Syrian Activist and her Daughter Murdered in Turkey

By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

ISTANBUL, Turkey – A Syrian activist and her daughter, a journalist, were fatally stabbed in their home on September 21st in Istanbul’s Uskudar neighborhood.

Orouba Barakat and her daughter, Halla. Photo Courtesy of BBC News.

Orouba Barakat, 60, and her daughter, Halla, 23, were found stabbed to death in their Istanbul apartment.

Orouba was a prominent activist for the Syrian National Coalition, although she was critical of some of the opposition groups. She left Syria in the 1980s and worked for some time covering economic and political affairs for Arab newspapers. She had recently been investigating allegations of torture in prisons run by the Assad regime.

Halla was born in North Carolina. She was a freelance journalist for Orient News, TRT World and ABC News. Friends contacted police when Halla did not show up for work.

In the weeks leading up to their deaths, both women had received threats from Syrian regime supporters. A Turkish newspaper, The Cuhhiryet, published details indicating there were similarities between the killings of the mother and daughter and those known to have been committed by the Islamic State.

Family members believe that the killings were perpetrated by the Assad government. Orouba and Halla had been critical of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Orouba’s sister, Shaza, said of the killings “We accuse the Syrian regime, the gangs, because we are against the unjust government, this deadly oppressor, which has killed three quarters of the Syrians and displaced the rest, and destroyed all of Syria.”

Another relative, Suzanne Barakat, noted that the women “were vocal activists in the Syrian revolution, speaking truth to power, and raising awareness about the atrocities committed by the Assad regime.”

There have been four other Syrian journalists murdered in Turkey since 2015.

The US State Department released the following statement concerning the murders: “The United States is deeply saddened by the deaths of Arouba and Halla Barakat. Halla served as a journalist for Orient News and we remember the courageous work of her mother, Orouba, a Syrian activist who reported on the Syrian regime’s atrocities. The United States condemns the perpetrators of these murders and we will closely follow the investigation.”

Orouba and Halla had been friends with American humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller, who was taken hostage by ISIS in Aleppo, Syria in 2013 and killed 18 months later.

Before their deaths, Orouba and Halla were preparing to start a charity for Syrian women living in refugee camps in Turkey in Mueller’s honor.

For more information, please see:

ABC News – Syrian-American Journalist and her Mother, Friends of ISIS Hostage Kayla Mueller, Killed in Turkey – 22 September 2017

BBC News – Syrian Activist and Journalist Daughter ‘Murdered’ in Istanbul – 22 September 2017

New York Times – Syrian Activist and her Daughter Fatally Stabbed in Turkey – 22 September 2017

People – American Journalist and Activist Mom Found Strangled and Stabbed in Turkey: Reports – 22 September 2017

Washington Post – Syrian Activist, Journalist Daughter Found Dead in Turkey – 22 September 2017

Cambodia’s Main Opposition Leader Arrested for Treason

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – On Sunday, September 3rd, Cambodia’s main opposition leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested for treason. He is accused of violating Article 443 which prevents officials from “colluding with foreigners.” If convicted, Mr. Sokha could face a 30 year jail term.

Kem Sokha was arrested outside his house in Phnom Penh. Photo courtesy of New York Times.

The opposition leader was arrested during a heavy crackdown on critics of Prime Minister Sen’s government. The government officals accused Mr. Sokha of discussing plots with the United States government to undermine Cambodia.

The government, as evidence, disclosed a four-year-old video of Mr. Sokha giving a speech and stating that he has received advice from the United States government on establishing an opposition group in Cambodia.

According to Mr. Sokha’s daughter, Ken Monovithya, more than 100 police officers surrounded their home and arrest her father without a warrant. She stated that Mr. Sokha was handcuffed and escorted to an unmarked vehicle by numerous officers. It is reported that he is currently being held at a remote prison near the Vietnamese boarder. He has not been given an opportunity to speak to an attorney.

Upon Mr. Sokha’s arrest, the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh commented that the charges “appear to be politically motivated.”

The Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party will face a tough election next year. After ruling the country for more than three decades, Mr. Sen’s critics have accused him of trying to eliminate his oppositions prior to the upcoming election.

The New York based Human Rights Watch group has recently stated that “the government and the ruling CPP have manufactured these treason charges against Kem Sokha for political purposes, aiming to try and knock the political opposition out of the ring before the 2018 electoral contest ever begins.”

NYT – Cambodia Arrests Opposition Leader, Accusing Him of Treason – 2 September, 2017

Reuters – Cambodia charges opposition leader with treason – 5 September, 2017

Aljazeera – Cambodia politician Kem Sokha charged with treason – 6 September, 2017

Opposition Calls on President Jammeh to Step Down after he Rejects Election Results

By Samantha Netzband 

Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter

BANJUL, The Gambia–Opposition leaders in Gambia are calling for President Jammeh to step down after he rejected the countries recent election results.  Originally President Jammeh had accepted the election results and was going to allow for a smooth transition of power to President-elect Adama Barrow.  He has sense changed his mind which is not much of a surprise to the international community that does not have much faith in President Jammeh.  Jammeh has a questionable record as President of the Gambia as he has been accused of human rights violations

Source: Fatu Network

President Jammeh. (Photo Courtesy of Premium Times)

President-elect Adama Barrow has also been calling on Jammeh to step down in order to ensure a good transition.  Because of the countries lack of Supreme Court (it currently only has one justice) an election challenge would surely either drag on for a long time or be unduly influenced by Jammeh as he would appoint the remaining justices.  Either way opposition party members are eager to see Jammeh go not only in order to get the power that they won in the election, but also to ensure that The Gambia does not become a country of chaos after failed elections.

President Jammeh is due to leave office on January 18, 2017 which is the end of his mandate.  Should Jammeh actually step down opposition members have said they are planning to prosecute Jammeh for crimes he committed during office.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Gambia election row: Yahya Jammeh ‘should step down now’ – 12 December 2016

Joll of News – Gambia: President-elect Rejects Jammeh’s Election Challenge – 12 December 2016

NPR – Gambia’s Opposition Calls On President To Step Down After Election Defeat – 12 December 2016

Premium Times – Gambia election: Jammeh heads to Court – 12 December 2016

Clashes between Protestors and Venezuelan Security Forces

By Cintia Garcia

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuelan opposition protestors clashed with security forces on Wednesday. One police officer was shot and killed. At least 20 people have been injured, including 3 that were shot, and an estimated 208 arrests occurred nationwide.

Venezuelan opposition protestors marched across the nation. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)
Venezuelan opposition protestors marched across the nation. (Photo Courtesy of Reuters)

Hundreds of thousands of opposition protestors took to the streets throughout Venezuela after a referendum was blocked. A referendum is being pushed by the opposition to remove president Maduro from office by hosting elections. The opposition was able to gather 1.8 million signatures demanding a referendum; 400,000 signatures were validated by the electoral authorities that would have authorized the election. If an election is held, the opposition would need to get over 7,587,579 votes to oust president Maduro. The referendum was halted after officials ruled that there was identity fraud. In the National Assembly, which is dominated by the opposition, voted to launch a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro. But the Supreme Court has overruled every decision made by the National Assembly since it became the majority. In addition, opposition leaders have called for a 12-hour national strike and a march on November 3 to the presidential palace if the referendum does not go forward. A protestor stated, “If they don’t want to let us choose in an electoral voting process, they are going to have to listen to us as we march in the streets peacefully, overwhelmingly, and tirelessly until they meet the demands of the Venezuelan people.”

The Vatican has announced it will serve as a neutral party to mediate talks between the opposition and the government—but many do not believe this will work. President Maduro on a televised address, stated that the opposition leaders are seeking a coup with the support of the US. He stated, “They are desperate, they have received the order form the north to destroy the Venezuelan revolution.” He also called for a dialogue and peace.

Venezuela has suffered an economic crisis due to falling crude oil prices. This has lead to a food shortage and inflation. The opposition has blamed President Maduro for the crisis and President Maduro has blamed the opposition.

For more information, please see:

Aljazeera—Policeman Dies After Being Shot at Venezuela Protests—27 October 2016.

BBC—Venezuela Anti-Maduro Protests: Policeman Shot Dead—27 October 2016. 

CNN—Venezuela Protests: Officer Killed, Dozens Reported Injured—27 October 2016.

Reuters—Venezuela Protests Against Maduro Escalate, Dozens Injured—27 October 2016.

Maduro Vows to Strike Down Amnesty Law

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

CARACAS, Venezuela — The Opposition-controlled National Assembly of Venezuela has passed an amnesty law which would free a number of imprisoned opposition activists and end the legal cases being brought against others. President Nicolas Maduro, who heads the government-supported Socialist Party, has promised to strike down the law.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal)

Venezuela’s constitution does not give the president veto powers. However, following the passing of a law by the National Assembly, Maduro has 10 days to sign the law into effect, or it is deferred to the Supreme Court. The Court then has 15 days to make a ruling on the law.

The Court is notorious for siding with the Executive, and has shot down most of what the National Assembly has tried to do since taking office in January, including allowing Maduro to rule by decree on issues related to the economy.

In order to declare the amnesty constitutional, the court must find that the beneficiaries of the law have committed crimes against humanity, or otherwise violated human rights.

Over 70 political prisoners would be freed by the bill, including Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez is considered by many to be Venezuela’s highest profile political prisoner. He was jailed in 2014 for allegedly spurring protests which resulted in the deaths of 40 people. He was convicted of “public incitement to violence and criminal association” last year, in a trial which has been called a “complete travesty of justice” by Human Rights Watch.

Maduro and his supporters deny that Lopez and others like him are political prisoners, instead calling them, “imprisoned politicians.”  Speaking on television hours before the bill was passed, Maduro said: “Laws to protect terrorists and criminals will not get past me, no matter what they do.”

Opposition politicians have stated that no one who would be released by the law has been accused of homicide.

 

For more information, please see:

Associated Press – Venezuela Opposition Passes Bill to Free Imprisoned Activist – 29 March 2016

Financial Times – Venezuelan congress passes amnesty law – 30 March 2016

Media with Conscience – Venezuela congresses passes bill to free jailed activists – 30 March 2016

Reuters – Venezuela parliament approves amnesty law, Maduro vows to veto – 30 March 2016 

UPI – Venezuela’s Maduro vows to veto amnesty bill passed by National Assembly – 30 March 2016

Wall Street Journal – Venezuelan President Nicolas Mauro Vows That Amnesty Law Won’t Stand – 30 March 2016

Venezuela’s new National Assembly to Pursue Amnesty

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s National Assembly has proposed an Amnesty Law which would provide reprieve and release political prisoners. The move is the Assembly’s first following the swearing-in of Venezuela’s first non-Socialist majority Assembly in fifteen years. The prioritization of pursuing amnesty for Venezuela’s political prisoners was one of the democratic coalition’s main campaigning points.

Lilian Tintori, Mitzi Capriles and Patricia Ceballos call for amnesty. Each woman’s husband is an Opposition figure arrested and imprisoned by the Maduro government.

The proposed legislation has been met with both praise and skepticism. While the National Assembly is eager to free a number of Opposition prisoners, there is concern that the drafted Amnesty Law will not be effective.

The Venezuelan Penal Forum (FPV) has introduced two alternatives for the Assembly to choose from. First, the Assembly can enact and Amnesty Law, which would require approval from Socialist President Nicolas Maduro. The second option is the issuance of a Legislative Decree, which does not need the go-ahead from Maduro.

A further issue is the role of the judiciary – under Venezuelan law, only a court may ultimately order the releases. Some fear that a judge may refuse to comply, as there has long been concerns regarding governmental influence in the judiciary in Venezuela.

Maduro’s government has staunchly opposed the proposed legislation, calling it “absurd.” Former National Assembly Speaker Diosdado Cabello (who lost his position in the last election cycle) expressed concern that the law could provide amnesty for gang leaders and other criminals. The executive director of the FPV, Alfredo Romero, says that such fears are unfounded, as the proposed legislation includes safeguards against such events.

 

For more information, please see:

BBC – Venezuela: Opposition-controlled National Assembly sworn in – 5 January 2016

Vice News – There was a Lot of Yelling During the First Session of Venezuela’s New Congress – 5 January 2016

PanAm Post – Experts Warn Amnesty Law May Fail to Free Venezuela’s Political Prisoners – 11 January 2016 

TeleSur – Venezuelan Right Discusses Amnesty for Coup, Violence Plotters – 11 January 2016

Presna Latina – Opposition Project on Amnesty Condemned in Venezuela – 12 January 2016

Venezuela: Socialist Party loses in the National Assembly

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch, South America

 

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s opposition coalition, Democratic Unity, has defeated the Socialist Party in the election for the National Assembly for the first time in 17 years. According to the National Electoral Council’s official results, the coalition won 109 out of 167 seats in the Assembly. Indigenous representatives allied with the coalition won an additional 3 seats. The ruling Socialist party will retain 55 seats.

Venezuela’s National Assembly (Photo courtesy of TIME).

The supermajority gives the coalition significant power: they can remove Supreme Court justices, pass laws and even draft a new constitution.

The Democratic Unity coalition has said that its first move upon being sworn into office will be to provide amnesty for about 70 opposition members who were jailed following political violence this year. This includes Leopoldo Lopez, whose trial and conviction made headlines worldwide.

Maduro and his supporters are blaming the loss on an “economic war,” swearing to defend the “social gains” implemented by their party over the past decade and a half.

The coalition sees the country’s economy as the biggest issue they will have to face. Venezuela’s current economic situation is considered by some to be “the worst crisis in its history.” Inflation has reached 159%, and unemployment is projected to reach 18.1 % by 2016. Venezuela’s economy has suffered in recent drops in oil prices – which don’t appear to be climbing anytime soon.

“Everything should be aimed at finding a solution to the crisis and toward actions that allow Venezuela to recover economically,” according to Henriques Capriles, leader of the Justice First party, which won the most seats of any part in the coalition.

However, the legislature has limited influence over the economy – most of the control lays with Maduro.

Coalition members have also talked of exploring options to remove Maduro from office, which the legislature could do through a recall election, a constitutional amendment or a complete constitutional overhaul. However many in the coalition, including Capriles, have said that removing Maduro would come only after making strides to solve economic issues.

 

 

For more information, please see:

TeleSur – What to Expect from a Counterrevolutionary National Assembly – 7 December 2015

Venezuela Analysis – Venezuelan Opposition Sweeps Parliamentary Elections – 7 December 2015 

Los Angeles Times – Venezuela socialists’ defeat opens door to friendlier ties with U.S. – 8 December 2015 

New York Times – Opposition in Venezuela Now Has to Fix the Ills that Led to Its Victory – 8 December 2015

Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s Opposition Secures Supermajority Against Ruling Party – 8 December 2015

Time – These 5 Facts Explain Why Venezuela is in Big Trouble- Still – 11 December 2015 

Opposition Leader Killed in Election Lead Up

By Kaitlyn Degnan
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government is facing intense scrutiny in the days leading up to the national election following the murder of an opposition leader last Wednesday. Luis Diaz, the Guarico States leader of the Democratic Action party of Guarico State was shot and killed during a public meeting.

Mr. Diaz was on stage with Lilian Tintori, a campaigner and activist. Ms. Tintori is married to opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez whose trial garnered worldwide criticism. It is unknown whether Ms. Tintori was also an intended target of the attack.

Other opposition figures have faced violence in the lead up to the election. Ms. Tintori alleged that she was the victim of at least two attacks, including the dismantling of brakes on a plane used by her team. Henrique Capriles, who lost the 2013 presidential election to Maduro has also been the victim of aggression.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo courtesy of BBC).

President Maduro’s government has faced international criticisms in the aftermath of the killing, with statements of concern coming from a number of NGO and the United States. In a statement released the day after Diaz’s death, the Director of Amnesty International Venezuela, Marcos Gomez, said that the killing gave a “terrifying view of the state of human rights in Venezuela.”

The Democratic Action party is part of the Democratic Unity coalition, a bloc of opposition parties looking to unseat the Maduro’s Socialist Party. Democratic Action national leader Henry Ramos blames the Socialist party for Diaz’s death.

The Venezuelan government has denounced any connection between the ruling party and the killing, and has said that it would sue opposition leaders blaming the Socialist Party. Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said in a tweet that trying to establish such links was in “bad faith.”

Venezuela has opened an investigation into the killing through the Public Prosecutor’s office. Government officials claim that Mr. Diaz was involve with a violent gang in Guarico, and that the killing was carried out on behest of a rival gang member.

The upcoming elections may be historical – there is a significant chance for the first time in 16 years that the Socialist Party may lose the legislature. In the past year alone, 43 people have died and hundreds have been injured during violence sparked by opposition protests..

 

For more information, please see:

Amnesty International – Venezuela: Killing of opposition politician sparks fears of spiraling violence – 26 November 2015

The Guardian – US condemns murder of opposition politician before Venezuela election – 26 November 2015

Reuters – Opposition activist’s murder shakes Venezuela before election – 26 November 2015

Business Insider – Venezuela lashes U.S., opposition amid blame over activist’s slaying – 27 November 2015

Global News – Calls for Venezuela to protect politicians after opposition leader killed – 27 November 2015

UN News Centre – Top UN human rights official calls for more safety after political opponent killing in Venezuela – 27 November 2015

Fox News – Slaying of Venezuelan opposition leader has become flashpoint ahead of elections – 28 November 2015

 

Bahrain Activist Receives Three-Year Sentence for Opposition

By Mark McMurray
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

MANAMA, Bahrain —  On Thursday, a Bahraini opposition activist was given a three-year jail sentence for hs participation in anti-government protests.

Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab.  (Photo Courtesy of Al Jazeera)

Nabeel Rajab, founder and president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was found guilty of taking part in “illegal gatherings.”  The human rights activist has led a number of protests against the Al Khalifa family ruling the nation.  Rajab has been influential in organizing the protests occurring in the country which began last February.

This week, the judge ruled in three cases against Rajab.  The cases, all related to participating in protests, carried one-year sentences each.  Human rights campaigners have found the ruling very disturbing.  Activists have called Thursday’s verdict a “dark day for justice” in the country.  Citing the peaceful nature of the protests, Rajab’s lawyer, Mohammed al-Jishi, said the ruling was surprising.

Al-Jishi said in similar cases where others have been found guilty, they have been given six-month sentences and some were even freed on bail.  “It is a very stiff and unexpected ruling, I am surprised.  They are peaceful protests, not violent ones,” al-Jishi added.  He plans to appeal the ruling at a hearing to take place next week.

Following Thursday’s verdict, the U.S. government contacted Bahrain over the ruling.  State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called for the government to respect the fundamental rights of its citizens.

“We’ve long made clear that it’s critical for all governments, including Bahrain, to respect freedom of expression, freedom of assembly,” Nuland said.  “So we are deeply troubled by the sentencing today.”

At the time of the court’s ruling on the protest charges, Rajab was serving a three-month sentence for criticizing the prime minister online.  In July, prosecutors claim they received complaints from the residents of the town of Muharraq who said Rajab had  “libeled” them on Twitter.  He has more than 155,000 followers on Twitter.  In July, he tweeted that the Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa should not continue in his present position.  Citing the residents of Muharraq in his tweet, Rajab also wrote that they had only welcomed the prime minister to their town because he had offered them government subsidies.

The U.S. government has expressed concern over the treatment of Rajab and other opponents to Al Khalifa’s government.  Bahrain serves as the base of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and recent turmoil in the country has placed the U.S. in an awkward position between its ally and pro-democracy protesters.  The U.S. has called on the Sunni government to speak with the Shiite-led opposition leading the protests in an attempt to bring peace to the country.

For further information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Bahraini Activist Jailed for Three Years – 16 August 2012

Bahrain News Agency – Nabeel Rajab Verdict Announced, Right to Appeal – 16 August 2012

BBC News – Bahrain Activist Nabeel Rajab Jailed for Three Years – 16 August 2012

Chicago Tribune – Bahrain Jails Activist for Three Years Over Protests – 16 August 2012

 

Syrian Revolution Digest – Thursday 2 August 2012

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

*WARNING VIDEOS MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES*

Spiteman!

After the assassination of his brother-in-law, and regardless of the uneasy nature of their relationship, the struggle in Syria for Bashar Al-Assad became that much more personal. The mixture of spite, contempt and vindictiveness that has always colored his view of dissent and dissidents will now drive him to commit even more massacres and spread more mayhem. Going gently into that good night has never been a favorite choice of Middle Eastern dictators. Spite, rather than bravery, has made it so. Assad is but a case in point.

Thursday August 2, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 145. The Breakdown: 50 in Damascus City and Suburbs (including 20 in Yarmouk Neighborhood), 30 in Daraa Province (including 4 children and a woman), and 17 in Homs, 7 in Hama and 5 in Aleppo.

Cities & Towns Under Shelling: Harasta, Arbeen, Moadamiah, Harran Al-Awameed, Ain Terma, Zabadani, Madaya, Eltal, Dmeir, Hameh, Yelda, Rankous, Qarrah (Damascus Suburbs), Sit Zeinab, Al-Qadam, Midan, 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, Ma’rrat Al-Nouman, Saraqib, Maar Shoureen, Ariha, Kafroumah, Al-Rami, Khan Shaikhoon (Idlib).

More clashes have been reported along the Syrian-Jordanian borders. President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, met with SNC leader, Abdulbassit Seida, to discuss the situation in Kurdish areas in the region, and the prospects of unifying the Syrian Kurdish opposition.

News

Op-Eds & Special Reports

Rebels give inside account of Damascus fighting “We never had enough ammunition to capture the entire city, so how could that have been our plan? We withdrew when we received the order, not because we were forced.”

After Assad Falls: When his regime ends, will a new slaughter begin?Syria is a mosaic of ethno-religious communities. Good fences will be required to make them good neighbors. Start with Syria’s Kurds, who have been aloof from the fighting, relatively safe in their northeastern territories. In a post-Assad Syria, they’ll want substantial autonomy. They should have it within a federal Syria that guarantees minority rights — to Alawites, Christians, Druze, and other groups. Al-Qaeda won’t like that, Iran and Hezbollah won’t like that, and some in the Sunni majority won’t like it either. But those who hope to rebuild Syria as a decent country, independent and at peace within its borders, should readily grasp the benefits.

Washington, get ready for more Iranian influence after Bashar al-Assad falls in Syria After the fall of Bashar-al Assad in Syria, Iran will compensate for its lost ally by strengthening its influence in Lebanon alongside its affiliate Hezbollah – the Shiite militant group that now dominates the country. To prevent this, Washington must take a leadership role in the Lebanon.

Resigning as Envoy to Syria, Annan Casts Wide Blame “without serious, purposeful and united international pressure, including from the powers of the region, it is impossible for me, or anyone, to compel the Syrian government in the first place, and also the opposition, to take the steps necessary to begin a political process.”… “It is clear that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office,” Mr. Annan wrote. “The greater focus, however, must be on measures and structures to secure a peaceful long-term transition to avoid a chaotic collapse.”

Leading from behind? Syria’s invisible president “Until the regime feels it has the upper hand, I don’t think we will see him again,” he said. “His style and personality is one that only engages, whether with his own people or the international community, from a position of strength.”

How to stop al Qaeda in Syria “The number is relatively small now,” Benjamin said. “I would put the numbers in the dozens to a hundred, a hundred plus. We don’t have that much granularity that we can say with any certainty how many there are.”

Syrian human rights activist Ammar Abdulhamid, with the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, says his contacts in Syria tell him there is no evidence of a surge in aid to the rebels. “I do not really see any intensification of these efforts.  I see a lot of leaks, it seems to me, that were sort of primed to show that something is being done.  But the reality is, so far on the ground, we have not detected any real involvement by the U.S. in the ongoing military operations in the country,” Abdulhamid said… Human rights activist Ammar Abdulhamid says he expects much of the new aid to go to refugees in camps in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as to those trapped in Syria. “But I will also imagine that they will try to send some aid to local communities who are cut off and have been cut off because of the fighting, and where food supplies are getting more and more scarce,” Abdulhamid said.

Aleppo’s Berri Clan and Summary Justice

While we have every reason to be appalled by the summary executions that have taken place in Aleppo, we still have the responsibility to put things in perspective. For such acts of retribution remain pretty isolated and have been widely condemned by opposition groups and known dissidents and activists. More importantly, it’s important to point out that the victims were not some randomly chosen individuals, nor was the motivation involved sectarian in nature.

The three victims of yesterday’s execution, as reported by local activists, were high ranking members of the Berri Clan, including its leader Zeino Berri. The Clan is Sunni and is known for its involvement in drug-trafficking and gun-running, among other illicit activities. The Clan is known as well for its affiliation with Maher Al-Assad and, before him, with his late brother, Bassil. This connection has served to guarantee Berri elders at least one spot in the parliament, and has allowed them to make a mockery out of the legal system in Syria for decades. In fact, many of their members have multiple death sentences issued against them. Naturally, the sentences were never carried out. The worst thing that has ever happened to a Berri clansman, before yesterday, was spending few months in prison for offences that by law warrant execution. Zeino Berri himself is known to have had three death sentences issued against him. It was the fourth one that finally killed him.

Early in the revolution, members of the Berri Clan went to Damascus where they met Bashar Al-Assad and pledged their loyalty. Almost every member of the delegation had at least one sentence of one type or another hanging over his head. That didn’t seem to bother Assad who is said to have given a carte blanche to the Berris in Aleppo. On their return, the Berri Clan became more vicious than ever and served as the de facto pro-Assad militia in the city, spreading terror by jailing, torturing and killing activists, as well as extorting local businessmen and merchants. By the time the rebels entered Aleppo City and clashed with the Berris, the level of popular animosity against the Clan was simply too high. Commanders of Al-Tawhid Brigade were simply ill-prepared to deal with such volatile situation.

The positive thing, however, is that FSA commanders have now become aware that simple assertions and exhortations are not enough to deal with such eventualities, and have promised to establish special courts and prisons for dealing with likes of Berri in the future.

Should the U.S. and other western powers become more closely involved in supporting the FSA, their ability to prevent similar occurrences in the future and to encourage the adoption of a more institutional and legal approach to captured pro-Assad militias will increase dramatically. Crying foul from the sidelines has not stopped the Assad and will not affect the rebels. Only friends and allies can influence the rebels’ behavior. Considering the identity of current backers of the rebels, preventing such scenarios in the future will not constitute a priority for them. By continuing to stand on the sidelines, the U.S. and E.U. will have little influence in this matter. Their condemnations will ring hollow and hypocritical and will have little effect. The more they balk from intervention the worse the situation will get and the more necessary and complex intervention will become.

Damascus

The indiscriminate shelling http://youtu.be/vs1fnoXZ7qI of the Yarmouk Neighborhood, Damascus City, leaves 20 locals deadhttp://youtu.be/GvV4OnNuiN4 and scores woundedhttp://youtu.be/w4889Te2waw , http://youtu.be/5cgpbxvE8lI

The pounding http://youtu.be/6hf77KZlSo4 of nearby Tadamon Neighborhoodleft several dead as well http://youtu.be/PFm1QqS8HWE , http://youtu.be/-D35-CJX9L4 , http://youtu.be/XjT73WhoWNU

The suburb of Zamalka came under intense gunfire during the dayhttp://youtu.be/9QJqC2csbmA Clashes left a number of casualtieshttp://youtu.be/fS70-dT7-JI

The shelling of the town of Zabadani to the West continueshttp://youtu.be/YfuRUhk1u1g , http://youtu.be/-Ir6IFhzLTU ,http://youtu.be/G29XxzhvHeg , http://youtu.be/7FwXh_8MaT0

Elsewhere in the province, rebels form a new fighting unithttp://youtu.be/CqQB0498w3Y

Homs

The pounding of Talbisseh continues http://youtu.be/cTjURKknV-U  And Rastanhttp://youtu.be/mADhw4D2I_8 In Qusayr, the pounding left 7 dead that were buried in a hasty funeral http://youtu.be/67QMERZrjEg

Aleppo

Pounding Aleppo City with MiGs continues http://youtu.be/ZV5UMeWauTUHelicopter gunships are also taking part http://youtu.be/iVBkS-9hM8Y

Colonel Ammar Al-Wawi, recently interviewed by the Daily Beast while on a stop in Turkey, is taking part of the battle in Aleppo City with his brigade, Al-Ababeelhttp://youtu.be/Oks0ixZVemU , http://youtu.be/izsE6Od_xXI

Hama

In Treimseh, the pounding resumes, and local FSA members rush to save the civilian inhabitants http://youtu.be/wbPFvJVRNHs

Raqqah

Local defectors form a military council for the provincehttp://youtu.be/yNRaMsy7QRI

Deir Ezzor

Locals in the town of Asharah form a new fighting unit under the banner of the FSA http://youtu.be/4GOxhY8UXxc More to the east, closer to the border with Iraq, another group is formed http://youtu.be/BZUCZ25b2ns

Syrian Revolution Digest – Tuesday 31 July 2012

The Mother of All Transitions Looming!

… But into what exactly? As deadly battles rage on throughout the country, and the international community continues to differ any decision on intervention to some undermined point in a seemingly mythical near future, in the hope that the situation will miraculously work itself out, somehow, while, somehow, producing all the “right” results, Syria’s myriad opposition groups and coalitions are now rushing headlong to form myriad competing transitional governments, each armed with its own detailed transitional plan. Moreover, we now have the Americans and the Germanscompeting to take credit for helping some in the Syrian opposition form a transitional plan in what was supposed to be an exercise wholly-owned by the Syrians! But initial suppositions change, I guess, especially when the Americans and the Germans need to show that they are doing something at a time when they are doing absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, the killing, the pounding of cities, the cold-blooded massacres, continue, unfettered, unabated, unrelenting. Oh, this will be the Mother of All Transitions all right. But again, into what exactly?

Tuesday July 31, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 86. The Breakdown: 24 in Damascus and Suburb, 19 in Aleppo, 13 in Idlib, 11 in Homs, 10 in Deir Ezzor, 7 in Daraa and 1 in Lattakia.

Cities & Towns Under Shelling: Harasta, Arbeen, Moadamiah, Harran Al-Awameed, Ain Terma, Zabadani, Madaya, Eltal, Dmeir, Hameh, Yelda, Rankous, Qarrah (Damascus Suburbs), Sit Zeinab, Al-Qadam, Midan, 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, Ma’rrat Al-Nouman, Saraqib, Maar Shoureen, Ariha, Kafroumah, Al-Rami, Khan Shaikhoon (Idlib).

News

Op-Eds & Special Reports

Syria’s Kurds Unite against Assad, but Not with Opposition A sudden political shift among Syria’s three million Kurds, who now control much of the country’s border with Turkey, provides an opportunity for the United States to better coordinate its policy with regional allies and to encourage the Syrian opposition to respect minority rights.

As Syrian War Drags On, Jihadists Take Bigger Role As the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s government grinds on with no resolution in sight, Syrians involved in the armed struggle say it is becoming more radicalized: homegrown Muslim jihadists, as well as small groups of fighters from Al Qaeda, are taking a more prominent role and demanding a say in running the resistance.

Spinmeister Ammar al-Wawi Peddles Upbeat Message of Syrian RebellionAs the Assad regime bombards Aleppo, the rebels are desperate not only to repel the military, but to shore up morale and build outside support. Ammar al-Wawi, the Free Syrian Army’s leading spin doctor, tells Mike Giglio the government is “like the walking dead.”

For besieged Syrian dictator Assad, only exit may be body bag “In his mind he is fighting against the imperialists and their pernicious allies for the people of Syria,” Lesch said. “He believes that’s his legacy. Perhaps that is the way he will want to go down.”

Syria rebels suspicious over defector’s motives Ammar Abdulhamid, a Washington-based Syrian dissident, said that while Tlass could provide valuable information, the opposition on the ground will not accept him as a leader. After so many months of “confrontations and sacrifice,” he said, “legitimate leaders of the transitional period can only rise from the ranks of the internal revolutionary movement.”

In cooperation with Impunity Watch and the Summer Institute for Human Rights and Genocide Studies in Buffalo, it’s my pleasure to announce the launch of the “I Am Syria” Campaign – an effort designed to raise awareness in the U.S. and the world regarding the revolution in Syria and the massacres perpetrated daily by pro-Assad militias and troops, highlighting the need for immediate international action. You can follow our activities on YouTubeFacebook,Twitter and our official website. Please, “Like” us and spread the word…

The Battle for Aleppo City

One of the main factors helping the rebels in their fight for the city so far is the increased number of desertions in Assad armies, while not all deserters are choosing to become defectors at this stage, but clearly, and as reports by locals who came in contact with the deserters and often provided them shelter, soldiers in Assad’s army, especially the Sunnis, are becoming increasingly aware and resentful of their role as fodder. Many are also clearly ill-fed as well as ill-informed about the situation, they don’t believe their commanders, but they don’t enough about the rebels to know if they could trust them. Many just want to go home to their families, or at least they regions.

Scenes from the Battle of Salaheddine: A MIG in actionhttp://youtu.be/Qa9fBOgOW_k The pounding http://youtu.be/x1mHxpbPhec ,http://youtu.be/WYhdp3kuZv0 , http://youtu.be/WYhdp3kuZv0 ,http://youtu.be/mTvHu2OmeEs More MIG action http://youtu.be/gd1zeql4E4o ,http://youtu.be/jtUso_U04zs Al-Jazeerah correspondent is hit during his coverage of the battles http://youtu.be/OpCnO2YtceY At end of the day, the rebels remain in control, as one of their leaders speaking from his headquarters in Salaheddine assures us http://youtu.be/WejTfY-oYVw Impact of shellinghttp://youtu.be/sBbYxgFmFx8 , http://youtu.be/ZnAdHH0Eyfo More scenes from the ballte http://youtu.be/MbDMbu4F1Wk

In order to control Aleppo City, Assad relied heavily on two Sunni clans of smugglers: Al Birri and Al Hmeideh. Today, rebels put an end to the rule of al Birri, killing and capturing many of their senior members including their top leader, Ali Zein Al-Abdeen Birri, shown here http://youtu.be/RJMiMuMUk9I Despite specific instructions from rebel leaders to refrain from summary executions, Ali and few of his commanders were executed http://youtu.be/5Pjk1sYEjuU

In Bab Al-Nayrab Neighborhood, rebels wrest control of the local police station killing everyone inside http://youtu.be/bhSMVXyA8yc The protests we hear at the end is against shooting the dead bodies in order to conserve the dwindling supplies of ammunition. The rebels lose fighters toohttp://youtu.be/gXUzTPMKQ6A Scenes from the battlehttp://youtu.be/9HXasuWYeqg

In Salihein, rebels capture and kill the local police chief, Ali Nasr, who chose to fight to the end, and drag his body in the streets http://youtu.be/V8NLDfHLyeI ,http://youtu.be/cFhbAflScWI Rebels had given the General a chance to give himself up along with his men, but he refused http://youtu.be/4cZCRJdc7QAsome of the soldiers who surrendered himself http://youtu.be/11LAIJF7vN0Rebels celebrate their victory http://youtu.be/kxvyY5tVF74 More scenes from the battle http://youtu.be/Yt3BJlZQgjY The battle started at dawnhttp://youtu.be/gXSN1q-GEbg

In Marjeh, rebels battle to “liberate” the local police stationhttp://youtu.be/WrjmsJuo1h0 , http://youtu.be/PuXlUCuVVQA

The police station in Hanano, after “liberation” http://youtu.be/IOA7ItCz3uE ,http://youtu.be/6yEzU5r8ACk , http://youtu.be/kALkZkME5HY One of the torture devices used in Hanano station http://youtu.be/17UBC-bU1NA

On July 30, head of the Aleppo Military Council, Abdul Jabbar Okaidi, toured parts of the liberated neighborhoods, Al-Shar Neighborhood, and was warmly welcomed by then local inhabitants http://youtu.be/94FIRFDvc2U ,http://youtu.be/Iy_tmXm8llE , http://youtu.be/HdYecOBc-r4 Un Monitors also paid a visit to the city and met leaders of Al-Tawhid Brigadehttp://youtu.be/__OIWNtAOJM

Other neighborhood in Aleppo city remain under the control of pro-Assad troops and militias http://youtu.be/VRVX5kiTRiQ , http://youtu.be/clhXH9KNyzw

While Aleppo City and the Rural areas to the North have come under rebel control for the most part, the regrouping process to the south continues, with the formation of a new brigade http://youtu.be/gMpU7bzIcII But more units are formed in the north as well http://youtu.be/FXO7Hj1pdq4

Other Highlights

In Damascus Suburbs, the pounding of Eastern Ghoutah Region continues:Harasta http://youtu.be/wguKbLnQGE8 tanks and helicopter gunships subject the suburb of Zamalka to heavy pounding http://youtu.be/W6xiJtVsQAA The dead line the streets http://youtu.be/2ZKXlPc5RxE , http://youtu.be/aZnTn8fb9nsSaving the injured http://youtu.be/qUulgHgTA9M In nearby Yelda, the pounding claims more lives (July 30) http://youtu.be/xVKhGfecLYw In harasta, People inEastern Ghoutah keep regrouping as they welcome more defectorshttp://youtu.be/AIFVFRNcPBY In Ain Terma, rebels fight backhttp://youtu.be/lDBkSpqvrw4 and destroy a tank http://youtu.be/a6kyiQusz_k ,http://youtu.be/smlRmHtBQAA

In Yabroud to the north, flood gave people a respite from the shellinghttp://youtu.be/6YcAJK12vy0

In Damascus City, another massacre uncovered in Al-Hajar Al-Aswadhttp://youtu.be/UuVe9hWLoRM

Sheikh Miskeen, Daraa Province: mew massacre (July 30)http://youtu.be/tAmDQIDKVms , http://youtu.be/dVkJnQWDAOk Locals say the people were burnt alive http://youtu.be/d7Pbhz-wLQ0

In Daraa City, we can see pro-Assad troops as they remove the bodies of the dead and injured from a car they hit and take them away on board their tankhttp://youtu.be/lLR_Uy0owtQ The continuous pounding of Daraa City claims more lives http://youtu.be/vAVAmswAAQQ

The pounding of Talbisseh, Homs Province, continues http://youtu.be/LPakyV-Q_Mw , http://youtu.be/sq7KZKodRwY Locals keep finding bodies in the nearby fields http://youtu.be/tPJFXa73tjM The pounding of Old Neighborhoods in Homs City continues http://youtu.be/zTkAnhgd96g In Qusayr, people the spirit of defiance alive, despite the continuing siege and poundinghttp://youtu.be/0DQJexoEKR0

The pounding of Ghneimiyeh Village in Lattakia http://youtu.be/wF68fiM2xVIAkko http://youtu.be/aoHmyxfN5ag

In Deir Ezzor Province, the pounding of the town of Mayadeen continueshttp://youtu.be/xjq73cNBRLk , http://youtu.be/jNTZyRzqfJM But defections keep plaguing Assad troops, as more of them form a new rebel unithttp://youtu.be/S0bHufMbJso Scenes from a local battlehttp://youtu.be/OKxXvCCJ2RA , http://youtu.be/xc9Dw5UOeVo

Syrian Revolution Digest -Friday 27 July 2012

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

*WARNING VIDEOS MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES*

 

500 Days of Night. 500 Days of Light.

Syrian Revolution Digest – July 27, 2012 

Judging things through the visor of international reactions, the past 500 days in Syria were an age of darkness and missed opportunities. But examining the situation from the point of view of an activist, every day that passed brought more people to the cause, and for all the complications still involved, that is a major achievement. Things will never be the same. Fear is gone. The spell is broken. 

Friday July 27, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 110. The Breakdown: 30 in Daraa, 23 in Damascus and Suburbs, 22 in Aleppo, 11 in Deir Ezzor, 10 in Hos, 5 in Idlib, 3 in Hama, 2 in Lattakia, and 1 in Raqqah.

Cities & Towns Under Shelling: Harasta, Arbeen, Moadamiah, Harran 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, Ma’rrat Al-Nouman, Saraqib, Maar Shoureen, Ariha, Kafroumah, Al-Rami, Khan Shaikhoon (Idlib).

News

Aleppo short on weapons, medical supplies as Syria’s next big battle looms

Assad’s fall only matter of time: former U.N. Syria mission chief

Russian warships not to enter Syria port: Navy chief

UNESCO Calls For Protection Of Heritage Properties In Syria

Poland closes embassy in Syria as crisis worsens

Syria: Inmate Describes Fatal Assault on Prisoners

Syria rebels ready for ‘mother of all battles’

Rebels hold Syria loyalists in Aleppo, Idlib

Syrian refugees flock to Iraq to escape violence

2 Western Photographers Freed From Syria Captivity

 

Op-Eds & Special Reports

Brief History of Aleppo: A Great World City Now in the Grip of War As Syrian government forces and rebels clash in Aleppo, TIME takes a look at the history of this ancient, cosmopolitan city now locked in a state of war

Syria’s Christians, Caught in the Middle of Worsening Chaos Every effort must be immediately made to anticipate the potential for post-Assad retaliation against civilians such as Alawites, Christians, and other minorities associated with the regime (or who simply stayed out of the fight)- and to form a real and workable strategy to prevent it, or to stop it if all hell begins to break loose.

Kurdish worries drag Turkey deeper into Syria war Turkey may be some way from acting on Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s threat to strike Kurdish separatists in Syria, but week by week it finds itself sucked ever further into its neighbor’s worsening war.

By Ceding Northeastern Syria to the Kurds, Assad Puts Turkey in a Bind Ankara has been a key backer of Syria’s rebellion, but the prospect of an Iraq-style autonomous Kurdish zone has Erdogan threatening to intervene

Syria regime ‘reeling, armed to the teeth’ with chemical weapons Like a three-card monte player, the Syrian government has been shifting its chemical weapons around the country in the midst of the country’s increasingly violent and chaotic civil war, leaving foreign intelligence agencies to guess where the outlawed weapons of mass destruction might end up – and under whose control.

Meeting the Syrian Opposition in Antakya and Istanbul … It is very difficult on the ground to be sure who it is that you are really talking to and what they represent… Turkish officials maintain a striking degree of control over Syrian opposition forces inside Turkey… the Muslim Brotherhood is pervasive not only within the Syrian National Council (SNC), but among many opposition groups… there is a striking cynicism and anger among fighters within Syria toward the outside world for not providing enough practical support.

Alawistan Bashar al-Assad may be gearing up to create an Alawite statelet along Syria’s coastal mountains. And he has the means to do it.

Kurdish flag-waving unnoticed in Syria Whatever has happened on the ground, which restricted media access to Syria makes very difficult to confirm, the recent assertion of Kurdish authority in northern Syria has led to speculation about Kurdish demands in a post-Assad era.

 

Assad’s Theater of the Absurd

An example of the kind of propaganda espoused by Assad’s official media organs:

This footage was originally broadcast on the official Souriyya Ikhbariyyah TV network and uploaded by supporters of Bashar al-Assad on July 23, 2012. It depicts a news report claiming that American corporations funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia are constructing life-size replicas of major Damascus neighborhoods in Hollywood to stage the fall of the capital. It also claims that senior level defections are being staged “and will be played by famous actors.” http://youtu.be/GjW5jlSqsRU

The inspiration for this storyline came out of a joke on Facebook, a joke that was actually mocking the Syrian regime’s propaganda. Regime supporters, it seems, did not get the joke and ended up believing and adopting the story!

Another story in this vein concerns the arrival in Doha of an Assad look-alike who is meant to play him delivering a concession speech. The included picture can be downloaded and amplified for the English version.

Some of the news anchors in Assad’s propaganda machine, however, could not stomach having to peddle these lies. Here is Oula Abbas, an anchorwoman at Ikhbariyyah, announcing her defection and accusing the regime of stoking sectarian sentiments http://youtu.be/J0UzfzK0fAI

Meanwhile, there were more political defections, including the Syrian Ambassador in Belarus, Taha Farouqhttp://youtu.be/ETMm_DOgzkI and an MP representing Aleppo, Ikhlas Badawi.

 

Now it’s Official

After so many months of lies on part of Assad’s propagandists speculations on part of international experts, and dithering on part of international leaders, the incitements and the neglect combined to create a vacuum in areas around Syria that was finally filled by the wrong elements that we were all fearing and warning against. Al-Qaeda is here. But guess who is trying to contain them: the FSA.

Here is Colonel Afif Solaiman, head of the Military Council of Idlib, explains how they freed two western journalists kidnapped by AQ and held for ransom http://youtu.be/lzknOugbvSo

The FSA is unlikely to try to fight against the emerging AQ network at this stage, since both have a common enemy they are fighting against: the Assads. But eventually, the two sides will have to battle out. This is another reason why the FSA should be supported.

 

Video Highlights

In Mayadeen, Deir Ezzor Province, the indiscriminate pounding http://youtu.be/EQr-NDqZG7Q claimed many lives and left many injured http://youtu.be/I6dmizQTxoo , http://youtu.be/g1xVkjylPo8 But local FSA unit still fought back and destroyed an invading tank http://youtu.be/pPLLTKAvPfU

In Aleppo City, the pounding by helicopter gunships http://youtu.be/RlgWVZEqLmQ of Firdos Neighborhood leaves many dead http://youtu.be/2OjXHu5aXxs But members of Al-Tawhid Brigade managed to capture the local police station arresting over 100 pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/IGgNcM68aGM

In Daraa City, the indiscriminate pounding http://youtu.be/tkHwBH2SEIM , http://youtu.be/4wPD5TmvEbk of theMokhayam District left many dead http://youtu.be/fNdzjVDofYU , http://youtu.be/dWGgWQivM1M The Mokhayam’s population is a mix of Palestinians and Syrians.

In Damascus, the pounding by helicopter gunships of other restive suburbs and neighborhoods continues:Moadamiyah http://youtu.be/ZyD5MlkEUnE

In Homs Province, Old Homs, Rastan, Talbisseh and Houla continue to be pounded: Houlahttp://youtu.be/yFGHktDjgiE Rastan http://youtu.be/mcd7fEy8CZU Talbisseh http://youtu.be/1sLhwTCi64Q Old Homs (Baba Amr) http://youtu.be/kkmlnRcsRyc

While the pounding of cities and towns continued unrelenting, Friday witnessed as well the usual protest rallies still calling for toppling the regime, and the birth of a new democratic Syria.

Kafrenbel, Idlib: http://youtu.be/5Zcy9UZ7-vs Binnish, Idlib http://youtu.be/e1tg3iOrlC4

Shaar Neighborhood, Aleppo City: protesters chanted for Al-Tawhid Brigade which is now in controlhttp://youtu.be/Rc8ZtUSFvZo

Kafarzeiteh, Hama: http://youtu.be/EAHFeeWMYsg Khattab http://youtu.be/s-vNta9iGVk

Janoub Al-Malaab, Homs City: http://youtu.be/6cqiQVQXJOw

Douma, Damascushttp://youtu.be/kTOV_PBWxJ8 Qarrah http://youtu.be/mcDnvEI-kSI

Abtaa, Daraa Province: People chant “the Syrian people are one: Muslims and Christians”http://youtu.be/THh4ZrX6SiM


Syrian Revolution Digest – Thursday 12 July 2012

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

*WARNING VIDEOS MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES*

Another Opportunity To Miss An Opportunity?

Judging by previous reactions, the new massacre at Treimseh will only serve to provide international leaders with another opportunity to do nothing, except to underscore the meaninglessness of existing international order, and such lofty ideals and promises as the Responsibility to Protect.

Thursday July 12, 2012

Today’s Death toll:  287. The Breakdown: 247 in Treimseh (Hama Province), 22 in Homs, 23 in Damascus (12 in Damascus City: 8 in Barzeh, 3 in Jobar, and 1 in Al-Hajar Al-Aswad; 11 in Damascus Suburbs: Sayida Zeinab, Yalda, Zamalka, Daraya), 7 in Daraa, 6 in Deir Ezzor, 56 in Idlib, 3 in Aleppo, 1 in Hassakeh.

6 officers defect in the coastal city of Tartous, including three Alawites. Meanwhile, local resistance claim to have mounted a surprise attack on the Russian naval base in the city: no major damage was reported but one of the assailants was said to have been martyred. If true, the operation is the first of its kind. Be that as it may, not all is quiet on the coastal front.

News

Massacre Reported in Syria as Security Council Meets Syrian opposition activists said nearly 200 people were killed in a Sunni village on Thursday by government forces using tanks and helicopters… Antigovernment activists also posted videos online claiming that Syrian forces had added unguided cluster bombs, an indiscriminate weapon designed to maximize damage and casualties, to their arsenal of attack helicopters, artillery and tanks… “These videos show identifiable cluster bombs and submunitions,” said Steve Goose, the arms division director at Human Rights Watch in a statement. “If confirmed, this would be the first documented use of these highly dangerous weapons by the Syrian armed forces during the conflict.”

Syrian army accused of attacking hundreds In what may be the worst single incident of violence in 16 months of conflict in Syria, more than 200 people are reported dead. Due to restrictions on journalists within the country, the reports cannot be verified. People in the region say they’re ‘terrified.’

Evidence exists to bring Syria war-crimes case: French diplomat France’s top human rights diplomat says ‘the raw material is there’ in the Syria conflict to refer case to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Sunni ‘cannon fodder’ abandon Syria’s Alawite-led military Opposition groups say increasing number of foot soldiers defecting to Turkey

Deserter Manaf Tlas ‘in touch with opposition’ Manaf Tlas, a Syrian general who fled the country last week, has been in contact with members of the opposition, France’s foreign minister has said.

Syrian regime must be ousted, says diplomat defector Nawaf al-Fares Former envoy to Iraq dismisses peace plan and calls for violent removal of president Bashar al-Assad.

Op-Eds & Special Reports

To Topple Assad, Unleash the CIA Turkey and even Iraq’s Kurds would help Syria’s rebels if the U.S. showed it is serious.

Is the Syrian Regime Using Rape as a Tactic of War? Reports suggest troops loyal to the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar Assad are carrying out a systematic campaign of rape.

The influential Syrian general who could bear Assad no more The Tlass family were once acolytes of the Assad dynasty, but as the regime crackdown targeted their fellow Sunni clansmen, they hatched a plan to flee to Paris.

Syrian ambassador’s defection boosts idea of booting Assad, keeping others The defection of two top Syrian officials, including the ambassador to Iraq, is prompting foreign policy experts to explore the idea of removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but keeping lower level.

In Syria: Why is Turkey reluctant to take the lead? Turks hope that peace between the two countries can be restored. But Syrian refugees hope Turkey will take a more aggressive stance.

Al-Treimseh Massacre – Hama Province:

Pro-Assad militias laid siege to the town at 5 am local time, cutting off power and communications. Then intensive shelling took place for two hours followed by a more sporadic bombardment as pro-Assad militias reportedly stormed certain neighborhoods, burned down houses after killing their occupants, then pursued those who escaped into the nearby fields where some were executed on the spot. Entire families were slaughtered. Many of the dead families were already refugees from the nearby village of Khneizeer. Local resistance was poorly armed and was unable to push back the invading pro-Assad militias. The massacre seems sectarian in character.

Treimseh lies in the middle of Sahel Al-Ghab region, the farmlands that have been reclaimed from swamps over the last few decades and where Sunni and Alawite villages lie adjacent to each other. Pro-Assad militias, composed of mostly Alawite villagers with some support from Alawite recruits from the Alawite heartland in the mountainous regions along the coast, and few Sunni recruits, have been carrying out an ethnic cleansing campaign against the local Sunni population for months now.

Syrian TV claimed that security forces clashed with the terrorists responsible for the massacre and that they have managed to arrest some of the perpetrators. Local activists say the security forces were in league with perpetrators and provided cover through the use of heavy artillery, just as they did in Houla.

The immediate popular reaction at this stage is anger towards all: the regime, its loyalists, the silent segments of the population, Russia, China, Iran Hezbollah, the Shia, the Alawites, the Americans, and other western powers, the opposition, especially the Syrian National Council and its executive office whose members were faulted and dismissed for visiting Russia. In short: everyone. The impotence of the opposition and continued dithering by international leaders seem unfathomable to locals after so many months of bloodshed, and so many massacres. Who can blame them?

Video Highlights

On the morning of July 12, 2012, tanks lay siege to the town and begin pounding the neighborhoods http://youtu.be/uXoequ1b9mM And the dying beginshttp://youtu.be/_e0QbpT50_g

Benefitting from a brief lull in the pounding, the inhabitants stream into the nearby fields, where many were caught and killed http://youtu.be/fE40EnObg4k

On January 25, 2012, pro-Assad carried out a raid against Treimseh and looted the houses of the locals. On their way out, they were greeted and cheered on by Alawite inhabitants of nearby villages. Now, some pro-Assad websites are trying to circulate this YouTube claiming that the Treimseh people were punished by rebels because they cheered Assad’s troopshttp://youtu.be/u32zRFzspLM But this is what the people of Treimseh were doing before the raid: rallying against Assad http://youtu.be/QBJ1w6nIMZw And this is what pro-Assad militias did to Treimseh four days after the raid http://youtu.be/lwNdaSZF46A Much like Houla, Treimseh has been under siege since. The people of Treimseh joined the revolution ever since July 5, 2011 as this clip with them taking their revolutionary vows showshttp://youtu.be/QOxv11S3-Pc

Treimseh was not the only Hama town to be attacked: Hayaleen was pounded was wellhttp://youtu.be/zihTz90rk0Q a child was injured http://youtu.be/E5g0e2KTDWk Karnazwas intensely targeted http://youtu.be/rOSqYVfdM1Q The village of Jlimeh was also pounded with helicopter gunships http://youtu.be/9GhA7akMgEI

The Damascene Neighborhood of Barzeh was pounded today in new escalation. The pounding left 8 dead and scores wounded http://youtu.be/T2yTgni8vuI ,http://youtu.be/pPOwjMv9wCE The nearby neighborhood of Kafar Sousseh was also pounded http://youtu.be/f6uNhgq0c38 , http://youtu.be/6AqGQvlxtLM A chopper overflew the neighborhood earlier http://youtu.be/M8nF6mw_t3E the nearby neighborhood ofDaraya is also pounded from the direction of the Military Airport of Mazzehhttp://youtu.be/nyzwDPtUNYg

In Homs Province, the pounding of Houla continues http://youtu.be/12e3i-u-bCE ,http://youtu.be/nacUKqiIa_8 , http://youtu.be/qJG1pjU-xl0 Talbisseh was also poundedhttp://youtu.be/YMqRyOX2Cyw , http://youtu.be/47K2nwBm3so Rastan was poundedhttp://youtu.be/TSmGY8Pt2yI , http://youtu.be/EFm3FqoNQyM ,http://youtu.be/v37h2mZypXc , http://youtu.be/0gFUyUpZemI The artillery positions taking part in the pounding http://youtu.be/QP7T97IdAy8 A helicopter gunship takes part in the pounding http://youtu.be/qLvFBsJsKSw

The pounding of Tal Rif’aat in Aleppo leaves many dead when they were trapped under the rubble of collapsed homes http://youtu.be/GAj0mwZjMag Mnay neighboring communities were also pounded, including Anadan where nighttime shelling leaves many homes on firehttp://youtu.be/l-AwcA-XKzc Local resistance groups around the town of Anadan manage to destroy a tank an take its occupants prisoner http://youtu.be/9Y0xxWlYWVQ

In Lattakia Province, Hiffeh District, the pounding of the last Sunni strongholds continues:Salma http://youtu.be/0E_i76ev11Q and the pounding continues into the nighthttp://youtu.be/AYzNz77FuQU

The pounding of Deir Ezzor City continues: Jourah http://youtu.be/t5s4HmZR7qo Takayahttp://youtu.be/NppHZADVjwY

In Idlib Province, the village of Al-Rami near the Turkish border continues to be poundedhttp://youtu.be/byNOsHli-IU , http://youtu.be/55mN75JAdHo