05/05/2013 - #Syria - Damascus- Massive explosion hits Damascus outskirts
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#Syria, angry Demonstration in Zohor Neighborhood After the Explosion
Huge explosions in the neighborhood of Midan #Damascus #Syria
#SYRIA: CCTV Footage Aleppo Jabri
Square Terrorist Explosions (3.oct
#Syrian troops clash with rebels in Aleppo
Syrian troops backed by helicopter gunships clashed with rebels near an army barracks in Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Fighting erupted overnight near the Hanano barracks in the Arkoub district of northeast Aleppo on Friday, the UK-based watchdog group said.
Several districts of Aleppo, including Sakhur in the northeast and Bustan al-Qasr in the centre, came under overnight attack, SOHR said.
Elsewhere in Aleppo, fighting broke out between troops and rebels near the Meng military airport, SOHR said.
Military airports have been a key target for the rebels as the army has increasingly deployed fighter jets and helicopter gunships to launch devastating attacks against them.
SOHR further reported a massive explosion, believed to be a car bomb, northwest of Damascus. Heavy gunfire was heard afterwards but there were no immediate reports of casualties, it said.
In the central province of Homs, a civilian was killed in dawn shelling of Rastan, while the eastern city of Deir Az-Zor and the town of Daal, in the southern province of Deraa, also came under bombardment.
The violence across the country came a day afterwhen an air raid hit a fuel station in the northern province of al-Riqqa on Thursday.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from Antakya in neighbouring Turkey on Friday, said there is “no doubt that it was a targeted attack on an area being used by civilians”.
“The petrol station was crowded with vehicles,” he said. “It was the only petrol station in the entire region that was open to the public, according to activists.”
Simmons added that according to unconfirmed reports, the device used is known as a “barrel bomb.”
“These sorts of things have been described in Aleppo before. It was devastating,” he said.
“The casualties number in the dozens, and now we are getting unconfirmed reports that the death toll has reached 60.”
In another development, diplomats from more than 60 nations and the Arab League met in The Hague, Netherlands, on Thursday to toughen and improve co-ordination of sanctions against Assad’s regime.
“We need vigorous implementation,” Uri Rosenthal, Netherlands foreign minister, told the opening of the Friends of Syria working group.
“Sanctions will only have an impact if they are carried out effectively. That is how we can make a difference.”
The Friends of Syria group has already held three meetings at ministerial level in Tunis, Istanbul and Paris. Another is planned in Morocco in October and another later in Italy.
Rebels Are Said to Defeat Syrian Forces in Battle at Border
By SEBNEM ARSU and ALAN COWELL
ISTANBUL — For the second time in a week, the bloody civil war in Syria spilled across border areas on Wednesday as rebel forces reportedly drove government troops from a northern frontier crossing in an apparent effort to expand resupply and infiltration routes in the campaign to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkish schools in the region were closed for the day after intense overnight clashes as the rebels attacked the Syrian frontier post at Tal Abyad, south of the Turkish town of Sanliurfa, according to the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency.
Television footage on Wednesday appeared to show members of the insurgent Free Syrian Army standing on the roof of the border post and hauling down the Syrian flag at Tal Abyad, which is less than a mile from’s Akcakale crossing.
The rebels were also reported to have fired into the air and torn down posters of Mr. Assad to celebrate what news reports described as their first capture of a frontier post in Raqqa Province.
The Associated Press said Turkish video showed smoke rising from a small explosion atop the border post and customs house, and added that three people in Turkey had been hit by stray bullets from the fighting.
The Turkish authorities immediately sealed off the area to contain crowds of Syrians surging toward the frontier, The A.P. said. A private Turkish television channel said Syrian tanks were headed for the border post.
Two days of fighting for the Tal Abyad crossing came after the rebels attacked soldiers near Syria’s border with Lebanon earlier this week and then fled into Lebanese territory, followed by helicopters and warplanes firing missiles. A Lebanese Army colonel, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said at the time that missiles had landed in an area where the border is not clearly marked, but not inside Lebanon. He said warplanes and helicopters attacked rebel soldiers who had raided a checkpoint in the border area and killed four government soldiers.
Apart from such military episodes, Syria’s neighbors have been caught up in the humanitarian repercussions of the conflict as tens of thousands of Syrians flee the country.
The United Nations refugee agency in Geneva said this week that the number of Syrian refugees heading into neighboring states had increased from 18,500 in June to 35,000 in July to 102,000 in August.
The exodus has pushed the number of Syrian refugees to more than a quarter of a million, the agency said. Of the total, Turkey has more than 78,000, including those who have registered or are awaiting registration. Many more refugees have not registered with the authorities. The reported closure of schools in Turkey on Wednesday offered a counterpoint to official efforts in Syria to project an air of normalcy by ordering pupils back to class this week. But, with more than 2,000 school buildings destroyed or damaged in the fighting since March, 2011, and others taken over by rebels, teachers and pupils had “more pressing concerns” than turning up for class, a Syrian teacher said.
The latest fighting has inspired several recent accounts by human rights groups saying that civilians are increasingly caught in the fray. Amnesty International said on Wednesday that Syrian government forces had carried out indiscriminate air attacks and artillery strikes apparently intended to punish civilians perceived as sympathetic to the rebels.
A report by the organization, based on visits to areas of central Syria between Aug. 31 and Sept. 11, said that while much international attention was focused on fighting for Damascus, the capital, and Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and commercial center, “indiscriminate air bombardments and artillery strikes by the Syrian Army are killing, maiming and terrorizing the residents of Jabal al-Zawiya and other parts of the Idlib and north Hama regions.”
“Every day, civilians are killed or injured in their homes, in the street, while running for cover or trying to shelter from the bombings. Hundreds have been killed or injured in recent weeks, many of them children, in indiscriminate attacks,” Amnesty International said.
United Nations investigators and Human Rights Watch, based in New York, have also accused the rebels of misconduct.
In a report this week, Humans Rights Watch said armed opposition groups “have subjected detainees to ill-treatment and torture and committed extrajudicial or summary executions in Aleppo, Latakia, and Idlib.”
But Sergio Pinheiro, the chairman of a United Nations human rights investigative panel, said the “crimes and abuses committed by antigovernment groups, though serious, did not reach the gravity, frequency and scale of those committed by the government forces and shabiha” referring to pro-government militias.
Sebnem Arsu reported from Istanbul, and Alan Cowell from Berlin.
Source: The New York Times
Insight - In Aleppo, jets vs. rifles, as civilians despair
(Reuters) - The fighter jet banked sharply over the city and made a run at around 300 feet over the two-storey houses of Aleppo, a deep grinding sounding from its cannon as it unloaded onto home turf.
A fuel tanker exploded and pumped fire and smoke upwards. Local people - for despite the conflict, Syria’s biggest city is still full of life - flurried to the side of the dirty roads. Visible above the breeze-block homes, a helicopter gunship hovered. A lone teenager ran out and, in a bizarre display of audacity, fired at it with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
This sprawling city of 2.5 million mirrors what is happening across the country. Vastly outgunned, rebel fighters have dispersed into urban areas which are then pounded indiscriminately by artillery and warplanes until the guerrillas are flushed out. Meanwhile, the civilian death toll rises.
Observing the fighting in Aleppo over the past weeks, an impression emerges from the chaotic images of war that Syria is stuck for now in a stalemate, both on the battlefield, where neither army nor rebels seem capable of a decisive blow, and in the wider struggle for support; many Syrians, especially among large minority communities, show little love for either side.
Rebel brigades, many drawn from the Sunni Muslim peasantry of Aleppo’s rural hinterland, say they have brought more than half the great merchant and manufacturing city under their control since their first big push in late July.
But since then, frontlines have broadly stabilised amid the daily ebb and flow of warfare that is lopsided but inconclusive.
The teenager who fired at the helicopter was met with a hail of fire from its gunner. It missed its target. More rebels appeared and a pickup truck with a mounted machinegun screeched into the road but failed to bring the helicopter down.
Children cowered behind thin walls, some daring a peek at a civil war which has killed 20,000 and promises to escalate.
The fighter jet returned for a second run, apparently an adapted Czech trainer aircraft, not one of Assad’s fearsome Russian MiGs, showing the limitations of an army dependent on Assad’s fellow minority Alawites as Sunnis desert.
The way the city has been divided, between Sunni districts largely in rebel hands and Christian, Alawite and ethnic Kurdish areas still mostly controlled by Assad’s forces, reflects difficulties for the opposition in winning over those who fear majority rule could mean an intolerant Sunni Islamist state.
“‘Liberated’ is not a term I would ascribe to what happened when rebels entered Aleppo a month ago,” said the owner of a small eatery in a rebel-held zone, who asked to be called only Muhammed as he feared reprisal from both government and rebels.
Nearby air strikes had strewn concrete rubble on the street outside Muhammad’s restaurant, which he has only kept open to help feed those of Aleppo’s people who cannot afford to leave.
“I can’t bear it any longer. This is my last day. I will close tomorrow and stay home,” the bulky man said, in hushed tones. In a dirty white coat, Muhammed ladled out spoonfuls of brown beans into plastic bags for a long line of customers.
The restaurant had three tables but the sound of an approaching helicopter made people eager to get back to their homes rather than sit and eat on the spot. Bags of charcoal sat in the corner - used to heat the beans as there is a gas shortage. A picture of his father hung on the wall.
“Do you have any bread?” an elderly man asked. “None,” replied Muhammed, without looking up. “Any chickpeas?” asked another. “None.”
“We felt better before the rebels came,” he whispered.
Many of Aleppo’s residents share Muhammed’s views.
They say their president is a murderous criminal who ordered his army and ‘shabbiha’ militia to shoot live ammunition at peaceful protests for months and level neighbourhoods with artillery and tank fire. But they also resent the rebel fighters for bringing the fight to Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial hub.
Life in rebel-controlled areas is unbearable.
Piles of uncollected rubbish are burnt every few days, replacing the stench of rotting detritus with that of acrid smoke. Food prices have soared and morning breadlines around bakeries stretch around entire blocks. Children play in the pools of burst water pipes and thousands have lost their homes in the mounting assaults on rebel-held neighbourhoods.
In Bustan al-Qasr, rebels living in an abandoned school have dragged desks and chairs into the streets to make checkpoints. The buildings behind them have gaping holes from mortar bombs and air strikes which residents say come without warning.
In the principal’s office, fighters have scribbled “Free Army” on the desk. There are maps of the city on the wall. In one classroom, all the tables have been stacked to one side to make space for guns, ammunition and medicine. “The verb ‘to do’” is still written on the white board from an old English lesson.
Assad’s army is one of the biggest in the region. But, built with mostly Soviet weaponry, it is a blunt tool to fight a popular revolt. Schools and police stations are marked on many simple maps of the city giving away the location of rebel bases.
“We base ourselves here exactly because we don’t want civilians to be targeted. We have not positioned ourselves inside residential apartment blocks to make sure civilians are not hurt,” said rebel commander Abu Imad, who now sits at the principal’s table.
But there are no absolute military targets and it is the civilians who bear the brunt. Last week a bomb landed just at the school entrance. A taxi lay overturned in the street and the sides of central Aleppo’s five-storey apartment blocks crumbled.
There are clear divisions of outlook between Aleppo’s merchants and the rural fighters who have taken control.
In the market neighbourhood of al-Shaar, rebel fighters from the small town of Anadan, a few miles to the northeast, sit under a bridge to avoid helicopters and stop and check cars.
The men sit on looted office chairs, scattering red pistachio husks around them. They say relations with the city folk are good. But those out shopping pointedly ignore them.
FRONT LINE STATIC
The rebels say that having lost swathes of the countryside, Assad is not advancing with infantry in Aleppo, resorting to attacks from the air for fear ordinary soldiers might desert.
“The regime knows it will be a fair fight on the ground,” said Riyad Hamso, 28, whose foot was wrapped in a white bandage, a yellow mark on it from a seeping wound. He was shot, he says, by a government sniper in the frontline district of Salaheddine.
In some areas, the army will only fire when fired upon. On the outskirts, the army still controls a base within otherwise rebel-held territory. Paintings of Bashar and his late father Hafez adorn its walls and sentries look out idly. Rebels say they need more ammunition before they can overrun it.
The army appears to be employing the same tactic it has in other parts of the country. The central city of Homs was battered for weeks to the point of complete destruction. Only then did the army push in on foot as rebels ran out of bullets.
But rebels in Aleppo say they are fighting a war of attrition and time is on their side. The army claimed victory when rebels were flushed out of Homs and other areas around the country only to find guerrilla fighters sneaking back in.
And unlike Homs, where the army was able to encircle rebel-held districts, fighters have control of many roads leading to the city and are able to rotate and take home leave.
In Saif al-Dawla, a southern district of Aleppo where rebels and government forces battle from street to street, the frontline shifts daily but has not moved far in weeks.
“The army is trying to encircle us today,” said a fighter, sitting on a mattress on the floor, with a cup of strong Arab coffee in hand. Yet over the next few days the same man never seemed to move from his spot, always sipping the same drink.
Sheikh Walid, the commander of an Islamist brigade fighting in Saif al-Dawla, did not seem too concerned about the stalemate. “We are able to keep the army from advancing and slowly we are taking ground in other areas and trying to find safe ways for more soldiers to defect,” he said.
In between the cracks of incoming tank shells, the rebels call out to their foes who are positioned only metres away. “We are your brothers. Defect and we’ll embrace you,” they shout down the alleyway. “We are with Assad,” the soldiers call back.
Ayham Kamel, a Middle East analyst at Eurasia group, said Assad’s army, too, is hoping the impasse can work in its favour, giving it time to disrupt supply lines: “The regime’s strategy is to confront them with time, rather than go in with infantry,” he said. “We could be in a stalemate for a long time in Aleppo.”
A DIVIDED CITY
Though foreign journalists cannot safely cross into government-held parts of the city, notably Christian and Kurdish districts in the west, residents who are able to come and go with relative ease speak of troops organising local militias.
“There is a Christian militia group that set up checkpoints and walk around the streets searching houses for dissidents,” said one woman visiting rebel territory from the Christian quarter. Many Christians, like the Alawites, have seen Assad as a bulwark against a Sunni Islamist takeover.
Several civilians who have moved around the city spoke of an eerie sense of normality in Aleppo’s government-held districts.
“People see the fighter jets bomb nearby but they try to live as normal,” said the woman, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals. “All the shops are open and the streets are full of people.” Even Aleppo’s airport remains open and the occasional passenger jet can be seen taking off.
Civilians in rebel-held districts also try to get on with life amid the continuous attacks.
“Assad will kill civilians and nobody cares,” said Abu Bakr, a shopkeeper who lives in Aleppo’s Old City, a once picturesque neighbourhood of covered markets and fragrant souks.
Abu Bakr’s own son was killed in an air strike two weeks ago while lining up for bread. “Look at where the bomb craters are: by mosques and breadlines,” he said. “Assad wants us all dead.”
In hospitals on the rebel side, doctors have forbidden journalists from taking pictures. “If the regime knows we are working here, they’ll bomb us,” said a doctor in blue scrubs, ushering journalists out of his emergency room. A rebel fighter lay dead inside; shot through the mouth by a government sniper.
Hospitals are full of wounded civilians and in frontline areas the bodies of residents who strayed down the wrong street and were shot by snipers lie rotting in the streets.
Abdelrahman, a lanky university student with a short beard from Bustan al-Qasr says his family is too poor to flee: “We have enough money to get to Turkey but we do not have the means to stay there for long,” the 20-year-old said. “The camps in Turkey have no services. People prefer to live and die here.”
The helicopters which hover high above to avoid rebel gunfire drop bombs the size of dustbins. They fall from such a height that residents below have several seconds to see the mass of explosives and metal descend from above.
“When you find yourself here, you start to feel different,” said Abdelrahman. “Two days ago I had to go help pick up body parts after a missile hit. You start to lose the will to live.
“And death? After a while, you start to wish for it.”
(Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Philippa Fletcher)
#Syria, Video shows how dangerous throw explosive barrels of military aircraft on the City Section
#Syria Rastan: the moment a ‘vacumn’ bomb explode
Massive explosion as rocket hits #Syrian city
Forces In #Syria Show No Sign Of Backing Down
Watch video here.
Sky’s David Bowden describes the widespread fear among Syrians around Aleppo who face daily aerial bombardment.
Hundreds of Syrians who have fled the fierce fighting in the northern city of Aleppo fear they may still be targeted by government airstrikes.
In a primary school in the town of Souran, just a few miles outside Aleppo, 25 families including dozens of children have taken refuge from the civil war.
They wave their arms around in swooping motions and simulate explosions to illustrate what happened to them in their homes in Aleppo.
One man said his neighbour’s house was completely demolished by a shell and a woman with eight children and a grandchild explained how a round exploded in the street right outside her house.
Many of the children wake up crying with nightmares about what they have seen and heard in the past few days.
A car damaged during a shelling by forces loyal to President Assad
One of the refugees is 20-year-old mum, Om Mohammad, who is cradling her six-week-old son as she tells me she is so traumatised by what she has been through she can no longer suckle her baby.
Her mother Om Juma has her eight children with her in the school. Her eldest son is 22, the youngest, another son, is just two. In all she has four sons and four daughters - all are frightened of what might be still to come.
In the nearby town of Tall Rifat, night after night the settlement is targeted by air strikes. In one of the strikes, locals tell us a family of seven was killed.
In the same attack, a school compound next door was hit by two rockets, leaving huge craters in what used to be the playground.
Sleeping in the classrooms just metres away, opposition fighters including “Tony,” a student from Manchester, who described how the force of the blast picked him up and threw him against the wall.
FSA rebels show no signs of backing down
Pointing to the bomb crater, he explained: “I was here when the bomb lands over here and I get on the floor, after that another rocket comes over.
“I was flying because the bomb was strong enough, I fly over and pound the wall.”
Tony has only been in Syria three weeks and has already seen action in Idlib and will soon be on the front line in Aleppo.
He says he is planning to go back to his dentistry course at the start of next term in Manchester. But, on the day he was telling of his miraculous escape, three fellow rebel fighters were being buried in the town and nearby. All of them killed in Aleppo just hours earlier.
Many more will die in the coming days as neither the Free Syrian Army or the government forces loyal to Bashar al Assad show any signs of backing down.
#Syria, FSA attacks one of the syrian army’s tanks!
#Syria, Ugarit Rastan Homs, a rocket exploded buildings
#Syria, Explosion of the Republican Guard’s armories in #Artouz, #Damascus. This mountain is a military zone.