Syrian Revolution Digest – Tuesday 3 July 2012




It’s not about what the international community wants any more than it is about what Assad wants. It’s about what we want and need as a people in order to regain and protect our basic freedoms. And what we want and need is for all decent people in the world to abide by their moral and legal obligations towards us. Intervention to support the pro-democracy revolutionaries in Syria, be it simple of complex, is a moral and legal obligation, and we will never stop rallying for it as it is an essential component of our fight against corruption and tyranny.

Tuesday July 03, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 71. The Breakdown: 14 in Deir Ezzor, 13 in Homs, 12 in Daraa, 13 in Damascus (12 in Suburbs and 1 in City), 10 in Aleppo, 5 in Hama, 3 in Idilb, and 1 in Raqqah.

A video showing the chaotic scene during one of the failed sessions in the opposition conference in Cairo

In regard to the recently released report by Human Rights Watch on torture, this is a leaked video showing pro-Assad troops torturing a civilian through the torture session security officers keep taunting their prisoner: “You want freedom?” “You want to kill the Aalwites?” “Say Assad is your God.”


Op-Eds & Special Reports

Let it be clear to all: Demanding international intervention is our moral and legal right as a people who belong to a country that is a member of the United Nations. When we call for international intervention to help put an end to Assad’s tyrannical and corrupt rule, we are not demanding anything that is outside the purview of international law and the legal obligations to which all states that are signatories of the UN Charter are subject. Asking the international community to abide by its moral and legal obligations towards us as a people is part and parcel of our struggle to free ourselves of oppression. We do not want to be ruled by a corrupt and oppressive government any more than we are willing to remain part of an oppressive and unfair international system. We want all those politicians who make decisions that impact our lives to be accountable to us, no matter where they happen to be. We want both the national and international institutions that were established in our nameand whose decisions have real impact on our way of life to be transparent, fair and accountable. This is what our revolution is about, and this is why our revolution will go on, until the tyranny of the Assad is no more and the international community has accepted to abide by its legal and moral obligations towards us.

Video Highlights

More high level defections: A colonel from the 1st Division A lieutenant from Air Force security

Helicopter gunships taking part in pounding restive communities in Sahel Al-Ghab valley in Hama Province

The pounding of Khan Shaikhoon, Idlib Province

The pounding of Maarabah, Daraa Province and Daraa City

The horrible destruction of Jouret al-Shayah, Homs City pounding of Rastan continues

Syrian Network for Human Rights: The Massacres of Al-Hubait and Hameh

Al-Hubait Massacre| 30 June 2012 | 10 Children Killed in 10 Minutes

At 06:00 pm, the Syrian regime’s army helicopters fiercely attacked the town of Al-Hubait, located 77 kilometers from the center of the city of Idleb and near the city of Khan Shaikoun.  Local activists and the families of victims were interviewed, both noting that the helicopters used heavy bombs.  The regime’s army shelled the densely  populated city deliberately killing 13 victims and injuring 35 people.  In all, 10 children were killed within the first few minutes of the attack.  There is evidence that the regime deliberately and systematically targets civilians with these seemingly random shelling attacks.


Injured children from the regime attack are treated at the Kafr Zaita hospital in Al-Hubait.

Hameh Massacre | 26 June 2012 | 21 Victims in 2 Hours

At 02:30, Tuesday 26 June 2012, the Syrian regime’s army raided Al-Hameh city, located 12 kilometers to the west of the Syrian capital Damascus.  The force included: tanks, armoured vehicles, at least 15,000 infantry soldiers, and pro-regime’s Shabeeha militias (from the neighbouring areas of Jabal Al-Ward and Al-Buhouth Al-Ilmya).  This combined force shelled the city for two hours destroying numerous houses.  They harvested the lives of twenty one civilians in these two short hours.  Most of the victims were killed by army snipers.  All the victims were buried in the Al-Sadat cemetery.


Victims from the massacre on 26 of June in Al-Hameh.  The attack was perpetrated by the Syrian regime’s army aided by pro-regime Shabeeha militias.


All information and videos in this report provided by:

Syrian Network for Human Rights

A Tribute to Two Brave Paramedics: Mahmoud Al-Ahmad and Mus’ab Bard

Mahmoud Al-Ahmad’s Story: A Paramedic of Hama City

Paramedic, Mahmoud Al-Ahmad, locally known “Abu Hussein” was one of the most prominent paramedic among the volunteers who aided the wounded in the city of Hama.  He was born in Hama in 1985.  He leaves behind, a young child, a girl less than one year old.

Since the early days of the Syrian revolution, Abu Hussein took to the street as both a protester and a paramedic.  On 3 June 2012, the “Children of Freedom’s” Friday, he received a gunshot that penetrated his chest.  For treatment, he was transported to a makeshift hospital where he was treated and remained through recovery.  He then returned to Hama as an avid activist.

He was persistent and worked hard, founding a makeshift hospital in the Mashaa Al-Arba’een neighbourhood, which was targeted by the Syrian regime’s army.  This neighbourhood had the largest number of the wounded in the city of Hama during the regime’s army offensive.

Abu Hussein treated and aided hundreds of the wounded in the city of Hama.  All locals speak highly of his good morals, loyalty and the invaluable aid he provided.

Abu Hussein documented, using a personal camera, the wounded whom he aided.  He did so to show the world the crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian regime.  The following are examples taken out of scores of videos he recorded in the makeshift hospital.  SNHR and DCHRS have the original copies of these videos that have been uploaded to YouTube.

The footage below shows the wounded in the Al-Hamedya makeshift hospital, where they are supervised and receive treatment from Abu Hussein.

On 20 June 2012, the Syrian regime’s army and security forces launched an offensive on Hama city; they shelled the city continually for three days and isolated it from the whole world using a media and communications blackout.  Numerous citizens fell victims and many more were wounded.  Abu Hussein hurried to aid the wounded.  While he was treating one of the victims a mortar shell, fired by the regime’s forces, hit them and killed Mahmoud along with the four citizens who were accompanying him while he treated the wounded.

In the video below, the location of the body of Abu Hussein, the paramedic of Hama, is shown. The heroic efforts he provided to the injured of Hama are un-matched.


Mus’ab Bard’s Story: A Doctor and Paramedic

Doctor and paramedic Mus’ab Bard, was tortured to death by regime forces for aiding civilians.  He was the epitome of a medical hero.

Pictures of Mus'ab Bard before his death and his body following torture by Syrian regime forces.

Mus’ab Bard (1 January, 1992 – 14 June, 2012) was born in Teftenaz, Idleb, Syria.  He was a student in the Faculty of Medicine, at Aleppo University.  He came from an eight person family.  He had three brothers (one is a doctor, the other an engineer, and the third a pharmacist), and two sisters (both are attending school). Mus’ab was always one of the finest students, garnering high achievements and the best grades, both in high school and in his first two years at the University.  However, even more noticeable were his strong morals and values that were present in all his actions.

The young doctor became a part of the Syrian revolution protests in the city of Aleppo.  He was also a member on a paramedic team that gave treatment and aid to the wounded.  Mus’ab was detained in one of the protests on 6 September, 2011.  It began as the funeral procession of Ibrahim Salqeeni, a respected scholar in Aleppo, who was poisoned by the Assad regime, according to his family.  Mus’ab was detained for a month for the crime of attending the funeral and videographing it.  After Mus’ab was released, he stopped attending protests and began a new task:  aiding the wounded and rescuing the injured.

Once Musa’b took upon this new task he worked around the clock, serving the cause of helping humanity.  He traveled with a small bag containing very basic and humble instruments to aid him in his work.  He had many supporters and was well known by dozens of Syrian activist for this noble role which he acquired during the revolution.

On Sunday, the 17th of June, the Syrian regime’s Air Force Intelligence detained Mus’ab and two of his class mates, Basel Aslan and Hazem Batteek.  The three were all returned dead one week later on Sunday the 24 of June.  Their bodies clearly showed that they had been tortured and were badly burned.  Mus’ab’s brother had difficulty identifying him due to the severity of the burns extending even to his hair.  The doctors confirmed that Mus’ab had been tortured and burned to death.  A bullet hole was also found on his body that indicated that the bullet had passed completely through his body.

Thousands of people held a funeral procession for the murdered medical students in Saif Addawla, Aleppo.  The video below shows the procession.

The video below shows the burned bodies of the three medical students inside the coroner’s office.


Mus’ab’s body was later tranported to Teftenaz, his birthplace, where he was buried.


All information, videos, and photos in this report provided by:

Syrian Network for Human Rights

A Call to Action: Save Douma Before it Becomes Another Baba Amr

The Syrian regime’s army troops and security forces raided the city of Douma after fiercely shelling and bombarding it with helicopters. Therefore, the Free Syrian Army members and more than 95 % of its residents fled the city after scores of residents were killed with continual fierce shelling. On Thursday, 28 of June 2012, the Syrian regime’s army took the lives of 71 citizens in the city of Douma.

It is worth mentioning that the regime’s forces and pro-regime shabeeha militias raided the two makeshift hospitals in Al-Jalaa Street.  Volunteer doctors and paramedics fled to save their lives, leaving behind scores of wounded citizens including at least 8 in critical situations.  There are still some nurses providing aid in makeshift hospitals.  However, there are grave concerns that the regime’s forces may extra judicially execute the wounded, mimicking the actions taken in Baba Amr.  There, after seizing control of the makeshift hospitals, the regime’s army quickly executed the wounded receiving care.

After leaving the air in Baba Amr filled with the stench of death and the streets and sidewalks littered with bodies, regime forces ensured that any survivors would be unable to go for help by cutting the town off from the rest of the world.  Telecommunications, electricity and water were disconnected by regime forces, who surrounded the town, prohibiting anyone from leaving or entering.  They also  denied access for humanitarian aid, including provisions of food and medicine.

The Damascus Centre for Human Rights Studies and the Syrian Network for Human Rights have verified that regime forces are systematically attempting to wipe the city of Douma off the face of the earth, killing innocent citizens and looting their homes.  A new deployment of military reinforcements arrived in the town a short while ago, and a child was found stabbed by regime forces next to the Heseibeh Mosque.  Regime’s forces are clearly intent on continuing their siege on the town, and if international actors do not intervene swiftly, Douma will become another Baba Amr situation.

SNHR & DCHRS demand the international community and the UN Security Council to fulfill their responsibilities and bring the regime’s perpetrations in the city of Douma to light by making a swift decision to make the announcement that Douma is an inflicted city.  It is also requested that UN countries swiftly set up humanitarian corridors to transport the wounded, women children and men to places of safety.  SNHR & DCHRS hold the Syrian regime fully and directly responsible for all acts of killing, looting and rape, repercussions and consequences thereof.


All information contained in this report provided by:

Syrian Network for Human Rights

Syrian Revolution Digest Monday 2 July 2012



Putin’s Gambit!

Can anyone of those who attended the Geneva Conference explain to pro-democracy protesters in Syria how will their proposed plan end the massacres, the ethnic cleansing and the ongoing partition of the country? I have read the full text of their final communiqué and I still can’t understand how they plan to accomplish this.

Monday July 02, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 114. The Breakdown: 32 in Damascus (30 in the Suburbs and 2 in the City), 27 in Hama, 20 in Homs, 13 in Deir Ezzor, 6 in Idlib, 4 in Aleppo, 4 in Daraa and 1 in Lattakia.

In a new provocation of Turkish authorities, pro-Assad militias shell the refugee camp ofKilis right across the border


Recent weeks have seen an escalation in the number of Syrian troops fleeing the country. The troops flee as the international community has failed to decide on a unified response to the crisis in Syria.

Op-Eds & Special Reports

Mounting Pressure on the Syrian Army Unless the army finds a way to relieve growing pressure on its capabilities and cohesion, it will likely collapse, sweeping away much of the regime in the process.

“A combination of military operations by the local resistance with aerial cover from the U.S. and allies will shortly provide a separation of forces between the few real areas that are still loyal to the regime and the majority of the country which has joined the revolution. It’s at this stage that talks over transition can truly begin.”

Putin’s Gambit

I agree that Russia’s position on Syria is not about Syria. But it’s not simply about the question of who makes the call on international issues either. Russians have their own doublespeak as well, and we just have to find ways to decipher it which the Russians themselves often provide. In my conversations with Russian policy experts back in late May, mention of Saudi Arabia was as frequent as that of Syria and the U.S. The bottom line was: “what can you (the opposition) and the Saudis can offer us to help us change our position?” Some did indeed put it as bluntly as this, so I didn’t really have to struggle to piece things together.

Putin views developments in Syria as a new front for the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and he believes that Saudi is the main sponsor of the Syrian opposition. If Saudi wants to prevail on this front Russia would like to help for a price.

And the price is not a port along the Syrian coast, Russia already has that and has no plans to give it up, nor do they see that a need for such a move could seriously arise. The opposition, in their view, will never be able to control the coastal areas and force such a development.

And the price is not a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi, albeit they wouldn’t mind that. But that is not as urgent a need as this stage as that other thing that Putin really needs: driving oil prices up! Current oil prices coupled with chronic mismanagement and corruption in Russian circles will soon translate into an economic nightmare for Russia where the elite has until recently lived in the same kind of cocoon that the Ben Alis, the Mubaraks, the Salehs, the Gaddafis and the Assads have been living in: they thought they were invincible. Then came the Arab Re-Awakening, and Putin and his crowd saw in that, rightly, a clear warning sign.

In order to avoid what happened to Arab regimes, Russian officials knew they had little time to tackle some very knotty economic and developmental problems in record time. But for that, they need cash, and plenty of it, and for this they need higher oil prices which constitute the quickest possible fix to their problems.

But Saudi cannot deliver on that without American approval, and Obama cannot give his approval on something like this during elections season, and so long as the economic situation in the U.S. and the E.U. remains as problematic as it is today. Higher oil prices might good for Russia among few other countries, not to mention oil companies, but, at this stage, they are bad for the world.

So, Russia cannot have what it wants at this stage, and that means that Russia cannot be part of the solution in Syria.

Video Highlights

This leaked video shows how pro-Assad troops are pounding the Damascene Suburb ofDaraya from a square in the Midan District The pounding leaves many dead ,

Pro-Assad militias transform the Damascene Suburb of Douma into another ghost town Local activists retrieve the bodies of people who seem to have been executed in their homes by pro-Assad militias , , , , A body that lies unclaimed in the stairwell

The pounding of Deir Ezzor City in the northeastern parts of the country continues A mortar round lands on a passing car disintegrating the inhabitants Homes catch fire impact of pounding

Lattakia: fires started by pro-regime militias continue to rage in Al-Akrad Mountainsdriving locals out finishing the job of ethnic cleansing

The pounding of Talbisseh, Homs Province, continues So does the pounding of Rastan ,

The pounding of Naeemah, Daraa Province, continues ,

Syrian Revolution Digest – Sunday 1 July 2012



R2P vs. D2A – Transition Vs. Partition!

While world leaders refuse to commit to their Responsibility to Protect, as evidenced by the fiasco in Geneva, Assad is wholeheartedly committed to his “Duty to Annihilate,” as he so kindly put it. Political pressures will not change Assad’s mind. Unless plans are formed in consultation with Syrian opposition groups and introduced under UN Chapter VII allowing for clear enforcement mechanisms to be agreed, Assad’s war against the Syrian people will continue, so will the massacres, the ethnic cleansing, and the irrevocable disintegration of Syria. 

Sunday July 01, 2012

A number of massacres were perpetrated by pro-Assad militias over the last 48 hours. The largest of which took place lace in Saturday June 30 in the Damascene Suburb of Zamalkawhen 85 people were killed when a car bomb went off during the funeral for a local activist.

The moment of the explosion The first few seconds following the explosion Retrieving bodies , , Helping the wounded the bodies in the local field hospital Preparing for the burial , The burial ,


Op-Eds & Special Reports

Disorganized Like a Fox Why it’s a great thing that the Syrian opposition is fragmented.

Paper trail leads to Damascus Sticking to its reactionary, faux-revolutionary politics, the paper (Al-Akhbar) has regularly delivered fulsome praise for Assad, portraying him as the last bulwark against Western imperialism.

This time, the delay in sending out updates was not caused by traveling but by power outage caused by the recent storm that hit the Washington Metro Areas.  

This interview was given on May 31, some things have changed since, but most arguments remain quite relevant

 “After more than a year of conflict, the violence in Syria is finally being recognized as a civil war. This weekend, world powers are preparing for a high-level meeting that the US hopes will be a turning point in the Syria crisis. To discuss the international community’s search for solutions and the goals of protesters, AAM sits down withAmmar Abdulhamid, a leading Syrian human rights and pro-democracy activist, and fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” (The interview could also be watched on YouTube).

By Ammar Abdulhamid, Reuf Bajrovic and Kurt Bassuener
“U.S. domestic politics emboldened Milosevic in both Bosnia and Kosovo; it is doing the same in Syria. To prevent Syria from becoming the new Bosnia, the West should apply its Balkan lessons before Assad finishes applying his. The United States must lead, lest it once again stain its collective conscience.”

On the Geneva Conference and the proposed unity government

A plan without clear endgame and clear enforcement mechanisms is not a plan meant to save Syria, but one meant to stall for time and save face of certain leaders who couldn’t agree on anything of substance.

“Rebels report that nearly 200 tanks have moved to positions on the Turkish border, north of the city of Aleppo. The tanks are apparently there to attack rebel held towns, not fight invading Turks. In the last two days, the Turks have moved more troops and anti-aircraft missile units to the Syrian border.”

Comment: We should soon find out if the Turks mean business or if their move is another empty gesture. Assad and his militias are willing to gamble, because they believe they have a strong fallback position along the coast. The only thing they have to lose is control over areas that are already beyond their control. So, while world leaders talk transition, Assad & Co. are working towards partition.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s and NATO’s true intentions are more accurately captured by these comments by Andrew Finkel in the New Yorker:

Yes, Syria’s implosion could degenerate into a regional conflict involving Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and maybe even Russia. And yes, Turkey has summoned other NATO members to discuss the threat to its national security under Article 4 of the alliance’s treaty. But the odds that these tensions with Syria will trigger Article 5 and require NATO to respond in collective self-defense are basically nonexistent: The last and only time that article was invoked was in response to 9/11. Neither Turkey nor the rest of NATO is looking for a fight.

But the world does not move by intentions. There are now hundreds of tanks and missile batteries on either sides of a very porous and hot border, which opens the doors for all different sorts of nasty possibilities, and a showdown of sorts is looming.

The Obama Administration’s attempt at containing the matter by casting doubts on the Turkish version of what took place in regard to the downing of the Turkish jet is not only inadvisable, it’s downright foolish. Undermining your only NATO ally in the region is stupid politics. First E.U. gives Turkey the cold shoulder and now the U.S. Meanwhile, Russia is sticking by her allies through thick and thin.

Turkey might be about to get embroiled in a war after many months of trying to stay aloof. The final decision has not been made yet, and the U.S. may be trying to dissuade the Turks, but this may not be that realistic at this stage. Just as Obama has certain domestic calculations to take into account, so do Turkey’s leaders.

Indeed Erdogan might truly distrust his generals, but Assad’s actions are challenging his and his generals’ credibility at this stage. As such, they may not have a choice but to put their differences aside and embark on a course of action meant primarily to shore up their embattled image at home, and their ability to retain credibility in a region that shows no mercy for the weak.  The vacillations of Turkey over the last few months and the inherent contradictions between official statements and official actions have had a negative effect on the way Turkey and her leaders are being perceived in the region. Seeing that Turkey has no alternative at this stage but to pursue its eastward drive, its shaken image there has to be redressed. Erdogan in particular needs to show that he is capable of making difficult choices when it comes to foreign entanglements.

Video Highlights

Locals in Mourek, Hama Province, find unidentified bodies in their town

The pounding of Houla, Homs Province, continues ,

Locals from the Damascene Suburb of Arbeen claim that the object we see here falling from a helicopter gunship is a person that was executed by pro-Assad troops

In Homs City, the pounding of the Old Neighborhood continues , , Meanwhile, the pounding of Houla continues , , and Talbisseh In Rastan, choppers take part in the pounding In Bouaydah Sharqiyeh The ethnic cleansing of the town of Ghanto is almost complete But in Houla, locals bury their dead and remain defiant

In Deir Ezzor City: rescuing the wounded of today’s shelling

In Khirbet Ghazaleh, Daraa, the pounding continues InDaraa City as well A helicopter gunship takes part in the pounding in Matayeh And in Taybeh

In the restive areas of Lattakia Province, pro-Assad militias start forest fires to drive out local fighters IN nearby town of Jisr Ashoughour in Idlib Province, the same tactic is employed And in Rastan

In Damascus Suburbs, the regime follows the massacre in Zamalka, by intensive pounding of the nearby towns of Harasta , and Douma

Worldwide Release of “S.O.S. — Siege on Syria”: A Short Film Highlighting the Atrocities in Syria and a Call to Action

Syrian artists are calling on the International Criminal Court to hold the Syrian Regime accountable for their crimes against humanity and demand an immediate stop to the murder of civilians, the bombing of hospitals, the rape of women, and the torture of prisoners which are all currently being perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad and his regime in Syria.

At a special evening for the International Criminal Court in The Hague, commemorating the farewell of the first Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and the welcome of his successor Fatou Bensouda, The Cinema for Peace Foundation, presented the first official screening of “S.O.S. – Siege on Syria”, a short film, which sheds light on the unbelievable atrocities being committed by the Assad regime in Syria. The film follows members of the local Arab community and supporters of the Syrian revolution as they assembled a flash mob in Detroit, Michigan to raise awareness of the ongoing violence in Syria; and aims to bring to attention to the Syrian uprising for freedom and dignity.

The film has already reached several members of the European Union and was screened for a select assembly of U.S. congressmen and the U.S. ambassador to Syria on June 22, 2012. Cinema for Peace is asking everybody to screen this film and distribute it in social media networks, so it can reach a worldwide audience. Since the film’s shooting, the number of Syrian martyrs has already doubled with nearly 20,000 Syrians massacred, many of which have been women and children. As well as targeting civilians with shelling, fighters have also moved in on the ground and brutally shot and stabbed peaceful civilians to death. In addition to the many thousands murdered, there are hundreds of thousands more who have been displaced. A Syrian activist and victim featured in the film declares, “Everyone that can say a word, and doesn’t say that word, the blood of the people dying is on their hands”

In response to this plea, Syrian artists and Cinema for Peace Foundation are releasing “S.O.S. – Siege on Syria” and calling for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad and his regime; an urgent deliverance of mediators, emergency supplies and humanitarian aid to the afflicted civilian population, and an immediate stop to the violence and murder of innocent civilians.

Invisible Children have joined the charge, standing with Cinema for Peace Foundation in calling for an international unified voice demanding an end to the violence. “We are a generation who will not stand for the brutality against our brothers and sisters, wherever that may be. As a part of a global connectivity, there is a responsibility that flows from it.” The strength of a worldwide call can provoke change, and Cinema for Peace Foundation in partnership with Syrian artists and Invisible Children are appealing to the international community to be a part of bringing peace and justice to Syria by sharing “S.O.S.- Siege on Syria” as far and wide as possible and appealing for the freedom of the Syrian people.


Cinema for Peace Foundation
Friedrichstraße 113
D – 10117 Berlin
Phone: +49 – (0)30 76 77 525 – 22
Fax: +49 – (0)30 76 77 525 – 20

Syrian Revolution Digest – Thursday 28 June 2012



The Relics!

When regime propagandists begin describing the majority population in their country as Relics, especially after their president declared war against said majority, chances for the success of a new plan that lacks enforcement mechanisms drop to null, while those for ethnic cleansing on an even larger scale than witnessed so far increase to 100%. But if world leaders expect the relics to go gently into that good night, they are as delusional as Assad and his militias.  

Thursday June 28, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 139. The Breakdown: 59 in Damascus Suburbs (mostly in Douma), 26 in Homs, 17 in Daraa, 15 in Deir Ezzor, 9 in Hama, 9 in Idlib, and 2 in Aleppo.

Lebanese police is reportedly increasing its crackdown against Syrian anti-regime activists living in Lebanon, with new arrests reported. Previously Lebanese authorities surrendered Syrian activists to the Assad regime despite their refugee status. International community should act now to pressure Lebanese authorities into complying with all norms and regulations pertaining to treatment of refugees.


Op-Eds & Special Reports

The Massacre of Douma (Damascus Suburbs)

Victims: 38 dead, and 150 wounded. Most died in the continuous shelling of the town, but 14 people were executed when pro-Assad militias stormed their neighborhoods, they belonged to one family: Al-Tomei. The dead included 7 children and a 90-year old grandmother The victims , The fridge The pounding sets buildings on fire The invading tanks pound their way into the neighborhood , gunships took part in the pounding Tank in action Nearby Kafarbatna is also pounded In Arbeen, helicopter gunships take part in the pounding

Unfortunately, what could have been a good point to make on the need for providing structural and constitutional protections to the country’s minorities in the future reads like an exercise in pro-regime propaganda. The authors, self-proclaimed intelligence analysts focusing on Syrian-Lebanese issues, adopted regime line on the expulsion of Christians from Old Homs and the nearby town of Qusayr.

Rather than attributing the exodus of 80,000 Christians to the same reasons that paved the way for the simultaneous exodus from adjacent neighborhoods of over 500,000 Sunni inhabitants, that is:  indiscriminate and well-documented shelling of neighborhoods by pro-regime troops, our “intelligence” analysts claim that Sunni fighters took the time to risk their lives to go on a suicidal house-to-house mission to order Christian families out. The presence of Christians in the middle of areas targeted by pro-regime militias was a major complicating factor for the regime, their departure facilitate the intensification of the bombing campaign. Yet, our intelligence analysts want us to believe that local Sunni fighters made this major miscalculation not once but twice: in Old Homs and Al-Qusayr.

A better take on the threat to Christians in Qusayr can be found here.

To date, experts simply refuse to see the real patterns emerging on the ground, patterns which denote active planning for the creation of a future enclave in the coastal and central parts of Syria where the overwhelming majority population is made up of Alawites and Christians. The only beneficiaries of massive population shifts in the country are Assad and his loyalist militias. In fact, most Christians who left Old Homs went to live in Alawite-majority neighborhoods in Homs City and most those who left the town of Qusayr went to live in towns and villages close to majority Alawite towns and villages, although some escaped to Lebanon, and from there to western countries.

Syria’s Turkish Relics

But the most telling development of late is the declaration of war enunciated by Bashar Al-Assad against his enemies, i.e., the majority of the Syrian people, even as world leaders keep speaking of political solutions and peaceful transfer of power. Assad is not interested in taking part in power-sharing arrangements even if they keep him in power for a while or afford him a face-saving exit to U.K. Whether as President of the country, or a warlord with his own major turf, Assad wants to stay in Syria, and no amount of coaxing, plans or talks can change his mind. His bombs speak louder than all words, and his propagandist are already trying to draw a scenario that can justify further ethnic cleansing in the country, on a more mass scale.

The recent dismissal by pro-Assad ideologue on Addounia TV, the network owned by Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf, of the Sunni inhabitants of Homs as “Turkish Relics” from Ottoman times comes as the latest attempt at justifying the ethnic cleansing that took place there. The Assad regime has moved from blatant denial into defiant admission and justification of the crimes its militias are perpetrating all over the country. This is both a sign of weakness and strength. Assad and his advisers know that they are losing the country, they also know, however that their plans for the creation of a loyalist enclave on most ethnic lines are progressing nicely. Putin is buying them the time they need for that.

Power Sharing

In this light, plans for unity government proposed by Kofi Annan seem completely unrealistic, especially considering the absence of any enforcement mechanisms. What would make an Assad who just declared war against 80% of his people and whose militias are busy ethnically cleansing huge swathes of lands from native Sunnis, now deemed as Turkish Relics, stop and decide to allow for such unity government to take place and to pave the way for his replacement, absent any serious threats to is very existence?

The War in Videos

In Khan Al-Sibil, Idlib province, where fighters managed to take control of an anti-aircraft battery, they now target the helicopter gunships targeting their community

Basra Al-Harir, Daraa, comes under fire at night Al-Hraak gets pounded at night Daraa City (Sadd) comes under fire at night , ,

Zamalka, Damascus Suburbs, comes under fire at night ,

The sounds of war in Deir Ezzor City , local fighters destroyed three attacking tanks, and mass defections continue to take place on a regular basis. Pro-Assad militias in these parts often draw on members from Sunni Arab tribes in Hassakah and Raqqah which is why defections are quite common. The aftermath of pounding–JjUQVz8 Helicopter gunships take part in the pounding The tanks taking part in laying siege to the city

In Homs Province, the pounding of Talbisseh continues , and the pounding of Houla the pounding of Rastan The pounding of Old Homscontinues (Jouret Al-Shayah) , ,

The pounding of Jabal Shahshabo, Hama Province, continues

Lattakia, Jabal Al-Akrad, the pounding continues

Still, whenever people have the chance to demonstrate peacefully, they do in droves:

In Damascus: Daraya Dafalshawk Barzeh Qaboun Halbouni

In Hama: Bab Qibli

In Homs City, Wa’er

In Idlib: Marrat Al-Nouman (funeral) Kafar Ouaid

Syrian Revolution Digest – Wednesday 27 June 2012



All-Out War All Across Syria!

As long as the All-Out War waged by Assad continues to meet with an all-out grappling by international leaders to the illusion of political solution, Syrians will continue to die and Syria will continue to disintegrate.

Wednesday June 27, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 104. The Breakdown: 42 in Idilb, 15 in Damascus Suburbs, 14 in Deir Ezzor, 10 in Daraa, 10 in Homs, 8 in Qamislo, 3 in Hama, 1 in Hassakah and 1 in Aleppo. The toll includes 20 children.

Major battles took place throughout Syria today, but the main story remains the indiscriminate shelling by pro-Assad militias of communities where local resistance groups have managed to wrest control of their communities. As these words are being written, Damascus City and Suburbs are witnessing major clashes with explosions heard throughout many key neighborhoods.

Live-streaming the pounding of Douma Suburb, Damascus


The headquarters of a privately-owned, pro-government TV station were attacked and employees were kidnapped and killed. The government blames ‘terrorists’. Rebel forces deny that they target the media.

Islamist group says it is launching investigation to discover who is behind ‘despicable crime.’ Al-Mayadeen: Kamal Ranaja served as aide to top Hamas man killed in Dubai in 2010

Hamas leader believes Mossad behind killing, says Kamel Ranaja was former deputy of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was assassinated in Dubai over two years ago.

Expert says Turkish was not aware Syrian forces capable of intercepting enemy planes flying under radar. US officials: Damascus beefed up missile defense after Israel bombed reactor

Op-Eds & Special Reports

HOW DOCTORS OPERATE IN WARTIME In Syria and beyond, doctors risk their lives to save others. Here’s what it takes to do this dangerous work.

“There has been a definite pushback from Obama’s administration,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian activist and author who coordinated the delegation’s trip. Mr. Abdulhamid described the current White House administration as a “black box” of secrecy. Mr. Abdulhamid said he sent an email to the White House to request a meeting but never heard back. He blamed that on a technical glitch rather than purposeful negligence, but also noted the administration’s policy of noninterference in Syria.

Video Highlights

Two of twenty children who died today: they died when the town of Hayyan, Aleppo Province, came under heavy shelling The pounding ,

Two more children fell in the town of Habeet, Idlib Province

More scenes from the massacre of Al-Hameh, Damascus Suburbs (June 26) Pro-Assad militias invaded the town and executed locals en masse

Nighttime protesters in Ruknaddine Neighborhood, Damascus City, come under fire

The pounding of Houla, Homs Province, continues , The nearby town of Talbisseh is also pounded , Helicopter gunships take part The town of Rastan gets pounded as well Meanwhile, the indiscriminate pounding of old neighborhoods in Homs City continues (Jouret Al-Shayah) (Qoussour)

The pounding of the town of Da’el, Daraa, left many dead

The pounding of Sanamein, Daraa

The town of Maarabah, Daraa, gets pounded by Helicopters

The pounding of Karnaz, Hama Province

The pounding of Ma’arrat Al-Nouman, Idlib ,

The pounding of Khan Al-Sibil, Idlib A house catches fire

Local in the town of Albou Kamal along the borders with Iraq come under fire

Syrian Revolution Digest – Tuesday 26 June 2012




As local resistance groups manage to overwhelm pro-Assad troops and militias throughout Syria driving them out of their town and communities, Assad’s subsequent strategy calls for indiscriminate shelling of these communities using heavy artillery, tanks and helicopter gunships. The tragic nature of this development aside, the situation does give an opportunity for interested international parties to direct air strikes against positions held by pro-Assad militias with minimal risk of collateral damage to civilian populations. But international dithering continues to prolong the life of the Assad regime. Iran and Russia are no longer the sole external culprits in the massacres currently perpetrated by pro-Assad militias.

Tuesday June 26, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 113. The Breakdown: 33 in Damascus Suburbs (Hameh and Qudsayah, West of Damascus, and Douma, East of Damascus) 16 in Daraa, 24 in Idlib, 14 in Homs, 10 in Deir Ezzor, 9 in Aleppo, 5 in Hama and 2 in Damascus City.

Assad officially admits he is waging war against the Syrian people Assad says Syria in a “real state of war” Indeed, a war is an apt description of what is taking place in so many towns and cities across the countries, even in Damascus suburbs: Fierce fighting erupts near DamascusEven UN monitors are feeling the heat: Syria deemed too dangerous for U.N. monitors to resume mission. But the mood inside the regime’s upper ranks seems to be increasingly cloudy, as more high level defections are reported: Latest Syrian Defectors Are From Higher Ranks.

Turkish PM’s border warning to Assad could pave the way for formalizing and protecting the de facto safe haven carved out in Idlib Province by local resistance: Turkey PM Erdogan issues Syria border warning. In this light, NATO’s lack of retaliation might of little consequence for now: Turkey, NATO assail Syria, but no retaliation for shoot-down seen. So does French dithering: French support waning for any action in Syria: poll.

Meanwhile, more U.S. officials are calling for serious action on Syria: Rice: Syria will never be stable with Assad in place.


Op-Eds & Special Reports

The Resistance

Video Highlights

Rebel control over the areas adjacent to the Syrian-Turkish borders in the Idlib province was firm enough to encourage a visit by former SNC President, Bourhane Ghalioun. So, even as Assad was giving his defiant speech, Mr. Ghalioun was paying a visit to the liberated communities near the Turkish borders: Arriving in disguise Meeting members of the local resistance The trip back A day earlier, members of the local resistance managed to take control of an anti-aircraft gun

Maar Dibseh, Idlib Province: a helicopter gunship makes an emergency landing and gets destroyed by members of the local resistance In nearby Khan Al-Subul, local resistance destroy a BMP Wounded and martyrs , ,

The pounding of Khan Shaikhoon, Idlib Province ,

Elsewhere, in Homs Province, members of the local resistance capture a brigadier General working for the Syrian air force

Al-Hameh, Damascus: mass grave for today’s victims of mass shelling The martyrs The pounding of Al-Hameh was caught on camera Nearby Qudsaya offers several martyrs as well , , The pounding of Qudsaya was caught on camera

Talbisseh, Homs Province, the shelling continues: , , , The view from street level

The pounding of old neighborhoods in Homs City continues

The pounding of Deir Ezzor City continues–d63Q Shops catch fire A home catch fire Martyrs A little child among the martyrs

Mleihah Al-Gharbiyeh, Daraa is pounded by choppers

The Palestinian Refugee Camp near Daraa City offers more martyrs as the continuing pounding displaces more people The funeral Mourners come under fire from snipers

Syrian Network for Human Rights: Salah Addein, Inkhel, and Douma Massacres

Salah Addein Massacre | 22 June 2012

Following prayer on Friday, the Salah Addein neighbourhood residents took to the streets in protests.  The largest of the march groups walked from the mosques of Bilal and Al-Nasir Salah Addein.

The protesters marched  while chanting slogans condemning the homicides perpetrated against the Syrian people.  They demanded the toppling of the Syrian regime and made calls for freedom and dignity for the Syrian people.

Suddenly, four armoured vehicles, affiliated with the regime’s army, arrived and opened machinegun fire at the protesters.  They killed eight within the first few minutes, and proceeded to target anyone who tried to aid them.  Paramedics and locals confirmed that most of the gunshots were to the head and the chest.


Bodies of a father and son who were victims of the massacre.  The son is 15 years old, his father was killed as he tried to treat his dying son.

Inkhel Massacre | 21 June 2012

The Syrian regime 15th brigade shelled the city of Inkhel, in the Daraa governorate to the south of Syria, around 5:00 a.m. for three continual hours.  The shelling killed six citizens and injured many others.  Those critically injured are now in danger as there is a severe medical supplies shortage.

The events of Inkhel followed the pattern of all the earlier massacres.  First came random shelling in order to terrorize the residents, then the regime’s army began a land incursion with tanks surrounding the city and armoured vehicles raiding the area using large numbers of infantry, security forces, and snipers.

Next came the house raids during which extra judicial executions were carried out against three citizens.  Four others were slaughtered with knives, in a manner similar to the massacres in Idleb and Homs which were duly documented earlier. In addition, snipers stationed in the city killed two and injured at least thirteen others.

Around 10:00 a.m., once the shelling and raids were over, the residents prepared the victims for burial.  As the funeral procession was heading to the cemetery, the army and security forces killed three of the mourners.  This additional monstrous act was done because the mourning families chanted anti-regime slogans due to the rage they felt over the deaths of their family members.  These final killings make the death toll of the massacre stand at 18 victims, including one woman.

Houses are destroyed from the shelling attacks that began the Inkhel massacre.

Douma Massacre | 21 June 2012

In its constant attempts to crush the revolution and its strongholds, the Syrian regime sent dozens of tanks and an estimated 7,000 troops of military reinforcements to the city of Douma, just east of Damascus.  The shelling started around 9:00 am and lated until late at night.  The city came under shelling from all directions due to the circular position of tanks.  Near Mesraba Bridge, in the southern area the city, no less than 25 tanks were stationed.  In addition, heavy artillery, positioned a ways from the city, also participated in the shelling.  The heavy artillery was positioned inside the vehicles administration department, affiliated with the Syrian army, and near Dahiyet al-Assad bridge, to the west of Douma.

Various types of weaponry and ammunition were used ranging from mortar shells to 1.5 meter-long rockets which helps to explain the large number of casualties and wounded.  Thirty-four people were killed in this horrific massacre including three bodies that were completely burned due to artillery shelling.  Moreover, no less than 135 were wounded, including nine who were in very critical conditions.  Further, a very large exodus was observed in the area, with an estimated 150,000 people fleeing the city.  Those residents who remained sought refuge in basements and shelters.

Shelling was concentrated on the neighbourhoods of Al-Masaken, Al-Humeira, the perimeter of the Great Mosque, and even reached the Al-Hijariya neighbourhood.

A state of panic and terror prevailed, particularly among the children, as helicopters hovered over the city.  In the meantime, the Syrian government also cut off the water and power supplies as well as  all communications.  Medical services and supplies were extremely scarce due to the regime’s forces surrounding the city and preventing wounded people from leaving; as well as doctors from entering the city.

We have been able to document 34 victims by collecting their names and filming a video for each victim.  The victims include Mohammad Al-Nabulsi, a paramedic of Douma, who was killed while trying to rescue some of the wounded people.  Also among the casualties were a young woman and a Palestinian young man.

 Muhammad Ahmad al-Nabulsi, a paramedic volunteer.  He was killed by a mortar while treating the wounded.


All information and videos contained in this report provided by:

Syrian Network for Human Rights

33 Syrian Officers, Including General and 2 Colonels, Defect to Turkey

By Ali Al-Bassam
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East 

ANKARA, Turkey — Thirty-three members of Syria’s military defected into Turkey on Sunday night.  They were part of some two hundred people who crossed between the Syrian-Turkish border into the Hatay Province.  Turkey’s state-run Andalou news agency said the group included a general and two colonels, but a government official claimed that there was no general among the group, only three colonels.  Despite this, the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not know the overall number of those who crossed into Turkey.  Andalou also reported that the group of defectors was placed in a refugee camp in Hatay.  Turkey now hosts 33,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed into the country since the revolt against Al-Assad began 16 months ago.

Syrian Refugees
Syrian arrivals have taken refuge in the Hatay Province of Turkey. (Photo Courtesy of BBC News)

The recent defections have increased the number of generals within Turkey since the revolution began to thirteen.  The generals now give logistical support to the Free Syrian Army, even though Turkey denies that they are arming the rebels.  Thousands of soldiers have also abandoned the Syrian regime, but most of them are low-level conscripts.  So far, there is no evidence that their defections have negatively affected the Syrian military’s ability to fight.

Two days prior to the defections, a Turkish aircraft was shot down by Syrian forces who claim that it had violated their airspace.  Bulent Arinc, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that “all options are on the table”  for Turkey’s response.  Earlier on Monday, Jihad Makdissi, Syria’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, said that “[t]he Turkish warplane violated Syrian airspace, and in turn Syrian air defences fired back and the plane crashed inside Syrian territorial waters.”  Turkey claims that the plane was in international airspace, and that the plane was on a training flight to test Turkey’s radar capabilities. Turkey also insists that it was not spying on Syria.

Turkey has summoned a meeting with NATO for Tuesday to agree on a response to the downing of its aircraft.  European Union members in Luxembourg requested a calm response from Turkey, saying that they would increase pressure on Assad.  On Monday, EU spokesman Maja Kocijanci said that the EU decided to add another Syrian official and six firms and government institutions to its sanctions list, which already includes 120 individuals and nearly 50 entities.

Analysts believe it is unlikely that Turkey will take immediate military action against Syria.  Cagri Erhan, a professor of political science at Ankara University, said “I don’t think Turkey’s response will be a military one.  War is not one of the options.  Turkey will act in line with measures taken within NATO.”

“I’m not of the opinion that Turkey will immediately respond militarily,” agreed Beril Dedeoglu of Galatasaray University. “But if there is another action, then there will certainly be a military response, there is no doubt.”

For further information, please see:

Anadolu Agency — Thirty-three Syrian Army Defectors Fled to Turkey — 25 June 2012

Al Jazeera — Turkish Cabinet Meets to Discuss Syria Crisis — 25 June 2012

BBC News — Syria General and two Colonels ‘Defect to Turkey’ — 25 June 2012

Gulf News — 33 Syria Military Members Defect to Turkey — 25 June 2012

Reuters — Syrian Officers Defect, Turkey Looks to NATO — 25 June 2012

Syrian Revolution Digest – Sunday 24 June 2012 Part II



On the Road (4)!

The official statement by the White House on the downing of a Turkish jet by Assad air defenses promised that the U.S. will “work with Turkey and other partners to hold the Assad regime accountable.” Let’s see to what further inefficient and laughable policies this promise will engender on Tuesday when NATO is scheduled to meet. Because after 16 months of stupidity, hypocrisy and inefficiency, I do not dare expect anything from international policymakers except more of the same. Of course, that’s what all can expect from us as well, because we are not planning on giving up.

Sunday June 24, 2012

Clashes are now taking place on a regular basis in towns and communities across Syria, including Homs, Idlib, Hama, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Daraa and Damascus Suburbs. The average daily death toll is around 150. Recourse to helicopter gunships and heavy artillery by pro-Assad troops and militias continues to be a routine occurrence.


Op-Eds & Special Reports

What Russia Gave Syria A guide to Bashar al-Assad’s arsenal.

“The Wounded Will Be Killed” An American photojournalist describes what he saw during the month he spent in a Syrian village under siege. The Martyrdom of Al QusayrImages from photojournalist Robert King’s recent visit to a Syrian community under siege.

Video Highlights

Shelling in Maarbah, Daraa Daraa City, Daraa Al-Hraak, Daraa – a dead child is mourned by his mother Talbisseh, Homs Rastan, Homs The mangled bodies of the locals Homs City , Deir Ezzor City Ariha, Idlib Hass, Idlib a tank takes part in the pounding

Syrian Network for Human Rights: Violations Report 25 June 2012

A video showing the Joret Ash-Shayah neighborhood of Homs.  It has been completely destroyed due to attacks by the regime forces.


After a shelling and raid campaign residents of Inkhel took to the streets in anger for the 15 victims killed.  The regime’s army and security forces targeted the protestors, killing another 3 citizens.

Regime forces are placed all around towns in order to stifle the movement of citizens.



70 confirmed casualties killed by the regime on Monday, 25 June 2012.

Hama: 17
Deir Ezzor: 11
Damascus and Rural Damascus: 11
Idleb: 9
Homs: 9
Daraa: 13
Latakia: 3
Al-Hasakah: 3
Aleppo: 3

90 confirmed casualties killed by the regime on Sunday, 24 June 2012.

Deir Ezzor: 28
Aleppo: 17
Idleb: 11
Daraa: 10
Homs: 10
Damascus and Rural Damascus: 9
Latakia: 5

102 confirmed casualties killed by the regime on Saturday, 23 June 2012.

Damascus and Rural Damascus: 27
Deir Ezzor 25
Homs: 19
Aleppo: 11
Hama: 9
Daraa: 8
Idelb: 2
Raqqa: 1

Syrian Revolution Digest – Sunday 24 June 2012



Paper-Tigers & Wimps!

They talk tough but remain missing in action: Turkish and Western leaders better spare us their sympathy is it don’t come with an action plan that can stop Assad NOW.

Sunday June 24, 2012

The average daily death toll is now close to 150, and the worst is yet to come, with more pro-Assad militias perpetrating more and more massacres, selling more and more towns throughout the country.


The circumstances of the deaths were not immediately clear, with the state-run news agency saying at least 25 men were killed. In the video — which The Associated Press could not independently verify — the narrator said the victims were members of the “shabiha,” or pro-regime gunmen… It was not clear whether the men were killed execution-style or died in clashes. An activist in the area, Mohammed Saeed, said rebels regularly collect the bodies of the dead from the government side and dump them by the side of the road so troops can collect them later.

Op-Eds & Special Reports

More coverage of AEI Event on Syria, June 18, 2012

“The country is being partitioned.  Waiting will allow for the partitioning to actually take effect.  There will be repercussions that will be felt in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Jordan, in Turkey and perhaps even in Israel as well,” Syrian pro-democracy activist Ammar Abdulhamid said. (Video)

Turkey – A Paper Tiger on the Mediterranean

After making so many on promises on Syria, like vowing not to allow Hama, only to stand and watch the retaking of Hama, and the endless slaughter that followed and to watch on helplessly as Assad troops pursued refugees even inside Turkey’s borders, the downing of a Turkish fighter jet by Assad’s air defenses, mostly likely operated under guidance of Russian experts, and Erdogan’s confused reaction to the matter serve only to consolidate the emerging image of Turkey as nothing more than a paper tiger.

With its continued reliance on Iranian gas supplies, continued problems between the political and military leaderships, and continued inability to effectively address its Kurdish Question, not to mention its Alevi Question the mere enunciation of which remains a taboo, the image of a regional powerhouse that Turkey has been to project over the last few years seem highly exaggerated. Turkey is simply not ready, politically, economically, or militarily, to be a serious player on the regional scene, consideration of Turkish pride notwithstanding. Her leaders are advised to reflect this reality in their pronouncements to avoid having more egg on their faces, and to avoid the continued embarrassment of having to appear nothing more than mustachioed wimps even when confronted by the region’s lankiest and weakest link: Bashar Al-Assad.

U.S. Policy on Syria – another example of wimpishness in action

The interview below with Secretaries Clinton and Baker outline the current U.S. policy on Syria. At the heart of the policy is he continued preoccupation with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the belief that Russia can help find a solution for this, hence the unwillingness to anger Russians over Syria and the push for so-called political transition with Nicaragua rather than Yemen providing the model for that. But with no talk of serious enforcement mechanisms, any talk of political solutions risks going in the same direction of the Arab League and Annan plans, and will only buy Assad more time to keep killing and ensuring the de facto partition of the country.

Interview With Charlie Rose of “Conversations on Diplomacy”
Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State, Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III 
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DCJune 20, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: On Syria, so far they’ve taken Russia’s lead on Syria. But we’re working on that every single day as well.

MR. ROSE: Why did they do that? Why do they take Russia’s lead?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think both Russia and China have a very strong aversion to interference in internal affairs.

MR. ROSE: Sovereignty issue.



SECRETARY CLINTON: And so for the Russians, we – I was with President Obama in Mexico two days ago. We had a two-hour meeting with President Putin. They’re just – they don’t want anything to do with it. They find it quite threatening, and basically they reject it out of hand. So anything that smacks of interference for the Russians and for the Chinese, they presume against. There are other reasons, but that’s the principal objection that they make.

MR. ROSE: Would coming – both different countries and different points, but they somehow come together on these issues – Syria and with respect to Russia and the role they are playing.


MR. ROSE: And the role that the United States is playing and the role that the region can play. What should we be doing and what is the risk of not doing?

SECRETARY BAKER: Well, I’ll answer that in just a minute. But first let me say if we’re going to have differences with Russia – and we do have some differences with Russia – it seems to me the most important difference we might have is with respect to Iran. And we don’t have that now, and that’s really important. And I don’t think we ought to create a problem with Russia vis-a-vis what we want to do in Iran about their nuclear ambitions as a result of something we might do in Syria. I just think the Iranian issue there is far more important really than how we resolve the Syrian issue.

How should we resolve the Syrian issue? I think we should continue to support a political transition in the government in Syria. But I don’t – but I think we ought to support it diplomatically, politically, and economically in every way that we can, but we should be very leery, extremely leery, about being drawn in to any kind of a military confrontation or exercise.

MR. ROSE: Does that include supplying them with arms?

SECRETARY BAKER: That – well, that’s a slippery slope. The fact of the matter is a lot of our allies are already supplying them with arms. Okay? It’s not something –

MR. ROSE: And our friends in the region.

SECRETARY BAKER: Well, I say our allies in the region. Yeah, they’re doing it. And it’s not something we have to do. I look at Syria and I think why are we not calling for something that we – this is – it may not be the right comparison, but in 1989, when we came into office, the wars in Central America were the holy grail of the left, political left in this country, and the holy grail of the political right in this country. We said if we can take these wars out of domestic politics, we can cure the foreign policy problem, and we did.

How did we do it? We put it to both parties – Daniel Ortega, the hardline, authoritarian dictator, if you will, in Nicaragua, and to Violeta Chamorro, the opposition candidate. We said if you’ll hold an election and both agree to abide by the results, that’s the way we’ll get out of this conundrum. That’s what happened. And both of them did agree, finally, to abide by the results. Ortega lost. President Carter was very instrumental in getting him to leave office. Why don’t we try something like that in Syria, I mean, and say look, political transition is what we’re looking for. Everybody – even the Russians, I think – would have difficulty saying no, we’re not going to go for an election, particularly if you let Bashar run. Let him run. Make sure you have a lot of observers in there. Make sure they can’t fix the election. Why not try that?

MR. ROSE: Why not try that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, actually, that is the path that we are trying. And I spoke with Kofi Annan again today. He is working on a political transition roadmap. We are somewhat disadvantaged by the fact that I think Assad still believes he can crush what he considers to be an illegitimate rebellion against his authority and characterizes everyone who opposes him as a terrorist who is supported by foreign interests. He’s not yet at the point where he understands his legitimacy is gone and he is on a downward slope.

The other problem we have is that the opposition has not yet congealed around a figure or even a group that can command the respect and attention internally within Syria as well as internationally. So what we’re doing is, number one, putting more economic pressure, because that is important, and the sanctions and trying to cut off the Syrian regime, and send a message to the Syrian business class, which so far has stuck with Assad.

We’re also working very hard to try to prop up and better organize the opposition. We’ve spent a lot of time on that. It still is a work in progress. We are also pushing hard on having Kofi Annan lay down a political transition roadmap and then getting a group of nations, that would include Russia, in a working group to try to sell that to both the Assad regime and to the opposition .

So, I mean, the path forward is exactly as Jim has described it. Getting the people and the interests on that path has been what we’ve been working on now for several months.

MR. ROSE: Who would be in that group other than the United States, Russia? Who else?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you would have to have the Arab League because Kofi Annan is a joint envoy of both the UN and the Arab League. You would have to have the permanent members of the Security Council because that’s who he represents in his UN role. And you’d have to have the neighbors. You’ve got to have Turkey involved because of their long border and their very clear interests. But when I spoke with him today, he’s going to be making another proposal to the Russians, the Turks, and other interested groups to try to get them to agree on this roadmap and then a meeting, in effect to go public with it, so that we can increase the pressure not only on the Assad regime but on the opposition as well.

MR. ROSE: Is there a role for Iran?

SECRETARY CLINTON: At this point, it would be very difficult for Iran to be initially involved. I mean, I’m a big believer in talking to people when you can and trying to solve problems when you can. But right now, we’re focused on dealing with Iran and the nuclear portfolio. That has to be our focus. Iran’s always trying to get us to talk about anything else except their nuclear program.

And then we also have the added problem that Iran is not just supporting Assad, they are helping him to devise and execute the very plans that he is following to suppress, oppress the opposition.

SECRETARY BAKER: If you get the – you’re going to get the attention of the Russians and the Chinese, in my view, in the Security Council if you come with some sort of a proposal for a political transition that might involve an election, if you’re willing to say anybody and everybody can run. That means, of course, you got to make sure that the election is not fixed. But that would put a lot of pressure – the only reason I mention this, it seems to be that would put a lot of pressure on the Russians to support this idea.

With respect to Iran, I agree with the Secretary. This is not the place to involve them. However, I would think there might be a place for them in a group with respect to Afghanistan. They helped us when we first went in there. We talked to them. They were helpful.