05/23/2013 - #Syria - Idleb - Youth camp aftermath
Seventy-five fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah have been killed in Syria since they first became involved in the country’s war months ago, a source close to the Shiite militant group said on Thursday.
“There have been 57 killed and 18 others who have died of their wounds since the start of its [Hezbollah’s] participation in the war in Syria,” the source told AFP.
Hezbollah combatants have become increasingly involved in Syria’s conflict, fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against an insurgency that flared after a brutal regime crackdown on democracy protests.
Initially Hezbollah said it only wanted to defend 13 Syrian villages along the border where Lebanese Shiites live, and the Sayyeda Zeinab shrine near Damascus, an important Shiite pilgrimage site.
However its elite fighters later encircled Qusayr with regime troops before the launch on Sunday of a withering assault on the strategic border town that is home to 25,000 people.
Hezbollah denied its involvement in Syria for some time, quietly burying fighters killed in Syria.
But the movement stopped hiding its dead when its leader Hassan Nasrallah paid homage to militants killed across the border on April 30.
“Syria has true friends in the region who will not allow Syria to fall into the hands of the United States, Israel and ‘takfiri’ groups,” he said in an interview with the movement’s television channel, Al-Manar.
Waddah Sharara, an expert on the organization, says Hezbollah has some 20,000 fighters, of whom 5,000 to 7,000 have experience of combat. Between 800 and 1,200 of these have been taking part in the battle for Qusayr.
AFP - 05/23/2013
05/22/2013 - #Syria - Idleb - Last tank blown up at the youth camp as Shabiha try to escape http://youtu.be/sBBvcVgNZ2M
Forty Syrian soldiers and pro-regime militiamen were killed in fighting with rebels who captured an army camp near the town of Nayrab in the northwestern province of Idlib on Wednesday, a watchdog reported.
Rebels took control of the army camp, which was “one of the most important bastions of the regime in the Idlib region,” and several army checkpoints in the area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The fighting has killed 14 from the rebel side and not less than 40 among the soldiers of the regular army and members of the Popular Committees [pro-regime militia],” said the Observatory which relies on a network of medics and activists on the ground.
The army used the camp to “bombard many localities in the region of Idlib, leaving hundreds dead and thousands wounded,” it said, adding that the facility also served as a detention center where “dozens of detainees have died under torture”.
AFP - 05/22/2013
Syrian troops have taken control of a town near the main road linking the capital, Damascus, with Jordan, an advance in the regime’s campaign to drive rebels from the south, an activist group has said.
Rebels seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad are trying to carve a pathway from the Jordanian border through the southern province of Deraa in what is seen as their best chance of capturing Damascus.
A few weeks ago they scored significant gains but suffered setbacks after the regime launched a counteroffensive.
In recent days, regime troops and rebel fighters have battled over Khirbet Ghazaleh. Regime forces retook the town near the Damascus-Jordan road on Sunday and rebels withdrew from the area, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Troops reopened the road, restoring the supply line between Damascus and Deraa city, the contested provincial capital, he said. Regime forces were carrying out raids and searching homes in Khirbet Ghazaleh on Monday.
Damascus, still overwhelmingly under regime control, is the ultimate prize in a largely deadlocked civil war. Rebels control large parts of the countryside in northern Syria, but those areas are further away from the capital than the Jordanian border.
Arab officials and western military experts have said Middle Eastern powers opposed to Assad have stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels, with Jordan opening up as a new route.
The uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011 and escalated into a civil war. Over the weekend, the Observatory issued an estimated death toll of more than 80,000, with almost half of them civilians. In February, the UN said at least 70,000 Syrians had been killed.
Western leaders face growing pressure to find a way to end the conflict – because of the rising death toll and fears that neighbouring Israel or Turkey could inadvertently get pulled deeper into it.
Turkey has blamed the Assad regime for twin car bombs on Saturday that killed 46 people and wounded scores in a border town that serves as a hub for Syrian refugees and rebels.
Turkey said it would not be dragged into the quagmire but tensions between the former allies run high.
This month Israel launched back-to-back air strikes in Syria against what it said were shipments of advanced Iranian missiles. Israeli officials signalled there would be more attacks unless its neighbour refrained from trying to deliver such “game-changing” missiles to its ally Hezbollah, an anti-Israel militia in Lebanon.
For now, the west is placing its hopes on a diplomatic plan that previously ran aground but now appears to have stronger Russian backing.
Last week the US and Russia agreed to revive the idea of negotiations between Syria’s political opposition and members of the regime on a transitional government, accompanied by an open-ended ceasefire.
05/13/2013 - Guardian
Syria’s army has dropped leaflets over Al-Qusayr in central Homs province, warning civilians to leave ahead of an attack that will be launched if rebels holding the town do not surrender, a military source said on Friday.
“Leaflets were dropped over Al-Qusayr asking civilians to leave the city, with a map of a safe route by which to evacuate, because the attack against the city is coming soon if the rebels do not surrender,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Troops backed by fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah have advanced throughout the area around Al-Qusayr, which fell to the rebels more than a year ago.
Activists said Al-Qusayr is surrounded by government forces on three sides, and that approximately 25,000 residents are believed to still be in the city.
The area has been a strategic boon to the rebels, who used it as a base from which to block the main road from Damascus to the coast, impeding military movement and supply chains.
It is also important because of its proximity to Lebanon.
The regime has made recapturing it a key objective. President Bashar al-Assad reportedly said last month that fighting in the area was the “main battle” his troops were waging.
Activists say regime forces there are backed by fighters from Hezbollah, as well as members of the National Defense Force, a pro-regime militia.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said at least 72 people were killed throughout the country in violence on Thursday, including 33 rebels, 21 civilians and 18 soldiers.
AFP - 05/10/2013
February 13/2013 By Rita
Between thousands of things I want to say, the many great people I would be honoured to talk about, and the lots of exceptional moments still living in my memory, this is what came to my mind first.
About three months ago Ayham Ghazzoul, a dentist and a postgraduate student at Damascus University, was killed under brutal torture inside Medicine school. This was done in front of his fellow students and professors; and it was done by the shabbiha - some of whom had even taken the Hippocratic Oath. No one could have helped him; he was left to die without even being taken to hospital. Ayham was a peaceful activist and a former detainee, yet his killing wasn’t political but borne out of grudge and power display.
Two days later, the same group of University shabiha killed another medicine student – again under torture. And then another student was thrown from the third floor in the dormitory. And so on.
It has been nearly two years since our uprising began. I no longer recognize myself, nor my country. Everything has changed.
Where is Syria now? Syria is a country where random killing has become an everyday occurrence for some of its citizens, and an interesting sideshow for others. The State’s sites of torture, misery and death are no longer confined to detention centers belonging to the repressive security apparatus; even universities are now playgrounds for murderers and thugs.
Away from politics which I don’t really understand, away from your theories, debates and analysis, my people are being killed systematically and all of your well-meaning words seem helpless in all of this. The situation In Syria is no more political, it is a wholesale purposive destruction of a society. Whatever the result of this conflict will be, spilled blood will not dry; and millions of refugees will never forget the humiliation of waiting aid cars for hours under the falling snow.
If anything has to be made, if anything has to be discussed it should be how to stop this breakdown of society and this legitimization of criminality.
This will help us to collect our breath. Then we can tackle politics.
Hopefully we will have real politicians at that time, instead of the chess players we have now.
Source: Open Democracy
01/06/2013 - #Syria - Capture of high ranking pilot in Damascus by FSA (english translation)
Pilot on Yushin 76 and Antonov 26 airplanes.
Pilot: We transported ammunitions and equipment from Damascus airport to other airports around the country. We transported Shabeeha. We transported bombs, explosive materials, medicine and food supplies. We transported prisoners to Damascus. We transported fuel.
FSA: This prisoner will be put on trial in our religious court, we promise all officers working with the regime that they will recieve punishment.