Military Casualties Rise; President Spreech; Houla

Syrian military casualties rose in May while death toll overall dropped

The United Nations observer team based in Hama, Syria, met with rebel leaders Thursday in Latamneh. The team’s commander, Danish Lt. Col. Peter Dahl, expressed frustration with the lack of a cease-fire.
By David Enders | McClatchy Newspapers

ANTAKYA, Turkey — Despite the international outcry over recent massacres allegedly committed by backers of President Bashar Assad, statistics compiled by human rights activists show that violence in Syria has dropped since a United Nations peace plan went into effect in April and is down sharply from its peak in March.

One measure of violence, however, seems to have increased appreciably: More Syrian soldiers were killed in clashes with rebels in May than in any month since the 14-month-old uprising began.

There were also reports that arrests by Syrian security forces have increased, a violation of the U.N. plan that appears to be a major factor in the violence.

“Every day the Free Syrian Army is becoming stronger,” said Alaa Kaikooni, a fighter who referred to the rebels by the name for most of the loosely organized groups that have taken up arms against Assad….. violence is off 36 percent from its peak and has dropped in each of the months that the plan has been in place.

Those numbers are still incredibly high – the Syrian Network for Human Rights recorded 1,344 deaths in May, including 55 noted after the report was posted on the network’s website Tuesday. Still, that’s far fewer than the 2,101 deaths the network tracked in March or the 1,610 it recorded in April. It’s lower than any month so far this year – with the exception of January, when the network reported that 1,179 people were killed – and below the monthly average of 1,616 deaths from January to May……

Syria President Bashar Assad denies role in massacres
By Rima Marrouch and Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times

… “We are facing a real war from outside,” Assad told the Syrian people. “Everyone is responsible for defending the homeland.”

Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for more than 40 years, mocked opposition calls for democracy, declaring: “This democracy that they talked about is soaked with our blood.”

The president, formerly a practicing ophthalmologist, invoked the metaphor of a surgeon in the operating theater as an apparent justification for harsh counterinsurgency tactics in a brutal conflict that has cost more than 10,000 lives.

“Who is the wise man who loves blood?” Assad asked. “When a surgeon enters the operating room and opens a wound, it bleeds. He cuts and extracts. Do we tell him: ‘Your hands are cursed as they are contaminated with blood?’ Or do we thank him for saving the patient?”

…. The Syrian leader assails what he calls a ‘foreign war with internal tools’ and offers no new initiatives to revive the U.N. peace plan.

a majority of 58% in France want to see UN military intervention in Syria. 50% want France to take part. Both figures are significantly higher compared to results of a poll published last February.

I saw massacre of children, says defecting Syrian air force officer

Houla Massacre of 108 Marks New Low in Syria
By: Liz Sly and Joby Warrick | The Washington Post

In a speech Sunday, Assad denied that his government was responsible and blamed the massacre on his opponents, saying it was unimaginable that security forces could do such a thing.

“Whoever did this in Houla could not be a human being but a monster. And even a monster could not carry out such an act,” he told a session of the nation’s newly chosen parliament….

“The people want to execute Bashar,” they chanted, according to a video of one demonstration. Held above the crowd was a big black banner, emblazoned in white with words that are chilling in light of what unfolded later in the day. “Let the world know we die with a smile on our faces,” it said.

And, as was typical on a Friday here and in many other parts of the country, shortly before 1 o’clock in the afternoon, as the protests began, Syrian troops positioned around the area began firing artillery and heavy machine guns to break up the demonstrations.

What happened next is murky, but according to at least two activists in Houla, rebel fighters attacked a Syrian army position overlooking the area. Nine soldiers were killed, including three officers, according to Ahmad Qassem, one of the activists, who said he was given the number by the local hospital. The government, in its account of the killings that day, has said that “several” of its troops were killed in an attack on a checkpoint. The rebel force also suffered casualties, Qassem said….

Houla residents give a very different account. They blame the Syrian army and the loyalist militias known as the shabiha, which they say came from surrounding villages inhabited by members of Assad’s Shiite-affiliated Alawite sect. It is also clear that many questions remain unanswered.

The day began, as is typical on a Friday, with the men of the town gathering after prayers in at least two locations to hold demonstrations against the government. They left Away from the shelling, on the southwestern edge of Houla, a more sinister development began to unfold. A 25-year-old woman who gave her name as Fatima said she saw men in uniforms arriving in the late afternoon in a nearby street where members of the extended Abdel-Razzaq family lived.

Fatima said she assumed that the soldiers were conducting a routine raid, but then she began to hear shooting, which continued for at least an hour.

According to the videotaped testimony of the few survivors, the soldiers were accompanied by irregular shabiha militiamen from surrounding villages and moved through the homes shooting everyone they found…..

A suicide car bomber targeted government offices in the Iraqi capitol of Baghdad at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, killing up to 23 people, and injuring more than 100. The explosion blew up the facade of Iraq’s main religious affairs office for Shiite Muslims,…

Calls for Jihad Split Salafist Movement
By Mona Alami, IPS, AMMAN, Jun 3, 2012

The Arab Spring brought a host of new actors to the political stage. In Jordan, it pushed the Salafists to the fore, where some of the group’s more radical elements are now calling for holy war in neighbouring Syria.

… Jihadist-Salafists, a loosely structured faction who only number around 1,500 in Jordan, have recently begun to stage several demonstrations, the largest of which was held on Apr. 15 this year in the city of Zarqa and drew around 350 protesters. The protest resulted in a violent clash with the police, leaving dozens of wounded policemen and numerous civilian causalities.

In response, the Jordanian regime unleashed a harsh crackdown on the community, raiding several Jihadists’ homes in Zarqa and nearby towns and charging 146 with terrorist activities.

…”Reformers are coming to understand that the community has a greater role to play, whether politically, economically or socially,” said Ibrahim Hamad, himself a Salafist reformist.

The Salafist reformists have also begun coordinating aid to Syrian refugees who have fled the ongoing violence in their country to Jordan.

“They (reformists) are growing in areas where Syrian refugees are present. Up until now they have distributed about five million dollars in aid, 60 percent of which is provided through countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Kuwait,” Smadi explained.

Alain Gresh sums up the debate on Syria on his blog at Le Monde Diplo. Andrew Tabler outlined five steps the US should take against the Assad regime. Henry Kissinger raised his concerns for military intervention in Syria. ”In Syria, calls for humanitarian and strategic intervention merge …On the other hand, not every strategic interest rises to a cause for war; were it otherwise, no room would be left for diplomacy.” Randa Slim argued that military aid would prolong the fight, while Zbigniew Brzezinski said the crisis “is not as horrible or as dramatic as it is portrayed.”  [from Pomed]

Patrick Cockburn: Why war is marching on the road to Damascus
Sunday 03 June 2012, Telegraph

Damascus feels like a city expecting the worst to happen and seeing no way to avoid it. War is spreading across the country and is unlikely to spare the capital. Rebels speak of stepping up attacks in the city and could easily do so in the next few weeks.

I spent the last week in Damascus and the atmosphere reminds me of Beirut in 1975 at the start of the 15-year civil war. Again and again in conversations, people realistically laid out for me the nasty things that are all too likely to happen, but few were able to produce plausible ideas on how disaster might be averted.

“I wish people abroad would stop talking about a civil war starting here because it is still the people against the government,” said one committed member of the opposition as we sat in a café in Damascus (everybody I spoke to has to be nameless, for obvious reasons). She believed that it was only the heavy presence of the security forces that were suppressing mass popular protest in the days after the Houla massacre.

She may have been right, but in practice not a lot was happening. There was less traffic on the streets and foreign TV stations made much play of YouTube postings showing merchants shutting their shops in protest at the Houla slaughter. But, driving around Damascus, the strike’s success was difficult to judge since so many shops and restaurants are shut anyway because of the lack of tourists and the impact of sanctions.

Ibrahim Saif wrote about the economic agenda of the Islamist parties across the region.

They do not call for the nationalization of industries or the renationalization of privatized state-owned enterprises and demonstrate respect for private property rights. All of the parties welcome partnerships with the private sector to implement their proposed projects, particularly when it comes to public utilities and infrastructure. They consistently agree on the need to combat corruption, strengthen the foundations of good governance, eliminate financial and economic waste, and enact socially just policies. And all demonstrate a commitment to international economic agreements, with Morocco and Tunisia in particular focusing on relations with Europe….. Some gray policy zones still exist, in three areas in particular: the role of the state in the economy, which proposals will be prioritized given limited time and resources, and the timetable according to which the parties will deliver promised economic results to the public. And overall, Ennahda, the Freedom and Justice Party, the Justice and Development Party, and the Islamic Action Front all fall short of presenting comprehensive and integrated programs that can realistically transform these states’ economies. Lacking experience, clear priorities, and ways to build and finance ambitious growth plans, all four will face serious challenges in translating their generally reasonable and well-intentioned economic agendas into results….

Rebels kill 80 Syrian soldiers at weekend: watchdog
BEIRUT | Mon Jun 4, 2012

(Reuters) – Syrian rebels killed at least 80 army soldiers at the weekend, an opposition watchdog said on Monday, in a surge of attacks that followed their threat to resume fighting if President Bashar al-Assad failed to observe a U.N.-backed ceasefire.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said local doctors had confirmed the names of 80 dead government soldiers.

Insurgents told the group they had killed more than 100 soldiers and destroyed some tanks in clashes across Syria, including Damascus and Idlib province i rebel Free Syrian Army had announced they would be “free of any commitment” to international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan if Assad did not end violence by Friday.

of at least 108 people, nearly half of them children, in the Houla area of Homs province dealt a possibly fatal blow to Annan’s proposed ceasefire, which was supposed to take effect on April 12, but never did.

Rami Abdelrahman, the head of the Observatory, told Reuters that many army checkpoints were destroy in heavy clashes overnight in Idlib province, where many rebels operate.

“A minimum of 4 to 6 checkpoints in the village of Ariha were attacked and destroyed in the last 24 hours,” he said.

The 15-month-old uprising against Assad’s 11-year rule began with peaceful protests, but Syria is now slipping into civil war as rebels fight back against a violent government crackdown.

As UN envoy warns of all-out war, a major has provided crucial evidence on the Houla killings
Martin Chulov, Guardian, Saturday 2 June 2012

Les Français favorables à une intervention militaire en Syrie – Le Monde

Une majorité de 58 % de Français se déclarent favorables à une intervention militaire des Nations unies en Syrie, soit 7 points de plus que lors d’une précédente enquête réalisée en février dernier (51 %), selon un sondage Ifop pour l’hebdomadaire régional Dimanche Ouest France.

Cette hausse a “sans doute un rapport avec la multiplication des crimes de guerre attribués au régime de Bachar Al-Assad, et leur médiatisation ces derniers jours”, analyse l’institut.

Les hommes (65 %) se déclarent davantage favorables à l’intervention que les femmes (52 %). 70% des partisans de la droite l’approuvent, devant les sympatisants de gauche (65 %). Les sympatisants du Front national, le parti d’extrême droite, se disent majoritairement (55 %) contre une intervention des Nations unies en Syrie.

A la question de savoir si la France doit s’engager dans cette intervention militaire, les Français semblent également partagés : 50 % pour et 50 % contre, note l’Ifop. “Ces résultats assez mitigés témoignent néanmoins d’une hausse de 12 points en faveur de l’engagement de l’armée française en Syrie sous l’égide des Nations unies, comparé à février dernier (seulement 38 % des Français se disaient alors favorables à cette proposition”, selon l’Ifop).

Le président français, François Hollande, a déclaré mardi ne pas exclure une intervention armée en Syrie à condition qu’elle soit décidée dans le cadre de l’ONU.

Comments (261)

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1. majedkhaldoun said:

When someone call you traitor the least to answer is to say nonesense, He called me twice as a traitor, ,this is strong word, while I sacrificed a lot of money and time to protect the beloved Syrian, his accusation is silly and nonsense.
He or others must refrain from calling any opponent here on SC as a traitor.

Mr. Landis
Bashar hardly spent any time in training, he was never practicing ophtalmologist

Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 26 Thumb down 27

June 4th, 2012, 12:39 pm


2. Alan said:

Syrian rebels abandon ceasefire, call on UN for no-fly zone
A Syrian rebel spokesman says they are no longer committed to Annan’s ceasefire. He has called for a UN-backed “peace enforcement mission” or a no-fly zone to replace the monitoring mission, demands the UN chief has rejected.
On Friday, the rebel military council had given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an ultimatum to end violence in the country or face armed reprisals.
“We have decided to end our commitment to this [plan] and starting from that date [Friday] we began defending our people,” rebel spokesman Major Sami al-Kurdi told Reuters news agency.
Kurdi was hopeful the current UN-led observer mission to be transformed into “a peace enforcing mission,” with a no-fly zone and a buffer zone being implemented with a mind to toppling the current government.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has rejected the rebels’ call for armed international intervention, saying Annan’s six-point peace plan remains “central” to resolving the crisis, he told the agency on the sidelines of an Islamic Development Bank meeting in Jeddah../../..

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June 4th, 2012, 12:47 pm


3. Dawoud said:

These below are Syrian Arabic cynical humor ideas regarding Bashar (War Criminal) al-Assad’s absurd claim yesterday that the Revolution and its violence (although all terror and most of the violence today are caused by the regime)are motivated by 2000 Syrian Liras paid to unemployed protesters Please laugh at the dictator and his fraudulent parliament! Why did he instruct MPs NOT to applaud him so much and recite poems pertinent to his cult of personality?:-)
Free Syria, Free Palestine, Bahrain is Arab forever!

المصدر: سكاي نيوز عربية

أثار حديث الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد عن وجود جهات تدفع 2000 ليرة سورية (الدولار يعادل حوالي 70 ليرة) العديد من التعليقات الطريفة على صفحات المواقع الاجتماعية، لاسيما من قبل الجهات المعارضة لنظام الحكم في دمشق.

وجاء في إحدى الصفحات المعارضة على موقع فيسبوك: “امبراطور الممانعة! لو أعطيتنا 3000 ليرة عوضاً عن 2000 كنا ذهبنا لقتال الجيش الإسرائيلي وامتنعنا عن ذبح أهلنا السوريين”.

وكان الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد ذكر في خطابه أمام مجلس الشعب الأحد أن هناك من يدفع للعاطلين عن العمل لكي يخرجوا في مظاهرات، وأن بعضهم يقتل من أجل 2000 ليرة سورية.

ونشر في تعليق ساخر آخر: “هناك من يسرقنا، فعلى حد علمنا أن التسعيرة هي 500 ليرة سورية و(سندويتش فلافل) للخروج في مظاهرة وقتل الناس”.

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June 4th, 2012, 1:04 pm


4. Amjad said:

I think we can now put to rest the notion of a “strong Syrian army”, and which people have repeatedly used as an excuse for NATO not to intervene militarily in Syria. On one hand, we have been told time and again that the Syrian army is stronger than Qadafi’s. And yet Qadafi was just 12 hours away from crushing the Libyan revolution, were it not for the grace and mercy of NATO.

Despite 15 months of having an army that we are told hasn’t seen massive defections, and with massive aid from Iraq, Iran and Russia, Bashar hasn’t even come close to subduing this revolution, and even when faced with poorly armed opponents who have to make do with what they have. It’s obvious that far from being a strong, potent force, the Syrian Army’s fighting spirit and motivation is abysmal. It doesn’t take much professionalism to shell civilian homes from five kilometers away.

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June 4th, 2012, 1:07 pm


5. Atassi said:

I must say, I want the Syrian Army intact and cohesive and be kept as a viable national institution for teh future, Syrians must plan and with a great effort to rehabilitee its basic structure, bring the blood soaked hands to justice and remove the rogue elements from the current leadership. I should say too it’s time for our fellow Syrians to stop handing the “Chancklish” during the funerals of the dead soldiers and urge peace before it’s way too late …..

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June 4th, 2012, 1:36 pm


6. Atassi said:

Syria needs outside parties with strong leadership to help mediate and force a resolution to bring the nation into a normal line, we should not allow the Russian and Iranian to keep us stewing in our own juice until a national death is declared , at the same time syrians should avoid other parties with particular un-syrian agendas to dictated a solution.

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June 4th, 2012, 2:00 pm


7. Amjad said:

Well said Atassi. The Russians and Iranians are laughing all the way to the bank. Just what is it about the Arab league and Annan plans that Bashar finds so difficult to implement? Similar plans have worked wonders in other parts of the world. But the fact is, the regime *has* to keep up the killing. We have seen what Dar’a, Duma, Homs, Hama, Latakia, Zabadani, Idlib, Deir el Zour, Baniyas, and countless and numerous other places have looked like when the regime’s security forces even temporarily lost hold.

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June 4th, 2012, 2:05 pm


8. Observer said:

My relative is a poor conscript that did not have any ability to serve in a cushioned position and was in the field and away from his home. If he was not allowed to use the Shilka mounted anti aircraft gun why have him go to the military service in the first place and if he is to be recalled as reservist for fighting an invading army he would be used as cannon fodder and would not be able to use the equipement.

My point is that the profressional army has many defectors and others that cannot be trusted to be fielded without the risk of defection.

The remaining force are thugs and internal security service members and loyal troops therefore the inability to crush the uprising for more than 16 months.

Using brute force can destroy a lot crushing a revolution is a very different business.

In this post I am just making my observations and not really putting any judgement on this or that aspect of the conflict.

Likewise the Russians think that they can use Syria as a bargaining chip with the EU and the US and it is not working. Likewise the AL and the Gulf countries cannot affect major influence in the Arab world as they are part of the old decaying order. Likewise Turkey went out on a limb and is aiming to use soft power when its hard power is not yet fully mature.

More observations
The Russians have commented that Fredo seemed detached from reality
The Russians are afraid of a collapse of the price of gas and of the price of oil.
KSA will increase its production to 12 million barrels and Iraq is set to increase to about 5-7 million barrels a day by 2017 this means doom for the recovery of Russia. It leaves it with arms exports and a few other things.

The Iranians in the latest attempt to set a post Fredo course are courting all Lebanese with promises of projects as was revealed lately. The sale of oil to China and Japan and India is being decreased and they cannot find insurance for their shipments and tankers. I think that pressuring Iran is not acceptable for me personally but the reality is that they blundered when they chose to support the Bahrain uprising and not the Syrian one. They blundered when they continue to paint a picture of world conspiracy and Zionist hegemony. The people around the world want responsive instutitions and rule of law and freedom from arbitrary rule and accountability and progress.

The US population and political establishment wants to disengage from direct involvement in the ME. They are also slowly disengaging from Israel as well if you have not noticed already.

The strategic interests of the US have shifted to the far east if you have not noticed lately and the Iranian and the Americans will eventually reconcile and move to a new partnership that guarantees stability in the region. The Arab Spring will bring an emphasis of economic development and the political fires that have plagued the region and were used to prevent progress are dying down in favor of economical betterment. Whether this is possible is not known. If there is failure radicalization is the name of the game but in this instance hopefull no one will accuse the US of interfering directly.

Finally the colonial borders that created inherently unstable entities will be re drawn with either break ups or federated states and autonomous regions. The Sudan is not a conspiracy hatched lately it was hatched in the 19th century just as Jordan Syria Iraq and Lebanon were hatched in the 20’s These are artificial entities that are not sustainable any longer.


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June 4th, 2012, 2:23 pm


9. Katamon said:

The strength of a regular army has little to do with its ability to suppress insurgency. Given the Soviet and American examples this should be obvious. In general, it is almost impossible to use military force to crush an insurgency unless you can find ways to cut off its external support. This is something that Assad is unlikely to be able to do because much of the external support for the insurgency derives from anti-Iranian players, while Assad has doubled down on Iranian support.

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June 4th, 2012, 2:54 pm


10. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Stones vs. firearms.

Who is the armed terrorist gang? I see no foreign conspirators here. Just angry young Syrians.!

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June 4th, 2012, 3:25 pm


11. Antoine said:

The strategy of the Free Syrian Army is to erode their opponents from within, and bleed them by a thousand cuts.

Its a classic pyschological and sociological approach.

FSA is well-entrenched in large swathes of the Syrian hinterland, especially in small towns and cities and in the countryside.

It enjoys significant support from a large cross-section of the population. This is what is called the “host population” in an insurgency, who are prepared to feed, clothe, and hide, the insurgents, and prepared to go through many hardships in order to support their cause.

Obviously the FSA and LCC plan a long haul and know that victory cannot be achieved in a fortnight. They are planned for the next 10 yaers at least.

Basically they plan to fight a long and total war against Assad. This is their vision.

It was the same vision Mao Zedong had in 1932.

It took him 17 years.

And if Assad thinks he can crush the insurgency Chechnya style, he is mistaken. The population of Chechnya was only 2 million concentrated in only 100 square kilometres, with only 1 major urban centre ( Grozny).

The Syrian armed opposition is well entrenched in 7 Governorates of Syria spanning more than 2000 square kilometres and a population of almost 12 million. It has wide support in the rugged and inaccessible countryside like Idleb as well as heavily built-up densly-populated urban centres like Douma.

So yeah FSA throws a challenge to Bashar al Assad and the Syrian Arab Army and is showuing them the middle finger, bunch of suckers.

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June 4th, 2012, 3:39 pm


12. Tara said:

What is in the horizon?  Why the meeting?

Kofi Annan, the United Nations envoy to Syria, is to hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Friday, said a spokesperson for Annan.

No other details were released but the announcement comes in the wake of weekend remarks by Syrian President Bashar Assad defending his government’s crackdown on opponents.

Meanwhile, a Washington-based refugee advocacy group called on the world Monday to help Syrians who have fled their country’s turmoil, saying they are stretching the meagre resources of Jordan and Lebanon.

Since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, Jordan has taken in more than 110,000 refugees, and Lebanon 26,000, according to official figures. In Jordan, many refugees are being hosted in private homes, with Jordanian families providing them food and shelter.


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June 4th, 2012, 3:40 pm


13. Jasmine said:

Just wondering for how long Syria is going to be the stadium host for this political Olympia ;shouldn’t these appointed referres call the games over by now or the Syrian blood is getting cheaper by the hour.

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June 4th, 2012, 3:41 pm


14. SANDRO LOEWE said:

10. Amir in Tel Aviv

It is really too similar to Palestine anger against Israeli ocuppying forces. Assad would have not imagined even in his worse dreams that he would become worse than israeli repression.

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June 4th, 2012, 3:43 pm


15. Antoine said:

. Atassi said:

I must say, I want the Syrian Army intact and cohesive and be kept as a viable national institution for teh future, Syrians must plan and with a great effort to rehabilitee its basic structure,

That is the main concern, how to keep the Army intact and yet defeat Assad. Hence encouraging defections.

The FSA and LCC don’t think in terms of heavy equipment and tanks and artillery, they think in terms of people. All of the above equipment is worthless without the people who man them. Take the people out of the equation and Assad is defeated.

That said, Free Syria will immedialtely be under all sorts of threats from Israel, Iraq, Iran, Russia and maybe even Jordan and Turkey, who knows.

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June 4th, 2012, 3:43 pm


16. Uzair8 said:

This evening Channel 4 News showed their team visit the pro-Assad areas surrounding Houla to hear their version.

In Search of Houla’s killers
Sunday 3 June 2012

[Selected quote]

‘So Channel 4 News were today the first outsiders to reach and investigate in these villages. Not even the UN observers came here during their investigation.’

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June 4th, 2012, 3:49 pm


17. Antoine said:


If you don’t mind, I would like to bring up a comment you made some time ago.

It is your contention that this Uprising has affected the “base of the regime”.

By that of course you mean the rural areas of the Governorates.

One comment of yours I found very interesting is that, you mentioned that the Baath Party was very popular in the villages around Hama.

The more interesting part was, you sad that “these villages around Hama did nothing to help when Hama City was being destroyed in ’82”.

Please explain in detail what you meant by that.

Did you mean to say Reef Hama was supportive of the regime actions in 1982 ?

If that was indeed the case, why did they do so ?

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June 4th, 2012, 3:49 pm


18. Uzair8 said:

I caught Inside Story today on Al Jazeera. A few minutes into it.
A couple of Lebanese guests were having an exchange about the Syria-related clashes in Lebanon in recent days. The presenter turned to the third guest which happened to be Robert Fisk.

He stated how he was reminded of someone telling him that when Assad begins to despair, trouble will reach here (Tripoli/Lebanon etc). Robert Fisk also noted how the recent events in Lebanon were close (in timing) to Assad’s speech.

The video isn’t up on AJE yet. Probably in a day or so.

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June 4th, 2012, 4:20 pm


19. Amnesia said:

Since it hasn’t been announced on this forum yet, I will pass on the news.

Today in Istanbul, “Syrian activists form ‘military coalition’ against Assad’s regime”. They claim to represent 12,000 fighters on the ground, and definitely do have support and allegiance from fighters. “Prominent Syrian Human rights activist Haitham al-Maleh voiced his support for the new military front in a video message to the conference, part of which was broadcast by Al Arabiya.”

Does anyone know anything else about this group?

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June 4th, 2012, 4:58 pm


20. Uzair8 said:

Fawaz Gerges expresses the difficulty in maintaining neutrality in the light of recent massacres and feels morally complicit having to warn against the dangers of foreign intervention.

Syria: Nightmare scenario on horizon?
June 4th, 2012

[Selected quote]

GERGES: It’s absolutely correct. In fact, I would argue that the Tehran-Baghdad road has become the lifeline of the al-Assad regime. Syria is receiving tremendous support, material support, political support, and even military support, and Iraq sees itself as basically part of the alliance against the so-called the Turkish, Saudi, Sunni-dominated alliance, but my fear is that what the Houla massacre has done, it has poured gasoline on a raging fire, and my fear is that the essentially political conflict in Syria could easily expand into a sectarian strife, destroying not only Syria, but also neighboring countries like Lebanon and Jordan and spilling over into Iraq as well.

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June 4th, 2012, 5:26 pm


21. Tara said:

Another military faction?

I don’t know if I should feel happy or sad about it?

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June 4th, 2012, 5:27 pm


22. zoo said:

Bashar puts the words of his “downplayed’ speech into action,

Government forces attacked rebel strongholds in Idlib province in the northwest and Deir Ezzor in the northeast as violence nationwide claimed nine lives on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based watchdog said that the fighting in Idlib’s Jabal al-Zawiya hill district, in which two rebel fighters were killed, was the most intense since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime erupted in March last year.

In Deir Ezzor, the government deployed helicopters to strafe suspected rebel hideouts in farmland in the Sbeikhan district and one was hit by rebel fire, the Observatory said.

The fighting came a day after Assad vowed to crush the the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), which announced on Friday that it was resuming “defensive operations” because of the failure of a UN-backed ceasefire that was supposed to go into effect from April 12.

The Syrian Observatory said 19 soldiers, eight rebels and 19 civilians were killed in violence across the country on Sunday.

On Saturday, 57 soldiers were killed nationwide, the biggest single day losses for the military of the uprising, the watchdog said.


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June 4th, 2012, 5:36 pm


23. Tara said:

More on the rebel front:

ISTANBUL (AP) — Syrian activists on yesterday announced a new rebel coalition that aims to overcome deep divisions within the opposition in its fight against the forces of President Bashar Assad.

The group, the Syrian Rebels Front, declared its formation in a news conference in Turkey that had the hallmarks of a public relations event, including a banner, video presentations and a simultaneous translation service. But it was uncertain how the new organization would coordinate with other sectors of the Syrian opposition, whose failure to unite has hobbled its campaign to topple Assad despite a nationwide uprising that has lasted more than one year.

Khaled al-Okla, one of the organizers, said the fledgling group will coordinate with the Free Syrian Army, a loose coalition of rebel units whose nominal leaders are based on the Turkish side of the border with Syria. Members of the Free Syrian Army acknowledge its commanders have limited or no operational control over rebel units inside Syria, but they say the label has given a public face to the lightly armed factions, who are under heavy pressure from government forces with tanks and artillery.

“We might have some treaties or agreements to coordinate our work in Syria,” said al-Okla, who claimed his umbrella group has 12,000 fighters. He also read a statement that said the Syrian Rebels Front had been formed in light of Assad’s “scorched earth policy” as well as “the failure of all Arab and international initiatives to rein in Assad from his crimes,” suggesting the rebels were giving up on a peace plan proposed by UN envoy Kofi Annan. The 15-month-old revolt against Assad’s rule has killed up to 13,000 people, according to activist groups.

The Syrian rebel statement said the launching of the new front could serve “as the melting pot that brings together all armed rebel factions across Syrian territory as they seek to topple …

However, some in the audience, which included journalists, were skeptical. One person took a microphone and asked: “Why do we need a new front? There are already a lot of fronts.”

The rebel statement cited the killings of more than 100 people, many of them small children, in Houla last week as the height of the Syrian regime’s cruelty. The opposition and the government have exchanged accusations over the Houla killings, each blaming the other for the house-to-house killings. UN investigators have said there are strong suspicions that pro-regime gunmen are responsible for at least some of the killings….

 The announcement of the new rebel front was accompanied by a video presentation claiming the front has 100 “battalions or fighting formations,” and it featured clips of masked fighters declaring their allegiance to the new entity. While some Gulf countries support the idea of arming rebels, Western and Arab allies have been reluctant to supply anti-regime fighters, partly because of their lack of cohesion, and also for fear of igniting a broader and more intense conflict.

Turkey has said it is not providing military aid to Syrian rebels, but it allows opposition groups to organize on its soil and also gives medical and other humanitarian aid to thousands of Syrian refugees, as well as hundreds of army defectors, who have fled their country. Turkey has said it would consider establishing a buffer zone inside Syria if border security deteriorates, though such an outcome does not appear imminent.

Also yesterday, a Washington-based refugee advocacy group called on the world to help Syrians who have fled their country’s turmoil,…


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June 4th, 2012, 5:51 pm


24. zoo said:

Amnesia #19

It’s one more “unified front” made of Islamists and tribes under a Turkish large umbrella who consider Turkey as their “home”.
A French saying: The more we are, the more fun we have.

Syrian opposition in Turkey forms unified front

ISTANBUL, June 4 (Xinhua) — Syrian opposition in Turkey declared on Monday that it established “Syrian Revolutionists Front” made up of members of the Islamic factions and tribes.

Mustafa Falih et-Tai, an opposition activist said at a press conference that they established a new entity to bring together the Islamic factions and tribes.

“We announce the formation of the front here,” et-Tai said, adding that “We are in Turkey as this is our home. We can topple the Assad regime if we get united. We are thankful to Turkey for its support.”

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June 4th, 2012, 5:53 pm


25. bronco said:

#12 Tara

“Meanwhile, a Washington-based refugee advocacy group called on the world Monday to help Syrians who have fled their country’s turmoil, saying they are stretching the meagre resources of Jordan and Lebanon.”

Will Qatar and Saudi Arabia should show their traditional generosity and hospitality towards refugees and send their planes to Jordan and Lebanon to bring these poor people to safety in their peaceful country?
I have no doubt they won’t. It shows what kind of people they are.
I may be critical of Turkey’s support for armed men, but at least Erdogan has accepted fleeing refugees, why KSA and Qatar do not?

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June 4th, 2012, 6:04 pm


26. Tara said:


I hear you, but is their a precedent for a non- neighboring country to accept refugees?

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June 4th, 2012, 6:11 pm


27. habib said:

“10. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Stones vs. firearms.”

I hope the hypocrisy here isn’t lost on anyone.

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June 4th, 2012, 6:15 pm


28. bronco said:

Tara #26

“I hear you, but is their a precedent for a non- neighboring country to accept refugees?”

There is no precedent in non-neighboring Arab countries sending weapons and money to fight another Arab country by proxy. The ones who have created that precedent are KSA and Qatar.
They are rich, they have large airlines and could make an aerial “humanitarian corridor” between Amman, Beirut and Ryadh and Doha.

Too much to ask to help a few thousands refugees.

Let’s remember that Syria under Assad’ regime accepted millions of Iraqi refugees that created a heavy burden on its economy and no one cared about it.

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June 4th, 2012, 6:27 pm


29. zoo said:

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Let’s Not Be “Emotional” About Syria
Nick Ottens, June 1, 2012

Former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski appears on MSNBC’ Morning Joe, May 30

Although international pressure on the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is mounting after the massacre of Houla, former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski cautions against acting on outrage. Foreign intervention, he warns, could have deadly repercussion

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June 4th, 2012, 6:38 pm


30. Tara said:


Not too much to ask, and indeed KSA and Qatar should take few thousands refugees each.

However, in regard to the Assad’s regime accepting millions of Iraqi refugee.. Did the regime have a choice of not to accept them. No!. Bashar al Assad was not philanthropic letting them in. He just could not possibly say no. Syris was always hailed as the “pulsing heart of Arabism”. Can the pulsing heart not take them in?

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June 4th, 2012, 6:41 pm


31. zoo said:

Soon in post Assad Syria:

تدريس اللغة التركية إبتداءا من السنة القادمة

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June 4th, 2012, 6:43 pm


32. bronco said:

#30 Tara

“Did the regime have a choice of not to accept them.”

Saudi Arabia simply closed its borders to Iraq refugees…

If Syria had done the same, there would have been more millions of Iraqis women and children killed.
Not only Iraqis were allowed in Syria but they were offered free schooling and free medical support. You can imagine the burden on Syria’s economy. That’s what I call Arab solidarity and this is something no Iraqi will forget. But many Syrians, especially the expats, keep ignoring it and instead keep repeat why Bashar did not do the economical and political reforms, he had plenty of time.

Also Syrians forget that during the 8 devastating years of the Iran-Iraq war, Syria was the only Arab country to stand against Saddam Hossein, all the other arab countries. especially Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were rushing in sending money, weapons and food to their friend the dictator: Arab solidarity at its best.

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June 4th, 2012, 6:52 pm


33. Tara said:


What is the problem of teaching a foreign language in schools? It is a good thing to be multilingual…

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June 4th, 2012, 6:57 pm


34. zoo said:

Full MSNBC interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski with transcript

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June 4th, 2012, 7:02 pm


35. zoo said:

#33 Tara

I guess Turkish will replace english or french as I doubt Tunisians or any child is able to learn 4 languages at the same time.

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June 4th, 2012, 7:10 pm


36. Tara said:


Do you really believe that Bashar could have possibly said no to the Iraqi refugees? I don’t … You just simply can’t have your cake and eat it too. He can’t claim Syria to be the pulsing heart of Arabism and at the same time closes the borders. I think he had no choice. Just like Erdogan has no choice now..

While I do not condone KSA closing it’s borders to Iraqi refugees, KSA never made an Arabism claim.

And was Syria supporting Iran against Saddam an example of Arab solidarity? Or an example of the Syrian regime stand against the Tyranny? It was interest-driven..nothing more, nothing less.

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June 4th, 2012, 7:15 pm


37. Tara said:


And all these months, I thought you have an “oriental taste”… Have you not?

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June 4th, 2012, 7:21 pm


38. zoo said:

Despite the media hinting that the EU will try to soften Russia’s stance on Syria, ahead of the 29th Russia-EU meeting, Putin said he has no intention to change his position on Syria.,-Russia-to-back-Annans-plan,-w.aspx

Van Rompuy calls EU, Russia to back Annan’s plan, work together on Syria
Ahram Online , Monday 4 Jun 2012

Russia and the European Union must work together to end the crisis in Syria, EU President Herman Van Rompuy told AFP on Monday, adding that they agreed the Kofi Annan peace plan was the best way to avoid civil war.

“We fully agree that the Annan plan as a whole provides the best opportunity to break the cycle of violence in Syria… avoiding a civil war,” Van Rompuy said after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We need to combine our efforts in order for this to happen.”

Van Rompuy and EU Commission chief Manuel Barroso met Putin at the start of a two-day summit overshadowed by clashing visions on Syria and Iran.

Both European leaders will be keen to sound out Putin for any hints of a softening on either crisis after his return to the Kremlin for a third term.

But the ex-KGB agent said on Sunday that he is sticking firmly to his refusal to back further action against Soviet-era ally Syria during a swing through Berlin and Paris on Friday, and there were few hints of compromise emerging from Moscow.

“We intend to once again underscore our principled approach to settling international conflicts,” Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov told reporters ahead of the 29th Russia-EU talks.

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June 4th, 2012, 7:38 pm


39. Tara said:


Salamet qalbek wa nshallah ma tshoufi waja3 qalb.

وأنت كمان. وجع القلب صعب

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June 4th, 2012, 7:40 pm


40. Tara said:

A kurd to lead the SNC? Who is Abdel basset Sayda? 

The Syrian National Council (SNC) will meet during the weekend to replace Burhan Ghalioun who resigned as the leader of the opposition bloc late last month, SNC officials said on Monday.

The meeting will take place Saturday and Sunday in Istanbul, where a vote might be abandoned if there is a “consensus” candidate as it appears to be, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

“So far the consensus candidate is Abdel Basset Sayda,” a Kurdish member of the SNC’s executive office, one source said, while the other confirmed that Sayda could be appointed as the new SNC leader.

Sayda, who lives in exile in Sweden, joined the SNC as an “independent activist,” according to his friend Massud Akko, who is also Kurdish.

He is member of the SNC’s executive bureau and heads the bloc’s human rights department.

He was born in 1956 in Amuda, a mostly Kurdish city in the northeastern Syrian province of Hassakeh.

“He is honest, level-headed and cultured,” Akko said.


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June 4th, 2012, 7:56 pm


41. bronco said:


Do you really believe that Bashar could have possibly said no to the Iraqi refugees?“

Of course, he could .. at least make it complicated, visas, limit the number etc…, create camps on the border like Turkey did watched by military. Iraqis were free to move around, rent apartments and live a normal life and they are all eternally grateful to Bashar.

In your eyes Bashar who helped millions of Iraqis, should not be thanked but blamed, while Saudi Arabia who always closes its border to refugees should be excused for not been ‘Arab nationalistic’ and for sending money to kill Syrians so they can achieve ‘democracy’.

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June 4th, 2012, 7:57 pm


42. omen said:

20. UZAIR8 said:
Fawaz Gerges expresses the difficulty in maintaining neutrality in the light of recent massacres and feels morally complicit having to warn against the dangers of foreign intervention.


how is remaining neutral in the face of genocide a virtue?

so, gerges argues allowing syrians to be slaughtered en masse is the best prescriptive to regional stability.


the longer this regime is allowed to remain in power, the more things will spiral out of control, the harder it will be to keep things bottled up.

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June 4th, 2012, 8:05 pm


43. Tara said:


An interesting choice indeed. I am a bit disappointed. I would vote George.

I think the SNC wants to “ingratiate” itself with the Kurds. But will it work?

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June 4th, 2012, 8:10 pm


44. Observer said:

Antoine in 82 the rural areas of Syria which were in the Baath party did not have a bone with Hafez rule and Baath party rule because as the ICG report showed the party allowed for their sons and daughters to have a way forward from education to employment to promotion and access to government help with land and agriculture.

The MB at that time immediately used a sectarian discourse and the regime used violence on them and blamed other violence on them and did violence in their name discrediting them then went about and put in jail the entire population of urban pious people whether they were MB or not. Being a small urban revolt with sectarian grievances it consolidated the minorities around the regime and the rural population did not find the message appealing for the rural people are maybe religious but fanatical about the religion and maybe individually pious in private.

Now we have large sections of disenfranchised people having become poor and without hope. The people are also bent on revenge and on taking the fight to the end. This is neither Chechnya nor Algeria and we are no longer in 82.

I hope this helps; I am sure there are other elements that I am not aware of but it is known for a fact that after the insurrection Hafez did accomodate the Islamic groups and brought many urban people into the government to blunt the effect of his repression. The father had brains and guts still he was evil in many ways and ignorant in many others but none of the sons is the father.

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June 4th, 2012, 8:11 pm


45. Dawoud said:

It is now well-known here that I am NOT an apologist for Bashar (War Criminal) al-Assad’s regime, but I find find it hypocritical and funny that an Israeli commentator above is saying: “Stones vs. Firearms.”

Palestinians invented “stones’ resistance” with their first intifadah, which started in 1987, agianst the Zionist occupiers! Palestinians’ resistance has been overwhelmingly “stones vs. firearms!”

Free Syria, Free Palestine!

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June 4th, 2012, 11:04 pm


46. Dawoud said:

Where are the well-known pro-regime commentators here? As “Syria Comment” seems to be joining the revolutionary tide and abandoning its pro-regime slant, it seems that the “pro-regimers” are seeking a new refuge in the Wilayat al-faqih media and blogosphere!

I Don’t miss them!

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June 4th, 2012, 11:13 pm


47. omen said:

posted just to note the oddity:

Israel Should Bomb Assad’s Palace

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should order the IDF ( Israeli Defense Force ) to launch a massive air strike against Assad’s palace ( situated atop Mount Qassioun northeast of Damascus) that would at one fell swoop wipe him, his family and top leadership circle out,

Assad has concentrated his family, top military command and intelligence chiefs at a single nerve center behind the fortified walls of the Qassioun Palace, the snake’s head can feasibly be cut off at one stroke.

By doing this Israel would be signalling to the Arab and Muslim that Israel is the true Defender and Benefactor of Arab & Muslim Rights in the Middle East. Secondly it would remove the one remaining obstacle to dealing with Iran immediately.

not that i find this scenario likely but how embarrassing would it be for israel to ride to the rescue while arab leaders have turned a blind eye to the slaying of fellow muslims for months now.

that detail about the palace is from debka. i wonder how accurate it is.

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June 4th, 2012, 11:24 pm


48. omen said:

45. dawoud, can’t one be israeli and support the revolution? am i misreading him or isn’t he calling basher the terrorist?

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June 4th, 2012, 11:40 pm


49. Ghufran said:
One has to wonder what Arab nations are able to provide to the modern world beside violence. Let us blame a foreign power or some mysterious bombing agency for this disgusting crime. Mirror,mirror on the wall ,who is the most violent race of all ?

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June 4th, 2012, 11:48 pm


50. Ghufran said:

On why we should be careful when forming an opinion:
Regime media also took a post by Alex Thompson-UK and played with it to make it look like he doubts that the opposition is telling the truth,read the actual post on Alex blog.
My point,for the sixty times I might add,is that this vicious cycle of violence is not helping Syria as a whole,the country will be in ruins before the armed rebels declar “victory”.

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June 5th, 2012, 12:02 am


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