Posted by Joshua on Monday, July 18th, 2011
The Syrian uprising has been marked by a growing number of killings in the last week, as armed civilian groups have fought each other. According to Syrian authorities and Facebook websites, such as the Hama News Network, Hama is peacefully coming back under government control; whereas, Bu Kamal on the Iraqi border has fallen out of government control. In Homs, Syria’s third largest city, civilian groups (Alawis versus Sunnis, according to one account) attacked each other causing some 30 deaths. Both sides remain confident of their ability to control the eventual outcome of the uprising. Qatana has also been troubled by inter-communal fighting.
“More than 30 civilians have been killed over the past 24 hours in Homs in clashes that broke out late on Saturday between the opposition and supporters of the regime,” said Rami Abdel Rahman of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
He said the clashes in the city 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of the capital came after three regime supporters kidnapped last week were killed and their dismembered bodies were returned to their relatives on Saturday.
“These clashes are a dangerous development that undermines the revolution and serves the interests of its enemies who want it to turn into a civil war,” he added. “The two sides started out beating each other with sticks, but then firearms were used.”
Abdel Rahman said a large number of the dead were killed by gunmen lying in ambush, and that security forces did not intervene. “Their duty is to maintain national security and protect citizens, not stand idly by when faced with clashes, as this can encourage even more violence,” he charged.
A witness who spoke to AFP in Cyprus said the clashes were between Sunni Muslims and Alawites, Assad’s sect, and that they occurred overnight in the Hadara and Al-Zahara districts of Homs. Earlier Abdel Karim Rihawi, who heads the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights, reported the army moving in to Homs after clashes on Saturday.
Here are two contradictory reports about Homs from readers:
Just finished a phone call with my family in Homs, which was like Beirut yesterday. The news from Syria-news were correct. Three young men (Alawites) kidnapped tortured and killed , they were organising rallys in support of the announced reforms, my brother knows all of them , the rally now cancelled.
The army stopped a angry crowds of entering Bab el dreeb and prevented a lot of killings.
my friend’s old brother got shot in his way back home his name Kifah el set ( a Christian from Al Hafar village) he is badly injured but thanks god still alive. Another Christian from Al Nuzha ( Gaiath al turk ) from Kafrram village was shot in his leg, he was taking to the local medical centre just to get kidnapped from inside the medical centre few hours later and get killed, his uncle was my teacher! His furnal is tomorrow.
People are scared to go out. The army only entered Alawite neighbourhoods to protect them, the Christian neighbourhood is not protected and the thugs are still free. That’s Homs for you !
Here is what really happened. The shabiha scum were given a pretext to rampage through Homs, under the protection of the “security forces” (oxymoron there). They smashed Sunni owned businesses in Al-Hadara street (I’ve linked the video previously). The Homsis mobilized themselves, and got together to protect their neighborhoods. After a brief confrontation in Damascus road, which went badly for the shabiha scum, they crawled back to the holes they came out from.
In Bukamal, SANA, a government source, reported on Sunday that “terrorist gangs” stormed a government building and seized the weapons stored there, adding that three security personnel were killed and two kidnapped in the attack. The situation there is “explosive” according to Al-Watan, and “the army is preparing to intervene … because the authorities fear an armed revolt in this border town where (insurgents) can easily find logistical and political support,” it said.
shukumaku.com reports that about 200 armed men stormed the Regional Administration Department and seized control of it, including all weapons. They burned the civil affairs office, the court, the police post and the resident house of the Regional administrator, in Al Bukamal.
Opposition sources claim that scores of military security personnel have defected and are guarding civilians in Bu Kamal. They suggest this means that the power of the regime is breaking apart at the fringes.
The Guardian quotes Reuters in explaining that in Bukamal, a day after security shot five protesters, the town light up in protest.
Residents said around 100 Air Force Intelligence personnel and the crew of at least four armoured vehicles joined the protesters.
“The protesters returned several army personnel carriers today as a sign of good will. The regime knows it will meet tough resistance if it attacks Albu Kamal, and that Iraqi tribes on the other side of the border will rush to help their brethren,” said one activist in the region, who declined to be named for fear of arrest.
Another activist said: “The whole of Albu Kamal went to the streets after the killings. Several armoured personnel carriers moved into the centre of the town to stop them, but ended joining sides with the human wave.”
Qatana: I received this report from a reader:
Dear Joshua and friends I report this for you from my brother in Qatana (SW of Damascus):
The city is now under protection of the army after clashes erupted between Druze and Sunni salafists. After the Druze community held a pro-government demonstrations in the city, they were attacked by Sunnis salafists with batons and arms. 3 Druze died in the clashes. The next day the Druze answered back and attacked Sunnis in the city, many were injured and probably some where killed. Yesterday, the hardcore Sunnis proclaimed Qatana an Islamic city and their leader was showing off riding on his horse in the city after more clashes erupted with the Druze community… There is a siege going on and arms are being looked after. Christians in the city fear the worse…God bless our country
A second view from Qatana: (Addendum on Monday afternoon)
I live near Qatana and this what happned:
- last month security force and Shabi7a from 4th brigade Masaken attaked an anti regime demostration killing many.
- Qatana residents prevented the Masaken ppl(almost 100% Alawites) from entring Qtana and doing a pro-regime demo in it.
- Qatana residents prevented another pro-regime demo that started from the baath building after AdduniaTV came and started saying that Qatanis are supporting Bashar(they are outsiders),and beat the crap out of 5 ,no death.
- one of the beaten up turned up to be a Druze shekh-Akl in 3arneh (a smuggling border town in the mountains), he ran to his town and brought a lot of people armed with handguns and AK47 to Qatana, the Masaken guys and Security saw that and joined the 3arneh guys, and they started shooting randomly killing a lot including an infant.
- now there is about 30 tank surrounding the town.
- there was no Islamic emirate or a amir on a horse ,that is laughable and rediculous , a lot of Qatanis are Nazhine from Golan, and they are not really that religious.
- What happened is good for no one, and all made mistakes but the goverment is supporting one side over the other and that is 1000 wrong.
In Hama, Al-Watan said the “situation was back to normal” in the central city of Hama, the epicenter of anti-government protests in recent weeks where perhaps as many as a 100,000 had taken part in demonstrations two Fridays ago and where the US and French ambassadors had traveled to show their support for the uprising. The city fell out of government control when the governor withdrew security forces, permitting peaceful protests. He was fired and a new governor has since been appointed. There was fear that the military would shoot its way back into the city. “The efforts the new governor of Hama has made with civic leaders have borne fruit. The state of civil disobedience which lasted 13 days is over,” Al-Watan said. “With the help of residents, officials have started to remove the roadblocks erected on major thoroughfares,” it added. Stores have begun to open again in the market areas and urban transport has resumed regular routes.
In Damascus, the government organized a large firework display and festival at Ummayad Square at which the crowds chanted that the “people want Bashar al-Assad.” The coverage shown by ad-Dunia TV reveals the tone of the local press coverage. One commentator rails against the US ambassador and demonstrators of Hama, while the second is respectful and glowing about the Syrian people and the need for national unity and the ability of Syrians to express their differences without violence and demonstrations. (I at first added the wrong video. I have changed it for the correct one.)
Since the protests began on March 15, 1,419 civilians and 352 members of the security forces have died, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Thousands more people have been arrested.
A number of sources report that Kurds have withdrawn from the National Salvation Congress in Istanbul, including GemyaKurds.net and Kurdish Youth Revolution – Soresa Ciwanên Kurd. The Kurdish Youth of the Revolution are very disappointed, because it was their hope and endeavour to be partners in nation-building and associates in the conference bringing everyone together as Syrians:
- There was no seat for a representative of the Kurds in the Preparatory Committee of the Conference.
- The conference is working under the name of the Syrian Arab Republic, which denies the existence of the Kurds and diverse others in Syria.
A statement by the Kurdish parties is to be issued later.
A number of credible opposition figures have attacked the conference’s promotion of a shadow government, they include: Burhan Galioum, Louai Hussain and Fayez Sara.
Secretary of State Clinton, while in Turkey, made no effort to meet with the Syrian opposition there, despite hopes expressed before the conference by some opposition figures that she would. Instead, she offered only lukewarm support for the Syrian gathering and made it clear that the United States hopes the protest movement will engage in dialogue with the Syrian government, something most opposition groups reject. She announced in Turkey
Today she criticized Turkey’s arrest of journalists and restrictions on Internet freedom. Authorities there have jailed reporters and columnists in recent months under antiterror laws. A government proposal set for August would filter the Internet that could allow monitoring of household Web use. Speaking on CNN’s Turkish language channel today, Clinton said that while the countries differ on how to get things done, the U.S. and Turkey “share this strategic vision about where we would like to see the world go.”
the opposition could overthrow Assad’s regime. “What is required of the international community and Arab countries is to withdraw support from this regime, which has lost its legitimacy, and to boycott it on both the international and diplomatic levels,” he said today on Al Jazeera television.
The Syrian government “has become a criminal against its own people,” said al-Bayayuni, according to a transcript published by the BBC Mideast service.
Tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets to protest yesterday. At least 32 demonstrators were killed around the country, including about 20 in the capital, Damascus, Al Jazeera reported. Activists report that five have been killed today.
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, believes that the transition in the Middle East and North Africa ‘will take a long time and will be painful. ‘I never called this process an ‘Arab Spring’ – because spring is just one season, and we will see the summer and winter,’ says the top diplomat
…..Q: How do you see the situation in Syria?
A: I have a friendship with Syrian officials dating back many years. Even at the times when relations between Turkey and Syria were at their worst, I always believed the day would come when they would be the closest countries. This is dictated by the geographical realities, by history, by sociology. When I first met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2004, I came to know him as someone open to the world, open to change. Until I became secretary-general, Syria was not active in the OIC. But we organized two ministerial meetings in Syria. So within the framework of this relationship, we could talk with unprecedented honesty, giving the message that the world is changing and that Syria need to change.
Q: Has al-Assad disappointed you?
A: Unfortunately Syria has not acted with the speed one would have expected. There was not enough progress ahead of the demonstrations that took place. But the national dialogue process that started recently is a very important step. We hope this trend will continue……
The monastery at Mar Musa has published a letter about its current personal financial struggle – due to paralysis of tourism in Syria, and a plea for support. It is also interesting and informative about the way in which one monastery sees the problems and has human interest. Deir Mar Musa has played an leading role in promoting inter-faith dialogue and in trying to introduce Christians to the notion that the Muhammad was a prophet and the Koran a revealed book.
Ali Abdullah has been re-arrested in Qatana.