#Syrian statistics to help put things in perspective. Each one of these numbers had a life, story, and a soul.
#Syrian statistics to help put things in perspective. Each one of these numbers had a life, story, and a soul.
#Syrian residents of Deir al-Zour use crude oil as a fuel for heating.
Deir al-Zour is the first oil governate in syria and has the main Oil fields! When the regime lost 90 per cent of Deir al-Zour, it lost most of the main oil fields as well. We are using this oil for heating and for vehicles as petrol, because the regime has prevented oil used in any way to get us!
Using this crude petrol in short term and long term is dangerous because it contains many poisoning gases and can affect breathing and more. It also contains dangerous radiation that could cause cancer and malformations in new borns! But, the need is very big and that’s what makes people use it despite the dangers.
Translation provided by the Syrian Assistance Team!
Israel has deployed special forces units in Syria to track the regime’s movement of chemical weapons amid growing international fears that the government might use its stockpile against rebels, British daily The Sunday Times reported on Sunday.
“For years we’ve known the exact location of Syria’s chemical and biological munitions,” an Israeli source told the paper.
“But in the past week we’ve got signs that munitions have been moved to new locations.”
The paper added that operation “is part of a secret war to trail Syria’s non-conventional armaments and sabotage their development.”
Syria warned on Saturday that rebels could use chemical weapons in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, but insisted the regime will never unleash such arms on its own people.
However, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there was evidence the Damascus government could actually employ chemical weapons stocks in the conflict that a rights group says has killed at least 42,000 people in nearly 21 months.
Global concerns over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles have grown after US officials privately said this week that the regime had begun mixing precursor chemicals that could be used for the lethal nerve agent sarin.
Some media reports said the substance had been loaded into bombs for warplanes.
The rebels’ capture of airfields and military bases is speeding up the Syrian regime’s collapse
By Shashank Joshi
During the last century, civil wars have been getting longer. Between 1900 and 1944, they tended to last just one-and-a-half years. By 1999, they stretched to an average of 15. Will Syria, like Libya’s eight-month revolution, defy this trend and wrap things up within two years? Or, like Lebanon next door, is it fated to a catastrophic slow-motion implosion that will plague the region long into the future? The answer remains unclear, principally because the end of the regime’s grip on Damascus is not the end of the story. We might see a messy retreat of loyalist forces out of the capital and towards the Levantine highlands and coastal plains. Or the civil war might mutate into a fratricidal battle pitting the anti-Al Assad jihadist factions against moderate rebels, or Kurds against Sunnis, or militia against militia.
Now, the good news: These disturbing possibilities notwithstanding, we are witnessing the beginning of the end for the Al Assad dynasty, the last republican monarchy of the Middle East. And events, as they often do, are moving quicker than policies. At the end of last month, the CIA was reported to have estimated that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad had just eight to ten weeks left. With attention focused on Gaza two weeks ago, one missed the turning of the tide. Syrian rebels of all stripes began over-running military bases on a daily basis. They seized heavy weaponry like artillery and tanks and acquired sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons, which they immediately put to use by shooting down jets and helicopters. As the regime haemorrhaged airbases, not only did this sap the government’s key advantage — airpower — but it also set in motion a virtuous circle: The spoils of war taken from one base made it easier to capture the next one.
What all this means is that the Syrian rebels are no longer just harassing checkpoints or sniping at convoys. They are an increasingly potent fighting force with at least some of the appurtenances of a conventional army. Then, after months of indecisive fighting around Damascus, the capital came under intense attack. The airport was rendered unusable, European Union (EU) and UN diplomats left the country and the regime compounded its isolation by shutting down the country’s internet. According to the New York Times, Russian envoys to Al Assad “described a man who has lost all hope of victory or escape”. And he is not the only one. Last week, the regime’s most senior Christian figure, foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi, defected.
Meanwhile, the deputy foreign minister visited Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador — presumably to search out opportunities for convivial asylum. Amidst these developments, the world has struggled to respond. The US, emerging from its election-season paralysis, is agonising over how far it should support the opposition, let alone intervene militarily. It was spooked last year when it realised the blurriness of the division between moderate and extreme rebel groups on the ground. Britain and France are mulling over the provision of arms, on the basis that the risks are outweighed by the importance of shoring up moderate rebels. Turkey is deeply frustrated, having failed to secure a no-fly zone. By the time everyone makes a decision, the whole thing could well be over.
The unprecedented rebel military advances mean that the West must start thinking about the endgame itself. It should avoid the illusion of control. It has only limited influence over the direction in which Syria goes, but there are constructive steps it can take. Although Al Assad would gain little from using chemical weapons, desperate regimes make strange choices. Last year, Muammar Gaddafi pointlessly fired ballistic missiles towards rebel-held territory a week before his regime collapsed. In 1991, Saddam Hussain lobbed 42 missiles at Israel.
Nato’s deployment of the Patriot missile defence system to Turkey is therefore prudent. However, the greater danger is that chemical weapons are seized by extremist groups. Unless the West can be sure that Syrian army units guarding chemical weapons will retain absolute control, it may become necessary to secure, remove or destroy at least some of the stockpiles. This would require a US-led Jordanian force, assisted by trusted Syrian rebels, with Britain and other states likely playing a role. If rapid destruction or removal is impossible, then the sites should be protected by Arab forces.
A large-scale Western footprint would be unacceptably dangerous and should be ruled out entirely. In the interim, the West should be reasserting the offer of safe passage for Al Assad. However improbable, it would be far preferable to a last stand which leaves Damascus in ruins. The West should also be thinking of ways to protect Syria’s minorities, particularly Al Assad’s Alawite sect, from what could be a horrific retribution. Regrettably, this can probably only be done by keeping the Syrian armed forces from dissolving or being disbanded, as occurred in Iraq in 2003. The West should also be unafraid of talking to Russia and Iran about these contingencies. There is little to be gained by ignoring potential spoilers. Over the coming months, there is every chance that Al Assad will receive a bullet in his back — very possibly from his own side. When that occurs, let no one say we were unprepared.
Shashank Joshi is a research fellow of the Royal United Services Institute.
By BARBARA SURK, Associated Press
BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s civil war spilled over into neighboring Lebanon once again on Sunday, with gun battles in the northern city of Tripoli between supporters and opponents of President Bashar Assad’s regime that left four dead.
Nine Syrian judges and prosecutors also defected to the opposition. It was the latest setback for the regime which in recent weeks has seen a tough rebel challenge in its seat of power, Damascus, and has lost two airbases to opposition fighters.
In Lebanon, fighting between pro-and anti-Assad gunmen flared as bodies of three Lebanese who fought in Syria’s civil war were brought back home for burial, the state-run National News Agency said.
Four people were killed and 12 were wounded in the gunfights, the agency said.
Syria civil war has often spilled into neighboring countries including Turkey, Lebanon and Israel, raising concerns of a wider war in the volatile region.
Lebanon, which Syria dominated for decades, is particularly vulnerable to getting sucked into the crisis. The two countries share a porous border and a complex web of political and sectarian ties.
Syria’s opposition is dominated by members of the Sunni Muslim minority. Assad’s regime is predominantly Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Tripoli has been the scene of frequent sectarian clashes between the Alawite and Sunni Muslim communities. Last week, the Lebanese army sent additional troops to Tripoli to try to prevent clashes that broke out over reports that 17 Lebanese men were killed after entering Syria to fight alongside the rebels.
In Syria, fighting between opposition fighters and regime troops was concentrated in northern Idlib province, in the Damascus suburbs and in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, according to the Britain-based opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At least 21 people were killed in fighting Sunday, said the group, which relies on reports from activists on the ground.
The defecting judges posted a joint statement online urging others to join them and break ranks with Assad’s regime. There have been a series of high-level defections over the past year, including Assad’s former prime minister.
The Observatory said the latest defectors came from the northern city of Idlib.
Associated Press Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan contributed to this report.
(Reuters) - Syrian rebels backed by radical Islamists captured a northern regimental command center of President Bashar al-Assad’s army, activists said on Sunday, as Russia dismissed speculation that it is preparing for its ally’s possible exit from power.
Assad’s forces hammered rebel units on the outskirts of Damascus as they tried to drive back opposition fighters rebels seeking to advance toward the embattled leader’s seat of power.
Rebels have made a series of advances in recent weeks, partly due to help from radicals such as Jabhat al-Nusra, a group linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq which has been excluded from a newly-formed rebel military command.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Jabhat al-Nusra, which has called for the creation of an Islamic state in Syria, had participated in capturing the command center of the army’s 111th regiment in the north of the country. It said around five soldiers were captured, while the commanding officer and some 140 of his men fled to another army site nearby.
Russia, Syria’s main arms supplier, dismissed suggestions from observers that its support for Assad might be softening.
“We are not holding any talks on the fate of Assad,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special U.N. envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi. “All attempts to present the situation differently are rather shady,” Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying.
Washington and its NATO allies, who have thrown their weight behind the opposition, are pressing for Assad’s departure to end the conflict in Syria, which has taken more than 40,000 lives.
Russia and China have blocked U.N. resolutions against Assad, saying they oppose foreign intervention in the conflict.
However, Western officials have recently cited intelligence reports that Assad may turn to chemical weapons. “We have seen enough evidence to know that they need a warning and they have received a warning and I hope they heed that,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Saturday.
Syria has repeatedly denied the charges and accused the West of creating pretexts for foreign intervention.
RADICALS ON THE RISE
Rebels have seized several military bases in recent weeks, although some activists on the ground say there is no sign they are on the verge of toppling Assad.
The rebels’ capture of the regimental command center in the Sheikh Suleiman region of Aleppo province, however, shows growing cooperation and even allegiance to radical Islamists who have proven to be some of the most effective fighters.
It is unclear how much Jabhat al-Nusra’s exclusion from the newly-formed rebel military command in Syria, an effort backed by Western, Turkish and Arab security officials, will affect efforts to unify rebel ranks and increase financial support.
Led by Brigadier Selim Idris, the new command structure itself is also Islamist-dominated, though it has the backing of many Western states which have expressed reluctance to support the rebels due to the presence of radicals.
Radical groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra are small compared with other factions but their influence has grown in recent months, partly due to their successful operations. Some residents and rebels also believe the hardliners are more disciplined than some rebels who have been accused of looting and kidnapping.
ROAD TO DAMASCUS?
Damascus has become a focal point of battles over the past week, as rebels effectively shut the international airport by clashing with Assad’s forces there. Foreign flights have been suspended and residents say the airport road is closed.
Rebels who have dubbed their campaign “Operation Opening the Road to Damascus”, uploaded video on Sunday that showed heavy gunbattles and explosions rocking several rural towns around the capital. The video also showed rebels firing a fully functioning tank which they had captured from the army.
But there is no clear winner yet in a battle where neither side seems to have advanced. The Syrian army has claimed many successes around the capital, airing footage on state television of soldiers raiding parts of the rebel stronghold of Deraya.
“Our noble forces in Deraya have destroyed some of the terrorist dens used by al Qaeda terrorists to store weapons and other criminal tools,” said a report on Syria TV, which usually refers to rebels as terrorists. “Many terrorists were killed.”
Syrian soldiers also freed an Iranian diplomat captured on the outskirts of Damascus on Saturday, according to Iran’s state-run Arabic news channel Al-Alam. Majeed Adeli, the cultural attaché at the Iranian embassy in Damascus, had been kidnapped by rebels in the Sayyida Zeinab suburb.
Rebels have been targeting Iranians in Syria, many of whom it accuses of belonging to Iranian security forces. Iran has been Assad’s main bankroller and backer in the region. Rebels are also holding 48 Iranians which Tehran says were pilgrims.
Syrian rebels on Sunday seized control of a large sector of Sheikh Suleiman base west of Aleppo, bringing them closer to holding a large swathe of territory extending to the Turkish border in the north.
The rebels took control of Regiment 111 and three other company posts located inside the base after fierce fighting overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Two rebels and one soldier were killed, while five soldiers were captured. The prisoners said that 140 of their men had fled to the scientific research centre on the base,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Sheikh Suleiman sprawls over nearly 200 hectares of rocky hills about 25 kilometers from Aleppo city, an area now almost completely under rebel control.
Also on Sunday, the army clashed with rebels on the outskirts of Damascus and in the southern Qadam neighborhood of the capital, pressing ahead with its bombardment of rebel-held towns, the Observatory said.
Troops shelled rebel-held Daraya southwest of Damascus and Irbin to its northeast, the Britain-based watchdog said. The latter town was hit by air raids on Saturday.
The military has for several days bombarded rebel strongholds in the suburbs from ground and air, raising fears of a looming ground assault by the army to try to establish a secure cordon around the capital.
Fifty of the 101 people killed nationwide on Saturday died in the Damascus region, mostly in the northeastern and southern outskirts of the city, said the Observatory which relies on a countrywide network of activists and medics.
In all, more than 42,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule erupted in March last year, according to the Observatory’s figures.