Damascus City is officially the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. An assault on Damascus is an assault on history. Indeed, it’s part of our collective memory and consciousness that is being pounded to the ground as we watch and throw our hands in the air.
Monday July 23, 2012
Today’s Death toll: 175. The Breakdown: 90 in Damascus and Suburbs, 25 in Daraa, 15 in Aleppo, 15 in Idlib, 10 in Deir Ezzor, 9 in Homs, 7 in Hama, 3 in Lattakia, and 1 in Raqqah.
Cities & Towns Under Shelling: Harasta, Arbeen, Moadamiyah, Haran Al-Awameed, Zabadani, Madaya, Eltal, Dmeir, Hameh, Yelda, Rankous, Qarrah (Damascus Suburbs), Sit Zeinab, Al-Qadam, Modan, Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, Yarmouk, Kafar Sousseh, Mazzeh, Qaboun, Barzeh (Damascus City), Daraa City, Khirbet Al-Ghazaleh, Tafas, Bostra Al-Sham, Na’eemah, Mseifrah, Jimreen, Hraak (Daraa), Rastan, Talbisseh, Houla, Tal Kalakh, Al-Qusayr, Al-Hosn, Al-Ghanto, Al-Bouaydah, Old Homs (Homs Province), Hreitan, Elbab, Eizaz, Marei, Bayanoun (Aleppo Province), Haffeh, Jabal Al-Akrad (Lattakia), Deir Ezzor City, Mouhassan, Albou Kamal (Deir Ezzor Province), Kafar Zeiteh, Hawash, Shahshabo, Hama City (Hama Province), Jabal Al-Zawiyeh, Maar’at Al-Nouman, Saraqib, Maar Shoureen (Idlib)
Op-Eds & Special Reports
Will Syria use chemical weapons against foreigners? The past week of fighting in Syria has escalated international pressure on President Bashar al-Assad. Syrian officials now say they won’t use their biological and chemical weapons ‘unless Syria faces external aggression.’
Analysis: The myth of Palestinian neutrality in Syria It is both painfully ironic and incredibly moving that Yarmouk, built to host ethnically cleansed Palestinians, has now turned into a safe haven for Syrians fleeing the shelling on Tadamon and Midan; that UNRWA schools became shelters in the last few days; and that Palestinian residents of the camp have donated mattresses, meals and medicine for their wounded Syrian neighbors. These acts of solidarity have been beacons of inspiration amid the endless cycle of violence and grief that has descended upon Syria.
Analysis: Syrian Civil War Enters New Phase The rebels are winning. But the latest events do not yet herald the beginning of the regime’s last stand. That moment has not yet arrived. When it does, it may well not take place in Damascus.
Not too long ago, the Wall Street Journal published a report including leaks from the American officials to the effect that Assad has moved part of his WMD stockpiles from Damascus in the direction of Homs. Today, we got confirmation from the regime itself that the regime does indeed have WMD stockpiles and that it would them in case it is attacked by a foreign power. Considering the fact that the rebels are considered to be foreign agents working for external powers, the assertion made that WMDs will not be used against the people rang hollow.
But the whole situation becomes even more Kafkaesque when we take in consideration that Iraq was invaded for suspicion of having WMDs, and here we have a neighboring regime openly boasting of its WMD capacity and threatening to use it. Yet all that President would say
about this is that “the world is watching!” But that’s exactly what the world has been doing since the beginning of the revolution, and what difference did that make so far? How exactly did that impact the behavior of Assad ad his militias? If the world is not planning to act, who gives the damn that it’s watching. After all, we are not putting on a show for its amusement.
But the plot thickened even more today.
According to Israeli officials
, Assad has moved stockpiles of WMDs to more “secure areas” for safekeeping. The only secure areas today are located along the coast and in the coastal mountains where WMDs’ presence could also serve to secure the enclave for Assad when push comes to shove.
There were reports circulated by Kurdish activists not too long ago through Facebook claiming that Assad moved some of his stockpiles as well to the Kurdish-majority town of Qamishly in the northeast. The town has recently fallen under the control of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the PKK. If these reports were true, then Turkey’s worst enemies might be about to get their hands on stockpiles of chemical weapons. Personally, however, I seriously doubt that these reports are true. It does not make sense for Assad to move any WMDs to a region where his control has become tenuous from day one in the revolution. The logical place for WMDs at this stage is the coast and the surrounding mountains.
But the move by Bashar Al-Assad may not have come soon enough, if we are to believe these sensational claims
made by Captain Maher Al-Nouaimai, the official spokesman of the Free Syrian Army. For in an interview with the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, Al-Nouaimi says that the Damascus rebels have recently captured missiles from a base on Mount Qasayoun that are actually loaded with WMDs. He also said that the rebels now have 15 helicopter gunships under their disposal after their original pilots defected and joined the rebels.
It’s difficult to dismiss these reports offhand, since they are made by the official spokesman for the FSA, but it’s reasonable to demand and expect proof, perhaps in the form of a video.
Meanwhile, irrespective of whether these reports are true or false, the regime can now use WMDs and blame it on the rebels.
An internal interview with Abou Joum’ah, the leader of Al-Tawhid Brigade in Aleppo Province
, whose members are taking part in the battles of Aleppo city as well. The interview took place on July 18. http://youtu.be/8kPf37O1MnQ
Abou Joum’ah vows to close down the embassies of Iran, Russia and China and to sever all relations with these countries once Syria is liberated. Other leaders pledge to liberate Aleppo.
In Aleppo City
, pro-Assad militias are busy targeting and killing activists. This is one from the neighborhood of Marjeh http://youtu.be/ormPw7P1fgw
Elsewhere in Aleppo City, a video leaked by activists from inside the central prison shows imprisoned activists receiving treatment for wounds received during clashes with prison authorities http://youtu.be/Ccx_lJ-gQVk
Eight activists were reported dead.