Civil War








Snowballs Bring Brief Joy To War-Torn Syria







January .2013

Car Bomb Rips Through Syrian Petrol Station.. Site Packed With People Queueing For Fuel.. At Least 11 Killed.. Dozens Injured.. Activist: Ambulances Loaded Burned Bodies, Wounded







NATO: Syrian forces firing more Scud missiles

From Saad Abedine, Barbara Starr and Ivan Watson, CNN
December 21, 2012 —
Watch this video

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







Obama warns Syria against using chemical weapons

04 Dec 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) â?? President Barack Obama warned Syria on Monday that the use of chemical weapons would be “totally unacceptable” and that the country’s leaders would be held accountable….
A Syrian man reads a newspaper covering Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. Presidential election as he stands in front of a picture of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008. In Syria, a nation isolated by the Bush administration in the last few years, the people and political analysts were hopeful Obama would work for peace in the Mideast and improve America's image and his win proved the failure of Bush's policies. Relations with Washington have started to improve recently but plummeted after a U.S. commando raid across the Iraq border into Syria killed eight people last m
photo: AP / Bassem Tellawi





Twin car bombs reportedly kill 34, wound dozens in Syria

28 Nov 2012
Nov. 28, 2012: A Syrian soldier, right, and citizens gather at an alley that was destroyed by two cars bombs in a suburb of Damascus, Syria.AP BEIRUTTwin car bombs ripped through a Damascus suburb Wednesday, killing at least 34 people and leaving dozens critically wounded, according to state media and hospital officials. The state
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian soldier, right, and citizens gather at an alley that was destroyed by two cars bombs, at Jaramana neighborhood, in the suburb of Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012.
photo: AP / SANA






Syria’s opposition groups strike unity deal against Assad

12 Nov 2012
DOHA (Reuters) – Syria‘s fractious opposition finally put aside fierce arguments to rally behind a new leader within a new coalition that its Western and Arab backers hope can topple Bashar al-Assad and take over the country. Activist preacher Moaz al-Khatib speaks the General Assembly of the Syrian National Council in Doha November 11, 2012.
Syrian immigrants who live in Bulgaria shout slogans during a peaceful rally in support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, seen in poster at left, and the reforms carried out in Syria, Sofia, Sunday, April 17, 2011.
photo: AP / Valentina Petrova


There are still ways to end Syrian violence

30 Oct 2012
After the failed ceasefire, hope is fading for a quick end to the violence in Syria. But some observers think there is still room for negotiation if action is taken quickly. The failed ceasefire was not much of a surprise. In the run-up, the newspaper Al Hayat, published in London, had already written that its main purpose was to buy time….
In this Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 photo, a rebel fighter keeps an eye over an enemy position as he moves through the frontline, in the southeast area of Aleppo, Syria.
photo: AP / Narciso Contreras



150 killed on first day of Syria truce: Watchdog

27 Oct 2012
BEIRUT: Almost 150 people died on the first day of a barely-observed truce between the warring parties in Syria, a watchdog said, adding that a fresh clashes on Saturday claimed more lives. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said of the 146 people killed in bombings, artillery fire and fighting on Friday, 53…
In this Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 photo, rebel fighters belonging to the Liwa Al Tawhid group shoot towards government troops during clashes at the Moaskar front line, one of the battlefields in Karmal Jabl neighborhood, in Aleppo Syria.



Massive explosions reported near Syrian air force compound

By  Saad Abedine
October 9, 2012 —
Syrian rebels ride a motorcycle during a patrol in the town of Tal Abyad near the border with Turkey on Friday.


  • 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








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.







Journalist Missing In Syria Turns Up In New Footage

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 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 conflict: UN says 200,000 have fled Aleppo battle

30 Jul 2012
Some 200,000 people have fled intense fighting in Syria‘s second city Aleppo in the past two days, the UN has said. UN humanitarian chief Baroness Valerie Amos said others were trapped in the city and needed urgent help. Government forces launched a ground assault on Saturday after a week of sporadic shelling and sorties by fighter jets.
In this Sunday, July 29, 2012 photo, Free Syrian Army soldiers are seen at the border town of Azaz, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Aleppo, Syria. The U.N. said 200,000 Syrians have fled the embattled city of Aleppo since intense clashes between regime forces and rebels began 10 days ago.
photo: AP / Turkpix






Syrian Army, Rebels Reinforce Aleppo for ‘Decisive’ Battle

26 Jul 2012
Syrian troops and rebels sent reinforcements to the intensifying battle in the second city Aleppo, as the US said fresh defections from the regime showed President Bashar al-Assad’s “days are numbered.” Clashes raged Wednesday in Aleppo’s central Al-Jamaliya neighbourhood, near the local headquarters of the ruling Baath party. In Kalasseh in the…
In this Tuesday, July 24, 2012 photo, a Syrian boy sits atop a damaged military tank at the border town of Azaz, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Aleppo, Syria.










Rebels Set Their Sights On Taking Syria’s Biggest City














Israel, U.S. discuss possibility of IDF strike against Syria, report says

19 Jul 2012
U.S. security officials have discussed with their Israeli counterparts the possibility that Israel could strike Syria‘s weapons facilities, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing administration officials….
Israel, U.S. discuss possibility of IDF strike against Syria, report says








Assad’s top three aides killed in blast

19 Jul 2012
SHARE AND DISCUSS Tweet BEIRUT: A bomb ripped through a high-level security meeting on Wednesday in Damascus , killing three top regime officials — including President Bashar al-Assad‘s brother-in-law — in the harshest blow to Syria‘s ruling family dynasty and the rebels’ boldest attack…
This image made from Syrian State TV video purports to show Syrian troops fighting against Syrian rebels in the Al-Midan area of Damascus, Syria on Wednesday, July 18, 2012.



Assad will use chemical weapons: top defector

17 Jul 2012
AFPSyrian President Bashar al-Assad will use chemical weapons against opposition forces and may have already deployed them, Nawaf Fares, the first Syrian ambassador to defect, told the BBC on Monday. Fares, the most prominent politician to defect since the uprising against Assad began, insisted that the president’s days were numbered…
Syrian rebels are seen in Idlib, Syria, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012.







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


Syria Military Jet Defects
In this Aug. 18, 2009 file photo, a Russian Yak-130 combat training jet is seen at MAKS-2009, an International Aviation and Space Show, Zhukovsky, Russia. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, File)





Report: Regime Tries To Frighten Syrians Into Submission








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






Syria Rebels No Longer Committed To Annan Peace Plan

BEIRUT, June 4 (Reuters) – Syrian rebels are no longer committed to a U.N.-backed peace plan that has failed to end violence in the country and have launched attacks on government forces to “defend our people”, a spokesman said on Monday. “We have decided to end our commitment to this (plan) and starting from that date (Friday) we began defending…
This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, taken on Thursday May 31, 2012 purports to show a Syrian rebel shouting slogans after they found the bodies of eleven workers killed by gunmen on their way to work Thursday at a state-owned fertilizer factory in the central province of Homs, Syria.
photo: AP / Shaam News Network, SNN








UN Human Rights Council Takes Aim At Impervious Leader Following Brutal Massacre









Over 90 People, Dozens Of Children Slaughtered..
Syrian Forces Kill ‘Entire Families’ In Villages







Shells And Rockets Strike ‘Once Per Minute’.. Opposition Fighters Reportedly Kill 23 Soldiers.. EU Slaps New Bans On Assad Regime Players








Syria Ghost Town








Explosions Kill Several, Tear Craters In Ground, Shatter Windows.. Government Blames ‘Terrorists’ In Ceasefire Setback








Wives of U.N. diplomats tell Syria’s first lady to ‘stop being a bystander’






Shelling In Homs Threatens ‘Very Fragile’ Truce.. UN Demands Freedom Of Access For Observers, Plans To Increase Advance Team






U.N. votes to send Syria monitors, killings continue

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Russia and China joined the rest of the U.N. Security Council on Saturday to authorise deployment of up to 30 unarmed observers to monitor Syria‘s fragile ceasefire as activists reported more deaths in the country and renewed shelling of Homs. Demonstrators protest against Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad after…
Syrian Permanent Representative to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, addresses the Security Council after its unanimous adoption of resolution 2042 (2012), authorizing the deployment of a ceasefire monitoring team to Syria, 14 April, 2012.
photo: UN / Paulo Filgueiras







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.


Zakaria: Al-Assad keen on violence, not dialogue

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

It might have been an assassination attempt, or a high-profile defection. Whatever sparked the fighting between Syrian security forces and the rebel Free Syrian Army in an elite Damascus neighborhood this week, the country may never be the same. If the regime begins to lose control of the capital, analysts say, it will lose the war.
Syria damascus 2012 3 21
Mar 22, 2012








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.

Asma al-Assad, the British-born wife of the president of Syria, told a friend that she was the








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 Crisis Civilians

Villagers prepare the tomb for Ghassan Ali, 40, who was killed during clashes between the Free Syrian Army and the government forces in Sarmin, north of Syria, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. According to the residents of the city at least fourteen people were killed yesterday during clashes between the Free Syrian Army and President Assad forces. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)








Syria Votes During Bombardment.. ‘A Constitution Drafted By Our Killer’.. ‘Refugees Have Spoiled Our Life’





Syria Rebels Retaliate Against Crackdown, Kill State Prosecutor, Judge




Police Bus Riddled With Shrapnel.. Pools Of Blood On The Street.. Possible Suicide Bomb.. Up To 25 People Killed..








Arab League Observers Arrive In Syria.. Tanks Withdrawn From Homs After Days Of Shelling










Syria crisis: Iraq’s Falah Fayadh ‘positive’ on talks

Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Homs, 16 December 2011

Pressure is mounting on the Syrian president to end nine months of violence

Syria Crisis


image of Jonathan Head Jonathan Head BBC News, Istanbul

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


Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim, right, and Arab League secretary-general Nabil al-Arabi Nabil, left, chair the Arab League emergency session on Syria at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. Arab foreign ministers gather to discuss Syria’s failure to end bloodshed caused by government crackdowns on civil protests. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)




Syria Does Not Bow Down

Louai Beshara—AFP/Getty Images







Bashar al-Assad: Like Father, Like Son

Cartoonist Steve Breen on the Syrian president.



 Bloody civil war at hand as Syria under ultimatum


Rights Group Blasts Security Forces For Torturing And Killing Civilians





UN says Syria death toll has passed 3,500

In this image made from television, protestors are seen near a barricade in Daraa, Syria, Friday, April 8, 2011.
photo: AP

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.








Syrian Activists Hold Mass Protests To Gauge Regime’s Commitment To Peace Deal



Syria Accepts Arab League Plan

Protesters wave a big syrian flag during their anti-Syrian regime protest in front of the Arab league headquarters in Cairo, Egypt Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011.
photo: AP / Khalil Hamra
By MATT BRADLEY in Cairo and NOUR MALAS in Dubai
Syria’s government accepted a regionally brokered plan to resolve the country’s deadly eight-month-old conflict and begin talks with the opposition, an Arab League official announced Wednesday night, offering the first potential endgame to Syria’s worsening crisis.

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







Syrian President: Intervention Would Cause ‘Earthquake’






U.N. chief to Syria’s Bashar Assad: ‘This killing must stop’

October 17, 2011 |

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told Syria's leaders, "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

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem speaks at the UN

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.

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“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

Bouthaina Shaaban, adviser and spokeswoman of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, speaks at a news conference in Damascus, Syria, March 24, 2011 (file photo)
Photo: Reuters
Bouthaina Shaaban, adviser and spokeswoman of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, speaks at a news conference in Damascus, Syria, March 24, 2011 (file photo)

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.






Syrian tanks ‘resume shelling’ eastern town

A supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad waves his country's flag, as he protests to show his solidarity to his President, in Damascus, Syria, on Friday Aug. 19, 2011.
photo: AP / Muzaffar Salman
Syrian government tanks have resumed shelling in the town of Deir ez-Zour a day after at least 17 protesters were reportedly killed across the country, activists said. Syrian security forces stormed the area of al-Busaira in Deir ez-Zour on Thursday amid heavy gunfire, conducting house-to-house searches, said the Local…





Calls for UN session on deadly Syria crackdown

File - Syrian soldiers on board a helicopter carry a national flag and a picture of Syrian President Bashar Assad during a rally in support of Assad in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, June 21, 2011.
photo: AP / Muzaffar Salman
DAMASCUS – There were calls for an emergency UN Security Council session on Monday after Syrian security forces killed nearly 140 people in one of the deadliest days of more than four months of anti-regime protests. Rights activists said Sunday’s death toll included at least 100 when the army stormed the flashpoint protest city of Hama.


Syria Uprising Leaves 3,000 People Missing: Report

Syria Protests

ZEINA KARAM   07/28/11 AP






Syria’s apparent new scare tactic: arresting, torturing, then releasing protesters and families

Unmasking the false reformer


Amnesty accuses Syria of crimes against humanity

Syrian troops in Jisr al-Shughour (Image grab from Syrian state television on 14 June)
The Syrian authorities say they are chasing “armed gangs” and “terrorists”

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

Under pressure, Syria's Assad pledges reforms

Under pressure, Syria’s Assad pledges reforms

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

Syria Refugees




Syrian protesters turn on Iran and Hezbollah

A burning poster of Hassan Nasrallah. Sreenshot of a video published on YouTube.
Syrian opposition protesters are not just calling for the fall of President Bashar al-Assad: they have recently begun directing their anger against his regional allies, Iran and Hezbollah. Our Observer says this is a new and unexpected turn of events.
Videos of recent protests in Syria show demonstrators chanting slogans against Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution, as well as the Hezbollah, an Islamist political party from Lebanon with a powerful armed wing. Even more surprising has been footage of protesters burning posters of Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general and a widely respected figure throughout the Middle East.
Their anger is a result of Tehran’s and Hezbollah’s unwavering support for the Syrian government, even as it ruthlessly crushes its own people’s calls for more democracy. The last straw for Syrian protesters was a speech pronounced by Hassan Nasrallah on May 25, in which he assured Assad of his “everlasting friendship and support”.

Syria Internet Cut Off In Some Regions As Central Town Pounded

Syria Protests



More Than 70 Dead Since Syrian Crackdown Began on Central Town

May 29: In this citizen journalism image made on a mobile phone and provided by Shaam News Network, Syrian anti-regime protesters carry national flags and banners during a rally in Talbiseh, in the central province of Homs, Syria.

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.



The Butcher




Syrian Forces Reportedly Fire On Protesters

The People Want The Downfall Of The Regime!’.. Forces Fire In Douma And Homs.. Activists Promise Biggest Rallies.. ‘Concessions Too Late’

Syria rocked by unprecedented wave of protests

Although Syria is poised to end its draconian decades-old emergency laws, government forces continue to crack down on the opposition and the unprecedented pro-democracy protests that have erupted across the country.



End of emergency rule fails to halt opposition crackdown

Opposition figure Mahmoud Issa was arrested early Wednesday in a move that may suggest the Tuesday passage of President Bashar al-Assad’s draft law ending 48 years of emergency rule will not halt political repression, rights groups say.

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.

Assad’s speech lifting the state of emergency
The end of emergency rule was, however, coupled with new legislation requiring Syrians to obtain a permit from the state if they want to hold demonstrations. Defiant protests continued regardless and sit-ins were held in several areas overnight.

Rights advocate Wissam Tarif said a protest was held in the Zabadani suburb of Damascus late on Tuesday. A Youtube video showed protesters chanting “the people want the overthrow of the regime”, the rallying cry of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

A prominent leftist in the city, Mahmoud Issa, was taken from his house around midnight by members of Syria’s feared political security division.
Rights campaigners said at least 20 pro-democracy protesters had been shot dead by security forces in the city of Homs in the past two days.

“Issa is a prominent former political prisoner. Arresting him hours after announcing a bill to lift emergency law is reprehensible,” said Rami Adelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, speaking from Britain.

“Lifting emergency law is long overdue, but there are a host of other laws that should be scrapped, such as those giving security forces immunity from prosecution, and giving powers to military courts to try civilians.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the new law requiring permits to hold demonstrations made it unclear if the end of emergency rule would make for a less restrictive regime.
“This new legislation may prove as restrictive as the emergency law it replaced,” he said, adding that the Syrian government “needs to urgently implement broader reforms”.

“There must be no more slaughter”

Prominent civic figures in Homs, a central city known for its intellectuals and artists, signed a declaration calling on the army “not to spill the blood of honourable Syrians” and denying official allegations that Salafist groups were operating there.

In a sign of resistance to protesters’ demands for reforms, the Interior Ministry on Monday night described the unrest as an insurrection by “armed groups belonging to Salafist organisations” trying to terrorise the population.

Salafism is a strict form of Sunni Islam that many Arab governments equate with militant groups like al Qaeda. Assad and most of his inner circle are from Syria’s minority Alawite community, who adhere to an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.
“Not Salafist, not Muslim Brotherhood. We are freedom seekers!” hundreds of people chanted in Tuesday’s demonstration in Banias on the Mediterranean coast.

Analysts said authorities would be keen to prevent protesters gaining a visible focal point like Egypt’s Tahrir square. Security forces forcibly cleared out a gathering in Homs at the weekend, killing 17 people, activists said, and another three were shot dead early on Tuesday.

“The concessions now being made by the government have been achieved at a very heavy cost in human lives,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“There must be no more slaughter. Syria’s president must take firm action now to stop the bloody crackdown by his security forces and ensure that those responsible for it are held to account.”

Emergency rule, in place since the Baath Party seized power in a 1963 coup, gave security organs blanket power to stifle dissent through a ban on gatherings of over five people, arbitrary arrest and closed trials, lawyers say.
Syria is involved in several Middle East conflicts. Any change at the top — Assad, backed by his family and the security apparatus, is Syria’s absolute ruler — would ripple across the Arab world and affect Syria’s ally Iran.

The leadership backs the Islamist movement Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah but seeks peace with Israel. Assad was largely rehabilitated in the West after years in isolation after the 2005 assassination in Beirut of Lebanese statesman Rafik al-Hariri.

Unsatisfied hearing Assad’s speeches and promises, protesters are now demanding the downfall of the regime



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.