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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201. Amjad said:

“The regime guarantees one thing: security”

How quickly the regimists would love the world to forget Hulla. Oh right, that was committed by 800 “terrorists” with the super human ability to slip in and out of a siege. Did the regime’s “investigation” manage to convincingly put the blame on these “terrorists”? Not even close.

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June 6th, 2012, 11:45 am


202. zoo said:

After the ‘humanitarian’ trojan horse, now the convenient WMD

FSA fears al-Assad may use WMDs

By Caroline Akoum
Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Three days following the end of the deadline granted by the Free Syrian Army’s [FSA] to the al-Assad regime to put an end to the violence, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that Syrian gunmen had killed at least 80 al-Assad regime soldiers. The FSA had granted the al-Assad regime a deadline to implement all points of the Annan initiative and cease all military operations, threatening that otherwise it would not be bound by any “obligations” towards UN envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan. Following the end of this deadline, FSA forces have escalated their operations against al-Assad regime forces, reportedly killing 80 government troops since the beginning of the week.

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June 6th, 2012, 11:59 am


203. Amjad said:

Here’s your “combat ready” Russia

“In February 2009, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that 200 of the 291 MiG-29s currently in service across all Russian air arms were unsafe and would have to be permanently grounded.[19] This action would remove from service about a third of Russia’s total fighter force, some 650 aircraft.

On 5 June 2009, the Chief of the General Staff, Nikolai Makarov said of the Russian Air Force that “They can run bombing missions only in daytime with the sun shining, but they miss their targets anyway”.[20]”

“Russia worries about military readiness”

“The Russian military is in serious trouble – its ranks are shrinking rapidly”, said Paul Felgenhauer of the Washington-based think tank Jamestown Foundation. “Russia’s birthrate is low, the population is shrinking and with it the number of available conscripts, while hundreds of thousands dodge the draft and make the situation worse”

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June 6th, 2012, 12:10 pm


204. karabennemsi said:

@201 Amjad

Since you quote me, i assume you’re referring to me when talking about “regimists would love the world to forget Hulla.”

I was not aware that such impudent behaviour was the tone of discussion in this forum, i have been trying to write politely, and i assumed that you would do the same since you seemed like a competent person.
It is disappointing to see that i will not be able to have future discussions with you.
And btw I am not a regime loyalist. Hell no.

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June 6th, 2012, 12:26 pm


205. Alan said:

203. AMJAD
To us favourably your level of knowledge about the Russian military potential.

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June 6th, 2012, 12:57 pm


206. Amjad said:

The last time the regime thought that the Russians would go to war for them was during the 1973 war. The Russians had told the Americans in no uncertain terms that they would act “unilaterally” and intervene to save the Egyptian Third Army if Israel didn’t stop its counter offensive in Sinai. Kissinger called the Russians’ bluff, and American forces were placed on heightened alert. The Russians were not about to start World War 3 for the sake of Sadat, and quickly backed down from their threats.

After the clobbering the Syrian Air Force took in Lebanon in ’82, papa Assad went looking for more sophisticated weapons from the Russians. Instead, they just supplied him with more of the same crap that proved to be woefully outmatched against Israel’s American weaponry.

Moral to the story? Russian support is limited to raising a veto-hand at UN meetings and some blah blah statements about “unbalanced” resolutions. Anything beyond that will cost money.

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June 6th, 2012, 12:58 pm


207. Alan said:

Attack on Iran will damage Israel, ‘other countries’ – Russian security chief
A possible Israeli strike against Iran could have “absolutely negative” consequences primarily for Israel itself and for many neighboring countries as well, says Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev.
The Russian security chief urged foreign partners to be more optimistic concerning the possibility of solving the Iranian nuclear problem through negotiation.
“It is also wrong to conclude that all opportunities and all the existing potential have been exhausted. It should be used as long as it may be productive. Talks should continue,” Patrushev told the Rossiya-24 news channel.
The latest round of talks on the Iranian nuclear standoff was held between Tehran and P5+1 group in Baghdad on May 23-24. The meeting brought no breakthrough with Iran declaring its “absolute right” to enrich uranium and Western powers snubbing the republic’s demands to remove sanctions…../../..

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June 6th, 2012, 1:09 pm


208. Alan said:
Putin, Hu oppose attempts of foreign forced interference in Syria
BEIJING, June 6 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia and China oppose a foreign forced interference in Syria and imposing the policy for change of power in that country, the presidents of the countries Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao said in a joint statement, which they signed at the end of the state visit of the Russian president to China…/../..

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June 6th, 2012, 1:21 pm


209. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Complete building collapsing today in Homs.

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June 6th, 2012, 2:26 pm


210. Ghufran said:

It looks like the Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by the FSA and they are being used as a bargain chip to force the regime to release captured FSA officers. This move is a mistake and it can only be described as an act of thuggery that will help the regime in its PR war and damage the reputation of the FSA,another likely outcome is increasing the hostility between Hizbullah and the FSA,and the immediate result of this will be retaliatory measures against opposition forces in Lebanon, the Lebanese side,not just Hizbullah ,is convinced that the FSA is behind the kidnapping,a report by LBCi added more ammunition to the charges against the FSA which is now in the business of kidnapping civilians,Syrian and non Syrian,to further their cause,this spells confusion and lack of leadership on the part of the FSA,losing the higher moral ground makes it easier for outsiders to label fighting parties as ” the thugs,and the other thugs”.

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June 6th, 2012, 2:36 pm


211. Uzair8 said:

From AJE Live Syria blog. About an hour ago:

At a press conference in Qatar’s capital Doha on Wednesday, a group of leading Syrian businessmen pledged to provide $300m in aid to help fund the Syrian opposition.

The move could mark a turning point as the elite businessmen step up their support for the uprising.

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June 6th, 2012, 3:01 pm


212. Uzair8 said:

Btw it seems AJE has unfortunately removed it’s blog comment sections. Read elsewhere one user tweet that they should have a new home soon.

Moving on. It seems the unrest is only growing and spreading.

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June 6th, 2012, 3:08 pm


213. Uzair8 said:

Immediately after Bashar al-Assad cut off water supply, heavy rain fell in Rastan (4 June 2012):

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June 6th, 2012, 3:29 pm


214. Alan said:
Misunderstanding Russia On Syria

The unofficial U.S. government spokesperson David Ignatius writes about some new plan Kofi Annan is supposed to have developed:

To break the deadlock, Annan would create his contact group, composed of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States), plus Saudi Arabia and perhaps Qatar to represent the Arab League, and Turkey and Iran. The idea is to bring together the countries with most influence on the situation.
This unwieldy group would then draft a transition plan and take it to Assad and the Syrian opposition. This road map would call for a presidential election to choose Assad’s successor, plus a parliamentary ballot and a new constitution — with a timeline for achieving these milestones.

There is no way the Syrian government and the Russians would agree to this plan.

Why should they? It would give the U.S. and the Gulf tyrannies all they want. It also would not work.

How does this plan stop the terrorists that roam in Syria? How would it stop the money flowing to them? How would it address “the opposition” when there is no united opposition?

That plan was likely whispered into Ignatius ears by some U.S. diplomat rather than Annan.

The major mistake “western” writers make in their rather stupid comments is their misunderstanding of the Russian and Chinese position.This is not about a Russian harbor in the Mediterranean and not about cultural ties though there are intensive ones.

To those countries the fight over Syria is a principle one. In their eyes the U.S. is trying to establish a dogma that inner strife in any country, even when fueled by outer interference, justifies the removal of a regime by force or other means.

The U.S. is instigating protests by some rather lunatic “democratic forces” in Russia. It is pushing Tibetan exiles to stoke unrest in the Tibetan parts of China. It interferes in other local Chinese affairs…/../..

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June 6th, 2012, 3:42 pm


215. Amjad said:

“But she would probably be OK for a certain type of gentleman for a certain type of purpose.”


The regimists might not like it, but sometimes you *can* judge a book by its cover. Tackiness has a way of revealing itself.

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June 6th, 2012, 4:08 pm


216. majedkhaldoun said:

Another massacre by the Asad Shibiha in Qubair ,Hama.78 corps has been identified and the world is watching.
Russia call for a meeting include Iran, Iran is helping the Asad to kill Syrian, Iran must not be part of any meeting.
We are now in a very critical period,things are deteriorating fast,Damascus was involved,in Abbasiyeen square.Annan plan must not be extended,

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June 6th, 2012, 4:21 pm


217. bronco said:

#211. Ghufran said:

“It looks like the Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by the FSA ”

Turkey is starting to distance itself from the FSA’s thuggery after the tough warning from Khamenei.
In disarray, Erdogan is moving rapidly toward Russia to find a solution as the actions of its guest, the FSA, are becoming increasingly embarrassing and poisonous for Turkey’s reputation.

The FSA had their chance to become a serious partner but like the SNC they missed it. Their fate is the same as the divided and polluted SNC. They will soon become irrelevant.
In my view they should only blame themselves for their failures.
Some die hard anti-regime may blame the regime for the failure of these groups to unite but that would a compliment to the Syrian regime that has efficiently outsmarted the sponsors of these two organization, Turkey, Qatar, KSA and France.

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June 6th, 2012, 4:53 pm


218. Syria no Kandahar said:

A criminal calling himself revolutionist killing a soldier in a cold blood…

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June 6th, 2012, 4:57 pm


219. Syria no Kandahar said:

Multitasking revolutionists:killing Syrians,killing Iraqis ,kidnapping libanese….you pay we do it:

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June 6th, 2012, 5:01 pm


220. irritated said:

215. Uzair8 said

“Immediately after Bashar al-Assad cut off water supply, heavy rain fell in Rastan (4 June 2012):”

A miracle!

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June 6th, 2012, 5:02 pm


221. zoo said:

Der Spiegel : When Sanctions Backfire
Syrian War Profiteers Cash In on Insurgency

By Nadia Bitar in Damascus

EU sanctions were designed to undermine rich businesspeople propping up the Assad regime in Syria. But they are actually helping entrepreneurs with close ties to the government. Syrian profiteers are cashing in by buying up real estate at bargain prices and selling natural gas and diesel.

When Yousef Katt (not his real name) discusses the war in Syria, he merely refers to it as al-wada, or “the situation.” And for this businessman, it’s not a bad situation at all.

In fact, these days, Katt is constantly busy. Even on weekends, you’ll find him wearing slacks and a pressed shirt just in case someone calls and asks him to help sell their house. If the house lies in one of Damascus’ better neighborhoods, Katt will drive over to look at it. He gives the building a once-over, tells the owner he will think about whether he’s interested, and leaves. He can afford to be picky.

These days, there are many who have to sell their houses — but few who can buy them. Katt is one of these few.

“A top location is and will continue to be a top location,” Katt says. He recently took a look at a restaurant in the old city of Damascus near the famous Umayyad mosque. In the record year of 2010, 8.5 million tourists visited this location, and the numbers looked set to increase. And most of these have been cultural tourists with full wallets unlike the beach vacationers on package deals in Tunisia and Egypt. Of course, the ongoing troubles in Syria have kept most tourists away. But, Katt says: “Things will get going like that again in a couple of years.”

Katt belongs to Syria’s upper class, the top 1 percent of the population. Syria’s super-rich entrepreneurs enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the regime of President Bashar Assad — after all, good relations means good business. People in Damascus say that no big export or import deals can happen without the regime’s approval.

Katt has also made millions through trade, hotels and restaurants. Most of his assets are in foreign currencies. A lot of it is invested in Dubai — something which is now paying off for him.

Precious Commodities

“Syria is a good place to shop right now,” Katt says. Before the crisis, €1 ($1.25) fetched 60 Syrian pounds, but now it gets you 85 Syrian pounds on the black market. In March, Syria’s currency reached its lowest value to date, trading at 125 pounds to the euro.

There is a new term in Syria for men like Katt: the tijar al-azma, the traders of the crisis. They do business in three things: real estate, heating gas and diesel. And EU sanctions are actually helping these war profiteers.


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June 6th, 2012, 5:06 pm


222. zoo said:

Will Russia agree to move Al Assad aside?

A U.S. delegation headed by Fred Hof, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special adviser on Syria, is scheduled to meet with Russian counterparts June 8 in Moscow.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia and China are seeking to press the Syrian opposition to support peace efforts by UN envoy Kofi Annan and proposed a meeting of countries that have influence over the rebels.

Annan’s Plan
“The goal of such a meeting, bringing together all foreign players at the first stage without the Syrians, is to agree honestly and without double standards to implement Kofi Annan’s plan, because we all supported it,” Lavrov told reporters in Beijing today after a meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Putin.

Russia, which accuses Syrian armed opposition groups of sabotaging Annan’s almost two-month-old peace plan, yesterday condemned “amoral” foreign support for the rebels, who are receiving weapons and financing, according to a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

Syria says Saudi Arabia and Qatar are torpedoing the UN plan to end the conflict by continuing to arm rebels in violation of a cease-fire agreement reached in April.

Read more:

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June 6th, 2012, 5:11 pm


223. Amjad said:

Syria activists: 78 killed in village

“A Local Coordination Committees activist near Qubeir said the Syrian army began shelling the village using tanks at 7 p.m. The shelling lasted for an hour, after which militias loyal to the regime raided the village and began executing people using knives and AK-47s, the activist said.

About 200 people live in Qubeir, which is near villages that support the regime, the activist said.”


Syrian activists report wave of violence in Hama

“BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian activists reported a surge of bloodshed in the central Hama province late Wednesday, with at least 23 people killed — and possibly many more.

The reported mass killings are likely to ignite more anger nearly two weeks after the massacre of more than 100 people elsewhere in Syria as an international peace plan unravels and the country spirals toward civil war.

The exact circumstances of the violence in Hama were impossible to independently confirm.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said he had gathered the names of 23 people killed in shelling and other attacks. But the Local Coordination Committees, an activist group, said at least 86 were dead.

Abdul-Rahman called on U.N. observers to visit the area immediately.

“Do not wait until tomorrow in order to investigate this latest massacre,” he said.”

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June 6th, 2012, 5:57 pm


224. Amjad said:

Syrian Activists: At Least 78 Killed Near Hama

“Syrian activists say pro-government militia and security forces have killed at least 78 people, including women and children, in the central province of Hama. They said some of those killed in the village of al-Kubeir Wednesday were stabbed to death.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ‘shabiha’ militiamen armed with guns and knives carried out the attack after regular troops had shelled the area.

The new killings come less than two weeks after a massacre in the central area of Houla, in which 108 people were murdered, nearly half of them children. The May 25 incident has provoked sharp international outrage.”

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June 6th, 2012, 6:04 pm


225. Amjad said:

Nazi sympathizers spent the rest of their lives trying to excuse and explain their support for Hitler’s barbaric Third Reich. Likewise, the supporters of this filthy junta will bear the shame for the rest of their miserable lives. Disgraceful.

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June 6th, 2012, 6:09 pm


226. SANDRO LOEWE said:

209. SANDRO LOEWEsaid:

Complete building collapsing today in Homs.

This comment deserves 9 negative thumbs at #209. I wonder who maybe so ill minded as to vote negative to a fact as the collapse of a building. This not an opinion or an argument nor an article. This is as voting negative to a video of meteorite falling on earth. This is really amazing.

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June 6th, 2012, 6:10 pm


227. Juergen said:

funny articles are rare these days, this one at least brought some fun to home tonight. Obviously Madame Bitar wasnt long in Syria, I think unmarried christian women arent so rare in Syria nowadays.

Nadia Bitar from Damascus on the normal life in a country at war

“On these warm summer evenings, Mary feels as happy as never before. The beautiful red-brown hair with Syrian is over 40, unmarried – and conservative in the country is a rarity. Her siblings have pity on her. But since in December 2011 two bombs exploded unexpectedly in Damascus, their lifestyle is no longer sees Mary as a flaw.

“For the first time, it feels good to be unmarried and not to have children,” she laughs. “My friends are sitting at home and get depressed. They are afraid of what will become of their children. This concern I have not.”

“What should people make? But you have to live somehow,” says Mary. Suddenly she turns up her nose. It shows will be issued on one of the showcase, with long dresses, “Neon Yellow Neon Orange and the colors of this summer, who will wear that?”

Mary also had a girlfriend for a month from Homs were held with their family at his guest, to the refugees an affordable rent. “The first thing she asked me was whether we have a particular fashion brand in Damascus,” says Mary.”

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June 6th, 2012, 6:16 pm


228. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Let´s supose that 15.000 to 25.000 people have been killed in Syria from 15.03.2011.

Making some easy calculations anyone can conclude that some 700.000 to 800.000 new syrians have been born in the last 15 months.

Let´s hope these new born people will live in a global world and will opose the old decaying Assad dictatorship. So the demographic war is already won. Assad has nothing to do. People are people and the end of Assad is nearer day after day.

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June 6th, 2012, 6:18 pm


229. Amjad said:

“I wonder who maybe so ill minded as to vote negative to a fact as the collapse of a building”

Very sick mentalities indeed. One wonders why they don’t all move to the Iranian theocracy that they adore so much. Wasn’t it their head mullah who said “Economics is for donkeys?” Disgraceful.

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June 6th, 2012, 6:19 pm


230. Syrialover said:

#222 Irritated

Only dirty old men fantasise about a 22-year-old who sucks up and makes sexy noises at someone as ugly as Bashar Assad.

And would you be proud of a young daughter or sister acting and dressing like Miss Jaafari?

If you have like tendencies and tastes like the Bashars (Jaafari and Assad) maybe you would.

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June 6th, 2012, 6:22 pm


231. Amjad said:

Did anyone notice the timetable of events lately? Before the massacres, there used to be a bombing every week somewhere. Now the regime has put the bombings on a pause while it commits a savage massacre everyweek. Can you people be more obvious? Bashar Al-Wahsh is as ingenious and subtle as Fred Flintstone. Only Fred was more evolved than Mr “I have to cut off all the limbs to perform surgery”

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June 6th, 2012, 6:28 pm


232. Amjad said:

I wonder if Professor Landis is still against the idea of NATO military intervention, while the shabiha go on and ethnically cleanse a different area every week? Just say the word NATO, and I’ll put up a radar post for you on my roof top, and gladly markthe tanks and checkpoints of eklab el assad.

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June 6th, 2012, 6:36 pm


233. Amjad said:

Half a village murdered. I’m sure the apologists for this savage junta will claim that half the village killed the other half because they “converted to Shia-ism”, their usual pathetic and feeble explanation. An explanation so weak you could beat it up with wet spaghetti.

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June 6th, 2012, 6:46 pm


234. Syrialover said:

I hope Syrian Hamster will post again soon. His comments always lift my day.

But I understand, they keep him busy.

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June 6th, 2012, 7:11 pm


235. omen said:

aje report:

for the third day in a row, the syrian army fought armed rebels in the countryside around the city of latakia. the rebels now have new weapons, allowing them to carry out deadlier attacks against government forces. the government is using more force against them as well. activists say the government is using helicopters to target rebel areas. dozens of men were killed on both sides.

the armed opposition seems to be gaining ground in many parts of syria. even some of syria’s business community who traditionally supported the assad family are starting to abandon the regime. at a meeting in doha, syrian business leaders announced a new forum to support the revolution. they promised to give the syrian opposition 300 million dollars in the hopes of getting rid of assad.

[translated speech before the forum]
mustafa sabagh, syrian businessman: the businessmen support the revolution and we will provide financial help to the opposition because this is a critical time. the main motive for establishing this forum of syrian business leaders is to throw our unlimited support behind the revolution until it achieves its goals.

but money isn’t the only weapon people are talking about. u.s. treasury secretary said military action is still on the table. yet, u.s. officials have been toning their rhetoric down in the past few days away from a military solution.

timothy geithner: we, the united states, hope that all responsible nations will soon join in taking appropriate economic actions against the syrian regime. including, if necessary, chapter seven action in the un security council as called for by the arab league last weekend.

the ceasefire brokered by the un and the arab league’s envoy kofi annan is nowhere to be seen. and there are now louder warnings of an eminent civil war. annan is expected to deliver a message to the un on thursday. it’s time for the international community to decide its next step. but the security council is still searching for a move all its members, and most importantly, russia and china, can agree on. so far, russia has refused to agree on any forceful measures against the government in damascus. that’s why annan is expected to proposed another venue for negotiations. some kind of a contact group of countries exploring plans for a political transition in syria. all the while president bashar al assad remains defiant. on wednesday, he asked a baathist and a former agricultural minister to form a new government. his way of suggesting reform as he seems to be losing support at home.

rula amin, aljazeera, beirut.

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June 6th, 2012, 7:35 pm


236. Tara said:

Mixed massages from Russia?  Does that mean that Bashar is on auction already and Russia waiting for the largest bid, or is it just rhetoric? 

Syria/Russia: Russia is prepared to see President Assad leave power as part of a political settlement to end 15 months of bloodshed, but is not in talks with other nations on the fate of the Syrian leader, a senior Russian diplomat said yesterday.

Deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov also said a Yemen-style power transition was unlikely to work in Syria because many of Assad’s foes are unwilling to negotiate with the government, Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported.

Gatilov reiterated Russian statements – also repeated on Friday by President Vladimir Putin – that Moscow is open to Assad’s exit from power if it results from a Syrian political dialogue without foreign interference.

“We have never said or posed the condition that Assad must necessarily stay in power as the result of this political process,” state-run Itar-Tass quoted Gatilov as saying in Geneva, a day after a meeting Annan. “This issue must be resolved by the Syrians themselves.”

He said Russia “is not holding any contacts or discussions with anyone about whether Assad should stay in power or go.”

President Obama told G8 countries including Russia last month that Assad must leave power and pointed to Yemen, where foreign states helped engineer a handover from longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to an administration led by his vice-president, as a model for a potential transition.

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June 6th, 2012, 8:39 pm


237. Son of Damascus said:

Houla not a game changer

By: Amal Hanano

Confession: the images of the carnage in Houla did not move me like they seem to have moved the rest of the world. Yes, they were tragic, horrific acts of violence against the most innocent of victims. But they didn’t break anything inside of me that was not already broken, nor did they raise the level of outrage or sorrow I feel everyday over what is happening in Syria.

Maybe it was because in the twenty-fours hours before hearing about the Houla massacre, I had heard that a friend’s relative had been killed, I had heard that another friend’s elderly relative had been kidnapped by gangs for ransom, I had received desperate Skype messages from an activist in Homs, crying, “my precious ones are gone, my precious ones are gone,” referring to three Shaam News Network media activists who had been shot dead by Assad forces, and I had spoken with the brother of a martyr in Aleppo, who told me that since his older brother was killed one week ago, he was trying to act normally but the truth was, his “heart was burning.” By late afternoon, when I watched the first video of the children of Houla, with their tiny throats slit open below their ashen, angelic faces, all I could feel was yet another heavy thud of dread. One we had felt many times before.

The days after Houla brought the news of the death of Basel Shehade, the brilliant young filmmaker who was killed by the shells falling over Homs. (Will the shells ever stop falling over Homs?) The days after Houla brought news of continued shelling, the burning of Aleppo’s and Idleb’s countryside, and the deaths of another dozen men — their eyes blindfolded and hands bound — executed in Deir al-Zor. The days after Houla brought news of thousands of Syrian refugees in Egypt who found themselves stranded with empty homes, empty pockets, and a bleak, uncertain future.


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June 6th, 2012, 8:59 pm


238. Son of Damascus said:

Details are slowly emerging from Syria, and non of it good. Yet again Syrian villages are bombarded then shabeeha sent in to “finish” the job, these massacres keep repeating themselves and the parrots keep defending the indefensible while the thugs keep butchering and burning the Syrian people.

Al-Qubeir Reef Hama, among the casualties is a woman from the Qastal family, who was killed with all her children 35 people from al-Yateem family were killed as well:


Kafr Zeita, Reef Hama burnt out corpses of Syrian civilians:


Please note the at the 1:03 minute mark the spray paint on the wall (Al Assad or Nobody else) and the hospital that was targeted by tanks. (Graphic)

Allah yerham alshuhadaa

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June 6th, 2012, 9:21 pm


239. Son of Damascus said:

Evidence of shelling that Kafr Zeita endured:

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June 6th, 2012, 9:27 pm


240. Observer said:

It seems that the pattern of massacres is aimed at ethnic cleansing in a plan to have the Alawi community in a contiguous geographic area. I am not privy to the distribution of villages around Hama and Homs and Rastan and Latakia and Tartous.
It is possible that a mini state which will preserve Russia and Iran interests may see the day; again I do not know and I am speculating.

The game is afoot. The meeting in Istanbul is more low key and with more important people planning a post Annan plan and with less fanfare.

Lavrov is asking for a meeting of players including the 5 SC members, the AL ( ie KSA and Qatar ); the EU, and Iran and Turkey.
France and the US have announced that Iran inclusion is a non starter.

My reading of this is that the garbage can that Putin is holding called Somaria Alassad is starting to stink really bad and this hot potato needs to be tossed aside.

Putin went to the EU to ask for open borders no visas investment in Russia, technological know how from Germany, thinking that the EU and the US will give all of that in exchange for Syria. The guy is either stupid or delusional. He did not get anything. He was told solve Syria and then we can talk.

Russia’s prize is Iran not Syria and this is where it wants to have its influence to protect its southern border and to insure that the 300 mile gap between Kazhakstan and Ukraine remains in Russian hands and to insure that the oil and gaz pipelines go through Russia and not south through Iran and Turkey. It also does not want any more oil and gaz dumped on the world markets with decreased revenues.

The following from Alquds is telling\201266-066z499.htm

It seems that Fredo transfered 6 billion to Russia already for him and his family. I think if he did that he can kiss the money good bye and if the word goes out that he did that, others in the close circle might kill him or panic and leave him behind to face the music.

Cham Press seems in a panic today.

Anyone else has more information about these latest changes before Annan talks tomorrow please post them

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June 6th, 2012, 9:55 pm


241. Observer said:

This is from RT and if they are reporting this the game is up

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June 6th, 2012, 10:08 pm


242. omen said:

234. SYRIALOVER said:
hope Syrian Hamster will post again soon. His comments always lift my day.

did he post somewhere? what did he say? i don’t see him on the thread.

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June 6th, 2012, 10:22 pm


243. omen said:

237. SON OF DAMASCUS said:
By: Amal Hanano

he’s so talented.
i was going to post his aleppo piece.

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June 6th, 2012, 10:29 pm


244. Son of Damascus said:


While I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly about Amal, I feel like I must correct you; Amal is a proud woman not that changes anything, just felt you should know…

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June 6th, 2012, 10:49 pm


245. omen said:

more on the hama slayings,

an opposition activist gives his account of what happened in qubair and maarzaf to the bbc:


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June 6th, 2012, 10:50 pm


246. omen said:

oh, well, that makes more sense, sod. my mistake. her avatar gives another impression.

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June 6th, 2012, 10:53 pm


247. omen said:

240. OBSERVER said:
It seems that the pattern of massacres is aimed at ethnic cleansing in a plan to have the Alawi community in a contiguous geographic area. I am not privy to the distribution of villages around Hama and Homs and Rastan and Latakia and Tartous.

a homs activist reported weeks ago that abandoned houses in homs were being resettled with alawites.

i earlier speculated if the ground was being prepped for installation of proposed oil pipelines. there is an existing gas pipeline running through homs now.

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June 6th, 2012, 11:07 pm


248. omen said:


putin wants the nato missile defense shield, arrayed around russia’s borders, removed.

russia also holds interest in iraqi oil. wonder if a pipeline will be laid towards the port in tartus.

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June 6th, 2012, 11:15 pm


249. majedkhaldoun said:

Yes ,It is ethnic cleansing, and soon the goverment and its supporters will defend the criminal Assad, we will not forget, we will not forgive,The Shabbiha , all of them will be killed, and their land and houses will be burned, their money will not help them, they started, they must suffer.

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June 6th, 2012, 11:44 pm


250. Syrialover said:

OMEN # 242

No, we haven’t had a squeak out of the Hamster for a while.

I thought I’d just say hello to him.

I hope he’ll reappear soon.

Did you catch the update on OTW a week or two ago: ?

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June 6th, 2012, 11:57 pm


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