The Raqqa Story: Rebel Structure, Planning, and Possible War Crimes

Matthew BarberThe Raqqa Story: Rebel Structure, Planning, and Possible War Crimes

Written by Matthew Barber for Syria Comment, with research from the Syria Video team
April 3, 2013

Syria Comment Sunday unveiled Syria Video, a web application that maps and aggregates video footage of the Syrian war. This service does not attempt to measure or compare the respective levels of video content uploaded by conflict participants aligned with the regime vs. the opposition. Syria Video functions as an organized archive for the mass of video material that is already available on the web; the interpretive process is left up to the viewer whose experience is made easier through the mapping of uploaded video by geographical location.

In what follows, we will present our findings on the timeline of events in Raqqa and the organization of the rebel groups operating there, informed by various forms of social media, the most important of which was video material acquired by Syria Video. Aside from any informative value, this report demonstrates the potential of Syria Video as a research tool. Historically unprecedented, information is different in the Syrian conflict—in how it is both acquired and used. The war in Syria is the first conflict of its kind to have such extensive documentation of everyday events captured on video, providing us with levels and kinds of information absent in previous conflicts. Syria Video represents an initial attempt to tap into this expansive resource. In our endeavor to form a clearer understanding of how events unfolded in Raqqa, we relied heavily on Syria Video as an information gathering resource that contributed material that could help revise and expand on the leading narrative already being developed and amended by journalists and others.

The advantages and limitations of relying on uploaded video to construct a picture of events should be considered. The kind of information that can be gathered from uploaded video is different from that gathered by a reporter who has the opportunity to pursue inquiry through direct engagement with actors. However, working with a large quantity of video can facilitate the discovery of emerging patterns and trajectories of events through access to a kind of perspective inaccessible to a journalist on the ground.

 

The Structure and Relationships of Rebel Groups Operating in al-Raqqa

 

Syria Video has made it possible to acquire a sense of the number and hierarchical structure of rebel groups who participated in the Raqqa takeover. We have identified over 80 rebel units in Raqqa alone that are grouped into larger bodies that cooperate together.

Figure 1 shows the structure of “Jabhat Tahrir al-Raqqa” (“The Raqqa Liberation Front”), made up of both Free Syrian Army battalions and Islamist battalions. (Click here for .pdf of chart)

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

The methodology for mapping these militias involved first reviewing announcements released by brigades (who often list each battalion linked to them) and the crosschecking by searching for each battalion and identifying which brigade they say they are linked to. Colors in the chart identify duplicate groups. These could be errors on the part of announcement videos released, multiple groups using the same names or the same group switching teams.

In this map, all battalions under “Military and Revolutionary Council” belong to the FSA, and all the other groups listed are Islamist. But this entire “united front” was only one piece of the Raqqa takeover, and was not the most important (or even second most important) force in the offensive. The graphic does not include Ahrar al-Sham or Jabhat al-Nusra who operate independently. All three bodies cooperated in coordinating the Raqqa takeover.

Based on available material reviewed by the Syria Video team, it would appear that Ahrar al-Sham was the real mastermind and spearhead of the Raqqa offensive. Jabhat al-Nusra was second in importance in this operation, providing significant support. Also participating was the Raqqa Liberation Front of fig. 1. The participants of the overall offensive could be visualized thus:

Fig. 2

It will be helpful to continue the discussion of this coalition within a timeline that places the development of these rebel groups with events in Raqqa.

Raqqa Timeline

 

The following are some of the major events since last summer that led up to the current capture of al-Raqqa.

August 2, 2012               The Raqqa Military Council (a union of multiple rebel brigades) is created. This partnership identifies with the Free Syrian Army.

September 19, 2012    Tel Abyad is captured by the forces of the FSA Military Council, about a month and a half after that group’s formation.

December 20, 2012     The Military Council is restructured, with some groups being expelled and others being admitted.

December 25, 2012     Five days after the Military Council is restructured, it joins with a significant number of Islamist groups fighting in the province to form the larger Raqqa Liberation Front (Jabhat Tahrir al-Raqqa). This is the larger body represented in Fig. 1.

January 12, 2012          The Raqqa Liberation Front and Jabhat al-Nusra work together to take the Raqqa–Deir Ezzor highway.

February 11, 2013        The Raqqa Liberation Front and Jabhat al-Nusra are joined by Ahrar al-Sham for the offensive in Tabqah (also called Thawra), a town near the city of Raqqa. Another group, Liwa al-Tawhid (primarily active in Aleppo) comes to aid in the overthrow of Tabqah which happens on the 11th. A statue of Hafez al-Assad is burnt in Tabqah, 20 days before the one toppled in Raqqa city. The victory of this offensive resulted in the rebels capturing a large amount of weapons and ammunition, likely used later in taking Raqqa city. See Jabhat al-Nusra with captured weapons and Ahrar al-Sham with captured weapons.

February 17, 2013        Ceasefire between Kurds and Syrian rebels is brokered in Ras al-Ain (east of Tel Abyad in nearby muhafiza of Hasake) by Michel Kilo and others. Jabhat al-Nusra refuses to sign the agreement, but stops fighting after the other rebels sign. On the same day, the rebels in Raqqa muhafiza elect new local council to preside over the province and designate Tel Abyad the new headquarters until the city of Raqqa could be overthrown.

February 20, 2013       Ahrar al-Sham carefully plans for the offensive on the city of Raqqa during this period, and it is around this time that we have the first glimpse of another emerging Islamist rebel group, Liwa Umanaa’ al-Raqqa. Since the takeover of Raqqa would be largely conducted by outsiders (rebels not from the Raqqa muhafiza), Ahrar al-Sham cleverly fashioned a sub-group (whose name means “Brigade of the Trustees of Raqqa”) consisting of fighters from Raqqa, to legitimize the offensive and serve as the “local face” for Ahrar al-Sham. Liwa Umana al-Raqqa will later become the primary instrument for maintaining order and implementing Islamic law in the city.

Fig. 3

March 2, 2013            Ahrar al-Sham leads the alliance shown in Fig. 3 in a large-scale attack on the city of Raqqa. This is a well-organized, well-planned military operation, dubbed Gharat al-Jabbaar (“The Raid of the Almighty”). The offensive is announced by both Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra. The muhafiz (governor) of Raqqa and the head of the Ba’ath party are captured and seen in a video speaking about the takeover alongside their captor, the “Emir” (who in later videos becomes known as “Dr. Samer”). Consistent with Ahrar al-Sham’s plan to have the offensive appear as a local operation, they are not featured in this significant video (significant for showcasing the most important prisoners captured by the regime so far). Instead, the group that announces itself in this widely-seen video (and which beyond serving as the local face of the offensive for Raqqans also served as the face of the Raqqa takeover for us) was called “Jabhat al-Wahdet al-Tahrir al-Islamiyye.” Based on what we’ve gleaned from Syria Video, this group—though acting as frontman—was not as significant a force in the offensive as the other major players. Its ranks were drawn by combining one of the FSA battalions (Kitaabet al-Nasir Salahudin) and one of the Islamist brigades (Liwa Huthayfa Ibn al-Yaman). That it was newly formed resolves our earlier question about why the “Emir” first says he is with the FSA before quickly switching to “Jabhat al-Wahdet.”

Fig. 4

The mix of FSA and Islamist fighters comprising Jabhat al-Wahdet illustrates the difficulty of distinguishing between Islamist and nationalist energies on the ground.

This developing picture of the Raqqa offensive as a largely outside operation which utilized shrewd techniques to appear local corroborates the first report I received after the takeover from a tribe member who asserted that the tribes—long closely supportive of the regime—had not suddenly en masse suspended their loyalty. However, this needs to be explored further, as there is evidence of at least one tribe making a switch to the opposition. This tribe (“عشيرة البو عساف”) announced that it took up arms to oppose the regime on May 5 (but that was several days after Raqqa fell). Their militia is called “لواء عمر أمير الأمة” and they called on other tribes to join ranks in fighting the regime.

March 5, 2013             Liwa Umanaa’ al-Raqqa assumes responsibility of the city to “show the people that the fighters are their brethren.”

March 6, 2013            Prisoners are promised safe passage for surrender, and later exterminated. See section below on possible war crime.

March 8, 2013            Abu Jassim, one of the heads of “army security” in Raqqa (a branch of the mukhabaraat), is killed. His head has been shot at point-blank range and his body is dumped from the back of a pickup into the street where it is left through the day and night, as people come by to kick it and spit on it, saying that he had been a very oppressive and ruthless character in the local power structure. Please be warned that the videos are extremely graphic: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

March 9, 2013             Videos are posted by rebels claiming to have besieged the regime’s 93rd Brigade at an army base in Ain Eissa, further north from Raqqa city within the muhafiza. Underscoring the trend of outsider initiative in the Raqqa offensive, 3 of the 4 militias besieging the base are from Jabal al-Zawiya, Idlib.

March 31, 2013           A convoy of the 93rd Brigade comes out of the base and engages in conflict with the rebels. Rumors begin to circulate that tanks were being sent to re-take the city, but these are unconfirmed and likely untrue. Rebels remain confident that the muhafiza will remain under their control, but until now the muhafiza of Raqqa is not completely empty of regime presence. The 93rd Brigade and Division 17 both remain.

 

A War Crime in Raqqa?

 

Syria Video has found six videos dealing with a particular group of prisoners who were promised safety in exchange for surrendering after the city of Raqqa fell to the rebels. The prisoners were regime soldiers with army security, and according to the rebels talking in the videos, they were offered safe passage in return for laying down their arms. The man with the camera says to the effect of: “With God’s help Nusra was able to take the base after negotiating and promising the dogs of Assad to give them safe passage if they surrendered.” We see the rebels loading the prisoners onto a bus, presumably to drive them out of the city. What seems to have happened instead is that the bus was fired upon, killing the prisoners inside it. March 6 is the date of the surrender, when we see the prisoners on the bus. The next time we see the bus, it is after dark the same day. The bus is destroyed. Riddled with bullet holes, its windows are shot out and its tires are flat. The possessions of the men are strewn about on the ground outside the bus. (They had originally boarded the bus with clothes and suitcases, probably having expected they would be sent home.) In a subsequent clip the man filming climbs into the bus and shows us a body on the floor near the back:

The next day we see the bus in the daylight, with the destruction more visible.

What exactly occurred here is not clear. In one clip we hear the man filming say “the rebels gave them safe passage but the soldiers betrayed that trust.” We also hear someone say “thank god the rebels were able to prevent this group from joining the 17th Division” and the attitude is that the soldiers were killed “because they were trying to flee.” What seems odd about these statements is that one of the men filming acknowledges that the soldiers were killed inside the bus. Furthermore, why would they have run away having already given up their guns and been loaded onto a bus that was moving out? If they were planning on running from the beginning, they would not have abandoned their weapons. And why would they need to run if they were being conducted out of the city under guarantee of safety? What does seem clear is that they were all killed (a man filming acknowledges this), and that they were killed unarmed, after having surrendered. Also confusing is that though the bus is destroyed by bullets, the presence of a high quantity of blood is not readily visible inside the bus (that we could detect), though in the sole clip that we have of the bus interior, it is nighttime and dark. If the men were marched off the bus and slaughtered, it would not have made sense to destroy the bus with gunfire. Some shell casings can be seen on the floor inside the bus, indicating that shooting took place inside. Did soldiers shoot from inside or was the bus boarded by rebels who shot the soldiers inside it? Could the soldiers still have had weapons?

Perhaps one rebel group promised the soldiers safe passage, and then another group showed up and disagreed with that decision, deciding that they should be executed. One of the men filming indicates that al-Nusra was arriving on the scene after base had already been taken. The names of two other groups are heard mentioned in the clips: Ahfath al-Rasuul (the grandsons of the Prophet) and Jabhat al-Shura. At one point a man says the “the lions of Jabhat al-Nusra have given them al-amaan” (referring to a kind of pledge guaranteeing security that according to the Islamic religion is quite serious and must not be breached). If the bus had been attacked by another party after leaving, it would explain the evidence of attack from without (the shot tires) and if soldiers had responded with fire it would explain the shell casings, though this would mean that not all of their weapons had been taken by the rebels. Another possibility is that the bus was boarded and the shell casings are from the attackers who shot the soldiers inside. It’s impossible to know who was responsible for the act until we have more information and any theory is speculation at this point, but the evidence we have points toward a war crime on the part of the rebels. It’s not certain that we’ve discovered every video related to this incident, though we were unable to find more in our search. Hopefully more information will emerge soon regarding the incident.

 

Islamist Governance

 

As described above, an Islamist rebel group called Liwa al-Umanaa’ al-Raqqa (Fig. 3) was formed by Ahrar al-Sham to serve as a local face for the largely outsider-conducted offensive to take the city. Featuring local members, the group served to legitimize the operation. But more than this, the group also represented a strategy on the part of Ahrar al-Sham to introduce Islamist rule and the use of Islamic law in the city. This was a very well-organized project; unlike examples of haphazard campaigns around Syria, the Islamists in Raqqa were considering from the outset how they would maintain smooth administration of the city after the attack. Their planning and organization were impressive, but could also be seen as the exploitation of the conflict to further their own religio-political agenda and impose an unfamiliar brand of religious rule over the city, apart from the will of the local people.

An example of their effort to keep the city functioning in an orderly fashion can be seen in a video featuring their management of the transportation system. They have made sure to keep the buses running and to have drivers ready to work. The bus in the video has “Umanaa’ al-Raqqa” spray-painted on its front. In another video, members of the group can be seen guarding a museum.

While it seems the rebels have provided security and administration, concerns exist about the style of religious law being implemented in the city. As in other areas in Syria now under control of Islamists, a “hay al-shari’a” has been established (a body functioning as a shari’a court) that decides punishments for crime. The following video shows us a man who was beaten for illicit behavior with a woman. They accused him of raping her, but the woman’s statement denied this, claiming that they were alone together because she was being threatened by other men and that this man had “saved her from kidnapping.” It appears that they are possibly lovers who concocted the story to justify having been alone together, and that the man was punished for being alone with a woman.

Whatever the actual offense was, the video shows his body severely beaten. The hay al-shari’a meted out his punishment, and the members of Umanaa’ al-Raqqa are functioning as police, bringing transgressors to the shari’a court.

Other groups have also taken advantage of the situation to promote their brand of Islamism. Jabhat al-Nusra has established a “missionary center” from which they have been handing out gifts to the people in a campaign to win hearts and stomachs.

More about governance in Raqqa can be gleaned in these excellent recent articles by Rania Abouzeid: 1, 2, 3.

 

Conclusions

 

The information presented above represents a developing picture of Raqqa, one that is not perfect. With time, additional clarity may correct aspects of this account. For now, conclusions we’ve drawn from a significant amount of analyzed video content include the following:

1)      The fall of Raqqa could have been anticipated if we had been following events occurring in the muhafiza. Most of the governorate was already under rebel control by the time the city fell. (Here’s a video from Feb. 13 purporting to show the burial of 46 regime soldiers in Tabqah.)

2)      The attack that overthrew the city of Raqqa was led by several groups from outside of the muhafiza, but it was coordinated with some groups inside.

3)      The taking of the city was primarily an Islamist-conducted operation. Some FSA units participated, but their role was minimal. We previously postulated that the ceasefire in Ras al-Ain facilitated the Raqqa takeover by freeing up FSA rebels, but now that it is clear that the FSA role in taking Raqqa was minimal, it appears that the ceasefire was not a significant factor.

4)      Ahrar al-Sham, not Jabhat al-Nusra, was the primary force behind the takeover (from what we can tell with our current data). Ahrar al-Sham seems to be the most organized group working in the country—even their media reflects this. Jabhat al-Nusra did play an important role in the takeover, which was well-planned by Ahrar al-Sham, with a high level of coordination between the groups participating. They worked together so closely that they even coordinated their separate video announcements.

5)     Ahrar al-Sham not only planned for legitimacy by engineering an insider Islamist group comprised of locals to be the “face” of the operation, but they also planned for post-takeover Islamist governance. The two groups of Liwa Umanaa’ al-Raqqa and Jabhat al-Wahdet al-Tahrir al-Islamiyye were formed a short time prior to the incursion and remain active in administering the city and in continuing the offensive against the regime’s remaining forces in the muhafiza. The boundaries between the Islamist groups are difficult to distinguish; the two regime prisoners who first appeared in the video with Jabhat al-Wahdet later appear in a video with Jabhat al-Nusra, extolling their virtues as cooperative captives tend to do so well.

 ———————————————

 
A Note on Syria Video

The bulk of video content uploaded from Syria originates from opposition-aligned parties. The representation of video material acquired by Syria Video reflects this reality. Upon encountering this abundance of rebel-filmed footage, some initial visitors to the new (and still developing) service suggested that Syria Video is deficient as a tool for critically approaching the conflict. Let me emphasize: the element of criticism must be introduced by the user. Syria Video does not provide analysis; the user performs it.

Syria Video works with what it finds online. We hope to incorporate all relevant channels from both sides of the conflict. Making that material available in an archive does not equate the promotion of the views expressed in that material. The quantity of video from the rebels will always be greater because there’s more of it. But even if all the videos provided were exclusively from the opposition’s side, the service would still have value as a tool for historians, researchers, and others studying the conflict—and that is its primary purpose: a tool for research, not an attempt to shape opinion.

Most material that has acted in a self-incriminating fashion—on both sides of the conflict—has come from videos that those parties themselves (regime forces and rebels) have captured and uploaded. Therefore, even if Syria Video had a political agenda, it would not be a given that the service would be tilted in the favor of one side merely because of an overabundance of material originating from that side. The section above dealing with bus in Raqqa should demonstrate this fact.

A tremendous amount of fraudulent information has been propagated through deceitful videos produced by actors on both sides of the conflict—this has been a reality from the beginning. With tens of thousands of individual videos already acquired, you are certain to encounter such clips on Syria Video. Remember, the responsibility to interpret critically rests with you. Syria Comment cannot (and need not) constantly hold the viewer’s hand through the interpretive process.

In sum, for those with sensitivities about politicization of media coverage and analysis of the conflict, please realize: an archive is not a mouthpiece. This material is already out there and others are already using it. We simply want to make the vast mass of it more accessible in an organized form. It is available for you as well. Feel free to draw your own conclusions from any material you engage. We hope you enjoy.

Comments (591)


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551. revenire said:

George that isn’t true at all. You’re lying and covering up for actual terrorists unless you consider blowing up 85 year old Sunni clerics an act of a freedom fighter.

To Hell

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April 7th, 2013, 8:51 pm

 

552. revenire said:

:)

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April 7th, 2013, 8:53 pm

 

553. revenire said:

You know, rats, I’d be more concerned if the so-called FSA could unify but they never have and they never will. They fight each other and the SAA.

What happened to the Damascus operation? The “FSA” is surrounded. LOL

The next few days we’re going to have an awful lot of RAT STATS coming from Ziad I bet.

Cheers!

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April 7th, 2013, 8:55 pm

 

554. Visitor said:

Darryl,

Do not play games.

You need to apologize first to ALL Muslims for the blasphemy, and also you need to make a solemn promise NEVER to go back to your old rotten ways.

This condition will NEVER be waived no matter what you say.

I cannot risk losing the Love of Allah by corresponding with you until you comply.

This is the Borg!!

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April 7th, 2013, 8:58 pm

 

555. zoo said:

Qatar buying out luxury iconic department stores in UK, France and Germany

Harrods, Printemps, Karstadt, Kaufhof, dear Qataris?

April 4, 2013 at 19:21
http://www.german-retail-blog.com/2013/04/04/qatar-borletti-printemps-beyond/

Three years ago it was Harrods and, pending a statutory meeting with the unions in Paris tomorrow, it could now be Printemps.

Clearly, Arabs from the tiny Emirate of Qatar are doing more than just their shopping in Europe.

Perhaps more significantly, France has thrown out the red carpet to Qatari investments in the past, and the political establishment is unlikely to court Arab disfavour today.

In 2008, France signed a fiscal convention, exempting Qatar state-owned companies from capital gains taxes on real estate investment. Also, The Financial Times believes that the QIA provided a letter of intent in December 2012 to commit €250m to a European private equity fund that could be run by former premier Nicolas Sarkozy.

Whatever its real merits, there are a number of reasons why the Qataris’ next move could just as easily be to Germany. After all, this is a country where leading department store operators Karstadt and Kaufhof have long struggled in the inner cities.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:02 pm

 

556. GEORGES said:

Qatar has also bought land in Australia

Qatar-based Hassad Foods, which is the agricultural arm of the Qatar government, recently agreed to pay about $35 million for more than 8ooo hectares of sheep-grazing and cropping land in Victoria’s Western District.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/qatar-land-grab-angers-bush-20110618-1g99l.html#ixzz2PpV2ZUhi

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April 7th, 2013, 9:07 pm

 

557. Tara said:

Bravo Qatar,

It is good to be business savvy. You have lemon you make a lemonade. You have money, you invest.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:11 pm

 

558. Darryl said:

“554. VISITOR said:

Darryl,

Do not play games.”

You need to apologize first to ALL Muslims for the blasphemy, and also you need to make a solemn promise NEVER to go back to your old rotten ways.”

Dear Visitor, is the blasphemy you are referring is about Allah (glory be to Him alone) being a banker? If it is, Allah Himself (glory be to Him alone) said He is. If Allah (glory be to Him alone) likes to be a banker why is it a problem for you when it is clearly something He calls Himself in His book.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:13 pm

 

559. zoo said:

#549 George

Who do you think you are to tell me what I should write and I should not?

Al Nusra is an Islamist terrorist organizations and the FSA fighters are willing accomplices. By this association they are terrorists too.
Be sure that I’ll call them terrorists as many times as I want.
If you don’t like it, just skip my posts as I’ll do with yours.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:14 pm

 

560. Ghufran said:

It is obvious now that a second war has started in Syria , FSA against Nusra, and a third may develop if Kurds follow Erdogan’s empty promises , kurds against regime forces.
Rebels fight over money , weapons and oil but they may now fight over territory as Jordan and the USA seem determined to limit nusra’s reach inside Syria :
مراسل شام إف إم بإدلب: اشتباك بين مجموعة العقيد الفار “عفيف أبو عفيف” ومجموعة “جمال معروف” من أتباع جبهة النصرة يسفر عن مقتل 40 مسلح من مجموعة “جمال معروف” ومقتل مسلحين اثنين من جماعة “عفيف أبو عفيف” وتدمير عدة سيارات من الطرفين  
Limiting the fighting forces to two , syrian army and fsa ,instead of 400 is good for the long run but it will not be easy, cleaning Syria’s town from terrorists may help reach a solution if the two parties realize that they can not win. Assad and some hard core supporters may not want to talk to the FSA and the opposite is probably true on the FSA side, but eventually a compromise has to be reached for Syria to survive as one country with one army , personally I am not optimistic, remember that Syrians in more than one part of Syria have shown they are unable or unwilling to tolerate each other, I yet have to learn about any alawite presence in areas under rebels control, Syria for the near future will be a weak and impoverished country that lives under the mercy of donors and foreign governments that are unlikely to help unless they get something substantial in return, that is where potential oil and gas reserves in the med sea may play a role.
On the issue of Qatar, their money is only safe if the gulf remains a war- free zone.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:19 pm

 

561. zoo said:

$557 Tara

… and let the Syrian refugees die of hunger and thirst in miserable camps in Jordan.

Bravo Tara..

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April 7th, 2013, 9:19 pm

 

562. GEORGES said:

“Who do you think you are to tell me what I should write and I should not?”

This is a website to comment, therefore I comment. I sense some frustration, did I hit a nerve?

“Al Nusra is an Islamist terrorist organizations and the FSA fighters are willing accomplices. By this association they are terrorists too.
Be sure that I’ll call them terrorists as many times as I want.
If you don’t like it, just skip my posts as I’ll do with yours.”

You completely missed the point. A little less posting and a little more thinking would help.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:25 pm

 

563. Visitor said:

” 545. Akbar Palace said:

……….

I know you are upset with the US Administration because they speak out of both sides of their mouth. I don’t disagree.

Would you feel better if they said, “we’re not helping Syria because we don’t see one side being more democratic than the other”?”

Akbar,

It is much much deeper than that. The US doesn’t have any moral grounds to tell others what to do or not to do. The US administration committed a war crime today in Afghanistan. It (the Administration) is, therefore, a terrorist organization by definition. Therefore, I will not listen to or be satisfied with anything the administration says. It is EVIL. The Americna people must work hard to correct the moral compass that this administration has strayed too far away from.

———

Darryl,

Neener neener!!

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April 7th, 2013, 9:25 pm

 

564. Tara said:

Dear Zoo,

Please spare Qatar your anger and look closer. Just browse the glamorous pictures around your house…

…did you forget the $5000 Asma al Assad’s Louboutin shoes? How many Syrian girls would this pair of shoes would have saved from prostitution? A thousand girls? Or more. After all not so beautiful girls may be sold for less.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:28 pm

 

565. zoo said:

Ghufran

If the FSA openly antagonizes Al Nusra, that’s the end of the FSA. Even if they receive badly needed weapons from the West, they will be wiped out by terrorists acts, the speciality of Al Nusra.

If they don’t agree to fight Al Nusra, they’ll get no weapons, and they will wiped out by the Syrian army.
Their only survival option is then to open up for negotiations with the regime, without any conditions.

I hope they will soon realize that they are trapped.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:30 pm

 

566. majedkhaldoun said:

Darryl
my call for interpreting Quraan is to show numerous verses that point to those who consider people as wali like shiites as unbelievers.
to remove anything that contradict Quraan verses, and for example bad money will still be bad money ,it will not turn to good money by closing your eyes,the word alla tughmido feeh means you have doubt about the source of money,not to close your eyes,
There is hardly any difference between me and Visitor as far as understanding Islam, Islam says never take nonmuslems as your boss tell you what to do regarding religion,no Muslem can get along with you Darryl

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April 7th, 2013, 9:31 pm

 

567. revenire said:

Women like Asma deserve 5000$ pairs of shoes.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:43 pm

 

568. MarigoldRan said:

@ Zoo

Why are you still trying to predict things? Your prediction track record SUCKS.

The rebels have been getting more weapons from the Arabs. Jordan has opened another front in the war.

The war continues.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:44 pm

 

569. MarigoldRan said:

The different rebel groups will fight one another at some point in the future. But not until the regime is dead.

They have a common enemy.

EDIT: With Raqqa and Deir El Ezzor and most of the oilfields in rebel hands, the Assadists have to rely almost entirely on foreign handouts from Iran and Russia to survive.

EDIT 2: Retards like you deserve a kick in the butt. Which most people are more than happy to provide.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:45 pm

 

570. zoo said:

MARI

HA HA HA… A prediction?

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April 7th, 2013, 9:47 pm

 

571. GEORGES said:

VISITOR or MAJEDKHALDOUN
Supposing that you don’t consider voting haram, is it haram for muslims to vote for a non-muslim president in Syria?

I think I already know the answer but just to make sure…

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April 7th, 2013, 9:48 pm

 

572. MarigoldRan said:

@ Zoo

No, you’re right. I gave you too much credit. Your “predictions” are more like a wishful hope.

Look at the rebel gains over the last year or two. The Assadists have steadily lost territory and troops. And you say that they can somehow “crush” the rebels?

The regime has tried everything. They continue to lose ground.

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April 7th, 2013, 9:51 pm

 

573. majedkhaldoun said:

George
If a moslem abiding by Islam is runing against non moslem, yes it is haram to vote for the non moslem, if non moslem runing against non moslem it is not haram to vote for the less evil one.preferable not to vote
If moslem ,not following Islam(Munafiq) runing against non moslem who has good morals it is not haram to vote for the non moslem

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April 7th, 2013, 9:58 pm

 

574. Visitor said:

“571. GEORGES said:

VISITOR or MAJEDKHALDOUN
Supposing that you don’t consider voting haram, is it haram for muslims to vote for a non-muslim president in Syria?

I think I already know the answer but just to make sure…”

Georges,

Since you think you already know the answer, could you please tell us what the answer is and based on what? We will confirm by either yes or no or qualify your answer as the case may be.

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April 7th, 2013, 10:00 pm

 

575. revenire said:

LOL where does the army publish troop strength?

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April 7th, 2013, 10:09 pm

 

576. ann said:

Russia criticises expansion of UN Syria chemical arms investigation – Monday, April 8, 2013

Moscow compares move to build-up to US invasion of Iraq

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/russia-criticises-expansion-of-un-syria-chemical-arms-investigation-1.1351648

Russia criticised Western moves to expand a planned United Nations probe into chemical weapons in Syria and compared it to the build-up to the US invasion of Iraq.

Russia, which has used its clout as a veto-wielding Security Council state to blunt Western pressure on Syria, says the UN investigation announced last month should focus on Syrian government allegations rebels used chemical arms near Aleppo.

Western countries want two additional rebel claims about the use of such arms investigated as well. The Syrian opposition says president Bashar al-Assad’s government carried out all three alleged chemical attacks.

In a pointed statement, Russia’s foreign ministry today voiced anger over a letter in which it said the UN secretariat told the Syrian government it intended to broaden the investigation beyond the incident in late March near Aleppo.

It said the UN secretariat was seeking overly broad access for investigators to facilities and individuals in Syria and wanted to use aircraft for transportation.

“This approach brings to mind the line taken over an investigation into the presence of chemical weapons in Iraq, which was based on deliberately false data and led to well-known consequences,” it said, referring to the US-led invasion in 2003.

“We cannot fail to draw the conclusion that under pressure from certain states, the UN secretariat is taking an unconstructive and inconsistent position that in essence undermines the investigation (into the incident near Aleppo),” it said, without mentioning UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon by name.

Last month, Russia accused Western nations of trying to use the investigation to push Dr Assad from power and said the probe might be biased unless Russian and Chinese experts were part of the team of investigators.

[...]

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/russia-criticises-expansion-of-un-syria-chemical-arms-investigation-1.1351648

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April 7th, 2013, 10:18 pm

 

577. apple_mini said:

I think it is most likely the only solution: The regime will take more military advances and hold more key cards to decide the future of Syria.

We no longer hear willingness of dialogue or negotiation from warring sides. The regime rejects any foreign backed opposition and the opposition rejects the regime with foreign backing from the very beginning.

The opposition have to admit it their rebel “revolutionists” including those Nursa fighters are not doing good on battle ground.

I wrote about my understanding of the push by SAA to Aleppo couple months ago: it was a strategic move to take Aleppo back and the bigger goal is to reclaim Syria-Turkey border. It was also a display of confidence by the SAA. If they had had problem to hold areas in the south (in particular Damascus), they would not have diverted their troops to the north. The only thing wasn’t so clear back in February is what the results of those operation would turn out.

It looks like SAA is on their track for their strategic planning. For a while, MSM and members here on SC were cheerful about imminent fall of those airports in Aleppo even though we predicted otherwise. The thing is the rebels have never been able to transform into a structured armed force which is quite crucial to combat the regular army of SAA. They can celebrate their victory after guerrilla attacks and harassment against the regime. But in the long run, they have to form a real army with bases and structures to utilize their strategy and resources. Unfortunately, it is not happening considering what kind of fighters they have in their ranks.

Right now, the regime is grappling harder on its hold of Damascus including the outskirts; Homs is almost completely under the regime’s control; The coast area is clear and defending of Turkey border in Lattakia is withholding; The rebel claimed Hama operation has never materialized. So we see the regime has a very solid and firm grip of the core of Syria: Sprawling from Homes to the west to coast area, extending to Hama and growing in Aleppo. Down the south, Damascus is actually the most formidable fortress. And the regime controls all the highways connecting those strategic locations.

If the regime can steadily push forward genuine dialogue with the opposition while making gains on the battle ground, it will be important for national reconciliation to heal the bloody divides and lay foundation for a progressive future during rebuild of the country. I cannot see that much constructive and positive elements from the opposition. In that prospective, my vision for the future role of the opposition is supporting.

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April 7th, 2013, 10:40 pm

 

578. Johannes de Silentio said:

504. SYRIAN

“Bassem Youssef is a Jon stalwart wannabe”

It’s Jon Stewart, dumbass

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April 7th, 2013, 10:46 pm

 

579. Johannes de Silentio said:

MOSSIE encounters a checkpoint somewhere on the Syrian border:

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April 7th, 2013, 10:53 pm

 

580. apple_mini said:

Wow, we got SC member here blaming Asma’s expensive shoes for NOT saving Syrian girls from prostitution at refugee camps.

Now that is an eye-opening thinking and way to put blames on the regime.

How about admitting the simple fact: without the armed and violent revolution, people would not be so despair. Meanwhile, GCC promised aid turned out just promise and scam.

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April 7th, 2013, 10:54 pm

 

581. revenire said:

Apple_Mini very keen analysis. I enjoyed it.

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April 7th, 2013, 11:43 pm

 

582. Ghufran said:

By Ruth Sherlock, Magdy Samaan and Suha Maayeh in Amman6:56PM BST 05 Apr 2013
The Kingdom is working with American intelligence officials in Jordan to help build a strong rebel force in southern Syria that can fight to seize control of Damascus, and offer a ‘west friendly’ counterweight to the proliferating hardline Islamist rebel groups, high level Syrian opposition sources and eyewitnesses have told the Daily Telegraph.
“Saudi Arabia is supporting groups here that are not religious extremists.
Americans are supervising the flow of arms and the Saudis pay for them,” said a rebel who called himself Ahmed Masri speaking to the Daily Telegraph from the southern city of Deraa.
Saudi Arabia is also said to be supporting a US-led programme to train Syrian rebel fighters in Jordan. A well-placed opposition lobbyist based in Jordan told the Daily Telegraph that “the Americans are doing the training, but Saudi is paying the money for it”.
Those receiving training are mainly moderate Sunni Muslim tribesmen from central and southern Syria, many of whom have served in the Syrian army.
( I agree that the FSA is in a tough position, however, that opens an opportunity to corner foreign jihadists. I see a difference between Syrian rebels who do not want to destroy the country and Islamist terrorists who think that death and destruction is their way to heaven. The FSA is being kicked out from Aleppo and northern Syria by Islamist gangs, now they are trying in the south, if that fails then the FSA will be irrelevant. What foolish posters here say about the FSA is a cover to hide the fact that they indeed support Nusra the same way they supported alqaida )

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April 7th, 2013, 11:47 pm

 

583. Hopeful said:

# 512 Zoo

Sounds like the logic Israel used wheneve they bombed civilian areas. It is painful for me to hear someone with your intellect repeat it callously.

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April 8th, 2013, 12:11 am

 

584. Ghufran said:

The so called Damascus Battle seems to be put on hold after recent unfavorable development in reef Dimashq , this leaves the rebels with one option: attacking from the south. Nusra is now likely to use mortar attacks and car bombs but that will not help to
“liberate” Damascus , it will only increase death toll among civilians.
In the north, Turkey is trying to bribe Kurds to secure ” liberated” areas, I suspect that will not last long but I am afraid Kurdish leaders have made a big strategic mistake by trusting sultan erdo who will never give anything to the Kurds.
نفّذ الجيش السوري عدداً من الهجمات المفاجئة في ريف دمشق، أدت إلى تطويق الغوطة الشرقية، ومحاصرة المسلحين الذين يفترض بهم مهاجمة العاصمة. خطوة تقول المصادر السورية إنها مفصلية في الحرب الدائرة في بلاد الشام
المعلومات الواردة من دمشق تشي بانقلاب الصورة. فبعد الحديث طويلاً عن إعداد قوى المعارضة السورية العدة للهجوم على العاصمة، فاجأ الجيش السوري أعداءه بعدد من الهجمات المتفرقة في ريف دمشق، وبهجوم موسع في أقصى شرق الغوطة الشرقية. وبحسب مصادر سورية رفيعة المستوى، يمكن القول إن نتائج الهجمات التي شنها الجيش تعني أن «معركة دمشق» التي كانت تتحدّث عنها المعارضة صارت صعبة، إن لم تكن مستحيلة في المدى المنظور.

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April 8th, 2013, 12:12 am

 

585. MarigoldRan said:

Shrug. Better the Islamists than the regime. At least they haven’t sent jet bombers and SCUDs at Syrian cities.

The war continues.

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April 8th, 2013, 12:17 am

 

586. Visitor said:

“Sounds like the logic Israel used wheneve they bombed civilian areas. It is painful for me to hear someone with your intellect repeat it callously.”

Intellect?!!

Do not abuse the term!!!

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April 8th, 2013, 12:17 am

 

587. MarigoldRan said:

The regime is politically dead.

It can shell and bomb towns and cities, but it can’t re-take lost territory. Nor can it end the war. Nor will anyone talk to it.

The war continues.

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April 8th, 2013, 12:19 am

 

588. Ghufran said:

Rebels Assasins have added dr Nahla Issa ( Damascus univ) and six other staff to their list of the enemies of ” revolution” , the staff are:
رشا عباس، باسل حسين، نسيم رحال، والسكرتيرة سوسن موسى، ورئيس قسم شؤون الطلاب الأستاذ نجدت، ورئيس الدائرة أنور مطر
Tozz Bihal holy warriors who think that everybody who disagree with them must die

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April 8th, 2013, 12:25 am

 

589. Syrian said:

Visitor@497
“فاسق is usually translated into ‘disobedient’ by Holy Qura’n translators.”

Visitor, that is only one meaning, some Arabic words can not really be translated with one word , it has many other meaning that simply need sometimes a whole page discribing it as is in the word فاسق
The above case is a clear example

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April 8th, 2013, 12:39 am

 

590. Syrian said:

578 JDS
I know his name idiot. It was the autocorrect. I see you still going after typos.

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April 8th, 2013, 12:48 am

 

591. Potential Futures for Syria in the Fog of War (1) | Red (team) Analysis said:

[...] Most probably, observers and analysts need to face conscious and unconscious deception and manipulation by fighting actors on the ground. Each group of fighters has an aim, as well as its own unconscious biases and partial vision and understanding of the situation. The story of each group, of each battle, be it told through written or video means or through interviews will reflect specific perceptions and goals, which must also be considered. The difficulty is very well underlined in the introductory paragraphs of a recent article by Matthew Barber on the excellent Syria Comment of Joshua Landis when he uses the new Syria Video facility to analyse “The Raqqa Story: Rebel Structure, Planning, and Possible War Crimes.” [...]

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April 16th, 2013, 6:44 am

 

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