05/18/2013 - #Syria - Aleppo - Plane drops ammunition in hands of rebels instead of Assad’s forces
The FSA have taken Base 46 outside Atareb, which had been under siege for 2 months. Taking the base gives the FSA access to heavy weapons and badly needed ammunition. It also prevents it from being used as a base to shell Aleppo. The videos below show the final attacks, fighters celebrating, and checking over the weaponry they have captured.
Update via Shada tv: According to an activist interviewed on Shada, 70 regime soldiers were captured, and there were 10 defections. The regime sent reinforcements, up to 300 soldiers and a large number of vehicles from Kafar Naha which were engaged by the FSA.
Further update: Still some reports of fighting continuing, not clear whether inside or on outskirts of the base.
Nov 17/18: Final attacks
The command building
Some of the artillery pieces used to shell Aleppo
Captured rocket launchers
#Syria #Golan Rebels seized weapons & ammunition in #Quneitra
#Syria, WEAPONS & AMMUNITION FINDS!
Syria #Idlib Rebels seized weapon & ammunition from checkpoint “Oil Factory” in #Saraqib
#Syria #Idlib Rebels seized RPG-granades in border-village Kafr Hum
#Syria’s war of homemade weapons
Opposition fighters in Syria are outnumbered and outgunned by govenment forces.
So they’ve started to craft their own weapons to take on the military.
Al Jazeera’s Omar al-Saleh reports exclusively on how Syrians are turning ordinary items into ammunition.
10/08/2012 Aleppo, #Syria: An FSA battalion captures 5000 guns and ammunition from #Assad thugs during a surprise raid
Syrian rebels are readying themselves to battle government forces for control of Aleppo
Syrian forces have renewed their assault on the northern city of Aleppo, firing from helicopter gunships on rebel-held areas.
The US state department has said it fears Syrian government forces are preparing to carry out a massacre.
The pro-government al-Watan newspaper has warned that the mother of all battles is about to start.
Rebels in Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city, have been stockpiling ammunition and medical supplies in preparation.
Syrian troops fired from helicopter gunships on south-western neighbourhoods of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the AFP news agency.
At the scene
It is almost inconceivable that President Assad could allow his government to lose control of Aleppo, so it is reasonable to expect they are going to throw everything they possibly can at the city.
And that is what they are preparing for here. One of the neighbourhoods is appealing for more blood supplies. We are hearing reports of hundreds, possibly thousands of families leaving some districts. Everybody is bracing themselves for an intensive campaign.
The way it has worked in other cities is that there is an intensive bombardment by artillery and mortars, and then when it starts to go calm, tanks begin to roll in. This is a very congested heavily populated area, so it will be bloody.
A convoy of tanks from Idlib province, near the border with Turkey, arrived in Aleppo overnight and was attacked by rebels, the Observatory said.
At least 34 people were killed in the city on Thursday, activists said, as artillery and helicopter gunships attacked rebel targets.
The US state department said the deployment of tanks, helicopter gunships and fixed-winged aircraft around Aleppo suggested an attack was imminent.
But the US would not intervene, said state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, except by continuing to channel non-lethal assistance such as communications equipment and medical supplies to the rebels.
The BBC’s Ian Pannell, near Aleppo, says thousands of people have already left as fears grow that an intense battle looms.
Talal al-Mayhani, an activist with connections to the rebel movement in Aleppo, said the battle for the city was likely to play out in a similar way to an earlier battle in the capital Damascus.
There, rebels took control of large parts of the city before being forced to withdraw in the face of a government offensive.
Foreign journalists operate under heavy restrictions in Syria so claims made by either side are difficult to verify.
Continue reading the main story‘Lessons from Balkans conflict’
A Syrian MP from Aleppo has fled to Turkey, Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency says.
Ikhlas Badawi, a mother of six, said she was defecting in protest at the “violence against the people”.
Meanwhile, another defector, Gen Manaf Tlas, has put himself forward as a possible figure to unite the fractious opposition.
In an interview with a Saudi newspaper, Asharq al-Awsat, he said: “I am discussing with… people outside Syria to reach a consensus with those inside.”
However, some in the opposition regard Gen Tlas - who fled earlier this month - as a compromised figure too close to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said the world must apply the lessons learned from the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s.
He was speaking in Srebrenica, where a UN peacekeeping force failed to stop the killing of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in 1995.
“I do not want to see any of my successors, after 20 years, visiting Syria, apologising for what we could have done now to protect the civilians in Syria - which we are not doing now,” Mr Ban said.
The head of UN peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, defended the decision to reduce the number of observers in Syria.
“We found ourselves with too many people and not enough to do,” he said.
Speaking in Damascus, he said there was “no plan B” beyond Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan.
Repeated diplomatic attempts to stop the violence have foundered, with the UN Security Council bitterly divided.
The Syrian government has said its forces are trying to dislodge the “remnants of mercenary terrorist groups”.
More than 16,000 people have been killed in Syria since the start of anti-regime protests in March 2011, activists say.
In the rolling countryside north of Syria’s second largest city of Aleppo, the rebels of the Free Syrian Army reign. Ruth Sherlock reports.
Growing in size and increasingly coordinated, they control territory that lies on the doorstep of President Bashar al-Assad’s heartland.
The towns of Anadan and Hraytan lying on the northern periphery of Aleppo city have become the front line in the fight between government forces and FSA rebel groups.
Sheltering in a building in the deserted town of Anadan, rebel fighters in military fatigues train binoculars on the Aleppo highway below on the lookout for government tanks. Residents have fled Anadan. The town is bombarded daily with mortars and artillery. Almost every one of the grey buildings is marked with shell holes and shrapnel litters the roads.
A mother and child sheltering from shelling in Aleppo province (Alessio Romenzi)
FSA fighters move swiftly down silent streets that fall within sight of enemy positions to point out the dangers. “There are tanks at our flank and in front of us,” warned a rebel. “There is an Assad tank pointing its barrel at us and sometimes there are snipers.”
The FSA fighters launch frequent attacks on checkpoints and Syrian army military bases that defend the city. It is a slow war.
With Mr Assad’s security forces working to maintain control of Aleppo, the rebels acknowlege that it could be months before the city falls to the opposition.
Aleppo is an economic powerhouse. Many of its population are wealthy Sunni businessmen who benefited from the president’s economic liberalisation policies and remain loyal to the regime.
But slowly the opposition is encroaching. Their most forward position of Hraytan lies only three miles from the city’s fringes and the effects are being felt.
“We can get inside Aleppo now, and we are supplying guns to FSA units in the city centre. They are lying dormant; hiding, preparing and waiting for the right moment to strike,” said Wassim, 23, a fighter in Anadan.
Sheikh Tawfiq, the rebel leader who cuts a distinctive figure in long grey jalabiya robes; thick, dark beard and red Kuffiyeh scarf, has gained the command of a band of villagers who look to his leadership to deliver them from the threat posed by the regime.
Sheikh Tawfiq, who controls 15 villages in the province and has the power of life and death (Alessio Romenzi)
Vulnerable to air attacks and still within shelling range, the countryside is not yet the “safe zone” that opposition activists need.
As he drove freely across FSA terrain, fighters manning checkpoints rushed to kiss his cheeks, a mark of respect in Arab culture, others begged to be sent on the next battle. Civilians sought his help to resolve problems.
“My brother was arrested by Assad forces at a checkpoint. He was going to buy bread, he is not FSA. Please help him,” said an elderly man.
Free Syrian Army units, which until recently had largely been made up of disparate militias protecting their own territories, are joining forces to form a common front.
Sheikh Tawfiq explains how the new alliances are working and how they hope to expand into the city. “I am one of nine members of the military council of Aleppo military province,” he said. “We have left some seats free for Aleppo city.”
The council meets in towns across the province to discuss military strategies. Increasingly, rebel units are moving across the countryside to support fighters in different areas.
“I have fought in 10 towns across Aleppo,” said Sinan, 35, an FSA fighter based in Anadan. Counting on their fingers, he and his comrades listed the names of towns for which they had fought.
“We have been promised money, weapons and telecommunications by FSA military commanders in Turkey,” said the commander from Der Tezzeh, the region neighbouring the territory under the Sheikh’s control.
The increased coordination is bringing the rebels more military success. Last week, fighters in Der Tazzeh supported by other units in the region attacked a Syrian army operation room on a nearby hilltop. “The base was giving helicopters coordinates of where to fire missiles,” said the commander. “We found some anti-aircraft guns and ammunition too.”
An FSA fighter at the entrance to a bunker near Aleppo (Alessio Romenzi)
Video footage of the attack showed two large mobile communications towers in flames, the area deserted.
The fighters’ weapons appear still largely limited to small arms; mainly Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades. But offensive operations in this increasingly united area are often successful because of growing defections in military ranks.
“Almost every attack we make, we already know that many soldiers in the target will defect,” said the commander of Der Tezzah.
In the string of villages visited by The Daily Telegraph in northern Aleppo province, defectors held the key to military success.
The rebels are even finding improbable allies with ethnic Kurdish fighters who had previously been sheltered by the regime.
Sitting in the old police station in the village of Qaptan, 14 miles from Aleppo, Sheikh Tawfiq spoke animatedly with representatives of the PKK, the Kurdish separationist movement, present in the area.
Over sweet tea and Turkish coffee, the men discussed the future strategy for Aleppo province. “The PKK has decided to form a union with the FSA,” said Sheikh Tawfiq. “They will not help us fight Assad, but there is a cold peace.”
Driving across the undulating hills past olive groves and agricultural lands with a rebel unit, the car was stopped at a PKK checkpoint.
Warily, the men peered into the car, nodded severely and opened the way.
Turkey has intercepted a Bermuda-flagged vessel suspected of carrying weapons and ammunition to Syria in the Mediterranean, a diplomatic source told AFP on Wednesday.
“We received information that the vessel has a cargo of arms and ammunition headed for Syria,” the source said on condition of anonymity, adding that Turkish authorities would search the vessel later in the day.
The “Atlantic Cruiser” belongs to a German company, the source also noted.
Amid Damascus’ violent crackdown on unrest, Turkey imposed sanctions against its neighbour — including interception of arms shipment to the country by air, land and sea.
Throughout last year, Turkey intercepted several ships and trucks suspected of carrying weapons into Syria through Turkish territory.
Fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is fighting against the brutalities of the Syrian regime, have said they have little ammunition and few weapons but a strong will to gain their freedom. A fighter at a Free Syrian Army camp, Abu Hasan, said that although they live under harsh circumstances with scarce ammunition, they are determined to win the war for their freedom. “We have few weapons and little ammunition. Although we live in very harsh conditions here, we will remain patient and win our freedom together. We will either die or win this war,” he told Today’s Zaman.
He said he and his seven brothers have been given life sentences in absentia for organizing democratic demonstrations in Jisr al-Shughour. Hasan also said there are Christian and Nusayri fighters in the camps who left their jobs and joined the FSA’s struggle for freedom.
In the camps of the Free Syrian Army there are fighters of all ages, from 21 to 60. The fighters are trying to stop Syrian attacks on villages and ensure the safety of Syrian people who are seeking refuge in Turkey.
Abdussalam Delul, leader of a 60-member team of fighters, said they have not opened fire on the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the April 12 ceasefire, but Assad’s forces have not refrained from attacking civilians. “As you see today, the Assad administration has not ceased attacking civilians. They have called on us to return home. My two sons and I were sentenced to death for organizing democratic demonstrations. Syrians who have taken refuge in countries like Turkey or the Arab countries have been sentenced to death. We all know how those who return to Syria after staying in the refugee camps are mercilessly massacred,” he said.
Sixty-year-old Muhammad Abidin Feyzun, who served 13 years in a secret prison during the era of Hafiz Assad, said the reason for his arrest was because he is a pious person and he spoke against Hafiz Assad. Remembering his days in prison, Feyzun said inmates were humiliated.
“Forty people were staying in a small prison cell. They would bring rotten food in a plastic basin from which everyone had to eat. The toilet was in the prison cell and we were not allowed to go to the toilet in the evening. Inmates were being tortured every day,” he said.
Feyzun said today there are 1.5 million people jailed in Syria and he joined the ranks of the Free Syrian Army to bring freedom to his country. “One day, we will be united with the days we have been longing for,” he said.
Mustafa Ahmad joined the ranks of the Free Syrian Army after defecting from the Syrian army. He said he made the decision after he was ordered to open fire on civilians. Ahmad said when some commanders in the Syrian army refused to open fire on civilians, high-ranking military officers described them as terrorists.
AP’s Ahmed Bahaddou, left, and Rodrigo Abd, right, climb the back of a tractor in the Turkish town of Hacipasa close to the border with Syria Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. (AP)
(AP) ANTAKYA, Turkey - Explosions illuminated the night as we ran, hoping to escape Syria after nearly three weeks of covering a conflict that the government seems determined to keep the world from seeing. Tank shells slammed into the city streets behind us, snipers’ bullets whizzed by our heads and the rebels escorting us were nearly out of ammunition.
It seemed like a good time to get out of Syria.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Award-winning journalists Rodrigo Abd and Ahmed Bahaddou sneaked into Syria and spent nearly three weeks reporting from opposition-held territory. Abd, an Associated Press photographer, is based in Guatemala. Bahaddou is a video journalist on assignment for the AP, based in Turkey.
With regime forces closing in on the rebel-held northern city of Idlib, Associated Press cameraman Ahmed Bahaddou and I set out Sunday for neighboring Turkey on a journey that would take us through a pitch-black passage and miles of muddy olive groves in the freezing cold.
We ran into delays and dangers with every step — from fighting between rebel and government forces to a missed connection with our guide.
We coordinated our escape with the Free Syrian Army, the rebel force fighting to hold onto Idlib, but the situation was deteriorating quickly. The snipers, shelling and explosions were growing ever closer.
“We are all going to be killed!” a terrified Syrian activist told me, collapsing into tears. An FSA fighter said the government troops were sure to take the city back, because the rebels were running out of ammunition.
A rebel commander said he understood if his fighters wanted to run away and save themselves.
“Whoever wants to leave and not fight, lay your Kalashnikovs here,” he said.
Last week, troops had encircled Idlib, and tank shells starting pounding the city from dawn until evening. Rebels dashed through the streets, taking cover behind the corners of buildings as they clashed with the troops. Wounded fighters were piled into trucks bound for places where they could be treated. I saw a man carrying a young boy, the child’s jacket soaked in blood. I later learned the boy was dead.
On Tuesday, just one day after we made it out, government forces recaptured Idlib, although activists reported some pockets of resistance remained. Still, it was a blow to the rebels.
The regime says it is fighting foreign terrorists and armed gangs, denying that the yearlong uprising is a popular revolt. But what we saw in Idlib was nothing like what the government is describing. The townspeople support the uprising; every family seemed to have a fighter in the streets, or knew somebody who was fighting.
The FSA rebels were Syrians, from Idlib. We did not see any foreigners doing battle.
The biggest challenge for the rebels was not their fervor to fight; they all seemed willing to die to oust the regime of President Bashar Assad. They were armed with little more than rocket-propelled grenades, Kalashnikov machine guns and grenades.
The opposition’s rallying cry in recent days has been an appeal for weapons. An influx of anti-tank missiles and other heavy arms could be a turning point in the conflict.
But as government forces moved in last week, all we could think of was Baba Amr — the neighborhood in the Syrian city of Homs that endured nearly four weeks of government shelling. Hundreds of people were killed in the siege, and the humanitarian situation was catastrophic. Among the dead were two journalists, Marie Colvin, a veteran American-born war correspondent for Britain’s Sunday Times, and Remi Ochlik, 28, a French photojournalist. Both were cut down when a shell struck nearby.
Freelance cameraman provides a rare glimpse into Homs #Syria
Homs, Syria (CNN) — A freelance cameraman who visited Homs recently put together a video that provides a rare glimpse of life in the embattled city and an even rarer close-up of the opposition movement in Syria.
At the headquarters of the government secret police, the cameraman — who uses the name Mani to avoid retribution by the government if he returns — finds himself in the thick of a battle. Some 200 members of the Free Syrian Army, made of military defectors, are involved in the attack. They explode a bomb below a rooftop position, where government snipers are trapped.
In the video, portions of which CNN aired Friday, the opposition appears organized, their members communicating by walkie-talkie and engaging in fierce fighting. Casualties are taken via minibus to a makeshift field hospital, where they are placed on thin mats on the floor. “My eye! My eye!” shouts one man whose eye had been targeted by a bullet.
Mani’s camera follows opposition fighters as they enter the government building, where room-to-room and stairwell-to-stairwell fighting ensues.
Finally, as bullets continue to fly, the opposition fighters make off with boxes of ammunition so they can return to fight another day.
After 20 hours, 15 opposition fighters have been killed, 40 wounded.
The next day, the building is gutted by local residents.
Not all the battles are so bloody. Mani says they are sometimes able to persuade government forces to cede ground without firing a shot.
“They always try, first, to make negotiations work,” Mani says. “They talk with the officer, they talk with the soldiers, and they offer them either to defect, either to surrender, and leave the checkpoint. And sometimes it works.”
Civilian volunteers are plentiful; more and more, they are being joined by defectors from government forces, Mani says.
Across Homs, some estimates put the FSA strength at more than 1,000. Each neighborhood has its own command, but they sometimes combine forces to improve their odds against the much larger and better-armed government forces.
Some soldiers who don’t desert nevertheless sell their weapons or ammunition to the opposition, the cameraman adds.
“There are many people who are in favor of them, who feel they are in favor of the opposition,” Mani says.
Down one street, his camera shows a long line of residents lined up outside a bakery for bread.
“Because of the snipers, people are taking more than they need,” says the man who is handing out the loaves. “That’s why it’s crowded.”
Two days earlier, in a nearby district, hundreds of residents fill the streets to mourn the deaths of 138 people in overnight shelling by government forces. Without enough coffins to go around, many of the dead are wrapped in white shrouds.
“Shelling people is what cowards and scoundrels do,” the imam says. “Be careful of gathering in public.”
“We are going to heaven!” the crowd chants, their fists pumping the air. “There are millions of us!”
Mani comes upon a woman just as she learns that her son has been fatally shot by a sniper. “He is my son! My rock!” she wails. “I have no man! He is my man!”
Her son, a former supporter of the regime, bears a tattoo on his chest that says “Assad.” Next to that is the entry point for the bullet.
A couple of blocks away, the shelling that has pockmarked much of the city has spared a district where many residents belong to the Alawite sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
Homs is now a patchwork divided along sectarian lines.
Published: January 27, 2012
MOSCOW — There are not many world capitals today where Presidentof can count on unstinting support. But diplomats who passed through Moscow this week hoping to secure ’s help in forcing him from power were met with cold refusal.
The United Nations estimates that more than 5,400 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March, and among the countries that have called for Mr. Assad to step down are the United States, Turkey and Jordan, as well as the members of the European Union and the Arab League. But Russia remains a staunch defender, providing Damascus with a political lifeline as well as arms and ammunition.
Moscow entrenched itself as Mr. Assad’s political bulwark on Friday, declaring that it would, with China, oppose a Security Council resolution calling on Mr. Assad to step down. A deputy foreign minister, Gennadi Gatilov, told the Interfax news agency that the resolution was “doomed to failure” unless the demand for Mr. Assad’s ouster was dropped and a call for opposition forces to renounce violence was included.
Another deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, rejected Western criticism of continuing arms shipments to Mr. Assad’s government, including a freshly inked $550 million contract for fighter planes.
“I do not understand why we should justify ourselves for that, constantly blush, turn pale, be damp with sweat,” Mr. Ryabkov told the radio station Ekho Moskvy on Thursday. “We are acting within our rights.”
Russian political support has proved essential to the Assad government, said Peter Harling, a Syria specialist with the International Crisis Group. Statements of support from Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov are featured continuously by Syrian state news agencies, he said, offering reassurance that Mr. Assad’s government still has mighty allies.
“It is central to the regime’s narrative and key to the cohesiveness of the regime’s ranks,” Mr. Harling said. “They believe that the international community is divided. So Russians are providing cover for the regime to push forward with their approach. There is a strong belief that all doors are not closed.”
Russia has staked out this position for a variety of reasons that have little to do with the specifics of Syria’s political crisis, chief among them weapons exports, domestic politics and resentment over the Libyan campaign. It reflects a shift that has taken place as Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin prepares to return to the presidency, deeply distrustful of the West’s intentions both in Russia and in the Middle East. He has accused the United States of orchestrating uprisings in both regions.
“Theoretically, the Western bloc has a few more months of the Medvedev presidency,” said Yevgeny Y. Satanovsky, president of the Institute of the Middle East in Moscow. “After that, Putin is a bigger realist than Medvedev, he has more experience, he is much more pragmatic. I don’t think he will have these ideas from the Medvedev side that opened the gate to this campaign in.”
Libya is a particular grievance. Mr. Putin seethed over the aftermath of the United Nations resolution establishing what was supposed to be a no-fly zone in Libya, which China and Russia last March agreed not to veto. Many in the government contend that President Dmitri A. Medvedev was deceived by Western allies who then used the resolution to justify airstrikes to drive Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from power.
“We were naïve and stupid,” said Mr. Satanovsky, an influential analyst. “The Chinese were the same. Trust this: That was the last mistake of such type.”
Another consideration is practical. Syria is a major customer of Russia’s state weapons exporters, who by one estimate have already lost as much as $10 billion in orders during the political turmoil of the Arab Spring and a missile contract with Iran that was shelved as a result of the “reset” with Washington. The military industry holds sway over a significant slice of Russian voters and “will be very angry at the ruling group” if further contracts are lost, said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs.
“We have an election year here, and this time it is a more real election campaign. He is campaigning quite seriously,” Mr. Lukyanov said. “That means all groups of society are valuable, and the military industry is very angry over this chain of events.”
Russia has benefited from Syria’s isolation from the West over the years because it enjoys preferential access for its arms and petroleum industries. Syria places orders worth about $700 million a year, making it a “major, very important, high-priced client by Russian standards,” said Ruslan Aliyev, a defense specialist at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow research center. But Moscow wields little influence over Mr. Assad, he said.
This created problems for Moscow in 2006, when Israel, another Russian ally, found that Hezbollah fighters were using Russian-made weaponry that had been sold to Syria, in violation of Syria’s agreement with Russia. Mr. Aliyev called this “a weighty slap in the face.” Mr. Assad has also defied Russian counsel to “stop the hostilities and bloodshed.”
“It’s difficult to defend a person who does not want to cooperate with you and is not prepared to take advice from you,” Mr. Aliyev said.
Mr. Aliyev, who was present at meetings with American diplomats last week, said that Americans were convinced that Mr. Assad’s government would fall and advocated engaging with the opposition. Russian officials are “more pragmatic,” arguing that change will lead to “a civil war, followed by rampant violence and banditry and terrorism, as it happened in other countries,” he said.
Mr. Lavrov sent a clear signal last week that Russia would not intervene militarily in defense of Mr. Assad’s government.
Some Russian analysts warn that if Mr. Assad falls, it will lead to a broader war pitting Arab nations against Iran. Mr. Satanovsky said that Russia could see “maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of refugees coming from Iranian territory into Azerbaijan and Russia” if that were to occur, as well as ethnic violence against Christian minorities and the spread of terrorism. He said Russia supported not Mr. Assad, but stability.
“After Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Afghanistan, why should Russia once more look at all this with the idea that everything will be all right?” he said. “This is not a choice between good and bad, this is a choice between bad — which we have now — and terrible and apocalyptic.”