Posts Tagged ‘Qatar’

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 7

25 april, 2012

And the “ceasefire” continuous.

Al-Jazeera: Syrian forces killed 66 people Monday, activists say (April 23)

Regime forces killed at least 28 civilians with heavy gunfire in the central city of Hama on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. (April 23)

“Déjà Failed!

Another monitoring mission, another set of people from all over the world making excuses, trying to explain the unexplainable and getting frustrated and fired upon to boot. When will the world follow a plan that makes sense. To the world we say: Give us what we need to get the mission accomplished, not what you need to feel good about yourselves.”

Ammar Abduhamid a liberal democracy activist

To really show the absurdity of this UN “ceasefire” and their observers:

Two UN observers come under sniper fire from Assad’s forces in Homs April 21 and had to take cover and the civilian population protected the UN observers. The same civilian population that these UN observers were supposed to “protect”

That what I call a ceasefire a la UN!

I therefore suggest to the UN Security Council a new resolution with a “new” UN observation team that will “protect and observe the first team of observers”.

There are many videos showing this, here are two:

04/21/12  Assad’s Snipers shoot at UN Monitors in Homs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ININuKv5N5w&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYxawA7ShMk&feature=youtu.be

And here is a news story about it:

UN delegation of the ‘terrified’ in Syria

http://arabnews.com/opinion/columns/article615427.ece

“We saw the Free Syrian Army (FSA) protecting the Blue Berets, particularly in Homs, where the head of the observer mission, Col. Ahmed Himmiche, was present.”

“A YouTube video-clip has appeared showing the international monitors being targeted and shot at by forces belonging to the tyrant of Damascus, whilst members of the FSA formed a human barrier to protect them as they were beset by panic. Indeed this video-clip shows one FSA member protecting one of the international monitors from gunfire, reassuring him by saying “don’t be afraid!” Of course, anybody who views this YouTube video-clip understand the extent of the irony inherent in this situation, and as the saying goes, the worst disaster is the one that brings laughter, particularly when we are looking at a UN monitoring delegation transform into a delegation of the “terrified.”

This represents a clear insult from the Assad regime toward the UN and international community, particularly as the targeting of this delegation took place on the same day that the UN Security Council took the decision to send more monitors to Syria! So after all of this, can we say that there is any expected benefit from sending international monitors to Syria? There can be no doubt that this is completely out of the question.

Assad’s shelling of Homs, Deraa, Hama and other cities is ongoing, and Syrian people are being killed on a daily basis, so after all of this how can we say that the delegation of international monitors will play an effective role, or confirm Assad’s compliance with the Annan initiative? The targeting of the international observers, and their being subject to gunfire in Homs, means that Assad has taken aim at Annan’s initiative, and this means that we cannot rely on this initiative, or wait another three months — which is the timeframe provided for the observer mission by the UN initiative — for Assad did not even wait a few days for his forces to fire upon the delegation of the “terrified.”

What is funny is that Washington is claiming that its patience has run out, and that it will not renew the observer mission in 90-days, in other words Washington has already begun to negotiate — from today — about renewing the observer mission, which should end in 3 months! This is the true definition of absurdity, whilst it also makes light of the Syrian blood that has been shed non-stop over the past 12 months, particularly as this delegation of the “terrified” — on Friday — refused to monitor the scene, despite the huge anti-Assad demonstrations taking place, with the head of the observer mission saying that his team would not undertake any field trips for fear that “our presence is used for escalation.”

Is this a joke? Must the FSA now also protect the international delegation of the “terrified” from the Assad forces? It is clear that the international delegation of the “terrified” will not accelerate or delay anything in Syria, particularly at their current level, therefore the Emir of Qatar was right when he said that the Annan initiative has only a 3 percent chance of success!

What everybody must be aware of is the fact that Assad only understands the language of force; anything other than this is nothing more than a license to kill, a waste of time and a deepening of the Syrian crisis.”

And these UN observers WILL NOT “OBSERVE” on Fridays when most of the protests are! Another glorious example of this great UN “ceasefire”.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/21/world/middleeast/syrian-protesters-mock-cease-fire-and-united-nations-observers.html?_r=3&partner=rss&emc=rss

“Col. Ahmed Himmiche, the Moroccan officer heading the advance team of United Nations observers in Syria, was quoted as telling reporters in Damascus that they would avoid Friday patrols, a statement that confirmed suspicions of many who have experienced the brunt of government oppression that the mission would be toothless. “We don’t want to be used as a tool for escalating the situation,” he said.

Those remarks were met with some disbelief, particularly in Damascus, where antigovernment protesters said they faced arrest, bullets, tear gas and a wide deployment of government security forces trying to suppress their demonstrations — all violations of the supposed cease-fire plan. One point of the six-point peace plan negotiated under United Nations auspices is that Syrians be allowed to demonstrate freely.

I have no hope in the monitors; if they don’t tour on Fridays, why did they come to Syria?” said Yaser, 30, a protester in Jober, not far from downtown Damascus, where an attack by government thugs wounded demonstrators. “For us nothing is changed — we are demonstrating, the Assad forces are killing and the monitors are watching.” Demonstrators in Homs, which has endured more than two months of shelling, were more sarcastic. At the beginning of every video from a demonstration, someone off camera held up a piece of paper indicating the place and the date. One from Homs on Friday in Arabic and slightly mangled English read: “Dear Observer. We are waiting. Note: Homs is a city in Syria (can u come please?”).

Abu Omar, 28, an activist reached by telephone, said sardonically that perhaps the Syrian government no longer considered the city part of the country since it evidently had no intention of respecting the cease-fire there or of withdrawing its forces, as the peace plan specifies. “Tanks are still deployed in every corner of the city, and checkpoints are everywhere,” he said. “So what is the meaning of this cease-fire?”

And of course, the shelling continues as usual during this “ceasefire”:

Just two out of many videos showing this continued destruction:

Syria, Homs city: Violent Shelling on Khaldiyeh area by the regime army

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uZ5JWvufVlI

04/20/12 Syria Homs shelled despite ceasefire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGv-lHKPAyA&feature=player_embedded

And

Satellite images reveal ruined deserted Homs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUC_8airD6E&feature=player_embedded

“Government forces’ continued shelling of the Syrian city of Homs has left some neighbourhoods unrecognisable.

Satellite images taken this Mach reveal a deserted city centre, destroyed areas and heavy deployment of tanks across the city.

This contracts to the images shot in August, which showed a busy city of around a million.  The latest imagery, commissioned by Al Jazeera, provides a snapshot of what appears to be an increasingly dire situation. “

Remember that in Part 1 I wrote “But for the most part, most of the army stays out of this. They have “defected in place” And one example I gave was from Golan:

“From division level down to battalions and brigades level. Entire units from commander down defy orders from the General Staff in Damascus to fight the rebels without crossing the lines to the opposition. To keep the spreading passive mutiny, Assad keeps the defiant units supplied in their barracks with funds and food.

Another example of this passive mutiny by the Syrian army, was when the five Syrian divisions stationed on Syria’s Golan border with Israel and its frontier with South Lebanon; were told by their commanders in beginning of March to ignore orders from Damascus to join the crackdown on rebels because their mission was “to defend the Syrian homeland from external threats” – another form of “defection in place.”

Well it seems that the situation has gotten worse, according to Israeli sources. Since Assad now have diverted food and supplies from these army units to his militia:

“The wretched plight of the troops manning Syrian defense divisions defending the Golan border and Mt.Hermon was clearly visible from lookout points on the Israeli side in the last two days. The regular water and food supplies to their bases, the backbone of Syria’s defense lines against Israel, were stopped and redirected to the units fighting anti-Assad rebels in other parts of the country. Large groups of armed soldiers have gone AWOL to hunt for food. For the first time in years, some have approached the border fence. They don’t ask Israeli soldiers for food, but parcels thrown across the fence vanish in a trice.

The 5th Division posted in the Golan town of Quneitra has suffered the largest number of desertions, estimated at more than 1,500 officers and men, around 15 percent of the full complement. But hundreds of dropouts occur daily from the 15th, 9th and 7th Divisions stationed in central and southern Golan.

The district commands have meanwhile lost control of the Syrian-Israeli border deployment. Military facilities are deserted with no one to guard against trespassers. Gangs, local and from across Syria’s eastern borders with Jordan and Iraq, were quick to realize the bases are unguarded and have begun stripping them of equipment and looting everything they can lay hands on.“

”For them the palaces, for us the coffins.”

And it seems that slowly the disaffection with Assad is growing among his main internal support the Alawites:

Disaffection, fear growing among Syria’s Alawites

http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/disaffection-fear-growing-among-syrias-alawites#full

“DAMASCUS // In the Alawite heartlands of Latakia and the mountainous rural hinterlands surrounding the city, the regime of President Bashar Al Assad still commands overwhelming support, buttressed by patronage networks and deeply entrenched fears of sectarian bloodshed.

But activists in the region say there are signs disaffection with Al Assad family rule is slowly spreading among those outside of privileged elite circles, a discord encapsulated in a new slogan, increasingly heard among ordinary Alawites: ”For them the palaces, for us the coffins.”

”People are saying, ‘how long will we have to bear this’, more and more army families are wondering what they are sacrificing their children for, they are starting to say ‘where are the martyrs from the Assad family?’,” said an Alawite activist from Latakia, a once bustling port and tourist resort on Syria’s verdant Mediterranean coastline.

Another influential Alawite opposition figure from a village in the Alawite mountains said dissent had become more pronounced since January, when an elderly Alawite widow buried her son, a soldier killed in the uprising. She had lost her husband and father in conflicts during the 1970s and 1980s under the former president Hafez Al Assad.

”She stood at the funeral and said: ‘You Assads have taken my whole family, and all for nothing,‘” the activist said. ”People sympathised with her. Since then there have been similar sentiments at other funerals – not all of them, but some of them, people are becoming angry, the pressure is rising.”

Nonetheless even opposition figures in the region acknowledge most of Syria’s Alawites – members of the same obscure Shiite sect as Mr Al Assad and his ruling faction – continue to side with the regime.

”Ninety per cent of the Alawite community in Latakia and the villages support Assad, either because they have direct interests with the regime or because they are terrified,” said a leading Alawite dissident.

”Alawites believe they are facing a jihad by Sunni extremists who are coming to chop off their heads, they are really sacred of that.”

”The regime has convinced the minorities it is their protector and it has succeeded in neutralising the Alawites though fear, through linking their destiny to the regime’s,” said a Christian protester from Latakia city.

”For that reason, the majority [in Latakia] are not involved in the revolution, while they are in many other places, if you go to Hama you have no doubt the revolution will win, but in Latakia it is like a different world compared to the rest of Syria,” he said.

Demonstrations, typically involving 100 to 150 young protesters and lasting up to 15 minutes, have stubbornly persisted in Latakia city, although they are confined to a few neighbourhoods and outlying villages, all where Sunnis are in the majority.

To keep public protests at that low level, security forces have been deployed in strength throughout much of the city. Activists say it takes just minutes for dozens of security cars to arrive at the scene of any dissent.

The Ramel neighbourhood, an impoverished Sunni ghetto that was assaulted by security units in August, remains sealed off by heavily fortified checkpoints.

In the heart of Latakia, the school where Hafez Al Assad was educated has been shut down and garrisoned by the army, with hundreds of soldiers and plainclothes security officers on hand to prevent it – or the statue of the former president standing on a plinth outside – from being defaced by opposition activists.

While the regime needs to hold Damascus and Aleppo if it is to remain in power, Latakia, as an unofficial capital for Syria‘s Alawites, is just as important.

”The regime hasn’t reached the point where it feels it is losing in Latakia yet, but it is not comfortable. It is working hard to keep the control it has,” said a local doctor who has been supporting protests.

A protest organiser from the city, a 40-year-old engineer, said the opposition was similarly working hard to keep going under immense pressure, including widespread detentions and pervasive surveillance of activists.

We were weakened by the arrests but we have reorganised and adapted,” he said.

As with other parts of Syria, numerous activists in Latakia confirmed an increasing tendency among anti-regime groups to favour taking up weapons, and they reported growing activity by the Free Syrian Army, including raids made from rural areas into the heart of the city to help soldiers trying to defect.

”The regime is weakening slowly, it is breaking up like an iceberg,” said another grassroots activist in the region. ”But as it has become harder to have peaceful demonstrations, the armed opposition has become stronger and everyone is saying the same thing now – a peaceful uprising alone is not going to topple this regime.”

A protester from Ramel, a 23-year-old Sunni, said he would stop peaceful demonstrations and join the armed opposition if it were being supplied with weapons from the West or Arab states.

It is our right to carry arms and to defend ourselves, don’t blame us if that is what we do,” said the protester, whose father and brothers have been arrested and held for months and who was himself detained for 50 days. ”We want any foreign air force over the skies of Syria to protect us from this regime, let them bomb the presidential palace, we would make a pact with the devil if he could help us get rid of the regime.”

”In the beginning I used to say there was no way a civil war could happen here, that the Syrian people would not do that but after one year, we cannot keep saying the same thing. What we saw in Homs [sectarian violence] is a worry because we have the same mix of sects here in Latakia,” the Christian activist said.

The young Sunni protester echoed that alarm. ”I’m afraid of a civil war with the Alawites,” he said. ”They have been fooled by the regime into taking its side and when the regime feels it has reached its end they will murder a lot of people in Latakia, there will be a lot of violence.”

A seasoned Alawite dissident gave an equally bleak assessment of the region’s, and Syria’s, immediate prospects. ”We will be dragged into a civil war by this regime, it will be like the Balkans, it will be Bosnia all over again.”

Arab League

There is a lot to be said about the Arab League and what is has done or mostly not done in the region. This post thou are about what the Arab League has done or not done regarding the civilian uprising inSyria.

A short background and timeline:

On November 3 2011, the Syrian government accepted an Arab League peace plan to halt its crackdown on protesters. The ceasefire quickly broke down, as government forces continued their suppression of protests. From 2 to12 November 2011, more than 250 people were killed.

The peace plan – to allow foreign observers from the Arab League to monitor Syria’s progress in removing troops from protest areas, free political prisoners and negotiate with dissidents.

On December 19, Syria agreed to the Arab League peace plan, agreeing to let observers into the country.

On December 26, 67Arab League monitors arrive in Syria.

On January 22 2012 Saudi Arabia withdraws from the Syrian observers mission.

On January 24 Gulf Arab states announce that they are withdrawing from the Arab League’s observer mission in Syria.

On January 28 The Arab League suspends the monitoring mission due to ”the critical deterioration of the situation” .

Arab League suspends Syria mission as violence rages

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/28/us-syria-idUSTRE8041A820120128

“Reuters) – The Arab League suspended its monitoring mission in Syria on Saturday because of worsening violence, a move Damascus said was an attempt to draw foreign intervention as it struggles to quell a 10-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

The Arab League took the decision days after calling, unsuccessfully, for Assad to step down and make way for a government of national unity. It will take an Arab peace plan to the U.N. Security Council next week.

Given the critical deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence … it has been decided to immediately stop the work of the Arab League’s mission to Syria pending presention of the issue to the league’s council,” Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said in a statement.”

UN resolution proposal

On January 31, the Arab League asked the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution, based on the League’s action plan for Syria, including a call for Assad to step down. Yet, on February 4, the resolution was vetoed by China and Russia.

Eventually, a non-binding resolution by the UN General Assembly was endorsed, with China and Russia voting against. The UN General Assembly resolution has no legal force, unlike the UN Security Council.

So the as always very “helpful” Russians and Chinese even voted against a non-binding resolution by the UN General Assembly. Just to show who is in control. They could have abstained but they didn’t want to “risk” anything.

So much for the Arab League peace plan.

”Arab observers- All the claims about Syria are lies. We saw nothing”

And who in their wisdom did the Arab League chose to lead the mission and obsevers in Syria?

The Sudanese general Mustafa al-Dabi.

Just a short reminder here that the Assad regime and Sudanese president Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir are “buddies”. And general Mustafa al-Dabi has been very close and loyal to president Al-Bashir

A short background general’s Dabi’s career:

1989 – Chief of military intelligence

1995-  Chief of Sudan’s foreign intelligence agency

1996 – Deputy chief of General Staff

2000 – Ambassador to Qatar

2005 – Commissioner of security arrangements in Darfur ceasefire monitoring committee

Syria mission a diplomatic coup for Sudan

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16349870

This has dismayed human rights groups, with Amnesty International warning that it could threaten the credibility of the entire mission.

”The Arab League’s decision to appoint as the head of the observer mission a Sudanese general on whose watch severe human rights violations were committed in Sudan risks undermining the League’s efforts so far and seriously calls into question the mission’s credibility,” it said in a statement.

Gen Dabi served as head of the Sudanese directorate of military intelligence when Mr Bashir seized power in a coup in 1989 – a period marked by ”arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance and torture”, Amnesty says.

Syrian opposition activists say they have little faith in the Arab League’s initiative His name was also linked with the summary trials and execution of 28 army officers who mounted a failed coup attempt against Mr Bashir in April 1990, an anti-government Sudanese news site, Alrakoba, reports.”

Syrian opposition groups have also expressed concern about Gen Dabi’s strong military background.

He won’t be neutral, and would sympathise with those in similar positions, thus it won’t be surprising if he supports and sympathises with the Syrian regime and its henchmen who are committing crimes against humanity round the clock in Syria,” said the head of the Syrian League, Abd-al-Karim al-Rayhawi.”

Activists alarmed over Sudanese head of Syria mission

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/28/us-syria-monitors-dabi-idUSTRE7BQ1DO20111228

“(Reuters) – The choice of a Sudanese general to head an Arab League mission in Syria has alarmed opposition activists who say Sudan’s own defiance of a war crimes tribunal means the monitors probably won’t recommend strong action against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

But some critics of Khartoum say it is all but impossible to imagine a Sudanese general ever recommending strong outside intervention, much less an international tribunal, to respond to human rights abuses in a fellow Arab state.

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, who studies Sudan and has written strong criticisms of its government, said the choice of a Sudanese general was a sign the Arab League might not want its monitors to produce findings that would force it to take stronger action.

”There is a broader question of why you would pick someone to lead this investigation … when he is part of an army that is guilty of precisely the sort of crimes that are being investigated in Syria,” Reeves said.

”I think a Sudanese general would be one of the least likely people in the world to acknowledge these findings even if they are right there before him… It doesn’t make any sense unless you want to shape the finding. They want it shaped in ways that will minimize the obligation to do more than they already have.”

Syrian opposition activists are reluctant to publicly criticize a monitoring mission in which they have invested high hopes. But several have privately voiced concern over whether a Sudanese military man would be willing or able to take a hard stance towards Assad.”

Amnesty International said Sudan’s military intelligence, at the time Dabi led it, ”was responsible for the arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, and torture or other ill-treatment of numerous people in Sudan.”

”The Arab League’s decision to appoint as the head of the observer mission a Sudanese general on whose watch severe human rights violations were committed in Sudan risks undermining the League’s efforts so far and seriously calls into question the mission’s credibility.”

“Jehanne Henry, Sudan researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said that as head of Sudan’s military intelligence in the 1990s, Dabi ”certainly would have been in a position to know what the security services were doing at that time.”

”As we and others have documented in reports from that period, the security services were implicated in serious human rights violations such as the arbitrary arrest and detention of political activists and their ill treatment and torture.…”

She said rebel leaders had accused Dabi of violations in Darfur, although Dabi was not one of the figures Human Rights Watch had linked to specific abuse documented in its research.

”He obviously does not fit the profile as a human rights monitor,” she added.”

“But that will not be enough to persuade rights groups. Omer Ismail from the Enough Project, an anti-genocide campaign organized by the influential U.S. think-tank the Center for American Progress, said the choice of Dabi was ”perplexing.”

”Instead of heading a team entrusted with a probe of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by Syria, the general should be investigated by the ICC for evidence of similar crimes in Sudan,” Ismail said in a statement.

”When he served as Sudan’s former head of Military Intelligence, and when he oversaw implementation of the Darfur Security Arrangement, alleged war crimes including genocide were committed on his watch.”

And his direct involvement in the Darfur genocide by the Arab Janjaweed:

(In Darfur the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says the army carried out war crimes and the United Nations says 300,000 people may have died. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity.)

The World’s Worst Human Rights Observer.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/12/27/the_worlds_worst_human_rights_observer

“As Arab League monitors work to expose President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown, the head of the mission is a Sudanese general accused of creating the fearsome ”janjaweed,” which was responsible for the worst atrocities during the Darfur genocide.

”I am going to Homs,” insisted Sudanese Gen. Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, the head of the Arab League observer mission, telling reporters that so far the Assad regime had been ”very cooperative.”

But Dabi may be the unlikeliest leader of a humanitarian mission the world has ever seen. He is a staunch loyalist of Sudan‘s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity for his government’s policies in Darfur. And Dabi’s own record in the restive Sudanese region, where he stands accused of presiding over the creation of the feared Arab militias known as the ”janjaweed,” is enough to make any human rights activist blanch.

Dabi’s involvement in Darfur began in 1999, four years before the region would explode in the violence that Secretary of State Colin Powell labeled as ”genocide.” Darfur was descending into war between the Arab and Masalit communities — the same fault line that would widen into a bloodier interethnic war in a few years’ time. As the situation escalated out of control, Bashir sent Dabi to Darfur to restore order.

According to Julie Flint and Alex De Waal’s Darfur: A New History of a Long War, Dabi arrived in Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, on Feb. 9, 1999, with two helicopter gunships and 120 soldiers. He would stay until the end of June. During this time, he would make an enemy of the Masalit governor of West Sudan. Flint and De Waal write:

Governor Ibrahim Yahya describes the period as ‘the beginning of the organization of the Janjawiid’, with [Arab] militia leaders like Hamid Dawai and Shineibat receiving money from the government for the first time. ‘The army would search and disarm villages, and two days later the Janjawiid would go in. They would attack and loot from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., only ten minutes away from the army. By this process all of  Dar Masalit was burned.’

Yahya’s account was supported five years later by a commander of the Sudan Liberation Army, a rebel organization movement in the region. ”[T]hings changed in 1999,” he told Flint and De Waal. ”The PDF [Popular Defense Forces, a government militia] ended and the Janjawiid came; the Janjawiid occupied all PDF places.”

”[T]he army command finds the militia useful and fearsome in equal measure,” De Waal said.  ”So al-Dabi’s regularization of the Arab militia served both to rein them in, but also to legitimize their activities and retain them as a future strike force.”

Dabi’s role in Darfuris only one episode in a decades-long career that has been spent protecting the interests of Bashir’s regime. He has regularly been trusted with authority over the regime’s most sensitive portfolios: The day Bashir took power in a coup in 1989, he was promoted to head of military intelligence. In August 1995, after protesters at Khartoum University rattled the regime, Dabi became head of Sudan’s foreign intelligence agency — pushing aside a loyalist of Hassan al-Turabi, the hard-line Islamist cleric who helped Bashir rise to power but would be pushed aside several years later. And as civil war ravaged south Sudan, Dabi was tasked from 1996 to 1999 as chief of Sudan’s military operations. “

Doesn’t this sound like the prefect qualifications for leading a mission observing human rights violations?

And after this “promising” selection what happened during this mission? Well, surprise, surprise:

Arab League observers see ‘nothing frightening’ in Syria hotspot

http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/28/9762725-arab-league-observers-see-nothing-frightening-in-syria-hotspot

”Campaigners expressed alarm Wednesday after Arab League observers in Syriasaid they saw ”nothing frightening” during a visit to Homs, the city activists say is the epicenter of nine months of deadly clashes with government forces.

”Some places looked a bit of a mess but there was nothing frightening,” Sudanese General Mustafa al-Dabi, the chief of the monitoring contingent, told Reuters by telephone fromDamascus.

”The situation seemed reassuring so far,” he added after his team’s short visit to the city of one million people, Syria’s third largest.

Head of Syria monitors says ‘nothing frightening’ in Homs

http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=448397

”Yesterday was quiet and there were no clashes. We did not see tanks but we did see some armoured vehicles.”

Who could have guessed??

 And these astute observations was done during the most brutal onslaught against Homs by the Assad forces.

But not all was as blind as the head of the mission:

Arab League observer quits, slams Syria war crimes

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iOopJQLs2bnTmk3TRzytK_NIKcXg?docId=CNG.0fe739f1f49df34b937ed993417cb269.721

“An Arab League observer in unrest-swept Syria said Wednesday he has quit the mission, accusing the regime of committing a series of war crimes against its people and of duping his colleagues.

I withdrew from the Arab observers mission because I found myself serving the regime, and not part of an independent observer group,” Anwar Malek told the Doha-based news channel Al-Jazeera.

The Syrian regime is playing ”dirty,” charged the Algerian observer. ”It even began killing its supporters to convince the Arab observers that it is carrying out its duties and to gain their sympathy.”

The mission was a farce and the observers have been fooled. The regime orchestrated it and fabricated most of what we saw to stop the Arab League from taking action against the regime,” Malek said.

”What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime isn’t committing one war crime but a series of crimes against its people, he said. ”Children are killed and they are starved and terrorised.”

But an official at the Cairo-based Arab League dismissed Malek’s accusations, saying they were all unfounded because he was bedridden and was never in the field.

”He was ill and bedridden at his Syria hotel. So how could he make those claims?” said the unnamed official.

The observer who said he spent 15 days in the flashpoint central city of Homs said it must be declared a ”disaster” zone. ”I saw charred and skinned bodies that had been tortured,” said Malek.

Soldiers ”attempting to flee or defect were executed,” said Malek. ”I saw three bodies of executed soldiers. They were shot from the back.”

In the interview, Malek said that there had been ”an assassination attempt on Monday as we were being taken by car from Homs to Damascus” via the restive Baba Amro district where the mission came under gunfire.

Malek accused the Syrian regime of plotting the attack on the road ”controlled by the army and pro-regime ‘shabiha’ militiamen.

Also on Monday, two Kuwaiti army officers in the observer mission were ”slightly hurt” in an attack by ”unidentified protesters,” the Gulf state’s defence ministry has reported.

The observers were attacked while heading to the coastal city of Latakia, said the ministry.

Malek accused the Syrian regime of sending ”spies and intelligence officers with our team to act as drivers and minders to get our information, and as soon as we left an area they attacked people.”

On the detainees, he said that ”none of the real prisoners on the lists of detainees the opposition has provided us with have been released.”

Aparently he was on another planet than the Sudanese general Mustafa al-Dabi.

But of course he was just hallucinating in his hotelroom as the official at the Cairo-based Arab League HQ said when he dismissed Malek’s accusations, saying they were all unfounded because he was bedridden and was never in the field.

Good job Arab League!

And more:

Observing the Observers

The Arab League’s monitoring mission in Syria has been a miserable failure, and no international white knight is waiting in the wings. Syrians are on their own.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/01/09/observing_the_observers

”In December, after months of stalling and facing enforced sanctions, the Syrian regime finally seemed to buckle under pressure from the Arab League and agreed to sign a ”protocol” ostensibly aimed at quelling the uprising. The agreement called for the regime to remove heavy artillery from urban areas, halt the use of force against civilians, release all political prisoners, and allow independent media into the country. Late last month, an advance team of 15 Arab League observers arrived in Syria on a one-month mission to monitor the regime’s compliance with the protocol. They have since increased to 153 observers; that number still falls far below the 500 observers that was part of the original agreement.

”Observe” is a banal word sucked of accountability, responsibility, action — a fitting way to describe an Arab League mission. Monitoring abuses of power is a function one would not expect from the Arab League, which, let’s face it, represents mostly dictatorships and absolute monarchies that have less-than-stellar human rights records. But observing Syria is an activity we have all become complicit in — observing the meetings, agreements, conferences, opposition groups forming and reforming, while Syrians are killed every day.

These discussions, devoid of action, build a cruel barrier between ruthless international power games and innocent people who are being played. This is why the Syrian people suspiciously view the Arab League as a protector of the regime and by extension its brutality.

The observers’ arrival changed the rules of the game. The regime sends spies to take pictures of the protesters who dare speak to the observers. Before every excursion, the streets are secured in any way necessary, by bullets or arrests (for the safety of the observers or to preserve what’s left of the regime’s tarnished image?). The streets of Deraa have to be scrubbed clean of its people, silencing their voices and erasing any sign of dissent, to present an image of control, safely guarded by snipers lurking on rooftops.

(You can se a video here on what was going on

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX8lBxEy7z4&feature=share )

”When the observers first arrived, the people were extremely optimistic,” he tells me. ”On the first day the team met with the mayor, so we couldn’t do anything. The second day, we invited them to a protest at a martyr’s funeral. They said, ‘We don’t have cars for transportation.’ We asked, ‘How could the team of observers not have cars?‘ So we postponed the protest. The third day, we asked them to come and observe the protest, but the regime took them somewhere else. Their work is not even at 1 percent. Nothing is happening. They aren’t gathering testimonies from the families. They are witnessing the snipers and the army on the streets. They see this with their own eyes. A stranger walking in the streets would know.”

So far, the regime has freed 3,500 prisoners, but an estimated 30,000 more still remain imprisoned, and according to Syrian activists, 5,700 people have been detained since the Arab League mission began. One week before the observers arrived, the regime escalated the crackdown, killing at least 250 people in four days. Since then, the casualties have gone down to an average of a couple of dozen people a day, according to numbers tallied by various human rights groups and local coordination committees.

The Arab League mission has been declared a failure for multiple reasons: the insufficient number of observers to cover all the ”hot spots”; the questionable integrity of the head of the mission, Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi; and the observers’ heavily monitored movement by security forces, which limits their ability to ”observe.” As Qatar’s prime minister and head of the Arab League committee on Syria, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, admitted last week, ”There are mistakes, but we went there not to stop the killing, but to monitor.” He cited the Arab League’s inexperience with leading this type of mission as one of the main concerns.“

“One of the most important shifts in the revolution during the Arab League mission has been its coverage, not by the media but by citizen journalists. Protesters who have been filming demonstrations and atrocities for months have turned their lens to film the observers filming the regime’s atrocities. Their powerful YouTube clips feature the monitors in their bright orange vests surrounded by the sounds of gunfire, confronted with dead bodies of children, and bombarded by protesters’ complaints and grievances. Observing the observers has emerged as the people’s powerful media weapon against the regime and its propaganda.

(The video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9FG8gGUAqI)

Khaled Abu Salah, a prominent activist in Homseven confronted Dabi. ”Our problem is not with you as individuals,” he told him. ”Our problem is with the protocol itself. The first article of the protocol is ‘stop the killing.’ When 15 people die in one day while you’re here, then what have we benefited from your presence?” (The Russian Foreign Ministry later said Dabi’s remarks about the situation inSyria were ”reassuring.” He has since claimed the statement as ”unfounded and not true.”)

“On Sunday, Arab League ministers met in Cairoto discuss the mission’s progress. Opposition groups and activists hoped the league would admit the mission’s failure to stop the continuing violence and refer Syria’s case to the U.N. Security Council. Instead, Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby confirmed the mission would carry on as planned. Another Arab League meeting has been scheduled for Jan. 19 to re-evaluate the observers’ progress. On the rejection of any kind of assistance from the United Nations, Elaraby said, ”We do not live in an ideal world, and there is no country in the world that is willing to use force.”

“Turning a strategically blind eye has become the norm to Syrians. Once again, the headlines tell the same story: ”Arab League Asks Syria to Halt Violence” on a day when activists claim 26 people were killed, and the Syrian regime insists, observed or not, it’s going to be bloody business as usual.

”Instead of seeing reality, observers watch movies by the regime”

And

Arab League observers in Syria labelled a farce

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2011/s3399762.htm

“Human rights activists now fear the Arab League mission is turning into a farce, as shootings and killings take place almost under the observers’ noses in places like Homs, Hama and other trouble spots.

There are also questions about the head of the mission – a Sudanese general who is himself accused of human rights abuses.”

“Local witnesses claim tanks had been removed from the streets just ahead of the mission’s arrival only to be hidden nearby, where they could supposedly be redeployed as soon as the monitors were gone.

Soazig Dollet from the organisation Reporters Without Borders says the Syrian regime is simply exploiting the observers’ visit for its own ends.

(Soazig Dollet speaking)

”This visit is totally biased,” she says. ”It’s a farce. The Syrian regime is making a mockery of respecting the Arab League agreement by accepting the presence of observers.”

She also claims that Syrian authorities are engaged in an elaborate game to show the observers what they want to see.

(Soazig Dollet speaking)

Some prisons in Homs were emptied and detainees transferred to other places,” she says. ”Fake armed soldiers were shown to observers in order to demonstrate that the Syrian resistance is an armed one. It is armed, but that is not the only kind of resistance. It’s obvious that it has all been staged for the observers of the Arab League.”

And the final humiliation.

To recapitulate:

After having Assad making a mockery of the Arab League peace plan. And their observers mission in Syriaa total failure. The Arab League took the same peace plan to the UN Security Council only to be vetoed by the as always helpful Russians and Chinese.  And to REALLY rub it in the Russians and Chinese even voted against a non-binding resolution by the UN General Assembly.

So what did the humiliated Arab League do after that? Eehhh… they went to one of the powers behind their humiliation, Russia, and literally “begged” the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov for ANY kind of a deal.

So in the end the Arab League got a new, even more watered-down deal dictated to them by Russia,  which then became the UN/Annan peace plan. And as a result got even more humiliated.

Because when they tried (Qatar) to make some amends to the total sellout, as they well know, they were literally repriminded by Lavrov like naughty/misbehaving school children.

“Lavrov lords it over the Arab League foreign ministers

Assad’s victory has therefore vindicated Putin and awarded Russia a political and military achievement on a scale that has eluded Moscow for many years. Putin proved he could win over an Arab country to Russian influence, shut doors to the Obama administration’s interference and wind up calling the shots in Damascus. The Russian Foreign Minister arrived in Caro Saturday, March 10, ready collect kudos..

It was strange to see Lavrov sitting in a place of honor at the 22-member Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting Saturday, March, 10. Stranger still, they let him talk the Arab ministers down and dictate Russia’s five-point plan for the Arab world to follow for resolving the Syrian crisis.

It called for a complete cease-fire, monitoring procedures, no foreign interference, humanitarian aid supplies and “firm support” for international envoy Kofi Annan’s mission to promote dialogue between the government and opposition.

Russia will be there for Iran at nuclear talks too

Aware of the true situation in Syria the Arab foreign ministers bowed to the Russian plan although it was clearly tilted in Assad’s favor.

And when the Qatari prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani tried later to undo some of the damage by demanding military intervention to stop the bloodletting in Syria after he had despaired of a Libyan-style Western-Arab operation, he was publicly rebuked from New York by Lavrov.

Arriving there to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Russian foreign minister said: “I was amazed …that while I was in the air my colleague, with whom we agreed on these principles, the prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar, called publicly for dispatching Arab or international forces to Syria. It absolutely contradicts what we agreed on and announced publicly.”

Lavrov’s tone strikingly demonstrated Moscow’s utter confidence in its ability to dictate the course of events in the Arab world in contrast to Washington’s withdrawal from the scene.

Not exactly one of the proudest moments in the Arab Leagues history. And as usual the ones paying the price the people of Syria.

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Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 2

12 april, 2012

April 10 was the latest day that Assad was supposed to stop all attacks and withdraw troops from the cities, according to the “peace” plan. Well, we already know that he did, as usual, the exact opposite. Also “as usual” following his previous pattern of seemingly agreeing to a “plan” or “accord” but with NO intention of ever following it. Instead, he is using these plans to buy time and at the same time crush all opposition.  .

Because he knows, he can get away with it. And the world let him do that as I said before again and again.

Especially the “brilliant minds” behind all these “peace” plans including the latest one, which put NO TIME FRAME OR DEADLINE in which Assad has to comply.

That’s REALLY a brilliant idea wouldn’t you say?

REPORTS

Here are some (and there is many out there), of the more important reports about the human rights situation in Syria:

Press release:

Syria: Extrajudicial Executions

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/09/syria-extrajudicial-executions

“In a desperate attempt to crush the uprising, Syrian forces have executed people in cold blood, civilians and opposition fighters alike,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “They are doing it in broad daylight and in front of witnesses, evidently not concerned about any accountability for their crimes.”

Syrian security forces will stop the executions only if they sense that accountability is inevitable,” Solvang said. “It is up to the Security Council to send this message.”

Report here:

In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Security Forces and Pro-Government Militias

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/syria0412webwcover.pdf

The 25-page report, “In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Security Forces and Pro-Government Militias,” documents more than a dozen incidents involving at least 101 victims since late 2011, many of them in March 2012

Press release:

Syria: ‘Shoot to Kill’ Commanders Named

Security Council Should Refer Syria to ICC for Crimes Against Humanity

http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/12/15/syria-shoot-kill-commanders-named

“Former Syrian soldiers identified by name 74 commanders and officials responsible for attacks on unarmed protesters, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The report names commanders and officials from the Syrian military and intelligence agencies who allegedly ordered, authorized, or condoned widespread killings, torture, and unlawful arrests during the 2011 anti-government protests. Human Rights Watch has urged the Security Council to refer the situation inSyriato the International Criminal Court (ICC) and impose sanctions against the officials implicated in abuses.

The defectors’ statements leave no doubt that the Syrian security forces committed widespread and systematic abuses, including killings, arbitrary detention, and torture, as part of a state policy targeting the civilian population, Human Rights Watch said. These abuses constitute crimes against humanity.

About half the defectors Human Rights Watch interviewed said the commanders of their units or other officers also gave them direct orders to open fire at protesters or bystanders, and reassured them that they would not be held accountable. In some cases, officers themselves participated in the killings.”

“Amjad,” who was deployed to Daraa with the 35th Special Forces Regiment, said that he received direct verbal orders from his commander to open fire at the protestors on April 25:”

“Three defectors described to Human Rights Watch incidents of summary executions and deaths from torture, involving 19 victims. Lieutenant-Colonel “Ghassan,” who served in the Presidential Guard, said that around August 7, he witnessed a summary execution of a detainee at a checkpoint in Douma:”

Report here:

By All Means Necessary!”

Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/syria1211webwcover_0.pdf

The 88-page report, “‘By All Means Necessary!’: Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria,” is based on more than 60 interviews with defectors from the Syrian military and intelligence agencies. The defectors provided detailed information about their units’ participation in attacks, abuses against Syrian citizens, and the orders they received from commanders and officials at various levels, who are named in the report.

Press release:

Syria: Crimes Against Humanity in Homs

Arab League Should Suspend Syria

http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/11/11/syria-crimes-against-humanity-homs

“The systematic nature of abuses against civilians in Homs by Syrian government forces, including torture and unlawful killings, indicate that crimes against humanity have been committed, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Human Rights Watch urged the Arab League, meeting inCairo onNovember 12, 2011, to suspendSyria’s membership in the League and to ask the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo and sanctions against individuals responsible for the violations, and referSyria to the International Criminal Court.

As in much of the rest of Syria, security forces in Homs governorate subjected thousands of people to arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and systematic torture in detention. While most were released after several weeks in detention, several hundred remain missing. Most detainees were young men in their 20s or 30s, but security forces also detained children, women, and elderly people. Several witnesses reported that their parents or even grandparents – people in their 60s and 70s – had been detained.”

Report here:

“We Live as in War

Crackdown on Protesters in the Governorate of Homs,Syria

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/syria1111webwcover_0.pdf

The 63-page report, “‘We Live as in War’: Crackdown on Protesters in the Governorate of Homs,” is based on more than 110 interviews with victims and witnesses from Homs, both the city and the surrounding governorate of the same name. The area has emerged as a center of opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The report focuses on violations by Syrian security forces from mid-April to the end of August, during which time security forces killed at least 587 civilians, the highest number of casualties for any single governorate.

Press release:

Syria: Crimes Against Humanity in Daraa

Killings, Torture in a Locked-Down City Under Siege

http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/06/01/syria-crimes-against-humanity-daraa

“Systematic killings and torture by Syrian security forces in the city ofDaraasince protests began there onMarch 18, 2011, strongly suggest that these qualify as crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

”For more than two months now, Syrian security forces have been killing and torturing their own people with complete impunity,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. ”They need to stop – and if they don’t, it is the Security Council’s responsibility to make sure that the people responsible face justice.”

“Witnesses from Daraa interviewed by Human Rights Watch provided consistent accounts of security forces using lethal force against protesters and bystanders, in most cases without advance warning or any effort to disperse the protesters by nonviolent means. Members of various branches of the mukhabarat (security services) and numerous snipers positioned on rooftops deliberately targeted the protesters, and many of the victims had lethal head, neck, and chest wounds. Human Rights Watch documented a number of cases in which security forces participating in the operations against protesters in Daraa and other cities had received ”shoot-to-kill” orders from their commanders. “

Syrian authorities also routinely denied wounded protesters access to medical assistance by preventing ambulances from reaching the wounded, and on several occasions opening fire on medical personnel or rescuers who tried to carry the wounded away. Security forces took control of most of the hospitals in Daraa and detained the wounded who were brought in. As a result, many wounded people avoided the hospitals and were treated in makeshift hospitals with limited facilities. In at least two cases documented by Human Rights Watch, people died because they were denied needed medical care.”

Syrian authorities also imposed an information blockade on Daraa. They prevented any independent observers from entering the town, and shut down all means of communication. Security forces searched for and confiscated cellphones that contained footage of events in Daraa, and arrested and tortured those whom they suspected of trying to get images or other information out, including some foreign nationals. In some areas, electricity and communications remain cut off. “

Report here:

We’ve Never Seen Such Horror

Crimes against Humanity by Syrian Security Forces

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/syria0611webwcover.pdf

This 54-page report is based on more than 50 interviews with victims and witnesses to abuses. The report focuses on violations in Daraa governorate, where some of the worst violence took place after protests seeking greater freedoms began in various parts of the country. The specifics went largely unreported due to the information blockade imposed by the Syrian authorities. Victims and witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch described systematic killings, beatings, torture using electroshock devices, and detention of people seeking medical care.

Syria: Local Residents Used as Human Shields

Reports of Residents Forced to March in Front of Soldiers in Idlib

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/25/syria-local-residents-used-human-shields

“Witnesses from the towns of al-Janoudyah, Kafr Nabl, Kafr Rouma, and Ayn Larouz in the Idlib governorate in northern Syria told Human Rights Watch that they saw the army and pro-government armed men, referred to locally as shabeeha, force people to march in front of the advancing army during the March 2012 offensive to retake control of areas that had fallen into the hands of the opposition. From the circumstances of these incidents, it was clear to the witnesses that the purpose of this was to protect the army from attack.”

By using civilians as human shields, the Syrian army is showing blatant disregard for their safety,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Syrian army should immediately stop this abhorrent practice.”

“The Syrian army’s use of human shields is yet another reason why the UN Security Council should refer Syria to the International Criminal Court” Solvang said. “Somebody should be made to answer for these violations.”

Syria: Government Uses Homs Tactics on Border Town

Indiscriminate Shelling, Sniper Killings, Attacks on Fleeing Residents

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/22/syria-government-uses-homs-tactics-border-town

Syrian security forces are committing serious abuses in their military campaign on al-Qusayr, a city of approximately 40,000 in Homs governorate near the Lebanese border. Witnesses describe heavy shelling of residential neighborhoods, snipers shooting residents on the streets, and attacks on fleeing residents. Humanitarian conditions are dire, including food and water shortages, communications blackouts, and virtually non-existent medical assistance.”

“Following their bloody siege of Homs, the Assad forces are applying their same brutal methods in al-Qusayr,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle Eastdirector at Human Rights Watch. “Having seen the devastation inflicted on Homs, the Russian government should stop arms sales to the Syrian government or risk becoming further implicated in human rights violations.”

‘Friends of Syria’: Push to End Indiscriminate Shelling

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/02/24/friends-syria-push-end-indiscriminate-shelling

“Local sources have reported that approximately 700 civilians have been killed and thousands wounded in Homs since the Syrian military began its current assault on the city onFebruary 3, 2012.

Video footage from Homsreviewed by Human Rights Watch indicates that the army has used Russian-made 240mm mortar systems against Homs. These systems fire the world’s largest high explosive mortar bomb, designed to “demolish fortifications and fieldworks” according to a Russian arms merchandizing catalogue.

This Russian-made munition shown in the video is the largest mortar bomb known to be in production and use. It weighs 130 kilograms and contains 31.93 kilograms of TNT as an explosive charge.

The indiscriminate attacks on populated areas with heavy-duty weapons in Homs and other cities demonstrate the price of blocking an international consensus to end the horrific human rights violations in Syria,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Russia and China have a particular responsibility to put pressure on Syria, given that they vetoed Security Council consensus, and Syria has so far shown itself impervious to condemnation by most other states of its actions.”

Marie Colvin, one of two Western journalists killed in Baba Amr on February 22 by Syrian army shelling, had reported the previous day that she had witnessed 14 shells fall on the neighborhood in the span of 30 seconds and had watched a baby die of shrapnel wounds for lack of proper medical care. Another Western journalist who was in Baba Amr from February 15 to 17 told Human Rights Watch that “on a good day, a shell hit the neighborhood every 4 to 5 minutes while on a bad day, they heard 55 shells in 15 minutes.”

UNICEF steps up its response to children affected by the crisis in Syria

http://www.unicef.org/media/media_62075.html

“The UN says that at least 500 Syrian children have been killed in the violence thus far, while hundreds more have been injured, put in detention or abused. Schools have closed and health centres have shut down or become too dangerous for families to reach. “

UNICEF denounces killings of children, women in Syrian city of Homs

http://www.unicef.org/media/media_61971.html

“UNICEF today denounced the reported killing of children and women whose bodies were found in the Syrian city ofHomson Sunday.

According to Syrian and international media reports, young children were among the victims discovered in the Homsneighbourhood of Karm el-Zeytoun. Some of the bodies had their throats slit. Others bore marks of torture.

It’s hard to come to terms with savagery on this scale especially when it involves children paying the highest price for events over which they have no control,” said UNICEF Regional Director Maria Calivis. “We urgently call on all sides in this crisis to live up to their responsibility to safeguard children.”

UNICEF statement on children caught in the bloodshed in Syria

http://www.unicef.org/media/media_61584.html

This must stop. Even one child killed in the violence is one child too many,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We urge the Syrian authorities to allow help to all those who need it desperately.”

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in Bangkok on the Human Rights Council Resolution on the human rights situation in Syria

http://www.unicef.org/media/media_60788.html

UNICEF is greatly disturbed by the confirmed reports of violent attacks on children in Syria. We share the deep concerns presented in the recent report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, and welcome the Human Rights Council’s Special Session that addressed among other things these grave violations of children’s rights.

“The HRC’s resolution reflects global outrage over the more than 300 children killed by state forces in Syria since March 2011 and confirmed reports of abhorrent abuses, including sexual violence against children in places of detention.

“Such blatant disregard for children’s lives must not be ignored. UNICEF urges the government of Syria to abide by its commitments to uphold the rights of children, and in particular to protect them from arbitrary arrest, detention, torture or sexual violence.”

UNICEF alarmed about reported extreme violence against children in Syria

http://www.unicef.org/media/media_58707.html

“Since mid-March, reports of children injured, detained, displaced and at times killed have been increasing.  While UNICEF cannot verify the reported cases and events, we are particularly disturbed by the recent video images of children who were arbitrarily detained and suffered torture or ill-treatment during their detention, leading in some cases to their death.  We call on the government to thoroughly investigate these reports and ensure that perpetrators of such horrific acts are identified and brought to justice. “

Syria: Security Forces Barring Protesters from Medical Care

At Least 28 Killed in Bloody Friday Crackdown in Daraa, Harasta, and Douma

http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/04/12/syria-security-forces-barring-protesters-medical-care

“”Syrian security forces in at least two towns prevented medical personnel and others from reaching wounded protesters on April 8, 2011, and prevented injured protesters from accessing hospitals, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch, which interviewed 20 witnesses from three Syrian towns, urged Syrian authorities to allow injured protesters unimpeded access to medical treatment and to stop using unjustified lethal force against anti-government protesters.

To deprive wounded people of critical and perhaps life-saving medical treatment is both inhumane and illegal,” said Sarah Leah Whitson,Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Report reveals crimes against humanity in Syrian town

https://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/report-reveals-crimes-against-humanity-syrian-town-2011-07-06

“The brutal methods used in a devastating Syrian security operation in the western town of Tell Kalakhmay constitute crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

Crackdown inSyria: Terror in Tell Kalakh documents deaths in custody, torture and arbitrary detention that took place in May when Syrian army and security forces mounted a broad security sweep, lasting less than a week, against residents of the town near the Lebanese border.”

Syria: ‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out

https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/016/2012/en

“A grim catalogue of torture has emerged from former detainees describing their treatment in Syria’s detention centres since the predominantly peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government began in March 2011. This report reveals that all the various security forces are routinely torturing and ill-treating detainees held in the context of the protests and unrest, using methods of cruelty mostly used for decades. The torture carried out appears to be part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population as part of Syrian government policy to crush dissent. “

Report here:

https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE24/016/2012/en/708c3f40-538e-46a9-9798-ebae27f56946/mde240162012en.pdf

Syria: Health crisis: Syrian government targets the wounded and health workers

https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE24/059/2011/en/74190b0e-cbc4-4596-91fc-eb89863362d8/mde240592011en.pdf

“The Syrian authorities have been blocking and manipulating access to health care for people wounded during the unrest that has swept across the country since mid-March 2011, putting many lives at risk. They have routinely deemed those wounded by firearms as opponents of the government and treated them as detainees and held them incommunicado. The patterns of abuse recorded in this report show how the authorities are preventing health care professionals from treating those wounded freely and without fear. Such actions flagrantly violateSyria’s obligations under international human rights law.”

Syria: Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria

https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE24/035/2011/en/874dfa1c-2041-4681-a610-dffe1aa1421c/mde240352011en.pdf

“Relentless repression has marked Syriasince March 2011, as the government continues its efforts to stifle increasing numbers of pro-reform protests. Scores of people – believed to have been detained for their actual or suspected involvement in the protests – are reported to have died in custody. Some were children. However, the Syrian authorities have failed to carry out credible investigations into any of the cases or ensure accountability for the perpetrators. Amnesty International is calling on the UN Security Council to refer the situation inSyria immediately to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.”

Syria: The long reach of the Mukhabaraat: Violence and harassment against Syrians abroad and their relatives back home

https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE24/057/2011/en/31e11754-c369-4f17-8956-548b2f7e1766/mde240572011en.pdf

“Many Syrians abroad have been vocally expressing their solidarity with the mass pro-reform protests which have rocked Syriasince March. In this briefing, Amnesty International is documenting the cases of more than 30 Syrian activists living in eight countries in Europeand North and South Americawho say they have faced intimidation from embassy officials and others apparently because of their activities in solidarity with the pro-reform movement in Syria. The long reach of the feared Syrian mukhabaraat, or intelligence services, seems to be in evidence.”

Press Conference by Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria

http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2011/111128_Syria.doc.htm

“The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syriahad concluded that Syria’s army and security forces committed crimes against humanity in their repression of a largely civilian population in the context of peaceful protests, members of the United Nations-backed panel said today. “

The widespread and systematic violations of human rights in Syria could not have happened without the consent of the highest ranking State officials,” he continued, noting that under international law, “the State of Syria is responsible for these violations and bears the duty to ensure that the perpetrators are punished and that the victims received reparations.”

Mr. Pinheiro said excessive force — including by live fire and snipers — was used against peaceful demonstrators.  Further, the State had shown little or no recognition of the rights of children in quelling dissent, and reliable sources had indicated that some 256 children had been killed by State forces as of 9 NovemberTorture, sexual violence and other forms of ill treatment were also inflicted against people sympathetic to the protests, regardless of their gender or age. “

The report here:

Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/SY/A.HRC.S-17.2.Add.1_en.pdf

The Human Rights Violations Documenting Center in Syria

Covers the period 15 March -15 October 2011 with details and names of killed

http://www.lccsyria.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SYR_HR_Violations_Mar15_Oct15_Final-3.pdf

“The oppressive regime inSyriaused all its military and security forces against their unarmed people, waging open war on the crowds of peaceful demonstrators. In some documented cases, the regime used military equipment such as helicopters, armored sea vessels, and military tanks, to bomb residential neighborhoods in many cities. This is in addition to using internationally banned weapons, such as poison gas and expanding bullets, to disperse peaceful demonstrators.

Many public venues, such as cinemas, stadiums, and theaters, were turned into detention centers in which systematic brutal torture occurred, resulting in many death-under-torture cases. In addition, there have been several forced disappearance of citizens who were kidnapped for months, and disappeared completely thereafter.

There are many documented cases of hospitals that were invaded to prevent treating the wounded; in some cases, the wounded were detained or even killed. All of the above happened during seven months of an almost complete international silence, save a few shy statements by the international community that did not reach the point of condemning those documented cases as crimes against humanity.

It is unacceptable for the Arab nations, the Arab League, and the United Nations and their organizations to remain on an undecided weak stance. They have not been able, so far, to adopt one serious and strong move to stop the instruments of this regime from committing more crimes and violations against the peaceful people who are merely demanding their basic rights.

This hesitance and the lack of a conclusive stance is sending very negative signs to the Syrian people, who are starting to consider this indirect participation in the ongoing assault against. This also gives the regime the leeway to continue its nihilistic approach, and provides incentives to similar regimes in the world to commit atrocities against their own people and remain unaccountable.”

More reports from LCC Syria here: http://www.lccsyria.org/category/reports

The number of people killed

The Rising Death Toll inSyria

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/03/21/world/middleeast/death-toll-of-the-syrian-uprising.html?ref=syria#

With graphs, by day, week etc.

”One of the more detailed accounts — from the Violations Documenting Center (V.D.C.) — shows almost 10,000 deaths since the protest began last year on March 15.”

The number of killed (by age, sex, place, crowd map etc.) in the conflict, according to the Syrian opposition website

http://www.syrianshuhada.com/?lang=en&

                             Children killed by age

Women under siege – Reports, crowd map and documentation of rape

https://womenundersiegesyria.crowdmap.com/reports

“The stories are more atrocious than I could have imagined. We have evidence that there’s possible sexual enslavement going on, mutilation — really horrific atrocities,” Wolfe said.

Crowd Map, Reports plus detailed graphs

https://syriatracker.crowdmap.com/

11,813 Individuals killed,March 18, 2011thruMarch 25, 2012

Amnesty’s Syria page

http://www.eyesonsyria.org/

Human Rights Watch’s Syria page

http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/syria

The destruction of Homs and Baba Amr

Syria: New Satellite Images Show Homs Shelling

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/02/syria-new-satellite-images-show-homs-shelling

                                     Homs and Baba Amr

Picture

Red Dots are destroyed or damaged buildings, yellow dots are craters in fields or roads (pic taken on 25 Feb 2012, Baba Amr was retaken by Assad`s troops on March 1)

If you click on the picture it gets much larger

Picture2

Another close-up also shows a number of large dust clouds caused by the probable impact of several shells that landed within an estimated 10 to 15 minutes before the satellite image was recorded. It also shows hundreds of smaller impact craters across the adjacent fields next to the buildings, most of which are heavily damaged.

If you click on the picture it gets much larger

“These new satellite photos and witness accounts show the extent of the brutality unleashed on Baba Amr,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Despite the killing, Russia and China continue to block any international action.”

And remember, as I said in my previous post, one of the weapons used by the Syrian regime was the Russian 240mm F-864 high explosive mortar bomb. The world’s largest high explosive mortar bomb designed to “demolish fortifications and fieldworks” according to a Russian arms merchandizing catalogue. It weighs 130 kilograms and contains 31.93 kilograms of TNT as an explosive charge.

This weapon system is notable for its capability to conduct a “plunging attack,” in which the munition is fired at a high angle and comes down nearly perpendicular to penetrate a building or fortification

In this video, you can see the total destruction and some pices of the mortar bomb. The footage was filmed in the old part of Baba Amr, known as al-Hakura

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iPVcw1Dd_0s#!

According to “The Military Balance 2011,” published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Syria possesses ten 240mm mortar systems.

But of course, any respectable “army” need these kind of weapons to fight very dangerous unarmed civilians. Especially since they are hiding in their own homes.

What a threat!

And by the way, this system has been used in the past to bring devastation to civilian neighbourhoods, by the Russians during the siege of the Chechen capital of Grozny over a decade ago, where thousands of civilians were killed and hundreds of buildings reduced to rubble.  So the Syrians have learned well from their master.

The use of such weapons in dense urban environments is a war crime.

The Syrian army also used 122mm howitzers and 120mm mortars and 81mm and 121mm shells and 107mm ground-to-ground rockets to “fight” against these unarmed civilians.

The secret Assad emails

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/assad-emails

The documents:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/series/assad-emails-the-documents

How the Assad emails came to light

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/14/how-assad-emails-came-light

“In late March last year, Syrian opposition activists say, a young government worker inDamascusnervously handed a scrap of paper to a friend. On it were four handwritten codes that the friend was instructed to pass to a small group of exiled Syrians who would know what to do with them.

The paper contained two email addresses: sam@alshahba.com and ak@alshahba.com. They are thought to have been the personal email usernames and passwords of the president, Bashar al-Assad, and his wife, Asma.

For the next nine months they were to offer a cell of activists an extraordinary window into what appeared to be the private lives ofSyria’s first family and their attempts to turn around the country’s steady descent towards the abyss.”

Very interesting reading to say the least!

As this one on December 24 from Hussein Mortada, an influential Lebanese businessman with strong connections to Iran.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/14/bashar-al-assad-syria12

“It is not in our interest to say that Al-Qaida is behind the operation because such statements clear theUSadministration and the Syrian opposition of any responsibility;Americais fighting Al-Qaida and it will condemn the operation.

Based on what we saw from events on the ground yesterday, we have to acknowledge how well orchestrated it was, and we have to say that the US administration, the opposition and the states which infiltrated weapons are behind the operation so that we can start the attack.

But blaming Al-Qaida alone won’t be in anyone’s interest but Al-Qaida’s, because the organisation has been in existence for decades and this is nothing new. I have even received contacts from Iran and Hezbollah – me being the head of many Iranian and Lebanese media channels – and they directed me not to mention that Al-Qaida was behind the operation cause it would be a blatant media and tactical mistake and futile.”

VIDEOS

There are soooo many videos out there taken by brave civilians, showing the brutal and barbaric killings and executions, And the destruction of whole blocks and neighbourhoods in cities.

So these are just a sample.

I am going to start with a special type of videos – the leaked ones. These videos where taken by Assad troops themselves to show how “good” they are at killing civilians, as trophies, to prove their loyalty etc. etc.

The text and translations are from opposition sites.

LEAKED VIDEO – Assad’s forces show off their latest mass excecution – Homs (Baba Amr): Date Unknown – An Assad lojaist clearly says to his commander “Sir, I shot this one in his eye, and in his eye and in his eye!”

Contains some sequence from the video above

LEAKED VIDEO –  An assadist soldier films the DESTRUCTION he and his FORCES BROUGHT UPON THE NEIGHBORHOOD of BABA AMR. Homs(Baba Amr) – He takes us through the destroyed streets and past the obliterated buildings. He then shows us a glimpse of a half dozen men in a room, all executed (as shown in this video of Assad mercenaries gloating about it).

To think that the world just sat back and watched an entire neighborhood of 12sq/km be erased off the map and it’s people cleansed …

LEAKED VIDEO –  Syrian Government snipers in action from a rooftop in Aleppo’s Atareb

More snipers:

LEAKED VIDEO –  ASSAD’S FORCES HAVE A “GRAND OL’ TIME” LAUGHING, JOKING, MURDERING …. Damascus(Dier Qanoun): This is what the “battle” looks like from the vantage point of Bashar Al Assad’s forces. They have no fears that anything remotely bad may happen to them … they know exactly who they are firing at … unarmed Syrian civilians. Watch as they joke, make small talk, smoke a cigarette in one hand and fire their guns with the other ….

LEAKED VIDEO – ASSAD’S FORCES FIRE RANDOMLY INTO PEOPLE’S HOUSES TO SCARE THEM. Lattakia : (Date unknown) – Watch Bashar Al Assad’s mercenaries fire randomly down streets. Then they take aim at building directly above them and start firing away … laughing and joking until one of them finally says “ok guys, enough …”

Methodical destruction of homes:

LEAKED VIDEO – UNBELIEVABLE FOOTAGE OF ASSAD’S RUSSIAN MADE TANK FIRING RANDOMLY INTO THE HOMES OF SYRIAN CIVILIANS. Homs- As the tank fires randomly into the homes of innocent men, women and children, the cameraman (a fellow Assadist mercenary) cheers on with each explosion, exclaiming “God, Syria & Bashar!”.

LEAKED VIDEO – ASSAD’S FORCES CASUALLY FILM THEMSELVES AND MAKE SMALL TALK AS THEY SHELL AND ATTACK THE TOWN. Homs (Quseir) – No, these men are not preparing to liberate the Golan Heights, they are casually shelling a small town of innocent and unarmed Syrians – their supposed brothers and sisters that Assad has successfully de-humanized in his propaganda campaign fed to his forces.

They are shelling the town of Quseirin preparation to invade. The tank you see firing a machine-gun is actually a Russian made “Shilka” anti-aircraft tank that can fire upto 1,000 rounds per minute. It’s meant to bring down fighter-jets, but in this case it’s used against human-beings. The other tanks are randomly shelling the town in order to “soften” it up for an all out invasion.

Notice how casual Assad’s forces are, laughing and joking and all eagerly filming the “action” as mementos…

LEAKED VIDEO – THIS IS WHAT A DESTROYED AND ANNIHILATED CITY LOOKS LIKE – FROM THE EYES OF THE PERPETRATORS THAT DID IT. Homs (Baba Amr)The footage is unbelievable as it is devastating. Every building on every street is destroyed. The entire neighborhood of Baba Amr has been literally wiped off the map. Its inhabitants either “cleansed” in Assad’s ordered genocide, arrested or expelled from their homes.

Assad’s mercenaries take pride in what they did to this town with their Russian backed weapons and supply lines. Filming themselves and waving to fellow cowards.

Never forget that it took 7,000 of the most elite mercenaries from Assad’s army along with 30 days of shelling by the world’s heaviest shells, complete blockade of all food, water, fuel and medicine in addition to the cut of all electricity and supply lines to the neighborhood in order for Assad’s forces to enter an area of 12 sq/km that was guarded by no more than a few hundred lightly armed and ill-trained Free Syrian Army fighters and thousands of unarmed civilians. Even then the FSA actually withdrew when they ran out of ammunition.

LEAKED VIDEO – A terrible massacre by Al-Assad and his thugs in Doumma-Damascus-Syria and “thugs” are celebrating

LEAKED VIDEO – A genocide by Al-Assad and his thugs in Baba Amr-Homs-Syria

Now to the videos taken by brave civilians.

A BRAVE CITIZEN JOURNALIST CONTINUES TO REPORT DESPITE ROCKETS LITERALLY FALLING ALL AROUND HIM. Homs: Apr 3, 2012- I don’t know his name yet and he’s been featured in a number of similar videos before. Watch as the rockets hit nearby buildings as he reports with his cameraman. They risk everything in order to show the world the miserable hell they live in.

Stark WARNING!these next five videos are VERY STRONG AND GRAPHIC with pictures of executed children, teenagers, women and old people.

If you are sensitive – DO NOT LOOK!

And remember these videos are just a few, there are HUNDREDS LIKE THIS out there!

Which show the shocking scale and barbarism of the Assad regime

There is still no clear idea about the final number of killed civilians in the last ten days, but what we documented is more than thundered person killed. The most brutal one was in al-Adawi, the following videos bring you close to the event:

Adawiyah: pro-Assad death squads break into a house and execute its occupants, all women

Homs, Martyrs of the massacres of Al-Rifai and Karm Al-Zetoon neighborhoods .. Mar 20, 2012

SyriaFreedom Fighters Captured an Assad Hitman

March 25, 2012 – Free Syria Army Captures this Assad Air Force Mukhabarat Secret Police Officer who admits in this video that he and Iranian and Hezbollah Accomplices kidnapped and killed a famous Syrian Freedom Activist- This Guy is a cold blooded killer and was the leader of the group of secret police who kidnapped , tortured and killed Ghrias Mattar, a famous pro Democracy Organizer in Dariya , Damascus.

The Secret Police killed Gaith Mattar and then Mattar’s Wake Was Attended by dignitaries such asUSAmbassador Robert Ford and the French Ambassador and the German Ambassador — It is important to note that immediately after the Ambassadors left the Wake the Assad Forces came and shot at the other people, The Syrians, who were attending the ceremony.

English Translation:

“I am sergent Rabi3 Abdallah Ramadan in the intelligence aviation (under) the branch of special missions

Question:  what was your mission in Daraya ?

A: I’m a driver of a black jeep, a black Mitsubishi.

Question: What were the missions you took part in?

A: We captured and shot the activist Ghiyath Matar..took him to the hospital  and  we  finished him there  (in the hospital) with the help of sergent Bashar Daher (also) known by the name of Abou Haidar

Question: Who was giving orders?

A: The officer Jamil Hassan and officer Ghassan Ismail

Question: Were there foreigners with you? 

A: Yes, the Irananian Revolutionary Guards and members of Hezbollah as well

Question: How (did you) break into Daraya houses?

A: We were getting orders to loot and steal (from) activist houses and burning them

Question: What is your advice to security forces?

Answer: I advice them to defect because this regime will fall for sure”

CNN – Syrians try to clear Russian ANTIPERSONNEL MINES NEAR TURKISH BORDER

CNN’s Ivan Watson reports on evidence Syrian forces mined border areas to stop fleeing civilians

http://cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2012/03/29/watson-syria-land-mines.cnn

He took one out and brushed dirt off its green molded plastic case. It was about the size of a soup bowl and stamped with Cyrillic letters. Hajisa pointed at a raised black cross on the top of the device. “If you put pressure on this trigger,” he said, “It will explode.”

Hajisa’s deadly stash of booby-traps are just a fraction of more than 300 similar devices he claimed he and several other Syrian volunteers dug up from the border between Syria and Turkey over the last two months.

See also:

http://cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2012/03/28/lkl-watson-turkey-syrian-refugees.cnn

And finally some desperate black humour from people inside Syria as they describe their situation:

”In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate … We, the free men of Idlib, announce the formation of the ‘We Hope to Be Armed’ brigade,” the speaker says. ”We do not have any weapons. We ask the National Council and the commander of the Free Army to fulfill their lying promises and to stop serenading the revolutionaries on the ground without sending weapons, because your serenades are killing us.”

And another one where a fighter is begging for bullets.

Brother, Can You Spare A Loaded Arms Clip?” FromHoms

”Just Give Me A Bullet Clip”, says this Syrian Freedom Fighter in Homs City as he mocks the failure of the World to arm the Syria Army Defectors who are struggling to bring Freedom and Democracy to the long suffering nation of Syria. The USA under Obama has sold out the Syrian people the same way that Obama sold out the Iranian Green Revolution a few years ago. After one whole year of Protests and Violent Repression and thousands of Dead Civlians – the US politicians like Hillary Clinton are still on TV even as of today talking Bullshit about ”setting Timetables” for Assad to stop killing his people. This is a sick joke as Assad is never going to stop killing Democracy Activists and he is never going to step down peacefully. The only thing the Assad Baathist Regime understands is Sheer Military Power, which is how they got in power in the first place, and the world must smarten up and must send a flood of arms to the Free Syria Army now , including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. This is one of those once-in-a-generation moments in time where the USA has the opportunity to get a ”4 for 1” victory for very little investment.

1) If the USarms the Syrian people they will overthrow the Assad Regime and bring Freedom to a nation that has lived under a Dictatorship for 50 years.

2) The US gets to screw the Iranians real good if Assad goes down –no more Iranian dreams of a new Persian Shiite Empire stretching fromTehran toBeirut.

3) the US gets to screw Hezbollah real good if Assad falls – They will be cut off fromIran and the Sunni Syrians will kick them all out ofSyria and they will shrink into a small local militia

4) the US gets to screw the Russians real good -Russia will get kicked out of its only navy port outside ofRussia and will lose air force landing rights inSyria and will lose its military contracts which can then go to the Western Democracies.

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Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 1

10 april, 2012

Introduction

There is so much to be said about the uprising in Syria and the extremely brutal suppression by the Assad regime. And as usual, most of it is not said in the mainstream media.

So I thought I give you some pieces that are to the point and that give you some perspective of this slaughter of civilians. In other words, some insight into the world of real politics. This is a different universe that the normal platitudes and declarations our political elites are so good at excelling at.

I have so much material, all from public and open sources, that it is ridiculously big and unwieldy. Therefore, I have to drastically cut it down. Otherwise, it would become a book. The focus is therefore going to be on some countries and international organisations and what they have done or not done in 11 posts.

Part 1- Introduction. Part 2-Repports/Videos/Photos, Part 3- Russia, Part 4- Iran, Part 5- China, Part 6- Turkey, Part 7- Arab league, Part 8- UN, Part 9- EU/NATO, Part 10- US and the Obama administration and Part 11- Paul Conroy

The explanation for the headline you get at the end of this post.

This Syrian uprising started little over a year ago. The movement began in Syria on March 15th of 2011 with spontaneous demonstrations that demanded that the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad reform Syria to a free and democratic state. Assad responded, as usual, with relentless force and a brutal crackdown. Which led to the people to call for the president to step down, and heed to his people’s will to relinquish his power. And for a peaceful transition to democracy.

All reasonably demands wouldn’t you say?

And from this start the Assad’s regimes force and a brutal crackdown have just intensified and widened. The death toll is around 11 000. Mostly civilians: children, women, families, elderly etc. Many of them executed in the most barbaric way.

On top of that, the deliberate destruction of WHOLE blocks of cities, Block after block, neighbourhood after neighbourhood.

Turning of electricity, water, telecommunications etc for cities and neighbourhoods. Destroying hospitals and preventing medicine and food to reach these areas etc.

I can add systematic rape to that mix of systematic violation of human rights.

Wouldn’t you say that this regime seems utterly barbaric and worthy of world condemnation?

And wouldn’t you have thought that the world would have done something by now?

And the answer to these questions is of course – YES ands as usual NO.

NOTHING have in realty been done except some cheap and empty rhetoric. A lot of grandstanding as usual with these people. And of course a lot of meetings, summits, conferences etc. Usually in very nice places very far from the reality they are supposed to talk about.

EU the other day “strengthened” sanctions, the 13 in a row, banned Assad’s wife from shopping on the Continent. Yea, I bet Syria’s dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad felt threatened to his core!

Some of these people, for over a year now, have assured us that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is about to fall. These assurances from the so-called “experts” are always delivered with great confidence.

And yet Assad, hangs on, slaughtering his own people, destroying and despoiling whole neighbourhoods, calling the bluff of the Arab League, Turkey, UN, USA and EU/NATO.

Helped to a very large degree by the enormous material support, weapons, training, intelligence, troops,  personal etc. from Russia, Iran, China and Hezbollah.

And by a traditional policy of dived and conquer the different ethnic and religious groups in Syria. And of course by terror and fear.

Nonetheless, this is a regime, with an enormous arsenal of heavy weapons, which in a year has not been able to dispatch a divided, badly organized, having hardly any weapons, and disparate opposition. It can be defeated and it will implode  from the inside.  The slaughter would end much faster if the people got some, any support, from abroad.  And the fear is gone.

It is also very interesting to compare how eager the Obama administration, EU and NATO was to go into Libya with their do nothing attitude with Syria.

The dictator Gaddafi had not killed as many civilian people as Assad’s regimes have by a long shot. Or destroyed as many neighbourhoods as Assad. Nor did Gaddafi support so many terrorist groups as Assad. Or had the same strategic value for USA as Syria.

Nor did Gaddafi kill so many Americans as did Assad (Bashar  and Hafez al-Assad – It is A Faimly affair). Etc. Etc.

So in every way and shape or form, in comparison Libya under Gaddafi doesn’t even come close to Syria under Assad.

Samantha Power, a prominent advocate of humanitarian intervention and the principle of ”responsibility to protect”, is considered to be the key figure within the Obama administration in persuading the president to intervene militarily in Libya.

Power, was a senior foreign policy adviser to senator Obama, and now a Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director of the National Security Council.

But on Syria? NOT A PEEP!

And some of the “excuses” for not doing anything, like “the arms could end up in the wrong hands”, become ABSOLUTELY mind-boggling hypocritical when you remember that NATO and US special operations troops together with their intelligence operatives in Tripoli, armed and put Al-Hakim Belhadj in control over Tripoli. And gave him “the keys” to Gadhafis armoury.

Those arms were advanced items which British and French special operations forces gave the rebels, according to “a senior” American source.

Who is Al-Hakim Belhadj you may ask. He is a leader and commander of LIFG, the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Which by the way is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. He is an al Qaeda veteran from Afghanistan, he joined the Talliban etc.

He was first captured in Pakistan 2001 and handed over to US security officials, he was repatriated to Libya two months later. Later CIA captured him in Malaysia in 2004. He was then transferred to Bangkok, where he was then placed in the custody of the CIA.  Later they extradited him to Libya where he was kept in prison for six years by Qaddafi.

According to the Spanish, Al-Hakim Belhadj was suspected of complicity in the 2004 Madrid train bombings etc. etc.

For the first time, therefore, the armies of Western members of NATO took part and helped directly in a bid by extremist Islamic forces to capture an Arab capital and overthrow its ruler.

As for the do nothing as usual UN, it “proudly” upholds its tradition of doing ABSOLUTLY NOTHING when it really maters, like Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Darfur, Bosnia (Srebrenica anyone?) etc.

Refusing to arm or help the opposition will not end the conflict or limit it, it will drag on as all the above examples shows.

And by waiting the situation gets worse and much more complex, then “they” used its complexity as an excuse not to intervene while decrying the lost opportunity for intervention. And ALL this time the killing and atrocities committed by Assad’s regime just continues as nothing has happened.

On the contrary, the Assad regime has increased it’s attacks since Bashar al-Assad agreed to implement the “new” peace plan.

From Kafrnabel, Idleb

A snapshot from Idlib province

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-syria-idlib-offensive-20120401,0,6769772.story?page=2

“The feeling here is one of desperation — and steadfast defiance”

”They are planning to retake the region piece by piece,” said Abu Hamdo, a member of the Revolution Command Council in Idlib. ”But there is no going back, because if they catch us we are dead, and if we fight them we are dead.”

It is a scenario that is playing out repeatedly here: The army and security forces sweep into village after village, leaving behind bodies and burned homes, and the routed rebels must regroup.

Mazen Arja, an agricultural engineer “We have to organize anew and figure out who was killed and bring people together to begin the liberation of the northern region,” Arja said. “If we’re not patient and fight, we’re all dead anyway.”

When we first went out in protests, we had hope for foreign support, but that hope was dashed. We had hope for buffer areas; that was dashed. We had hope for support for the Free Syrian Army, and that was dashed,” said the militia’s 25-year-old leader, Bilal Khabeet, who like Free Syrian Army members is a military defector. ”A rifle and 120 bullets, that’s all I have. Once they are finished, I am finished.”

Or as Ammar Abdulhamid  a liberal democracy activist said:

“Of April Fools and Useless Tools!

The irony involved in holding an international conference on Syria on April Fools is all too noticeable, and the fact that just on the day before, an Assad official would claim victory simply adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the mix. But the Revolution-cum-Devolution goes on, no amount of irony or wishful thinking will make it go away.”

And

“Whatever the geopolitical calculations of Arab, regional and international leaders may be, ours is still a revolution for freedom, dignity, justice and equality. Is there any power in heaven or earth whose basic interests are commensurate with these aspirations of ours? If so, act now! Or forever be damned.”

Another snapshot from Daraa province:

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=383043

“Sayyed Mahmud, an activist in Daraa reached by Skype, told AFP the situation was extremely tense in Dael.

They burned down 14 houses yesterday. They are arresting people and have sent in troop reinforcements,” he said.

As part of the regime’s campaign to starve the people, troops are raiding homes, destroying food stocks and equipment,” he added. ”For example, if they see a sowing machine, they destroy it.

They go into bakeries and destroy the dough. There are 15-hour power cuts a day.”

You REALLY get “impressed” by these “brave soldiers” who “attacks” and destroy dough and sowing machines. Not to mention killing unarmed civilians.

That is really a “worthy” adversary for a real soldier.

And the endless deception and chicanery, round 27, of the Assad regime continues. Making a mockery of all so called “peace” deals. In addition, the world let him get away with it again and again.  Without doing ANYTHING except generate “new peace” plans.

With all the usual strong and optimistic words and platitudes. Or as one Syrian said:

“As Obama and Erdogan talk, Assad kills”

You can put whatever country and organisation there instead, it doesn’t change anything.

Assad’s Vision for Reform

Here is the latest:

Damascus sees no deadline to withdraw troops

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=383883

“The Syrian regime is not bound by a deadline to withdraw its troops from strife-torn areas, pro-government daily Al-Watan on Thursday quoted a government official as saying.

There is no set date or deadline,” the unnamed official said.

”April 10 is the date set for the beginning, not the end, of the withdrawal of troops and it does not constitute a deadline.”

Before that:

Syria says army will not be first to lay down arms, rejecting appeal by UN chief

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrian-official-says-army-will-not-make-1st-move-withdraw-troops-from-flashpoint-areas/2012/03/31/gIQAJhcpmS_story.html

Syria rejected international envoy Kofi Annan’s call for the regime to halt violence first just days after the government agreed to a cease-fire plan. A senior official declared victory over the opposition.

It was the government’s first response to an appeal by Annan, the U.N.-Arab League envoy, to stop military operations first as “the stronger party” in a “gesture of good faith” to the lightly armed opposition. Annan brokered the agreement aimed at stopping the bloodshed and Assad agreed to it on Monday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi said the government will not pull tanks and troops from towns and cities engulfed by unrest before life returns to normal there.

“The battle to bring down the state in Syria has already ended and the battle of reinforcing stability has started,” Makdessi said in an apparent reference to a string of recent regime offensives that drove rebels from key strongholds. He spoke on state TV late Friday.”

An to rely prove this point :

“Certain he is safe from Western-Arab intervention, Bashar Assad Sunday unleashed an across-the board air and ground offensive against the last surviving rebel locations. 

Starting Sunday noon, April 8, 30 towns and villages were hit simultaneously. For the first time since the outbreak of revolt thirteen months ago, heavy long-range artillery and air force helicopters pounded the rebel positions remaining in the northern mountains of Idlib near the Turkish border. The scale of the onslaught was such that it is hard to come by casualty figures, but they certainly run into hundreds.

As he lifts all restraints, the Syrian ruler is also certain he is backed to the hilt byTehranandMoscow.”

And today, April 9 Assad’s forces attacked a Syrian refuge camp in Turkey.

Turkey: Three wounded as Syrian forces fire over border

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-three-wounded-as-syrian-forces-fire-over-border.aspx?pageID=238&nID=17975&NewsCatID=341

”A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, saidTurkeyimmediately protested the incident to the Syrian charge d’affaires and asked that the fire be halted, the Associated Press reported.

Two refugees and one Turkish citizen, a translator, were wounded inside the camp near the town of Kilisin the southwestern Gaziantep province, he said.”

Yeap, that’s REALLY showing respect for the “ceasefire” and UN “peace plan”. And the “world” will let Assad get away with again, and again.

Waiting for Syria’s regime to Change

And another snapshot from Kastanaz:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/06/us-turkey-syria-refugees-idUSBRE8341DC20120406

The army is destroying buildings and bombing them till they turn to charcoal,” said Mohammed Khatib, a refugee who said he came from Kastanaz, a Syrian town of 20,000 people.

”The army wants people to move out of their houses. If the residents refuse, they destroy them with the people inside.”

For the past three days there have been bodies lying in the streets. Around 200 have been killed. The town is now abandoned.”

I could go on an on to give one witness after another of atrocities and planed destruction.

Another from Sarmin:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9177910/Syria-eyewitness-dispatch-I-watched-as-Assads-tanks-rolled-in-to-destroy-a-rebel-town.html

“Using information stored on laptops, army intelligence officers detain all manner of people. Bad-mouthing the regime? Arrested. Seen at a protest? Arrested. Got an internet connection? Arrested. The list goes on.

”The shabiha (pro-government militia) came to my house and took my children,” said Fatoum Haj Housin, a resident of the town Sarmin, five miles north-west of Saraqeb, which had been attacked a few days earlier.

They took all three of them. They were young men in the army but they defected in January. The militia shot them in the head and burned their bodies in front of me in our courtyard. In the name of God, bring me a Kalashnikov and I will kill Assad myself!

There was still scorching and ash in front of her house – and much evidence elsewhere in Sarmin of destruction by ground forces. The field hospital had been torched, walls and houses sprayed with AK47 fire and the mosque smashed by three shells.

When the tanks leave the city centres and the ground forces come in, this is what happens – with nobody from the outside to see.

Yet for every person killed the rebels’ resolve seems to grow day by day.

”We can never go back now,” said Feras Mulheen, a student from Saraqeb who had just seen his house destroyed by the tanks. ”There’s nothing to go back to. We either win or we die trying. There’s nothing in between.”

The situation for the FSA (Free Syrian Army):

http://syrianfreedomls.tumblr.com/post/20479724510/free-syrian-army-has-the-worlds-support-but-no

“We are getting money mainly from individuals, from Syrians living abroad. We hear a lot of promises from the international community, but nobody will support us,” said Mohammed.

His unit has 50 men and two satellite phones in a country where mobile telephone networks are down, security forces tap landlines, and the Internet is dysfunctional.

As for the guns, Mohammed said, his unit has just light weapons, not enough to confront the Syrian army.

“The air force attacks us and we do not have artillery to fight back,” said the commander.

He said there are a lot of soldiers in the regular army who are too afraid to defect, but help the FSA from the inside.

Our unit exchanged a carton of cigarettes for 200 bullets; we get gasoline from a soldier who steals it from the tanks in the bases,” he said.

Other local commanders described their constant hustle to-and-fro across the Syrian-Turkish border to secure money for their supplies.

“We have enough men. The defectors’ numbers have increased. But they do not have weapons. If they have a gun, they do not have ammunition,” he said while busily working on his laptop.

Communications technologies are a precious commodity. Asked about internal FSA communications, Abu Muhammed, commander of a unit in the Idlib countryside, replied with sadness and irony, We use pigeons.”

“There’s not a lot of direct communication between the ground and the leadership,” he said, explaining how his men do not take specific daily orders from the officers sitting in the Turkish camps, like Col. Riad al Asaad, nominal head of the FSA.

“With the means we have, this is only self-defense,” he admitted.

See also (excerpts):

Undergunned and Overwhelmed

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/30/syria_undergunned_and_overwhelmed

“It’s a view widely shared by defectors, arms dealers, and refugees alike here along the Turkish-Syrian border. For months, Assad’s opponents have been buying black-market weapons from the countries bordering their volatile state — from Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan — as well as from within Syria, primarily from members of the corrupt regime or military sympathizers who remain embedded with loyalists. But it’s getting harder. Money doesn’t seem to be the main problem. Securing supplies is.

Nor have Assad’s staunchest enemies — the Arab Gulf kingdoms — opened their armories to the rebels. In late February, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal raised the FSA’s hopes when he said that arming Assad’s opponents was ”an excellent idea.” Yet, more than a month later, Saudi supplies have not made their way to the front, according to the FSA leadership as well as numerous rebel commanders inside Syria.

Still, the ire and resentment of many activists and fighters on the ground is directed primarily toward the so-called leaders of the opposition, all of whom are in exile. The depth of anger was perhaps best expressed in a short video in which a small group of men in civilian garb stand in two neat rows in front of an olive tree, scarves concealing their identities. The clip is not unlike countless others purporting to show members of the FSA, except that none of the nine men featured in it holds any weapons. Some carry lemons instead of grenades; others hold sticks as if they were rifles. One wields a hammer.

”In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate … We, the free men of Idlib, announce the formation of the ‘We Hope to Be Armed’ brigade,” the speaker says. ”We do not have any weapons. We ask the National Council and the commander of the Free Army to fulfill their lying promises and to stop serenading the revolutionaries on the ground without sending weapons, because your serenades are killing us.”

Col. Ahmad Hijazi, the FSA’s chief of staff, says he can understand the resentment. ”I don’t blame them,” he says. ”The people are angry and they are taking out their frustrations on us. But what can we do? They are asking us for more than what we can do. Governments must support the Free Army.”

In the absence of such aid, Syria‘s military defectors just wait. The camp housing the FSA officers looks just like the others Turkey has established for the thousands of civilians who have fled across its border — rows of white tents are neatly pitched along lanes of uneven loose white gravel. But unlike most of the others, the officers’ camp is isolated from nearby towns and villages. It’s in the middle of a lush agricultural plain in Apaydin, about 12 miles from Antakya, where verdant fields abut plowed, upturned earth, and snow-capped hills rim the horizon.

The FSA may claim to be operating a ”command and control center” for the anti-Assad military effort from the camp, but it’s unclear whether they can control much of anything from a base with regular power cuts. Its critics, like the ”We Hope to Be Armed Brigade,” say it has offered little to the men fighting and dying inside Syria in its name. How do the FSA’s commanders account for their seeming lack of impact on the ground?

Hijazi shifts uncomfortably in his plastic chair inside one of the many identical tents in the officers’ camp. He doesn’t like the question. Nor does his fellow officer, Major Maher Nuami, who is seated on a single bed (the only one) in the tent. ”It’s sensitive,” Hijazi finally says. They won’t say if the FSA has sent emissaries to Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Libya — which recently pledged $100 million to the Syrian opposition — but insist that they have received no help on the ground from these states.

If the international community doesn’t arm them and provide logistical support, ”everything” the world fears from the fall of Assad will come to pass, Nuami argues.

”The people will get weapons, one way or another, so help us,” Nuami continues. ”If you give us weapons, we can control them. We want the fall of the regime, not the fall of the state. If the international community helps us, we’ll help them. If it doesn’t, our people offer no guarantees.”

According to the FSA officers, the claims of foreign fighters in Syria — eagerly touted by the Assad regime — are wildly overblown. A lone Libyan had reportedly volunteered to fight with their FSA unit recently, but left after a few days. ”He said, ‘You guys are crazy, this is suicide, you don’t have weapons’,” Mokbat said. ”He was right. I wish the revolution would go back, it was better before. We used to shoot into the air, we didn’t worry about ammunition. Now we think twice about using each bullet.”

Although Turkey houses the FSA, it ”does not allow any weapon to be transferred to Syria in [an] illegal way,” a Turkish government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. Anyone caught trying will be arrested and the weapons confiscated, he added.

That’s exactly what many Syrian refugees, defectors and civilian revolutionaries accuse the high-level defectors in the camp of doing — just sitting there. In the absence of an organized military effort, the burden of securing weapons and funding has fallen to lower-level officers like Alaa, as well as ordinary Syrians like Abdel-Salim, a taxi driver turned thuwar who commands the ”Free Syrians,” a ragtag bunch of farmers, taxi drivers and other civilians from a string of villages abutting the Turkish border. Abdel-Salim, a 40-year-old with a bushy salt-and-pepper beard and high cheekbones, had crossed the border into southernTurkey to try and secure supplies for his group: 3,000 bullets, to be precise.

The ”Free Syrians” are under the FSA banner, he explains, and are in regular communication with its leadership via a few defectors in his group. ”We ask the defectors to go to the officers’ camp to ask for help but we haven’t got anything from the Free Army yet,” Abdel-Salim says. ”But to be fair, I don’t think the Free Army has anything itself.” 

Abdel-Salim recalls that he participated in peaceful protests for months, and only picked up a weapon four months ago, when he ”lost hope” in protests. He was shot about a month before that, in his stomach and his right leg, and spent 10 days recuperating in a Turkish hospital. He walks with a limp, but that didn’t deter him from crossing back into Syria to fight Assad’s army. ”I didn’t want to pick up a weapon,” he says, ”but I think Israel is more honorable than the Syrian regime.”

The longer Abdel-Salim speaks, the angrier he gets. ”Where is the money the Syrian opposition got from the Libyans?” he seethes. ”We haven’t seen any of the [Syrian] National Council members down here. … What is Riad al-Assad doing in Turkey anyway? Army commander? He should cross the border, lift people’s morale. What is he scared of — dying?”

             The Assad System – to kill more

Another from defected soldiers:

Defectors: Torture of children, rape by #Syrian army ‘routine’ !

http://syrianfreedomls.tumblr.com/post/20372447508/defectors-torture-of-children-rape-by-syrian-army

In addition to shooting unarmed civilians, Syrian military personnel routinely have raped women and girls, tortured children and encouraged troops to loot the houses they storm, former foot soldiers say.

“What I have seen with my own eyes, it was indescribable,” said Rolat Azad, 21, who said he’d served as a master sergeant in Idlib province in the northeast of Syria. There, he commanded 10 men who’d break into houses seeking to arrest men whose names they’d been given by the country’s intelligence agencies. “They gave us orders: ‘You are free to do what you like,’ ” he recalled.

Starting last July, he said, his unit arrested and tortured five to 10 people daily. “We had a torture room on our base,” he said. “There was physical torture — beatings — and psychological tortures,” said Azad, a Syrian Kurd who deserted and fled in March to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. “They also brought women and girls through. They put them in the closed room and called soldiers to rape them.”

The women often were killed, he said.

Azad — as with other former soldiers here, the name is a pseudonym assumed to protect his family, still in Syria — was interviewed at a camp that Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government set up for Syrian army deserters. He recalled the torture of two young teenage boys. He said they’d been arrested either for shooting videos of the military or showing disrespect for the military and the regime, something that wasn’t uncommon, even among children. “I once asked a small kid why he wasn’t going to school,” Azad said. “He said, ‘We won’t until this regime is gone.’ “

One boy, about 13, was brought into the torture room and given electrical shocks, Azad said. Another, 14, was brought into the room in late February. His screams could be heard in the camp outside the town of Jisr al Shughour. “It was painful for all the soldiers,” he said. Azad said he had no idea of the boy’s fate. “They held him one or two days. Either they killed him or sent him to military security,” he said.

Even worse, he said, was hearing the wailing and screaming of old men being tortured: “When they tortured old men, I couldn’t stand it. I went outside. Others closed their eyes. I could not stay.”

An independent U.N. commission of inquiry has described the Syrian government’s offensive against civilians as possible “crimes against humanity.” The commission, which reports to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, detailed arbitrary arrests, disappearances and torture, including the torture of children, in its latest report, issued in February, but it didn’t detail the practice of rape. Commission officials said they had yet to talk with a rape victim.

He was assigned to a military construction unit but was ordered to the scenes of demonstrations, where troops would shoot at civilians.

“It was an ugly scene. We were at the top of a building and would shoot at civilians: children, women, men, anyone against the regime.” He said the Syrian intelligence agencies stationed personnel to make sure they shot civilians. “They were watching anyone not shooting and taking down names,” he said.

Several soldiers said Kurdish and Sunni Muslim troops tried wherever possible to fire over people’s heads, but Alawites — members of the sect related to Shiite Islam that President Bashar Assad belongs to — boasted about how many demonstrators they’d killed.

“We had an order to shoot and kill,” said Khaled Derecki, 20. “But some of those demonstrating were my friends, and we fired over their heads. “But the Alawites in my unit were very proud. They’d say: ‘Today, we killed seven or eight.’ “

240mm mortar bombs

One of the weapons used by the Assad’s regime in “attacking” and destroying cities and neighbourhoods is the Russian SM-240 (2S4) 240-mm self-propelled mortar known to the West as the M-1975.

This systems fire the world’s largest high explosive mortar bomb (240mm F-864), designed to “demolish fortifications and fieldworks” according to a Russian arms merchandizing catalogue.

It is the largest mortar bomb known to be in production and use. It weighs 130 kilograms and contains 31.93 kilograms of TNT as an explosive charge.

Other munitions used by Assad’s regime on the “attack”  is Russian 122mm howitzers and 120mm mortars and 121-mm and 81-mm shells.

You REALLY get “impressed” by these “brave soldiers” who attacks civilian cities and destroy whole blocks and neighbourhoods by using among other things 240mm mortar bombs. Designed to “demolish fortifications and fieldworks”

That is really a “worthy” adversary for a real soldier – killing unarmed civilians in their homes.

This is a photo of the 240mm mortar bomb. I cut it from a Russian instructional video.

So who are these “brave” men slaughtering unarmed civilians?

The main force is Assad’s loyal shabiha, a militia of an estimated 35,000 Alawites who have pledged loyalty to Assad and are his regime’s key prop.

The Syrian opposition refers to this ragtag band of Assad loyalists as jaysh abu shahhata— or the “army of the sandals,” referring to its shoddy equipment and lack of discipline.

Another one is the infamous Fourth Armored Division, under the control of the president’s brother, Maher. The Syrian 14th Infantry Division and the 40th and 90th mechanized brigades has also taken part.

In addition, they are not very “professional” or good at their work, except of course to destroy cities and kill civilians.

For example when the 4th Armored Division were sent (February 28) to the Baba Amr district of Homs, after Syrian forces failed in their three-week long offensive (including intensive shelling) to enter the city. It wasn’t until the army shut off the  last supply line that it was able to enter Baba Amr—spearheaded by nearly 7000 soldiers from the 4th Armored Division, which is roughly the entire unit.

The resistance there was carried by one of the most professional Syrian rebel group, The Al Farouk Brigades, which kept the Syrian military at bay for nearly a month although they have no ties with the FSA and number no more than 300 to 400 fighters. The rebel movement has some 40 small “brigades”, mixed freelancers who fight at random here and there but demonstrate little operational ability.

And what did this “glorious elite” Armored Division do after the capture?

Well one of the first thing it did was to behead 17 civilians.

A “normal routine” for any professional soldier wouldn’t you say?

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/michaelweiss/100140744/assads-security-forces-have-beheaded-17-civilians-in-baba-amr/

”Assad’s security forces have just beheaded – yes, beheaded – 17 civilians in Baba Amr, according to the human rights group Avaaz. I have been speaking to Will Davies, Avaaz’s media campaigner, who confirmed with me that he is ”100 per cent” sure that this story is true as it’s been corroborated by independent sources. In fact, he provided a list of all the victims:

1. Abdul-Haleem Sabouh 2. Abdul-Naser Sabouh 3. Abdul-Hameed Sabouh
4. Abdul-Rahman Sabouh 5. Abdul-Baset Sabouh 6. Amer son of Omer Sabouh
7. Abdul-Moueen Daboul 8. Abdul-Salam Kujuk 9. Barri al-Akidy
10. Ez al-Deen al-Akidy 11. Ahmad al-Akidy 12. Abdul-Rahman Jneed
13. Abdul-Kafi Juneed 14. Radwan Bitar 15. Mahmoud al-Zoubi
16. Mahmoud al-louz 17. Alaa al-Ali”

But for the most part, most of the army stays out of this. They have “defected in place”

From division level down to battalions and brigades level. Entire units from commander down defy orders from the General Staff in Damascus to fight the rebels without crossing the lines to the opposition. To keep the spreading passive mutiny, Assad keeps the defiant units supplied in their barracks with funds and food.

Another example of this passive mutiny by the Syrian army, was when the five Syrian divisions stationed on Syria’s Golan border with Israel and its frontier with South Lebanon; were told by their commanders in beginning of March to ignore orders from Damascus to join the crackdown on rebels because their mission was “to defend the Syrian homeland from external threats” – another form of “defection in place.”

In other words, we are so “busy” protecting the borders so we don’t want to and don’t have time for this kind of “nonsense”.

For the most part, the Syrian army is a declining, anachronistic force, whose high officers is afraid of the leader, and watch each other’s backs. The problems with corruption, nepotism, poorly organized technical and maintenance support etc. This keeps much of the army paralyzed.

Some Special Forces and armored units are exceptions, but promotion is highly dependent on favoritism and nepotism.

That is why – contrary to what the West believes – Assad is not using his army to crack down on the uprising but the loyal Alawite Shabiha brigades and battalions.

Many artists, writers etc have taken part in the protests and uprising. To name some:

Samar Yazbeck, Ibrahim Qashoush, Rasha Omran, Ali Farzat, Mai Skaf, Khaled Khalifa, Samih Shqair, Fadwa Sulaiman —there’s an impressive list of Syrian writers, musicians and artists who have bravely and unambiguously supported the people’s aspirations for dignity.

As the Alawi actress Fadwa Sulaiman, on November 8, 2011,  leading the crowd in besieged and blood-soaked Homsin chants of “No Muslim Brotherhood, No Salafis, We All Want Freedom.” And “One, One, the Syrian People are One.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZT1PdiQVNI&feature=player_embedded

A video statement she made on November 10, 2011, excerpts :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlQlLxh5rEE&feature=player_embedded

“Districts are being raided since last night, searching for me. People are being beaten to reveal my hiding place. In case I get arrested by the security or army forces, who might force me to appear on Al-Dunia channel to make me to admit that I am part of the conspiracy against Syria the way they did with the honorable Sheik Al-Sayasneh and the brave officier Hussein Harmoush. If they hurt me or any members of my family in any way, then I hold the government and its security apparatus and thugs fully responsible.”

“I urge the great Syrian people to continue their peaceful struggle until they topple the regime and achieve the democratic civic state that all Syrians dream of. And I invite you to unite and stand together to overthrow the regime which lost its legitimacy the moment the constitution was changed to accommodate the appointment of Bashar Al-Assad as president ofSyria, for no reason other than being the son of the late president.

I urge you to come out to the streets and squares today and every day to declare civil disobedience and hunger strike until the withdrawal of the security and military forces from the streets and the release of all the political and opinion prisoners which are currently in the oppressive jails and to spare the blood of all Syrians.

I urge all the Syrians around the world, and all people to support us and stand in front of our embassies around the world declaring hunger strike to express the right of people to express their opinion about their regimes without being killed by these regimes.”

“Baba Amr is living a real humanitarian disaster. Stand by Baba Amr, because no district or road in Syria is exempt from a fate similar to that of Bab Amr, as long as the Arab league is providing the regime with one extension after another so that it continues repressing the Syrian people, and depriving them from their freedom, dignity and life, and peace be upon Syria and its people.”

And journalist, writer and screenwriter Samar Yazbek speaks up on Syria in an Italian magazine, April 24, 2011

http://www.rayaagency.org/2011/04/samar-yazbek-speaks-up-on-syria-in-an-italian-magazine/

“I’m not optimistic, to the contrary. In recent weeks people have finally broken the silence and fear, I myself have participated in the demonstrations”, she says. “We have found the courage to ask for freedom and democracy, an end to emergency laws that oppress us since 1963. We demand real political parties and elections, the right to express ourselves. But the repression is very hard, with many deaths and arrests. As always, the regime makes promises, but does not maintain them. The army and security forces control everything.”

“The regime has indeed destroyed the Alawite religion, a peaceful religion, as it engaged in things foreign to the faith, leading some to become its Alawite thugs. But many of us are opponents, in jail, in exile, or banned from travel. The regime is playing with sectarianism to terrify “its” minority and get support. A game that will end, but first, I fear, there will be clashes between the communities. ”

In Syria, Holding a Camera is a Death Sentence

Most of the documentation, videos, photos etc from the Assad’s regimes slaughter of it’s own people has been documented by very brave civilians who risk their life every time they try to document and record what is happening. Many has paid with their life for this “crime”

Here is an interview with the founder of the of Syria’s Dier Press Network. How a group of doctors became the vanguard of Eastern Syria’s free press.

http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/3584/danny_thiemann_holding_a_camer/#.T2hKD2-TG5U.twitter

“In the town of Dierez-Zour on the road from Syria to Iraq, a doctor, who we’ll call Kareem, put down his medicine bottles. It wasMarch 15, 2011. The media blackout in Syria had just begun. Kareem had no experience as a journalist. But when he turned on the TV and saw the blackout, he picked up the phone. On the other end is his cousin, who we’ll call Ahmed, a young law student in theUK.

When Syria’s crackdown on protests began to intensify, Ahmed and Kareem made a commitment to respond. On March 21, they formed a network of smugglers, cameramen, and tech support that has become known as the Dier Press Network (DPN.), Syria’s first citizen-journalist media company.

One year later, Ahmed and Kareem reflect on the small company that has grown into a satellite TV network, the colleagues they’ve lost, and the future of the Syrian free press. Their names have been changed to protect their families.”

”Guernica: How did you start?

Ahmed: Kareem gave me a call one day. The government started using live ammunition on protesters, beating them up, and if you were caught you risked torture. You could hear the metal clang of tanks outside the classroom windows, the drone of airplanes above the teacher’s voice, the plodding of artillery, like footsteps of a faraway giant. I had already left the country about a year ago. But he was seeing all these things with his own eyes and he wanted to show the world what he saw.

Kareem: Most news was on the Western side ofSyria, but the East was rebelling and no one knew about it. I wanted to do something, but I was really starting from zero. It was a process of trial and error at the beginning.

Guernica: How did you build a citizen-journalist network? How would others do so?

Kareem: First thing was to start a Facebook page. The problem with this, we found out, was that Facebook was heavily monitored by the government. But still, we felt the most prominent way to spread the news during the media blackout was through Facebook.”

“Guernica: What is DPN exactly?

Ahmed: It stands for Dier ez-Zour Press Network. Dier ez-Zour is our province in Syria. DPN. is a non-partisan, non-sectarian news group. We rely on a mix of volunteers within and without the company. It is a sort of crowd-sourced journalism that relies on ordinary citizens.

Guernica: What are the next steps in expanding this kind of media network?

Ahmed: You need a lot of public support. We had it. But after the media blackout worsened, we depended less and less on trusted friends and more and more on anonymous volunteers. Basically, we went from one cameraman and Kareem to hundreds cameramen and hundreds of Kareems [smugglers]. The problem was that when the army entered towns like Dier ez-Zour, filming any citizens getting killed was very dangerous, and yet DPN. was carrying all of these videos. Carrying a camera was a death sentence.”

Some recent headlines from local media:

Al-Arabiya: Saturday’s death toll in Syriareaches 133 people (April 7)

Turkeysays 2,800 fleeSyria in one day (April 5)

More than 1,000 Syrian refugees flee toTurkey in single day (April 4)

Al-Jazeera: Wednesday’s death toll in Syriarises to 92 (April 4)

Al-Arabiya: Sunday’s death toll in Syriarises to 57 people (April 1)

Al-Jazeera: Syrian forces kill 50 people on Saturday, activists say (March 24)

Al-Jazeera: Syria’s Thursday death toll rises to 81, activists say (March 22)

Wednesday’s death toll in Syriarises to 70, Local Coordination Committees say (March 21)

Al-Arabiya: Syrian forces kill 55 people on Tuesday (March 20)

Monday March 19, 2012

Death toll: 52, including 6 inDeraaProvince, and 6 inDeirEzzorProvince. Explosions were heard in Arbeen and Harasta inEastern Ghoutah region ofDamascus, as well as in Qaboun District inDamascusCity itself. The pounding of Old Homs continues, as locals find 6 bodies belonging to local women killed by pro-Assad death squads.

Al-Arabiya: Friday’s death toll in Syriarises to 41 (March 16)

Al-Jazeera: Thursday’s death toll in Syriarises to 72 (March 15)

Syria planting border mines to stop refugee flight,Turkey says (March 15)

One thousand Syrians flee toTurkey in single day, official says (March 15)

More than 9,000 killed inSyria violence, monitors say (March 15)

Syria– one year after the revolution: 10,000 confirmed dead.20,000 missing / 120,000 detained / 230,000 internally displaced / 150,000 refugees(Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Gulf, Europe) / 1,400,000 at risk of famine(according to FAO).

Wednesday March 15, 2012

Tuesday: Forty people were executed by pro-Assad death squads near Bilal Mosque inIdlibCity. But ten loyalist troops were killed in an ambush in the city of Ma’aratAl-Nouman. In Homs City, the pounding of Jub Al-Jandali Neighborhood continued,leading to the death of at least 5 residents. In nearby Talbisseh, poundingleft 14 locals wounded. In the town ofDa’el,DeraaProvince, 12loyalists were killed in an ambush by local FSA units.

Wednesday: 85 people were killed mostly inIdlib City as pro-Assad death squads took controlover the city. The death toll also includes 6 who died under torture in HamaCity (3) and AleppoCity (3), 6 killed inDamascus and suburbs, and 11 who werekilled in a renewed incursion intoDeraaCity.

Thursday: 91 people were killed including at least 23 who were executed by pro-Assad death squadsinIdlib City. Death toll also includes 5 children and 4 defectors.

Al-Jazeera: Syrian security forces kill 76, activists say (March 14)

And by the way, the headline Vladimir Putin ‘The Butcher of Homswas given by the people on the streets in Homs and Babr Amr.  That’s as he so “fondly” known on the streets of Babr Amr.

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