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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701. Albo said:

To Amjad

I’m neither Alawi nor Qardahan but I will answer nonetheless.

To your first point, you are aware that many populations were displaced already. Many people scattered in Syria have returned or will return to their villages. That will change the demographic picture. The idea for this state didn’t pop out of nowhere, that’s the legacy of the French colonial rule, where they deemed the Latakia governorate an “Alawi State”.
I think you picked your examples conveniently, but forgot the proper comparisons with ex-Yugoslavia or Transnistria or more recently the Abkazia and South Ossetia breakaway provinces of Georgia.

it doesn’t matter that the state doesn’t look economically viable or cozy with the international community. Kosovo itself isn’t being recognized by a host of countries, including some from the European Union. I would point out that the geographical situation of such a country would be much better than the above examples, but in the end it doesn’t matter- people scared for their lives and security will seek independance from a irreconcilable majority, economic and diplomatic factors nonwithstanding. As for the regional implications, they are all bad, except for Israel. From the israeli POV, having one of its arch-enemy divided into micro-states is an excellent outcome, and they would be rational to encorage it. There’s much talk about ties between Israel and the KRG, for example, so it has a precedent and makes sense. This fragmentation of the Middle East has been a major theme in American and Israeli strategic circles for a long time. The map here for example is genuine, drawed for th Armed Force Journal by a retired US colonel. Not that it makes a great deal of sense, but you can see the intention. So it’s difficult to rule out the fragmentation scenario completely.

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July 19th, 2012, 10:42 am


702. habib said:

700. Albo

I always wondered why that map included the Syrian coast in a “Greater Lebanon”.

And again, someone claimed an Alawite state would be non-viable because of lack of agricultural knowledge, but that’s bollocks, since most Alawites in north Lebanon are farmers, and could easily be brought in to teach or take over.

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July 19th, 2012, 10:48 am


703. bronco said:

If all goes according to the plan, the Syrians ‘revolutionists’ full of idealistic ideas would have fallen deep into the trap.
While they thought they’ll get freedom and reforms, the only thing they’ll get is the division of their country so Moslem Brotherhood, salafis and Arab Sunnis can live happily ever after in freedom and karama together under an islamic rule while the Alawis, Druzes, Circassians, Armenians, Christians, Shia and probably Kurds will finally be able to live in a place where secularism is the rule without been threatened.
Qatari and GCC investments will pour in the ‘sunni-syria’ where towers and malls will replace useless historical souks and Baskins and Robbins will replace Bekdash.
The winners: Israel, Qatar and KSA and the Islamists , the loosers: the Syrians, the resistance and the secularists.

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July 19th, 2012, 11:02 am


704. ghufran said:

The double Veto at the UN was expected,western governments were never interested in a compromise and the Russian Bear was not ready to give up an old friend. It is war and it will get ugly.
Going backward,I did not see what service the revolutionaries provided to Syria by arming themselves and killing pro regime soldiers,security officers and civilians and causing a lot of destruction to many Syrian towns and cities. We knew from day one that we were dealing with a bunch of thugs on the regime side,we should have not allowed our own thugs to run the show.
Syria,even if or after Bashar and his regime falls,will never be the same,a prolonged bloody conflict is likely to continue for years to come,may be that is what some Syrians and their backers want in the first place,I hope that skiing in expensive resorts in the winter can make some of you feel better,just a reminder, sending money to buy weapons is not tax deductible,join me as we watch Syria burns.

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July 19th, 2012, 11:04 am


705. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

695. HABIB,

Personally, I think that it’s not HA and Iran who did this in Bulgaria.

The suicide bomber is mainly a Sunni Islam trade-mark. There were few Shi’i suicide bombers in Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war, and the Israeli invasion. But there was no action by a Shi’i suicide bomber since.

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July 19th, 2012, 11:18 am


706. zoo said:

The movements of civilians out of the fighting zones could allow more freedom for the Syrian army to finish off the rebels now entrenched among civilians

Syrians flee violent clashes in Damascus

“The army has so far exercised restraint in its operations, but after the attack, it has decided to use all the weapons in its possession to finish the terrorists off,” the security source said.

The army has told residents to stay away from combat zones, as the terrorists are trying to use residents as human shields.”

“The traitors, agents and mercenaries are deluding themselves if they think that Syria will bow to this strike, even if it hurts,” the ruling party’s mouthpiece, Al-Baath newspaper, said on Thursday.

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July 19th, 2012, 11:20 am


707. irritated said:

704. Amir in Tel Aviv

The Sunni Islamists terrorists are encouraged by the success of their terror attacks in Syria and the complacency of the West.

They’ll strike more anywhere now. Get ready

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July 19th, 2012, 11:23 am


708. Albo said:

Ghufran, if only they took inspiration from Burma. When an uprising began in 2007, the so-called Saffron Revolution, giant demonstrations took place all over the country.
All non-violent, but when the Junta began its repression, after some 30 deaths, everything stopped and people returned to their home.

Seemingly no one could ever remove this junta that had been in power for 50 years. As you can see a peaceful transition is finally happening there. I’m absolutely certain that non-violent dissent would have yielded better results than the current armed resistance in Syria, the pressure of the Arab Spring is there and not reforming would be impossible in the long term.

Well, Burma is far away and is another culture so no inspiration seemed possible, besides not to be controversial but the fact that the 2007 demonstrations were led by Buddhist monks also explain some differences…

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July 19th, 2012, 11:23 am


709. mjabali said:


Lattakia, and all of the Syrian coast of today was a part of Wilayat Beirut in the 19th C.

On the Coast the Alawis farm and know well how to do that. They are self sufficient with food. They export many food products. They need to import zero amount of food. They farm vegetables, fruits, and some grains.

One of their main crops, other than food is tobacco. They used to harvest it more when there was a free market, but al-Assad’s socialist policies made them lose money, so these days they work less in it. Many of them stopped completely harvesting tobacco. They used to export it to Egypt in the 19 C and to the US via Beirut in the 1930’s.

Sunnis in the coast came with the ottomans and Salah al-Din, so few of them are farmers. The Sunni farmers are located around the castles: near Karak ,Marqab, Khawabi, Sahyun (mostly Kurds) and those in Slayyeb al-Turkman and Rabia’ in Jabal al-Turkman. Those Sunnis are farmers now.

Even though most of the inhabitants of the the coast are lazy city dwellers: the coast is still able to feed itself with ease.

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July 19th, 2012, 11:30 am


710. bronco said:

707. Albo

In Iran too. When the protesters realized that the repression was too strong for the civilians and knowing they do no want any foreign in making that revolution, they stopped, until another opportunity presents itself.
Unfortunately in Syria, the western powers and the Gulf states assured the opposition of a success similar to Libya and Tunisia and the opposition accepted that help, thus betraying the independence and dignity of the Syrians and engulfing them in a destructive civil war where brothers are killing brothers under the applause of Qatar and their allies.

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July 19th, 2012, 11:41 am


711. bronco said:

So all the media hysteria that Russia had dumped Bashar al Assad proved to be wrong with that double veto. Even China did not budge and it has no “naval base” in Tartous…

It’s funny to read the UK being “shocked” by the veto as if they were not expecting it, considering the ridiculous UN resolution proposed, giving 10 days to the Syrian army to withdraw with nothing in exchange and no guarantee that the rebels will not take advantage of that to regroup and reenforce.
Who were they trying to fool? That resolution was an insult.
They got the answer they deserve and it was a polite one: NIET

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July 19th, 2012, 11:54 am


712. ghufran said:

تواصلت المعارك العنيفة بين الجيش السوري، وميليشيا الجيش الحر في حي الميدان الدمشقي وسط أخبار تفيد عن مقتل عدد كبير من المسلحين الذين يتحصنون في عدد كبير من المباني.
وقد ذكرت مصادر في الجيش السوري الحر أن “كتائب الأسد زادت من إستخدامها للقوة النارية ضد المسلحين عقب التفجير الذي أدى إلى مقتل ثلاثة من القادة العسكريين السوريين في حي الروضة بالأمس”.
المصادر طالبت من “أسمتهم بثوار المناطق المحيطة بحي الميدان بالقدوم إلى الحي المحاصر من اجل تقديم المساعدة للمسلحين الذين يدافعون عن الحي في معركة غير متكافئة”، محذرة” من إمكانية وقوع مجزرة بحق المسلحين في حال لم يسارع المجاهدون في دمشق إلى نصرتهم، لأن الوضع لم يعد يطاق، والذخائر أصبحت على وشك النفاذ”، مضيفةً” هناك خلل وقع في التنسيق بين الكتائب المقاتلة في دمشق، وقيادة الجيش الحر المرابطة خارج سورية”.
وكانت تنسيقية حي الميدان توجهت إلى المعارضين الدمشقيين عبر صفحتها على مواقع التواصل الإجتماعي بالقول “يا أحرار الشام الضغط كبير جدا الان على حي الميدان الدمشقي المٌرابط جراء القصف المتواصل بشكل رهيب ….. نرجو منكم التخفيف عن الحي بفتح جبهات اخرى و ايصال كل ما هو ممكن من مساعدات طبية و غذائية باسرع وقت ممكن ….. التحرك السريع الان”.

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July 19th, 2012, 11:58 am


713. SANDRO LOEWE said:

701. HABIB

Or even they could watch some National Geographic program that shows agricultural technics or even go to the museums and study how Natufian used to do. One last suggestion they could ask jews how they came from Germany and learnt agrculture in the desert.

When an state was not viable due to lack of agricultural knowledge???? This is the most basic knowledge inherited from generation to generation.

…. Or maybe your young alawites are all day in coffe shops in Damascus and Lattakia losing time hubble bubbling and cruising with expensive cars waiting for their army fathers to give them more stolen money?

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July 19th, 2012, 12:03 pm


714. habib said:


The “lack-of-agricultural-knowledge” theory was proposed by Anwar or some other of your friends in an earlier comment section, so please redirect your advice to him.

I was merely countering his claims. As are you, so thanks for covering my back, LOL.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:07 pm


715. Albo said:

About Iran yes that’s a good example, and many of the youth in Iran aren’t fundamentalist at all. The great difference with Syria was that the protesters were mostly urbanites, often rich kids.. While the basiji militias which repressed them were rather from rural and conservative families.
In Syria it’s the opposite, protesters are more from the rural and poor demographic classes while many in the higher classes are reluctant or loyalist, I’m not considering sectarian divides here, but it’s often true among Sunnis.

If it were not for the nuclear question, I would have been quite optimistic for Iran in the long term, elite youths are more often an inspiration for the rest than the opposite naturally.
One day I hope they create some kind of Shia small sacred state for the holy sites under the rule of the Ayatollah while Iran can move on to a secular constitution. A bit like what happened in Italy since their unification and until the Lateran treaty and the creation of the Vatican state. But I digress, that’s another topic.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:10 pm


716. habib said:

704. Amir in Tel Aviv

And as expected, the suspect in the Bulgaria bomb is a Sunni straight out of Guantanamo:

We all expect an apology from Netanyahu, lol.

Civilian Westerners need to know who their true enemies are.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:13 pm


717. AIG said:


And when the Syrian regime realized that the Syrians were not going to give up like the Iranians they should have immediately started serious reforms and Assad should have left the country in order to stop a destructive civil war. But no, Assad though he could defeat the opposition by force. He is the one responsible for the civil war.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:22 pm


718. bronco said:

Strangely, while Addunya has been cut from Arab satellites, therefore not visible to Syrians, the foreign media are very scarce in reporting the fights going on in Damascus and else where.
Are they avoiding to report that the rebels trapped are either surrendering or being killed? Or they prefer to wait until they can call it a ‘massacre’?.
The double veto and the abstention of a Sunni country, Pakistan and of a country hero of revolution and independence, South Africa can only encourage the Syrian government in its determination to foil the plots from the colonialists France, UK and USA who, a few years ago were the staunch supporters of Apartheid South Africa.

“Throughout his presidency, Reagan supported the apartheid.
government in South Africa and even labeled Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress a notorious terrorist organization.”

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July 19th, 2012, 12:23 pm


719. bronco said:

#715 Habib

Israel does not miss any chance to demonize Hezbollah and Iran.
Apologies? forget it. People will still think it was Hezbollah because the zionist media who announced it on a headline will make the correction on the corner of the third page.
We’re used to Israel and the West media manipulation.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:28 pm


720. habib said:

718. bronco

Let’s hope this’ll at least be an eye opener to civilians in the West and Israel.

Your leaders are supporing the same people in Syria who are killing you in Europe, wake the hell up!

More info:

So the Salafists almost scored a hattrick yesterday, killed secular Syrian leaders, Jewish civilians, and nearly got Iran blown up too.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:32 pm


721. bronco said:

#716 Amir

Promising instant reforms under pressure is useless as it is clear that rebels determined to a change of regime will ignore them, and sure they did ignore all reforms that Bashar did, always saying “too little too late”.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:33 pm


722. bronco said:

#719 Habib

It looks that his stay and the way he was treated in Guantanamo did not convince him of the ‘humanistic values’ of the USA, quite the contrary.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:37 pm


723. Tara said:


You sound very sectarian lately. I thought you are different and I was wrong. It is disappointing.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:50 pm


724. Antoine said:

FSA is in control of Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing centre on Turkish-Syrian border.

They have taken full control of Border Guards regimental centre as well as Customs centre at the Border crossing.

FSA will now process all traffic at the crossing, and will collect all customs duties and tariff duties.

Visitors to Syria from Turkey are now the guests of the Free Syrian Army, Welcome to Syria.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:51 pm


725. Antoine said:


Habib is an out and out sectarian, he is no friend of Syria as is evidenced by his recent cheering of an Alawite State on the coast as he is starting to realize Assad may no longer be able to control the rest of Syria. He is even starting to claim that the “rest of Syria” is a desert and is populated by “Bedouins”, looks like he doesn’t know the difference between Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Despite the fact that the Assads and all other Alawite military chiefs have been accumulating their income by taxing these “rest of Syria bedouins” for the last 50 years.

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July 19th, 2012, 12:59 pm


726. habib said:

722. Tara

What I said is merely the truth. Only Sunni Islamists are killing Jewish and Christian civilians in Europe. Can you deny that?

What makes me less civil in tone now is that Iran and Hezbollah are still being wrongfully accused by the Western media. What the hell is wrong with them? If they can even blame Shias when Sunni Islamists kill Jews, no wonder they ignore it when Sunnis massacre Syrian civilians! Wake up, you few seculars who support the Islamist uprising! It’s all a friggin’ scam!

More info:

724. Antoine

Of course I don’t want to share a country with murderous Salafists! There are secular Sunnis in the Syrian government now, no problem with them, but let’s see how long they survive before the FSA terrorists kill them all!

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July 19th, 2012, 1:00 pm


727. Tara said:


And so I noted….


I was not commenting on your post in regard to whom is killing Jews or Christians… I made my observation based on your posts yesterday. Read them.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:03 pm


728. zoo said:

Indifferent to the US and UK anger and threats, the Syrian army continues dislodging the rebels hiding among the civilians in Damascus.

The Syrian army gave residents 48 hours to leave areas of the capital, where clashes are taking place between security forces and rebels pushing their “Damascus Volcano” offensive.

“These extremely violent clashes should continue in the next 48 hours to cleanse Damascus of terrorists by the time Ramadan begins” on Friday, a security source told AFP, referring to the Muslim fasting month.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said that in the western district of Mazzeh alone, hundreds of people were on the move, “fearing a large-scale operation by regime troops.”
Residents also fled the southern district of Tadamon and the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmuk, it said.

The United States said the Security Council had “utterly failed” on Syria and that it would now work outside of the council to confront Assad’s regime.

“We will intensify our work with a diverse range of partners outside the Security Council to bring pressure to bear on the Assad regime and to deliver assistance to those in need,” said US Ambassador Susan Rice.

The authorities announced that state funerals will held on Friday for the three regime officials killed in Wednesday’s bombing.

“State funerals will be held in Damascus tomorrow, and then each of the bodies will be transported to his native town to be buried there,” a security source told AFP.

Assad’s brother-in-law and one of the Syrian security apparatus’ hawks, Assef Shawkat, will be buried in the western province of Tartus.

Defence minister Daoud Rajha will be buried in his Christian town of Maalula near Damascus, and crisis cell chief Hassan Turkmani in northern Aleppo.

Assad’s mother Anissa and his sister Bushra — Shawkat’s widow — were in Tartus, on the Mediterranean coast, to receive condolences but it was unclear whether Assad himself would attend the funerals.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:08 pm


729. Antoine said:

“The double veto and the abstention of a Sunni country, Pakistan”


And what about the Yes vote from a Shia country, Azerbaijan, that too an ex-Soviet Republic which has no intention of going back into Soviet Russian fascist Stalinist slavery.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:10 pm


730. Antoine said:

Habib, you have called the rest of Syria a desert and their inhabitants Bedouins, that shows your acute lack of knowledge about Syria and probably non-Arab origin.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:13 pm


731. Tara said:

The FSA may have learned some lessons from the butcher Assef Shawksat and decided to attack his funeral…wouldn’t that be ironic ..and fair?

Is he in hell now? Or in his way there?

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July 19th, 2012, 1:15 pm


732. Amjad said:

“They have taken full control of Border Guards regimental centre as well as Customs centre at the Border crossing.”




And the menhebakjis thought they could take on NATO if and when the time came. They can’t even secure the friggin borders. I’d love to see how they think they can secure the Assadan Republic of Qurdaha.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:28 pm


733. habib said:

729. Antoine

The ones who have forsaken Arabism are the Salafists, so no cigar.

The Christians and Alawis of the Levant were more staunchly Arabist than the Sunni Arabs of the peninsula.

Remember that Nasser was Saudis biggest enemy.

But at one point, it’s just a lost cause trying to live alongside murderous fundamentalists. The time seems to be now.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:29 pm


734. zoo said:

#724 Antoine

Syria is not a strictly desert but a semi-arid steppe zone except for the coastal areas.

“Between the humid Mediterranean coast and the arid desert regions lies a semiarid steppe zone extending across three-quarters of the country, which receives hot, dry winds blowing across the desert. Syria is extensively run short, with 28 percent of the land arable, 4 percent dedicated to permanent crops, 46 percent utilized as meadows and pastures, and only 3 percent forest and woodland.”

Population density:
Mostly Aleppo (60%), the Coast and Damascus.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:41 pm


735. zoo said:

#728 Antoine

Azerbaijan does great business with Israel
By Faina Kirshenbaum MK, July 19, 2012
In May, while part of a Knesset delegation to Azerbaijan, I attended a children’s recital at the Or Avner school in Baku. The children performed Hebrew songs that I remembered my own Israeli-born children singing.

The goal of my visit to Azerbaijan was to advance the close commercial ties between our two countries. Azerbaijan is particularly receptive to Israeli overtures. It gains much from Israel’s technological and security know-how and investment.
Israel’s exports to Azerbaijan amount to $5 billion annually. It is a majority Muslim country that borders Iran and yet embraces Israel as its ticket to success.

The benefits Azerbaijan reaps from its co-operation with Israel range from security to agriculture, to telecoms and even ice cream. Israel could not ask for better publicity in a region threatened by Islamic radicalisation.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:48 pm


736. bronco said:

In suburb areas where the water is cut, the government is sending trucks to deliver water to the inhabitants.
Who’s on strike?

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July 19th, 2012, 1:56 pm


737. Antoine said:

Habib you are still evading my question. There is no such thing as Arabism just as there is no such thing as Islamism.

Why do you call Syria a desert ? Your beloved little Coastal State does not produce enough to meet its own requirements. It would still need to import wheat from Idleb, Hama, Halab, Daraa. It does not have any great industries. A very large portion of the labour force is employed in the Military , that too mainly in the Combat arms rather than in Engineering or Signals.

That State you are talking about comprising 2 coastal Governorates has the lowest percentage of trained doctors, engineers, scientists , academics when compared to any other Governorate of Syria. Anybody who knows Syria knows how poorly people from the Coastal mountains are represented among Syria’s white collar workforce. Habib you are sectarainly portraying Syrian Sunnis as a bunch of blue-collar workers and unemployed bedouins, which shows you have no idea of Syria. Those who are afraid that they will never be able to rule Syria, atleast not in the same way they used to, are now talking about splitting Syria, these are the tools of the Zionists.

Syrians after giving away Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, will never agree to a further partition.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:58 pm


738. Amjad said:

“But at one point, it’s just a lost cause trying to live alongside murderous fundamentalists”

Translation: our murdering thugs weren’t able to intimidate the country into staying at home, so we are going to prove our “resistance” and “steadfast” credentials by packing up and “resisting” in the western mountains. Souria bi khaaaaaaaaaayr.

And what satellite company is going to host the Assadan Republic of Qurdaha satellite channel? Ho ho ho.

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July 19th, 2012, 1:58 pm


739. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Rebelion is gaining momentum and the Regular Syrian Army under command of the Aassads is minimizing at an impressing speed. If events keep this momentum Assad can be under encircled in a question of weeks.

Bab el Hawa deserted by Assad clowns.

Also Albukamal deserted by Assad rests of policemen.

There are news about a third border post that could be that of Karakozak north of Manbej? Or maybe one of the north borders, probably “Al Abbousiyeh”?

Anyone can confirm ? Thanks

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July 19th, 2012, 1:59 pm


740. Antoine said:

“Azerbaijan does great business with Israel”


Good for them, so does Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraqi Kurdistan.

And most of the peoples living in these countries are happier than their counterparts in Syria, Iran, and Lebanon, ( Thats not to say that trade with Israel equals happiness)

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July 19th, 2012, 2:01 pm


741. habib said:

736. Antoine

What is your question? Arabism and Islamism don’t exist? Lol, whut.

As for an “Alawite state”, it would be the size of Lebanon, with the same geography and climate, but with less, more homogeneous people.

That sounds pretty promising.

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July 19th, 2012, 2:05 pm


742. Antoine said:


Virtually all of Rural Aleppo has become like Idleb now, only difference is Assad forces have not been able to score even small successes like it managed in Idleb.

My only worry is with the rapid desertion of Police from many small towns and villages in Aleppo, the Kurds have started to set up their own military councils separate from the FSA , all indications point to the fact that they want to negotiate with a post Assad regime from a position of strength, especially since Assad forces have become a bit weakened and anyway Assad always wanted to avoid a confrontation with the Kurds.

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July 19th, 2012, 2:09 pm


743. SANDRO LOEWE said:

737. AMJAD

The new state would be the Kingdom of Assadia, a monarchy, of course.

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July 19th, 2012, 2:12 pm


744. Antoine said:


The State you are talking about will need a lot of time to stand on its own feet, it will be like Israel in 1948, and I can assure you it will be under attack from Day 1.

Moreover it will be ensured that RIFAAT AL ASSAD, the sectarian lord of the Alawites, is sent to that Satte in order to challenge Bashar’s hold on power, thereby creating a catastrophic conflict within that State.

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July 19th, 2012, 2:15 pm


745. habib said:

Kurds raise the Kurdish flag in northern Syria:

Seems that the Kurd are loyal to neither the regime or the opposition. But just watch the opposition keep sucking up to them, in the vain hope that they’ll join them.

743. Antoine

If the Salafists are as incompetent as the Arabs were in 1948, there should be no worries, lol. They are probably more incompetent.

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July 19th, 2012, 2:18 pm


746. Antoine said:

FSA in Reef Halab test firing an anti-aircraft heavy mahcinegun before using it on some shabbiha :

( I know you will like this Habib )

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July 19th, 2012, 2:22 pm


747. zoo said:

Is the death of Assef Shawkat and the defection of Manaf Tllas a blessing in disguise for the Syrian government?

(in french)

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July 19th, 2012, 2:24 pm


748. Antoine said:


Arabs in 1948 were ruled by people who were not interested in liberating Palestine, infact even the so-called Palestinian leaders and effendiye were not at all interested in fighting and more interested in living it up in London and Paris.

Whereas a Free Syria will represent the popular will of the people in the same way any Western country does, and anyway Syrians are now in ass-kicking mode.

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July 19th, 2012, 2:25 pm


749. Syrialover said:

ALBO (#700) says Syrians should have been patient like the Burmese (50 years of misery and stagnation, with change still far from a done deal). And BRONCO (#702) says the Syrians should have known when to quit their protest like the Iranians did in 2009.

Come on, do better than that.

Neither have a Hama in their recent history.

And 42 years isn’t long enough?

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July 19th, 2012, 2:28 pm


750. irritated said:

#741 Antoine

My only worry is with the rapid desertion of Police from many small towns and villages in Aleppo, the Kurds have started to set up their own military councils separate from the FSA

The Kurds have repeatedly sided on the Syrian army in attacking the rebels. I guess you should worry a lot about them. You could be on for a surprise.

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July 19th, 2012, 2:30 pm


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