Western Press Misled – Who Shot the Nine Soldiers in Banyas? Not Syrian Security Forces

A number of news reports by AFP, the Guardian, and other news agencies and outlets are suggesting that Syrian security forces were responsible for shooting nine Syrian soldiers, who were killed in Banyas on Sunday. Some versions insist that they were shot for refusing orders to shoot at demonstrators.

Considerable evidence suggests this is not true and that western journalists are passing on bad information.

* Testimony of colonel `Uday Ahmad. My wife spoke this morning to one witness who denied the story. He is colonel `Uday Ahmad, brother-in-law of Lt. Col. Yasir Qash`ur, who was shot and killed in Banyas with eight other Syrian soldiers on Sunday April 10, 2011. Uday Ahmad was sitting in the back seat of the truck which Yasir was driving when he was shot dead on the highway outside Banyas. Uday said that shooting was coming from two directions. One was from the roof of a building facing the highway and another from people hiding behind the cement median of the highway. They jumped up and shot into the two trucks carrying Syrian troops, killing 9. Col. Uday survived. Here is video of the shooting shown on Syrian TV sent by my brother-in-law, Firas, who lives in Latakia.

* Video of one soldier purportedly confessing to being shot in the back by security forces and linked to by the Guardian has been completely misconstrued. The Guardian irresponsibly repeats a false interpretation of the video provided by an informant.

  1. This is what the Guardian writes: “Footage on YouTube shows an injured soldier saying he was shot in the back by security forces.”

The video does not “support” the story that the Guardian says it does. The soldier denies that he was ordered to fire on people. Instead, he says he was on his way to Banyas to enforce security. He does not say that he was shot at by government agents or soldiers. In fact he denies it. The interviewer tries to put words in his mouth but the soldier clearly denies the story that the interviewer is trying to make him confess to.  In the video, the wounded soldier is surrounded by people who are trying to get him to say that he was shot by a military officer. The soldier says clearly, “They [our superiors] told us, ‘Shoot at them IF they shoot at you.'”

The interviewer tried to get the wounded soldier to say that he had refused orders to shoot at the people when he asked : “When you did not shoot at us what happened?” But the soldier doesn’t understand the question because he has just said that he was not given orders to shoot at the people. The soldier replies, “Nothing, the shooting started from all directions”.  The interviewer repeats his question in another way by asking, “Why were you shooting at us, we are Muslims?” The soldier answers him, “I am Muslim too.”  The interviewer asks, “So why were you going to shoot at us?” The soldier replies, “We did not shoot at people. They shot at us at the bridge.”

* Alix Van Buren, a veteran reporter for la Repubblica, Italy’s leading newspaper, is in Damascus and sends the following report about the possible role of armed Khaddam agitators in Banyas.

Josh, the picture is extremely confusing and it is often impossible to confirm data on the web. The absence of most foreign media here in Syria adds to that murky picture. What I can contribute about the question of “foreign meddling” is the following. These are direct quotes from leading and respected opposition members:

Sunday two of ex-Vice President Khaddam’s men were arrested in Banyas. A human rights activist confirmed that they were sowing trouble by distributing money and weapons. I don’t know what to make of the confessions of the three guys shown on Syrian tv today. However, several Syrian dissidents believe in the presence and the role of “infiltrators”. Michel Kilo, though he accepts that possibility, cautioned that the issue of “infiltrators and conspiracies” should not be exploited as an obstacle in the quick transition towards democracy.

Haytham al-Maleh was the most explicit in pointing to the meddling of Khaddam people in and around Banias. He also mentioned the “loose dogs” loyal to Rifa’t al-Assad. According to him they are active particularly along the coast between Tartous and Latakya. Here is a link to my interview with al-Maleh in La Repubblica.

The veteran blogger Ahmed Abu ElKheir, unfortunately now in prison for the second time in less than a month, and not yet released, has links to Banyas. The first, peaceful demonstration of Saturday morning was also sparked by the request for his release. In his Facebook profile, before being arrested, he too lashed out against Khaddam. Several commentators from that area agreed with him, cursing Khaddam for meddling “with the blood of the innocents”.

Finally, what do you make of the remarks by Haytham al-Manna from Paris to Al Jazeera?

There is much buzz about that over here, although, the Western media doesn’t seem to have picked upon it yet. See the text in Arabic from Al Watan. Manna basically says that he was approached by a group of men, including a Syrian businessman holding a foreign passport, who asked him to facilitate the distribution of money and weapons to the young demonstrators. There is a vague reference to a person in the group, linked to a “major Arab Gulf country”. Al-Manna is from Dera’a, and if what he said is confirmed, his origin adds significance to the context. He reportedly issued a warning to the people in Dera’a not to accept offers of money or weapons from anyone.

I am trying to get confirmation of the above directly from him.

Also see my interview with Suhair al-Atassi

Post script to the previous note sent by Alix Van Buren:

I finally got through to Haytham Manna in Paris. He confirmed the story of Al Watan, adding a few details: he spoke about three groups having contacted him to provide money and weapons to the rebels in Syria. First, a Syrian businessman (the story reported by Al Jazeera); secondly, he was contacted by “several pro-American Syrian opposers” to put it in his words. (he referred to more than one individual); thirdly, he mentioned approaches of the same kind by “Syrians in Lebanon who are loyal to a Lebanese party which is against Syria”. Well, he probably means Hariri. But that is MY OWN ASSUMPTION, as he flatly refused to name names, for he said he does not want to get into “les contrastes libano-libanaises”. But when I pronounced that name asking him to fully express his thought, he did not contradict me. He did also refer to other nationalities “meddling” in the Syrian rebellion. He stated that the “Intifadat Karama”, the Intifada of Dignity, is a “purely Syrian affair” and that no one, “neither Jordanians, nor Lebanese, nor Saudis” should interfere. “It is a matter that Syrians must resolve among themselves”.

He also was extremely firm in saying that anyone providing money and weapons to the Syrian rebels, is “pushing them to commit suicide”, as “the confrontation with the Security apparatus cannot be won through armed clashes. Both the firepower and the sheer numbers of the military plus the security (which he puts at 2,5 millions in total) would crush them”, he says. In his opinion, “the young can prevail only through non-violence. He agrees that there are people close to Khaddam and Rifa’t along the coast, but he believes “they are very few – in the dozens” – and that the two exiled Syrians “don’t really have a political base of support”. The people who do create trouble and receive money for doing so, according to him, are simple “misérables”, “destitute individuals who will do so in exchange for money”.

All of the above is part of the current discourse among the Syrian opposition.

* A three-page document purporting to be a “top secret” Mukhabarat memo, giving instruction to intelligence forces that “it is acceptable to shoot some of the security agents or army officers in order to further deceive the enemy” has been published on the web and republished by all4Syria. A copy was sent to me with a translation by a journalist with a leading magazine for my thoughts. It has blood splattered on it and is clearly a fake. What army, after all, would survive even days if its top officers were publishing orders to shoot its own officers? Not a good moral booster for the troops.

AFP and other news agencies have quoted opposition members from Banyas insisting that the nine officers and soldiers of the Syrian army shot by government forces in Banyas. They also claim that “shadowy agents” opening fire on the people are agents of the regime.

“Banias is surrounded by tanks. No one can get in or out. It is like a prison,” said Yasser, a shopkeeper. “Security forces were responsible for killing soldiers in Banias because they had refused to attack the city,” he added – an account that differed sharply from the official version.

The official Sana news agency had said nine soldiers, including two officers, had been killed on Monday when their patrol was ambushed outside the town.

The army has encircled Banias since Monday, when shadowy agents of the regime opened fire on residents, particularly in front of mosques, killing four people and wounding 17….

Syrian soldiers shot for refusing to fire on protesters.
Katherine Marsh – a pseudonym – in Damascus
guardian, Tuesday 12 April 2011

Witnesses claim soldiers who disobeyed orders in Banias were shot by security services as crackdown on protests intensifies.

Syrian soldiers have been shot by security forces after refusing to fire on protesters, witnesses said, as a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations intensified.

Witnesses told al-Jazeera and the BBC that some soldiers had refused to shoot after the army moved into Banias in the wake of intense protests on Friday.

Human rights monitors named Mourad Hejjo, a conscript from Madaya village, as one of those shot by security snipers. “His family and town are saying he refused to shoot at his people,” said Wassim Tarif, a local human rights monitor.

Footage on YouTube shows an injured soldier saying he was shot in the back by security forces, while another video shows the funeral of Muhammad Awad Qunbar, who sources said was killed for refusing to fire on protesters. Signs of defections will be worrying to Syria‘s regime. State media reported a different version of events, claiming nine soldiers had been killed in an ambush by an armed group in Banias.

Activists said not all soldiers reported dead or injured were shot after refusing to fire. “We are investigating reports that some people have personal weapons and used them in self-defence,” said Tarif….

Comments (151)

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1. Vedat The Turk said:

This is shameful! Innocent people are being shot ny the military simply for expressing there legitimate grievances against their corrupt government. So far hundreds of innocent protestors have been brutally murdered. Whichever way this matter ends, the Assad family should be held to account. What is happening is inexcusable.

Also shame on the soldiers who carry out his orders! Ask any professional soldier and they will tell you that a real soldier does not follow orders when they include harming innocent civilians. This is why we have war crime tribunals. I pray that there still are soldiers in Syria who adhere to this basic military principal.

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April 13th, 2011, 8:30 pm


2. Sophia said:

Dear prof. Landis,

Thank you for these infos which confirm that what is going on in Syria is clearly a conspiracy. And if Khaddam and Hariri hoodlums are behind, it is bound to fail.

To tell the truth, I was hesitant for few days about how to judge what is going on in Syria and why the protests were so violent. Yesterday, I decided to watch all those you tube videos posted by Syrian protesters and my impression is that most of them were staged.

However, the real opposition in Syria, the one that vies for real reform and freedom must stand and condemn what is going on. My impression is that, except the opposition figure you mentioned in this post, they are watching, hoping that external interference might tip the balance. This is dangerous both for Syria’s future and its opposition.

As for the Guardian article I was surprised to see the information as it is without verification and validation but then, it seems to me that Katherine Marsh is not speaking with a lot of people in Syria or maybe speaking to one side.

How dumb it is to believe such a story. If security personnel wanted to intimidate army personnel (and this is unlikely to happen) they might shoot one of them, not 19!

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April 13th, 2011, 8:50 pm


3. ziadsoury said:

Dear Prof. Landis,

Where there is smoke there is fire. I can’t for sure say who killed these soldiers so I would not point fingers. All I ask for is for an independent investigation with forensic experts. They can tell us who murdered these soldiers. If the Syrian government wanted to find out they would have done with the all the martyrs for the last month.

BTW, both Rif3at and Khadam have committed crimes against the Syrian people and humanity and need to be tried in The Hague.

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April 13th, 2011, 9:36 pm


4. Syria Almighty said:

Syrian Revolution scum. Every single one of them, a sniveling, lying coward. Reciprocation will come down hard on them, I assure you. Both Khaddam and Rifaat need to be executed.

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April 13th, 2011, 9:42 pm


5. Hussam maqdisi said:

The Syrian uprising is a mix of honest freedom seekers, intellectuals, unemployed youth, thugs and religious fanatics. Both sides lie about what is really going on but the attack in Banyas is going to hurt this movement because most Syrians do not buy the other side’s story that Shabiha or security forces killed so many of their own to win sympathy from the public. There is tons of info that clearly indicate that those soldiers were attacked by armed gangs in Banyas who then fled to albayda village and surrounding areas. Numerous testimonies also support the government’s story. I sure hope that this revolution and the tragedy in Daraa and Banyas serve as a wakeup call for all. The regime can not survive in its current form and Syrians can not afford to allow elements like alqaida,mb and other militant groups to call the shots. More than one third of Syrians are either non Arab ,non-Sunni or non-Muslim. This is not Egypt or Tunisia.

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April 13th, 2011, 10:03 pm


6. why-discuss said:

Michel Kilo, though he accepts that possibility, cautioned that the issue of “infiltrators and conspiracies” should not be exploited as an obstacle in the quick transition towards democracy.

I find this statement totally unreal: A “Quick transition” while the “issue” is about the blood of innocents. Is he sane??

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April 13th, 2011, 10:14 pm


7. Syria Almighty said:

None of these revolution ..[edited for bad language. Do it again and you will be taken off the list] are sane. Peaceful revolution is a cover, just like weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

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April 13th, 2011, 10:21 pm


8. why-discuss said:

Future’s Jarrah denies involvement in Syria unrest

BEIRUT: Future Movement MP Jamal Jarrah denied Wednesday Syrian accusations that he was involved in financing and arming anti-regime protesters in Syria.

“We don’t have the desire, the ability or the intent to interfere in internal Syrian affairs,” Jarrah said in response to a report by state-run Syrian television.

In the report broadcast on state-run Syrian television a three-member “terrorist cell” said “external sides,” including Jarrah, had supplied the group with weapons.

Anas al-Kanj, who presented himself as the head of the “armed terrorist group” is heard saying in a taped broadcast that he had received “arms and money” from abroad, namely neighboring Lebanon, to fuel unrest.

Kanj, 29, said the funds and weapons were sent by Jarrah through an intermediary, Ahmad al-Uda, who identified himself as a member of Syria’s banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The cell claimed it had also received sniper rifles, pistols and hand grenades in addition to sophisticated mobile phones “with the aim to incite demonstrations and support the downfall of the regime in Syria.”

Kanj said he was instructed “to incite people to protest, particularly outside the Ommayad Mosque in Damascus” and in the flashpoint protest towns of Daraa, Latakieh and Banias.

“This is an extension of the campaign that has started in Lebanon,” Jarrah said, referring to a media campaign in Lebanon accusing the March 14 coalition, particularly caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, of playing a part in the ongoing unrest in Syria.

“If they [Syrians] have evidence, let them lodge a complaint with the Lebanese state, and the Lebanese judiciary will take action,” Jarrah added. – With additional reporting by AFP.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/Apr/13/Futures-Jarrah-denies-involvement-in-Syria-Turmoil.ashx#ixzz1JSl70F5i
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

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April 13th, 2011, 11:02 pm


9. why-discuss said:

New Wikileaks cables on Israel, including Mughniyeh murder
By Rima Aboulmona

BEIRUT: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange Friday, said thousands of cables about Israel will soon be released, including documents about the 2008 assassination of key Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh.

“We have 6,000 secret documents about Israel and we intend to publish them soon,” Assange told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

He said the documents will also shed light on the fight against Iran’s nuclear program and “intelligence cooperation” between Israel and several other Arab countries.

The documents, according to Assange, reveal that many West Bank settlers were “willing to leave in return for financial compensation.”

He said the new cables on Israel will “uncover details and provide evidence on many issues that remained under suspicion or that you (media) were not able to publish due to military censorship.”

The leaks, Assange added, will reveal “sensitive Israeli issues” and documents dealing with Mughniyeh’s assassination in a car bombing in the Syrian capital, Damascus, in February 2008.

“It is clear from a cable dated November 18, 2006 that the U.S. received top secret intelligence data stating that Iran has appointed Mughniyeh as deputy to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah,” he said.

Yedioth Ahronoth wondered whether that piece of information has “expedited” plans for Mughniyeh’s assassination which the Israeli daily said, Washington has no doubt Israel was behind.

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April 13th, 2011, 11:04 pm


10. AIG said:

Prof. Landis,

Do you really want us to believe that in Syria, one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, a place where a huge number of people work for the mukhabarat as informers, an organized gang of several people was able to organize and also inflict serious casualties on the Syrian army? If that is true, as people have already said, what exactly is the emergency law for if Assad cannot stop such a gang from organizing? I would need much more evidence to believe anything except that this was an inside job by the security forces.

Also, why is the government so much against the press if the violence is really so one sided? Let the foreign press in and let the truth shine.

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April 13th, 2011, 11:06 pm


11. California Souri said:

Mr. Landis
It is getting confusing by the minute.
– I read the analysis of those fake “top secret Mukhabarat Memo” by Nizar Nayyouf, his insights on this memo are here: http://www.syriatruth.info/content/view/1960/36/

– Along with Yasser, Nizar’s cousin, Wahib, same rank as Yasser also lost his life.

– Although I am firmly of the opinion that outsiders such as Khaddam, and Samir Gaegae (not just Hariri) are instigating and fueling events, I am sad that the government has not been able to stop its own agitators. It is ironic that Syria borrowed a Libyan name for those who are doing some of the killing, we Syrians now have our own “Lijan Sha’biyya”. I am not sure why those militants are still shooting from roof tops.

– I am not sure why Bachar can’t see that Syrians (in or outside Syria) truely love him, and see in him a promissing future. He needs to come out armed with that one important “card” and face his people, put aside the old guard, and trust that we Syrians want him to stay, and want him to lead us into a new, reformed, modern, free, democratic Syria. I would like to wake up soon and see this new Syria, with Bachar’s name firmly in history as the one who changed Syria forever.

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April 13th, 2011, 11:08 pm


12. Vedat The Turk said:

Whats being postulated about Khaddam and Hariri is simply self serving propaganda. If there was a whiff of truth to this it would be all over the reputable press. But the truth is that there is no credible evidence provided in the posting. Rather its all hearsay or based on statements that cannot be proven.

These comments have as much validity as the earlier posts six weeks ago that claimed that Assad was too popular a leader to face the same kinds of revolt appearing in Egypt and Tunisia. It was argued then in this blog that the revolts in those countries had actually strengthened Assads rule because they validated his past anti-Western policies. What rubbish! All they did was further isolate Syria and burden its economy.

When it comes to the present demonstrations they are popularly supported by the vast majority of the Syrian population. To argue otherwise is self delusional. Just look at the number of people who have died demonstrating for freedom. And still ordinary people continue to demonstrate undetered by the threat of further death!

The time for the end of the corrupt Assad family has come. They and there proponents should be held to account. What happened to Saddam Hussein family and is happening to Hosni Mubarak family will happen to the Assad clan. It may take a while but there day of reckoning will come – Isallah!

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April 13th, 2011, 11:09 pm


13. George Krikorian said:

I don’t understand how much credibility have Khaddam or Rifaat. They both were pillars of the old regime (each in his own way), and they believe Syrians are going to listen to them. Both are burned forever politically. There are definitely meddlers in this so-called uprising. That does not imply that reforms should not take place as soon as possible. I believe the young and clairvoyant reformer who is Bashar shall definitely adopt this path.

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April 13th, 2011, 11:11 pm


14. Syria Almighty said:

Vedat the Retard is a more suitable name for you.

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April 13th, 2011, 11:15 pm


15. Majhool said:

This is the cheapest post thus far. Even if there was a shooting by armed group at the army that does not make the protesters part of it.

After all the number of protesters killed far exceeds that of the army/security forces. Do you really expect that after all this killing, no one will try to take revenge? some will (maybe).

there are 100s of videos showing people being shot, arrested, etc.. Why don’t you post them and dedicate two posts for each 9 killed?

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April 13th, 2011, 11:15 pm


16. Duteronomy said:


Just because an AP reporter undercover in Damascus speaks with a “leading member” of the protesters and gets information- how does this prove a policy credible or bogus? There is nothing in this post other than projections of ‘what must be the case’ given what little credible evidence has emerged.

I fail to see how the video clip of people shooting the army truck would also have been taken so easily by such a well-positioned observer who just happened to have a camera handy. It seems just good enough to get a clear shot of what happened, while being just grainy enough to give the impression that the people firing weren’t in uniform.

This cannot be used to prove that the army was fired on by protesters; it can not prove that they were fired on by security officials. It can give support to a claim that someone was aware of what was going to happen and decided to make it into ‘evidence,’ but whose evidence it is difficult to see.

I wouldn’t put it past the Syrian government to put out the fake documents ‘spattered with blood’ to make any claims of government attacks seem bogus as well. They are adept at creating the evidence of a conspiracy that seeks to bring them down in order to point a finger at a boogeyman that may or may not exist. They can have the claim now that fake documents detailing horrendous crimes are being circulated as if they are official, thus giving more currency to the narrative that opposition figures will stop at nothing to bring down the regime and sow anti-government sentiment.

@ AIG: exactly.

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April 13th, 2011, 11:20 pm


17. Majhool said:

This is on Syria-news

صرح مصدر مسؤول أن مدينة بانياس شهدت يوم الثلاثاء جريمة جديدة نفذها مسلحون، وذلك بعد قيامهم بالاعتداء على القوى الأمنية، حيث وأطلقوا النار بشكل عشوائي لترويع الناس ما أدى إلى وفاة عدد من المدنيين الأبرياء وجرح عدد أخر من القوى الأمنية التي طلبت المساعدة من الجيش

Basically it says that there was an assault on security forces ( notice that those forces always wear plain cloths) by an unknown armed group ( probably also wearing plain cloths) that resulted in civilians being killed ( notice the security forces are shut at but only civilians died)

FYI, for all the die-hards here, No one believes the government.

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April 13th, 2011, 11:23 pm


18. Jihad hathout said:

The emergency law was bad from the start and it is still bad today. It did not help Syria and it did not stop terrorist acts or reduce antigovernment activities. Preventing the press from monitoring Banyas in particular was a mistake but nobody in the regime trust foreign press because they believe that Syria is a target and those foreign journalists are agents.
Some people will not believe that it is possible for terrorists to attack the army but history tells otherwise especially when a city is in chaos,like Banyas was. the poor performance of official media,which is not highly regarded by many Syrians anyway,made things worse from a PR perspective,and the interviews aired on tv with alleged conspirators were not convincing,Syrians,suspicious by nature, want to see more.
The regime will survive if cool heads prevail and political concessions are made quickly,otherwise many neutral or silent people will lose faith in Bashar and his rule will be doomed. Friday will tell us a lot and the next 3 weeks will be decisive,and I am cautiously optimistic. Expect major changes in foreign policy if Syria survives this uprising. April 27th may witness the end of monopoly on cellular phone services in Syria, if this does not happen,many will assume that Bashar is not in charge.

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April 13th, 2011, 11:34 pm


19. NK said:

Dear Dr. Landis

Messages containing any of the following elements will not be tolerated:

* Personal attacks against other contributors;
* Racist, sexist, obscene, or otherwise discriminatory or hateful language;
* Provocations designed to derail discussions away from substantive debate into dead-end arguments;

Exactly how many violations does it take to get someone banned on this Blog ?

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April 13th, 2011, 11:50 pm


20. Majhool said:


If they are against, it takes one violation.

Souri, Almighty, etc.. Get an unlimited pass

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April 13th, 2011, 11:53 pm


21. Majhool said:

This is the treatment of the innocent in Banyas ( He was released)


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April 14th, 2011, 12:00 am


22. syau said:


Actually the article states that there was gunfire by an unknown armed group where civilians were shot, it also states that some security forces – being police officers were injured. It then goes on to say that the police requested the army intervene and help.

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April 14th, 2011, 12:13 am


23. NK said:

Any idea where was this ?

I love how they were shouting alone at the beginning and after a bit people from the other side joined in, the look on the faces of those who were shouting for Bashar at the beginning is priceless! kinda funny they couldn’t find it in themselves to shout along when the shouts were “Souria, Souria” and “wahed wahed wahed, al shaab el souri wahed”, go figure …

In other news, Egyptians criticizing Syria

I don’t think they will change the tone anytime soon.

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April 14th, 2011, 12:25 am


24. Revlon said:

A fable
Conceived by Jr.
Written by Mukhabarat
Published by: Makhloof Syrian Media

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April 14th, 2011, 12:25 am


25. Ziad said:


Add to your list

. Posting violent videos unverified and unauthenticated from questionable sources.
. Repeating the same point in more than 10 comments.

If you express your point of view once no one would object, but if you repeat an idea many times and not respond to polite requests, you are inviting personal attacks.

I hope there will be some moderation to this blog.

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April 14th, 2011, 12:32 am


26. California Souri said:

To Vedat,
The problem with those who are assuming the role of “Opposition” from abroad is simply, credibility. A few days ago, Khaddam said on BBC “OUR FORCES IN SYRIA ARE FIGHTING in Banyas, Deraa….”, he is a killer, his history as a killer goes back to 1963, as the governor of Hama, he destroyed Hama, way before Rifa’at Assad did it again in 1982. In 2000, Kaddam single handedly, killed “Damascus Spring” and put many Syrians in jail. He arrogantly declared at a Damascus University lecture: “we the Baathest are the thinkers of Syria, we are the poets, the university teachers, the doctors, the lawyers and we are it”.
Others in USA are faking “Mukhabarat” memos (similar to what some Iraqis did to invite American forces into Iraq with fake documents on WMD factory sites), they do this to gain visiting prof. status, or an invitation to some think tank board, or some few $millions for a “Tharwa” project.

If we are to replace one government because it is corrupt, we need one that is clean, fair, and has no history of abuse. Personally, I think Bachar knows what it takes, and is far more credible that Khaddam. I lived in Syria when Khaddam and his sons played the same role Rami Makhloof is playing now. I personally prefer Makhloof. Why?. While Khaddam and his sons took our money, they did not give the country any thing back. Makhloof on the other hand, while controling Syria’s money, he is providing services, industries, and building good projects. I’ll gladly take his corruption over Khaddam’s nucler waste, and expired spioled beef.

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April 14th, 2011, 12:36 am


27. syau said:


Police brutality is ugly- if it actually happened that way. The young man in the video seems very highly sedated. He was slurring and unable to stand upright without holding on to something. You might say because of the pain he was in – possibly, but I think it might have something to do with the amount of drugs he was given prior to the tape being made.

Did you also notice how words were being put into his mouth – to me, it seemed that the 2 other people in the room video taping were the ones making assumptions and putting words in his mouth. the poor guy couldn’t even understand the well. They were constantly repeating there accusations. If indeed he was interrogated and subjected to brutality, they shouldnt have put him through all that questioning while being so sedated and make the situation worse by feeding him their recollection of the situation even though they werent there.

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April 14th, 2011, 12:46 am


28. Mina said:

Dear Josh, thanks a lot for this round-up. I was shocked by the Guardian’s article which obviously was written by someone visiting Twitter only.
All the Western coverage of the Syrian events have tried to depict it as a second North Korea, and even when locations of protests are given (a must !) no information is given as to whether the locality is mainly Sunni, Shii, Christian, Druze, Palestinian etc. The so called journalists who wrote these and claim to verify from local contacts seem to have forgotten to ask them if it is a poor or a rich neighborhood, if any Christian participate in the protest, etc.

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April 14th, 2011, 12:47 am


29. SHAMI EXILE said:

Dear Mina,

I hate to say this, but Syria is a like a second North Korea. There has always been a huge cult of personality following the president pushed top-down from the government. There is no free press. You have security forces abusing the population at will. The government is ruthless in its persecution of dissent. Thousands have been killed by the government. Thousands have disappeared. They jailed a 17-year old girl for blogging for crying out loud!

As for the above post, it’s hard to say what happened without verifiable independent sources of information, and with official sources being comically useless. However, I would like to add that:

1. It is completely believeable (if not likely) that mukhabarat would shoot lower level army scrubs who refused to follow orders. Hmm… you have hundreds of thousands of plain-clothed mukhabarat thugs with weapons who are essentially beyond the law. Why wouldn’t they do this?

2. There haven’t been armed gangs in Syria for a long, long time. Why would they suddenly appear only to jeopardize what has been largely peaceful protests calling for human dignity? The whole armed gangs thing is a government lie. Beside there’s a huge armed gang that’s been operating freely in Syria for decades–it’s called the Baath party.

3. The regime has been Qaddhafi-esque is its relentless lying about the events of the current uprising. This narrative is completely consistent. They never seem to let me down.

Sorry but I don’t buy it. The mukhabarat killed the half-decent army scrubs who were not ruthless enough to kill innocents. But quite frankly, the mukhabarat are guilty even when they’re not doing anything. This represents the depth of the crisis that the Syrian people have to go through. The very first and most important part of it involves seeing things for what they are and calling for what is right.

HEY… SYRIA ALMIGHTY… You genuinely represent in every way supporters of the Baathist regime. Great job! 🙂

I look forward to returning to my country in dignity, rid of the murderous thugs that rule it.

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April 14th, 2011, 1:04 am


30. Tony Donna said:

This article is a very sad attempt to divert attention from the real struggle of Syrian people for freedom.
It’s disappointing that a learned man would go down this path to divert attention and point fingers at Media when no one is allowed to go in and report back a true picture of what’s happening.
All these stories only confirm that everyone in position of power, present and past, and more specifically Bashar Assad and ruling family, his father’s VP Khadam, and his uncle Rifaat, are all graduates of one school that speaks one language of lies and death and staged confessions and interrogation.
The Syrian people’s revolt is against all these methods and tyranny deployed for the past five decades. Its obvious from the language of some comments here and other websites that the regime can only spit hateful threatening words, and this time not in Arabic but in good English.

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April 14th, 2011, 2:01 am


31. KNZ said:

If the Syrian regime has nothing to hide, let them allow foreign press. Heck, even Gaddafi allowed some in after a while.

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April 14th, 2011, 2:04 am


32. Democracy’s price may be too high for Syria – ABC Online | News Online Today said:

[…] estranged uncle of the President, Rifa’at al-Assad, of seeking to exploit the unrest by arming militias. The inability to gain a clear understanding of the circumstances in Syria underscores the […]

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April 14th, 2011, 3:23 am


33. Elu24.com Democracy's price may be too high for Syria Find More Stories 14 April 2011 Democracy's price may be too high for Syria 10 Comments Antoun Is said:

[…] estranged uncle of the President, Rifa’at al-Assad, of seeking to exploit the unrest by arming militias. The inability to gain a clear understanding of the circumstances in Syria underscores the […]

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April 14th, 2011, 3:57 am


34. abbas said:

Is the tourism season going to be a bust this year 🙁
looks like things are spiraling out of control and of course Khaddam and Rifaat et all are taking part in it because they are opportunists who have a bone to pick with Bashar, all the money they got from Syria is not enough to them, they are hungry for power, I call on all the protesters to declare a Friday without a protest as an olive branch the government and I hope the government will reciprocate and free all the political prisoners and hopefully we will build trust again between the two sides.
Is this doable ??

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April 14th, 2011, 3:58 am


35. Australian -Syrian said:


It is only doable if the rioters and the betrayers stop what they are doing.

The government is only able to act, and act successfully, when this debacle ends.

May i just point out, that even if Syria reforms, and the government conforms to the demands of the people, which are quite misleading demands really, there is still going to be animosity between the haters, and Bashar. Why? i assume the answer is obvious.

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April 14th, 2011, 5:35 am


36. EXILED SHAMI said:

Dear Abbas,

How about the government not shoot protesters? How about that for an olive branch? Protesters have a right to protest real injustices. “Security” forces shouldn’t be shooting protesters. No compromise is called for here. The criminals need to stop being criminal.

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April 14th, 2011, 5:36 am


37. EXILED SHAMI said:

I submitted a comment that appears to have been censored, while crude offensive remarks by other posters appear to stand. What is this — Syria???

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April 14th, 2011, 5:38 am


38. syau said:

Exiled Shami,

Are you there to witness the protesters being shot? Just in case you dont listen to reports, the so called “protesters” are shooting at innocent people, police officers and soldiers. Protesters do have the right to do just that Protest peacefully. When all this began, the “protesters” were destroying buildings, ATM’s shopfronts, whatever they can get their hands on.
Is that peaceful protesting?
Obviously that wasn’t enough damage for them to do, they thought it would be much more interesting to start harming people, make fake videos and be traitors of there county for money. Is that what peaceful means?

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April 14th, 2011, 6:42 am


39. Akbar Palace said:

April 14th, 2011, 6:50 am


40. syau said:

Oh yes, the US said. That makes it correct then doesn’t it.

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April 14th, 2011, 7:01 am


41. EXILED SHAMI said:

SYAU, you seem to be dependent on SANA for news. That’s like depending on cigarette companies to tell you how healthy cigarettes are. Reports from Deraa, including personal acquaintances who’s family live next to the Umari mosque, claim that it’s murder of innocents by security forces, and that the “armed thugs” that are supposedly Zionists conspicuously speak with the Alawi accent. Blood is being spills in the streets of your homeland, and it’s clear who’s doing the spilling.

What’s most unfortunate, is that you fail to condemn murder when its happening to your own countrymen, which in a way makes you an accomplice to the crime. Shame on you.

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April 14th, 2011, 7:40 am


42. gk said:

It looks like the Syrian oppressive regime is learning from the previous uprising/revolution of people in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya! But the Syrian regime uses the same tactic of lies and misinformation to discredit the people revolution! Accusing outsiders, conspiracy theories, shooting at peaceful demonstrators and arresting/killing demonstrators did not work in Tunisia and Egypt and will not work in Yemen, Libya and Syria.
To the heroes of the people revolution in Syria, Libya and Yemen: Allah be with you. It is either victory or martyrdom!!! Freedom is not awarded/given it is earned! Freedom needs sacrifice to obtain!

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April 14th, 2011, 7:44 am


43. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

If I have to choose whom to believe, Syria (Tishrin) Comment OR the ‘Guardian’, it would definitely be the latter.

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April 14th, 2011, 7:57 am


44. Revlon said:

Dear Joshua, I have played the above clip again and again and still unable to point the source of the fire on army vehicles.

Your wife said that “Uday said that shooting was coming from two directions. One was from the roof of a building facing the highway and another from people hiding behind the cement median of the highway. They jumped up and shot into the two trucks carrying Syrian troops, killing 9. Col. Uday survived”

Here are my own observations of the sequence of events as seen in this clip:

The camera was in a higher building, farther from away from ground zero.
The commentator described a plain cloths man as follows: “” hiding on the roof , randomly shooting, and may be sniping security forces”. Check it out for yourself! None of the frames, second by second show either a rifle firing coming from this roof.

Men in black (Al Kateeba Assowdaa, in English: Black Phalange, BP special security forces) were positioned on the street, next to and behind a cement barrier, and in front of the building.
They were in an attacking formation and were the only source of firing!

The target appeared to be a couple of plain clothes people, taking cover on the roof of the building

Firing on Army vehicle/s started only towards the end of the clip. The source/s of shooting at the army was/were not registered by the camera since it moved to focus on the target, the vehicle.

Firing back at the Men in Black (MIB) only took place then, and only at that moment. As the camera moved back, one can see the guy on the roof was hiding and scared oput of his wits. The BP were leaving the scene in hurry!

Why should they run away? They did something naughty!!

The way I read it, is that the army started to fire back on the BP!
It would not make sense that those hiding on the roof, even if they had guns, to pick up that exact moment when army vehicles approached, to start shooting!
I believe Mr Uday’s account might have been partly dictated by security forces, in order to fit their version of the story.

I think this clip incriminates BP in this tragedy!
If the regime’s case rests solely on this evidence, it would be another self-incriminating attempt at manipulating information.

If the regime were really genuine about their claim of a muderous act, they should have followed it with the minimum of invastigation; Autopsy.
Instead, they let the bodies be burried with the incriminating evidence.
They appeared as heroes in the eyes of the bereft families by considering them Maryrs and raising their ranks.
They feel good about smearing the reputation of the Peaceful revolution.

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April 14th, 2011, 8:38 am


45. abbas said:

Dear exiled shami
The end result should be to eat grapes not to fight with the Nattoor like the saying goes. If demonstrators pull back for a day or two then we can stop the reaction and reactions that are going on, we will see if the gov release prisoners or arrest some more, if it’s true that Bashar doesn’t like to act under pressure may be this will be a chance for him, we need to step back from the brink, I don’t want to see more exiled Shamis

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April 14th, 2011, 8:41 am


46. Australian -Syrian said:

Exiled Shami,
Who the hell do you think you are?! Are you insinuating that the Alawis are behind what is going on? Well mate, or should i say idiot, you are clearly wrong. Either you are subject to the extremist Suni religion, or you are Jew or American. I will not
say that you are a general Suni, beacuse you are not worth the dust on their feet.

In case you havent realised, Those who are behind the problems in Syria are Zionists morons attempting to destroy the great country that is Syria. Sadly for them, they will not succeed these Grotesqu monsters and their manifest absurdities are absolutely disgraceful. And apparently, you are subject to their stupid ways of thinking and manipulation.

IF all Shamie people think the way you do, than they all deserve to be exiled!

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April 14th, 2011, 8:54 am


47. Shami said:

Dr LAndis , even prior to these events ,you were aware that they would use the same movie: Mossad,CIA,Khaddam,Ikhwan,and co…as if the syrian people dont have many reasons to protest.
You are quickly inclined to swallow their fabricated movies.(remember Sheikh al Khaznawi dissapearance moukhabarati movie)
According to them ,all the killings are from these mundassin.
Also ,Makhluf media are working hard to promote the views of the propaganda machine of Hezbollah which is woried to death.
This is understandable,the end of bashar’s regime will mean the end of hezb qom.
The most important tool of the iranian theocracy in the region is Bashar .

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April 14th, 2011, 8:59 am


48. Revlon said:

The revolution’s song came from Dar3a. Its poem has come from Baniyas
سوريا – بانياس – القاء قصيدة في مظاهرات الجمعة 8-4-2011

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April 14th, 2011, 9:11 am


49. Malimajnoom said:

The neutrality of this blog is in question. There are too many conclusory statements without supporting evidence. The author’s judgement appears to have been compromised due to familial connections to recent events – in which I express my sincere condolences.

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April 14th, 2011, 9:12 am


50. Shami said:

Australian ,the road will turn and these exiled people will return to Syria ,the asadian gang must not enjoy refugee status ,they must face justice and pay for all their crimes.

All these statues will be destroyed.

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April 14th, 2011, 9:21 am


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