Syrian Revolution Digest – May 27, 2012

THE COMMENTARY IN THIS PIECE DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF IMPUNITY WATCH.  

*WARNING VIDEOS MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES*

 

Sunday May 27, 2012

So long as Russia remains adamant at watering down any UN resolution dealing with Syria, it should be clear to all that she cannot be part of any solution.

Death toll: 51, including 25 in Hama City, 9 in Damascus City (Midan, Naher Eisheh and Assaly), 5 in Damascus suburbs (Yalda, Daraya, Douma and Ein Mneen), 6 in Homs city, 4 in Idlib and 2 in Daraa.

UN Monitors in Syria put the number of victims of Houla Massacre at 116 dead and over 300 wounded.

News

U.N. Security Council meets on Syria massacre, Russia skeptical

Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows

McCain blasts Obama for ‘feckless foreign policy’

Syria massacre: UK ‘no right’ to ban athletes

Syria massacre: UN Security Council meets over Houla

Security Council blames Syria for shelling Houla

Syria Massacre: Assad Rejects UN-Arab League Deputy Damascus Visit

Report: Shelling on Syria opposition kills 30 in Hama, days after Houla massacre

Op-Eds & Special Reports

Syrian Carnage Fails to Budge Russia From Mideast Ally

Syrian defectors accuse Assad relatives of ordering crimes against humanity

Syrian massacre ‘could be a turning point’

Syria’s shortage of grain imports may lead to bread crisis

Will Syria’s Houla Massacre Force Action on the Crisis?

The fact is, despite restrictions on media and aid organizations operating in Syria, the world knows what is happening there, it just doesn’t know what to do about it. Will the Houla killings change anything, or will they be just another bloody footnote in a conflict that has killed an unknown number of people? The U.N. stopped counting Syria’s dead months ago. NATO has repeatedly said it has no plans to intervene in the conflict. The U.N. secretary general has admitted that “at this time, we don’t have any Plan B” for Syria. It’s hardly reassuring given that Plan A, the six-point Annan initiative, is barely viable.

Schemes & Massacres

U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out With Russia’s Aid

That this is indeed the essence of Obama’s Administration’s approach on Syria has been quite apparent for months now. That’s why when I finally had a chance to go to Moscow and meet with some of Russia’s policy people, I took it. The trip, which took place between May 18 and 25,  gave me an opportunity to know for myself how hard of a challenge changing Russia’s position will be, especially considering how attached to the status quo its leadership seems to be.

Now, and after spending a week there, and while I wouldn’t necessarily judge the differences between U.S. and Russia’s positions over Syria as unbridgeable, let’s just say that there are quite a few circles that need to be squared first before agreement is reached. The Russians are not attached to Assad, but they are attached to the regime and their base in Tartous. What the “regime” means to the Russians is Alawite control of security and military apparatuses. If regime survival under this formula is not possible, than the powers-that-be in Russia would not be too opposed to the fragmentation of Syria so long as coastal areas remain under Alawite control, which is the likely outcome in this case. To ensure getting their desired outcome, the Russians will continue propping up the regime by supplying it with arms, which they claim are not meant to be used against protesters but against future western intervention, and by continuing to be a stumbling block in the way of any meaningful UN-led action or condemnation.

Still, believe it or not, that is not even the real problem. After all, and as the NY Times report indicates, and considering their growing disaffection with Syria’s fractious opposition, the Obama Administration is indeed seeking a deal that eases Assad’s way out but keeps the regime pretty much intact. But who can sell this plan to the revolutionaries? That’s the real question and the real problem. The off-switch to this revolution, if it exists, lies squarely in the hands of young protest leaders scattered throughout the country, and the arrangement sought by Obama and the Russians is simply too cynical to satisfy them. The protest, the crackdown, the defiance, the reprisals, and the massacres all will continue even with the Assads out of the picture so long as what gets put in place after his departure continues to lack popular legitimacy. And popular legitimacy cannot be given to a regime that is still dominated by military and security apparatuses that are still dominated in their turn by Alawite generals and officers. Pure and simple.

In other words, if the Obama Administration is pinning its hopes on squaring circles in order to reach an agreement with Russia on a deal that will be dead on arrival as far as most Syrians are concerned, then, Syria’s fate as a country has already been sealed. She will be no more. Russian policymakers insist that this is an acceptable outcome as far as they are concerned, but how about American officials? Is the dissolution of Syria as a state acceptable for them as well?

But then, perhaps Senator McCain is right in his assessment of President Obama’s policy at this stage.  Perhaps, all that U.S. officials want to achieve at this stage is to kick this bucket until after the elections, without considering the serious consequences of further delays.

Be that as it may the massacre in Houla indicates clearly that we are quickly running out of time. Just consider the following facts:

There have been high level assassinations among the ranks of the Assad security establishment; its victims might have included Assad’s own brother-in-law and one of the chief architects of the crackdown so far. We still cannot be sure of that, but Assad’s failure to attend the opening session of the Parliament as per protocol and his continued silence at this stage lends some credence to claims in this regard. Some speculate that the massacres in Houla came as a reprisal for these assassinations. Not that the Assads have ever needed any justification for perpetrating their brand of terror beyond the challenge to their legitimacy.

Meanwhile, the town of Eizaz in Aleppo Province continues to be pounded in retaliation for the kidnapping of 14 Hezbollah operatives who happened to be in the area. Hezbollah media outlets claim that the 14 were pilgrims returning from Iran, sources close to the kidnappers say interrogations prove that these were Hezbollah operative and that one of them is a nephew of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Indirect negotiations have been taken place over the last couple of days, but they have so far led to naught due to continued pounding by pro-Assad militias.

Today, the pounding of Hama City and the new massacre that was perpetrated there underscores the complete failure and irrelevance of Annan’s Mission.

So, what we have now is a situation that is quickly spiraling out of control, and the Obama Administration might need to adjust its timetable accordingly. Time is not on the side of stability and reason in this conflict. Elements of the Old Regime might need to be preserved, but the U.S. needs to avoid the miscalculations of Russian officials: instability in Syria will be product of regime survival not regime change. Bringing Syrian protesters to endorse, no matter how reluctantly, any deal that allows for Assad’s departure has to include serious assurances that the upcoming change will be far-reaching and not simply decorative, otherwise nothing will be accomplished.

Note: It should be borne in mind that locals in Houla made clear from the beginning that most victims of the infamous massacre were slaughtered by pro-Assad militias who stormed into town after it was pounded by regular troops. For Russian officials to use this fact to deflect blame from the regime is grotesque. For the UN resolution to fail to name pro-Assad militias as culprits paves the ground for further acts of genocide.

Video Highlights

Sweden’s children try to draw attention to the massacres in Syria in their own way http://youtu.be/zyMqHWAh-2c

Hama City:

A new massacre took place in the city today due to the pounding http://youtu.be/kyFMiwZofls , http://youtu.be/T5sc2IsxjHo , http://youtu.be/G1gsYoGBjCw , http://youtu.be/yknYRA8ryZE of Janoub Al-Malaab, Mashaa Al-Fouroussiyeh and Al-Hadir Neighborhoods. Tanks roll in http://youtu.be/YTeFLMorKuA Homes catch fire http://youtu.be/HH5gpZoLQpk

The Massacre http://youtu.be/W-Uuc7Z06P4 , http://youtu.be/GASV1FJmpKQ , http://youtu.be/uJIaOu4G81Y , http://youtu.be/1W2piTx9SU8 Many women were among today’s dead http://youtu.be/cqguM8psn4k , http://youtu.be/85c–hMVk6Y , http://youtu.be/0KvfgeGN4yE Martyrs bagged and tagged http://youtu.be/Aa3Td6uPHQ0 , http://youtu.be/uBnyV4I_NvU Children were included of course http://youtu.be/76A99_SiWQ4 , http://youtu.be/YfKeCaoZU0M Words of defiance from the brother of two who were killed today http://youtu.be/gURz0HwBkz4 Treating the wounded http://youtu.be/KP7PKlUBESM , http://youtu.be/mKEn_I_gBn8 , http://youtu.be/eUtA4Tch_Mk At night, the pounding resumes http://youtu.be/GDXt7FAFEZU , http://youtu.be/GqkLtVNzIQo , http://youtu.be/dEnB8JjQCws Til dawn http://youtu.be/vs_3Y-zwhCw

Damascus:

Pro-Assad militias open fire against protesters in Midan District http://youtu.be/hTVlR4tzai8 It’s militias likes these who perpetrated the massacres in Houla. Rescuing the wounded http://youtu.be/tYXzfzizdKg , http://youtu.be/eSLt6pTS2PI , http://youtu.be/2mqQyKCzHbs A martyr http://youtu.be/G_-Zkp9T3rk

A similar scene unfolds in the nearby neighborhood of Naher Eisheh http://youtu.be/HqLgWtUtvKA Rescuing a wounded http://youtu.be/368FO1gXjas , http://youtu.be/qP5TWjuuvUE

Moadamiya Suburb comes under fire at night http://youtu.be/MNkpotBuLfU

Homs

Houla: four more bodies of children discovered http://youtu.be/veTMbZH_0VU Families take advantage of the presence of UN monitors to leave town http://youtu.be/v5hVRN4854Q And another ghost town is created http://youtu.be/0OfxX9CFXp0

Idlib

The town of Khan Shaikhoon comes under renewed pounding http://youtu.be/_uG2qtLKNso , http://youtu.be/b0O0bKQ8vD4 , http://youtu.be/4fmtM7rcAfY One of the loyalist checkpoints laying siege to the town http://youtu.be/i3SM2AKjalA

Abduction of Lebanese Pilgrims in Syria Sheds Light on Growing Tensions

By Melike Ince
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The release and return of eleven Lebanese pilgrims captured in Syria has caused a significant amount of unrest in both countries.

Family members in Beirut are still waiting for the release of the abducted men. (Photo Courtesy of Al Jazeera)

The Shiite pilgrims were traveling through Syria last Tuesday after a trip to Iran when their bus was intercepted by a group of men offering assistance in escaping violence in the area. It later became clear that the armed group was looking to abduct some of the travelers. Women on the bus were allowed to go free but the men were taken to an unknown area in Syria. Some of the women who were freed told reporters the armed kidnappers claimed to be members of the Free Syria Army (FSA), who sought a bargaining tool to negotiate the release of its members held by the Syrian army.

The FSA denied involvement and condemned the kidnappings, claiming that the abduction does not represent the values of their party. Mustafa al-Sheikh, a senior officer in the FSA, suggested that the Syrian government is likely responsible for the act.

The abduction has sparked a significant amount of protests in Lebanon where citizens have taken to the streets, cutting off roads and burning tires, to show their opposition. Leaders of Hezbollah, the largest Shiite party in the country, have called for protestors to stay peaceful and not disrupt everyday life in Lebanon.

Despite Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s confirmation that the men would be released Friday, family members were still waiting as of Saturday evening. The men were supposed to be taken to Turkey and returned to Lebanon from there. But according to Turkish officials, they had not yet left Syria. Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said the release was delayed for “logistical reasons” and that the men were being questioned in Turkey but are safe and would return soon.

The abduction comes at a significant time for Lebanon. The country has been torn internally over the recent conflicts in Syria. Several deadly clashes have ignited among supporters and opponents of the Syrian government. The increased tension led the Lebanese cabinet to hold an emergency session on Wednesday to review security concerns in the country.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has shown her concern over the situation stating that, “the developments in Syria are contributing to instability in Lebanon” and encouraged all parties to “respect the security and stability of Lebanon.”

For more information, please see;

Daily Star Lebanon – Contacts Continuing in Effort to Release Lebanese Hostages – 27 May 2012

Al Jazeera – Location of Lebanese Pilgrims Still Unknown – 26 May 2012

Syrian Arab News Agency – Arrival of the Lebanese Kidnapped in Syria Delayed for Logistic Reasons – 26 May 2012

BBC – Lebanese Shia Pilgrims Abducted in Syria Released – 25 May 2012

CNN  – Lebanese Official: Pilgrims Abducted in Syria Soon to be Freed – 23 May 2012

Syria: Massacre of Adults and Children in Houla

By Mark McMurray
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

DAMASCUS, Syria — On Saturday, more than ninety civilians, including at least thirty-two children under the age of ten, were killed in the Syrian village of Houla, located near the city of Homs.  The deaths occurred during an artillery bombardment.

UN observers meet with victims of the Houla massacre. (Photo Courtesy of The Guardian)

General Robert Mood, head of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), confirmed the killing after UN observers viewed the victims’ bodies.  UN observers also confirmed artillery and tank shells were fired at Houla after examining ordnance found in the area.  According to Al Jazeera, witnesses have reported that government forces attacked Houla with mortars following anti-government protests.  Following the shelling, pro-government thugs known as Shabiha raided the area, killing men, women, and children.

The government of Syria denied involvement.  Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told the official Syrian news agency, SANA, that the government “has categorically denied responsibility of the Syrian forces for the massacre.”  The government blamed the killing on “armed terrorist groups [where] clashes led to the killing of several terrorists and the martyrdom of several members of the special forces.”  Furthermore, it claimed that “brutal killing doesn’t belong to the ethics of the Syrian army.”

A statement released by the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced “that unless the UN Security Council takes urgent steps for the protection of civilians, Annan’s plan is going to go to hell.”  The FSA said it could no longer commit to the U.N.-brokered ceasefire, which went into effect on April 12, unless there was a swift response to the violence.  The massacre was one of the single deadliest incidents to have taken place during the fourteen-month-old uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, released a joint statement declaring that “this appalling and brutal crime involving indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force is a flagrant violation of international law and of the commitments of the Syrian Government to cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres and violence in all its forms.”  Additionally, the statement declared that “those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held to account.”

In response to the violence in Syria, the Security Council created UNSMIS in April 2012.  However, the violence and bloodshed have yet to stop, even after 270 unarmed military observers were deployed in support of Annan’s six-point plan.  The plan calls for “an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.”  Over the past fourteen months, the UN estimates that more than 9,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria, with tens of thousands having been displaced.

For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera – UN confirms ‘massacre’ of children in Houla – 27 May 2012

The Washington Post – Syrian government denies blame in attack that killed dozens, including 32 children – 27 May 2012

BBC News – Syria crisis: Houla child massacre confirmed by UN – 26 May 2012

United Nations News Centre – Syria: UN officials deplore ‘brutal’ killing of civilians near Homs – 26 May 2012

Syrian Human Rights Violations Report: 19 May 2012

Idleb | Khan Shaikhoun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=far7rcEenro

A mass grave of 35 victims, killed in the Khan Shaikhoun massacre the previous day, and the families are burying them in the dark of night out of fear of the security forces.

Homs | Arrastan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA15UqCxYGo

The children of Arrastan are soaked with blood due to the continuous shelling for the seventh consecutive day.

Idleb | Khan Shaikhoun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYCWQ4a-ntI

A clip showing how the residents were trying to save one of the United Nation monitors from the security forces fire.  They are pulling him and saving him while the residents lost at least 38 victims, killed in this massacre on 15 May, 2012.

Hama | Al-Arba’een

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn__1YtSdQs

An important clip showing members of the army transferring ammunition from a military car and placing it in a storage room; when one member saw the person capturing the scene, he fired at him.

*WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT*

Homs | Ashammas

A brutal attack was launched in the middle of the night by the security forces against the Babo Amro neighborhood.  Many displaced residents of Baba Amro fled to  the Ashammas neighborhood.  They were fleeing from death in Baba Amro only to face killing, detention and torture in the Ashammas neighborhood as well.  Regime forces killed at least 21 people and more than 100 were detained.  

 

Casualty Report

26 confirmed casualties killed by the regime in Syria on Friday, 18 May 2012.

*Including a defected soldier, one old man, two kids, and four women.*

Homs: 8
Dar’aa: 2
Hama: 2
Damascus & Damascus Suburbs: 4
Idlib: 6
Aleppo: 3
Deir Ezzour: 1

37 confirmed casualties killed by the regime in Syria on Thursday, 17 May 2012.

*Including a two defected soldiers, one old woman, three children, and two victims of torture.*

Homs: 10
Dar’aa: 3
Al-Rakka: 1
Damascus & Damascus Suburbs: 13
Idlib: 4
Aleppo: 3
Deir Ezzour: 2
Al-Suweida: 1

 

Videos and Statistics Courtesy of :

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Casualty Report – 18 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 18 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Casualty Report – 17 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 17 May 2012

 

Syrian Revolution Digest May 17, 2012

THE COMMENTARY IN THIS PIECE DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF IMPUNITY WATCH.  

*WARNING VIDEOS MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES*

Caboom!

As Putin’s Ego goes nuclear by proxy, the Assads continue to perpetrate their massacres across Syria.

Death toll: 35, including 12 in Damascus and suburbs, 9 in Homs, 4 in Aleppo, 4 in Daraa, 3 in Idlib and 3 in Suweida, Raqqah and Deir Ezzor.

Also on Thursday, FSA units welcomed the defection of Lieutenant Tayseer Deeb, an Alawite officer from the town of Qardaha, the hometown of the Assad family.

News

Russia says action on Syria, Iran may go nuclear
U.N. chief believes al Qaeda behind Syria car bombs
Syria opposition rift widens with resignation of Burhan Ghalioun
Conflicting accounts on Britons’ Syria deaths
Syria complains to U.N. about tourism downturn amid conflict
Exclusive: U.N. probes possible North Korea arms trade with Syria, Myanmar
Syria scours more trade routes in search for grainIran helps Syria defy oil embargo

Op-Eds & Special Reports

How an Election Further Splintered Syria’s Opposition
Sen. Lieberman: Turn the tide against Bashar al-Assad
Syrian Jihadis: Real and Exaggerated Damascus may be exaggerating the strength of the Syrian jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra.

Video Highlights

Pounding by pro-Assad militias leads to a major forest fire near the town of al-Hosn in Homs Province http://youtu.be/hz9tJx24QzM

The pounding of Douma suburb in Rural Damascus leaves a number of martyrs, including these two children http://youtu.be/5EKPjIXWWi8http://youtu.be/oyUhCWOoauI An entire family was killed http://youtu.be/19R2ATTSKq0 But inhabitants remain defianthttp://youtu.be/yaA6ExLuFM0

The pounding of the town of Rastan in Homs Province continues (Nighttime)http://youtu.be/-CYmOnZsH44 , http://youtu.be/Ge608lYhzng (daytime)http://youtu.be/0BL0hnftO_8 Units of the FSA try to fight back http://youtu.be/T-t9b7h0W-4

Khaldiyeh Neighborhood continues to be targeted by pro-Assad militiashttp://youtu.be/lcaf-_r-oBE

Students at the University of Aleppo come out in droves to meet visiting UN monitorshttp://youtu.be/Zvy5KCbeNbs Repeating calls of “the people want to topple the regime”http://youtu.be/9h7cNf0ROPU Pro-Assad security and militias attack the protesters with clubs, some take refuge in a car belonging to the UN monitor team and beg the driver and companion to keep them there as security try to open the doors to get them outhttp://youtu.be/_zBPKUuj9K4

Syria Human Rights Violations Report: 17 May 2012

Homs| Arrastan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvRJVkmrvmY

These children were playing in front of their homes when shells hailed on them, they are now crowded in a makeshift hospital and in need of medical attention that is not available.

Hama | Sahl Al-Ghab

Today the village witnessed the execution of nine residents after Al-Tamn’ah was attacked by the regime’s forces. Amongst the casualties was an eighty five years old woman who was stabbed to death by the regime forces after they raided her property, killed her animals then brutally executed her.

Homs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtiwuCZWaRs

The residents are trying to put up a temporary shield to protect them from the sniper’s fire at the checkpoint where many people have been killed.

Damascus Countryside | At-Tal

This leaked footage shows regime forces detaining, beating and kicking residents.

 

Casualty Report

39 confirmed casualties killed by the regime in Syria on Wednesday, 16 May 2012.

*Including one child, one Imam of a mosque, and another eight victims from a massacre in Joubar.*

Homs: 17
Dar’aa: 4
Hama: 3
Damascus & Damascus Suburbs: 11
Idlib: 5

20 confirmed casualties killed by the regime in Syria on Tuesday, 15 May 2012.

*Including a child, an Imam of a mosque, and six other victims from a massacre at Khan Sheikhoun.*

Homs: 13
Dar’aa: 4
Hama: 1
Damascus & Damascus Suburbs: 1
Idlib: 1

22 confirmed casualties killed by the regime in Syria on Monday, 14 May 2012.

*Including two old men, two children, a defected officer, four defected conscripts, and two men killed under torture.*

Homs:14
Dar’aa: 3
Hama: 1
Dier Ezzor: 1
Aleppo: 1
Latakia: 1

33 confirmed casualties killed by the regime in Syria on Sunday 13 May 2012.

*Including six women (one elderly), two children, a defected first lieutenant, first sergeant, and a conscript.*

Dar’aa: 3
Qunaitirah: 1
Homs: 7
Damascus & Damascus Suburbs: 3
Dier Ezzor: 3
Hama: 9
Idlib: 4

Aleppo: 3

 

Videos and Statistics Courtesy of :

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Casualty Report – 16 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 16 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Casualty Report – 15 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 15 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Casualty Report – 14 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 14 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Casualty Report – 13 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 13 May 2012

Syrian Revolution Digest May 16, 2012

The commentary in this piece does not necessarily reflect the views of Impunity Watch.  

*WARNING VIDEOS MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES*

No Action No Peace!

 

As the Assads and their militias continue to kill with impunity, irrespective of the presence of UN monitors, it’s about time world leaders began consulting their own conscience for guidance on what needs to be done. For now, their inaction speaks louder than their words of support and condemnation. Moral support is greatly appreciated when it comes from a former President, but for those currently in office, only their actions carry any meaning.

 

Wednesday May 16, 2012

 

Death toll: 35 including 20 in Shammas Neighborhood in Homs City. Meanwhile, the pounding of the nearby town of Rastan continues in preparation for an invasion expected to take place within the next 48 hours.

 

On Tuesday, Assad death squads perpetrated a massacre in the town of Khan Shaikhoon, in which 28 locals were killed. The massacre took place even as a team of UN monitors led by Robert Mood was in town.

 

Other attacks on Tuesday left 10 dead in Homs City, 6 in Tartous, 6 in Rural Damascus, 6 in Hama, 6 in Deir Ezzor, 2 in Daraa and 1 in Quneitrah.

 

News

 

Syria’s Assad: Nations that sow chaos will suffer (Questions: does Bashar Al-Assad listen to his own words? Well, if did he wouldn’t accuse Al-Qaeda if anything, because to him it does NOT exist)
Family wins $323 million against Iran, Syria over terrorist attack (And guess who will end up paying for it, not to mention all of Assad’s crimes!)

 

Op-Eds & Special Reports
A useful study of the various Syria opposition groups, coalitions and key independent figures by Swedish researcher Aaron Lund.

 

Two massacres in the bag, another to come!
Having executed a massacre in the town of Khan Shaikhoon in Idlib Province on May 15, pro-Assad death squads perpetrated a new one in Shammas Neighborhood in Homs City on May 16, and are now said to getting ready to storm Rastan to repeat their feat on an even grander scale.

 

The Khan Shaikhoon Massacre: Protester come under fire, bodies get strewn in the streets http://youtu.be/1ICl747gjjQ Some of the martyrs http://youtu.be/iL4cOoMlshA More victims http://youtu.be/1EcUe4AXV2Y , http://youtu.be/1HI6a0uA640  People clean up and remain defiant http://youtu.be/1yS-VZnQ5Mc
Shortly after the massacre, the regime accused locals of kidnapping the monitors, but one of them is seen here saying that this was not the case http://youtu.be/IQDky-lIYYE  In response to the massacre, the local unit of FSA attack and destroy the loyalist checkpoint responsible for the attackhttp://youtu.be/5kyt7PYmrQY  Today, the UN monitors left the town after spending the night under the protection of the locals http://youtu.be/lB99Uv10s6g They take their damaged vehicle with them http://youtu.be/S_hTj25oU6Q

 

Shammas Neighborhood’s Massacre: executed by pro-Assad death squads http://youtu.be/SABdgB3C85Q , http://youtu.be/-TJaxvRGHr8

 

Kosovo Fallouts

 

The fallouts from our trip to Kosovo, with Bashar Al-Assad himself now weighing in. In an interview with a Russian TV station, Assad says (below is an English translation of in French original):

 

President Bashar al-Assad confirmed reports that rebels had attended training Syrian military camps in Kosovo.

 

“We have information confirming that a Syrian opposition group traveled to Kosovo to gain experience in the field of armed intervention in a step to bring NATO to Syria,” said the head of the Syrian state in an interview with the Rossiya television channel 24.

 

Mr. Assad says that he has obtained this information from reliable sources (probably my blog).

 

Regarding my part in the affair, the report went to note that:

 

In late April, the Serbian news agency, Tanjug, referred to an announcement by Syrian exiled Syrian opposition member, Ammar Abdulhamid, that the rebels would use the experience of the Liberation Army Kosovo (KLA) to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad. According to Mr. Abdulhamid, members of the opposition have promised to recognize Kosovo’s independence in case of coming to power in Damascus. Pristina confirmed to be in contact with the Syrian opposition, but refuted allegations of training fighters.

 

In related news, Al-Hayat published the Arabic translation of Veton Surroi’s article “Lessons from Kosovo,” here.  For her part, Asharq Al-Awsat refers to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s objections to the visit here. But Asharq Also notes that Russia’s arms supplies to Syria continue, quoting assertions in this regard by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister.

 

 

President Bush: “America does not get to choose if a freedom revolution should begin or end in the Middle East, or elsewhere. It only gets to choose what side it is on,” he added.

 

Well, President Bush, already showed us what side he is on, I just hope President Obama chooses the right side as well. No, not by offering meetings and words, one looks for more from the Acting President, but by adopting more proactive approaches to dealing with this deepening crisis, and we have already presented our own plan in this regard, and we can help flesh out each one of the points it contains. We just hope that the Obama’s Administration’s policy on Syria “matures” in time to save the country, and perhaps the region.

 

We were also proud to have join us via Skype Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

 

When Suu Kyi appeared on the big screen above the stage, she too offered her support to Abdulhamid’s home country. “I would like to say to the people of Syria, we are with you in your struggle for freedom,” she said. Asked if she had a solution to the violence in Syria that has claimed more than 12,000 lives in the last 15 months, Suu Kyi replied, “If there was an easy answer, I think Syria would be at peace now.” But Suu Kyi said she’s hopeful about peace abroad and at home.

 

ABC also noted that I have actually been invited to introduce President Bush and speak about the situation in Syria:

 

Abdulhamid, founder of the Tharwa Foundation and one of the earliest dissident voices behind the Syrian uprising, introduced Bush today, emphasizing the importance of fearless activism. “The price of activism could be the death of the human body. But the price of silence could result in the death of human spirit, a far greater price to pay,” Abdulhamid said. “All of us here today join you in hoping and praying for the end of violence and the advance of freedom in Syria,” Bush told Abdulhamid as he took the stage.

 

 

 

He singled out Syria, where the government of President Bashar al-Assad has killed thousands to squelch opposition. “All of us here today join you in hoping and praying for the end of violence and the advance of freedom in Syria,” Mr. Bush told Ammar Abdulhamid, a prominent Syrian opposition figure invited to speak at the event.

 

More Coverage:

 

 

Here is a link to my page in the Freedom Collection.
Here is a link to the full text of my speech.

 

Video Highlights

 

In Deir Ezzor City, locals manage to trap a tank and turn it upside down http://youtu.be/1EcUe4AXV2Y
Towns and suburbs across Syria come under fire at night: Kafar Batna, Rural Damascushttp://youtu.be/zdbsPqb68MM Aleppo Road Neighborhood, Hama Cityhttp://youtu.be/KVd1e02hzvM Daraya, Damascus http://youtu.be/FMDj7xYJ5xI
MartyrsDaraya, Damascus http://youtu.be/NrRD73ikPn0 Ghanto http://youtu.be/Bw4-GxFKJrI Ma’ardis, Hama http://youtu.be/BNPkt2zrOZw Ghuweiran, Hassakeh (funeral) http://youtu.be/DihGSjCOUZk Eltaman’ah, Hamahttp://youtu.be/zNBmcfOl8Kc Khaldiyeh, Homs City http://youtu.be/o8DKKF3-RSM Al-Karameh, Hama City http://youtu.be/SDChOS23SsI Kafrenbel, Idlibhttp://youtu.be/mi6_7R2dLwM Shaghour, Damascus City http://youtu.be/QpxIRFJQryEMidan, Damascus City (funeral) http://youtu.be/-rvnZXTNAEY Rastan, Homs Provincehttp://youtu.be/ZDysD7Ee14I
The pounding of Homs City continuesHamidiyeh http://youtu.be/yF9OAcn9mN8Jouret Al-Shayah http://youtu.be/TKY_YKVAnQ4
The nearby town of Al-Hosn also come under heavy poundinghttp://youtu.be/rUL4dsTyKIw The sporadic pounding of Rastan continueshttp://youtu.be/X6_79MRN1lQ
Tanks pound their way into Khan Shaikhoon, Idlib http://youtu.be/h1O6YJaL5FA
UN monitors pay a visit to the town of Courine, Idlib http://youtu.be/mNIubxo5g5I Others visit Daraa City http://youtu.be/fv62WBTg6iI And others Al-Hraak, Daraa under the protection of the local unit of the FSA http://youtu.be/6SNN-Do5-G0

Syrian Revolution Digest: 14 May 2012

Syrian Revolution Digest – May 14, 2012

The dithering is beginning to have an impact on neighboring countries. Pandemonium paves way to spillover, and spillover to regional chaos.

Syrian cartoonist, Ali Ferzat's interpretation of the Syrian opposition and international support (Photo Courtesy of Syrian Revolution Digest)

 

Casualty Report:

In total 22 deaths occurred on Monday:

1o Homs City
1 Hama
1 Damascus
1 Rural Damascus
1 Deir Ezzor
9 civilians, 23 Assad troops Homs Province (in a clash when the soldiers tried to retake the town from rebels)

 

Abuses and Rights Violations

50 Syrian refugees who took part in a hunger strike (staged in protest of the living conditions in local refugee camps and the restrictions on their freedom to move that stopped them from accessing medical care) were expelled by Jordanian authorities.  They were driven to the border with Syria and left there after the officials confiscated their papers.  Local recruits of the FSA saved the refugees and escorted them back to Daraa City.

 

News Stories

Fox News – Turkish Reporter Describes Syrian Detention – 14 May 2012

MSNBC – Syria Violence Spills Into Streets of Lebanon’s Tripoli – 14 May 2012

Reuters – Tunisian Islamists Join Jihad Against Syria’s Assad – 14 May 2012

Day Press – Russia: Without Damascus Agreement; UNSMIS Mission Would not be Peacekeeping – 14 May 2012

 

Blog

Nonviolence & the Syrian State Current
As Deborah Amos noted in her NPR report yesterday, there is indeed a wide-scale arrest campaign targeting local activists, especially those leading the nonviolent movement. The problem with her report is that the main figures that were interviewed in this regard, that is, to represent these nonviolent activists, are those who belong to the Building the Syrian State Current, AKA Syrian State Current or occasionally Binaa Syria.

Founders and leaders of the SSC are coming more and more under the spotlight of late, getting invited to attend conferences and meetings with officials abroad, basking in the glow of being domestic opposition, hence, legitimate. But that’s a very troubling assessment, and reflects a continuing misunderstanding of the nature of the protest movement. The movement is too indigenous and grassroots to be represented by the urban elites of Damascus and Aleppo, and the founders of SSC are mostly from there or have been living there for last few years or decades.

Despite the fact that some of them have long histories in nonviolence advocacy, they have never developed any major popular bases and have never managed to engender more than a vague awareness of the literature of nonviolence. Their goal was more evolution than revolution. In this, they were no different than traditional opposition figures and movements: they failed to see that the momentum building around them was more revolutionary than evolutionary.

By comparison to traditional opposition figures and parties, they were to some extant more connected to the grassroots, but not by much. They exhibited the same elitist tendencies. Their minds belonged to Ghandi but their hearts and souls to Marx. And no serious attempt was ever made at indigenization of the thoughts of either men, despite occasional individual endeavors in this regard that failed to generate much interest. Ghandi’s philosophy was meant as a way of life, a model to be put into practice, but they sought to teach it as doctrine, hence they made it and kept it as an elitist exercise. And Marx’s input lent itself to countless interpretations, but there was little debate of that.

Since the beginning of the revolution, most attempts at reaching out made by SSC leaders were aimed at an international audience rather than local communities, where they have little influence. For all their talk about nonviolence and basic rights, they had nothing but indignation to the “average” Syrian. They had the mentality to stewards and trustees, rather than public servants.

For this, and despite occasional harassment and arrests, SSC founders and leaders are often allowed to meet and travel freely. Why? They oppose international intervention and the increasing militarization of the revolution, and that suits the Assads rather well.

The fact that people are demanding intervention and have chosen the course of armed insurrection after many months of violent crackdown by the Assads, does not matter. After all, the flock needs a shepherd, and the ignorant masses are being exploited by all those external opposition members who have their own agendas. So, the mentality of SSC leaders is not that different than their “enemies” represented by the SNC: they all claim what is rightfully not theirs, and will never be: ownership of the revolution, and the right to represent a populace that they all at heart fear and disdain.

The likeability and western temperament of some of the founders of SSC should not blind international policymakers and journalists to the realities of who they are. After all, westrn veneers and likeability were the main reasons why so many in the international community thought of Assad and Asma as the reform-minded couple.

The international community should be on a search not for the likeable and the westernized, for the relevant and pragmatic. Some likeable westernized figures will emerge and need to be engaged and empowered, but only inasmuch as they are or can be made to be relevant. Irrelevant figures cannot keep a country together, no matter how well-intentioned they are.

Until members of our intellectual elite learn to view themselves as public servants, and the people as being worthy of service, not entities to be controlled, for all their shortcomings, they will remain part of the problem not the solution. You have to be truly “of the people” to serve the people, and that’s a reference to state of mind, not social class.

Syria Human Rights Violations Report: 10 May 2012

Dar’aa | An-Na’ema

Shelters are filled with women and children suffering from shelling attacks at the hands of regime forces.

 

Dar’aa | Al-Mahata

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA7WUkYPJrg&feature=youtu.be

The regime’s security forces break the locks on residents’ shops to punish them for striking.

 

Dar’aa | Bosra Ash-Shaam

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kz6vWH5WVM8&feature=youtu.be

These former detainees bear the marks of torture on their bodies after being held in the regime’s prisons.

 

Homs | Al-Khalidiye

This is the only way residents are able to remove the wounded and dead from the streets – this man is injured but had to be dragged in because snipers and gunfire fill the skies. It is painful to watch.

 

Casualty Report

37 confirmed casualties killed by the regime in Syria on Monday, 7 May 2012.

*Including three children, two women, five defected soldiers and two victims tortured to death.*

Dar’aa: 1
Deir Azzour: 7
Hama: 8
Homs: 13
Damascus & Damscus Suburbs: 4
Al-Hasaka: 2
Idleb: 2

 

24 confirmed casualties killed by the regime in Syria on Wednesday, 9 May 2012.

Latakia: 2
Homs: 12
Damascus & Damscus Suburbs: 3
Aleppo: 1
Idleb: 3
Hama: 2
Lebanon borders: 1

 

Videos and Statistics Courtesy of :

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Casualty Report – 9 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 8 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Casualty Report – 7 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 5 May 2012

 

Syria Human Rights Violations Report: 7 May 2012

Aleppo | Aleppo University

At least 7 students were killed and dozens arrested after the regime’s forces viciously invaded the university and dormitories to punish students for mobilizing in a peaceful demonstration. In this footage, the regime’s forces started a dormitory on fire and a student is trying to put it out with buckets of water.

 

Homs | Ar-Rastan

http://youtu.be/gSqGMa78wQM

This girl was shot by a sniper and the bullet remains lodged in her body.

 

Dar’aa | Da’el

http://youtu.be/QGQJxniu0OY

UN monitors address regime forces at a military checkpoint in Da’el while residents demonstrate peacefully.

 

Casualty Report

33 confirmed casualties killed by the regime in Syria on Thursday, 3 May 2012.

Hama: 5
Dar’aa: 4
Homs: 9
Damascus & Damscus Suburbs: 4
Aleppo: 1
Idleb: 7
Arraqqah: 1

16 confirmed casualties killed by the regime in Syria on Sunday, 6 May 2012.

Dar’aa: 1
Homs: 4
Damascus & Damscus Suburbs: 2
Aleppo: 1
Idleb: 8
Arraqqah: 1

 

Videos and Statistics Courtesy of:

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Casualty Report – 6 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 6 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Casualty Report – 3 May 2012

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 3 May 2012

 

Syria Human Rights Violations Report: 4 May 2012

 

Damascus | Al-Qaboun

http://youtu.be/SBXeaBfBhHE

After invading homes in the town, the regime’s forces continue driving around the town with their weapons and gear, intimidating the residents.

 

Damascus | At-Tadamun

http://youtu.be/ZbVxf25pELA

Clear footage of the regime’s forces firing at unarmed demonstrators to break apart the demonstration.

 

Aleppo | Aleppo University

http://youtu.be/w7LJRQanD4c

Regime forces attack a peaceful student demonstration at the university.

 

Homs | Al-Qusour

Even the UN monitors are not safe from the gunfire of the regime’s forces, who fire as the monitors park in front of a body to remove it from the street.

 

Videos Courtesy of:

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 3 May 2012


Syria Human Rights Violations Report: 2 May 2012

Idleb | Mishmishan

http://youtu.be/EQyT4HT9Syo

These two female casualties, along with 8 members of their family, were all killed during a shelling attack regime forces directed at their home in the middle of the night. The total number of casualties was 4 women and 3 children.

 

Homs | As-Sa’an

http://youtu.be/Vf-YFWNE_Jg

This is Umar Bin Al-Khattab Mosque, and the videographer captures the moment in which the regime’s forces shell the mosque, causing the entire minaret to fall.

 

Aleppo | Al-Atarib

http://youtu.be/zvgU_Qr-wbg

An activist returns to his home after the relentless shooting and shelling to find it burned and destroyed.

 

Videos Courtesy of:

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 2 May 2012

Syria Human Rights Violations Report: 1 May 2012

Homs | Bab Ad-Dreib

http://youtu.be/Vpz8w5l4Ovs

The bodies of casualties which have been in the street for over a month are removed by residents under the watch and protection of the United Nations monitor.

 

Idleb Province | Idleb

http://youtu.be/DxlLwpDocZo

The regime’s forces at the Syrian-Turkish border have taken into firing at the refugee camps in Turkey as they did this Monday.  The gunshots can be heard in the video beginning at 0:44.

 

Homs | Jobar

The narrator is explaining that the regime’s forces dug up the mass grave of the casualties from the latest massacre in the neighbourhood and stole the bodies, taking them to an unknown location.

 

Damascus | Kafar Souseh

http://youtu.be/DUIVAP6dsxU

The video shows a funeral procession being fired on by the regime’s forces.  The group then turns into a peaceful demonstration which the forces continued to fire at.

 

Videos Courtesy of: 

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 1 May 2012

Syria Human Rights Violations Report: 25 April 2012

Damascus Suburbs | Douma

Two pickups belonging to the regime’s forces are captured here full of detainees after an arbitrary and warrantless arrest campaign in the town.

 

Homs | Joret Ash-Shayah

http://youtu.be/DxDcbgV41EU

This unidentified man is stuck under the rubble after the regime’s forces completely destroyed the hospital.

 

Dar’aa | Al-Mahata

http://youtu.be/Wz5gk3OUoS0

All that is left of this school is the frame, after the regime’s forces arbitrarily destroyed it.

 

Hama | Masha’ At-Tayar

(WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT)

A girl no older than three years is pulled from under the rubble after the regime’s forces levelled more than 25 homes during a shelling campaign which killed at least 70 residents, most of them women and children.

 

Videos Courtesy of: 

Syrian Network of Human Rights – Violations Report – 25 April 2012