Aleppo Burns – Dar Zamaria, Sisi House and much of Souq reported Burned

Dar Zamaria, a friend reports, is depicted above. It was one of the finest boutique hotels in Aleppo lovingly restored from a magnificent Ottoman home. I am not convince this is Zamaria as the shot below shows a staircase running in the opposite direction. I am told Sisi House was also burnt down last week. It was the best restaurant in Aleppo for many years.

In Syria’s Largest City, Fire Ravages Ancient Market – Anne Barnard’s article in the New York Times is the best on the souq and why it became a center of conflict. Good quotes from all sides.

….“Our hearts and minds have been burned in this fire,” said a doctor in Aleppo who gave her name only as Dima. “It’s not just a souk and shops, but it’s our soul, too.”

She said she supported peaceful resistance against Mr. Assad, and pronounced herself “annoyed, annoyed, annoyed” with fighters from the rebel Tawhid Brigade, which announced the offensive on Thursday. The fighters said they were seeking to “liberate” neighborhoods that had remained largely pro-government and were being used as posts from which to attack the opposition.

But in a Skype interview, Dima said the recent fighting cast doubt on both the rebel leaders’ tactical wisdom and their intentions. She called them “performers” who had needlessly provoked the government by posing for pictures outside the souk and the nearby 12th-century mosque — which she worried would now be shelled — and who “talked nonsense.”

“There is no decisive battle,” she said. “There are no liberated areas.”

Brig. Bashir al-Hajji, the commander of the Tawhid Brigade, said that the offensive had worked and that rebels were progressing toward the heart of Aleppo. Rebels and activists said the government had started the blaze by firing incendiary bullets…..

Ancient souk burns as fighting rages in Syria – Al-Jazeera
Hundreds of shops destroyed at UNESCO world heritage site in Aleppo’s Old City, as deadly violence continues.

Rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad announced a new offensive in Aleppo, Syria’s commercial hub of 2.5 million people, on Thursday, but neither side has appeared to make significant gains…..

Did Syrian authorities capture two Turkish pilots and killed them days later? Al-Arabiyya, the Saudi newspaper is reporting that it has many leaked documents, which it has posted, that prove: Acting on Russian intel, Syria forces murdered pilots of downed Turkey jet.

Syria Politic, a Syrian website, is claiming that the documents are forgeries. It argues that there is no such thing as the “Foreign Intelligence Agency” in Syria, the name printed on the documents, but only a “branch”. Also that Syria has no “Joint Command”, something referred to in the docs, etc. See counter arguments in the discussion section in the Syria Politic sight.

الوثائق ممهورة بختم كتب عليه “جهاز المخابرات الخارجية” في سوريا، ونحن نعلم أنه لايوجد جهاز أمني بهذا الاسم في سوريا، وهناك أربعة أجهزة لا تحمل هذا الاسم وإنما بعضها يتضمن أفرع يحمل اسم “الفرع الخارجي” ولا يوجد نهائيا “جهاز المخابرات الخارجية”….

The Sulaimaniya district of Aleppo, which is almost all Christian was his by howitzer shells two days ago, killing one family. The Free Syria Army said it was trying to hit a building which headquarters the Political Security office of Aleppo. It later warned citizens of the area to evacuate to avoid getting hurt.

Video of government bombing of Bab al-Hadid in Aleppo. زرة باب الحديد حلب Warning: do not watch this if you do not want to see dead and dying people. Most upsetting video I have seen.

Ross Burns, the author of Monuments of Syria, the best guide to Syrian Monuments and former Australian Ambassador to Syria writes this:
I am the author of a couple of books on the history and archaeology of Syria as well as having been a former Australian Ambassador there in the 1980s.
When the troubles started last year, I thought the best way of contributing something to keep alive the memories of the Syria with all its rich complexities was to do a website to provide a visual accompaniment to ‘Monuments of Syria’ (latest edn is I B Tauris, London 2009). As I am operating solo these days (long retired from the Australian Foreign Service), I’ve been building up the site slowly as time permits. Of the 132 or more sites in the book, I have posted about 50 so far but am trying to give priority to sites that might be threatened by the fighting. Also see this Flickr site with many photos.

Middle East: A second winter of war
By Michael Peel, Financial times

Syrians face a future of destitution, surging food costs and shortages of medicines

A displaced family rests in a retail space they are occupying on September 6, 2012, in al-Qusayr, Syria.©Eyevine

No place to hide: Syrian families on the run from shelling, such as this one living in part of an underground shop, shelter in ramshackle buildings as the weather begins to worsen

The wind that blows across the dusty plains north of Damascus will soon take on a wintry chill, gusting through the windowless shells of grey pitted concrete where thousands of Syrians made homeless by war are sheltering.

Refugees from all over this country imploding in conflict are hunkered down in the towering half-finished flats for government workers in the town of Adra, where they can only look wistfully at the completed pastel-painted blocks nearby.

“I just want my life back,” laments Abu Fadel, who fled the south Damascus conflict zone of Sayyeda Zeinab two months ago and now lives in a three-roomed apartment with 13 other family members. “I want to go back to my home – the home I spent my whole life building.”

Abu Fadel is one of a large and growing number of displaced Syrians who now face a grim choice, as a relief worker puts it, “between freezing and shelling”. The Arab world’s longest-running and most destructive uprising is moving into its second winter with the mass of Syrians at the mercy of a ghastly stalemate, between a regime that has killed ever more brutally and a fragmented armed opposition waging a guerrilla war. Angered by a lethal rebel assault on a military command centre in Damascus this week, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces bombarded rebellious districts of the capital from dusk on Thursday, the frequent thud of explosions a familiar soundtrack for the city and others across Syria.

While the regime continues its 18-month mantra of imminent victory – even sending out mass text messages on Friday telling the rebels it is “game over” – the conflict worsens by the week. The attack on the military command centre was a reminder of the capabilities of a rebellion that now controls large areas in the north of the country and has launched a fresh push to take the biggest city, Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based pro-opposition monitoring group, this week said the death toll in Syria’s conflict had passed 30,000, more than half of those in the past five months.

In this atmosphere of extreme violence and constant fear, many Syrians feel abandoned by international powers that are offering no hope of an agreement to stop the fighting in a country at the geographic and strategic heart of the Arab world. For some anti-regime activists, the traditional bogeymen of Tehran, Moscow and Beijing – Mr Assad’s strongest backers – have now been joined by western powers, whom they see as retreating in the face of overplayed concerns about violent religious extremism among some rebels.

“We are not a lie,” sighs a peaceful opposition activist and relief organiser known as Leyla, reeling off the religious affiliations of her heterodox family, in which Sunni Muslims, Christians and Alawites are all represented. “You have to see us as we are. Don’t watch us through your fears.”

The revolts that have swept the Arab world for more than a year and a half have inspired many with their affirmation of people power, but in Syria the vast majority of citizens are impotent in the face of a war enveloping their streets, homes and families. Friday, the Islamic holy day and once the focal point of the original peaceful protests that the regime brutally suppressed, is now just another day.

The demonstrations and resulting casualties are another footnote to daily death tolls sometimes running into the hundreds. When the rebels operate in residential areas and are still seen in some as protectors, it is civilians who bear the brunt of regime violence that has ratcheted up from rifle fire to shelling to air strikes with warplanes, sometimes – according to rights groups – directly aimed at civilian targets such as bread queues.

It is hard now for anyone not to feel the effects of the conflict, whether they are regime supporters whose relatives in the security forces have been killed or the great numbers of people who have seen loyalists of the four-decade old Assad family dictatorship kill, jail or torture family and friends. Government artillery booms out from the Qassioun mountain that looms over Damascus – proof to all, if it were needed, that the regime is prepared to turn parts of the country to rubble to survive. “We are afraid, but we get used to it,” says Alaa, a university student out on a thinly-populated street in the centre of the capital after the military headquarters blast triggered a security lockdown. “Like in the university – we heard some explosions but we continue our lessons.”

While significant parts of Damascus still feel peaceful and ordered, with malls offering expensive clothes and coffee to dwindling clienteles, other areas tell a story of ever-expanding destruction. Cars draw a low, spooky hum from highways gouged by tank tracks. The road out of the capital to Syria’s third city, Homs, infamously bombarded by the regime this year, is flanked by trashed vehicle showrooms and the collapsed buildings of shelled rebellious suburbs.

Many of those Syrians who can afford to leave the country have already gone, adding to the estimated 1.2m people displaced like Abu Fadel in this nation of 21m people. Those who remain face harsh months of high inflation, little work and more of the periodic shortages of petrol, cooking gas and – ominously as the season of biting cold approaches – heating oil known as mazout. The beggars, now in far greater numbers on the capital’s streets, are a kaleidoscope of women in black abayas and veils, grubby adolescent boys and a gaggle of children from the southern suburbs who gather at an intersection between two top hotels.

On Straight Street in Damascus’ old city, which is mentioned in the Bible, a merchant surrounded by tins overflowing with spices says demand has plummeted, with those who do buy often stockpiling because they fear the worst. “We are selling half of what we were two years ago,” he says, moments after a fire engine comes barrelling through the market, the latest emergency in a city full of them.

Still, the merchant says prices have risen 35 per cent overall as the conflict cuts supply routes. The fighting has also wrecked factories in important industries such as pharmaceuticals, while sanctions have made importing goods harder. Merchants in Damascus say that in just a few months the cost of a lean cut of lamb has risen by about 40 per cent, while red peppers from near the battleground of Aleppo have doubled in price. Doctors warn of likely epidemics of bronchitis and pneumonia among cold and hungry people, particularly children, who are short of drugs to treat common contagious diseases and chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

. . . Behind the grim day-to-day reality lie even graver hidden wounds of war, with Syrians of all political views expressing alarm that the new generation of this cosmopolitan but increasingly divided country is now being shaped by conflict. One wealthy Damascene tells of children playing soldiers at school, with one side the regime and the other the Free Syrian Army. In Douma, a poor Damascus suburb battered by government forces over the past nine months, a toyshop owner says the model troops and guns he still displays prominently are selling better than ever. “Everybody is shooting,” he explains. “So the kids want to be part of it.”

Even as Syria collapses, the Assad regime keeps up a surreal narrative that a return to its previous illusory stability is imminent. One of a series of posters put up round Damascus shows a little girl, smiling broadly despite the bombed classroom around her. “Help me to rebuild my school,” she pleads.

It is too much for some to stomach. “Aren’t they ashamed?” remarks one Damascene professional. “Help me rebuild my school, which the government destroyed.”

Yet Syria’s conflict is now so entrenched, with so little hope of resolution, that some people are trying to normalise the unthinkable, returning to shattered areas now at peace – until the never predictable next round of shelling. A foreign diplomat describes a conversation with an acquaintance in Homs, who said his home district, once a battle zone, was much quieter now. The acquaintance still heard explosions in other areas, but admitted he did not care. “He’s slowly becoming less and less afraid of the fighting coming to where he lives,” the diplomat says. “So however long the fighting takes, it’s becoming less and less his problem.”

Back at the Adra flats, Abu Fadel’s family can only wait and watch as their lives unravel. His grandson has bites all over his face from the mosquitoes that infest the half-built structures; his son, who hires out lighting for events, has no work because there are “no parties any more, no weddings, nothing like that.”

For Abu Fadel himself, a carpenter in his 50s, there is only the hope that his dotage will not disappear into the oblivion now threatening Syria, as a regime that took power when he was a teenager fights to an inevitable but perhaps still distant end.

“We were waiting for this age, when we could calm down and enjoy what we were building,” he says, seated on an old foam mattress under one of the window holes that gape so invitingly for Syria’s ill winds. “Now we may have lost it. This is our greatest fear.”

Report: Acting on Russian intel, Syria forces murdered pilots of downed Turkey jet
Al Arabiya cites leaked Syrian documents describing how Assad’s forces seized Turkish crew members while still alive, and killed them following Russian ‘guidance and information.’
By Jack Khoury | Sep.29, 2012 |Haaretz

The crew members of a Turkish fighter jet that crashed into the Mediterranean earlier this year survived the impact, only to be later killed by Syria forces following intelligence provided by Russia, the Al Arabiya network reported on Saturday, citing leaked confidential Syrian documents.

Al Arabiya’s report came amid months of speculation concerning the June 22 incident, involved the suspected downing of Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet. Turkey has accused Syria of shooting down the warplane, a claim that Damascus has denied, saying that its forces did not intentionally shoot down the jet.

The plane’s wreckage, with the bodies of the its two crew members still trapped inside, was found on the Mediterranean seabed in early July.

Earlier this month, an official report by Turkey’s military indicated that the F-4 was shot down after a Syrian anti-aircraft missile exploded near it, causing it to lose its bearings and subsequently crash.

However, leaked Syrian documents obtained by Al Arabiya on Saturday, indicated that the plane’s two pilots may have been still alive following the crash, the office of with Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly ordering Syrian forces to murder the captured crew members and return their bodies to the scene of the crash.

One document obtained by Al Arabiya, reportedly sent from Assad’s office to brigadier Hassan Abdel Rahman, who the network identified as the head of Syrian Special Operations, stated that “two Turkish pilots were captured by the Syrian Air Force Intelligence after their jet was shot down in coordination with the Russian naval base in Tartus.”

In addition, the report claimed that the Syrian general was ordered to treat the pilots in accordance to the protocol concerning war prisoners, and that they be investigated concerning Turkey’s alleged role in supporting the Syria uprising against Assad.

Citing a second leaked document, Al Arabiya quoted another order, sent by Assad’s bureau to the heads of Syrian foreign intelligence, according to which unidentified Russian sources may have urged the Syrian regime to slay the Turkish prisoners.

“Based on information and guidance from the Russian leadership comes a need to eliminate the two Turkish pilots detained by the Special Operations Unit in a natural way and their bodies need to be returned to the crash site in international waters,” the document reportedly said.

One document reportedly indicated that Assad was willing to consider a suggestion by a general “Bassam” to transfer the two crewmembers to Lebanon, where they will be held captive by Hezbollah in order to serve as bargaining chips in a later time.

However, this suggestion was eventually rejected, the documents reportedly indicated, without specifying the points against it.

In addition, Al Arabiya reported that the Syrian documents indicated that Assad regime considered threatening Turkey with mobilizing the Kurdistan’s Workers Party militant group against Ankara if Turkey decided on military action against Damascus.

Al Arabiya claims to be in possession of hundreds of classified documents that shed light on the details of an Iranian and Russian involvement in the Assad regime, showing, among other claims, that Damascus’ two allies formed a joint command in Syria.

Furthermore, the leaked papers are said to indicate Hezbollah’s key role in assassinating key Syrian activists as well as orchestrating large-scale bombing attacks in order to sow chaos and instability in the war-torn country.

Manaf Tlass was once one of Bashar al-Assad’s closest friends. – From CNN interview with Manaf Tlass

“He is humble. He loves people,” Tlass said when describing Assad. “But he has changed. The crisis has changed him.”

“I tried to tell him that he had to give up something for the people,” Tlass said of his last conversations with Assad. “That there is a true uprising and that he must go along with it. There is an Arab Spring all around us. You should be part of it and democratize the country. He refused.”
“The old guard around him lulled him into handling the crisis this way.”

“Alawites are being told that the Islamists are taking over – they were considered infidels by the Islamists and that’s what scares them,” Tlass said. “But when there is a project for Syria that can, which can include all parties, the Alawites will defect.”

“Everything will be different once he realizes that the international community has truly decided it’s time to step down,” Tlass said. “He will step down; I am certain of that.

Full interview with Manaf

EU defense ministers rule out military intervention in Syria – 2012-09-28

NICOSIA, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) — European defense ministers meeting in Cyprus on Thursday ruled out the possibility of a military intervention in Syria and advocated a political solution to the crisis faced by the country.

“Our aim is to extend our support to the people in the area to build their own democratic institutions, their own democratic societies and democratic states based on human and political rights,” said Cypriot Defense Minister Demetris Eliades, who chaired the two-day informal meeting.

He added that the European Union is in favor of a political solution in Syria.

“Our priority is to prevent further loss of life and destruction, to restore a peaceful environment and deter a regional escalation of the crisis, especially in Lebanon, because such a development will lead to unpredictable consequences in the region,” Eliades said.

However, Eliades conceded that the situation in Syria is tragic and the general feeling in the meeting was that no end of the crisis is in sight.

Comments (181)

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151. zoo said:

Morsi on stage, is he fooling the West?

Morsi’s message
09/30/2012 04:30

Egypt’s new leader Mohamed Morsi is proving to be a cunning communicator, at least so far as what he puts across to undiscerning Western ears. He manages to sound exceedingly moderate and reasonable, while enunciating unreasonable, indeed radical demands that must be met or else. He in effect says that “it’s my way or the highway.”

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October 1st, 2012, 11:56 am


152. Visitor said:

The Zoo@145 spoke thus,

“Hyenas think that they are superior to all the animals who are either stupid or delusional, but they forget that they stink.”

The Zoo is providing us with valuable insights into the state of existence inside ITS dwelling.


The Zoo is unusually occupied today. The number of postings has just gone overscale.

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October 1st, 2012, 11:58 am


153. areal said:

RIP Maya Naser

The story below is written by my dear friend and veteran journalist for the Sunday Times, Hala Jaber. It is a tribute to her friend and colleague, the martyr Maya Nasser, who was assassinated by NATO/GCC-funded terrorist “rebels” after receiving numerous death threats. The piece was originally published in the Sunday Times here but is protected by a “firewall”.
I copy-pasted the piece in full from Hala’s Facebook wall. The piece in full below:

Oh Maya, I wish I’d taken your last call

Our reporter fled to safety when rebels mounted a huge attack on the defence ministry. Her fellow journalist was shot dead

Hala Jaber, Damascus Published: 30 September 2012

I WAS woken by an enormous explosion. The first thing I saw was a flash. The bomb sounded so close that I thought my hotel was under attack.

Heart racing, I peered out of the window of my fourth-floor room, only to see jabbering security staff pointing at the Ministry of Defence building opposite.

Black smoke was billowing into the sky from the General Staff Command, where the minister of defence has his office. It should have been one of the safest places in Syria, but as I dressed hurriedly with shaking hands, the rat-tat-tat of random machinegun fire suggested it was in chaos.

It was 7.01am on Wednesday — 5.01am in London, too early to call the office, so I tweeted: “Huge explosion now followed by sound of gunfire and siren of ambulances.”

At 7.09am, another explosion shook the hotel. I dashed out of my room and opened the door to a terrace, where I stood alone, feeling strangely isolated. I tweeted what I saw, as much out of a need to feel connected to the world as a wish to impart the news.

The hotel’s security staff warned me to go back inside. “There are snipers everywhere,” they said, pointing to a gunman on top of the state television building to my right.

As I sat in the corridor, catching my breath, a series of smaller blasts reverberated around the square in front of the hotel. Ammunition was exploding as fire engulfed the upper floors. Through the smoke, I could see several men on the ministry building’s roof, waving desperately in the hope of attracting rescuers.

At 6am London time, I briefed my foreign editor and joined a group of security guards on the terrace. The guards warned me to stay close to the wall for shelter, but even from there it was possible to see flashes of gunfire from inside rooms on the third and fourth floors of the ministry building.

As word spread that this was a serious rebel attack at the heart of the Damascus defence establishment, requests came in for broadcast interviews. At a little before 8am, I was speaking to the BBC on my British phone when I noticed a call coming in on my local mobile. It was Maya Naser, a Syrian television journalist I had met on an assignment in the country’s second city, Aleppo. For nearly two weeks, we had met for breakfast or an evening coffee, sharing tips about the safest way round the city and debating the course of the war. In Damascus the previous week, we had caught up over dinner.

I’ll call him back, I thought with a smile; he was probably ringing to say he was on the spot and perhaps to suggest I join him.

When the interview was over, I couldn’t get through to Naser. I shrugged: he was almost certainly on air. But at 9.50am, when I was scanning Twitter for the latest reports, I saw a tweet that made my blood freeze. “Press TV correspondent Maya Naser killed by sniper in Syria,” it said.

It took me several seconds to comprehend it. Then I thought there must have been a mistake and tweeted back: “He just called me like an hour ago. I couldn’t take his call, was on other line, engaged when I tried him. Plz God NO.”

I dialled his number again but it was still engaged. “Maya, pick up,” I muttered, before dissolving into tears.

I thought of Marie Colvin, my friend and Sunday Times colleague who was killed by shellfire in Homs in February. I had spent nearly two weeks in Damascus trying to arrange for her body to be recovered, and finally identified her in a hospital morgue.

I thought of the 17 other journalists who have died covering the conflict in Syria this year.

But my over-riding thoughts last Wednesday were for Naser, for the parents he had just moved out of Homs to a safer place — and for the young woman he had fallen in love with. They had been going to announce their engagement two days later.

Maya Naser was born 33 years ago and raised by a Christian mother and a Muslim father so avowedly progressive that he gave his three sons girls’ names to show there should be no difference between the opportunities for women and men.

Naser, a self-proclaimed liberal, disliked the regimes of President Hafez al-Assad and Bashar, the son who succeeded him in 2000. He was imprisoned as a dissident.

On his release, he felt he had little choice but to go into exile. He travelled to America and France, was married to a western woman and divorced.

After spells in Bahrain and Lebanon, he returned to Syria at the start of the uprising against the Assad government 18 months ago, and joined protesters thronging the streets.

This Arab spring revolution seemed to be about democratic reform at first. But Naser grew uneasy when the street demonstrations were punctuated by armed attacks on Syrian forces.

When it emerged that the rebels were being supported by foreign governments, notably those of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, his doubts were amplified. The arrival of Islamist militants from abroad to wage jihad on the Damascus government convinced him that his beloved Syria faced disintegration. He switched sides.

Three months ago Naser became a reporter with Press TV, an Iranian-owned station loathed by the rebels for its pro-government position.

Death threats began soon afterwards. One caller woke him regularly at 2am to warn that he would “kill you, rip you apart and teach you a lesson”.

Good humour sustained him. When the caller rang after missing two nights in a row, Naser told him: “I’ve missed you and was worried about you. I hope you’re well.”

I first met him in August at a small hotel in Aleppo, where we were covering the rebels’ efforts to seize the city and a government counter-offensive to repel them.

He came to my table at breakfast with a wide smile. “I’m Maya,” he said, his blue eyes twinkling as he stretched out his hand. “We met on Twitter. Now it’s personal.”

I warmed to him over coffee and cigarettes. After that, we talked every day. He went to the front line with Assad’s army and told me what he saw when my office instructed me to stay away from the fighting. I told him about the gossip at dinners he missed because his office made him stay in the hotel after dark. He ran terrible risks for front-line reportage. One night, he and his bureau chief, Hussein Murtada, 40, were trapped under fire for three hours during a failed rebel attempt to take the city’s television station.

His mother worried about him, he admitted. He joked that she tried to tempt him home by saying she was cooking his favourite stew of chicken, garlic and rice.

At home in the city of Homs, Naser tried to mediate between warring factions, seeking out the Salafist commanders he resented for trying to turn the struggle for democracy into a holy war. He took three of them to Damascus, in the hope that its ancient history would inspire them to pursue peace.

According to Naser, the Saslafists thanked him over dinner and said they respected his actions but that he would be killed for opposing them.

Shocked, he gestured to a table where two women of different religious beliefes were dining together, one with a veil, the other without. “This is what Syria is about and as long as I am alive, I will fight to keep it this way,” he said.

Although his employer supported the government, Naser’s heart ached over the casualties inflicted on civilians by both sides. Blogging from his room in the middle of Damascus about the army shelling of a suburb, he wrote: “Is this real? Is this fire I can barely see someone’s house burning, or maybe a neighbourhood store? Is this my country on fire?”

He was almost killed in Damascus three weeks ago when his car was ambushed. Murtada, who was beside him, was hit in both legs by shrapnel that left him with a limp.

Naser put a brave face on the incident when we dined in the Christian quarter of the old city last week. But he believed Syria was descending into a war of attrition. “There will be no winner,” he said. “Syria will have lost after this.”

We had been due to meet last Wednesday morning. Instead, a white van drove into a checkpoint at the entrance to the Ministry of Defence building and blew up in a ball of fire.

In the confusion that followed, a black Mercedes reached the compound, disgorging rebels dressed in military police uniforms who shot three guards on the steps of General Staff Command and detonated the second bomb in their car. They joined forces with other rebels, who stormed the upper floors and put snipers in position to defend them.

Naser was again accompanied by Murtada as they raced to the scene on Umayad Square. They entered the compound but retreated as the gunfire intensified, hunkering down in the street behind a barricade.

Surrounded by fire engines and soldiers, Naser felt safe enough to broadcast without a flak jacket or helmet. The studio anchor came on the line and he started to answer her first question.“The damage is huge on Umayad Square,” he said breathlessly. “No further news about the victims yet.”

“Has the situation calmed down yet? Is it still taking place?” the studio presenter asked. The line went dead with a “beep, beep, beep”. “Okay, we’ve lost Maya but we’re going to try and definitely get him back on the line,” she said.

Yesterday, in hospital, Murtada described what had happened. The first of the sniper’s bullets had hit him, he said. “I felt myself going in circles, then I dropped to the ground. Within seconds, two others followed — whizz, whizz, tick, tick. These two bullets hit Maya in the neck and he dropped to the ground, smiling at me. He just had this smile on his face,” Murtada said, his voice choking. He was shot in the hip but will survive.

Murtada has no doubt that the two journalists were targeted by a rebel who regarded them as a greater prize than the soldiers around them.

In the ambulance, there was a phonecall for Murtada, who, like Naser, had received death threats. It was one of the men who had been promising to shoot him. “We saw you enter the building,” the man said. “You were limping. We were watching you.”

Officials said last night that Naser had been one of three civilians who died in an attack that killed eight members of the security forces. Thirty rebels had died. A captured sniper had said the rebels planned to seize the prime minister’s office and broadcast a decree from state television, but had been beaten back.

Murtada was to be reunited with his wife and two young sons this weekend. Naser’s fiancée was photographed kneeling before his coffin.

His shooting bore out his view that the conflict would claim many innocent lives, including those of more journalists. “Bombs and bullets aren’t smart enough to distinguish the right from the wrong,” he wrote. “Bottom line is: my people are dying and I am still in the line, waiting my turn.”

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October 1st, 2012, 12:14 pm


154. areal said:

Aleppo municipality building hit by rocket fire from rebels today while people & employees were inside



RIP Maya Naser

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October 1st, 2012, 1:08 pm


155. Visitor said:

A Revolutionary from Aleppo exposes al-Dunya propaganda machine and identifies his brother and cousins bodies who were labeled by al-Dunya rag media as ‘terrorists’

Ghassan Yassin, the revolutionary, further makes a solemn promise to the Dunya reporter to sweep the Aleppo streets of the terrorist dogs of the criminal alawite regime agent of the qom and russian thugs, and to bring the reporter to trial for her defamations and lies,

ويقطع ياسين وعداً في رسالته: “سنكنس الإرهاب يا كنانة من شوارع حلب وسوريا كلها تماما كما قلت في تقريرك، وأعدك حينها بأنني لن أطالب بأكثر من محاكمة عادلة بحقكِ، وأظن أن أمي ستقول لك حينها لماذا لم تعطوني أشلاء ابني بسام لأدفنه وأقرأ له الفاتحة كل يوم جمعة وأزور قبره في الأعياد، عليكي أن تجهزي أقوالك أمام القاضي يا كنانة، والأصعب هو أن تجدي حينها جواباً تقولينه لأمي”.

The snake living in its zoo will find it easy to shed few tears of joy at the news.

You know Zoo that when the snake shed its tears it is doing it out of joy? But you should know that from your Zoo experience. Why am I telling you what you know best?

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October 1st, 2012, 1:12 pm


156. Observer said:

“Only hyenas laugh at death”

The expert in animal behavior is not completely accurate and is not complete: human animal is the only one that takes pleasure in killing and destruction. The ill treatment of the average people in Syria, the torture for years that thousands suffered from like Dr. Sarraj and his account from Tadmur to Harvard forgets that the so called humans of one of the most oppressive regime after probably NK are still at work daily in Syria.

As a keeper of the animals that are supposedly governing Syria, I am reminded of the fact that looking at the tip of the nose at the glaring reality in front of one’s face is the hardest thing to do.

I would like to conduct a poll

1. How many of you read what ANN posts
2. How many of you go to her link without reading her post
3. How many of you just skip directly
4. How many of you actually read and enjoy her postings
5. How many read her posts to get a glimpse of what goes on in her brain

I say her assuming it is a she, for ANN may be an IT, perhaps the keeper of the animals may know


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October 1st, 2012, 1:49 pm


157. areal said:

On twitter:

edward dark ‏@edwardedark

there’s a huge pro-regime protest going on right now in the Azizieh area of Aleppo,

edward dark ‏@edwardedark :

rebels are going to factories in Aleppo demanding they pay “Zakat” or monthly payments to support the revolution or they’ll burn them

ام عجئة ام عجئة ‏@Fegleh

@edwardedark this happened to us. Monthly payment plus a first big downpayment.

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October 1st, 2012, 1:53 pm


158. Mina said:

Meet the “cool djihadist” of the BBC!

Wonder why Josh did not link that

(Jad, there’s still a chance to move)

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October 1st, 2012, 2:25 pm


159. habib said:

So the twin caliphs Erdogan and Mursi want to attack Syria.

With what armies? Those they’ve spent the last months weakening to suit their Islamist agendas?

I doubt either army has much love for the Muslim Brotherhood abroad or at home.

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October 1st, 2012, 2:26 pm


160. Aldendeshe said:

“…the torture for years that thousands suffered from like Dr. Sarraj…”

I am sure that if my uncle Abdul Karim, a former Parliamentary in Syria was alive, he would share with you the torture methods used on him by Abdul Hamid Sarraj. It seems many of the current Syrian oppositions (fake F***kers) would like to forget about a period in Syria’s history that can bring condemnation either for their action or fathers ones. They just do not understand, or would want to deceive you, that they are angles, neither them personally or his daddy, his family have anything to do in bringing Syria to this level of bestiality.

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October 1st, 2012, 2:57 pm


161. Son of Damascus said:

Syrian-American Doctors Head To The Battle Zone
October 1, 2012

As Syrian war planes bomb towns and villages held by anti-government rebels, a group of Syrian-American doctors is quietly providing medical aid inside Syria.

The Syrian American Medical Society, or SAMS, has a long track record of supporting health care in Syria.

But as Syria’s 18-month revolt has grown more lethal, these Syrian-American doctors have sided with the revolution and undertaken risky work delivering medicines and volunteering in field hospitals.

Dr. Zaher Sahloul, a pulmonary specialist from Chicago, is on his fifth medical mission to Syria — a mission that requires skills he didn’t learn in medical school, like the heart-pounding dash across the Turkish border into Syria and back.

“Never in my dreams I expected to sneak to the border three times and have the border guards shouting at me,” he says.

Medical school didn’t prepare him for creeping through holes in barbed-wire fence, smugglers urging him on, or for sneaking into the mountains at night and walking for three hours.

He’s done all of these things to get to Syrian field hospitals and clinics.

“I think this is part of the reality now in Syria for physicians trying to help, especially if they are from the outside,” he says.

But Sahloul is hardly an outsider: He graduated first in his class from medical school in Damascus. He was also a classmate of Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, who worked as an army doctor and studied ophthalmology in London before he became Syria’s leader.


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October 1st, 2012, 3:29 pm


162. Son of Damascus said:

Disgusting the level of disingenuous barbarity this criminal regime will go to in its sad yet unsurprising attempt to vilify the opposition…

Video emerges of Austin Tice, U.S. journalist who disappeared in Syria

Video footage has emerged showing U.S. freelance journalist Austin Tice being held by a group of masked men toting assault rifles in the first direct evidence of his condition since his disappearance in mid-August.

The 47-second video clip was posted onto YouTube on Sept. 26th and came to light on Monday after it appeared on a Facebook page associated with supporters of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It is the first to show Tice since he disappeared while reporting on Syria’s civil war. Tice contributed stories to multiple news outlets, including The Washington Post and McClatchy.

The video opens with shaky footage of a convoy of three vehicles moving through scrubby mountain terrain, before cutting to a small knot of armed men, faces obscured, leading Tice up a mountain path while calling “Allahu al-Akbar,” or “God is great.”

A blindfolded Tice is then pushed to his knees and filmed speaking a partially indecipherable prayer in Arabic. Tice, visibly distressed, cries out “Oh Jesus, oh Jesus” in English, before reverting to Arabic, seconds before the footage is cut.

The emergence of the video comes amid other reports suggesting Tice has been in the custody of the Syrian government. Experts on Monday cautioned against taking the apparent content of the video clip at face value because, they said, there are clear discrepancies between the footage of Tice and other videos released by Islamist extremist groups operating in Syria.

Those discrepancies included the clothing of Tice’s apparent captors, the production quality of the film, the means of distribution and other signs that cast doubt on whether Tice was actually being held by one of the extremist groups that has become active in battling Syria’s government. Assad’s government has been eager to portray the country’s conflict, which has claimed more than 30,000 lives to date, as a struggle against Islamic extremist groups within Syria.

In the video, the captors are wearing Afghan-style salwar khameez — tunic and pants — that appear to be freshly pressed and clean. The video would mark the first time Syrian rebels have been seen wearing such clothes, said Joseph Holliday, who researches Syrian rebel groups at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.

Islamist extremists typically address the camera head-on with statements, but in this instance the film has been carefully edited to avoid displaying any faces, he said. And the only comments made are the phrases “Allahu al-Akbar” and “takhbir,” which means praise.

“It’s like a caricature of a jihadi group,” he said. “It looks like someone went to the Internet, watched pictures of Afghan mujahedeen, then copied them.”

“My gut instinct is that regime security guys dressed up like a bunch of wahoos and dragged him around and released the video to scare the U.S. and others about the danger of al-Qaeda extremists in Syria. It would fit their narrative perfectly,” he said.


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October 1st, 2012, 3:38 pm


163. Syrialover said:

#125. Syria no Kandahar said [in response to me mocking him for his weird sexual fantisies]: “Why are you so angry? Did I attack you? So if I exposed suicide bombers that makes you upset?? You are then defending suicide bombers? Right?”

Wrong, I was sending you up in #122. Big Time. For being ridiculous and inappropriate and posting your sexual fetish stuff here (in #121)

There are millions of other other (porn fetish) sites you shoud be visiting to share your obsessive thoughts about ” psycho-repressed sexual desires” and jihadis.

No, I was not defending jihadis, who you might notice I described as “the usual losers, mentally unbalanced or childish rambos”

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October 1st, 2012, 3:44 pm


164. Syrialover said:


Your poll on “ANN” is too generous.

I think the tag is an acronym, with the first word obviously “American” (see my post #76).

The other thing we know for sure is that person or group knows hardly anything about the Middle East or Syria. And cares even less.

And is posting here to attain some kind of length and numbers score for pro-Assad cut-pastes (and disruption to this site). We can easily guess at the motive or payoff for this.

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October 1st, 2012, 4:03 pm


165. Aldendeshe said:

As Syrian war planes bomb towns and villages held by anti-government rebels, a group of Syrian-American doctors is quietly providing medical aid inside Syria.

Did ALCIADA gives them crash course in Berber, Pashtuni and other Bedouin dialects? These doctors may get frustratd and return like that French Doctor back complaining they could communicate with these wild ones, that they are not Syrians.

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October 1st, 2012, 4:06 pm


166. 163. Aldendeshe, said:

Everbody knows AlCIADA is ARAB. Don’t blame the poor Pashtuns, Berbers etc….

And you know those Ba’athis ruling your country don’t even recognize Syria as an independent nation.

So according to the (real) Ba’athi logic “Syrians” should not consider the ALCAIDA-fighers as foreigners, but welcome them as their Arab muslim brothers…

Well that’s maybe the reason why you prefer to blame the Zionists, or as now, the Pashtuns and Berbers instead.

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October 1st, 2012, 4:44 pm


167. SANDRO LOEWE said:


As far as I know all syrians I talk to who are in FSA controlled areas explain to me that rebel soldiers are completely syrians in these areas (from Daraa to Zabadani and from Yabroud to Idleb). Probably there are some jihadists or salafists in independent cellules but nothing similar to your AlQaeda Propaganda. I am sorry to dismantle your paranoic conspiracy idea. I talk about real facts explained by real syrians on the ground.

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October 1st, 2012, 4:49 pm


168. Uzair8 said:

Liwa Islam destroyed a convoy.

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October 1st, 2012, 4:55 pm


169. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Syria was a mirage in the desert. A place where security seemed to flow naturally from human being goodness. A place where human beings did not have the natural need to act in politics. A place where no ambition could damage the system. A perfect system….. of repression…

… Where goodness of the convicted, subordination of the condemned, intellectual misery and desperation was eternal as the leader of Assad´s Syria.

The mirage has vanished and reality, cruel and raw, appears flowing, now yes, in its real nature. All madness and vile repressions and hates did explode like a vulcano that has been sleeping for 45 years.

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October 1st, 2012, 5:01 pm


170. jna said:

151. areal said:
RIP Maya Naser

Areal, thanks for posting Hala Jaber’s appropriate tribute to this fine Syrian reporter.

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October 1st, 2012, 5:19 pm


171. Uzair8 said:

New post up.

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October 1st, 2012, 5:22 pm


172. Aleppo said:

1. aside from it supposed survival at any cost what is Assad fighting for? He will not survive nor most of his closest assistants and possibly, relatives. It doesn’t matter if the FSA loses some terrain or what have you. The genie is out of the bottle.

2. i have to agree with observer that a prolonged war in Syria is in the best interests of the US and Israel

3. the longer it lasts, the worse it gets in all senses

4. hard to be optimistic, the initial momentum, that would more easily lead to a positive transition seems to be waning very fast if not altogether erased. Brain and capital brain will accelerate even further. The ethnic wealth of Syria will not be easily restored or mended. Alawites will eventually and in many cases, unfortunately, pay the cost of supporting the dictator. It is a matter of time.

5. Aleppo burns and nobody cares. I have nothing to say.

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October 1st, 2012, 8:46 pm


173. Johannes de Silentio said:

134. VAT:

“but the rice is in the pudding.”

You mean. the proof is in the pudding. If you’re going to pontificate in English, you need to learn the lingo, VATTY.

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October 2nd, 2012, 12:06 am


174. Juergen said:

Navid Kermani a known Islam researcher was in Syria, here his translated report:

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October 2nd, 2012, 1:09 am


176. Syrialover said:

New thread by Joshua Landis seems to have been there and disappeared.

Anybody else see that?

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October 2nd, 2012, 2:37 am


177. Aldendeshe said:

Of course, seen it, I copied the whole post and comments as well. Is he retracting the B.S. he wrote, did whoever paid him for it chech stopped, maybe he is asking more money, learned from his buddy extorsionist in Syria that he promotes, or something in comment section, told to remove it, who knows maybe served with an NSL order. Better check it out first, make sure it is the ligit thing, could the fake Israeli copy they use on unsuspecting Americans to exract technical material, cheap espionage. I love it when financial and high tech American companies hire Israeli security firms, LOL

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October 2nd, 2012, 2:55 am


178. Visitor said:

The new post probably disappeared because of unspecified threats made by shabbiha elements loyal to the shaykh el-jabal. It is doubtful there were financial reasons behind it.

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October 2nd, 2012, 5:53 am


180. Tara said:

Ynetnews is not trustworthy.

Hezbollah chief ‘killed in Syria’
Ali Hussein Nassif, a senior military figure in Hezbollah, was buried in Lebanon yesterday. The moqawama website has pictures and a report (in Arabic).

The website does not say how Nassif died but the Israeli Ynetnews, citing Lebanese media sources, says he was killed in Syria on Sunday.

Nassif was in charge of all Hezbollah operations in Syria, and served as the liaison between the Shia group and Bashar Assad’s forces …

Opposition groups in Lebanon said that Nassif was killed in a clash near Homs, following an ambush by Syrian rebels.

According to the Free Syria Army, he was driving near the city when the rebels detonated a roadside bomb.

The Syrian opposition said that Nassif was transferred to Syria following the escalating uprising in the country, and was tasked with quashing civilian uprisings.

He was also responsible for tracking down individuals wanted by Hezbollah.
The Guardian

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October 2nd, 2012, 8:20 am


181. Humanist said:

Ariel & JNA,

If this “journalist” worked for Press TV (of all TV stations) then I see no reason to feel sorry for him.

Yes I am biased. But just look at the comments to its “reports”. Press TV is Iranian, but you almost never see any Iranian commenting, mostly shia Arabs and self-hating Westerners. This is because everything just a little bit critical of Islam and/or the Islamic republic is censored.

And Hala Jaber still claims that man was a “liberal” . Ha Ha!
I guess this Arab woman works – or should work – for Press TV too.

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October 2nd, 2012, 12:29 pm


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