NATO: Syrian forces firing more Scud missiles
Following Syria’s loyalist troops
- NEW: One missile landed only 20 miles from the Turkish border, a NATO official says
- NATO chief describes Syria’s launch of the missiles as “an act of a desperate regime”
- Development highlights the need for a protection plan for Turkey, NATO says
- Scud missiles were fired from Damascus toward Aleppo, a Turkish official says
Massive explosions reported near Syrian air force compound
- Opposition member fears hundreds killed in bombings; the death toll is unclear
- “This is the largest blast I have ever felt since the uprising began,” one man says
- Syrian state-run media have not reported any bombings near the air force compound
- Opposition: At least 31 people are reported dead across Syria on Tuesday
Syrian state TV shows the aftermath of the attacks in Aleppo
Syria: Aleppo Bombings Kill More Than 30
State media says bombings in Syria’s second city caused huge destruction – a week after opposition fighters intensified fighting.
Syrian state TV shows the aftermath of the attacks in Aleppo
More than 30 people have been killed in a wave of suicide bombings in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
The attacks occurred in a series of three car bombings near an officers’ club in the north of the country.
State media say the bombing caused massive destruction, further trapping scores more under the rubber. The number of dead is expected to rise.
One shaken resident told state-run Ikhbariya TV: “It was like a series of earthquakes. It was terrifying, terrifying.”
Local activist Mohammad Saeed said the explosions went off minutes apart at one of the city’s main squares. He said the blasts were followed by clashes and heavy gunfire.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the attacks, adding a fourth car bomb went off in the Bab Jnein area near the Chamber of Commerce, causing an unspecified number of casualties there.
The conflict in Syria has now been going on for 18 months – with opponents to President Bashar al Assad’s regime targeting security agencies and soldiers more regularly.
There had been unsubstantiated rumours that Mr Assad had been in the city.
Last week Syrian opposition fighters launched a new more intense campaign to take Aleppo, the commercial hub of Syria as well as its largest city.
Footage has emerged showing Austin Tice, an American journalist who has been missing in Syria since mid-August, alive.
Tice was a freelancer for the Washington Post and the McClatchy chain, among others. He had not been heard from since August 13.
A 47-second video called “Austin was posted on YouTube last Wednesday, but was not widely noticed until it was posted on Facebook on Monday. Tice’s family confirmed that it was actually him in the video, saying in a statement, “Knowing Austin is alive and well is comforting to our family. Though it is difficult to see our eldest son in such a setting and situation as that depicted in the video, it is reassuring that he appears to be unharmed.”
Syrian Online Battlefield: Who Is Winning The War 2.0
Syria’s ex-PM Riad Hijab says regime is collapsing
Former Syrian PM Riad Hijab gave a news conference in Amman
Former Syrian PM Riad Hijab, who defected to Jordan last week, has said the Syrian regime is collapsing “morally, financially and militarily”.
Speaking in the Jordanian capital, Amman, he said the regime did not control more than 30% of the territory.
He called on the opposition abroad to unite and on the Syrian army to stand alongside its people.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is in Syria to assess ways to increase the flow of emergency aid there.
Mr Hijab added he was joining the rebel side and urged other political and military leaders to break away from President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“I urge the army to follow the example of Egypt’s and Tunisia’s armies – take the side of people,” he added.
This is the first time Mr Hijab has spoken publicly since fleeing to Jordan with his family last week.
Syria ex-envoy to Iraq: Assad regime is dying
Nawaf Fares tells Al Jazeera that despite Russian and Iranian support, embattled regime will not survive.
Nawaf Fares is the second senior diplomat to quit the embattled Syrian government
|Syria’s former ambassador to Iraq, who defected this week, has told Al Jazeera that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is “dying”.In an interview with Al Jazeera’s Inside Syria programme on Saturday, Nawaf Fares said the regime is in power only due to Russian and Iranian military support, and the hesitation of the international community to take concrete action.He said he believes that 95 per cent of the Syrian people were against the regime.|
“From the inside, the regime is dead – economically, socially and in all domains,” he said.
Fares, who announced his defection on Wednesday, also said that Assad’s forces were “shaking” amid increased defections in the Syrian army.
“The army will never stay solid as it is. [The regime is] now concentrating on the [military] elites to go to the hot areas, but there are threats of defection,” he said.
“Even officers are oppressed. [The regime] will never go on forever.”
Syria Crisis: Military Jet Pilot Defects To Jordan
By JAMAL HALABY and BASSEM MROUE 06/21/12 09:44 AM ET
UN: Syrian Troops Used Children As Human Shields..
Children Victims Of Killing, Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, Torture
Syrian Activists Say Villagers Shelled, Stabbed And Executed.. Regime Denies Massacre.. Russia And China Block Military Intervention.. Last-Ditch Efforts To Save Peace Deal
Over 90 People, Dozens Of Children Slaughtered..
Syrian Forces Kill ‘Entire Families’ In Villages
Syria Ghost Town
Wives of U.N. diplomats tell Syria’s first lady to ‘stop being a bystander’
UN makes final call to halt violence as deadline looms
Annan’s plan is well intentioned. Annan himself is a very intelligent man. But ultimately you cannot have this kind of diplomacy work without a credible threat of force. And I don’t see a credible threat of force.
Late March, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan persuaded Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to agree to a sensible planto stop the killing in Syria and start a process of genuine dialogue. Unfortunately, that plans seems highly unlikely to succeed.
That is because the Syrian regime is not fundamentally interested in dialogue with the political opposition. It seeks instead to brutally eradicate that opposition.
Syria President Bashar Assad Visits Devastated Baba Amr Neighborhood In Homs
March 27 (Reuters) – Syria has accepted a U.N.-sponsored peace plan, international envoy Kofi Annan said on Tuesday, as troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad raided rebel forces who have taken refuge across the border in Lebanon.
Assad made a rare foray into the heartland of Syria’s year-old uprising, visiting a rebel stronghold in the city of Homs that his forces had overrun after weeks of shelling and gunfire, apparently to make the point that he can now tour the streets of the once bitterly fought-over district.
Syrian state television showed video of Assad, wearing an open-necked shirt with a blue suit, walking casually in the devastated streets of the Baba Amr district and talking to groups of supporters and troops in combat gear.
Baba Amr was an emblem of opposition and rebel army defiance until it was reclaimed by government forces early this month after 26 days of heavy bombardment which opposition activists said was totally indiscriminate.
“Life will return to normal in Baba Amr, better than it was before,” Assad said.
Activists says hundreds of civilians and opponents of Assad were killed in Baba Amr in February by shelling and snipers.
“He thinks he won and scored a great victory,” said opposition activist Saif Hurria, speaking by telephone from Homs. “He wants to show the world he defeated and put down a revolution. But … it seems he can’t even release the video until he has left Homs.
Damascus fighting marks a major escalation
Syria: ‘I am the real dictator’, declares Asma al-Assad
Asma al-Assad, the British-born wife of Syria’s president, told a friend that she was the “real dictator” in the family, according to leaked emails that suggest she holds a cherished place in the leader’s inner circle.
Twin Car Bombs Hit Syrian Capital.. At Least 27 People Killed.. Nearly 100 Injured.. Government Has Blamed Terrorists.. Opposition Points At Regime
Troops Pound Shattered Syrian City.. Power, Telephones Down.. Water, Food Run Short.. Martyrs ‘Buried In Gardens’
Syria Crisis: 100 Civilians Killed A Day; U.N.: Death Toll Exceeds 7,500
Syria Votes During Bombardment.. ‘A Constitution Drafted By Our Killer’.. ‘Refugees Have Spoiled Our Life’
BLAST RIPS THROUGH DAMASCUS
Police Bus Riddled With Shrapnel.. Pools Of Blood On The Street.. Possible Suicide Bomb.. Up To 25 People Killed..
Syria crisis: Iraq’s Falah Fayadh ‘positive’ on talks
Pressure is mounting on the Syrian president to end nine months of violence
The opposition in Syria has proved remarkably resilient in the face of the heavy firepower used by the Syrian authorities – but it lacks clear leadership.
This was supposed to be provided by the Syrian National Council, which was established in Istanbul in September – but the council’s leaders are mostly intellectuals in exile who have limited contact with those organising resistance inside Syria.
They hope that their first congress this weekend will produce a much clearer agreed strategy.
Concern over the readiness of the opposition to take over from President Assad is one factor holding some countries back from endorsing international intervention in Syria.
Fittingly, this congress is being held on the first anniversary of the Arab uprisings, in Tunisia, where they began.
An Iraqi delegation led by National Security adviser Falah al-Fayadh says it has held “positive” talks aimed at ending the violence there.
Mr Fayadh was trying to broker a deal based on Arab League proposals, and said he would update the bloc at a meeting in Cairo on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Syria’s main opposition group held a conference in Tunisia.
The Syrian National Council is trying to present itself as a government-in-waiting set to replace Bashar al-Assad.
Pressure is mounting on the Syrian president to end the violence that the UN says has taken more than 5,000 lives since March.
Widespread anti-government protests encouraged by the Arab Spring triggered a harsh crackdown that has brought regional and international condemnation.
But after months of bloodshed and no sign of the regime falling, some Syrians have taken up arms in a bid to remove President Assad.
Arab League: Syria Sanctions Approved
Syria Does Not Bow Down
Cartoonist Steve Breen on the Syrian president.
Bloody civil war at hand as Syria under ultimatum
More than 3,500 people have died in months of anti-government protests in Syria, according to the UN. A UN spokeswoman blamed “the brutal crackdown on…
A UN spokeswoman blamed “the brutal crackdown on dissent” for the figure, which was based on sources on the ground.
Last week the Arab League said Syria had agreed proposals for a peace deal involving the opposition.
The UN says since then more than 60 people have been reported killed – many in the central city of Homs.
“Syrian troops continue to use tanks and heavy weaponry to attack residential areas in the city of Homs,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Opposition activists say security forces have been mounting a heavy offensive on the city over the past few days, particularly on the contested Baba Amr district.
They say troops are going house-to-house to make arrests, although many residents are reported to have fled.
CALLING ASSAD’S BLUFF
Syria Accepts Arab League Plan
The plan, brokered by the Arab League, requires Syria’s embattled president Bashar al-Assad to immediately withdraw his security forces from the nation’s cities, allow foreign and domestic media unfettered access to the country and free political prisoners, said Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the prime minister of Qatar.
The deal represents the first significant signal that President Assad’s regime is prepared to compromise to end a standoff between his government and protesters that has left more than 3,000 Syrians dead.
Some members of Syria’s opposition, who have been cynical of Mr. Assad’s commitment to any negotiated resolution, cautiously greeted the deal, which calls for the Syrian regime to begin talks with the opposition within two week
U.N. chief to Syria’s Bashar Assad: ‘This killing must stop’
REPORTING FROM BEIRUT — Syria’s leaders must stop “continuing to kill their own people,” launch “inclusive dialogue” and undertake “decisive” political reforms “before it is too late,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday.
“This killing must stop. Immediately,” Ban told reporters in Bern, Switzerland.
Meantime, an opposition group seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad said at least 23 more people had been killed in the country, including 19 in the violence-wracked city of Homs, a center of the anti-regime protest movement.
The group also accused the government of detaining doctors who treat demonstrators shot and beaten by government forces. Many wounded have sought home care because they fear going to hospitals and clinics subject to raids by security officers, the group said.
There was no immediate response from Syrian authorities. Last week, the government accused “terrorists” of attacking the main hospital in Homs and trying to assassinate the head of the emergency room.
The U.N. chief, who has previously accused Assad of “broken promises,” called on Damascus to allow a U.N. team to investigate more than 3,000 killings in Syria since large-scale protests erupted in March.
The cause of the deaths is a central source of dispute between the government and its critics. The Syrian government has restricted journalists, making it difficult to determine who is killing whom.
The Syrian regime blames armed “terrorists” acting on a “foreign agenda” for the deaths, and says that more than 1,100 security officers have been killed. But many have dismissed the government’s version of events.
Groups calling for Assad’s ouster allege that security officers have attacked peaceful protesters, killing civilians. The Obama administration and other Western governments have called for Assad to step down. Iran and other allies of Damascus have pledged support for Assad and denounced foreign intervention in Syria’s affairs.
The Assad government says it has launched reforms, including a planned revision of the nation’s constitution. Opponents dismiss the moves as a face-saving tactic.
Last week, the U.N. human rights chief, Navi Pillay, assailed a campaign of “ruthless repression and killings” in Syria and called for international steps to prevent a “full-blown civil war.”
Earlier this month, Russia and China, two allies of Damascus, vetoed a U.S.-backed resolution at the U.N. Security Council condemning Syria’s crackdown on protests as a “grave and systematic” violation of human rights. A new proposed U.N. resolution could be forthcoming, diplomats have said.
“It is a totally unacceptable situation that more than 3,000 people have been killed,” the U.N. secretary-general said, urging Assad to accept a U.N. inquiry “as soon as possible, to find out the exact situation there.”
Syria Unrest: The West ‘seeks to break up’ country
The West is trying to create “total chaos” to break up Syria, the country’s foreign minister has said.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Walid Moualem blamed months-long anti-government demonstrations on “foreign intervention”.
He said the reforms announced by President Bashar al-Assad had to take “a back seat” as a result.
Mr Bashar’s government is accused of a violent crackdown that the UN says has killed more than 2,700 people.
The president denies the allegations, saying he is tackling armed gangs of terrorists.
In the latest violence, Syrian tanks bombarded a strategic town in the restive central province of Homs on Sunday night, injuring three people, activists and residents say.
‘Hurting ordinary Syrians’
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday, Mr Moulaem said foreign governments had sought to undermine the delicate balance between Syria’s different religious groups.
“How can we otherwise explain media provocations, financing and arming religious extremism?” he said.
“What purpose could this serve other than total chaos that would dismember Syria”.
Mr Moulaem also said that economic sanctions recently imposed by the US and the EU were hurting “the interests and the basic daily subsistence needs of the Syrian people”.
The UN Security Council has condemned the government crackdown on protests, which erupted in March.
But the council remains divided over sanctions against Mr Bashar’s regime: the call for tougher action from the US and European nations is being resisted by China, Russia and other emerging nations.
Sanctions against Syria
The United States imposed sanctions Tuesday on Syria’s Foreign Minister and two other senior officials in connection with the Damascus government’s five-month crackdown on protestors. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem was targeted for being a leading defender of the violent campaign.
The Obama administration is expanding its sanctions against the Syrian government to include what the U.S. Treasury Department describes as “principal defenders of regime activities.”
A Treasury announcement said the new sanctions apply to al-Moallem, the country’s foreign minister since 2006, presidential adviser and spokeswoman Bouthaina Shaaban, and the country’s ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali.
The action freezes any U.S. assets the three may have and forbids Americans from doing business with them.
The United States now has imposed targeted sanctions on more than 30 Syrian officials, including President Bashar al-Assad, banned imports of Syrian oil products, and frozen all Syrian government assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
President Barak Obama formally called on Assad to step down on August 18.
State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said al-Moallem and Shaaban are part of a “propaganda machine” that has tried to mislead world opinion about the Syrian situation.
“He [al-Moallem] has continued to beat this drum of international conspiracies, and has attempted to cover-up the regime’s horrific activities by making claims that terrorist or others were responsible,” said Nuland. “Bouthaina Shaaban has served as the public mouthpiece for the repression of the regime.”
Nuland said the United States is concerned about possible connections between the Syrian envoy to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, and the harassment and apparent abduction of pro-opposition Syrian activists in that country.
“Beyond saying that we don’t think his activities were compatible with his status, that he has strong ties to Syrian intelligence, I don’t think I want to go any further than that,” said Nuland. “Except to say that we have been concerned, and we’ve conveyed these concerns to the Lebanese government, about harassment of Syrians in Lebanon and the disappearance of some of them.”
David Schenker, Director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the sanctions against the Syrian envoy are a U.S. “shot across the bow” against a campaign by the Damascus government targeting Syrian dissidents abroad.
He said this includes alleged surveillance and harassment of activists by the Syrian embassy in Washington, now being probed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Schenker said the targeted U.S. sanctions may have little immediate effect but do put Syrian officials on notice that supporting the crackdown, and the Assad government, may have long-term consequences for them.
“We’re not going to see any change in behavior or immediate results from these sanctions. But it is a clear message from the Obama administration that people will be held accountable,” said Schenker. “And it may dissuade, in the future, others from taking actions in support of this repression and regime that appears to be heading toward its demise.”
The Washington Institute’s Schenker said European Union energy sanctions against Syria, expected to be finalized within days, would be by far the strongest penalties enacted to date and would strip the Assad government of 30 percent of its income.
But he said nothing is likely to change Assad’s determination to try to quell the uprising by force and said it is unclear how long the crisis might continue.
Syria Uprising Leaves 3,000 People Missing: Report
ZEINA KARAM 07/28/11
Unmasking the false reformer
Amnesty accuses Syria of crimes against humanity
Amnesty International has called for a UN-backed investigation into the violence in Syria, saying the regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters may constitute crimes against humanity.
The group has documented several cases of torture, deaths in custody and arbitrary detention in a new report.
All relate to a military sweep in the western village of Tell Kalakh in May.
Amnesty says the UN Security Council must refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.
Syrian human rights groups have said that more than 1,350 civilians and 350 security personnel have been killed across the country since protests began in mid-March against the repressive rule of President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting off the most serious challenge to his family’s four decades in power.
June 23, 2011
CNN’s Arwa Damon reports that while things are calm in the Syrian capital, chaos continues in other parts of the country
By Borzou Daragahi
The embattled president mentions a possible change in the constitution to allow political parties, but opponents say he offers no concrete steps toward democracy.
CNN reporter, briefly in Syria, hears ‘horror’ stories
NEW: “They set our fields on fire, destroyed our homes,” one woman says
Trees provided the only shelter at a makeshift campsite in northwest Syria
4 European countries say the U.N. Security Council should act; Russia and China disagree
Rights groups and the government give conflicting accounts of violence
Near Kherbet Al-Jouz, Syria (CNN) — As the Syrian military on Tuesday continued its relentless advance against protesters, citizens who had fled their homes for safety related “horror story upon horror story” to a reporter who managed to enter the country.
Despite the Syrian government’s consistent refusal to give CNN and other international news organizations permission to enter the country, a CNN reporter crossed the Turkish border into northwestern Syria for a few hours Tuesday.
She spoke to people at a makeshift campsite near Kherbet al-Jouz, where tarpaulins strung between trees provided the only shelter from the elements for the hundreds of Syrians encamped there. One family said they had spent an entire night standing rather than lie in the mud. One man tried to protect himself from the rain with branches and a piece of tarpaulin.
Syria Refugees Turkey Exodus Worries Observers
Syrian protesters turn on Iran and Hezbollah
Syria Internet Cut Off In Some Regions As Central Town Pounded
Syrian government troops pounded a central town with artillery and gunfire Thursday, renewing attacks in a restive area that has been largely cut off from outside contact for six days. At least 15 people died, bringing the total killed there to 72 since the onslaught began, activists said.
Syria rocked by unprecedented wave of protests
End of emergency rule fails to halt opposition crackdown
REUTERS – The Syrian authorities’ arrest of a leftist opposition figure overnight suggests that a bill passed by the government to end emergency rule after 48 years will not halt repression, rights campaigners said on Wednesday.
The draft law was passed on Tuesday as a concession by President Bashar al-Assad in the face of increasingly determined mass protests against his authoritarian rule. More than 200 people have been killed, rights groups say.
Unsatisfied hearing Assad’s speeches and promises, protesters are now demanding the downfall of the regime
TIPPING POINT NO GOING BACK
As sporadic protests were sparked in the city of Daraa in Syria last month, many experts and commentators in the region were quick to dismiss a Syrian uprising. After all, Syria’s young “reformer” president, Bashar Al-Assad, enjoyed a healthy measure of popularity and an even healthier measure of control.
Yet events on the ground have proven the contrary. In the city of Homs, a reported ten-thousand protesters (some say more) took to the streets and occupied Clock-Tower Square in the centre of town. Reminiscent of the images from Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Syrian protesters pitched tents and declared their intention to stay and demonstrate, with some chanting, “a sit in, a sit-in, until the government falls!”
The unparallelled events that took place in Homs in the past few days have demonstrated the serious threat to the Assad regime. More importantly, the large numbers of Syrians who came out to demonstrate in the country’s third-largest city have broken a threshold that many doubted could ever be amassed in Syria.
Today, Syrians from Damascus to Aleppo have seen evidence that the demonstrations have indeed reached a critical mass. Tens, if not hundreds, of YouTube videos confirm the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of the protesters in Homs. They also document the terrible moment when the regime’s forces opened live fire on defenceless protesters.
Assad’s infamous March 30 speech – or speech No. 1, as sarcastically dubbed by activists on Twitter – tested the loyalty of free-thinking Syrians to Assad.
Many who believed that the young president might in fact turn out to be a potential reformer, watched flabbergasted as the president warned the nation that anyone on the streets expressing any kind of dissent – albeit peaceful and moderate – is a traitor, a foreign agent or an Islamist with a puritan agenda to destroy Syria.
With this speech, Bashar metaphorically shot himself in the foot, and consequently lost much of his base. More demonstrators took to the streets in defiance.
Speech No. 2, more unrest
Assad then gives speech No. 2 a few days ago. In a subtle attempt to emphasise his supposed position of power, and his self-perceived popularity, he avoids addressing the Syrian people directly and instead lectures his newly appointed cabinet on national TV.
He ironically directs the cabinet to be more responsive to the demands of Syrian citizens, and asks the cabinet to set a concrete time line for ending 50-year-old emergency laws in the country. Once again, missing the mark by about two weeks, Assad attempts to make “concessions,” that are too little too late. This speech, once again, fails to placate the quickly escalating demands of the rapidly maturing revolution.
On Tuesday, the government announced that the emergency law in the country was finally revoked. With the same breath, the interior minister threatened that though the emergency law – which had previously outlawed demonstrations – was no longer in effect, demonstrators who still insisted on protesting would be severely punished.
In a demonstration of the brutality of the regime, just hours before the emergency law was lifted, the peaceful sit-in of thousands of protesters in Homs was violently crushed, with at least two demonstrators killed by security forces.
The regime’s insidious mix of carrot-and-stick tactics with violent repression methods has made it resoundingly clear that the regime has little faith in the intelligence and self-determination of the Syrian people.
The government seems to think that hollow concessions, followed by violent threats, will either serve to convince the people of Syria that the regime is in fact reasonable and has its interest at heart, while simultaneously scaring off more determined Syrians with the threat of violent reprisals.
Needless to say, the Syrian people have seen through this schizophrenic modus operandi of the regime, and have come to the conclusion that the notion of real reform being enacted by a government that has shot down – in cold blood – peaceful citizens of the state, is now impossible. The popular credibility which ‘Bashar the reformer’ once amassed, is quickly dissolving.
The pro-democracy movement is snowballing in numbers and in demands. What was inconceivable a mere month ago is now looking inevitable: Syrians are starting to fathom the possibility of an alternative to Bashar and his regime. The now famous slogan, “the people demand the downfall of the regime,” which has been chanted in Homs, will now undoubtedly be echoed across the country.
The people of Syria are coming to the harsh realisation that reform cannot be handed down from an authoritarian regime. That change can only come if the people demand it, by taking to the streets in the spirit of the Tunisians and Egyptians that came before them.