Syria Reports 120 Military Killed in Jisr al-Shagour, Promises Decisive Response. More Economic Woes
Posted by Joshua on Monday, June 6th, 2011
Syria is slipping toward civil war. The announcement today that 120 Syrian officers have been killed in Jisr al-Shughour indicates how dire the contest between the opposition and government forces has become. This weekend over 100 Syrians were killed by government troops.
None of the reporters I spoke to today believe Syrian reports of a massacre. The LA Times puts the word in quotation marks. Other reporters stated to me that the government has offered neither proof nor pictures of killings in Jisr al-Shaghour. Opposition leaders argue that the claim is being manufactured by the government in order to justify escalating security measures. Some claim that security forces are killing military deserters.
a 28-year-old who gave his name only as Omar, said clashes continued on Monday between “tens of soldiers” who had defected to defend the town, on one side, and members of military intelligence and plainclothes security agents on the other.
Regardless of the truth, which will emerge soon enough, the government has met with no success in quelling the revolt despite an escalating death rate and an ever more ruthless crack down.
An opposition member who lives outside Syria but has sources inside the country who have proved reliable in the past said the clashes over the past three days in Jisr Al-Shugur, Khan Shaykhun and surrounding villages were between members and supporters of the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood and the Syrian security forces.
He said that 90 security members and 23 opposition members were killed Monday. In addition, nine tanks were destroyed and two helicopters were downed, he said.
He said the weapons had been taken into the country from Turkey, whose border is about 20 kilometers away. The wounded, he added, were being taken to Turkey for treatment.
The man, who has asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, said Muslim Brotherhood supporters have long opposed the Syrian regime and were taking advantage of the uprising to settle their score. He further expressed concern that the brotherhood could hijack the peaceful secular uprising.
Defections: I have refrained from posting the grisly videos that show the horrors of what is going on in Syria. Two videos have been frequently posted – one showing the hanging of a soldier in Hama and the other of Syrian security forces standing over the dead displayed on a roof top. But this video from a lieutenant who has defected and tells what happened in Daraa is proof of a defection.
[Addendum: Next morning] Many people in the comment section ask me for proof that the defector shown in the video is genuine and not an actor posing as a defector to undermine military moral. I cannot do this. Here is one comment:
With all my respect, the video of the defector is fake. He looks very similar to the one who had been shown on channels more than month ago as a republican guard. His name is different. He said that he witnessed ALL the crimes and massacres of the regime from Deraa province up till the north! I mean, he was everywhere and all the time, and witnessed everything! Just check the video again @ 1:33, 1:43, 1:59, 2:04, 3:59, 4:07. In all these minuets, the guy looks at a paper in his hand downwards to have the names that he had to mention.]
Here is another story from a soldier from Tel Kalakh. This is important because it could catch on. In all likelihood, there will be growing defections as the fighting gets worse. The army could possible split along sectarian lines if things get much worse. The Syrian government will be doing all it can to make sure that no Syrian territory falls out of its control. This would provide the opposition with a “Bengazi” which would allow the formation of a resistance base and construction of an opposition army. It would also provide defecting military elements with a safe haven to which they could flee and find protection. As it is today, defectors must go into hiding or go abroad in order to avoid arrest or worse.
The Interior Minister has promised a swift and stern crackdown. Ibrahim Shaar, announced:
“We will deal with the attacks very firmly and according to the law, and we will not go quite on any attack that targets the security of the country and its citizens.” (Syria News)
On TV, he said,
“The armed attacks targeted public and private buildings in various regions and lately there were similar attacks in Jisr Al-Shugur,” Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar said in a short statement on state television. “The state will deal with sternness and force within the law and we will not remain silent when it comes to any armed attack.”
Ex-V.P. Abdalhalim Khaddam accused the Antalya opposition leaders, who met last weekend and who refused to permit him to attend, of being too soft and naive. “What you have to have is a complete transformation of the government,” he said. They concentrated on the personalities and not the regime and government structures. If the opposition talks about keeping V.P Sharaa as an interim head of government, they are naive and missing the real picture, he insisted.
The Gay Girl in Damascus – A very talented and brave Syrian blogger, Amina Abdallah, has been detained without notification or due process by the Syrian security forces. I pushed her wonderful blog about a month ago, here.
The economic situation continues to deteriorate in Syria. Almost all hotels in Aleppo are closed, according to one informant. The government is not allowing the owners to officially close them before proving that they are in financial distress. But that is surely a technicality that can only delay the firing of hundreds of hotel employees. Owners can simply not afford to keep them on without paying guests.
Public Sector banks are asking people to pay the principle payments of their loans. People are not paying at all. It would seem that people are testing the government systems. al-Iqtisadi reports (in Arabic) that
“The government will soon issued a decree that will exempt between 4,000 5,000 industrialists who have received loans and banking benefits and who have not paid their loan payments for two cycles. They will reschedule their debt so that the bank will forgo the accumulated interest due on the loan.”
The government is doing this is because if a borrower defaults for two loan payments, one is obliged by law to write off the loan as in default. This is why the need to reschedule. It allows the Syrian accountants to keep the loans on the books and hide the default. What are the liabilities of the consolidated balance sheet of the public sector, including the public banks? We do not know.
Syria’s Unrest Impacts Economy Across All Sectors: The unrest gripping Syria has taken its toll on the economy and GDP growth is expected to be well in the red this year.
News Round Up
Syria, Claiming 120 Officers Killed, Hints at Retaliation
By LIAM STACK and J. DAVID GOODMAN,
Published: June 6, 2011
CAIRO — Syria’s state news agency reported Monday that “armed gangs” had killed 120 police, security personnel and civilians in multiple attacks in a northwestern town, and that residents were “pleading” for the army to intervene. The reports could not be independently verified, but regardless of whether the numbers are inflated, they appear likely to presage an even harsher crackdown on anti-government protesters.
The reported number of dead ballooned over the course of the day — from 28 to 40 to 80 to 120 — as state media described escalating violence in the town of Jisr al-Shughour by the unspecified armed fighters, including an ambush of police, the bombing of a post office and gunfire from rooftops.
By the end of the day, state media said police and security forces were clashing with hundreds of armed men who had taken control of some areas of the town. But the state broadcaster showed no images from the town, despite scrolling text on Syrian television that spoke of a “massacre.”
Protesters could not be immediately reached in the area, but opposition activists repudiated any suggestion that antigovernment protesters had mounted such attacks. “I have seen no evidence of organized violence by protesters against the regime,” said Wissam Tarif, a Syrian human rights activist currently outside the country. “Protesters do not have weapons they could even use against tanks and helicopters, which the regime is using.”….
(Reuters) – Syrian forces fought hundreds of gunmen in a northwestern town and 80 security force members were killed, state television said on Monday, in the first report of a major clash in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
The television said armed groups set government buildings ablaze in the town of Jisr al-Shughour, stole five tonnes of dynamite and were firing at civilians and security using machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades.
“The security forces have managed to end a blockade over one of the neighbourhoods (in Jisr al-Shughour) that was seized by the gunmen for a while and are now battling them to end the blockade on the other neighbourhoods,” it said.
“The gunmen mutilated some of the bodies and threw some into the river. The people in Jisr al-Shughour are urging the army to intervene speedily,” it said.
Activists earlier said a security operation had been under way in the town since Saturday in which they said at least 37 residents and 10 police were killed.
Authorities have prevented most international media from operating in Syria, making it impossible to verify accounts of the violence from activists and officials.
Protests against Assad have grown despite reform gestures dismissed by the opposition and a continuing crackdown that has killed at least 1,100 people since the uprising against Assad broke out in mid March.
Residents said the wave of killings in Jisr al-Shughour erupted on Saturday when snipers on the roof of the main post office fired at a funeral for six protesters killed during a demonstration a day earlier.
Angry mourners set fire to the post office after the shooting, said one Jisr al-Shughour resident, a history teacher who gave his name only as Ahmad. The Syrian state television said eight security members were killed when armed gunmen attacked the post office building.
It said at least 20 security members were killed in an ambush by “armed gangs,” and another 37 were killed in an attack on a security post. It did not report residents’ deaths.
Jisr al-Shughour, a town of 50,000 people, lies on a road between the coastal city of Latakia and Syria’s second city of Aleppo, which have seen little protests against Assad so far. The town is of Sunni majority but activists said there are Alawite and Christians villages in the area.
Rights campaigners say some deaths of soldiers or police during the uprising have been the result of the killing of security forces trying to defect or refusing to obey orders.
UN urged to act following deadly weekend in Syria
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, 6 June 2011
Amnesty International has condemned Syrian authorities’ brutal treatment of protesters following one of the bloodiest weekends in months of pro-reform demonstrations, with more than 120 people reportedly shot dead.
The call came ahead of a key UN Security Council vote expected this week on the violent repression in Syria.
“As the death toll in Syria reaches staggering new heights, it is imperative that the UN Security Council – which has so far been silent on this issue – votes to condemn the killings,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“It must also take decisive action and refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. Those responsible for the brutal crackdown of pro-reform protesters must no longer be allowed to get away with murder,” he added.
Amnesty International has the names of 54 people reported to have been shot dead by the security forces on Saturday and Sunday. In the north-western town of Jisr al-Shughur, 43 people were killed on Saturday, including some attending a funeral procession.
A number of soldiers were also reportedly killed, but it is unclear in what circumstances.
On Friday, at least 69 people, were killed in the central town of Hama when security forces opened fire on “Children’s Friday” protests in honour of the dozens of children killed in the recent unrest.
Friday’s nationwide protests took place in some 200 locations and may have had the largest numbers of protesters to date.
I am really disappointed, pro regime are saying tha syrian protesters life is O.K. to sacrifice and kill,while soldiers who are killing the protesters ,their life is regarde at a higher level, Human life is equal, soldiers were entrusted by the people to defend them they turn around and kill the people, those soldiers betrayed the trust,their life is as important as the civilian ,the difference is betrayal of trust.
Further this is a revolution, after demonstrating peacefully,for long all they get is bullets from criminal security officers, there will be a time when people will have to defend themselves,and they have full right to do so, and yes they defend thenselves and therefore there will be cASUALTIES FROM THE OPPRESSION AND CRIMINAL SOLDIERS WHO BETRAYED THEIR PEOPLE,,TO CRY FOR THE DEATH OF THOSE , DOES NOT MAKE SENSE, IT IS THE REGIME ARROGANCEAND INTRANSIGENCE who shpild be blamed, the regime is dictatorial, and the people are asking for their legitimate right of freedom.
Submitted on 2011/06/05 at 3:44am
Have been reading this blog lately and I am finally feeling compelled to enter the fray given the latest developments.
The video showing the hanging of a security officer in Hama is very disturbing indeed. This type of barbaric behavior is unacceptable and inexcusable. Islam forbids this type of extra-judicial killing and the mutilation of bodies. Anyone condoning this type of “justice” is beyond sick.
The same applies to the killing (hundreds) ad torture (thousands) of unarmed demonstrators by the shabiha and security forces. Anyone condoning their actions is also beyond sick.
Our country is heading towards an ugly civil war in which there will be no winner, just destruction, mayhem, and grief. We need to stop this from happening.
The blame and responsibility for what is happening in Syria rests first and foremost on the shoulders of the government and the Baath party. They got us to where we are and they have the keys to the solution.
However, the opposition gets a share of the blame. “Silmieh” means “silmieh.” And while one cannot rule out agent provocateurs working for the government to try to undermine the protests, there are elements within the opposition who are engaging in all sorts of criminal activity and that’s unacceptable.
The government and opposition need to be proactive in bringing peace back to the streets. We cannot allow Syria to go the way of Iraq or Libya.
I demand a stop to the killing of protesters and security personnel. I demand a stop to torture. We need to break the cycle of violence and prevent sectarianism from rearing its ugly head.
Atheist /ex christian Syrian [posted several weeks ago]
I read a lot of the comments here ,and let me say it is sadly mostly pointless.
I think the real issues in Syria is the sectarian elephant in the room that most people try to ignore or mask by propaganda ,nobody in Syria really believe the story of the Israeli-salafists united army that emerged out of a extra dimension to try to subjugate Syria and all that crap ,the issues at hand is a sectarian one and i’ll try To explain Syria’s sectarian alignment regarding this ” revolution” from my neutral position(excuse some of the generalizations but i have no time for political correctness) :
They are anti-regime and fall into:three categories:
1-the Secular well educated that yearn for a free democratic Syria ,and those are usually upper middle class,and not really affected by the Syrian Mazooot Stock Market(sic).
2-Moderate Muslim those are usually middle class who are slipping because of the current economical situation to lower classes ,they use to be non-political ,anti-regime for the usual Arabic reasons with a pinch of a justified and non justified sectarianism but were not really vocal about it ,and used to live by the rule “El7i6 el7i6 ,w ya rab elsetrah”,they faced for the first time in their lives the loss of dignity in their homes because they could not afford to buy Mazoot to heat their families this winter , and they are the main bulk of the demonstrations.
3-Extremist Muslim :who watches Safa and Alwisal and think that if the Alawites are gone,there will be roses and teddy bears everywhere,like 1, a minority.
1-the 0.1% ultra rich who depend on the regime to provide a “legal” cover for their cartels, usually they live in Malki and Mezzah Autostrad and frequent 500_pounds_for_a_cup_of_coffee cafes and the similar high society hypocrisy centers.
2-the 1% ultra poor who usually are not educated and really buy into Ad-dunia crap about global conspiracy and what not.
||-Christains ,Druzes ,Ismaillis:
They are usually pro-regime not because they benefited from it like Alawis did but because they are afraid of the following:
1-Losing the liberty to hold their rituals and losing the protection they enjoyed under the regime, have absolutly no trust in the Muslim brotherhood or any Islamist party, and don’t believe the meek and mild image they try to mask themselves with, and believe they are just trying to “ytmaskan 7ata ytmakan”, to impose a shariah law to fight Israel in a some glory Armageddon(despite what you think , what those minorities claim to uphold about Israel publicly is just trying to push and assert their Arabism -they see as a alternative for Islamism- but in reality they don’t give a rat’s a$$)
2-In the likely event of a civil war ,they are the most likely ones who suffer the most, because unlike Sunnis and Alawites they are highly decentralized and thus it is impossible for them to form a Beshmerga like protection militia like the former two will likely do. They saw what happened to the Christian Iraqis ,and they are ready to cooperate with the devil to avoid their fate.
Very very very pro-regime, ready to follow him to 9th depth of hell, for the following reasons:
1-Share 1 with Christians.
2-Religious masked tribalism ,emboldened by centuries of persecution,
3-Morbidly afraid from a revenge campaign ,like what the Shiite did in post-Saddam Iraq .
4-Fear of losing their newly founded respect (aka fear),and return to being just backward country peasants , to quote Ibrahim Almakhoos (once a foreign minister)in a conversation with Micheal Kilo :
بدك البنات العلويات يرجعوا يشتغلوا خدامات؟!
5-fear of losing -in a lot of cases- the family’s only business and only income and that is: the army, Mukhabarat, Tashbi7,,,,
URGENT! PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD
A very talented and brave Syrian blogger, Amina Abdallah, has apparently been snatched by the Syrian security forces. Please read the latest post on her blog and PLease pass the news as we need to keep her in the NEWS which hopefully will stop the bastards from harming her. http://damascusgaygirl.blogspot.com/2011/06/amina.html – A Gay Girl in Damascus: Amina
It’s the 80s all over again: -The army is marching toward Jisr Alshghour to surround it now and they are asking people to go hide in the basements. I hope that Jisr Alshghour wont be the second Hama….Why violence always reveal in our region? -People in the streets of Damascus are calling to impose the emergency law…AGAIN!
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be encouraging unrest on the Israel-Syria frontier in a futile effort to save his regime.
“We have no choice, we have to defend our border and Assad, in my opinion will fall in the end,” said Barak a day after hundreds of protesters from Syria tried to cross into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, prompting troops to open fire.
“It may be something that the Syrians are encouraging, it may be that they are pleased with it, they may think it distracts attention,” Barak told Israel public radio.
Syrian state television said 23 people were killed and some 350 wounded by Israeli gunfire, with all of the casualties falling on the Syrian side of a no-man’s land.
But the Israeli army said there were 10 dead, all of whom were killed when a number of Syrian landmines exploded in Quneitra after being set off by Molotov cocktails hurled by the protesters.
Barak said Israel would continue to defend its borders and that Assad would not be able to use the confrontations to avoid the consequences of massive popular uprisings rocking Syria.
“I think he will fall, he’s lost his legitimacy, he may be able to stabilise for another six or nine months, he will be very weakened.”
No End in Sight: President Bashar Assad Is Floundering in His Efforts to Snuff Out the Rebellion
June 4 (The Economist) — NOW in its third month, Syria’s uprising show no signs of abating.
Day 81: The Syrian Revolution is in full swing
– All Syrian cities and neighbourhoods disadvantaged, oppressed or prosecuted by the regime have risen. Those who have not are either well to do and do not care, or are regime benefactors.
– Ground networking is growing stronger, and coordination committee leaders have taken to the air
– The Conference and Declaration are milestones on the road to the liberation of Syria.
– The elected consultative body need to liaise with human rights groups, to push for more sanctions and a strong UN resolution for investigation of crimes against humanity.
– The consultative body needs to lobby with EU and US leaders for declaring the regime illegitimate and call for the president to step down.
– The consultative body needs to seek a broader and stronger base of representation of both, the exile and ground forces.
Such can be achieved by calling for a “Part II conference”, perhaps in a major European city
The goal would be to form a transitional coalition government in Exile.
Gulfsands Drops After Syrian Well Fails to Find Commercial Oil
2011-06-02 By Eduard Gismatullin
June 2 (Bloomberg) — Gulfsands Petroleum Plc headed for its biggest decline in more than two years after saying it suspended work at an exploration well in Syria, which failed to find commercial quantities of oil. Gulfsands fell as much as 34.75 pence, or 13 percent, the biggest intraday drop since Oct. 27, 2008, and traded down 11 percent at 236.25 pence at 9:03 a.m. local time.
Habib is affiliated with the Anglican Communion and is the director of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, as well as a researcher of Islamist movements.
He wrote numerous articles about the Muslim Brotherhood and their role in the political arena, as well as several books discussing Copts and religious movements in Egypt and the relation between politics and religion including his book, “Political Christianity in Egypt.”
His decision to join the leadership of a party representing the ideologies and principles of the Muslim Brotherhood outraged and shocked the Coptic community.
“The problem is that the Christian community has a completely distorted image of the Islamic movement because of the former corrupt regime and its media,” he said.
As a result, most Copts believe that the role of Islamic movements in society and politics will deprive Copts of their basic rights, he added.
Most Copts consider Al-Qaeda the only model that represents Islamic groups, according to Habib.
He accused the former regime, which he described as “a tyrant secular regime,” of “hijacking” and exploiting Copts to fight against the Islamic movement in the political arena.
“After the January 25 Revolution, Copts are again being exploited by the secular elite against the Islamic movement.” This increases the rift between Copts and Muslims and compromises national unity, he added.
Habib pointed out the hypocrisy in exploiting the Coptic group to support the secular movement, “although [Copts] are a conservative group that don’t adopt or represent secular ideas or principles.”
He said that this was one of the main reasons he decided to join the FJP.
“This is the beginning of communication and building a bridge between Copts and the Islamic movement. … The gap and rivalry between Copts and the Islamic movement in general is an unnatural phenomenon and if it continues it will represent a danger to society.”
The FJP is an opportunity for Habib to overcome this danger and unite the Egyptian people, Muslims and Christians, and focus on building a new Egypt.
“The Brotherhood is what we call the pillar or the spinal cord of the Islamic movement,” he said. “It’s rooted inside the Egyptian community and has a great effect on it.”
Habib rejected calls for scrapping Article 2 of the constitution, which states that Islam is the religion of the state and that Islamic jurisprudence is the principal source of legislation.
“The majority of the Egyptian society identifies itself as an Arab Islamic society that considers Islamic legislation the frame that regulates the state and the political system,” he said.
“We need to deal with this reality and respect the people’s will.”
Syria Warns of Penalties Over ‘Unregistered’ Satellite Phones
2011-06-06 By Inal Ersan
June 6 (Bloomberg) — Syria warned owners of satellite telephones in the country of unspecified penalties if their devices are not registered locally, the state television reported. Owners of such devices should seek permits, it said.
DJ Syria To Form Committee On Political Parties – SANA
2011-06-05, DAMASCUS (AFP)–
Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar on Sunday ordered the creation of a committee tasked with drafting a law on political parties, the official SANA news agency said.
Bipartisan Coalition in House Seeks Support for Syrian Democracy
2011-06-06, Rep. Doug. Lamborn (R-CO) News Release,
Today, Congressmen Doug Lamborn (CO-05) and Ted Deutch (FL-19)
introduced H.Res. 296 expressing solidarity and support for the people of Syria as they seek to exercise universal rights and pursue peaceful democratic change. This resolution is similar to one introduced in the Senate. “The House and Senate need to send a unified message of support to the people of Syria. As part of the movements for reform sweeping the Middle East, it is clear the Syrian people are seeking to exercise universal rights and pursue peaceful democratic change. It is also clear the Assad Regime has taken part in extrajudicial killings, torture, mass arrests, the promotion of Hezbollah, and more. It is time we stand up for the people of Syria and condemn these human rights abuses.”- Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
“This Syrian regime has been engaging in the wholesale slaughter of its own people right under the nose of the international community……