The writing was on the wall, and we all refused to see it. Assad had no intention of going gently into that good night, yet he was given all the leeway he needed to transform his crisis into a quagmire with regional, even international implications. Dealing with psychopaths like Assad is never easy, but that’s no excuse for indifference and inaction, nor is the fact that this tragedy is unfolding in some far away country. Distances have lost their relevance in our world, it’s about time our policymaking reflected this reality. Mass murder, ethnic cleansing, tyranny are no longer local concerns with local implications: they are global problems with global implications, and world leaders have sat on their hands for too long in regard to the Syrian crisis, this is unconscionable and inexcusable. Irrespective of the geopolitics involved, this tragic chapter in our contemporary history needs to be brought to a proper end, and the criminals involved need to be held accountable.
Today’s Death Toll: 207 (including 6 women and 8 children)
141 in Damascus and suburbs including 47 in Mleiha, 32 in Mouadamieh and 8 in Deir Al-Asafeer; 17 in Aleppo; 14 in Daraa; 15 in Idlib; 7 in Hama; 5 in Homs; 4 in Deir Ezzor; 2 in Raqqa; and 2 in Sweida.
Points of Random Shelling: 257
14 areas were subjected to aerial shelling mainly in Damascus Suburbs. Barrel bombing was confirmed in 5 areas, and Mouadamieh was subjected to cluster bombs. Thermobaric bombing was documented in one area in Mleiha. 117 locations were subjected to artillery shelling, 72 locations to mortar shelling, and 68 to missile attacks.
Clashes: The Free Syrian Army (FSA) clashed with regime forces in 125 locations, with the fiercest clashes taking place in Damascus Suburbs and Idlib Province. In Hama, the FSA was able to control parts of Taftanaz Military Airport, downed an attack helicopter in Taftanaz, and another in Afas. In addition, the FSA attacked the military airport in Thaala in Sweida and repelled regime attempts to storm Basr Al-Harir. The FSA seized control of the checkpoint in western Nahia in Sheikh Miskeen, and repelled regime attempts to storm the village of Al-Saan in Homs (LCCs).
Few Syrians interviewed in Aleppo believe that a brand of Islam like that practiced by Jabhat al-Nusra can survive in Syria. But any regime that succeeds Assad is likely to be Islamic in nature, some say. “We want a regime that applies sharia law, but that is fair and just,” says Abu Mohammad, a Free Syrian Army commander in Aleppo and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. “Many Muslims believe that if we apply the true Islam, we can use it to get rid of corruption and problems like bribery,” he says.
In addition to our shared humanity, what’s at stake for America is that due to the world’s inaction, the rebel movement is now contaminated by al-Qaida and other Islamist forces – all of whom have enthusiastically filled the vacuum that we have chosen to ignore. In short, we overlook Syria at our own peril. At best, the situation there can now be deemed a civil war; at worst, a petri dish where extremism will be grown for a generation.
After almost two years of bloodletting in Syria, there is little chance that negotiations of the kind UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has been urging would end the conflict. More likely, they would prolong it. And worse, they would perpetuate Bashar al-Assad’s favorite strategy of fanning fears of rebel sectarianism and extremism to dissuade the world from intervening against him.
“Given there has been no let-up in the conflict since the end of November, we can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013,” Pillay said. “The number of casualties is much higher than we expected, and istruly shocking.” … The analysts noted that 60,000 is likely to be an underestimate of the actual number of deaths, given that reports containing insufficient information were excluded from the list, and that a significant number of killings may not have been documented at all by any of the seven sources. The recording and collection of accurate and reliable data has grown increasingly challenging due to the conflict raging in many parts of the country.
Indeed, the revision does not come as a surprise to me, I have long said that the official casualty figures fail to give an accurate impression of the what’s really taking place in Syria: most of those believed missing or detained are probably dead, this is what previous experiences with the regime tell us. Also, activists on the ground are having a hard time keeping up with the all the violent developments taking place.
Also, the figures we have do not include regime casualties. Many of the soldiers fighting for the regime have no choice in the matter: they were lied to, manipulated and/or coerced, and when some try to defect, they are often killed on the spot by loyalist officers. In many ways, they are victims as well.
Personally, I believe that we have long exceeded the 100,000 mark in terms of casualties. A comparative perspective informs us that official figures are usually off by a factor of three. We will not know the truth of it all until the end of the conflict which may not happen anytime soon.
The Massacre at Mleiha, Damascus Suburbs: a runor was spread earlier in the day that the local as station finally had some gas. Indeed, Syrian TV came and covered parts of the distribution process, but as soon as the TV crew left, an aerial raid took place and the gas station was bombed, killing around 50 locals.