Ukraine. At the same time, Assad’s army advanced to dislodge the rebels from towns such as Kafr Zita, Morek and Kafr Nabudah. But the army failed, principally because many of its Free Syrian Army opponents were equipped with TOW guided anti-tank missiles, all supplied by the CIA. As many as 18 regime tanks (all manufactured in Russia or the former Soviet Union) were destroyed by these weapons in a 24-hour period. And the rebels held their ground in Hama.'

It's actually looking like as many as 24 tanks were destroyed or captured by the rebels in Hama yesterday. The Russian strategy is in tatters.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Homs teacher: ‘Those who don’t die in air raids will die when the regime invades’

 Q: "Do you believe the regime is capable of storming the region?"
 "Not really. The area is reactively large. We trust that our destiny is tied to the destiny of the rebels and the Free Syrian army."

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Amid civil war, Syria pushes to qualify for World Cup for first time

Abdulrazak al-Husein of Syria celebrates scoring his

   Any Syrian is going to be happy that there is a Syrian team that is competing on the world stage,” said Kenan Rahmani, a 27-year-old student at American University's Washington College of Law. “But it is a team that is run by the same government that is killing its own citizens. The Syrian people have suffered every tragedy you could ever imagine. It is hard to think about soccer when there are terrible forces destroying our country.” '

Uncomfortable Facts

russian bombs

 Robin Yassin-Kassab
 "It seems regime/ Iranian ground offensives will follow, particularly in northern Homs and the areas of Hama and Lattakia near the regime’s coastal stronghold. The aim is to shore up Assad’s collapsing regime in the fifth of Syria he retains. The larger hope is to destroy the opposition, leaving only Assad and ISIS standing. Then the West may more openly back Assad to take the rest of the country back. 
 The imperialist assault will undoubtedly extend the war in time and expand it in space. The coming months may see grievous setbacks for opposition forces. In the end, however, Russian bombs will not be able to alter the demographic reality any more than Assad’s bombs or the Iranian militias could before. Assad is running out of fighting men; foreign troops, however many arrive, can extend but not win his war. And not only the opposition militias but the majority of the Syrian people too will refuse to cooperate with any plan envisaging regime survival. For them Assad, not ISIS, is the supreme evil, and with good reason: Assad’s forces are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilians killed and driven out.
 Beyond that, Russia’s economy shrank by 5% last year. Russia isn’t strong so much as it is constantly appeased. But Syria’s fighters are in no mood for appeasement. When the Russians first walked into Afghanistan, when the Americans first walked into Vietnam, they thought their operations would be easy and brief…"

Monday, 5 October 2015

Revolution factions in a unified statement : the revolution has triumphed and Assad's regime has fallen

Image result for Revolution factions in a unified statement : the revolution has triumphed and Assad's regime has fallen

 "Syrian revolutionary factions announce the victory of the revolution and the fall of the Assad regime.
 Revolutionary factions fighting in Syria announced that the Syrian Revolution has triumphed and the Assad regime has fallen effectively. They call all syrians inside and abroad to mobilize to defend their land and honor, in the coming war of liberation against the Russian and Iranian occupation that Assad regime called for help.
 This came in a joint statement signed by all the factions fighting on the ground and who consider Russia aggression, an occupation which began with the massacre in the northern Homs where 50 civilians have been killeds.
 The statement call for all factions to unite to liberate the land and defend their identity."

Moscow scuppers US coalition plans for no-fly zone in Syria

Map: Russian air defence in Syria

 'Just weeks ago, after months of diplomacy, officials were close to an agreement on enforcing aerial safe-zones to end the Assad regime’s bombing of civilians in northern and southern Syria, according to diplomats and military officials in the US-led coalition. The agreement was based on Jordanian and Turkish plans presented earlier this year.
 “The Russian forces now in place make it very, very obvious that any kind of no-fly zone on the Libyan model imposed by the US and allies is now impossible, unless the coalition is actually willing to shoot down Russian aircraft,” says Justin Bronk, research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute.

 Preventing the creation of US-led coalition no-fly zones in Syria is important for Moscow’s influence over events in the country. With the Assad regime’s territorial grip looking fragile in recent months, the added imposition of a US-led coalition no-fly zone could have forced negotiations that would have led to a loss of Russia’s influence. Now any diplomatic or political process that does occur will do so on Moscow’s terms.'

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Syrian rebel leader: Russian intervention shows Assad collapse

 ' "Russia's interference in Syria is a sign Assad's army is collapsing. In 2013, Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah said, 'We joined the war because the Free Syrian Army was getting close to Damascus.' Then in 2014, Shia militias entered because Hezbollah couldn't protect the régime, and now all these groups couldn't protect the régime, so we have Russia. 

 Russia considers anyone fighting the régime as their enemy. They didn't come here to fight ISIL, they are bombing civilians and the Free Syrian Army, and even other groups who are receiving foreign support.
 America has no clear plan. They have let down the Syrian people. it's a very weak administration. They have left it all in Russia's hands. They didn't support their partners on the ground, and even the group they trained, they left them to face their fate against the régime and Russia's bombs. There's been no reaction."

 He says what keeps his men fighting is that they have a just cause, fighting for freedom, dignity, and the need to rebuild a free Syria for the next generation.'

Bashar al-Assad is Syria's problem, not its solution

Image for the news result

 "The situation on the ground in Syria is ripe for a concerted air campaign that can assist the two major rebel coalitions ready to take Damascus and turn the course of the war. These two forces -- "Army of Conquest" in the north and "Southern Front" in the south -- are strategically positioned, battle hardened, and more than equipped to carry out what will be required by land. All they require is sustained air support that can neutralize the remnants of Assad's army brigades, national defense forces, and Hezbollah/Iranian battalions, as well as prevent Syrian planes (and now maybe Russian ones as well) from dispatching their dreaded and devastating barrel bombs. With such assistance these coalitions will be able to move into Damascus and take the capital city on their own.

 Russia's growing military alliance with Iran and al-Assad in the name of defeating ISIS is a disconcerting development that complicates the situation in the Middle East. However, it is clear that the major Arab powers in the region, led by Saudi Arabia, cannot sit back and let the Russians and their proxies dictate the course of events. Over 300,000 Syrians have died and 4 million are now refugees. ISIS must be destroyed, but that can only occur once al-Assad is removed from power. Thus, we are likely to see in the near future a concerted Saudi coalition moving into Syria by air and providing the anti-Assad coalition forces the cover they need to break the stalemate of this war and, hopefully, bring it to an end."

Here's the new FSA statement to Russia and Iran

Leaders of Syria's Southern Front rebels released a statement Friday claiming Russia and Iran as legitimate targets and occupying forces in Syria. (AFP/File)

  ' "The al-Assad regime said the Russian and Iranian forces are “fighting terrorism”,
 while in fact they are only assisting the regime in its crimes against Syrians.

 Your masks had fallen and your true faces are revealed. Especially for those countries
 who pretended to be our friends and support the Syrian revolution. Therefore we
 consider Russian and Iranian forces and government as our enemies and preserve
 our right to fight them as occupying forces.

  We reject and refuse the dividing of Syrian land, and promise the Syrian people that
 we will do our best to restore our land in full. This is a goal that we will sacrifice our
 life for.

  The scene is now clear for all Syrians— our appeals to the Arab and Muslim world
 were in vain after their silence on the regime's crimes. But this has only increased
 our determination and energy. May God bring us back victorious."

  "Amid an international shift in favor of—or at least ambivalence toward— Syrian
 President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power, opposition groups and rebel factions
 have unified against the tide. Also on Saturday, the Syrian opposition's external
 political wing Syrian National Coalition (SNC) joined powerful Islamist factions
 and Western-backed rebel groups in Syria to sign a statement against a UN
 peacemaking framework drafted in July." '

Occupation: Photographer of corpses

Operation Cesar: Syrian regime crimes exposed

 Al-Araby al-Jadeed publishes excerpts from the book Operation Caesar, the testimony of a dissident photographer who worked for the regime before defecting and leaking thousands of civilian torture photographs

 ' "My name is Caesar. I used to work for the Syrian regime. I was a photographer in the military police in Damascus. Before the revolution, I was responsible for taking photographs of crimes and accidents involving the military. This included suicides, drowning, and road and fire accidents.

 I had not seen anything like this before. Before the revolution the regime would torture detainees to extract information, but they were now doing so to kill. 

 I saw wax marks and I once saw a round mark from a small stove used to make tea that had burned the face and hair of one of the bodies. Some of them had deep wounds, gouged eyes, broken teeth and marks from being hit by electric cables used to start car batteries."

Caesar wanted to stop working and defect, but Sami talked him into staying, because he was the only one who could gather insider evidence against the regime. He promised to stand by him - no matter what happened.

For two years, and despite the risk, Caesar copied millions of pictures of prisoners, which can be seen today online and at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.'

The world needs to know that the choice is not only Assad or Isis

Syria, Russian bombing

 'It seems clear that the immediate goal of the Russian attacks is to degrade and demoralise moderate opposition forces as they, and not Isis, constitute the real challenge to Assad’s legitimacy. Colonel Abdul-Jabbar Akidi, former commander of Aleppo operations, told me that the Russians want to kill us all so they can convince the west that it is either Assad or Isis in Syria.
 One Christian fighter for the Free Syrian Army, who leads a small FSA group, tells me that while Muslim fighters in his group do observe their religious duties faithfully, all of them are fighting for a free and democratic Syria in which Syrians enjoy equal rights, regardless of their religious or ethnic origins.

 Another FSA officer, Colonel Abdulsalam Almerei, commander of Talbeissa operations in northern Homs, told me two days ago after his brigade was attacked by Russian aeroplanes: “We have no Isis here, we are fighting for our freedom and dignity. We want a united Syria for all Syrians. We do not want to oppress any sect or change one tyranny with another.”
Many Syrians have lost faith in the UN; they feel that the international community has abandoned them to the barbaric killing machines of Assad and Isis. The international law states that the principle of responsibility to protect civilians overrides the principle of sovereignty of states when a government kills its own people.'