News Round Up (30 January 2013)

President Obama announced a new round of humanitarian assistance, an additional $155 million to provide for the urgent and pressing needs of civilians in Syria and refugees forced to flee the violence of the Assad regime. This brings America’s contribution to date to $365 million, making the United States the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people.

Lakhdar Brahim of UN

Syria is being destroyed,” Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, said after closed-door consultations with the Security Council.

Brahimi blamed both Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and the Western-backed opposition forces.

“Objectively, they are cooperating to destroy Syria. Syria is being destroyed bit by bit. And in destroying Syria, the region is being pushed into a situation that is extremely bad, and extremely important for the entire world,” Brahimi said….”You may have seen that the two parties are maybe a little more embarrassed to say that ‘We’re going to achieve victory next week.’ And both sides have started to say, ‘If there is a political solution, perhaps we are willing to listen, provided that political solution will give us 100 percent of what we want.'”

United Nations reported a sharp increase in the number of refugees known officially to have fled Syria, increasing the total in neighboring countries to more than 700,000 from 500,000 in December.

Both Sides in Syria Trade Blame for Scores of Killings in Aleppo

People gathered at the banks of a small canal coming from a government-controlled suburb of Aleppo, Syria, to view dozens of bodies on Tuesday.
By HANIA MOURTADA and ALAN COWELL, Published: January 29, 2013

BEIRUT, Lebanon — An activist group with opposition contacts in Syria said on Tuesday that the muddied bodies of scores of people, most of them men in their 20s and 30s, had been found in a suburb of the northern city of Aleppo.

In Geneva, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday that there had been an “unrelenting flow of refugees” across Syria’s borders, principally into Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.

The highest numbers were in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon but smaller numbers had been registered in Egypt and North Africa, said Sybella Wilkes, a spokeswoman for the refugee agency.

The total now exceeds 700,000, made up of around 580,000 registered and the rest waiting to be registered as refugees. The spurt in refugees meant that 200,000 have fled in less than two months since early December when the total was around 500,000.

“We are trying to clear a backlog of people because the numbers have gone up so dramatically,” in Jordan and Lebanon particularly, Ms. Wilkes said.

The fighting has long ceased to be a straight contest between government and rebel forces. In the northern town of Ras al-Ain on the border with Turkey, rebels have fought Kurds. and in Deir al-Zour, rivalries among the groups claiming to have overrun the security office showed the contest between them to attract arms and recruits.

Omar Abu Layla, an activist documenting the fighting, said local and Al Nusra groups had joined in the fighting.

“Al Nusra are good in suicide attacks, but our battalions are better than them at storming,” he said.

In the central city of Homs, meanwhile, the toll of the fighting among the dwindling number of inhabitants seemed evident on Tuesday as government forces launched a rocket attack on the Jouret al-Shiyah neighborhood.

“Mercy, dear God, Mercy. I don’t know what’s going on. I feel that they’re shelling right above us,” said Um Abdo, a resident in her fifties. “I feel that the whole world is shaking. The shelling is so heavy and so close. Pray for us please. I swear we are drained and exhausted.”

World Bank, UN Provide Bleak Estimate of 2012 Economic Performance (Syria Report)
The World Bank and ESCWA have estimated Syria’s GDP to have plunged by 20 to 30 percent last year as the war engulfing the country continues to take its toll on the economy.

En Syrie, une «économie sous perfusion des pays amis» (This is an excellent run down by Jihad Yazigi and Caroline Donati of the many economic problems Syrians now face. Read all]
27 janvier 2013 | Par Caroline Donati

Comment tient la Syrie après presque deux années de révolution et de guerre ? Jihad Yazigi, rédacteur en chef du Syria Report, site d’information et d’analyse économique (, évalue les moyens de subsistance de la population et les ressources d’un régime sous perfusion de ses derniers alliés : « Il faudra vingt ans pour revenir au niveau d’avant-guerre », selon lui. Entretien.

Selon le Programme alimentaire mondial (PAM), près d’un million de Syriens seraient menacés de famine, cet hiver. Que pensez-vous de cette estimation ?

Il est aujourd’hui très difficile d’avoir des chiffres sur la situation mais le PAM a raison de tirer la sonnette d’alarme. Ce que l’on peut dire, c’est que la détérioration de la situation, qui s’est considérablement accélérée depuis l’été dernier et les combats à Alep, a aggravé une très profonde crise économique et sociale. Il y a une forte décroissance, le chômage est très élevé, le taux d’inflation officiel est de 50 % mais il est bien plus élevé car l’indice est mesuré par rapport aux prix officiels : par exemple, le mazout est calculé au prix de 27 livres syriennes le litre, alors qu’en réalité il est de 100 livres et bien plus.

Le grand problème qui se pose est un problème d’acheminement des biens, des produits agricoles. Il est très difficile de circuler d’une région à une autre, les routes sont très dangereuses, les attaques y sont permanentes de la part de bandes armées qui profitent du chaos.

À ce problème d’acheminement s’ajoute celui de la pauvreté. Beaucoup de gens ont perdu leur travail depuis longtemps et leurs économies fondent ou ont déjà fondu ; l’inflation atteint des niveaux records en particulier pour le pain, élément de base de l’alimentation des familles : dans certains quartiers touchés par la violence, elle atteint parfois 500 %. Il faut aussi savoir que les régions et les quartiers qui sont les plus touchés par la violence sont des zones pauvres. Cette combinaison de facteurs laisse prévoir ce type de situation : l’appauvrissement et le risque de famine…..

France Worried Syria will Fall into Hands of Islamist Militant Groups

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s foreign minister said on Monday Syria risks falling into the hands of Islamist militant groups if supporters of the Syrian opposition do not do more to help it in a 22-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

Addressing the opening of a conference in Paris with senior members of the Syrian National Coalition, Laurent Fabius said the meeting must focus on making the opposition politically and militarily cohesive to encourage international assistance.

“Facing the collapse of a state and society, it is Islamist groups that risk gaining ground if we do not act as we should,” he said. “We cannot let a revolution that started as a peaceful and democratic protest degenerate into a conflict of militias.”

Western concern over the growing strength of jihadist militants fighting autonomously in the disorganized ranks of anti-Assad rebel forces is rising. This has hindered international aid to the moderate Syrian

Daniel Lippman, who has just returned from Turkey, wrote these two articles about Turkey and Syria and about Syrian refugees

NGO – ‘Initiative for a New Syria’ and its objectives. Financial report of donations inside Syria: The report can also be found online at

Migration Policy Institute’s online journal, the Migration Information Source, Hospitals and Doctors under Attack in Syria: Q&A with the Chair of the Humanitarian Aid Committee for the Syrian Expatriates Organization. Dr. Fadi Al Khankan of the Syrian Expatriates Organization, a nonprofit organization of Syrian Americans and Syrian Canadians that is providing medical care and humanitarian relief among other initiatives to establish a democratic Syria, recently sat for a Q&A with the Source.

Al-Nusra- Front claims Credit for Blast in Ismaili town in Syria

Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad Says His Wife Is Pregnant
2013-01-28 20:00:12.707 GMT

By Max Fisher
Jan. 28 (Washington Post) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime is embroiled in a now two-year civil war that has killed tens of thousands, gave a cheery interview to unnamed “visitors,” as reported by a sympathetic newspaper, in which he offhandedly revealed that his wife is pregnant. Asma al-Assad, the 37-year-old, British-born young mother of three (now four?),

Feeling All Cooped Up In The Syrian Capital
January 28, 2013 – NPR

…Watching television is probably the most common pastime these days. The most popular shows are Turkish soap operas, but every household also seems addicted to coverage of the war in Syria.

The average middle-class Damascene home has satellite TV complete with international news channels. Staunch pro-regime supporters shy away from watching the likes of BBC Arabic, CNN International and Al Jazeera, and instead watch Syrian state TV or Russia Today.

These choices can create tensions inside households, as individuals disagree on the politics.

To placate everyone, one couple hosting five relatives decided to purchase a second TV.

“We eat our meals together, and we don’t talk politics,” said the wife. “But come news time? We split up into two rooms, pro-regime and anti.”….

Comments (857)

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851. majedkhaldoun said:

Can’t you see he is responding against Syrians, he is bombing Aleppo

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February 3rd, 2013, 5:14 pm


852. Tara said:


A day will come when he begs for mercy that he will not find.

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February 3rd, 2013, 5:41 pm


853. Syrialover said:

New thread started

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February 3rd, 2013, 5:44 pm


854. revenire said:

“852. TARA said:
A day will come when he begs for mercy that he will not find.”

That day will never come.

Bashar and no one else.

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February 3rd, 2013, 6:03 pm


855. omen said:

what’s the difference between holocaust deniers & assadists? both deny their respective regimes were/are waging genocide.

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February 3rd, 2013, 9:25 pm


856. omen said:

730. Visitor said: As the FSA said, Moaz is a novice and we do not need to worry about what he does. Does anyone in his right mind think that the revolution is about releasing prisoners or renewing passports? Only a crappy person would come up with such an idea.

opinion about moaz aside, of course the revolution seeks the liberation of tormented innocents thrown in regime dungeons.

whether moaz can pull this off is questionable, looks more like a opening gambit, but certainly the goal is a laudable one.

how can you be so dismissive about the fate of political prisoners?

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February 3rd, 2013, 9:41 pm


857. omen said:

848. revenire said:

Shakeeb al-Jabri, a pro-democracy Syrian activist based in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, called Khatib’s move “illegal.” He said on Twitter:

“SOC [the Syrian Opposition Coalition] leader Moaz AlKhatib violated the SOC charter with his announcement that he is willing to engage in dialog with the regime.”

The coalition’s founding document, the Doha Agreement, states that all coalition members agree “not to engage in dialogue or negotiations with the existing regime.”

this entire post was lifted from npr:

Shakeeb al-Jabri, a pro-democracy Syrian activist based in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, called Khatib’s move “illegal.” He said on Twitter:

“SOC [the Syrian Opposition Coalition] leader Moaz AlKhatib violated the SOC charter with his announcement that he is willing to engage in dialog with the regime.”

The coalition’s founding document, the Doha Agreement, states that all coalition members agree “not to engage in dialogue or negotiations with the existing regime.”

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February 3rd, 2013, 10:28 pm


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