***LEAKED VIDEO*** ASSAD’S FORCES TORTURE, HUMILIATE AND THEN EXECUTE AN OLD MAN. (Date & Location Unknown) - They already shot him in the leg. He’s injured badly. AS they hurl insults at him “I will f**k your mother you dog” they force the man to crawl to the side of the path where they can execute him. The Assad thug treats the elderly man as dog as he makes him crawl. The executioner even has the time to answer his phone, seemingly annoyed, and say “I’m busy, i’m busy, talk to you later” as casual as someone would say it if they were loading a shopping cart.
When the Assad thug finally decides to execute the man, with each shot he shouts “This is for Bashar Al Assad! BANG. This is for the Alawites! BANG”
These are Assad’s thugs. This is what they do. Are you not outraged?
One video recently caught my attention - one showing a kindly looking elderly lady who states she is 95 years old, and surrounded by signs of destruction and injured people, some of whom seem to be limping. The lady begs the (disgustingly silent) world to lift the suffocating, brutal siege of Homs so that supplies can be brought in for those that need them - the children, the women, the wounded, and so on.
PLEASE watch this video, and share it as widely as possible - with news outlets, activist groups, humanitarian organisations, etc: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbctokQZK1U
Peace be upon you. How are you?
My brother, open the road for us please.
I am ninety-ninety five years old,
it’s very hard for me to find something to eat.
I swear I do not have anything to eat,
I have no one to bring me anything to eat,
open the road for us. These young children need doctors,
they need clothes they need… this is so sad.
They need milk, a four year old child, where can I get,
the wall fell on his mother and she can no longer nurse him.
Where can I get milk for him?!
I swear we cannot find anything,
this is only a child.
Can you accept the loss of children just like that?!
Look at them; they are nude with bare feet, brothers.
May God bless you. Please open the road for us.
*At which point her nephew interjects.*
The leaders who are inside too…
*He is evidently referring to the FSA and others.*
Can open roads for us. Address them auntie.
May Allah be with you. Please open the road for us!
Open this road for us!
We are the servants of God, we have no food, no water, and no clothes, and doctors.
These corpses, and the injured people on the ground all over it, do they not need someone to treat them, brother?
May Allah be with you! Open this road for us!
On the 3rd October 2012, an artillery shell fell into Turkey over the Syrian border, seemingly having been deliberately fired by Syrian government forces. It fell onto a house in the central area of Akçakale and killed five members of a family and injured another 13 people, including police.
But this wasn’t the only incident. 48 hours later, a shell fired from the Syrian province of Lattakia landed in a rural area of Aşağıpulluyazı village in Yayladağı district of Hatay province. However, this shell caused no damage to anything, or anyone, fortunately.
Was this shelling deliberate, or was it the result of the increasing clashes along the Syrian border between the FSA and Assad’s forces? Both are equally possible - with all the exchanges of fire along the border, it is inevitable that shells will go astray. However, it is the rebels which are deficient in many heavy weapons, so it is not as likely that it could be one of their shells. That said, it is believed that French journalist
But regardless of which side is responsible, it is the results which are much more significant. On that same day at 6PM, several Turkish F-16 fighters flew over the border to indentify Syrian military targets, sending their coordinates to the army, which shelled their locations around Ayn al-Arus. The total number of Syrian soldiers killed was initially reported to be three, but is now believed to be around 34. The second incident was also immediately followed by Turkish artillery fire into Syria from Turkish border troops stationed in Yayladağı.
If these had only been brief retaliatory clashes on Turkey’s part then this incident may not require much further thought. However, Turkish shelling went on for hours and pinpointed Syrian military targets from across the frontier. It was/has been followed by a motion passed in the Turkish parliament which permits ground troops to enter “foreign countries” to conduct operations. No prizes for guessing where…
So, what does this mean? For a start, it clearly shows that the Turkish government expects such incidents to be repeated - and maybe even become the norm. We must not forget the fact that Turkey conducts regular raids over the Iraqi border to strike and harass PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) insurgents using Iraqi Kurdistan as bases from which to strike Turkey. The passing of this motion could be the rubber stamp used to justify such actions being replicated in the case of Syria, if these incidents continue to occur.
It could even be the justification for full-scale intervention in Syria. We must keep in mind the fact that Turkey has been lobbying for a no-fly zone to be set up over Syria to protect refugees, as well as calling for the setting up of “safe zones” within the country - both actions would require military intervention, and the latter would require ground troops to enter the country. Which is exactly what the bill permits…
But is this intervention feasible? In terms of Turkey itself, then yes, by all means. Syria’s military forces were much smaller than Turkey’s as it is, and they are now rather degraded and under-staffed due to attrition, defections, and the general ravages of the civil war. Much of the border area around Turkey is under the control of the Syrian rebels as it is, and most would no doubt welcome Turkish troops with open arms. In the words of one Syrian in April of 2011 (before the civil war proper even started): ”Let Obama come and take Syria, let Israel come and take Syria, let the Jews come - anything is better than Bashar Assad”.
But such actions would no doubt require at least some sort of backing by foreign powers, to not only give the intervention legitimacy, but to help coordinate the moves and developments. Turkey is eager to be friends with the Western world - it is still clamouring to be able to join the EU, in spite of some serious opposition from some European nations. It is also a member of NATO, and so cannot afford to cause NATO member states much upset either.
Furthermore, a close ally, the United States, has recently shown a clear lack of appetite for any form of substantial military action by attempting to limit the amount of heavy weapons that reach the rebels from foreign backers (such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar) out of fear that they could fall into the hands of extremist elements. Squabbling over these weapons has also resulted in supply shortages to the FSA.
From the evidence, it looks as if Turkish intervention in Syria is imminent. However, sadly, it looks like it will never be the sort of intervention that topples this vile regime. Rather, it will be limited cross-border raids and artillery fire in response to Syrian government provocations. Even if it wanted to intervene, it seems as if its hands would be tied by fellow “friends of Syria” (otherwise known as the Hot Air Alliance). That said, time will only tell. Turkey now has the legal backing for intervention, as well as ample justifications, which keep flying over their borders…
The most malicious and shamelessly biased piece of propaganda to emerge from the Kremlin’s media machine is the recent ‘report’ filed by Ankhar Kochneva, a Russian ‘journalist’ working for RT. In this article she goes out to insult the intelligence of millions of Syrians, and make ridiculous accusations, barely providing a shred of evidence. The ‘report’ takes the form of a Question-and-Answer article, where ‘RT’ asks questions and the ‘journalist’ responds.
The article is rather melodramatically titled: ‘Bloody bandits and Western lies: What’s really going on in Syria’. The reference to the rebels as ‘bloody bandits’ is clearly supposed to invoke the indignant protest of the readers, as is the reference to alleged ‘Western lies’ - the RT watchers are well-trained in marginalising any evidence that doesn’t fit their Western-bashing world view. This is the alleged “reality” of the situation in Syria.
Now for a little analysis of the content, courtesy of moi. Firstly she declares in response to an RT question:
RT: While visiting Turkish camps for Syrian refugees, I was told that the Syrian army was shooting at them.
Ankhar Kochneva: There are a large number of videos from those camps showing people walking upright, not ducking down even though you can hear shooting. The options are that either the sound was added to the video later, or that people knew that they were only shooting in the air without any intention of actually hitting them.
The Syrian army has no reason to shoot up these camps, as Syria is doing its utmost to ensure these people return home. And in fact they are doing just that if you go by the official Syrian data; 16,500 people have returned. Meanwhile, Turkey and the Syrian opposition are strongly interested in having those camps. If it weren’t for these camps, who would believe in the regime’s atrocities described by the opposition?
There is no basis for these allegations of tampering. Furthermore, the allegation that the shooting was “in the air” is also ridiculous. No explanation is given for thw two Syrian refugees and the Turkish translator which were badly wounded. Were they flying in the air at the time? Otherwise how would they have been hit if the gunfire was directed into the air? The facts just don’t add up.
The alleged cross-border shooting is also rubbished by the ‘journalist’ (and I use the term with great disdain) on the grounds that the Syrian army has no reason to ‘shoot up’ the camps. On the contrary. Up until the recent months, these camps have been an attractive prospect to many refugees who see them as a safe haven away from the terror and repression across the border. If the Syrian government forces can dispel this impression and make it seem as if there is no escape, then it may encourage fewer people to attempt to leave the country.
Next is the allegation that Syria is “doing the utmost to ensure” that these refugees return home. On the contrary - the terror campaign has resulted in them fleeing in their thousands, as they continue to do. In fact, it is reported that 1000 Syrian refugees fled to Turkey in one single day. But maybe Syria does want them to return - to silence any voices getting to the outside world and telling the truth about the government atrocities. If some 16,000 have returned then who could blame them - anyone would find it hard to be suddenly uprooted from their livelihood, and would certainly return if given the opportunity.
Then there’s the part I find the most ludicrous - “If it weren’t for those camps, who would believe in the regime’s atrocities described by the opposition?” How can anyone claim to be a ‘journalist’ and then spout this kind of biased reporting? Since March of last year, the regime’s atrocities have been documented by footage posted all over the web, testimony of countless military defectors, refugee testimony, satellite imagery clearly showing the positions of Assad’s heavy weaponry in the cities… Yet all this can just be marginalised? Disgusting. With or without those camps, the government atrocities are clear for all objective observers to see.
By the way, many of these camp residents had to flee due to the atrocities committed by bandits. For instance, in the city of Jisr ash-Shugur on the border with Turkey, 120 policemen and a large number of peaceful civilians were murdered in a deadly incident last summer.
I can’t tell who she’s working for at this point in time - RT or SANA? This is a downright lie. Tens of thousands of people wouldn’t just flee because of a few ‘bandits’. A few gangs of bandits would have no public support and would be quickly seen off by the people and security forces. Heck, they wouldn’t have the resources to terrify so many people from all across Syria into going to Turkey - especially as Turkey is portrayed as housing these ‘bandit’ bogeymen.
Yet again, more important evidence is being marginalised - the testimony of the refugees themselves. They are painting quite a different story - the ‘bandits’ driving them from their homes in terror are actually the Syrian government. Here is a Reuters article containing some testimony from refugees. Some of the best examples of which are:
“The killing in Syria hasn’t even started yet,” says Abdullah Kartan, a teacher who fled to the Reyhanli refugee camp in Turkey.
“Syrians have made a decision and if three-quarters of them have to die, if their houses have to burn, they will do it to get Assad out. There is no going home until the regime falls.”
“There is not enough trust left in our country for any kind of truce. Assad was supposed to move his tanks before stopping the shooting, but he didn’t because he knows he really will lose control if he does,” says Kartan, who is from the countryside of Hama, one of the centers of rebellion against four decades of Assad family rule.
“The soldiers burned down around 100 homes in the village of Kileh when it rebelled, and mine was one of them. It was burned to the ground, even the chickens were lying dead on the floor. Why would I leave here? We have no work, we don’t even have a house,” said Abdelatif Muadil, wearing a tattered sweatshirt over a faded traditional Arab robe.
The farmer, 65, from the Idlib countryside close to Turkey, said his sons remained in his village “because they still have work to do” - a vague reference to the rebels.
Nearby, the young Abdelrahman gives a nod of approval: “Everyone knows this truce is temporary.”
The narrative that the government is wanting people to return to their homes seems to be true, as mentioned in the RT article and confirmed by various other news sources - the difference being that nobody seems to be doing it, in stark contrast with the alleged en masse returns that RT would like us to believe:
Syria’s Interior Ministry urged Syrians who have escaped violence to return to their homes, but Kartan - staring beyond the rows of white tents towards the green, mountainous border - said no one was thinking about heading back.
Next, we have this quasi-SANA-type jargon:
All Syrians have a large number of family members who live across the entire country in large, spacious houses. When they have troubles at home, they go stay with their relatives rather than in camps in strange countries. The bandits, however, blocked all the roads except for the ones leading to Turkey. People found themselves caught in a trap, just like Israelis shooed Palestinians off their land by building them a ‘corridor’ to Jordan.
How could ‘bandits’ block every single road along a border that is some 900 kilometers long?! What a load of utter nonsense. That also ignores the fact that Syrians have crossed from all over the country, and not just Syrians from the border regions. This article is also very self-contradictory - why should Turkey be a “strange country” if they have relatives there? It reminds me of Syrian government spokesman Reem Hadad claiming that the refugees fleeing over the border was them basically “visiting their mum’s for a bit”…
Oh, and then we get the typical Israel-bashing propaganda - that is, trying to stirr up the unmitigated bias possessed by most of the readers by comparing the refugee exodus to Palestinians ‘shooed’ off their land by the evil Israeli’s. Did the Israeli’s massacre some 20,000 Palestinian civilians when Israel was founded?
RT:Where will refugees resettle within Syria, as only 20 thousand of them went to Turkey and there’re many more of those?
AK: The majority of refugees mainly stay with their relatives or rent apartments. It’s very difficult to find an apartment in Damascus, Tartus or Latakia. For instance, in Homs, the previous school year was disrupted as people had to move to areas where their children could go to school. We see that people run to the government, rather than from the government, for protection. Getting these people to settle is a huge burden for the state treasury as they have to establish new schools, to provide food, healthcare, and so on for hundreds of people. And this is what the government is doing. There are a large number of volunteers who work for free helping people resolve their problems as they get settled.
Whilst the logic that many internal refugees will resettle with their families in other areas is a certainty, any slight objectivity that may follow on from this is somewhat dashed down due to the fact that the ‘report’ suddenly begins to extol the virtues of the benevolent Syrian government once again. If people “run to the government, rather than from the government, for protection” then why have some 60,000 soldiers defected to the opposition’s Free Syrian Army? To say nothing of the huge refugee exodus? Anyone who can ignore these facts isn’t writing anything resembling a “report”. Regarding the “large number of volunteers” helping people then this is indeed true - helping them after they were attacked by their own government.
People are returning to Homs, to areas that have been cleared of bandits. The army guards their homes. I have pictures showing soldiers in one of the streets taking pot flowers out of houses and placing them outside so that they can water them until the locals return home. None of them had any idea that some journalists would show up – we appeared totally out of the blue.
I’m becoming more incredulous as these paragraphs go on. The “bandits” in Homs - the Free Syrian Army - were welcomed by the people as a means of protecting areas of Homs such as the opposition stronghold of Bab Amr. When they pulled out of Bab Amr in February (due to a government military offensive) then many residents were genuinely angry about this, having wanted the FSA to protect them, and even going so far as to call them cowards for withdrawing. This is an extract from the linked BBC article above, of an opinion given by a Bab Amr resident:
“They betrayed Baba Amr,” he said.
“Those who took the decision to withdraw are cowards. Now they are drinking tea and chit-chatting in Qusayr [a nearby town] and watching Baba Amr being destroyed.”
He went on: “Why didn’t they do something to protect us? They could have attacked the artillery positions from behind. They waited until after 30 days of bombardment to withdraw. They could have left on the first day if that’s what they were going to do.”
On Monday afternoon the Free Army pulled back again, hurriedly leaving the village just outside Homs where we had been staying.
Furthermore, satellite imagery clearly showed/shows that evil in April, people were not returning to their homes. Rather, large areas of Homs are practically deserted due to the ongoing fighting in the city. Compare the satellite imagery from August of 2011 in comparison to April 2012. Samsomhoms, an activist active on Twitter and living in Homs itself, tweeted on the 4th March that:
“All signsof life are absent here in #Homs since Feb 5th- shops, institutions , banks, schools, universities are all closed #Syria”
The allegation by Ankhar is further damaged by the fact that Abo Emad, another activist inside Homs itself at the time, reported in early March that:
“The main humanitarian need in Homs is for the Assad militias to leave, because they are the people who are killing us. That’s more important than the lack of food and water and medical supplies.
“They [the authorities] have been trying to clean the Insha’at and Baba Amr area so that they can say ‘armed gangs’ did all the damage. It’s a kind of setup.”
Emad said the regime was bringing in supporters from pro-regime neighbourhoods to Baba Amr in a stage-managed ploy to demonstrate support for the government.
Regime forces recaptured Baba Amr last Thursday but residents say Damascus deliberately delayed allowing the UN and the Red Crescent to make a visit in order to cover up evidence of atrocities and carry out “mopping up” operations by pro-government soldiers and militias.
Then there’s the laughably ludicrous assertion - that Ankhar arrived on a visit to Bab Amr, “totally out of the blue” and surprised a group of soldiers who were placing “pot flowers” outside deserted homes for the returning people.
How could any sort of journalist or reporter gain access to Homs and turn up unexpectedly without the regime’s knowledge, when organisations like Red Cross have been barred from entering the area several times, the people who live there have been expelled, and journalists who managed to enter were killed, and so on? It smacks of an untruth through and through. They were evidently on a stage-managed visit; the regime knew they were coming and was prepared accordingly. Thinking from a logical perspective, soldiers who have been massacring innocents one minute, plant flowers for what’s left of their families the next?
RT: Why do you keep calling people fighting against the Syrian government bandits?
AK: Because I have seen what they do to the kidnapped people. I have been to the torture chambers; I have met mothers who saw their children die. The whole country loathes them as bandits. There is nothing worse than being loathed by your own nation. They killed a mufti’s son, they kill Christian priests, and they kidnap and torture children. A few days ago they killed two elder brothers of a five-year-old boy to take vengeance on him for reciting poems at rallies to support Syria. They massacred the whole family of an MP. I have been to homes turned into bandit hideouts. I have seen empty liquor bottles; how does it square with Islam? I have been to churches destroyed by bandits in Homs. I have been under their fire, with grenades dropping right next to me. I have been targeted by snipers who could perfectly see I am a woman, not a soldier. In the bustling street where I lived, near the marketplace, they blew up a few cars. Why blow up civilians shopping for food?
This is now becoming pathetic. This smacks totally of an individual who has been taken on a Syrian government-sponsored tour of the ‘cleaned’ areas formally occupied by the ‘armed gangs’, and who has totally embraced their narrative.
Talk is made of alleged “torture chambers” used by the rebels. Yet, as is usual in this report, next to no evidence is given that might back up this claim. But, in the meagre defence of this allegation, Human Rights Watch has declared that Syria’s rebels are also guilty of human rights abuses, which include torture. Yet the report also declares that they are much fewer and further between in comparison with the level of atrocities committed by the government. This is in utter contrast with what Ankhar is doing here - completely ignoring the huge number of reports and first-hand testimonies that blame the government for what is being called a widespread policy of state-sanctioned torture, to the extent that it is a ‘crime against humanity’. Instead, all the focus is put into staying entirely mum on these allegations, and putting a disproportionate level of blame on the rebels.
What Ankhar is doing here is doing what all totalitarian apologists do when justifying atrocities by their favourite dictator - seeing things in black and white. Here, she is portraying the rebels are portrayed as a sacreligious (hence the “empty liquor bottles”, conveniently forgetting the fact that not everyone in Syria is Islamic), drunken, civilian-murdering, assassinating, bomb-detonating, homogeneous mass of mercenaries and bandits. This could not be further from reality - the rebels are actually a rather disorganised mass of different armed groups opposing the Assad regime, as is documented in this well-sourced, objective assessment of them by Nir Rosen - a report which is the exact opposite of this piece of claptrap.
It is true that the rebels have not been saints - but as a whole, the crimes of the minority should not be used to brand the majority. How does she know for sure that they are responsible for the car bomb attacks which “blow up civilians shopping for food”? On the contrary, these attacks do not even seem to be carried out by the general rebel groups, but possibly by a non-aligned group of Islamists known as the al-Nusra front, who claimed responsibility for the attacks, or other such extremist groups - not the rebels in general.
Then, after some 17,000 innocents have died, she even has time to briefly lament the loss of Mufti Hassoun’s 22 year old son in an assassination (she doesn’t do the same for any such individual connected to the opposition) and the alleged death of the family of an MP (who is very conveniently left unnamed), and claim that she was shot at by snipers - and blame it all on the evil rebels on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. The rebels are not one armed group with the same ambitions and beliefs - they are many. If one group commits atrocities (atrocities are unacceptable on both sides, for the record) then it does not mean that the entire opposition cause is something inherently evil as Ankhar would like the readers believe.
Besides, Mufti Hassoun has threatened the Western world with suicide bombers, criticised President Assad and then gone back on his word, and so on. Hardly an innocent observer in this crisis a Ankhar would have you believe.
I don’t think I even need to address the poisonous, vicious, generalised sneering expressed in the statement claiming that “The whole country loathes them as bandits. There is nothing worse than being loathed by your own nation.” She evidently hasn’t seen, or has ignored, the countless rallies held all over the country by thousands of people wishing to show support for the Free Syrian Army.
RT: The opposition and the insurgents have sought to assure me that this is all the doing of criminals released and hired by the Syrian government. The insurgents also claimed it was the Syrian government that staged explosions in public places.
AK: This theory is ridiculous. The government has announced nine amnesties for criminals and opposition activists never implicated in any murders. Yet now the government is blamed for these amnesties! Let me remind you that the bandits would first set court archives on fire with files of criminal cases and smuggling. A few terrorist attacks targeted buildings that stored the intelligence and police archives. For example, on December 23, 2011, suicide bombers set the intelligence archives ablaze before blowing themselves up in a car.
These attacks targeted these buildings because they were housing organisations that are notorious for being important outlets of Syrian government repression. Besides, it is not known it was responsible for those bomb attacks, so how can this ‘journalist’ rubbish the notion that the government could be responsible with such ease? In fact, many Syrians do in fact blame their own government for the bombings. As usual, the assertions in this article are largely based on hearsay and opinion.
RT:Are the escape of the Syrian pilot to Jordan and the Turkish aircraft incident related?
AK: When the aircraft got hijacked on July 21, I was in Beirut, at the Al Mayadin TV channel which was headed by Ghassan Bin Jiddu, the former chief of Al Jazeera’s bureau in Libya. He was the one who caused a scandal by quitting the channel due to lies that the channel had been broadcasting for the last year and a half. On that day, this channel was the first to report the jet hijacking in Jordan. The first question was, how quickly Jordan would return the plane, which it was obliged to do according to the international laws. It wasn’t as much about the aircraft itself, but rather about the friend/foe enciphering system. According to military experts, it takes about a week to decipher it. The fact that the aircraft wasn’t returned immediately gives a reason to doubt Jordan’s neutrality. There are reasons to suggest that the incident was thoroughly staged. On 23rd June, a Turkish reconnaissance aircraft flying at an extremely low altitude intruded into Syria. Some experts believe that by then, Jordan could’ve deciphered the codes, and that Turkey made an attempt to use them.
What a preposterous allegation. There is no evidence suggesting that the aircraft was hijacked by an opposition bogeyman whatsoever, nor does Ankhar attempt to provide any. She’s also completely marginalised the fact that a Syrian pilot was piloting the plane - if that isn’t true, then where is the pilot? Because all CREDIBLE sources say that the pilot is in Jordan and has been seeking asylum. Besides, Jordan is one of the many nations appalled by the Syrian government’s barbarity. No wonder the aren’t returning the jet. Even Jordan’s monarch has spoken out against President Assad. The theory about the codes sounds plausible, given that all nations are self-interested, but there is no evidence to prove it. Again, an attempt is made to discredit the entire opposition on the basis of the alleged media bias of Al-Jazeera. Can someone please remind this ‘journalist’ that no media outlet is unbiased?
RT:Turkey denies its plane was flying over Syrian territory. What do they say in Syria
AK: The aircraft was flying at an altitude of 1,000 meters. It deliberately performed several circles over neutral waters and land. It was then shot down with a weapon of a range not exceeding 3,000 meters. A machine gun was used, rather than a missile launcher, as the world’s media insist. Immediately Syria proposed establishing a bilateral commission for investigating this incident. But Turkey refused doing it. And now, the latter has been declaring that it was Syria that didn’t want to do it. It gets even funnier than that: Turkey says that it will not let Syrian provocations go unanswered. They are bringing a large number of armored vehicles to their border, even though provocations, arms smuggling and militants infiltration are happening on the part of Turkey, with the consent of the Turkish government.
The claim about the machine gun seems to be true at least, with US intelligence agencies seemingly agreeing with the Syrian government story and not the Turkish one. Or is it? Recent information seems to suggest that the jet may have been brought down in an accident. Besides, why complain at Turkey for increasing border defences and refusing talks after a direct attack on military personnel and their hardware? No state would let such an act happen without showing a strong face in response.
RT:Reports say that Burhan Ghalioun, a Syrian opposition leader, has sneaked into Syria and there are already areas in Latakia and Homs beyond the control of Damascus.
AK: The Benghazi scenario is impossible in Syria. So in order to justify a possible intervention, they spread sensational yet false information. It is only recently that the media have stopped huffing and puffing over the takeover of an air defense base in Al-Rastan. A video even claimed the missiles would target the presidential palace in Damascus. The next day I was in Homs, which is within a distance of some 10 km from Al-Rastan. When asked about the seized base, the officers joked and treated me to tea, while the province governor was holding a conference to restore the affected regions and provide aid to citizens. If the information on the seized base and weapons were true, they would only be concerned about the air defense base rather than compensations for destroyed homes. This is copybook deception. When you hear that the presidential palace is under fire, you will believe it, because you have already been brainwashed that there are enough weapons to open fire. They used the same method of preemptive lies in January. First they said that hostilities were rife in the center of Damascus when there were none, next they doctored rumors of the president’s allegedly fugitive family.
To deny that there are areas of the country beyond government control (which she seems to be doing) is to deny reality. Al-Qusayr has been out of government control since at least November of 2011, despite frequent Syrian army attempts to retake it. Al-Rastan has changed hands at least twice, despite several vicious army offensives. Half of Homs is still out of government control, despite a fierce siege since early May of 2011. Even your camera crew caught them on film, clearly in control of a Damascus suburb. Caught in your own trap of lies, eh? This is to name but a few examples. The media naturally stopped “huffing and puffing” over the takeover of the air defence base in Al-Rastan because it happened OVER A MONTH AGO. The conflict in Syria is changing constantly every day, to focus on an individual topic for too long would not be appropriate.
You were clearly taken in by these lovely officers treating you “to tea”. What did you talk about over the cuppa, Ankhar? How many civilians they had massacred? How many shells were indiscriminately fired into the city? While you were snuggling up to the Syrian military’s higher ranks, people were being slaughtered all over the country. Besides, just because the Syrian military deny a story, it does not mean that what they say is bible truth, or that they are an objective source of information. Quite the contrary. I believe you are forgetting that they work for a government that classes any form of opposition as the work of Islamist and terrorist bogeymen.
Besides, if anyone should pay “compensations for destroyed homes” then should it not be the military which is responsible for destroying them through intense shelling. How can a large, disorganised and often penniless rebel group carry out a guerrilla war and find the time and money to carry out repairs?
Besides, nobody in the evil Western media ever said the FSA rhetoric about the missiles and the presidential palace was a certainty. They merely quoted the FSA rhetoric in their report/reports. You are so focused on the ‘brainwashing’ of the Western media, that you fail to address the bias of the Eastern media - outlets such as RT (which you work for) have constantly been parroting the Syrian government narrative and marginalising other pieces of evidence?
AK: This is a lie. All the military I know sneer at these messages. Naturally, they’ve intimidated some people into doing that and paid others. They made other people choose between an officer’s honor and familial honor, but 90 per cent of videos that feature desertion cases show soldiers abducted by bandits. They read a text someone else wrote.
I will never forget a military pilot with his hands bound and two dozen insurgents behind his back. If they bound his hands, it means he fought to the utmost. They kidnap soldiers from their homes; they attack their cars and capture the passengers. Sometimes bandits would stop a regular bus and take the military hostage. First they make the soldiers claim they are deserters, next they torture them, and finally kill and play them off as victims of the army. Kidnapping people is a major business of the so-called revolutionaries. Lately, they have kidnapped 12 Lebanese pilgrims on their way home and two Iranian drivers on the same day.
Not even good lies. A small number of armed men could not possibly abduct dozens of soldiers, and get them to stand in front of a camera, against their will. Especially not with weapons in their hands. They would resist or refuse to be filmed, or even be tied up, clearly exposing such a video as fake. Dozens of videos of army defectors exist - often of defections of whole units which have filmed themselves - and none of the soldiers look restrained or as if they are forced to stand for the videos, let alone as if they are about to be killed afterwards. What is more, figures exist to back up the alleged 60,000 or so defections, showing that as many as half the conscripts have not shown up in the past three call-ups. Explain that.
If soldiers were being abducted and murdered on this scale, then their families and others would create such an outcry that even the media outlets that you so despise would not be able to hide it. If the Free Syrian Army are kidnapping or killing soldiers then that may be true, but in war, each side is allowed to target the combatants of the other. How you can completely marginalise the torture, kidnapping and murder carried out against thousands of innocents by the Syrian government is beyond me, especially when you live in Syria.
Then again, maybe that isn’t so surprising. The reason you are the only journalist living permanently in Syria is due to the fact that you are an unmitigated parrot of the Syrian government narrative. Anyone denying this needs to read this article, and note the lack of Western journalists or others living in Syria.
The opposition claims that the people do not support the government, even though it has to use mercenaries from Iran and Hezbollah. They claim that there are 15,000 soldiers in Syria, but so far the opposition has only been able to show the world a video with five Iranian electricians. They must have killed the sixth one to intimidate the rest. Wait and see when they show us “Iranian mercenaries” and twelve “Hezbollah mercenaries”, they have to make use of the kidnapped people after all! I have seen what they do to the military captives. This is the price they pay for having chosen this job. The military are one of the main targets for attacks. They can be killed for wearing a military uniform. So why flop over to those who can kill for wearing a uniform?
Ahh, now this I find interesting. Your own employers were one of the most significant parroters of the reports that up to 15,000 Iranian soldiers are currently assisting the Syrian government inside Syria. By your logic, is that not a media lie - therefore, are RT and others (hypothetically) lying too? What is more, Iran, a strong Syrian ally, has admitted sending troops to Syria as admitted by General Ismail Qa’ani, Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards. This corroborates earlier reports of Iranian soldiers and Hezbollah fighters on the ground. Again, an Iranian official admitted the presence of Hezbollah fighters in Syria, specifically mentioning around Zabadani.
Regarding the Iranian electricians, nobody is sure of the answer to that question. But it is said that Iran has been sending military men under the guise of electricians and others. Taking the above evidence into account, it is ignoring evidence in the extreme to suggest that “so far the opposition has only been able to show the world a video with five Iranian electricians”.
RT:Does Damascus still have the situation under control?
AK: Due to the commitment to suspend fire, the army has slowed down slightly.
There never was a commitment to suspend fire. The army never slowed down. The ceasefire plan only exists on paper and in Mr Annan’s head. Hence why he has been frantically flying around the Middle East in an attempt to save it.
But if necessary, all areas can be quickly brought under control again. The bandits “supervise” the places from which the army has been withdrawn upon the order of the United Nations. So, these territories were not occupied by military operations. They can’t and they don’t know how to fight the army. I have information that a military invasion of Western forces into Syria is expected to take place in August-September. But there’s hardly any reason for justifying such invasion. They’ve searched for this reason for the whole year. But they didn’t give any information about the exact deadline. Now it’s done – and we should expect new provocations and new information during the time that is left. If the world believes this, it will empower the aggressor.
Can I point out at this stage that the point of propaganda is that it is supposed to be a convincing bunch of biased reporting and/or lies. This is none of those. Ankhar has no proof that the UN are behind the FSA control of these areas, the evidence clearly shows that the army is degrading and cannot defeat the armed opposition fighters (which seemingly know very well how to fight the army, given the high casualty rate sustained). Furthermore, her lies are clear. When asked to produce her evidence, she declares…
RT: What kind of information regarding this decision is there? What is the reaction to it in Syria?
AK: I’m not going to reveal my sources. I have no doubt about their reliability. In Syria there’s no panic or certitude about such an attack. People in Yugoslavia, Libya and Iraq didn’t believe in the possibility of such invasion until recently. One of the indirect pieces of evidence regarding the information I have is the widely spread news that Russia and China allegedly agreed to remove Assad. This is as much a lie as all the trash that the media sells to its audience.
Of course you aren’t. They don’t exist. How stupid do you think we are? Can I also point out the hypocrisy of calling such reports “trash” when you have written one of the longest strawmen since the conflict began - based on too little evidence, and too much hearsay.
RT: Who takes part in pressurizing Syria and how is it done?
AK: Iraq, especially in light of the fact that about 2 million of its citizens live in Syria, supports it, in particular, by helping combat smuggling. Lebanon helps the struggle against smugglers, but Saad Hariri’s Mustaqbal movement is one of the major stakeholders in the anti-Syrian campaign. This person finances the militants, supplies them with weapons and manpower. His media empire leads the information war against Syria. We’ve recently witnessed the turmoil in Beirut. Hariri’s people tried to pull the forces from the border by inciting the riot in the capital as the army almost overtook the smugglers. As for Jordan, its state can’t be envied. On the one hand, the country is much dependent on its relationship with Syria – economically, in food supplies and transit, but, on the other hand, if Jordan isn’t much of a compliant ally of the USA an NATO, the King isn’t likely to save his power during the «Islamic awakening».
Smuggling has been going on across the Syrian border on all sides since the Cold War, and before. I can also see right through your clever linkage of Saad Hariri to this. Saad is the son of the late Rafiq Hariri, the Lebanese politician who was assassinated in 2005 (in an assassination which Syria and their ally Hezbollah seem to be responsible for) due to his anti-Syrian stance (given Syria’s long-term occupation of much of Lebanon, ended by the consequences of the Hariri assassination). Given that Ankhar is such a shameless parrot of her hosting government’s narrative, it seems she has shamelessly adopted their anti-Hariri stance (stemming from his position opposing the Syrian government) and split any hairs she can so as to paint his son in a similarly negative light by making up nonsense about his “inciting the riot” in the capital - again, based on a tiresome lack of evidence and a conspiratorial attempt to put two and two together and make five.
Regarding Jordan’s alleged dependence on Syria, then I’m sure a post-Assad government would be more than willing to deal with Jordan in terms of economic supplies. Besides, after a year or so of Syrian civil war, Jordan has had plenty of time to forge new routes and relationships with the surrounding Arab nations. What that was, is a not-so-subtle attempt to frighten Jordanese people away from aiding Syrians, and hypocritically waving the threat of an uprising in the face of Jordan’s ruling clique. A stab is also taken at the Arab Spring in general - it is referred to as the “Islamic awakening” to stirr up all the typically drilled-in preconceptions about Islamists, and their often large-scale participation in the Arab Spring across the Middle East.
Civil war and instability in Syria are very profitable for Israel. Apart from this situation, nobody raises the issue of returning the Golan Heights and Jerusalem. The specific characteristic of Israeli mass media is making up sensational news. As for Qatar, one could speak for ages about this nano-aggressor: they provide weapons and money supplies in an attempt to solve their own internal problems.
Another incorrect misconception. By being all talk and no action against Israel for years, Assad has been guaranteeing Israel’s borders for years and keeping up regional stability - stability which has increasingly shown with time. Israel has no love for the Assad regime, but it would take no pleasure in seeing it suddenly collapse - with all the insecurities about dangerous weapons (which are already causing some alarm), rampant civil war, and refugee influx that it would likely create if something resembling an invasion destroyed such a centralised system of repression, Deja Vu Iraq…
But of course, RT and other Kremlin-satellite news outlets could never resist the traditional whining and finger pointing against Israel (the regime of which I am no supporter of) could they?
To conclude, a naked piece of propaganda designed to promote the Russo-Syrian/Iranian agenda and smear the Syrian uprising in the eyes of all who care to read it. Sadly, many of RT’s most zealous, unscrupulous supporters will probably swallow this as bible truth. I know the media in the West are not the most objective sometimes, but is this the only alternative? Biased reporting, parroting of a dictatorial agenda, and unscrupulous marginalising of evidence? Is the notion that the Arab Spring is not selective, and that all these dictators from Saleh to Assad are tarred with the same brush really so hard to fathom? She can deride the atrocities by the government all she likes - they are reported by sources too numerous to state, and impossible to gloss over.
Countless cynics will no doubt disagree with me or deride me for taking this stance, but I felt unable to stay silent when I read this naked piece of propaganda. All I can do I thank you for reading, and hope that the sceptics will at least study my article with a practical eye.
- Ben, 18, soon-to-be university student, UK.
The SNC representatives at the “Friends of the Syrian People”
meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.
At the “Friends of the Syrian People” meeting in Turkey, the Gulf States and others agreed to give money to the SNC, so it could pay “salaries” to the armed rebel fighters and reward soldiers for defecting. In other words, pay them to defect. They can apparently pay millions of dollars a month to the SNC to funnel to these fighters. The SNC was also recognised as the “legitimate” representative of the Syrian people.
This is one of the most blatant attempts to hijack the revolution yet. It will turn many a potentially good man into an opportunist and a mercenary. Soldiers that originally planned to defect out of idealism and a wish to put an end to the wholesale slaughter of civilians will now start defecting for money and become an army of mercenaries with fewer scrouples.
As we have seen in Libya, fewer scruples mean more atrocities. Attacks against civilians could become more bipolar and serve to alienate many people from the opposition into backing their president as a seeming lesser of several evils.
If anything, the foreign powers opposing Assad are even more cynical than he is and have spilled much more blood over time into the bargin. The US is responsible for millions of death in Iraq, the Turkish government is trying to hush up the genocide of Armenians in 1918 and is engaged in a controversial war with the Kurdish minority, etc. I could go on forever.
Now they want to pay the rebels because they know what will happen and they know how to emotionally and strategically exploit the situation of these men.
They are low on ammunition, having serious setbacks in terms of holding ground, and cannot prevent Assad’s forces getting to civilians. They are desperate men fighting what some would call a losing battle, against a much better equipped, financed and consolidated enemy. To them, any help right now would probably be welcomed by the majority as a means to an end, no matter how dubious the source.
This is when these cynical foreign powers step in. They know that once these rebels take their money, their is little chance of them going back. The more money they take, the more debt they will be in to foreigners when they assume power. Financially and in terms of international relations. These foreign powers also know very well that once they take the money, many Syrians may see the fighters as having sold themselves to a devil worse than their president. No going back either way.
The regime in Damascus, horrible as it is, may be right when it describes them as “enemies of Syria” (although the Assad’s are hardly good friends to their own country themselves). These foreign “friends” have an interest in turning the Syrian revolutionaries (and therefore the Syrian revolution) into their own mercenaries. They want to use them as proxies to ensure the fall of the Assad regime to gain them a sympathetic (and indebted, in more ways than one) ally in the region. But more importantly, to weaken Iran’s only significant ally, in fact only ally, in the region, thus making it easier to cause the fall of the theocracy there.
What’s worse is that this method is a guaranteed success. For every few people who will refuse this money, there will always be many others who will accept it with the best intentions. How do you tell men low on ammunition who have to watch their families getting massacred every day, not to take money which could get them many more sophisticated weapons and money to encourage more fighters to join their embattled ranks? Many of the fighters are civilian rebels and help from professional fighters would be an attractive prospect for them.
Then we see a similar tactic emerging. Of recognising a certain unelected governmental organisation as the “legitimate representative of the Syrian people”. This happened in Libya with the Transnational National Council. It is now happening with the Syrian National Council.
Do they forget that many Syrians (albeit not a majority) continue to back Assad? Of course not. They know what they are doing. They are “recognising” the SNC as a means to marginalise these people and ensure the safe passage of the SNC (which if all goes well will become their puppet) into power.
Syria’s rebels, both civilian and military, should (and do) recognise the evil that Assad and his family represent. But it is just as important that they recognise the evil which their “friends” in the Gulf and the West represent. What interests do the Saudis and Qataris have in a democratic Syria? Exactly. Realpolitik is not just limited to one side in this revolution which is increasingly becoming a geopolitical war. It isn’t just malicious, murdering Assad and his evil allies Russia and China versus the Syrian people and the benevolent West.
On the contrary, it is the murderous, cynical Western and Gulf nations against the similarly cynical, murderous regimes of Russia and China, with the Syrian people stuck in Catch 22 between two bipolar groups of unsavoury powers. They should try and give each a wide birth as much as possible in terms of financial and political assistance.
Some may attempt to dismiss this as some form of vulgar spam from a passionate supporter who has somehow got hold of the president’s email and has had more than her fair dosage of propaganda from SANA. However they were sent to what all the evidence points to is his personal (albeit incognito) email account (email@example.com). This account was created purely for his own, extremely confidential use. How could any outsider get it unless he had entrusted it to them? For him to do so he would indisputably have to enjoy some form of close or intimate (he used the same email to communicate affectionate emails with his wife) relationship with the individual in question. If he did not then he would certainly not give them his email address (all the evidence indicates he was somewhat paranoid and deleted all emails in his inbox after reading them).
Yet he evidently entrusted it to this mysterious woman. The photo was sent to him on the 11th December, but the account had allegedly been set up on the 1st December. It was tested by sending a simple “hi” to the president, with a somewhat jovial “hi and a half” as the response. Then, in the words of the Telegraph article covering this recent revelation:
Over several weeks, the exchange becomes more flirtatious as they swapped romantic music by the popular Lebanese singer Fairuz and at one point he appears to send her a gift certificate.
On January 17, Mr Assad received an email from the second account with a single Arabic character meaning “I love you” and on January 25 another email contains only an x, the popular sign for a kiss.
His account also apparently contained “dozens of emails from a Yahoo account” which sent him advice and messages of support passed on from outside Syria, with the exchanges often being with a “relaxed and joking tone” (according to the first reports I am receiving). However, it is believed that a second email address was used to communicate with the president and send “more intimate messages” such as in the exchanges quoted above.
This is rather damaging, as it seems to conclusively prove that Assad has had some level of intimate conversation with a lady friend online, to the extent that rather provocative photos were sent by one party. This in turn can damage his carefully-cultivated image as a typically warm family man living as one of the people (or rather, any lingering illusions that he does, given recent events I doubt many Syrians will buy into that nonsense any longer). It could also damage his standing with his wife, who will no doubt have no knowledge of such exchanges.
Is it a sign that Bashar and Asma have drifted apart? Is the close Assad-family Mafia beginning to fragment at the highest levels, under the strain of living in the climate of intense repression? Have Bashar and Asma drifted apart due to differing opinions on the atrocities?
Unlikely; their exchanges seem to show they are as close as ever. Asma said to him in one such example: ”If we are strong together, we will overcome this together…I love you…” to which he replied ”“i’m not worry about this, and i have no doubt.” On one occasion when he heard she was coming back from work at 5.00PM he said: “This is the best reform any country can have that u told me where will you be”. They also swapped songs, videos, etc. It is unlikely that they have drifted apart.
Or is it one of the many sycophants at the Assad court who has gone many steps too far in an attempt to satisfy his vanity? One email from another courtier named Hadeel al-Ali, referred to his strength, wisdom, charisma and of course his beauty.” He was also called “so cute” by the same sycophant when describing a photo of him.
Is this an example of toadying gone overboard, or simply playful banter with an embattled, fed-up man? He exchanged many jovial messages with his sycophants in recent months, such as a video trivialising the siege of Homs with toy cars and biscuits (to represent tanks and collapsing apartment blocks respectively).
What is likely however is that the President is under a lot of stress and he found some alleviation from a playful exchange of messages.
Having said all that, at this stage it is all speculation and hearsay given that more evidence has yet to emerge. Besides, focusing too much on Assad’s personal affairs can distract us from the disgusting slaughter he and his family conduct against all those who dare to express a different opinion.
This article is merely speculation at this stage and should be taken for what it is - a passing interest in some of the inevitably interesting gossip surrounding Assad and his inner circle after the release of these emails. Nothing is certain and further evidence is needed. Do not take anything written here as a given. Thanks for reading, and Free Syria!
Recently the UN peace envoy Kofi Annan travelled to Syria (after initial reluctance on the part of the Syrian government) to meet with the ever-embattled President and representative of his family Mafia - both a single person - Bashar al-Assad, the man who’s security forces (and they can conclusively be called his security forces under the legal responsibility invested in the President) have been killing peaceful protesters and for months, spawning the latter to protect the former.
Every single agreement that was supposed to halt the violence has has next-to-no effect on the levels of bloodshed on the part of the security forces. The Arab League peace plan in November 2011 went completely unheeded by the Syrian government and their was still unabated killing in the form of around 250 deaths between the 2nd November (the date of the signing) and the 12th November. The Arab League Monitoring mission in December 2011 merely delayed the time period in which the security forces would open fire on demonstrations - as soon as the observers were out of sight.
Every single plan proposed has either been rejected by Damascus in the name of the “sovereignty” of Syria, has been paid lip service in the form of meaningless rhetoric, or has been downright ignored.
Now Mr Annan thinks he may have made a change. He has presented Mr Assad with a series of “concrete proposals” to curb the violence. Meaning that he has done very little that most other international actors have already done or tried to do. Condemn the violence, hand over some proposals (backed by next to no practical action to ensure that the government enforces them) to the President, shake hands, leave.
Will his “concrete proposals” (which he has yet to elaborate on but will likely be nothing innovative) change anything?
Unlikely. The regime has shown time and time again that the only respect it has is for violence and violent methods of suppression. Notice how Assad was never talking about any kind of negotiated settlement until the armed resistance came about as a reaction to his brutality. On the 30th March he was rambling on about avoiding “subjecting the reform process to momentary conditions, otherwise it will be counterproductive”. The only negotiated settlement that came about (and the only significant development of this kind throughout the entire conflict) was after fierce Free Syrian Army resistance for days on end against almost impossible odds, and government acceptance that they could not dislodge the fighters for the time being. This is evident from the fact that General Shawkat himself (Assad’s brother-in-law) was reportedly leading the ceasefire negotiations himself. A sure sign that the Assad’s were listening to force and force alone.
Now, after repeated rejections and ignoring of every single peace settlement or plan, Mr Annan believes that he can somehow solve this crisis through negotiation? He even talked of reforms (we all know how swift and progressive Assad’s reforms are) which would create a “solid foundation for a democratic Syria”.
All this bloodshed and some still think that this rotten travesty of hereditary Ba’athism can be reformed? Have around 10,000 deaths not shown the answer to this question? Someone pull Mr Annan out of March 2011.
Talk of “reforms” and leaving Mr Assad with a list of “a set of concrete proposals” to end the violence will get zilch achieved, save an increase in hot air while more innocents are killed. Mr Annan would do better to try to gain better access to weapons for the Free Syrian Army to help them defend these innocents. They can’t fend off the Shabeeeha while hiding behind pieces of paper, can they?
Pieces of paper which will end up down the back of the Assad family sofa, alongside Asma’s credibility and the new “constitution”.
Scores of civilians have been killed since Mr Annan departed with no agreement in his hands whatsoever, because Assad says a solution is impossible as long as the “terrorist groups” continue throughout the country. Read between the propaganda lines and change “terrorist groups” to “the oppositon movement”.
Of course, Assad hopes to sign an agreement with some meaningless opposition sock puppets as soon as he has wiped them out. But if he thinks he can do so then he is extremely deluded. When in history have bullets crushed ideals?
The government only respects violence and will fall by the same road. Not by “concrete proposals” amounting to hot air and no tangible action.
Over the last week, the Syrian government has subjugated the embattled city of Homs to a furious bombardment with hundreds of rockets and mortars since the 3rd February and is currently ongoing. It has toppled houses, caused residents to scramble for their lives, and killed anything from around 55 to 416 civilians, with five Free Syrian Army soldiers killed.
According to the Telegraph, an activist names Abu Abdul al-Homsi gave an eyewitness account. It follows: “We can’t count all the bodies from the streets and the collapsed buildings. Anyone who tries to go on the street might be killed - there are snipers,” said Abu Abdu al-Homsi, spokesman for the Syrian Revolutionary Council, an opposition group, in Homs. “An old woman - her son was shot and killed in the street, she went to get his body and was shot dead too.”
I have heard numerous stories telling of exactly the same thing, and seen footage corroborating the claims. The wounded and injured all show signs of sniper wounds, or wounds sustained from horrific explosions. Some videos are too graphic to link to.
This has been dubbed the “fiercest attack yet” on the besieged, divided city. Deaths in these numbers have seldom occurred on any other day in Syria, save for the Ramadan Massacre in Hama in late July/early August, killing over 200 people by the end of the latter.
What does this tell us? Shall we look at the evidence?
The last time an operation of this scale was mounted was when the city had totally fallen out of government control back in July. In that instance, as many as half a million people flooded the streets of the city to demand the fall of the Assad regime. The government clearly panicked, and wanted to crush this before the Euphoria got any larger.
This bombardment has come at a time in which the Assad regime is clearly on the defensive. They have lost Zabadani (and are currently trying to reclaim it), they previously lost control of parts of the capital itself and had to engage in heavy fighting to drive them out, and around 2/3 of Homs has fallen out of the control of the government.
These are similarly desperate times, as they were in July/August. The only difference is the levels of armed resistance have drastically risen by at least 99% in all parts of Syria since the uprising began.
In Hama in July/August, 8 policemen were killed during the Ramadan massacre. Now the toll is up to about 67 of the security forces in the Hama area. In Homs, casualties amongst the security forces have risen from about 12 to more than 859 since March. This figure was compiled in January and is all too likely to be vastly outdated by now, if we are to believe the allegation that 4-5 are being killed each day.
The government does not respect anything but force, as I have mentioned repeatedly. Hence it simply acts on instinct and cannot do anything else. What can a regime which respects nothing but force do when guerrilla fighters hold swathes of territory and cannot be rooted out due to the support of the local populace? How can they reach a negotiated settlement by dispersing protesters with bullets?
They are stumped, but do not know what to do. They do not see that every bullet fired, every civilian killed, every atrocity committed - only makes their demise more imminent. It just pushes the Syrian people out of the Assad’s carefully crafted national climate of fear - from which it is already impossible for them to return to. It is now not a matter of IF the regime falls, but when.
Sadly, all these acts of desperate violence come with heavy civilian casualties as a consequence of the dictatorial, brutal ignorance of the Assad entourage. But the sacrifice is not in vain. The opposition has an iron resolve and a brave and resilient armed wing which has seemingly significantly degraded the combat capabilities of Assad’s forces.
In the words of some Benghazi graffiti from the early days of the Libyan revolution: “We Have Broken The Fear Barrier, We Won’t Retreat.”
You may be reading the title with derision in your mind, already thinking that I am writing a somehow naive article as opposed to my usual writings.
Well do not hasten to discredit or judge the metaphorical book from the cover. The title is based around genuine fact.
Since around the 21st January of this year to the 29th/30th, Free Syrian Army forces (composed of defected soldiers and protesters whom have resorted to taking up arms) managed to seize parts of the capital, Damascus. Notable areas are Douma, Saqba, Kfar Batna, etc.
These areas are/were - yes, you’ve guessed it - 30 minutes from the official residence of Assad, where he is presumably holding out and isolated from reality. Some have even, incredibly, estimated that Assad may have to leave his capital in weeks, or even days, for his own safety.
What’s that you say? Syrian forces have managed to retake the area and thus maintain utter control of the capital?
I have a feeling this won’t count for much in the long term. You must remember that Syrian government forces managed to take back control of the Bab Amr neighbourhood in Homs, the stronghold of the oppositon and their armed forces. Two months later, they have control of two thirds of Homs and have driven government troops from most of the city.
Like Homs has been, this area could become a place of touch-and-go urban warfare lasting for months, with the opposition slowly gaining the upper hand due to support of most of the local poplace.
You can storm any neighbourhood you want with 2000 troops and 50 tanks if you’re in Assad’s position, but there’s nothing you can do to stop these fighters gaining a foothold if you do not have the support of the local poplace. From what I’ve seen, they do not. Guerrilla warfare and long-term clashes will very likely become the norm.
I’m not the only one who thinks this. The Syrian blogger Ammar Abdulhamid (living in the US) said that:
“Indeed, and for the foreseeable future, attacks on loyalist troops and security headquarters, checkpoints and convoys will become part of daily life in Damascus and its suburbs in tandem with loyalist crackdown, killings and detentions.”
The government forces seem to be losing on most fronts. They’ve lost most of Homs, face a rising insurgency in Idlib and Hama, they’ve lost control of Zabadani (only 20 miles from the capital), etc. The security forces and military commanders are still largely loyal to the regime, but defections from the lower ranks and an increasing insurgency are substantially draining their abilities to fight back.
Having said that, the Free Syrian Army has a long way to go yet before it can hold onto large swathes of territory for substantial amounts of time. But at the same time, one could argue that their strength is in their guerrilla tactics and not traditional methods of warfare.
If they can get so close to Assad’s residence in the short term, then they may have him ousted from the city in the long-term. Good luck to them.
The typically touch-and-go patterns of Free Syrian Army attacks and Assad forces’ counterattacks has continued unabated, regardless of the presence of Arab League observers.
The Free Syrian Army has had trouble holding territory, as the Syrian Air Force has often descended; an infinitely superior advantage to the Free Syrian Army’s largely light weapons. In spite of this, they have remarkably been able to extend their area of operations and held territory, into the countryside around Damascus, areas of Idlib (where the government has made failed attempts to oust them) and the Bab Amr district of Homs.
The regime’s infinitely superior massed armour and well-trained troops (especially of Maher al-Assad’s 4th Division) have not stopped them carrying out lethal attacks against government forces daily, and persuading and accepting numerous military defectors into their ranks (allegedly each time they mount an attack in the vicinity of the regular army). They were even so bold as to stage an attack on the dreaded Mukhabarat (Air Force Intelligence) base to release prisoners.
No matter how many Iranian and Hezbollah mercenaries the regime has placed behind the lines of Syrian soldiers to shoot them if they try to defect, no matter how many sweeps and searches of the countryside, no matter how many families they threaten to punish, they have not been able to defeat the Free Syrian Army. This is remarkable given the number of guns pressed to soldiers backs and into their families’ houses to prevent them defecting, and the fact that they cannot track many of them down, considering the names of each defector must be known to their families and to the authorities.
The fact that the Free Syrian Army can gain control of even a small strip of a city is remarkable, given the hundreds of thousands of soldiers the government can muster. Yet they have done so.
Then this has come about. The town of Zabadani, 20 miles north of Damascus, has come under the control of the Free Syrian Army. What is astounding about this is that it is so close to the capital, in an area that could have previously been considered under the absolute control of the Syrian government. The next most astounding thing is that the government has launched two attacks to try to take back the town and each one was beaten back, with 30 (and maybe more) government casualties and large numbers of defections from the very army that was sent to defeat the Free Syrian Army.
But the most surprising thing is that the brutal, murderous Syrian government has agreed to a ceasefire. That is, they will have to stop attacking the town because they simply cannot attack it or defeat the Free Syrian Army. The fact that the government cannot control a strip of it’s own territory some 20 miles from the capital shows how far the FSA has come, from a small bunch of lightly-armed and unorganised defectors to a seemingly large army of soldiers mounting a highly effective guerilla warfare campaign.
But the fact that it has forced the government into a compromise is the most astounding (and potentially the most promising factor) the fact that it has managed to persuade the government through resiliance to pull back its forces and agree to a ceasefire shows the power and invaluable nature of the Free Syrian Army. They have accomplished in days what a peaceful protest could not have done in weeks - extract a compromise from the Syrian government regarding the use of force.
Thus, it is clear to all that the Syrian government only respects force. The Free Syrian Army’s excellent resilience has tapped into this and showed them that they will too have to be on the receiving end of force. Thus, if they could repeat this kind of resistance on a wider scale, the Assad family may realise they are finished and a negotiated settlement might become possible, although unlikely.
Even though the ceasefire may not have lasted, the fact that it has forced the government into negotiation (they are even allegedly trying to negotiate to get the rebels to hand their weapons, but unsuccessfully) opens many possibilities. However, don’t hold your breath. Gaddafi announced a ceasefire then sent his troops against Benghazi, and dictators will stop at nothing to stay in power.