Tremseh: Lopsided Battle with Rebels; Rebel Commanders Angry; Fares Says Assad Ordered Al-Qaida Bombings;

I will be traveling for the next month and spending time in Vermont on vacation. Syria Comment will be published only intermittently.  Best, Joshua

Details of a Battle Challenge Reports of a Syrian Massacre – New York Times

The United Nations observers still on the ground in Syria sent a team in 11 vehicles to the village of Tremseh on Saturday to investigate what had happened, …

Their initial report said the attack appeared to target “specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists,” Ms. Ghosheh said in a statement. It said a range of weapons had been used, including artillery, mortars and small arms.

The report seemed to indicate that some people had been killed at close range — it said there were pools of blood and blood spatters in several houses along with bullet cases. The team also found a burned school and damaged houses.

The picture emerging is that there was a large group of fighters from the town and the local area bivouacked in Tremseh. The Syrian Army moved in early Thursday, blocking all exits and blasting away with machine guns, tank shells and rockets fired from helicopters, laying waste to the town.

“Whenever the Syrian Army knows there are fighters concentrated in an area, they attack,” said the leader of the Observatory, who goes by the pseudonym Rami Abdul-Rahman for safety reasons. “The majority of people killed in Tremseh were either rebel fighters from the village or from surrounding villages.”…

Syrian state television paraded several captured fighters on air on Saturday who said Tremseh had been a regional center of operations for the past 20 days. The captives said that 200 to 300 fighters had gathered there to plot attacks on checkpoints and other military targets.

“We clashed for hours in Tremseh, and even the leader of the local division was killed,” said a man identified as Mohammed Satouf, who said his role had been to produce YouTube videos from the area. He said the rebel fighters used mostly small and light weapons…..

U.N. says Syria killings targeted opposition | Reuters, July 14, 2012

Abdo writes from Aleppo

Yesterday a crowd of villagers and their relatives in Aleppo occupied apartments in the Youth Housing Project in Inzarat region, north of Aleppo city. Eyewitnesses say that refugees from Izaz broke into the buildings and started occupying apartments and calling relatives in Aleppo for assistance and sharing. The Youth Housing Project in Inzarat region has 1800 apartments ready to be handed over to their owners. The governor of Aleppo reportedly gave those occupants 6 days ultimatum to evacuate the apartments. Some occupants said they will leave as soon as the situation in Izaz calms down, but others insisted they will remain.

Exclusive interview: why I defected from Bashar al-Assad’s regime, by former diplomat Nawaf Fares

….Yesterday, in a wide-ranging interview conducted by telephone from Qatar, where he has now sought refuge, Mr Fares made a series of devastating claims against the Assad regime, which he said was determined to be “victorious” whatever the cost.

* Jihadi units that Mr Fares himself had helped Damascus send to fight US troops in neighbouring Iraq were involved in the string of deadly suicide bomb attacks in Syria

* The attacks were carried on the direct orders of the Assad regime, in the hope that it could blame them on the rebel movement

* President Assad, who had a “violent streak” inherited from his father, was now living “in a world of his own”

Mr Fares spoke out as the violence in Syria continued unabated, with at least 28 people killed across the country yesterday. The town of Khirbet Ghazaleh in southern Syria was attacked by hundreds of troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Meanwhile, United Nations observers visited the village of Treimsa, in central Hama province, in which up to 200 people are feared to have died on Thursday.

It was precisely such atrocities as these that forced Mr Fares to gradually question his own allegiance to the regime, ending 35 years of loyal service in which he worked as a policeman, regional governor and political security chief, becoming entrusted with some of its most sensitive tasks.

“At the beginning of the revolution, the state tried to convince people that reforms would be enacted very soon,” he said. “We lived on that hope for a while. We gave them the benefit of the doubt, but after many months it became clear to me that the promises of reform were lies. That was when I made my decision. I was seeing the massacres perpetrated – no man would be able to live with himself, seeing what I saw and knowing what I know, to stay in the position.”

Mr Fares’s most damaging allegation is that the Syrian government itself has a hand in the nationwide wave of suicide bombings on government buildings, which have killed hundreds of people and maimed thousands more. By way of example, he cited the twin blasts outside a military intelligence building in the al-Qazzaz suburb of Damascus in May, which killed 55 people and injured another 370.

“I know for certain that not a single serving intelligence official was harmed during that explosion, as the whole office had been evacuated 15 minutes beforehand,” he said. “All the victims were passers by instead. All these major explosions have been have been perpetrated by al-Qaeda through cooperation with the security forces.”

Such allegations have been aired in general terms by the Syrian opposition before, and Mr Fares would not be drawn on what exact proof he had. He is, however, better placed than many to make such claims. One of the reasons for his rise in President Assad’s regime was that he is a senior member of the Oqaydat tribe, a highly powerful clan whose population straddles the Syrian-Iraq border. Following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, their territory became part of the conduit used by Syria to smuggle jihadi volunteers into Iraq, with Mr Fares playing an important role.

“After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the regime in Syria began to feel danger, and began planning to disrupt the US forces inside Iraq, so it formed an alliance with al-Qaeda,” he said. “All Arabs and other foreigners were encouraged to go to Iraq via Syria, and their movements were facilitated by the Syrian government. As a governor at the time, I was given verbal commandments that any civil servant that wanted to go would have his trip facilitated, and that his absence would not be noted. I believe the Syrian regime has blood on its hands, it should bare responsibility for many of the deaths in Iraq.”

He himself, he added, knew personally of several Syrian government “liaison officers” who still dealt with al-Qaeda. “Al-Qaeda would not carry out activities without knowledge of the regime,” he said. “The Syrian government would like to use al-Qaeda as a bargaining chip with the West – to say: ‘it is either them or us’.”

Mr Fares, who has six grown-up children, said he made his decision to quit five months ago, after a particularly bloody Friday, which has become the regular day for opposition protests. “The number of killings was unusually high that day, especially in my area, and that was the final straw – there was no hope any more,” he said.

Mindful that such a display of disloyalty could lead to reprisals against his family, he slowly began getting his relatives out of the country. He himself was then smuggled out of Baghdad last week by the Syrian opposition. He declines to give details of the operation, but says he made a point of continuing his normal duties up to the last minute so as not to alert the authorities, who he suspected would have been monitoring his phone calls as a diplomat anyway.

Since his defection, he regretted, many cousins within his extended family had been questioned by Syrian intelligence, with some forced into hiding. However, any doubts he had harboured prior to jumping ship had gone after a final visit he made a month ago to his home city of Deir al-Zour, near the Iraqi-Syrian border.

“There was tremendous destruction there and thousands of people had been killed, many of them from my tribe,” he said. “Life in the city was almost non-existent. What I saw there broke my heart, it was tragic and unbelievable, and if people there have not joined the uprising already, they will now. The majority of the tribe, I think, are already on the side of revolution.”

Indeed, the last time he had spoken to President Assad, in a face-to-face meeting six months ago, the Syrian leader had asked him to use his influence in Deir al-Zour, promising him promotion if he did.

“He was saying that we should insist that this is a conspiracy from the West aimed at Syria,” Mr Fares said. “I spoke with the local sheikhs and leaders, but the people’s response was that you cannot trust Assad.

“I think he does believe it is a conspiracy against him, but he is now living in a world of his own.”

However, on the question of whether Mr Assad was directing the violence personally, Mr Fares was equivocal. On the one hand, he claimed the Syrian leader was being “led” by powerful members within his own family, and also his Russian backers. On the other, he pointed out that President Assad’s late father, Hafez, had been equally ruthless during his rule, which included the massacre of more than 10,000 people during a Muslim Brotherhood uprising in the city of Hama in 1982.

“Bashar doesn’t strike you as being extremely intelligent, he seems to be someone who is led rather than who leads. But nobody has the ability to carry out these decisions except him, and he definitely has the genes of his father, who was a criminal by all accounts. This is what he grew up with, this is the hallmark of the family.”

Like President Assad, Mr Fares now faces an uncertain future. To the regime, which formally sacked him from his job last week, he is now a traitor and a marked man. To the opposition, meanwhile, he is a boost to morale but not necessarily someone who can be entirely trusted.

In his message announcing his defection last week, he urged other diplomats to follow in his wake. Yet his own familiarity with the workings of Syria’s police state means he knows that they will most likely keep their plans to themselves. “These things are extremely sensitive so I don’t know of others planning to defect. Sometimes you are frightened someone will hear if you think it yourself.”

Firas Tlass: 45 officers of Tlass family defect from regime

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat during a telephone interview from Paris, Syrian business tycoon Firas Tlass strongly denied reports that the al-Farouq Brigade commander had been killed. He also revealed that he is personally providing humanitarian relief and assistance to the brigade, but stressed that he is not arming the FSA. The Syrian businessman also refused to discuss his younger brother’s defection from the al-Assad regime, saying that he is waiting for the dust to settle following this shocking news.

[…]

As for the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Tlass said that al-Assad remains part of the solution, despite the fact that he is the major reason behind the crisis. He said that the best solution for Syria would be for Bashar al-Assad to hand over power to a national council, adding this can be viewed as a mixture of the Yemeni and Egyptian solutions.

However the Syrian tycoon told Asharq Al-Awsat this the most likely solution would see the “rise of a strong internal current that unites an important part of the revolutionary trend, and which possess a strong and clear political program to govern the next stage” adding “this current would impose itself on the scene and would be capable of negotiating with the regime.” He nominated his cousin Abdul Razzaq Tlass as a figure who can represent the Syrian revolution.

Fresh From Syria, Rebel Commanders Unite in Frustration
By C. J. CHIVERS, July 13, 2012, New York Times

ANTAKYA, Turkey — Abu Moayed, a commander in an armed Syrian opposition brigade, stood and waved his arms emphatically at the fellow rebel commanders who filled the sweltering room.

His fighters, he said, needed money and weapons. But they were not getting the support promised from the donors and opposition leaders outside Syria.

“We are borrowing money to feed our wounded!” Abu Moayed shouted. “There is no distribution of the weapons,” he added. “All of our weapons, we are paying for them ourselves.”

The meeting of the rebel commanders, held after Friday Prayer in this Turkish city near Syria’s northern border, said much about the priorities of the Syrian opposition fighting groups at this stage of the conflict, now 17 months old. There was limited discussion of the mass killings in the village of Tremseh the day before — even though the commanders had heard about it and at least one had lost relatives. There was no talk about United Nations cease-fire monitors, the peace envoy Kofi Annan, or endless Security Council debates to halt the conflict. These commanders were focused on the basics of waging war against President Bashar al-Assad.

Abu Moayed, from Idlib, was one of dozens of commanders who converged on the meeting, called by the Idlib Revolutionary Command Council. Held high above the street in a pair of large rooms in an apartment building, the gathering framed both a degree of expanding coordination among anti-Assad fighting groups inside Syria and their frustrations with the opposition’s political leadership outside.

One complaint throughout was that the Syrian National Council, the coalition of exile opposition groups based in Istanbul, was disconnected from the battles fought on the ground. Another was contained in the field commanders’ suspicion that unnamed members of the Syrian political opposition in Turkey were either diverting funds or playing favorites in funneling weapons and money across the border.

“Yesterday we were supposed to receive mortars and cartridges,” said another commander, Issam Afara, addressing his peers. “But we didn’t receive them. I called and demanded: Where are they? Where?”

Since late this spring, the war in parts of Syria has entered a bloody stalemate punctuated by days of intense violence, like the mass killing on Thursday in Tremseh, the Sunni village in western Syria where by some opposition groups’ estimates more than 200 people were killed by Syrian armed forces and pro-Assad militia members using tanks, artillery and helicopters.

International outrage over those killings, which the Syrian government said were carried out by rebels, has injected new urgency into diplomatic efforts to settle the Syria conflict at the Security Council. There, diplomats were negotiating privately on Friday over a new resolution to force the antagonists to honor a cease-fire and peace plan engineered by Mr. Annan, the special envoy from the United Nations and the Arab League. A vote on that resolution is likely next Wednesday.

The diplomacy seemed a world away, and possibly too late, when viewed through the prism of the anti-Assad fighters, who have driven much of the Syrian military forces from certain rural zones in the northern mountains, carving out small but mostly stable areas now under their de facto control, though these areas still face shelling and attack from the air by Mr. Assad’s military.

As they have realized tactical success, the anti-Assad fighting groups, once underground, now face a problem common to armed uprisings.

At least 80 different fighting groups operate in Idlib alone, the fighters said, most of which began as small personal networks or groups of army defectors, and have since grown.

The groups sometimes share names and often operate in the same areas. And as they have added members and sought more weapons and external support, some of them have found themselves competing for resources and frustrated with Syrians who claim leadership positions in the opposition and do not fight, but disburse funds that many fighting groups say they do not receive.

Mr. Afara, for example, said money funneled through the Muslim Brotherhood was not shared with fighting groups seen as secular, which angered fighters who had turned back the Assad military at great cost, and now are told they do not match a foreign donor’s ideal.

“We tell them, ‘We are not brothers?’ ” said Mr. Afara, who leads a unit in a larger group called the Idlib Martyrs’ Brigade. “How? We are Muslims, and we want a full popular revolution, with Muslims and Christians and Druze.”

Another commander, Abdul Ghafour, echoed the fighters’ anger. “Don’t think we are blind, as we have 600 martyrs,” he said, referring to those who have died. The Syrian National Council, he said, “does not represent us. The revolution is the people who are here, who fought from slavery.”

Mr. Ghafour said soliciting funds or weapons risked becoming as frustrating as dealing with private aid groups and nongovernment organizations, which sometimes offer assistance in exchange for sharing their point of view. “The whole revolution could be transferred into an N.G.O. project,” he said. “This is what I object to.”

A spokesman for the Syrian National Council, Mohamed Sarmeeni, disputed the complaints of financial favoritism from the commanders. “There is no discrimination,” the spokesman said in a telephone interview from Istanbul. The council, Mr. Sarmeeni said, had also started to devote more attention to financing the opposition fighters and “we are about to pay salaries for all officers.”

Small-arms prices have climbed sharply during the war, with machine guns costing several thousand dollars each, and assault rifles costing as much as $2,000 each when new, the commanders said.

To underwrite their weapons purchases to date, the fighters and commanders present said, they raised money themselves. Sometimes they gathered donations from their villages and neighborhoods. Other times, they said, they sold their cars and their land. One young commander, who called himself Captain Bilal and had a partly healed bullet wound to his lower right leg, said he needed weapons so badly a few months ago that he asked his fiancée to return the jewelry he had given her.

“She said ‘No,’ ” he said. “So I broke up with her and took it back and bought the weapons I needed.”

The weapons, the commanders said, were obtained through corrupt Syrian officials or through what they called a “Turkish and Russian mafia” in Turkey.

At times the meeting of the commanders descended into shouting. At one point, several commanders vented their fury at a commander who said he had in fact been given arms. But as the hours passed, the mood calmed, and the commanders said they intended to work together and called for the meeting to make things better.

One commander, who uses the name Abu Hamza, said though it did not look “correct” to see commanders argue so intensely, it was ordinary to a revolution as its ranks and prospects grow. The meeting, he said, showed a willingness by many groups to become more coordinated and for the rank and file, which is suffering and risking the most, to gain a greater voice in the politics of the war.

Abu Moayed agreed, as the meeting gave way to a shared meal. “We want to be like one hand,” he said, “one front.”

Terrified villagers tell of the horror of Tremseh
Chilling evidence of Syria’s worst atrocity as bodies are packed into mass graves
Loveday Morris, Beirut, 14 July 2012

….According to activists, the attack began at dawn on Thursday, when a convoy of 25 military trucks carrying troops, accompanied by three armoured vehicles and flatbeds with heavy artillery, were spotted trundling through the nearby town of Murhada, taking the road west towards the village. Tremseh was surrounded, its electricity cut off and mobile networks jammed to be sure residents had no way of broadcasting news of the massacre that was about to take place.

The army has been engaged in a fierce offensive in the Hama countryside for weeks and many villagers are said to have fled to Tremseh, a Sunni community staunchly against the regime. Colonel Qassim Saadeddine, of the Joint Command of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), said those families included those of FSA fighters – perhaps one of the reasons the village was targeted so brutally. Others said around 30 defected soldiers lived in the village

When the shelling began, activists say it was precise. The home of the village’s only two doctors were targeted, as were those of defected soldiers. Helicopters picked off those trying to flee. “Some of the wounded gathered in the school, but then that was attacked too,” said local activist Manhal.

A team of observers stationed about five kilometres away confirmed the use of heavy weaponry and helicopters in the area by regime troops. After the initial assault, pro-government militias, known as Shabiha, backed by the army, were said to have moved in, terrorising residents as they detained some men and executed others with knives or at gunpoint.

Around 35 FSA fighters tried to fend them off, according to Col Saadeddine, but, outnumbered and outgunned, soon stood down. Abu Adnan, another activist in the area, said the FSA attacked a checkpoint in an attempt to allow civilians an escape route, but failed. “It’s unimaginable what’s happened there,” said one Hama resident whose sister fled from the village with her three children.

“When she arrived for the first few hours she was so afraid and traumatised,” he said. “Her children still can barely speak and her husband was arrested by soldiers during the attack.

The stories she reported back were brutal. Yesterday morning, when she visited a neighbour’s house destroyed by fire, the air was thick with the smell of burning flesh and inside were two charred corpses. She believes they were locked in and burnt alive.

A local doctor Munsef al-Naji who was found treating two wounded men was dragged outside and shot in the head. “The villagers are still worried that the Shabiha will return,” the woman’s brother continued. “At the moment we are still desperately trying to get people out. The situation is dire.”

Syria cooperating, but lack of money hurting humantarian aid – CNN
By Jill Dougherty

Facing a “serious escalation” of violence in Syria, the chief United Nations organization that coordinates emergency aid is warning that more Syrian civilians will die if contributing nations do not follow through and fund its relief operation.

“We have used the terminology ‘appalling,’ ‘desperate’ and ‘deplorable,’ says John Ging, operations director and chair of the Syria Humanitarian Forum for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“We have run out of language to describe how it is for the civilian population. It is physical and it is psychological.”

Humanitarian agencies such as the World Food Program, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization, Ging says, have launched a major operation in Syria but are facing “an incredibly complex and dangerous situation to develop networks to be able to deliver to the areas that have been affected by the conflict.”

The main challenge remains lack of security, which prevents the agencies from reaching all the people in Syria who need food, medicine and blankets.

But there has been progress, he says. In April food assistance was reaching 200,000 people; through June this increased to 500,000 people and into July they expect delivery to 850,000.

A senior U.N. humanitarian officer who briefed reporters Friday on the situation in Syria said there has been a “breakthrough” in dealing with the Syrian government. “Bureaucratic delay and obstructions, the officer said, “have been largely removed.”

The Syrian government is following through on what it has agreed to do, but some difficulties still remain.

One of the biggest obstacles right now, OCHA’s John Ging says in a statement, is lack of international funding. OCHA’s appeals are only 20% funded at the moment, he says, and “that means they are 80% short.”

Al-Qaeda tries to carve out a war for itself in Syria
By Ruth Sherlock, Idlib Province,  12 Jul 2012, Telegraph

Al-Qaeda has infiltrated into Syria and is working to establish footholds in the war-torn northern provinces.

Whilst the militant Islamic organisation’s influence remains small, home-grown jihadist groups that are linked with, or sympathetic to the ideals of movement are growing.

The Daily Telegraph has seen al-Qaeda’s flag flying openly in some areas of Idlib and Aleppo provinces that straddle the borders with Turkey and Iraq and fighters in the rebel Free Syrian Army have told how representatives of the militant group have tried in past months to win control of towns and villages.

“An al Qaeda group led by a man who called himself Abu Saddiq took control in Der Tezzeh,” said one FSA rebel speaking on condition of anonymity. “I was a member of the Revolution Council there. Suddenly there was a new way of thinking. Abu Saddiq was installed as the ‘Emir’, or ‘Prince’ of the area for three months. I was told to put my hand on the Koran and to obey him.

“He wanted to build a religious country. He did not want democracy but a religious leader in power. He wanted to use suicide bombers as a way of fighting government troops in the area.”

Opposition activists have also told of a similar events inside Idlib, a city that continues to see fierce fighting between government soldiers and rebel groups.
“Al Qaeda tried to set up an Emir there and ran bombing operations against the Syrian military. The members were all Syrian,” said a medic working with the opposition.

In both cases local activists and rebel fighters reported that the groups had failed to win hearts and minds. “The local people didn’t like their way of thinking. They did not like their methods,” said the opposition doctor. “Now he has a small group of only around 25 people with him and they have moved to live in the surrounding mountains {…}

“We killed thirteen men,” said a fighter proudly. At a headquarters in Saraqeb bearded men sat squatting on the floor counting piles of bullets. One man in his early twenties proudly revealed a powerful home made bomb; nuts and bolts embedded in a powerful and deadly wedge of TNT.

“Our brothers, mujahideen from Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us how to make these,” he said. “Tell Nato we can make them some if they need.”

Comments (944)


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901. irritated said:

#861 Mina

FSA shows discipline and chevalry? God Help Syria from these ‘angels’

“After the Free Syrian Army took control of the post, they detained a Syrian army lieutenant colonel, cut off his arms and then “executed 22 Syrian soldiers in front of the eyes of Iraqi soldiers,” AFP cited Iraq’s Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi as saying.”

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July 20th, 2012, 8:32 am

 

902. Mina said:

Zoo,

I do believe that Bashar wants to resign since many months, but that they need to keep this option until the proper timing.

So here we go: UN will administer Syria and the Palestinian refugee camps. Back to 1917. Hassanein Heikal was just right “la rabii’ wa la ‘arabi, da sykes-picot jadid”.

Interesting that no one here makes the parallel with the Sanaa suicide bombing that ousted Saleh on an urgent trip. BBC went as far as writing “an apparent suicide bombing”, maybe because after we’ve been told that this is a minority regime where all the security appartus is Alawi, it didn’t feed the narrative?

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July 20th, 2012, 8:35 am

 

903. Mina said:

Only RT reports a huge explosion an hour ago
http://www.rt.com/news/explosions-damascus-syria-unrest-675/

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July 20th, 2012, 8:40 am

 

904. irritated said:

833. Syrialover

So, despite your admiration from the ‘brilliant’ FSA ( I guess after 6 months of intensive training by the CIA, they should show some results, unless they are totally dumb) you are yet not sure that they could have committed this mass murder in a terrorist attack.

I think they did in cooperation with the UK and the USA secret services as well as the Mossad disguised in CIA agents. Qatar also played a role in corrupting the operators with money.
Because of that, we will never know the truth, as we will never know who killed Hariri, after 6 years of investigation.

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July 20th, 2012, 8:43 am

 

905. Tara said:

Bronco, 

Did Bashar save all his salaries to amass this fortune?  Do you still think he us the best option for Syria?

Bashsr al-Assad has amassed fortune of up to £950m, analysts estimate
Syrian president’s assets are thought to be held in Russia, Hong Kong and offshore tax havens to spread risk of seizure

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 19 July 2012 14.13 EDT

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/19/bashar-al-assad-950m-fortune

Much more…

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July 20th, 2012, 8:51 am

 

906. bronco said:

#902 Mina

Bashar al Assad has repeated that if the Syrians do not want him, he will go and that he will go only when he is convinced of the hands in which Syria will fall.
For fear of the void, the West wants a political transition, while the rebels have opposite and different agendas of an Islamic country or a US managed country or an GCC lackey or just an a Somali like anarchy, a haven for jihadists.
Each group supporting an agenda is helping the rebels with the conviction than once the regime is toppled, they’ll take over in the second phase
We have seen that in the Iranian revolution. While the Tudeh communist party contributed enormously to the success of the toppling the Shah they ended up, in the aftermath, to be totally hunted and wiped out in a bloodbath .
We have also seen that in the Egyptian revolution where the young liberals who made the revolution happen were pushed aside. Because of the presence of the army, it did not end in a bloodbath.
In Syria, the simultaneous collapse of the government AND the army is the perfect recipe for internal struggle for power through violence that will go much beyond what we have seen now. The West will be totally impotent to intervene.

This is why they keep calling for a political transition within the regime that would guarantee the integrity of the army to protect the country. The main cards are in the government hands. If they neutralize the armed rebels, the transition have a strong chance to happen smoothly. If the rebels win, the country is on a track of extreme violence.

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July 20th, 2012, 9:02 am

 

907. Mina said:

ref “Stick to”
If the matter is purely Syrian, why all this noise from the French, British and American governement? People fight each other and die in Africa by thousands without anyone blinking.

And how do you appreciate the role of the foreign fighters since the beginning of the conflit? You find it normal that Libyans, Tunisians, Saudis, are in Syria to kill Syrians in the name of a Syrian democracy?

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July 20th, 2012, 9:03 am

 

908. zoo said:

معنويات الجيش العربي السوري في حي الميدان 19-07-2012

The army soldiers seem to have been boosted by the murder of their chief. They don’t look like they want to defect after the victory of Midan.

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July 20th, 2012, 9:11 am

 

909. Juergen said:

Stick to the Truth

we had democracy at least in babyshoes since 1848, the first elected parliament was in Frankfurt, and may I remind you even Hitler was elected democratically. He and his henchmen then turned the country into a dictatorship, with a broad support of Germans. Let me remind you 1928 in the elections the Nazi party got 2 % of the votes, 1932 over 33 %, the communists at about 20 %. Both wanted an dictatorship, you can guess what happend in between those years which led them have this high support by almost half of the Germans.

So we did not get democracy by bombs, we get liberated from the Nazi terror and reinstated democracy.

You set high records with a racist statement, well done. Ever thought about that in our government its the right of elected ministers to take their spouses or in that case his husband on travels? Usually they are formally invited, but surely it takes some effort by some to arrive to 21st century standards.

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July 20th, 2012, 9:12 am

 

910. ann said:

West’s claims that Russia’s responsible for Syria violence unacceptable – official – Jul 20, 2012

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_07_20/West-claims-that-Russia-responsible-for-Syria-violence-unacceptable-official/

Russia sees the West’s attempts to hold it responsible for the escalation of the Syria conflict due to Moscow’s refusal to vote for the UN resolution that would slap sanctions on the Syrian authorities as unacceptable.

This came in a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich. He pointed out that Russia has, throughout the conflict, never once stopped looking for a diplomatic solution.

The western partners should have done something to urge the belligerent Syrian opposition to embark on a path of political settlement, the Russian diplomat said.

[…]

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July 20th, 2012, 9:22 am

 

911. bronco said:

905. Tara:

Please count the number of times the article used “likely” and “estimate”, “are thought to”.

In addition ALACO, the main source of the information used by Guardian is qualified in another article by Guardian as ” a business intelligence boutique”.
Their website is totally empty, not even “About US” . They do not appear to me as any reliable source, more like an obscure ’boutique’ probably easily bought off to desinform. It has been registered on the 22 june 2012, 2 weeks before the Guardian article and their activities are not yet filed.
Company profile:
ALACO
Registration Date: 29/06/2012
Registration Number: 08124964
Type: Private Limited with share capital

Registered Address
UNIT 3 LOGIX ROAD,
R D PARK
HINCKLEY
LE10 3BQ
Activities
This company has not yet filed a description of their activities.
http://companycheck.co.uk/company/08124964

In addition, in view of the UK propaganda campaign to demonize Bashar Al Assad, and the rumors they have published later disowned, their information always need to be confirmed from other sources. I haven’t found any that does.

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July 20th, 2012, 9:26 am

 

912. irritated said:

Juergen

Isnt there the saying that the rats are the first to flee the sinking ship?

The rats are trapped, they can’t escape. They’ll be soon annihilated with their Qatari supplied weapons in the hands, a heroic death.

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July 20th, 2012, 9:50 am

 

913. irritated said:

903. Mina

Only RT reports a huge explosion an hour ago

It was a sound bomb. WIFI and Internet are operational.

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July 20th, 2012, 9:55 am

 

914. zoo said:

General Mood’s press conference in Damascus , 19 July 2012.mov

Mood condemns the attack on the Syrian government and offers condoleances to the family of the killed.
He also expressed his admiration for Nelson Mandela who chose reconciliation over war.

Note : This part of the press conference has been conveniently eluded in all the Western media. That’s what the West calls freedom of press that looks more like manipulation of the information to fit an agenda.

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July 20th, 2012, 10:09 am

 

915. Tara said:

Saleh Addin

I don’t know if abou Sbeih was the one who threw himself at Hafiz but what I know he disappeared in or around the time of Hama massacre and we were told that Quraan tapes were discovered in one of the cars he drives and …This was a heresay and I do not know what really happened. It bothered me much that he disappeared.

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July 20th, 2012, 10:15 am

 

916. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

This kid is really fed up with Bashar al Assad, and his fake reforms, and his laughable new constitution
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkI6j3u5WoY
.

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July 20th, 2012, 10:31 am

 

917. Bruno said:

@ Amir in Tel Aviv
Looks staged by the Free Sryian Army themselves, otherwise why they would film after he was tortured by them in the first place?

Sounds like Amir, you are getting desperate with the propaganda are we now?

From the video i could easily tell he didn’t want nor doesn’t want to be filmed.

From the body language.

I am Sorry Amir but the propaganda isn’t working especially with the Brilliant YouTube propaganda. Posted by some of the activists on here.

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July 20th, 2012, 10:38 am

 

918. ann said:

Syria’s Mayaleh Dismisses Reports of Loss in Value of Currency – Jul 19, 2012

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-19/syria-s-mayaleh-dismisses-reports-of-loss-in-value-of-currency.html

Reports of losses in the value of the Syrian pound are “exaggerated and untrue” and intended to provoke panic among Syrians, Central Bank Governor Adib Mayaleh said, according to state-run Sana news agency.

Mayaleh said the pound stands at 68.30 to the dollar and those who violate the exchange bulletin or regulations are “partners in the conspiracy hatched against Syria and they will be punished according to the law,” Sana said.

Al Arabiya television said in a report today that the Syrian pound has lost 10 percent of its value and is heading toward collapse.

[…]

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July 20th, 2012, 10:38 am

 

919. zoo said:

Is the FSA attack on Abu Kamal that triggered its sealing by the Iraqis a way to prevent the Iraqi civilians from leaving as to keep them as hostages and human shields and blackmail the Iraqi government

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/20/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE8610SH20120720

(Reuters) – The Iraqi army sealed the main border crossing to Syria with concrete blast walls on Friday to guard against any escalation in fighting after Syrian rebels seized a border post on the other side from government forces.
,,
“The Syrian authorities bear the responsibility of protecting the Iraqis inside Syria,” Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

“We consider what the (rebel) gunmen are doing as a criminal act, and it definitely deviates from the path of the Syrian revolution. Their problem is with the regime so they must not target our people,” he said.

“If there is unrest at the border posts we are committed to protect our nationals when they enter Iraqi territory.”

The Iraqi Red Crescent said 2,285 Iraqis who had fled Syria had registered for repatriation in the past two days after passing through the northern al-Waleed border crossing.
Iraqi officials say the al-Waleed gate, close to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, is still open and the Syrian side is controlled by Syrian government border officials.

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July 20th, 2012, 10:40 am

 

920. Uzair8 said:

908. Zoo said:

“The army soldiers seem to have been boosted by the murder of their chief.”

Is that so? Perhaps they would welcome a few more ‘boosts’ courtesy of the FSA? Imagine the boost they will get if Bashar and/Maher get their cummuppance? Enough to restore control of the country even.

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July 20th, 2012, 10:55 am

 

921. Observer said:

Well the Iraqi deputy interior minister could not be reached for comments on the loss of the border posts.
Again, 80% of goods are coming through Iraq and that is including fuel for the tanks. The other source is Caracass that is sending ships with diesel fuel for the tanks.
Juan Cole thinks that the destroyed tanks are due to the use of the advanced RPG 29 or RPG 30 that is made in Russia and has a double hollow charge to penetrate double armor.
My sources tell me more than a hundred tanks were destroyed in Deir Ezzor and that a border post was evacuated with a mere threat of attack by the rebels in the Kurdish area.

ZOO shows us the great youtube footage of the regime’s troops in high spirits. In the meantime, the armed terrorist gangs are spreading slowly and surely, from Rastan to Talbisa to Crack to Idlib and to Izzaaz and Atareb and I thought Zabadani was subdued and that Deraa was pacified and Hasakeh is quiet and Aleppo is with the regime.

Now they are in and around Damascus and today the WSJ has an article that says that the regime has layers of cadres and personnel to continually replace the higher ups as they flee or get eliminated or get assassinated or get suicided by four bullets in the back.

Good news from SANA the pound is holding steady and the price of a gas canister is steady and there is bread and water and electricity everywhere.

I do not know in what world some on this blog live.

Do you remember the film of Hilter in his bunker ordering his generals to go out and crush the Russians by a pincer movement from the 9th and 11th armies when these existed in his imagination alone?
Time to revisit this scene

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July 20th, 2012, 10:57 am

 

922. bronco said:

The assault of the propaganda is massive. False information popping up on the western media, fake Youtube videos, catastrophy description of the situation on the ground. A real hysteria.

For what? It looks like it failed again, but this time without a chance of a repeat. Syrians have learned that the game is psychological and they don’t buy the rumors even when carried by supposedly reliable source like BBC or AFP or AP or Reuters who keep repeating that they can’t confirm their news…
Most Syrians and foreigners are turning to SANA for confirmed news.

The battle is ‘decisive’, yes until now it does not seem to be in favor of what the local strategists were expecting

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July 20th, 2012, 10:58 am

 

923. ann said:

Michele Bachmann Sticks To Accusations About Muslim Brotherhood – July 19, 2012

Bachmann and colleagues continue to dig in their heels over Muslim Brotherhood infiltration

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/07/19/michele-bachmann-sticks-to-accusations-about-muslim-brotherhood

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and a few of her colleagues aren’t letting go of her insistence that the Muslim Brotherhood could be infiltrating the U.S. government, even after Arizona Sen. John McCain’s impassioned floor speech where he dismissed Bachmann’s suspicions as “specious and degrading.”

The flap began after Bachmann and Republican colleagues Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, Florida Rep. Tom Rooney and Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland sent letters to several inspector generals in the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the Office of National Intelligence as to whether the Muslim Brotherhood could be infiltrating the U.S. government. The letters quickly attracted attention with one specifically mentioning the State Department’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, a long-time Hillary Clinton aide, by name.

Bachmann’s letter says “Huma Abedin has three family members — her late father, her mother and her brother-conected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives or organizations.

The letter continues to insinuate that those connections have led the State Department to act favorably toward the “Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.” Bachmann insists that she’s onto something and dug in her heels late Wednesday stating “I encourage everyone, including media outlets, to read [the letters] in their entirety. The intention of the letters was to outline the serious national security concerns I had and ask for answers to questions regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical group’s access to top Obama administration officials.”

On Thursday, Congressman Rooney also stood his ground.

“As a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, my top priority is ensuring the security of our nation. The tragic events at Fort Hood in 2009 proved that our enemies will go to great lengths, including infiltrating and recruiting members of our military, to commit acts of terror against American citizens,” Rooney said in an E-mailed statement. “I regret that Mrs. Abedin has become the media focus of this story, because the intention of the letters was to bring greater attention to a legitimate national security risk.”

[…]

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July 20th, 2012, 11:02 am

 

924. bronco said:

Uzair8

Enough to restore control of the country.

Do you seriously believe these armed gangs with no central command can restore control? You must be joking.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:02 am

 

925. Observer said:

Here is the video I could find the one where the dubbing had Fredo talking

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July 20th, 2012, 11:03 am

 

926. Tara said:

Bronco

“Most Syrians and foreigners are turning to SANA for confirmed news.”

Come on now….Please! Wasn’t it SANA that said people not demonstrating but out to thank God for rain? No one believes SANA. Not even Batta.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:05 am

 

927. zoo said:

Iraq: Syrian rebels took only 1 border crossing
Associated Press – 1 hr 7 mins ago

http://news.yahoo.com/iraq-syrian-rebels-took-only-1-border-crossing-135720693.html?_esi=1

“Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh on Friday refuted earlier reports that rebels had seized all four major border crossings between Syria and Iraq.”

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July 20th, 2012, 11:06 am

 

928. Uzair8 said:

924. Bronco

I meant the regime troops would possibly, after recieving further ‘boosts’, be able to restore control of Syria.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:09 am

 

929. bronco said:

926. Tara

Over the last 16 months, as the other media like Al Jazeera have evolved in more lies and the western media in more disinformation and manipulation, Sana has evolved in becoming more realistic and less biased.
Many media are now using SANA as the basis of their news, there is a significant change in perception.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:10 am

 

930. bronco said:

Uzair8 #928

With time and luck, yes they can. They seem to feel united in the desire to protect their country. The others have no central command, and they have different goals that calls for the destruction of the country as a prerequisite.
Who is stronger on the long term?

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July 20th, 2012, 11:16 am

 

931. Uzair8 said:

SANA broke the news about the bombing and deaths probably because the regime decided it would be better to report the news themselves rather than rumours gradually leaking out and foreign media reporting it. This way the regime could maintain the sense of control and calm. If it kept the news quiet then rumours and reports would eventually grow in the media risking an onset of panic. Regime silence would be interpreted as a desire to conceal and speculation would be ripe of possible panic and desperation.

The conclusion. SANA isn’t honest. In this instance it was a calculated one off decision.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:20 am

 

932. SALAH ADDIN said:

TARA
I am pretty sure that Abou Sbeih was the one who threw himself over Hafez and saved his life. He was brave enough (or crazy enough) to stare death in the eye and laugh. He used to let Basel drive the green Range Rover to and back from school when Basel could barely reach the pedals, and he would let him shoot his automatic pistol. Everybody feared Abou Sbeih and no one would dare tell Hafez about all what he allowed Basel do, as Hafez was strict with his children at the time.
He became the most trusted body guard and no one in his entourage would even think of crossing him.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:21 am

 

933. Uzair8 said:

#930 Bronco

I was being sarcastic about Zoo’s spin (soldiers ‘boosted’ by the death of their chief). LOL.

I think you may have misunderstood my comment.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:22 am

 

934. irritated said:

Observer #925
Great clip: Hitler looks much more like Ryad al Assad in his bunker in Turkey, panicking.

Bashar is in his regular office, while Ryad and his clique of defected generals are in a bunker protected by Turkish soldiers. Would they ever dare to show up in Syria without their Turkish pretorian guards.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:22 am

 

935. Juergen said:

Bronco

We see how much order the regime can provide at this moment in Damascus and elsewhere.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:26 am

 

936. Halabi said:

Shabee7 in the U.S. will get a taste of a U.S. prison. Unfortunately he will be treated a thousand times better than in Syria, but prison is prison and eventually everyone drops the soap in the shower.

DOJ Says Va. Man Sentenced To 18 Mos In Prison For Acting As Unregistered Agent For Syrian Govt

WASHINGTON – Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid, 48, a resident of Leesburg, Va., was sentenced today to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for collecting video and audio recordings and other information about individuals in the United States and Syria who were protesting the government of Syria and to providing these materials to Syrian intelligence agencies in order to silence, intimidate and potentially harm the protestors.


Soueid, aka “Alex Soueid” or “Anas Alswaid,” a Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen, was charged by a federal grand jury on Oct. 5, 2011, in a six-count indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia. He was convicted of unlawfully acting as an agent of a foreign government on March 26, 2012.

“Mohamad Soueid acted as an unregistered agent of the Syrian government as part of an effort to collect information on people in this country protesting the Syrian government crack-down. I applaud the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who helped bring about this important case,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco.

“Mr. Soueid betrayed this country to work on behalf of a state sponsor of terror,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “While the autocratic Syrian regime killed, kidnapped, intimidated and silenced thousands of its own citizens, Mr. Soueid spearheaded efforts to identify and intimidate those protesting against the Syrian government in the United States.”

“By illegally acting as an agent of Syria, Mr. Souied deceived his adopted country of the United States in support of a violent and repressive despotic government,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Through today’s sentencing, he will now be held accountable for his actions.”

According to court records, from March to October 2011, Soueid acted in the United States as an agent of the Syrian Mukhabarat, which refers to the intelligence agencies for the Government of Syria, including the Syrian Military Intelligence and General Intelligence Directorate. At no time while acting as an agent of the government of Syria in this country did Soueid provide prior notification to the Attorney General as required by law. The U.S. government has designated the Syrian government a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979.

Under the direction and control of Syrian officials, Soueid recruited individuals living in the United States to make dozens of audio and video recordings of protests against the Syrian regime – including recordings of conversations with individual protestors – in the United States and Syria, which he provided to the Syrian government. He also supplied the Syrian government with contact information for key dissident figures in the United States, details about the financiers of the dissident movement, logistics for protests and meetings, internal conflicts within the movement, and the movement’s future plans.

In a handwritten letter to a Syrian official in April 2011, Soueid outlined his support for the Syrian government’s repressions of its citizens, stating that disposing of dissension must be decisive and prompt and that violence, home invasions, and arrests against dissidents is justified.

The Syrian government provided Soueid with a laptop to further their ability to surreptitiously communicate, which he later destroyed. In late June 2011, the Syrian government paid for Soueid to travel to Syria, where he met with intelligence officials and spoke with President Bashar al-Assad in private.

To thwart detection of his activities by U.S. law enforcement, Soueid lied to a Customs and Border Patrol agent upon his return from meeting with President al-Assad in Syria, and he also lied repeatedly to FBI agents when they questioned him in August 2011. Following the FBI interview, Soueid destroyed documents in his backyard and informed the Mukhbarat about his FBI interview.


http://WWW.JUSTICE.GOV

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July 20th, 2012, 11:29 am

 

937. Bruno said:

Tunnels were discovered in some of the houses in Midan after it was cleaned up of the insurgents.
https://p.twimg.com/AyQPeBHCMAA13JL.jpg:large

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July 20th, 2012, 11:36 am

 

938. bronco said:

935. Juergen

When tens of thousands armed rebels use civilians as human shield by hiding among them in towns and cities, I think the level of order the government is able to achieve is impressive.
In the USA and EU, when there is a simple blackout of electricity all shops are looted and criminality peaks.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:39 am

 

939. irritated said:

#937. Bruno

Tunnels in Midan

Juergen was just mentioning rats.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:42 am

 

940. Uzair8 said:

ALERT!!:

Prof Landis has interrupted his holiday.

New post up.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:47 am

 

941. erin said:

Ann;
the moderator acting as he is the judge to free speech, he deletes,warns, banning, any commentator who is not in aggreement with his views, be patient one day will have a free speech oriented moderator!.

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July 20th, 2012, 11:48 am

 
 
 

944. Stick to the Truth said:

941. erin said:

Ann;
the moderator acting as he is the judge to free speech, he deletes,warns, banning, any commentator who is not in aggreement with his views

This reminds me of the code of practice of the German janitors
– Clause 1: The janiator is always right.

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July 20th, 2012, 3:23 pm

 

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