Round-Up: Palmyra, Contingency Planning for Regime Losses, UN Response to Enslavement Crisis

As some are saying that IS now controls 50% of Syria, see this thorough post on the significance of the regime’s loss of Palmyra: Islamic State captures Tadmur (Palmyra) in new sudden streak of offensives – Oryx Blog

In a surprising new streak of offensives launched at targets in both Iraq in Syria, the Islamic State has managed to capture the ancient city of Palmyra, known today as Tadmur. With the strategically important town of al-Sukhna falling just over a week before, and the Iraqi city of Ramadi just days before Tadmur, it appears the Islamic State is far from being under control, and possibly attempting to revive the seemingly unstoppable upmarch of last summer.

Tadmur, which is also home to Tadmur airbase, is of high strategic importance due to its position at the base of the vital M20 highway, which leads through the recently fallen al-Sukhna to the regime’s last holdout in the East of the country: Deir ez-Zor. Without access to this highway and with little prospect of retaking both of the Islamic State’s newest gains, the Assad-regime will face extreme difficulty in keeping its troops in Deir ez-Zor supplied, and the fall of the city and associated airbase might soon become inevitable. …

Tadmur, Palmyria, regime loss IS advantage

… Also of great importance are the massive weapon depots located in Tadmur, one of the largest in Syria. While the exact contents of the depots remain unknown, there are reports of ballistic missiles being stored here. Should this be the case, it is likely images of such missiles in Islamic State’s hands will surface again soon, even though it is unlikely that they will get any to work. Perhaps more of interest is the fact that many other types of weaponry captured by the fighters of Islamic State as Ghaneema (spoils of war) will provide the means for future offensives, allowing the Islamic State to exert pressure on fronts throughout the region. …

The article Marshall refers to is The Cell of Survival: Bara Sarraj from Dec. 2011, about a young man who spent 12 years in Syria’s prisons, including the notorious prison in Palmyra.

His story begins on March 5th, 1984, an ordinary Damascus morning. He was on route to university, where he was a second year electrical engineer student. He decided that morning he would read Ahmad Shawqi’s play, The Death of Cleopatra, on his two hour bus commute from al-Mezzeh to the university. He also brought his small English dictionary to study during the often boring lectures. At his destination, he saw a double line of students waiting to be searched before entering the building. He thought, “I feel sorry for the guy who is going to be taken.” He knew the lines meant the mukhabarat  were looking for someone specific. After passing through the doors, someone called him by name, he turned, and a man said, “We need you for five minutes.” He felt “his heart drop to his feet.” After a few hours of waiting and interrogation, he was blindfolded and placed in a car. He thought he was on his way to General Intelligence in Kafar Souseh, outside Damascus, but he wasn’t. Instead, the car took a cross-country detour to a prison in his home town, Hama.

He would disappear for the next twelve years, touring the depths of Assad’s dungeons, in Hama, Tadmor, and Sayd Naya. Bara Sarraj was twenty-one years old. …

… While he experienced several of Assad’s prisons, the most horrific was Tadmor. The city of Tadmor or Palmyra, is the jewel of ancient Syria. An archeological treasure, Palmyra is Syria’s prized tourist attraction: an authentic site of Roman ruins set within an authentic Arabian desert landscape. This isolated location, far from the cities and population became home to Tadmor, the prison, where thousands of political prisoners were tortured and executed. On June 27, 1980, Rifaat al-Assad ordered the execution of a thousand prisoners in one day. (This is a very conservative number, it may have been up to four thousand. It also took two weeks to clean the prison from the bloody aftermath.) When a prisoner entered Tadmor, it was unlikely he would leave undamaged, or even alive. According to Bara, Tadmor is a synonym for fear, in all of its definitions: terror, horror, panic, dread. “Language cannot describe it. Fear is the internal sensation when you physically feel your heart between your feet and not in your chest; fear is the look on people’s faces, and their darting eyes when the time for the torture sessions comes near.” Bara learned to be first in line to go to the torture cell, because “the fear was worse than the pain.” …

Dulaab torture

Bara demonstrates dulaab technique at a Walmart.

… Tadmor was closed in 2001, at the beginning of Bashar’s presidency, perhaps to end one of his father’s darkest chapters, perhaps it had become obsolete—there was no longer a need to fight a defeated people. On June 15, 2011, Tadmor opened its gates once more to welcome the first wave of 350 people who had participated in the uprising.  …

Aerial view of Tadmor prison, Bara Sarraj

Aerial view of Tadmor Prison. Image courtesy of Bara Sarraj.


Palmyra: Syrian forces trapped civilians, UN says – BBC

The United Nations says it has received reports that Syrian forces in Palmyra prevented civilians from leaving, ahead of its fall to Islamic State militants.  The UN, though not present in Palmyra, cited “credible sources”. …

IS has also taken control of a military airbase and a notorious prison near to Palmyra.

Meanwhile, IS has seized the last border crossing between Syria and Iraq after Syrian government forces withdrew, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The loss of the al-Tanf crossing in Homs province means the Syrian government does not control any of the country’s border posts with Iraq.

The fall of Palmyra comes just days after IS captured the major Iraqi city of Ramadi.

The US has acknowledged the militants’ gains are a “setback” for coalition forces targeting IS, but President Barack Obama insisted the US was not losing the war with the group. …

ISIS in Palmyra – Dexter Filkins – New Yorker




In their rampage across Syria and Iraq, the zealots of ISIS have wrecked and looted countless sites of archeological wonder: in the ancient Assyrian cities of Nimrud and Khorsabad, they’ve smashed temples and icons; in the Mosul Library, they’ve torched ancient manuscripts; at the Mosul Museum, they’ve turned deities and statues to rubble and dust. They even sacked Jonah’s tomb. Happy in their work, the ISIS wrecking teams have posted videos of their deeds. We can now only wonder if Palmyra, an ancient city in central Syria that fell to ISIS fighters this week, is next.

I visited Palmyra in the summer of 2003. It was a strange time to be in Syria. The Iraq War was only a few months old. The situation inside Iraq was deteriorating fast, but in Damascus, among the members of Bashar al-Assad’s government, there was still a pervasive fear that Syria would be the next American target. There was a wild rumor about government officials streaming to a certain palm reader in Aleppo, in order to have him divine whether and when the American invasion would come; even Assad himself, the rumor went, had paid the soothsayer a visit. I stayed in a Sheraton, then the nicest hotel in Damascus, and every night the senior officials of the Baath Party, some of them wearing pistols in their belts, would gather to drink and dance and carouse. When I asked one of those senior officials, Bouthaina Shaaban, whether the regime would ever loosen its grip, she told me, “We will always believe in the vanguard role of the Baath Party.” One day, I drove to the Iraqi border, where I found dozens of jihadis waiting to cross over to fight the United States; the Assad regime was only too happy to let them pass. …

… What will happen to Palmyra now? With ISIS in control, we should fear the worst; the place is filled with just the sort of religious likenesses that ISIS fighters have been smashing in their lunatic journey. What they don’t destroy they will likely loot and sell; ISIS has made millions this way. There is reason to hope that some antiquities will survive. Syrian officials say they managed to cart off many of the most priceless icons to Damascus before ISIS arrived. “This is the inheritance for the nation and for humanity,’’ Muhammad al-Shaar, Syria’s Interior Minister, told reporters this week. (Shaar, otherwise known for his iron fist, must have been grateful to be able to sound so humane.) …

Islamic State militants break into Palmyra museum, but artifacts safe – Toronto Star

… Maamoun Abdulkarim, the head of the Antiquities and Museums Department in Damascus, told The Associated Press that militants entered the museum in the town’s centre Friday afternoon, locked the doors and left behind their own guards. He said that the artifacts earlier had been moved away to safety.

“We feel proud as all the museum’s contents were taken to safe areas,” he told reporters. But Abdulkarim warned that the Islamic State group’s control of the town remains a danger to its archaeological sites. The group has destroyed several sites in Syria and Iraq, and also has had a lucrative business by excavating and selling artifacts on the black market.

Activists had said the government emptied the museum of its content before the Islamic State assault on the town.

The city’s museum and artifacts have been damaged and looted earlier during Syria’s four-year civil war. In a 2014 government report prepared for the U.N.’s cultural agency, damage already was recorded because of fighting in the area around the Temple Bel. Bullets and shells hit the temple’s columns, while two of its southern columns had collapsed. The report also recorded looting.

Abdulkarim said some 6,300 artifacts from Syria were seized and smuggled out of the country in the last four years. …

Thanks to Jeurgen for posting the following article:

 Good article on the fall of Palmyra in french. Use google or bling to translate. Palmyre : «L’Etat islamique méprise la notion même de patrimoine»  –> Palmyra: “The Islamic state despises the very concept of heritage

Excellent: Anyone who bothers about the stones of Palmyra will also care about the souls of Tadmur – Boyd Tonkin – Independent

The distinction between a concern for the fate of people and of antiquities is a false dichotomy


 … A visitor to Palmyra who has just posted pictures on the BBC website writes that he found something “slightly disquieting about feeling so strongly about the destruction of such astonishing cultural artefacts given the likely human toll”. Only a marble-hearted aesthete would not share that twinge. Yet Heinrich Heine wrote the first, and last, word about such pangs of conscience: “Where they burn books, they will in the end burn people too.” Many people know Heine’s line, which now graces a plaque on the Bebelplatz in Berlin, where the Nazis stoked their literary bonfire in May 1933. Fewer know its original context. It comes from his 1821 tragedy Almansor, and refers to burnings of the Koran by the Spanish Inquisition.

With Isis, the breaking of “heathen” statues and “heathen” bodies belongs to the same jihad. Both serve the struggle for absolute monotheism against idolatry. Yazidis, Shias, Christians, Jews and indeed anyone who offends the Isis leadership no more deserves to survive than a carved Assyrian bull or a sculpted Roman goddess. Some 2,000 miles from the battlefront, we can respond to this iconoclastic mayhem with mourning, rage or defiance. The one reaction in which we should not indulge is bafflement at some alien, exotic passion. For Palmyra’s, or Nimrud’s, present was our past. “And this also,” says Joseph Conrad’s Marlow, as his ship lies at anchor in the Thames at the start of Heart of Darkness, “has been one of the dark places of the earth.” …

Palmyra, ISIS’ Latest Conquest, Has Dark History Of State Torture And Abuse – HP

When Dr. Bara Sarraj heard that Islamic State militants had overrun the city of Palmyra and its ancient desert ruins, he began to cry.

But he wasn’t crying over the World Heritage Site that now may be destroyed by hardline fighters keen on erasing history and selling off antiquities. Instead, his mind drifted to a place of nightmares just a stone’s throw from Palmyra’s tall, cream colored pillars — Tadmor military prison. …

… Infamous for what were said to be summary executions and massacres in the 1980s and 1990s under former Syrian President Hafez Assad, the military prison was shuttered — at least on paper — in 2001 after his son, Bashar Assad, assumed power. There remains uncertainty over whether or not it was truly closed. After the Syrian revolution and subsequent war exploded in 2011, Syrians allege that Tadmor was reopened as a place to imprison dissidents.

Under the first Assad, the prison was a “kingdom of death and madness,” according to a 1996 Human Rights Watch Report that detailed a 1980 massacre in which at least 500 prisoners were killed in one day. An Amnesty International report from 2001 says the prison, in which detainees are “completely isolated from the outside world” seems to have been designed to “inflict the maximum suffering, humiliation and fear on prisoners.”

Torture tactics included hanging victims from suspended tires, full-body beatings with sticks and cables and strapping victims to the “German chair,” a metal contraption that would forcefully bend their spine. …

… “It’s an indictment of the free world,” Sarraj said. “If Daesh freed Tadmor, then what is the free world doing?” he asked, referring to the Islamic State group by its Arabic nickname.

The irony that ISIS opened the doors of such a symbol of repression in Syria is not lost on Nadim Houry, the Human Rights Watch deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa. …

… A spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, said Thursday in Geneva that the Syrian regime blocked civilians in Palmyra from fleeing in the face of the Islamic State group until the government forces themselves were able to leave. She also cited grave concerns about ISIS’ crimes in the city.

“ISIL has reportedly been carrying out door-to-door searches in the city, looking for people affiliated with the government,” she told Reuters. “At least 14 civilians are reported to have been executed by ISIL in Palmyra this week.” …

… Unconfirmed reports circulated on Twitter Thursday claiming that ISIS militants released prisoners from Tadmor, including over two dozen Lebanese. The WorldPost could not independently confirm these claims. …

… Sarraj worries that any remaining detainees — cut off from the outside world inside Tadmor — will be recruited by the Islamic State.

“When I was released, I had no idea that the Soviet Union collapsed,” he said. “I had no idea what Bosnia and Herzegovina was. You are in another world and suddenly you are out.”

“They would be happy with anyone who liberates them,” he continued. “Maybe they will end up fighting against the West.”

See also these FB comments from Prof. Stephennie Mulder:

Some thoughts about Palmyra, partly in response to many Syrian friends who have been rightly criticizing the outcry over ancient stones while untold millions of people are suffering. I just finished an interview with Al Jazeera English and they did a very nicely balanced report. It discussed the 140,000 people, including many refugees, living in the nearby modern town of Tadmur, the atrocities of the Syrian Army, both human and cultural (we should not forget the Syrian Army has been filmed looting the site already last year, see the photo below), and the infamous prison there, where Assad has tortured political prisoners for decades. All of this context for the discussion of the archaeological site is what is needed.

Clearly, we must have have concern for people first, but culture is also an essential part of us as people, as human beings. It seems so hard to imagine now, but someday this war will end, and a people without history, with nothing left of their past, will be a people doubly traumatized. ISIS knows this, and that is one reason they’re targeting such sites – just as happened in the war in the former Yugoslavia with the destruction of the Mostar bridge – which, after the war, became a reminder of the city’s integrated Christian and Muslim past. Its rebuilding became a powerful symbol of the ongoing significance of its value to actual people. Stones do matter, and they matter to people, because they tell us who we are. I also think that sometimes culture galvanizes outside concern not because people are callous and don’t care about human life, but because sometimes the death of so many innocent people, so unbearable and unspeakable, is so awful to contemplate that people simply can’t bear it. Most people simply feel helpless in the face of death on this scale, and turn away in despair. Having concern for culture then becomes a way to express concern that seems concrete, in some sense. I don’t think this is right, nor am I defending it, I’m just trying to explain the phenomenon in less cynical terms. I also tried to make the point in the interview that the safety of the people in Tadmur should be our first concern, and the heroic efforts of Syrian heritage workers who are valiantly trying to save these sites is also an important part of the story.

A last thought – to return to the question of why I think it is problematic to speak about cultural heritage and people as though they are separate and unconnected. And that is that in fact, people *do* die because ISIS is destroying culture. Every day. Why? Because ISIS’ sale of antiquities looted from sites like Palmyra funds their reign of terror, and because, as Elyse pointed out so eloquently, destruction of cultural heritage is a primary tool of genocide. So each one of these sites and the looting that will take place there can, quite literally, be cataloged in human lives. If ever there was a reason to fight to ‪#‎SavePalmyra‬, that is it. We cannot disentangle human lives from the culture humans have made and cherish. Does that mean we should save an ancient temple before we save a Syrian child? Of course not. But it also means we can’t think of them as separate and unconnected, and that the fight to save one should also be seen as the fight to save the other.


Recent Regime Losses and Contingency Plans for Potential Mass Displacement

Many observers are wondering whether the regime’s recent losses portend its demise, and debate how much of a fight it still has:

Why Assad is losing – Brookings – Charles Lister

Syria’s rebels are making sweeping gains, as foreign powers up support and work with Islamist fighters. But the regime isn’t about to go down without a fight.

After roughly two years of being on the defensive, Syria’s rebels are making dramatic gains in the north of the country. In the span of six weeks, coalitions of insurgent fighters captured the city of Idlib and won a series of key strategic victories elsewhere in the governorate. In the face of the opposition, the Syrian Army and its supporting militias appear at their weakest point since early 2013.

However, while much of the subsequent commentary proclaimed this as the beginning of the end for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, we are still a long way from that. In fact, the regime reacted to its dramatic losses in the north by carrying out hundreds of air strikes, barrel bombings, and chlorine attacks in rural Idlib, Hama, and Aleppo. Regime ground offensives were launched in eastern Damascus, in areas of Homs, and in the mountains around Zabadani near the Lebanese border. Meanwhile, a major joint regime-Hezbollah offensive in the Qalamoun mountains now also looks imminent.

So what is happening in Syria? Recent events have clearly tipped the psychological scales back into the opposition’s favor: Losses in Idlib and the southern governorate of Deraa have placed great pressure on Assad, whose severe manpower shortages are becoming more evident by the day. Frustration, disaffection and even incidences of protest are rising across Assad’s most ardent areas of support on Syria’s coast — some of which are now under direct attack. Hezbollah is stretched thin and even Iranian forces have begun withdrawing to the areas of Syria deemed to be the most important for regime survival.

The regime is no longer militarily capable of launching definitively successful operations outside of its most valuable territories, while its capacity for defense against concerted attack now appears questionable at best. It also looks diplomatically weaker, as Russia appears no longer wedded to the Assad regime’s long-term survival and is now more open to the idea of a managed transition that would ensure the best chances of post-regime stability. Meanwhile, Iran’s apparent rapprochement with the United States and its expected involvement in talks in Geneva convened by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura may open the door for, at the very least, discussions of a negotiated solution in Syria.

However, diplomacy alone will be unlikely to provide a path out of Syria’s conflict. Even as a broad swathe of the international community talks behind closed doors about launching a major new diplomatic initiative on Syria, it will ultimately be military pressure inside Syria that will determine whether such an initiative has any chance of success. …

Is Assad Losing the War in Syria? – Aron Lund

Judging by a lot of the media coverage of the Syrian war, President Bashar al-Assad runs a curious sort of regime: it is always either crumbling or on the verge of victory.

The narrative shifts every now and then. Assad was losing from March 2011 until around October 2013, then he was winning for about a year and a half, and now he is back to losing again. The story is consistent only in that it remains reliably hung up on the extremes of victory or defeat.

Only rarely will the Assad regime be described as what it most probably is: a decomposing rump state plodding through a confused civil war toward an uncertain future, with no one quite sure anymore what victory would even look like. The Syrian government may lose more territory and break down structurally, perhaps even rapidly and catastrophically, but its constituent parts are not about to vanish from the face of the earth. In the hypothetical event of Assad’s death or withdrawal from Damascus, his armed forces would not cease to exist. Some would flee and some would die, but what remained would melt into a new ecology of militias and mayhem—and the war would go on. …

Assad’s regime is brittle, and it may fall fast – Bob Bowker

It is not yet possible to say whether, when and how the Syrian regime may fall. But recent military setbacks, and an objective analysis of the challenges the regime faces in the longer term, strongly suggest that its future is increasingly precarious.

army tank Syria


The momentum of the military conflict has shifted in favour of the rebel movements, foremost of which are the al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and the jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham, which is backed by Turkey. Much of the reversal of rebel fortunes appears to have been derived from a deal between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, brokered by Qatar, under which a joint operations room facility has been established among the rebel forces. Having captured Idlib and the even more strategically important town of Jisr al-Shughour, they are now within striking distance of Hama to the south and Latakia to the west. They have cut the Aleppo-Latakia highway.

In contrast, efforts by the regime this year to win back Deraa, near the southern border with Jordan, and to secure control of Aleppo, have failed. With Hezbollah support, the regime is now engaged in a battle for control of the Qalamoun mountainous region straddling the border with Lebanon west of Damascus. It is trying to recover Jisr al-Shughour, and a major offensive to remove rebel forces from the Ghouta area adjacent to Damascus is widely anticipated. …

…The outcome of the battles for Jisr al-Shughur and the Qalamoun region will provide a clear indication of the regime’s military situation in areas of high strategic value. Elsewhere, however, with a few exceptions, the military effectiveness of the regime has been reduced to such a degree that an assertion of territorial control is unlikely for the foreseeable future.

Even within what might be regarded as the regime’s strategic core, and despite its monopoly on air power, it is at risk. It may lose control over the Hama air base, as well as land routes to Aleppo from the south.

These risks may yet be mitigated by a variety of factors. Conflict has been reported between Islamic State fighters and Jabhat al-Nusra amid the pressure of the Qalamoun offensive. The external backers of the various rebel forces do not share a single vision of the ultimate objectives of the struggle to remove Assad. The Saudis may yet become bogged down in their campaign in Yemen. Iran and Russia have strategic interests invested in the Assad regime (though not in Assad personally) that they will not readily relinquish.

Weighing against those factors, however, are the challenges and painful choices faced by the Syrian regime. It is increasingly difficulty for the regime to raise and sustain additional regular military forces. The regime appears increasingly dependent on inputs from Hezbollah to boost its military capability (among the reasons for losing Idlib and Jisr al-Shughour may have been the absence of such support). It is anxiously awaiting promised financial support from Iran. There have also been indications of friction within the upper echelons of the regime. …

… At the strategic level, the regime is being forced to choose between a politically-driven desire to maintain a military presence, however vulnerable, across most of the country, or withdrawing its forces to concentrate on the defence of the regime’s centre of gravity: Damascus and its surrounds, and access routes through Homs to the Mediterranean seaboard and adjacent mountains which comprise the historic Alawite heartland.

Whatever the military case may be for consolidating defensively around Damascus and a predominantly Alawite enclave, it is a strategy which entails enormous risk. It would signal to the regime’s support base (and to the rebels and their backers) that there is blood in the water. In contrast to the experience since 2011, the Syrian battle space would no longer be shaped by the regime. The regime would be on the defensive, and would have to find ways to sustain its supporters’ will to fight rather than flee. The psychological impact of terrorist actions that until now have been fairly readily absorbed by the population in Damascus would probably be enhanced.

For the first time on a large scale in this conflict, Syrians would witness atrocities against the Alawite inhabitants of mixed villages in the north and west that were no longer protected. In predominantly Alawite and Christian mountain villages, and coastal towns largely untouched by the war to date such as Tartous, the inflow of Alawite and other minorities fleeing the conflict and jihadist advances would likely damage morale.

As a recent program on al-Jazeera Arabic highlighted, there is a strong possibility that historical as well as more recent grievances against the Alawites will be given concrete expression in the most horrendous ways as the regime weakens. A substantial number of Syrians, unable to vent their anger on Assad personally for the hardships they suffered under his father and since 2011, will want Alawites to share the fate of the regime. …

Considering the potential effects of a regime lose, Bowker raises the issue of contingency planning regarding the mass flight of Alawites that would most certainly ensue:

Syria’s Next Potential Crisis Could Turn the Middle East Upside Down – Bob Bowker

With the Assad regime now more vulnerable in its fight against rebel groups, there is a strong case for the preparation of contingency plans to deal with a new and even greater humanitarian disaster that may unfold in and around Syria.

The potential for a genocide of the Alawites cannot be discounted. But the more likely impending threat is that of a sudden and massive population movement, especially from the western seaboard of the country into Lebanon. As noted in my previous piece (Assad’s Regime is Brittle, and it May Fall Fast), fear of genocide, amplified by actual incidents and social media campaigns, could produce a population movement on a scale not witnessed in the region since Palestine in 1948.

Any substantial outflow of the Alawite community (whose total number is uncertain, but if estimated to comprise 10% of the Syrian population, could be up to 2 million people) would almost certainly risk overwhelming the institutions and confessional balance of the Lebanese state.

Given the recent weakening of the momentum of the Syrian regime in its military contest with the rebel forces, and the historical precedents (Palestine in 1948 and more recently the Yazidis and Kurds of Iraq), the international community should prepare for the worst.

If the Syrian regime is seen to be collapsing, attempts by the Alawites to flee will be all but unstoppable. And for the vast majority of the refugees, particularly the Alawites and other minorities, there will be little prospect of returning to Syria. The consequences are grave. Should there be such an outflow, its legacy will reverberate around the region for decades at humanitarian, political and strategic levels.

The Lebanese Government is struggling to cope with the present burden of around 1.2 million Syrian ‘persons of concern’ (to use the UN High Commission for Refugees terminology). It is anxious to prevent an additional inflow further distorting the confessional political balance of the country in general and exacerbating the ongoing conflict between Sunnis and Alawites in northern Lebanon in particular. It will be keen for a further wave of refugees to be protected or absorbed elsewhere. …

…The primary and immediate aim of the international response should be to minimize the risk of an additional outflow. In that regard, the UN and Western countries should encourage and influence Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others to urge their client rebel groups to refrain from victimizing Alawite populations. They should insist that their partners avoid the use of the imagery of retribution as a weapon to weaken the Assad regime. They should highlight their responsibilities, both religious and under international humanitarian law, to protect civilian lives and property. The rebel forces should be encouraged to see the value of creating a clear distinction between their standards of behavior and those of the Assad regime.

UN agencies and NGOs will also need to negotiate directly with rebel groups to obtain security assurances for Alawites. The work of building strategies and approaches for negotiating such arrangements, and identifying the key individuals and other factors likely to shape the outcome of such efforts, needs to begin now. …


Yazidi Crisis and the Enslavement Project

In one encouraging development, it appears that the UN is beginning to draw attention to the real scope and seriousness of the Yazidi enslavement phenomenon, and is talking about a real response. Hopefully this will translate into action.
Yazidi women look on at Al-Tun Kopri health centre, located half way between the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk and Arbil, after they were released with around 200 mostly elderly members of Iraq's Yazidi minority near Kirkuk on January 17, 2015 after being held by the Islamic State jihadist group for more than five months. Medical teams from the Kurdistan Regional Government carried out blood tests and provided emergency care to the group of Yazidis, many of whom looked sick and distraught. Yazidi officials and rights activists say thousands of members of their Kurdish-speaking community are still in captivity.


Middle East Eye speaks with Zainab Bangura, the UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict, about the latest IS crimes

A United Nations unit of sex crime investigators has probed the world’s war zones for evidence of forced marriages, slavery and mass rape since 2009. According to its head, Zainab Bangura, the Islamic State (IS) group has taken atrocities to a whole new level.

Bangura has just returned from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, where she gathered data on IS sex crimes, including those against captured Yazidi women. She spoke with Middle East Eye about her trip, and how she plans to counter the group.

MEE: What did you learn on your IS fact-finder?

Bangura: During my recent five-country Middle East visit, I met officials, frontline workers and survivors. My focus was IS’s war on women, including from Yazidi, Christian and Turkmen Shia minorities.

After attacking a village, IS splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.

There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market. At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.

We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his ‘property’.

Our research will feed into the annual UN report on conflict-related sexual violence and advocacy work.

MEE: Are they organised or ad hoc?

Bangura: IS is organised, coordinated and operates on a widespread and systematic basis to commit a staggering array of atrocities. They are institutionalising sexual violence; the brutalisation of women and girls is central to their ideology. They use sexual violence as a “tactic of terrorism” to advance key strategic priorities, such as recruitment, fundraising, to enforce discipline and order – through the punishment of dissenters or family members – and to advance their radical ideology.

They commit rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality. We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act. We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.

The number of foreign fighters involved remains a problem for us. In other conflicts, such as Democratic Republic of Congo, we can deal with fighters from five or six countries. For IS, it’s tens of thousands of fighters from 100 nationalities. In some attacks, there are more foreigners than Iraqis and Syrians.

MEE: Are all IS women enslaved?

Bangura: Most women get enslaved when their villages are attacked. We were also informed of parents who had given away their daughters to IS, particularly in Mosul. To understand this, we must examine the concept of jihad al-nikah, or sexual jihad – whereby women’s bodies are used as part of supporting the IS campaign. There are tens of thousands of men who expect that they will “get” women to “marry”. A woman’s contribution is to marry them and cater for them in many ways, including sexually. IS men may have a wife, as well as several slaves. We heard few stories of wives who helped the slaves to escape.

MEE: How do they escape?

Bangura: Some are released when a ransom is paid. When parents or community leaders are informed about the whereabouts of the women and girls, they would raise money – as much as $5,000 – and use an intermediary to “buy” the girls back.

Yazidi communities have suffered discrimination for a long time and have strong social networks. It is a closed and conservative community and recent events have been a real shock to them. But they show resilience and impressive coping mechanisms, including a willingness to welcome girls back.

Of course, not everyone escapes. When IS discovered girls used their headscarves to hang themselves, they forced them to remove them. I learned of three girls who tried to commit suicide by drinking rat poison, which had been left in a room. They started vomiting and were rushed to hospital and washed out. When they came back, they were brutally attacked.

MEE: You met escapees in Iraq’s Kurdish zone. Do they get the support they need?

Bangura: They do get support from their families, communities and the government, but the needs are huge. I met one woman who was in shock – most of her family had either been taken or killed. She was looking after her four-year-old son and trying to track down her 15-year-old daughter, who was taken by IS. She was so traumatised that she insisted her husband was missing, although he was dead.

Women like her need qualified medical and psycho-social support that is not readily available. Kurdish officials told me they are struggling to cope with a massive influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq. They are worried about an extra 500,000 people fleeing from Mosul when Iraqi forces try to recapture the city later this year. For its part, the UN is supporting and sheltering the affected population, but everyone agrees that assistance needs to be scaled up.

It was painful for me. The countries I have worked on include Bosnia, Congo, South Sudan, Somalia and Central African Republic; I never saw anything like this. I cannot understand such inhumanity. I was sick, I couldn’t understand.

MEE: Besides the US-led military campaign, what can the UN do to tackle a militia that cares little for international legitimacy?

Bangura: In addition to the military intervention and the sanctions tools that we have, we need first to tackle their access to communication means including social media that they use to terrorise communities and the whole world and attract new recruits. Information is its oxygen – we must suffocate them. Their tactic is to destroy individuals, communities, laws and society and build a medieval social order. We also need to use economic divestments to halt IS sources of income and supply lines. We must also explain the scope of the atrocities being committed, and look at accountability, which is difficult in the context of more than 40,000 fighters from more than 100 countries. We need to look at jurisdiction – does it fall under Iraq? Syria? We cannot only react emotionally, we must understand their tactics and defeat them.

The UN official interviewed above also spoke to Canada’s The Star:

UN envoy Zainab Bangura calls for global response to Islamic State’s sexual atrocities – The Star

… And now Zainab Bangura is calling for a global flexing of humanitarian muscle to restore hope to these shattered young women.

“We need a humanitarian surge. It can’t be just Canada, it can’t be just Europe — everyone has a role to play in attending to the sheer scope to the damage,” Bangura told The Star in an interview Thursday.

“There are 40,000 men from more than 100 different countries inside the Islamic State using brutal sexual violence as a strategic tactic to terrorize. We need all 100 countries involved, helping to deal with the aftermath.”

In Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and finally northern Iraq, Bangura sat with escapees from enslavement. Some Christian, others Turkmen Shia. But mostly Yazidis — worshippers of a Mesopotamian faith that claims direct lineage to the Garden of Eden.

One 10-year-old Yazidi girl told her, “How can I be worth anything now?” Another described being traded 22 times as a sex slave before fleeing her last captor. Another described being among a group of 14 Yazidi women who consumed diluted rat poison in a collective attempt at suicide. Rescued by their captors, some were treated at hospital, and then beaten for disobedience. Seven managed to escape out a window and slip away to freedom.

Bangura met with the mother of 20-year-old Zuhour Kati, who was set on fire in January by an Islamic State fighter from Saudi Arabia for refusing to perform “extreme sexual acts.” Rescued by a brother with burns to nearly 90 per cent of her body, the young Yazidi woman died in hospital in the Turkish city of Malatya.

“Her mother told me, ‘My daughter is better off dead.’ ” Bangura tabled her findings at the UN two weeks ago, briefing Security Council members. She spoke separately to Arab League delegates. Then it was wheels-up for Europe — consultations with the International Criminal Court in the Hague, then to Sweden and now Germany, where she met Thursday with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Bangura, a native of Sierra Leone whose work has taken her to Bosnia, Congo, South Sudan, Somalia and the Central African Republic, said nothing in her past travels remotely compares to the “systematic war on women” being waged in Iraq and Syria.

Isis ‘jihadi bride’ claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it – Independent

A jihadi bride whose husband took a Yazidi girl as a slave has claimed sex with kidnapped women is never rape because it is an Islamic practice inspired by the Prophet himself.

On this new attempt to justify the enslavement project, see the previous Syria Comment post.

‘Has Anyone Here Been Raped by ISIS?’ – Daily Beast – Sherizaan Minwalla

The public’s interest in knowing explicit details of sexual violence must not outweigh these victims’ urgent need for safety and privacy.

…Does the public’s interest in knowing explicit details of sexual violence outweigh these victims’ urgent need for safety and privacy? I don’t think so and there are indications that victims would agree.

In extreme cases, journalists have tricked victims into giving interviews. In its report “Escape from Hell,” Amnesty International tells the story of a woman who had requested medical assistance because she was having panic attacks. Instead of being taken into a doctor’s office, she was taken to a room full of journalists waiting to interview her.

In another reported case, a man who seems to have been a journalist but who claimed to be a doctor videotaped victims while telling them that he would not show their faces. The women reported to Amnesty International that the doctor advised them, “To cure our depression we should get out of the house and go for walks in the fields and sit in the sun.” …

Comments (55)

Tara said:

I would rather be beheaded by ISIS than tortured by the regime for 15 years in Tadmur prison. Dying by separating one’s head from one’s body takes 10 sec. Being exposed to torture where jailers are instructed to exert the most extreme physical and psychological terror on political prisoner last eternity .

Professor Landis, had you been a Syrian: which one would you prefer?

The answer is clear to any one who have a consiounce.

Isn’t time to stop sugar coating the regimes and its monstrous crimes against the people on SC?!

May 23rd, 2015, 8:38 pm


Matthew Barber said:

Tara, at least 3 of the articles on Tadmur posted above specifically highlight the legacy of regime torture in Tadmur Prison. One even includes an image of a former inmate demonstrating how torture took place.

How exactly does this sugar-coat regime atrocities?

May 23rd, 2015, 8:49 pm


Observer said:

There has been already a mass movement of people on a scale larger than 48 Palestine as the internal and external refugees of Syria are in the millions.

The regime is not finished yet and it still has fighting in it and HA is noting that for now its only source of access to the sea is through the Syrian coast. In time, the airports will not be able to continue to supply HA with Iranian missiles and other equipment.

The map shows clearly that HA has entered the fight whenever the routes of supply were threatened, be it in Qusair or in Qalamoun.

The age of the sects is over: the Sunnis as a minority will not be able to govern Iraq anymore; the Alewites and others will not be able to run Syria either.

The sect to this day claims that the revolution never left them a choice but to stick with the regime; a fallacy as the revolution was not sectarian in the beginning and people called for reform not for uprooting the regime.

The regime and all of its supporters thought that they could do a Hama in Homs and go back to ruling over the country. A huge miscalculation.

Now any regime that does not hold Damascus will not be able to have longevity. The question is whether it can defend in both the north and the south. It cannot without massive support from Iran and HA. HA is calling for mobilizing all its troops; and is willing to sacrifice 50% of its population as it calls the battle existential. If the fight is taken to the coast and the sect’s villages we may see massive use of chemical weapons by the regime or massive escape to Lebanon or both. If it uses massive chemical weapons the sect will disappear from the ME as they will be hounded and shunned and persecuted relentlessly something they suffered for centuries. It has seared their minds almost to the genetic level. The West will not intervene. The West intervened to protect Kurdish Iraq under the pretext of protecting Yazidis. They eventually left them on their own in the long run. Not a single country opened up its borders to them.

The atrocities of the regime will bring reprisals: Stalin clearly condoned massive reprisals on German civilians. Stalin wanted to bring the issue of aerial bombing of Russian cities into the Nuremberg trials and needless to say the US and Britain quietly told him not to lest their bombing of German cities be considered a war crime as well.

My questions are
1. How come a small force of IS took over Mosul last year and the Iraqi army melted?
2. How come 200 IS troops took over Ramadi being defended by 2000 Iraqi army troops?
3. How come IS has shown video footage of its troops using canons, tanks, MRL, heavy machine guns, and RPG’s? Even if they got this booty where are the bombs, and bullets and rockets coming from? Where are the supplies coming from? How come the billions spent on this Iraqi army have gone into so much waste and now the country is relying on sectarian militia?
4. How come the regime tried its utmost to free its troops in Jisr Shoghour and left them and their huge weapons caches in Palmyra to fall into IS hands? How come the Syrian air force did not bomb the caches?

Now I am heartened by the desire and the moral requirement to help the minorities and read with relief that there is a call to help the sect but in the same vein, I remind the author that neglecting to talk of the majority is exactly what the fanatics want: the West is always ready to help the minorities because it shares in their fear and perhaps hatred of the majority. That kind of discourse is unfortunately the best recruiting tool for the fanatics these days.

Now one last thing: no one sect can rule Syria was the post from Ghufran in the previous thread. The majority Sunnis are not a sect: they are the majority and their brand of Islam is that of 90% of the 1.3 billion muslims.

May 23rd, 2015, 9:04 pm


Ghufran said:

Not to defend the regime, which in my judgement is indefensible, but to compare isis and Nusra to any regime is a way to defend those terrorist groups. I was always in support of giving Islamists the chance to run for office in clean or semi clean elections as long as they denounce violence and respect the rights of women, secular muslims and non muslims, that is why I did not support the coup against Morsi and the imprisonment of ex Egyptian officials from Morsi’s government. Notice how ksa and the west looked the other way when Islamists in Egypt were removed in a military led coup but attacked all others who did not say yes to them and no to Iran. The policies of ksa, and the GCC in general, Turkey and the West is not dictated by principles but by political and economic interests.
Assad and Ba’ath regime did not kill people based on their religious affiliations, indeed many alawites died while in prison and many others spent long years in prison for opposing Assad regime. Nusra and isis actions are comparable to nazis and will stain Islam and Muslims for generations to come while history will mention Arab and Muslim dictators as dictators who acted with brutality to stay in power.
There are millions of Sunnis who lived and continue to live in areas controlled by the regime led by Assad and his father but alawites and Shia (and yazidis)in areas under Nusra and isis rule are either dead, in prison or being sold as slaves.
Wahhabi Islam is a fascist movement and not a religion.
Chicken poop can not make chicken soup

May 23rd, 2015, 9:04 pm


Observer said:

Someone just sent me a youtube video of tens of regime troops ambushed as the fled the hospital in Jisr, clearly the rebels are not taking many prisoners and they have no mercy. I will not post it it is too graphic.

The genie is out of the bottle and it started with the Islamic Revolution in Iran and now there is no stopping it.

The atrocities of the Shah brought the reaction and likewise the atrocities of the regime will bring the fanatical reaction.

May 23rd, 2015, 9:10 pm


Observer said:

I disagree this is not a regime but another mirror image of Wahhabi Islam and IS. It is fanatical as IS is fanatical and I regret it is 100% sectarian. And I must add the weekly TV shows of HA leader about Yemen and Syria and Bahrain are 100 % sectarian and he has never ever spoke of average Syrians wanting minimum of freedom.

Also, what does “semi-clean” elections means? They are either clean or dirty.
If the regime is indefensible then it is clearly in the same category of the IS indefensible atrocities. Indefensible is not nuanced and graded it is total otherwise it is chicken poop.

My ancestor was hanged by the Turks on May6th 1916 for fighting for Arab independence and for Arab nationalism and since then we have not been able to truly impart a national identity and remained unfortunately sectarian to the hilt.

How many generations will pass before the people can even try to live and let live?

May 23rd, 2015, 9:39 pm


Jamal said:

Don’t worry street girl we have may Tadmurs for you. traitors and those who plot against their own country must not be simply killed, they will pray day and night asking for it but only the lucky ones will get it. It’s very simple as long you push to pend not to break because if it’s broken you can’t pend it again and again.

As for you wish to live and die under ISIS sate, it’s not a surprise at all for Sunnah terrorist supporters to salivate over the idea of migrating to the ISIS state.

May 23rd, 2015, 9:58 pm


Jamal said:

Nadia you’re a liar and all your information is incorrect. The prisoners were free to choose between being left behind or leaving with the army, they actually wrote a petition to the political leadership asking to be transported out of Tadmur instead of being left behind to ISIS. The heroes of Arab Syrian Army defended Tadmur with blood to and souls to arrange a safe passage for those prisoners, and that’s why they were not blindfolded to handcuffed. Some prisoners chose to stay back in Tadmur and the army fulfilled their desire.

May 23rd, 2015, 10:06 pm


Jamal said:

We are not losing, it’s all strategic militarily manoeuvres. Just wait for the good news coming soon from Qalamon and the coast.

May 23rd, 2015, 10:09 pm


habib said:

What western journalists don’t understand is that the Alawites will fight to the very last man and woman, unlike the Christians who just flee, and the Yazidis who ar passively enslaved. That is why they cannot lose. They are more similar to the Kurds in this respect. It doesn’t matter whether Assad falls or if they lose more useless desert areas, it is about mere survival.

Few determined people are more powerful than many weaklings, which is also why the huge Iraqi army is failing.

Most Sunnis in Syria don’t fight for the Islamists. If they did, they would had won long ago.

May 23rd, 2015, 10:14 pm


Jamal said:

Words of wisdom Habib

May 23rd, 2015, 10:22 pm


apple_mini said:

The battle ground reflects the grim reality of Syria, a name more apropos to what is used to be. Syria is on her path to partition despite our wishful denial.

When a country is falling apart, the country suffers on multiple fronts and her citizens are involved in shredding their shared ties, to some extent, shuttering the facets of their shared history and culture.

The sectarian nature of this so-called revolution only pushes Alawites and other minorities to establish their new state in the coast area, which is defensible compared with traditional Sunni dominated land.

I find safely evacuating those 150 trapped people in Jisr al-Shughur more imperative than defending Palmyra and her treasures at any cost.

Preserve the strength and defend what is defensible and worthwhile until a showdown.

When those phoney hypocrites, riding on their armchairs over moral high ground, show us their indignation at regime’s torture and atrocity, whereas they cheerleader Islamists and terrorists, gloating over those monsters’ victory soaking in blood of innocent Syrians, those fakers are nothing but thugs in disguise.

Islam is a joke in modern day. Its medieval thinking encrusted in a cult culture never gets to advance. No enlightenment in Islam so it is no surprise that a progressive society must reject it. I predict that Islam will be on its way to landfill before more blood is shedding.

May 23rd, 2015, 10:50 pm


Ghufran said:

Again, comparing isis and Nusra to any regime is a passive defense of terrorists and a form of Taqiyyah ( a charge minorities are usually stuck with). Syrians should not have to choose between Islamist ( not islamic) terrorists and regime thugs, we are in the 21st century and not in the Middle Ages. Habib is right, alawites are not now fighting for Assad they are fighting for their survival. Nusra and Isis are not just killing people who fight or oppose them, they kill anybody who is classified as an infidel and they used women and girls as Sabaya and sex slaves, no dictatorship did that, indeed Saddam ( a Sunni) and Assad ( an alawites)regimes promoted women and welcomed people from other sects who did not oppose their regimes, Islamists do not want girls to go to school, dictatorships and Islamist theocracies are wrong for the region but nothing can be compared to Nusra and Isis. Notice how many political prisoners ended up in regime’s camp while many pseudo seculars who filled Internet and newspaper pages with freedom and democracy slogans finally adopted the ikhwanji Nusra propaganda and are now more sectarian than the mullahs in Tehran. No sane person, Sunni or not, would be able to live under Nusra and Isis indeed Sunnis have the most to lose if they allow terrorists to hijack Islam.
أمه فاشله من الألف للياء

May 23rd, 2015, 11:09 pm


Jamal said:

Another excellent argument from APPLE_MINI .

If Sunnah are sleeping with terrorists and masterbating to the thought of dividing Syria then be it. We will ditch the deserted areas and form our own state and exile all non-loyal Sunnah out. We will keep the coast, gas mines, and all fresh water resurces all the way from Izaz to Dar’a. A new modern Syria state with maximum 5 million population is all what we want. We will enjoy showering the Sunnah ISIS state with Scuds every now and then. Sunnah will line up at the border points begging and licking our shoes to get in.

May 23rd, 2015, 11:24 pm


Syrian said:

Poor Observer, first he had to learn all about Ibn T. so he can convince Mjabali that he is not his follower, now he is being acused from the other extreme of using the Shia Taqiyyah by Ghufran, I have a feeling he will need also to find out what is that word he is being accused of really means. and same as he correctly figured out that Majbali was the mirror Image of Ibn T. he’ll discover that Gufran is ultimate Taqiyyah user,
Lol that was really funny, I can not stop laughing of the thought of Observer using Taqiyyah.

May 23rd, 2015, 11:36 pm


El Chino said:

Memo to Habib and Jamal: you poor pathetic regime butt kissers: be sure to keep your ankle chains shiny and polished; Pencilneck Bashar wants his slaves spiffy…

May 24th, 2015, 1:50 am


Poul said:

Where are the Druze in this tale? The Alawites is not the only group to be seen as heretics in Syria by the Salafists.

May 24th, 2015, 3:45 am


Juergen said:

Just one example of how much art from Palmyra is sold on the international market. Its a big lie to think only Daesh is destroying or selling such pieces. The regime has done so for the last decades.

May 24th, 2015, 4:08 am


ALAN said:

We Kurds are not sectaian.
You are trying liken “sect” with Kurds, but the Kurds are not sectarian, the Kurds (by nature) are sympathizers to all components of the Syrian people except islamozionists radicals.

May 24th, 2015, 4:12 am


mjabali said:


Stop fabricating things related to me… go eat sunflowers seeds bird man

Observacion claims that he never read Ibn Taymiyah… he says that he does not know Ibn Taymiyah..So how does he reach conclusions regarding Ibn Taymiyah?

You fools are contradicting yourselves…

I never stood for violence, till this day while Ibn Taymiyah is the roots of violence in the Middle East.

Because I tell you Sunnis how it is, you try to find labels for me…

Poor work sunflower seeds eater…

I wish you and any Sunni can come up with Facts and not accusations…This is how you grew up…I don’t blame you…

Observaar is like you afraid to mention Ibn Taymiyah by name… get some guts and critique your violent history to reach solutions for now and the future…

May 24th, 2015, 4:18 am


Observer said:

My point is that the regime and IS are mirror images of each other: they both kill the other if they deem that he/she are apostates. One considers the other as “terrorist” and the other considers them as ” infidels” One enslaves people outright and the other enslaves them indirectly. One uses sex slaves and the other promotes prostitution.

Even when I tell all that I am an atheist I am still labeled as belonging to a religion. It is like the Christians of Lebanon they are labeled as Shia or Sunni Christians depending on who they like to associate with.

When I declare that the Islamic revolution in Iran was the instigator of political Islam no one has refuted this. In historical terms, a revolution has a very long impact like the Bolshevik revolution.

Yes the sect will fight they have no choice but to fight for their survival but to expect that there will be Western help is delusional.

Also to expect mercy is delusional.

There are no arguments proposed here and the facts are clear: there is only sectarian identification and there is only sectarian discourse. There is no Syrian identity left.

Again would Mr. Barber enlighten me as to how come IS is making so many gains? How come billions on Iraqi forces lead repeatedly to defeats and flights? Who is supplying them with weapons and ammunitions?

If one were to notice the to and fro of this war; each time a side made a gain, supplies came to reverse it and to keep the conflict going. I expect that the regime in the summer will make a few gains in other areas.

Demonizing the other as follower of Ibn T or practicing T is besides the point.

Maybe I would then use Ibn Taqqmyiah as my post designation to help you focus on the argument and not the messenger.


May 24th, 2015, 7:48 am


Observer said:

No comment at this Guardian article: It is meant for intelligent thoughtful readers

May 24th, 2015, 8:15 am


Altair said:

I see that many people on this board have given up on the very idea of a single Syrian state. Why?

My earlier example of Rwanda was completely ignored. Rwanda saw massacres of about 800,000 to 1,000,000 people in a much shorter time than the 220,000 Syrian victims died, and a much greater percentage of the population. The slaughter was horrendous. Yet Rwanda is one state today. Reconciliation was possible.

Why, I ask all of you quitters on Syria, is this not possible in Syria?

May 24th, 2015, 8:26 am


Observer said:

Rwandans are superior

May 24th, 2015, 8:37 am


Observer said:

This is from Manar site: the latest fights in Syria. I usually read Manar and Mayaddeen and Syrian Ikhbaria first then RT arabic and Alam from Iran then go to other sites. If this is what the regime troops can do they are not very active today

– الجيش السوري يقضي على أعداد من المسلحين في الحراك وجاسم وناحتة والكرك الشرقي وكفر شمس بريف درعا
– قتلى وجرحى إثر اشتباكات بين جبهة النصرة والجيش الحر من جهة ولواء “شهداء اليرموك” من جهة أخرى في بلدتي البكار وسحم الجولان
– اشتباكات متقطعة بين الجيش السوري ومسلحين في حي المنشية بمدينة درعا

ريف دمشق:
– الجيش السوري يدمر مقراً لجبهة النصرة بمن فيه في محيط بلدة سعسع بريف دمشق
– مقتل رئيس “الهيئة الشرعية” وعضو “المجلس الإسلامي السوري” المدعو رياض الخرقي الملقب “الشيخ أبو ثابت” متأثراً بجراح أصيب بها بتفجير انتحاري نفذه داعش بمقر لـ “فيلق الرحمن” بالغوطة الشرقية قبل شهر
– مقتل عدد من المسلحين خلال اشتباكات مع الجيش السوري في محيط مدينة داريا بريف دمشق

اشتباكات بين الجيش السوري ومسلحين على جبهة قرية عزيزة بريف حلب الجنوبي

اشتباكات بين الجيش السوري ومسلحين في حي جوبر شرق دمشق

– اشتباكات بين الجيش السوري وجبهة النصرة في قرية تل سلمو بريف إدلب
– اشتباكات بين الجيش السوري والمجموعات المسلحة في محيط قرية الكفير جنوب مدينة جسر الشغور في ريف إدلب

– اشتباكات بين الوحدات الكردية وداعش في قرية “أبو شخاط” جنوب غرب مدينة رأس العين بريف الحسكة
– اشتباكات بين الجيش السوري وتنظيم داعش في قرى تل مجدل وأم الكبر غرب مدينة الحسكة
– اشتباكات بين الجيش السوري وتنظيم داعش على طريق الحسكة – أبيض جنوب غرب الحسكة

اشتباكات بين الجيش السوري والجماعات المسلحة قرب تلة عفيسة في محور بلدة السرمانية في ريف حماه الغربي

اشتباكات بين الجيش السوري والمجموعات المسلحة على جبهات حوش حجو والهلالية وأم شرشوح

ريف حمص:

داعش يرتكب مجزرة بحق 400 مدني في مدينة تدمر

تجدد الاشتباكات بين الوحدات الكردية وتنظيم داعش غرب مدينة تل أبيض في ريف الرقة

May 24th, 2015, 8:43 am


Tara said:


I was not referring to this particular post. I was describing the overall vision/ mission of SC.

And of course there will be links to articles referencing some of the regime’s crimes. Otherwise, the site would just look like an American mouthpiece of a “tried and true” dictatorship and no one would even bother to glimpse at it. In other words, the occasional references to the regime atrocities and crimes against humanity by linking news from mainstream media can’t be credited to SC being “fair and balanced”. It is rather a “business essential”. We all know that Fox News is never fair nor balanced…..

Judge for your self. SC was busying itself dissecting the name, the make, and the day of service of every single entity of the so called Islamist factions fighting the regime with causal reference here and there to the 200 thousand plus murdered at the hand of the regime, while it covers in detail every crime committed or not committed against minorities. The effect has been always to take the reader mind of the genicide that is taking place against Syrian by spreading fear of the people movement against the regime under the banner of fear of Islamists and to eventually portray it as the less evil and the best option.

SC never bothered to go physically or virtually (except in passing) to refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey, or Lebanon to convey to its readers first hand what is being inflicted to great portions of Syrians while physically traveling to Yazidi land chasing every ill fallen on behaf the Minorities real or perceived- to the record I support American and worldwide intervention against ISIS.

Syria Comment argued on site and on news media against safe haven, NFZ or any kind of American humanitarian intervention to save life ( mind it that it is the life of the majorities ). And sure enough if the regime falls (and it will) , SC will be the first to support American intervention to protect “the Minorities”. I will remind you when it happens…

SC in my opinion has always given the impression that the genicide against the majority is not genicide rather “containment” of fanatic islam.

There are much more to say…. I will stop here though on this Sunday morning. Ask around but this is your reputation.,,not in Tara’s mind only. It is a prevailing opinion.

May 24th, 2015, 8:49 am


Tara said:


Perhaps if you read the Ibn-Taymieh – in residence, you would understand that the hatred against the majority Syrian is 1400 years old and going.. How are you going to change historical hatred and lump sum the people in one country where everyone of them is minority IBN Taymieh. To the record, I never heard of that man (IT) until his minority counter-part taught us about him.

Additionally, and perhaps bluntly …how can you change Iran taking advantage of Shiism as a a religion that is based on the hate of Sunnis? Isn’t the whole concept of Shiism was to remember a crime committed against someone 1400 years ago and to argue who should the Khalif after Muhammad be? Like for God sake, if one whole ideological upbringing is to take revenge from those who murdered Hussain , what one can do to reconcile ? A news media article athat we are sorry ! We are indeed very very sorry. We do not agree with the crime and if time to come back, we will do every thing we can to not make that crime happen . Would that suffice? I mean for God sake isn’t Shiism built originally in that concept ?

May 24th, 2015, 9:05 am


mjabali said:

Here is an article where the writer Abd al-Khaleq Huseein is saying that Saudi Arabia should be put in check

أعتذر مسبقاً عن تكرار بعض الأفكار وردت في مقالات سابقة لي، أعيدها هنا لإكمال وتوضيح الصورة، ففي الإعادة إفادة!
بدءً، المملكة العربية السعودية تحكم الشعب السعودي المغلوب على أمره بنظام ديني متطرف وفق التعاليم الوهابية المعادية للإنسانية وجميع الأديان والمذاهب من غير الإسلام الوهابي وتبرر حرب إبادة الجنس. ومعاداة السعودية الوهابية للحضارة والإنسانية والشيعة على وجه الخصوص ليس جديداً، إذ بدأت منذ تأسيس هذه المملكة في العشرينات من القرن الماضي، حيث قامت بتدمير الآثار التاريخية الإسلامية في مكة المكرمة والمدينة المنورة، بما فيها بيت النبي محمد، و زوجته خديجة، إضافة إلى إزالة مقبرة البقيع في المدينة التي تضم قبور الصحابة وأئمة المسلمين، سنة وشيعة. وحتى أرادوا إزالة قبر النبي ومسجده لولا الاعتراضات والإدانات العالمية. كل ذلك بحجة أن القبور والآثار التاريخية عادة وثنية، تتعارض مع الإسلام، وهو تفسير خاطئ لا يؤيده أي دليل منطقي أو ديني، سوى تعاليم محمد بن عبدالوهاب، الخارج عن الملة. فالوهابية خوارج العصر بكل معنى الكلمة.

كذلك مارس الوهابيون الإرهاب، وشنوا حروب الإبادة ضد شيعة العراق في القرن التاسع عشر وأوائل القرن العشرين حيث قاموا بهجمات متكررة على النجف وكربلاء وقتلوا الألوف وخربوا ودنسوا الأضرحة ونهبوا خزائنها. وهذا بالضبط ما تقوم به عصابات “داعش” في سوريا والعراق من أعمال إجرامية بحق الأبرياء وتدمير المعالم الحضارية، ودور العبادة من أتباع مختلف الأديان والمذاهب.

هناك سلسلة من الأسباب والنتائج ساعدت السعودية على نشر التطرف الديني و وهبنة المسلمين وتحويلهم إلى وهابيين إرهابيين. فالسعودية تكاد تكون أغنى دولة في العالم، وهذه الثروة الهائلة هي ملك الأسرة الملكية الحاكمة تتصرف بها كما تشاء، ولا تحتاج إلى موافقة البرلمان لأن ليس هناك برلمان ولا دستور ولا قوانين، بل حكم ملكي إلهي مطلق كما كان الوضع في القرون الوسطى المظلمة في أوربا.
كذلك استفادت السعودية من الأحداث الدولية، وتحالفها الاستراتيجي مع الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية. وبرز توافق المصالح عند نشوب الثورة الشيوعية في أفغانستان وما تلاها من الاحتلال السوفيتي، فتم استغلال الإسلام الوهابي لتشكيل تنظيمات المجاهدين وتدريبهم من قبل العسكريين الأمريكان وبالمال السعودي وشحنهم بالأيديولوجية الوهابية، ومن بين هذه التنظيمات: (طالبان) و(القاعدة). وبعد سقوط الحكم الشيوعي في أفغانستان هيمنت طالبان والقاعدة على السلطة، واتخذوا من أفغانستان قاعدة انطلاق لهم، وأخيراً انقلب السحر على الساحر، فدشنوا إرهابهم ضد أمريكا نفسها بجريمة 11 سبتمبر 2001، التي غيرت السياسة الخارجية الأمريكية ومسار التاريخ.

وبعد إسقاط النظام البعث الفاشي في العراق، استخدمت السعودية التنظيمات الإرهابية في العراق ضد العملية السياسية وضد الشيعة، وتخريب العراق الجديد تحت مختلف الأكاذيب من بينها (عزل وتهميش العرب السنة)، و(هيمنة إيران على العراق). وراح مشايخ الوهابية في السعودية وقطر يصدرون الفتاوى التحريضية ضد الشيعة لإشعال الفتن والحروب الطائفية.
كما واستفادت السعودية، و قطر وتركيا، من فلول البعث الذي يمتلك أعلى قدر من الخبث والدهاء والغدر والمكر في استغلال الظروف، وعقد التحالفات حتى مع الشيطان، وهنا (وافق شن طبقة)، فتوافقت مصالح البعث مع مصالح السعودية، وحصلت التحالفات والتوافقات ضمن التنظيمات الإرهابية (القاعدة) و(جبهة النصرة) و (داعش). وراحت هذه الحكومات ترتكب أبشع الجرائم يحق الشعوب وبغطاء داعش وغيرها.

استطاعت السعودية ممارسة كل هذا الإرهاب وإسكات العالم عن جرائمها، وتبعد الشبهة عن نفسها وذلك عن طريق شراء الحكومات وحتى الأمم المتحدة بالمال. فقد تبرعت السعودية في العام الماضي بمائة مليون دولار للأمم المتحدة لمحاربة الإرهاب. كذلك نجحت السعودية في تكوين اللوبيات، وشراء الذمم، ومؤسسات الإعلام في الشرق والغرب، فهي تسيطر الآن على نحو 70% من الإعلام العربي. كذلك نرى السعودية من أكثر الدول سعياً في عقد مؤتمرات دولية للتقارب بين الأديان والمذاهب، والأعلى صوتاً في إدانة التنظيمات الإرهابية، بينما عملياً هي من أشد الدول التي تمارس إرهاب الدولة بدهاء وخبث، وأكثرها دعماً للتنظيمات الإرهابية، إذ كما قال بلزاك: “حذار من إمرأة تتحدث عن الشرف كثيرا”.

وعندما تفشل منظماتها الإرهابية في تحقيق أهدافها، لن تتردد السعودية في التدخل مباشرة في ممارسة الإرهاب ضد تلك الدولة كما هي الحال في حربها الإجرامية الإرهابية على الشعب اليمني الفقير، وبحجة محاربة التدخل الإيراني. بينما ليس هناك أي تدخل عسكري إيراني وإنما تدخل عسكري سعودي فظ، حيث نجحت السعودية في شراء 12 حكومة عربية وغير عربية بما فيها السنيغال في هذا الإرهاب الحكومي ضد شعب أعزل.

وأخيراً دشنت السعودية حرب الإبادة على شيعة السعودية في المنطقة الشرقية، إذ أفادت الأنباء عن تفجير انتحاري في مسجد شيعي في القطيف إثناء أداء صلاة الجمعة (يوم 22/5/2015)، أدى إلى مقتل أكثر من عشرين مصلياً، وإصابة العشرات، وكالعادة في هذه الحالات، أعلنت “داعش” مسؤوليتها عن الجريمة. والحقيقة هي أن الأجهزة الأمنية بدأت حرب الإبادة ضد الشيعة وبأوامر من جهات دينية وحكومية عليا لتلقي الجريمة على داعش. فالدولة السعودية هي داعش، وهذه الجريمة ضد شيعة السعودية هي أول الغيث. فالحكومة خلقت داعش وغيرها من أجل ممارسة الإرهاب وحرب إبادة الجنس بغطاء داعش والنصرة والقاعدة وغيرها، وتبرئة نفسها، بل وتتظاهر بأنها هي ضحية هذا الإرهاب ، فتقتل الشيعة من شعبها وتتاجر بدمائهم في نفس الوقت.

وما يواجهه العراق وسوريا من إرهاب وحرب الإبادة وتدمير مؤسساتهما الاقتصادية ومعالمهما التاريخية الحضارية على أيدي داعش وجبهة النصرة إلا بدعم من السعودية وتنفيذاً للتعاليم الوهابية، فكما بينا أعلاه، هذه الجرائم مارستها السعودية نفسها من قبل.

وعليه فالحكومات (العراقية والسورية واليمنية) مطالبة بتقديم شكوى إلى الأمم المتحدة وجميع المحافل الدولية، بما فيها محاكم الجنايات الدولية، ضد الحكومة السعودية وكذلك حكومة قطر وتركية، لدعمها الإرهاب و قيامها بحرب الإبادة ضد الجنس وتدمير المعالم الحضارية والمؤسسات الاقتصادية، ومطالبة هذه الحكومات بدفع التعويضات للضحايا وذويهم، وأن تتحمل تكاليف إعادة إعمار هذه البلدان. ولا يمكن تحقيق هذا الهدف إلا بكسب أمريكا إلى جانبنا، وهذا ممكن عن طريق تكوين اللوبيات وإيجار شركات العلاقات العامة (PR)، تماماً كما نجحت السعودية في هذا المجال.
ولدي تقارير ودراسات غربية ومن جهات رسمية أمريكية تؤكد دور السعودية وقطر وتركيا في الإرهاب ضد العراق وسوريا واليمن. أدرج أدناه روابط بعض هذه التقارير والدراسات وحتى خطابات من شخصيات أمريكية رسمية مثل نائب الرئيس الأمريكي جو بايدن.
روابط ذات صلة
1- Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and the Spread of Sunni Theofascism
by Ambassador Curtin Winsor, Jr.

2- النسخة العربية الموجزة: كورتين وينزر: السعودية والوهابية وانتشار الفاشية الدينية


4- The Secret Saudi Ties to Terrorism

5- الاندبندنت: الكيان السعودي مصدر تمويل الإرهاب

6- جو بايدن يعلنها صراحة السعودية وتركيا و الامارات مولوا داعش

7- السعودية هي السبب الرئيسي وراء الإرهاب (فيديو بالأرقام)!/video.php?v=850266491659180&set=vb.100000275119058&type=2&theater

May 24th, 2015, 10:04 am


Tara said:

I mourn some of the 123 soldiers of the Assad army that were killed ! Lots of them may have been ordinary conscripts that were involuntarily sent to the frontline. I do not mourn the NDF mercenaries nor those volunteer mercenaries who are in the army to feed their ideological hatred. Damn you Bashar Al Assad for killing Syrians to stay in power and damn you for turning them into ruthless killers .

May 24th, 2015, 10:04 am


mjabali said:

Tara does not know Ibn Taymiyah…and still call me Ibn Taymiyah….contradiction? إنفصام؟

Also, like most Sunnis, does not like it when others critique them….get used to it…we live in a modern world and if you want to go and live in Saudi Arabia no one is stopping you..

.there Sunnis blow themselves with the blessing of the state in Shia mosques…

Tara and Saudi Arabia are united with hatred to Shia….

Also: Of course الحفيانة does not know that Sunnis became a majority in what is known today as Syria only the 19th Centurey…Syria had more Christians than anyone else few hundred years ago….learn your history instead of eating sunflowers

Check out how much minorities were killed: example: wahabi raids into Syria in the 19th C?..

May 24th, 2015, 10:10 am


mjabali said:

Speaking of the hatred Tara presents everyday against the Shia and Iran…

Here is a very important goat, excuse me, an important Saudi Sunni cleric calling to wage war against the Shia and Iran..

May 24th, 2015, 10:14 am


Syrialover said:

TARA #26

Yes. It’s so true what you are saying.

Also, Iran manages to somehow fly below the SyriaComment radar in its command and control of the Assad regime, key role (and failures) in the fighting on Syrian soil, and export of rabid sectarianism.

May 24th, 2015, 10:17 am


ALAN said:

Who is the real criminal?
If there are any need to fill SC with informations ,usefull for all:

Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered In US War And Occupation Of Iraq “1,455,590”
Cost of War in Iraq & Afghanistan $1,628,571,503,266

With US, such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the exceptional executioners.

American military intelligence, it seems, is not always an oxymoron. Nonetheless, the White House pressed ahead. Overstretched, beleaguered, and increasingly dependent on its Saudi allies, the American empire felt it had no alternative but to follow Riyadh down the rabbit hole, hoping against hope that the consequences would not prove too dire. It was wrong.
great comment!

May 24th, 2015, 10:22 am


ghufran said:

Reports from Tadmur are starting to come about ISIS mass execution of civilians after it took the city.
The head nurse at Tamdur national hospital was killed with her family along with dozens of ordinary civilians who worked at state institutions and others who were labelled as “collaborators” .
ISIS managed to bring thousands of fighters and heavy weapons thru the Syrian desert under the “watchful” eyes of NATO !!

May 24th, 2015, 10:27 am


Tara said:

For the records : A guy I respect among pro regime on SC is Alan. He is very much pro regime but never once showed hate and sectarianisn ever. Alan is one I can live with in one Syria.

May 24th, 2015, 10:47 am


Mina said:

Great news for Tara: you will soon be able to live in the free Syria you dreamt of

BTW, Tara, you’ll tell us if indeed they just torture and behead “women” like you of if you’ve enjoyed slavery.

May 24th, 2015, 11:00 am


Altair said:

Where is the evidence that Iran is “exporting” sectarianism?

One should not forget that, after the revolution in Iran in 1979, one of the first acts of the new government was to expel Israel from its embassy in Tehran and hand it over to the Palestinians.

Iran also empowered Hizbullah to fight off the Zionist occupiers in Lebanon and till today, Hizbullah stands as the only Arab force to have ever successfully beaten back the Zionist invaders. Were it not for them, you probably would have Zionist settlements on the Litani river by now.

That it supports the Asad regime now is not some act of Shi’ite solidarity. It’s more geopolitical. Unfortunately, it has not restrained the regime from even the worst excesses of the war, but I don’t believe it is motivated primarily by anti-Sunni sentiment.

Iran supported the Bosnian Muslims (who are almost entirely Sunni) in their struggle against being massacred wholesale by the Christian Serbs. Most of the Arab world run by corrupt dictators sat on their hands and watched (as did much of the West).

If you want to see a bigger threat to Islam and specifically Sunni Islam, you have no further to look than Wahhabism, an ideology that seems to be closely followed by the ISIS characters. They are discrediting Islam in a way no one ever has before.

Finally, Alawis are not really Shi’is, not withstanding whatever arrangement Musa Sadr made with Hafiz Asad, and Asad went out of his way to at least appear to act like a Sunni when he prayed at the Umayyad mosque. His son Bashar does the same today (and is married to a Sunni).

The Syrian revolution did not begin as sectarian, but it surely was hijacked by sectarianism, which ensures its failure. The loss is to all Syrians.

May 24th, 2015, 11:00 am


Altair said:

Concerning Tadmur/Palmyra:

The Temple of Bel in Tadmur/Palmyra was used by Umayyads and later Muslims as place for Friday and congregational prayer, which is partly why it is in such good condition. Essentially, it served as a mosque.

ISIS followers may want to consider this before they think destroying it or any other antiquity in Tadmur/Palmyra is some act of Muslim faith. Quite the contrary, they will be in total contradiction to Islamic teachings.

May 24th, 2015, 11:30 am


Tara said:

“Where is the evidence that Iran is “exporting” sectarianism?”

The evidence in one word is Hezboulah. Let us not have our feeling towards Israel and Palestine blinds our judgement. Being anti Zionist is not enough criteria to blindfoldedly forgive genocide. Additionally, I do not think that using Shiism in a sectarian way by the turbans-in-Chiefs to brainwash and to recruit the masses does not stem from the love for Hussain , Zainab or any diety. It is purely for geopolitical interests.

ISIS can use antizionist rhetorics and act upon it as much as their heart desire. It does not make them any less criminals. Don’t you think?

May 24th, 2015, 12:09 pm


Altair said:

One word does not make a case.

For years, Iran also supported Hamas, and it appears that they will reconcile soon. Hamas is Sunni.

You ignored the point about Bosnia’s Muslims too.

I am torn by Hizbullah’s intervention in Syria’s war, and it has seriously weakened the organization’s credibility. But still, it cannot be forgotten with a wave of the hand that Hizbullah resisted the Zionists better than anyone before them or since.

ISIS, on the other hand, condemns almost everyone, but has so far not raised a hand against Israel in any way (nor vice-versa, by the way), at least not yet, nor has its Al Qaida progenitor. It makes me wonder as to why not. It’s not as if it were doing so out of caution.

I also wonder why the so-called Sunni governments never support the resistance to Israel anymore, but the Shi’ites do. Why do they leave it to Shi’ites to carry the banner?

May 24th, 2015, 12:42 pm


Observer said:

Tara’s point is made clear today by the speech of the leader of HA
He called on KSA to stop the attack on Yemen and to seek a political solution; he called on the Bahrain regime to stop oppressing the people and to free political prisoners and yet he forgot the Syrian people in his generosity and in his focus.

He said that the IS is the new threat to the entire region and passes over the exactions of the Shiite militias in Iraq that drove some Sunnis to espouse the Jihadists.

He also said that we will fight them in Aleppo and Damascus and Homs and Qalamoun lest we fight them in Beirut and the South and Baalbek. He sounds like GWB in 2003.

If he had told the Syrian regime what he is asking he Bahraini and the Saudi regimes to do today; he would not have found himself is such dire straits.

I listened to his speech and it is a lot of shouting to convince himself that things are well and hunky dory.

Who sows the wind harvests the storm.

And yes I have never heard of Ibn T until our own historian in residence the mirror image of Ibn T has told us about him. As for the demographics of the region in this or that time period who gives a rat’s ass what it was some decades ago unless the historian in residence is asking for forced sterilization as they are doing in Myanmar as well as ethnic cleansing and genocidal killing.

Now the resistance will make the same mistake that the regime did: faced with nothing to lose the population took up arms agains the brutality of the regime and the rebels will do the same and the Alawi population like the Kurds will mobilize further and fight on. The question is can they sustain it and will they have enough support for that. Apparently the orders from Mullahs is to fight on as the HA leader announced so we are in for a 300 year war on top of the 1400 year old hatred

May 24th, 2015, 1:04 pm


Tara said:


Syrians in my opinion lost faith in any anti Zionist rhetoric. The world for us does no longer evolve around arab Israeli conflict. It did in the past and that was a big fat lie. We suddenly grew suspicious of anyone and anything that comes off as anti-Zionist as a red flag that immediately flashes of a hidden agenda. HA once an Arab world’s hero suddenly became a sectarian entity where its ordinary followers beat up a Syrian child refugee because he is Sunni. I prefer HA kisses Israel’s ass and not beats up a Syrian child out of hatred. Anti Israel was again a “business tool” to advance their geopolitical agenda.

Anyone who uses relegion or sect ideology is using it to advance his/her own greed and personal interests and agenda wheather it’s a countru such as Iran or Israel or KSA; a sect be it the Alawi supporters of the regime who are afraid for their privileges , or the mujahideen who dreams of women سبي , a paid job with a power trip, or a perceived paradise that will not materialized.

May 24th, 2015, 1:25 pm


mjabali said:

People who do not know the history and the roots of the problem should stay on the sides and eat sunflowers seeds.

They take themselves out of any serious discussion by playing ignorant of some very important factors.

Their emotional outbursts does not count when adults are dealing with how to stop people from killing each others.

May 24th, 2015, 3:09 pm


ghufran said:

We will have a bloody summer before the big boys sit down and decide that it is time to end this war. US jets over Iraq and Syria according to US sources are spending 75% of their flight time over ISIS areas looking for “stuff” but not attacking and bombing targets, those jets are also far more active around Kurd areas. People in coastal cities in Syria are questioning the wisdom of sending their sons to fight in places where ISIS and Nusra are more popular than the army, only a fool will believe that Nusra and ISIS advances were due to their military advantage, nobody wants to admit that there are Syrians all over Syria, and Syrians on this blog, who prefer Nusra and ISIS over the Syrian army, this is why this war will not end quickly and Syria may indeed be partitioned in one way or the other at least for a period of time.
The current situation is the direct result of the failed group of nations,called the arab league, this failure is what opened the door to Iran. Arab countries are ruled by corrupt and oppressive governments and to make things worse we now have a sectarian fight that demonize Hizbullah (and Shia) and portrait Israel as an ally or at least as an acceptable neighbor. A Saudi citizen detonates a bomb inside a Shia mosque in KSA killing 2 dozen people and that does not seem to convince some bone heads in the GCC and the Arab World at large that “Houston we have a problem ” !!
NATO, GCC and Turkey were never a positive force in the Arab World, Iran after 1979 rattled Israel and the GCC but it also helped awaken sectarian feelings and political Islam, notice how Iran, which kept a healthy economic relationship with the regime’s enemy Turkey,was relatively quiet while Syrian soldiers were slaughtered in Idleb and Homs provinces but was very careful not to lose the battle in Qalamon. Turkey wants Idleb and Aleppo to be an extension of its land and will work to create a situation where refugees can return to those areas but no strong government will be allowed there and no Kurdish state will be tolerated.
Any way you look at it, militarizing this conflict and attacking the Syrian army, with all of its flaws, was a strategic mistake (or was it even a mistake ? )and all Syrians are paying the price. Syria is much worse under the mercy of Turkey and the GCC with their Islamist thugs (and now ISIS) than under Assad, those who disagree are infected with a virus called pride and prejudice.
أمه فاشله من الألف للياء

May 24th, 2015, 4:15 pm


Nadia said:

Jamal you’re a disconnected wanna be self-hating Sunni, so please stay out any useful discussion. You called me a liar then you acknowledged my narration of transporting the prisoners without being blindfolded nor handcuffed. At the same time you come up with this rubbish imaginary theory of “prisoners signed a petition to be transported with the army” are you that insane? or is it the utmost capability of your 2-cell brain.

I’m against the terror more than you yet I call a spade a spade, I’m in an awkward position of being minority myself while you’re a self hating Sunni who’re wishing to be Alawi, actually you might be one of those Shwam who try to speak with Alawi accent when they get stopped by traffic police or when they place an order at a restaurant. Your comments only remind me of Imad Mustafa and Shareef Sh7adeh, are you one of them?

As many have said already please keep us entertained.

May 24th, 2015, 4:20 pm


Nadia said:

More news from Tadmur

– Yes there have been public execution and beheading in Tadmur. They have killed 4 Christian nurses at the hospital and spiked one of them at the entrance.

– During the 7-day arrangement with IS, the regime managed to transport trucks of pieces out of the National museum of Tadmur but non of these pieces have arrived Damascus yet. Maybe they’re already sold or kept safe in one of the officer’s farms.

– According to people from inside Tadmur, when IS took control there was 0 resistance except from one checkpoint on the north-eastern side of Tadmur.

– The IS stormed the National museum and they guarded it heavily.

May 24th, 2015, 4:31 pm


El Chino said:

RE GHUFRAN’s comment above: “We will have a bloody summer before the big boys sit down and decide that it is time to end this war”

Your analysis is very perceptive and mostly, I think, correct. But I don’t think the “big boys” can rein things in. Too many loose cannons out there playing by their own rules.

Bashar’s big mistake was not recognizing that a revolution was happening right before his eyes. When that happens, you get out in front and lead or get out of the way. He did neither. And now he’s paying, poor dumb bastard…

May 24th, 2015, 5:30 pm


jamal said:

47. El Chino

(And now he’s paying, …)

You are such a coward to insult your lords while hiding overseas behind a laptop in a dark room. If you’re a real man come and protest in the middle of Damascus, because that’s how real patriots do it.

Final warning, don’t you ever insult the president in my presence.

May 24th, 2015, 5:45 pm


jamal said:

Nadia you are empty like a balloon with no substance. You are a shame to all minorities, I would not be surprised if you are being involved with Sunnah (married from them).

I will be honored to claim being Emad or Sharef but I’m just Jamal, and If I get to change my name it’ll be Hafez.

May 24th, 2015, 5:52 pm


Syrialover said:

ALTAIR said (#37): Where is the evidence that Iran is “exporting” sectarianism?

You appear serious in your quest for information. I don’t have time to create an information package for you on this subject, but you’ll find it increasingly well documented and discussed out there.

Start looking especially at sources reporting from the front line and on the ground where Iran is active in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Out of the mouths of Iranian generals, some of it.

For a quick intro find some of the youtube items showing Iranian soldiers and Iran-backed Shia militia in Syria and Iraq spouting self-righteousness and contempt for the non-Shia people they are dealing with (that’s right, they aren’t big on fighting ISIS, this is directed at ordinary Syrians and Iraqis.)

Iran government “news” sites show fighters getting their tanks filled with sectarian Shia fervour as they go off to fight a holy war against heretics in Syria and Iraq.

TARA has given you good responses in #39 and #42. A bit of deeper reading on the philosophies and war cries of Iranian sponsored and run Hezbollah will give you pure 100% strength Shia sectarianism piped through from Iran.

This is way, way newer, bigger and beyond the Alawi, Bosnian stuff.

May 24th, 2015, 7:01 pm


Altair said:


I haven’t seen any such evidence, but I can tell you that if it were true:

1. It would be contrary to Shi’ite Iran’s interests. It would be an unwinnable battle. 85% of the world’s Muslims are Sunnis.
2. It would run counter to Iranian official policy. Iran has for years been trying to woo other Muslims to its idea of Islamic revolution. It has supported the “Arab Spring” and has characterized it as an “Islamic Awakening”.
3. Iran was pro-Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the government under Morsi was leaning towards Iran in its competition with Saudi Arabia.

The Middle East is a confusing place I must confess, and there are lots of things that just don’t make sense, and alliances that make even less sense. Events are so fluid as to make it nearly impossible to keep track of, especially with so much disinformation coming out about the area.

One big example: the US role and policy. Under Cheney/Bush Jr., the US managed to transfer all power in Iraq to the Iraqi Shi’ites, who supported Iran, all the while nearly going to war with Iran and tightening sanctions on Iran, and trying to break the Iranian-Syrian alliance. Create an Iraq-Iran alliance while destroying the Syria-Iran one. Can anyone truly understand such an absurd policy?

My only answer to it is that the neo-cons in charge of US policy at that time wanted to provoke a Sunni-Shi’ite confrontation for the benefit of the Zionist entity, to distract from the real conflict in Palestine. If that is the case (and judging from the arguments on this board), they must feel they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

There is nothing the Israeli establishment loves more than watching the peoples of the region slaughtering each other, and splintering into smaller and smaller entities. It saves them the trouble of doing it themselves, although they still have to do it in Gaza from time to time and probably soon in Lebanon when the time is “right” and creating Bantustans on the West Bank.

I ask all of you to consider that when you engage in bashing members of another sect or in some way, intentionally or inadvertently, promoting sectarian hatred.

May 24th, 2015, 7:53 pm


Syrialover said:


Thank you for reading and responding to my remarks.

But with apologies, you may not realise how much your words read like a pre-internet Iranian government textbook.

For the record, Iran is not only exporting sectarianism. It has deeply invested in exporting terrorism too.

The current Iranian regime has a very clear agenda to spread its influence without conventional warfare (which it lacks the resources for). This has been played out to the maximum in regime-held Syria, which many see now as an outpost of Teheran. Sectarianism is a big element of this because that’s the political tool the Iranian authorities use to justify and persuade their countrymen to fight and invest scarce resources in the “cause”.

US policy shortcomings, idiocies and mistakes can be well understood from reading some of the detailed and frank insider and first-hand accounts, and domestic political analysis of what happened in Iraq, what has not happened in Syria and so on. Without that background any comment is just make-believe theory.

You have to forget the conspiracy theories. You really have to, or you just exhaust and deafen and blind yourself barking at empty trees.

And, please no need to lecture me or anyone else about Israel. There are much worse things to be said about it than you are saying. But it’s not rational to invest headspace and energy on it at the moment with all else that is happening in Syria and the Middle East.

May 24th, 2015, 8:50 pm


Ghufran said:

Yes, big players can end the war and direct efforts to confront terrorism and help rebuild Syria. Keep in mind that Nusra and Isis need local and regional support. Local support will be reduced if people see light at the end of the tunnel and realize that they have ” won” and that there are serious steps taken to produce an inclusive government that does not keep the same faces in power. Regional support depends on receiving a green light or a yellow light from the big boys and if those boys use the red color that support will diminish.
Chances for a political solution increase when fighting parties get tired and accept the truth about their inability to crush the other side, but I agree that the wild cards here are Nusra and Isis (and their proxies).
The world needs to try to end the war because the alternative is worse, much worse. I am cautiously optimistic but I am not expecting a quick end for the war. I support giving Assad a time table during which he takes steps to depart and assure nervous Syrians who distrust the opposition. Egypt is holding a wide meeting for the opposition without Nusra and Isis, this is a good start but for any initiative to succeed Iran and Turkey ( with ksa blessing) need to agree on a platform and a mechanism to ensure compliance.
Those of you who want to eliminate the other side are in denial, Syria is too important to let Iran, turkey or ksa eat the whole pie, other players like Israel and Qatar are not able to spoil a deal accepted by the U.S.
It will probably be a hot and long summer, but the summer will come to an end, I want a pretty autumn this time, people are desperate to see an end for this war and Bashar and his opponents should not be allowed to keep pushing while Syrians have no more blood to shed.

May 24th, 2015, 9:21 pm


Matthew Barber said:


I’d like to refer you to the guidelines we endeavor to uphold here in order to maintain a forum conducive to respectful dialogue:

May 24th, 2015, 9:44 pm


Mina said:

No one picked up on that. The sock puppet is now French!! “ginicide”? “hezboulah”? Not that it matters, but let’s write it for the archive.

May 27th, 2015, 4:47 am


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