Monday 8 October 2012

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for Monday 8/10/2012: Approximately 210 Syrians were killed: The dead include: 106 unarmed civilians (children) , 39 rebel fighters, 2 defected soldiers and no less than 57 regime forces.  106 Unarmed Civilians:

– In Idlib province 24 were killed. A woman was shot by sniper fire in the Mhambal bridge. 1 was shot by a military checkpoint in the Tal Mardikh of Reef Idlib. 2 from the Idlib city were killed, 1 was tortured to death after detainment by regime forces, 1 was shot by regime forces in the city. 10 civilians, including 6 women and 3 children, were killed by bombardment on the M’aret al-Nu’man city. 6 corpses were found after rebel fighters stormed the Arabic Cultural Center in the city of M’aret al-Nu’man that was a security center for detainees. 3 were killed by bombardment on the Afes town and Jusr al-Shughour city. A child died of wounds he received earlier by bombardment on the Kfrouma town of Reef Idlib. 

– In Aleppo province 27 were killed. 15 civilians, including 2 women and 2 children, were killed by bombardment on the neighbourhoods of al-Heidariya, al-Marja, al-Jadida, Tariq al-Bab, al-Qaterji, al-A’weija, al-Sha’ar and al-Furqan. 3 were shot by sniper fire in the neighbourhoods of Bab al-Nurab and al-Itha’a. A child died of wounds he received earlier by bombardment on the al0Sukari neighbourhood. 4 civilians, including an unidentified child were killed by bombardment on the Akhtrin town. 4 men were killed by bombardment that targeted a building on the A’zaz road of Reef Aleppo.

– In Dera’a province 20 were killed. 12 were killed in the al-Karak al-Sharqi town by bombardment, an attack on a vehicle that was transporting wounded people and clashes in the town. 1 was shot by sniper fire in the Da’l town. 7 Syrian Bedouins were found dead on the Dera’a-Damascus road by the Izra’ town, activists reported that they were shot several days ago.

– In Reef Dimashq province 18 were killed. 2 were killed in the al-Mleiha town, 1 by bombardment, 1 by regime gunshots. 1 died of wounds he received days ago in the Douma city. 8 were killed by bombardment on the towns of Deir al-A’safir, A’rbin and Harasta. 2 , including an unidentified civilian, were shot by regime forces in the towns of Mesraba and A’qrba. An unidentified corpse was found in the Daraya city of Reef Dimashq that witnessed a series of raids by regime forces yesterday. A young girl and woman were killed by bombardment on the Zabdin town. 2 were shot by regime forces in the Zabding town.

– In Homs province 7 were killed. 2 were killed in the city of al-Qseir, a woman was shot by sniper fire, 1 was killed by bombardment. 5 were killed by bombardment on the al-Zira’a town of Reef al-Qseir that witnessed a military operation. 1 died of wounds he received 3 days earlier by regime gun fire.

– In Deir Izzor province 6 were killed in the city. 2 were shot by regime forces in the al-Joura neighbourhood. 2 civilians, including a woman, were killed by bombardment on the city neighbourhoods. 1 was shot by regime forces in the neighbourhoods of al-Rashdiya and al-A’rdi of the city.

– In Hama province 3 were killed. 1 was killed by bombardment on the Kafrzeita town. 1 from the al-Hweiz town was shot by regime forces while transporting medical supplies in Sahl al-Ghab of Reef Hama. 1 died of wounds he received earlier by regime gun fire in the al-Hmeidiya neighbourhood of Aleppo city.

– In Damascus province an unidentified corpse was found in the al-Qadam neighbourhood of Damascus city.

39 Rebel Fighters:

– In Idlib province 12 rebel fighters were killed. 1 was killed by an IED explosion in the Jarjanaz town. 11 were killed during clashes with regime forces in the al-Janoudiya town and M’aret al-Nu’man city.

– In Aleppo province 7 rebel fighters were killed. 1 died of wounds he received earlier during clashes. 1 was killed during clashes with regime forces in western Reef Aleppo. 5 were killed during clashes with regime forces in the neighbourhoods of Salah al-Din and Hanano as well as Ghasan bridge in the city and several other neighbourhoods of Aleppo city.

– In Dera’a province 9 rebel fighters were killed. 8 rebel fighters were killed in the al-Karak al-Sharqi town by bombardment, an attack on a vehicle that was transporting wounded people and clashes in the town. A rebel fighter from the al-Mleiha town was killed during clashes with regime forces in the al-Tadamon neighbourhood of Damascus city.

– In Reef DImashq 3 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the al-Mleiha town.

– In Homs province 5 rebel fighters were killed. A rebel fighter was killed during clashes by the Lebanese borders. 4 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the neighbourhoods of al-Khaldiya, al-Qusour and al-Shamas.

– In Deir Izzor province a rebel fighter was shot by regime forces in the neighbourhoods of al-Rashdiya and al-A’rdi of the city.

– In Hama province 2 rebel fighters were killed. A rebel commander from the Janoub al-Mal’ab neighbourhood was killed during clashes with regime forces in the Aleppo city. A rebel fighter was killed by an ambush set up by regime forces in the Hama city.


– 2 defected soldiers were killed. 1 was killed during clashes with regime forces in Reef Dimashq. 1 was summarily executed in M’aret al-Nu’man.


– The SOHR was able to document an additional 2 deaths in the Douma city. A young man was killed by bombardment on the al-A’b neighbourhood yesterday. A woman was shot by sniper fire a week ago in the Nawa town of Reef Dera’a.


– No less that 57 regime forces, including 3 officers and a colonel, by attacks on military checkpoints and centers, IED explosions on vehicles and machinery and clashes in the provinces of (11) Reef Dimashq, (8) Homs, (19) Idlib, (1) al-Raqqa, (7) Aleppo, (6) Damascus and (5) Dera’a.

Statement by the Spokesperson of the EU High Representative on the disappearance of political opposition figure Abdel Azeez el-Khair and human rights defender Khalil Maatouk in Syria:

The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement today 4.10.2012:

“The High Representative is deeply concerned at the disappearance of Dr Abdel Azeez el-Khair while leaving Damascus airport shortly after his return on 20 September from discussions in Beijing. Dr el-Khair is a senior figure within the Syrian opposition movement National Coordinating Committee, active in working towards peaceful political dialogue and transition in Syria. Dr el-Khair has chosen to pursue the path of peaceful change by remaining in Syria and working among Syrians. The High Representative calls on those responsible for his detention to release him and the two colleagues detained with him as soon as possible, to the safety of their families and friends.

The High Representative has also learned of the detention on 2 October of Khalil Maatouk, a prominent Syrian human rights activist and lawyer, while leaving his home in Damascus, and calls for his immediate release.

The level of violence and human suffering grows daily in Syria, and must be brought to an
immediate halt. It is vital for peace that those working for non-violent political transition and the
defence of human rights be allowed to work without threat or harassment, and that all those
detained are freed without delay.

The High Representative calls for all those responsible for human rights violations to be held
accountable. She welcomes the recent reinforcement of the Independent Commission of Inquiry and
reiterates her full support to the Commission.”

Michael Mann +32 498 999 780 – +32 2 299 97 80 –
Maja Kocijancic +32 498 984 425 – +32 2 298 65 70 –

NOW! Lebanon
[local time]  22:14 Syrian regime forces have so far killed 165 people on Monday, activists reported.
 22:01 A huge explosion took place near the electricity company amid clashes between regime forces and rebels in the Damascus neighborhood of Al-Qaboun, activists reported.
 21:56 A new “leaked document” released by Al-Arabiya on Monday said that the Syrian government was trying to destabilize Jordan’s security.
 21:44 Abdel Basset Sayda, the head of the main opposition Syrian National Council, entered Syria on Monday for the first time since assuming his post in June, rebel sources said.
 21:13 The death toll in Syria increased to 141 people on Monday evening, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 21:11 A huge explosion rocked the Syrian capital Damascus, Al-Arabiya reported.
 21:07 Violence across Syria has killed more than 32,000 people, most of them civilians, since the outbreak of an anti-regime revolt in March last year, a monitoring group said.
 19:44 US President Barack Obama has “failed to lead in Syria,” and the strains between his administration and chief regional ally Israel are emboldening Iran, White House hopeful Mitt Romney warned Monday.
 19:41 A shell launched from Syria crashed into northern Lebanon on Monday, as an exchange of cross-border gunfire also broke out in the area, a security official said.
 19:37 Syrian rebels holding dozens of Iranian hostages since August and who threatened to execute them by Sunday have temporarily postponed their killing, a Free Syrian Army spokesperson told AFP.
 19:24 Syria’s Monday death toll rose to 115 people, activists were quoted by Al-Arabiya television as saying.
 18:59 Syria’s death toll on Monday increased to 100 people killed by regime forces’ gunfire, activists reported.
 18:29 Syrian security forces summarily killed 30 people before withdrawing from Maarat an-Naaman, Al-Jazeera reported.
 17:20 Syria’s army stepped up its assault on rebel-held areas in the central province of Homs, targeting besieged districts in Homs city and the nearby town of Qusayr, army and rebel sources told AFP on Monday.
 17:10 The Free Syrian Army took over four military checkpoints in the Edleb town of Maarat an-Naaman, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 17:19 Syria’s Monday death toll has increased to 77 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 17:00 Syria on Monday accused Turkey of having made a “political and diplomatic gaffe” with its suggestion that Vice President Faruq al-Shara take over from the country’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad.
 16:21 Turkey’s military Monday struck back at Syrian military positions after a shell fired by the neighboring country landed in a Turkish border area, a Turkish official told AFP.
 15:53 The opposition Syrian National Council, often accused of failing to represent the diverse blocs fighting the regime, is planning a major makeover at a meeting in Doha next week, a member said Monday.
 15:41 Syrian regime troops and rebels are clashing in the Damascus area of Al-Nabal, activists reported.
 15:19 A string of rebel bastions across Syria was rocked by regime shelling and clashes on Monday, as several army checkpoints also came under attack, with at least 61 people killed nationwide, a rights group said.
 14:49 Two huge explosions rocked the Hama area of Al-Sabouniyeh, activists reported Monday.
 13:18 A Syrian activist said on Monday that emergency workers in Homs’ Qusayr were unable to transport severely wounded civilians to Lebanon due to the blockade imposed by regime forces, and that the wounded were succumbing to their injuries as a result.
 13:10 Forty people have been killed so far across Syria by regime forces, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 13:03 Base 46 was supposed to fall in a matter of days but rebels have failed to take it after a two-week siege of the Syrian army barracks which is a strategic prize in the battle for Aleppo.
 12:13 The village of Al-Zaainiyeh in the Edleb district was overtaken by the rebel Free Syrian Army, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 12:10 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned on Monday that rising violence along the Syrian-Turkish border and the effect of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon were extremely dangerous.
 11:15 A string of rebel strongholds, including in Daraa and Homs provinces and the commercial capital Aleppo, were rocked by shelling and clashes from dawn on Monday that left at least 23 people dead, a watchdog said.
 10:39 The rebel Free Syrian Army overtook the village of Ketrin in Edleb’s Jisr al-Shoughour, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 9:00 MORNING LEADER: A car bomb rocked police headquarters in the capital on Sunday after Syrian mortar fire again struck a Turkish border village, prompting fresh retaliation, and as fierce fighting swept the key city of Aleppo.
 8:12 Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki heads to Moscow on Monday to boost defense and trade ties, but events in Syria loom large over talks between two states criticized over their support for Damascus.
 8:09 The shelling by Syrian regime forces of vehicles transporting wounded civilians killed 30 people in the town of Al-Karak in the Daraa district, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.

BBC: ‘Saudi weapons’ found in Syria
The BBC finds evidence that weapons intended for the Saudi military have been diverted to Syrian rebels in the city of Aleppo. [video:]

Three crates from an arms manufacturer – addressed to Saudi Arabia – have been seen in a base being used by rebel fighters in the city of Aleppo.

How the small crates reached Aleppo is unknown, and the BBC was not allowed to film their contents. Saudi Arabia has refused to comment on the matter.

Separately, Turkey is calling for “international action” on Syria.

For a sixth day in a row, Turkey has returned fire across the border after a Syrian shell fell on its territory.

Turkey would continue to do everything necessary to protect its borders, President Abdullah Gul said on Monday, adding that the “worst-case scenarios” were now taking place in Syria.

No-one was hurt in the latest incident, near the town of Altinozu, in Hatay province, the Turkish semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

Last week, a Syrian shell killed five Turkish civilians in the border town of Akcakale.

Meanwhile, fighting has intensified around the central Syrian city of Homs.

Syrian troops launched an assault on Homs, advancing into a rebel-held district after four days of bombardment.

“The army is in the midst of trying to cleanse the last rebel districts of the city of Homs,” a Syrian army commander told the Associated Press news agency.

Unknown route

The crates of ammunition found in an Aleppo mosque were made by the Ukrainian firm Dastan, which specialises in naval weaponsand missile complexes.

What was in the crates is unknown, says the BBC’s Ian Pannell, who has been in Aleppo, as is how they ended up there.

But their presence clearly suggests that someone in the Gulf is actively helping the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, our correspondent says.

When contacted by the BBC, Saudi officials refused to comment.

The BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner says Saudi Arabia generally prefers to conduct its foreign affairs through low-key, behind-the-scenes discretion.

The apparent discovery of Saudi ammunition in a Syrian mosque could attract unwelcome attention, he adds.

Privately, opposition sources have confirmed to the BBC that they are receiving assistance from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The New York Times reports that Saudi and Qatari officials are sending small arms to the rebels, but are holding off sending heavier equipment, such as shoulder-fired missiles.

This is in part because they have been discouraged by the United States, which fears the heavier weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists, the newspaper says.

Meanwhile, in a speech on foreign policy on Monday, US presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said that if elected, he would back Western-friendly elements among the Syrian rebels.

Extracts of his speech released by his campaign include the following pledge on Syria: “I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets.”

The UN has warned of rising tensions and has urged those supplying weapons to both sides to stop doing so.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said tensions were increasing in the region, adding that he was “deeply concerned” by the continued flow of arms to both sides, despite international embargoes.

“I urge again those countries providing arms to stop doing so. Militarisation only aggravates the situation,” he told the World Forum for Democracy, in the French city of Strasbourg.

Syria is not on the agenda at this week’s meeting of Nato foreign ministers, but in an interview with the BBC, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Turkey – a Nato member – could count on solidarity.

Nato had no intention of interfering militarily in Syria, he said, but plans were in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary.

Syria weapons boxes

  • Label lists factory as LCW, in eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk
  • LCW stands for Luhansk Cartridge Works, a major ammunition manufacturer, founded in 1895
  • In Soviet times, the factory mainly supplied cartridges for army use but has diversified into sports and hunting markets
  • One of its key exports is the 7.62mm cartridge used in the AK-47 semi-automatic rifle and its modifications – used by both the Syrian army and rebels

Reuters: Turkish president says “worst case” unfolding in Syria

GUVECCI, Turkey – Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Monday the “worst-case scenarios” were now playing out in Syria and Turkey would do everything necessary to protect itself, as its army fired back for a sixth day after a shell from Syria flew over the border. | Video

 Gul said the violence in Turkey’s southern neighbor, where a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad has evolved into a civil war that threatens to draw in regional powers, could not go on indefinitely and Assad’s fall was inevitable.

“The worst-case scenarios are taking place right now in Syria … Our government is in constant consultation with the Turkish military. Whatever is needed is being done immediately as you see, and it will continue to be done,” Gul said.

“There will be a change, a transition sooner or later … It is a must for the international community to take effective action before Syria turns into a bigger wreck and further blood is shed, that is our main wish,” he told reporters in Ankara.

Turkey’s armed forces have bolstered their presence along the 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria in recent days and have been responding in kind to gunfire and shelling spilling across from the south, where Assad’s forces have been battling rebels who control swathes of territory.

Turkey’s Chief of Staff, General Necdet Ozel, travelled to the southern city of Adana to inspect the region patrolled by Turkey’s 2nd Army, which protects the border with Syria, the military said on its website.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the escalation of the conflict along the Turkey-Syria border, as well as the impact of the crisis on Lebanon, were “extremely dangerous”.

“The situation in Syria has dramatically worsened. It is posing serious risks to the stability of Syria’s neighbors and the entire region,” he told a conference in Strasbourg, France.

Ban said U.N. and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi would be heading back to the region this week.


The exchanges with Turkey mark the most serious cross-border violence in Syria’s revolt against Assad, which began in March last year with peaceful protests for reform and has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones.

“From now on, every attack on us will be responded to immediately. Every attack that targets our sovereignty, our security of life and property will find its response,” Turkish government spokesman Bulent Arinc said after a cabinet meeting.

Parliament last week authorized the deployment of Turkish troops beyond its borders although government officials said the move was meant as a deterrent rather than a “war mandate”.

“Turkey will decide itself when the situation necessitates acts mentioned in the motion the parliament passed last week. Nobody should think war will follow a parliament approval … but we are more sensitive about our independence and sovereignty than most countries,” Arinc said.

Turkey’s Dogan news agency said some 25 warplanes had been sent to a military base in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the southeast, and reported military sources as saying this was in connection with Syria and cross-border anti-terror operations.

It said a large number of F-16 fighter planes landed at the base on Monday afternoon. Local sources confirmed there was heightened activity at the base but said this was related to operations against Kurdish militant bases in northern Iraq, not Syria.

Separately, a convoy of military vehicles, including tanks loaded on trucks, travelled to the town of Akcakale on Monday to be deployed on the border, Dogan reported.

Fighting further inside Syria also intensified on Monday.

Syrian government forces advanced for the first time in months into the rebel-held Khalidiya district in the besieged central city of Homs.

“They have occupied buildings that we were stationed in and we had to evacuate,” a rebel fighter told Reuters by Skype.

Skirmishes on the Syrian side of the border have been escalating and it is unclear who fired the shells that have crossed into Turkey.

Damascus has said it fired into Turkey accidentally, but has failed to live up to pledges made last week, after a Syrian shell killed five civilians in Akcakale, to ensure no more ordnance flies across the border.

Turkey launched its latest retaliatory strike on Monday after a mortar bomb fired from Syria landed in countryside in the Turkish province of Hatay some 150-200 m (yards) inside the district of Hacipasa, a Turkish official told Reuters.


Further east, Syrian rebel sources in Raqqa province, which borders Akcakale, said they had seen five Turkish army trucks full of soldiers patrolling the border.

NATO member Turkey was once an ally of Assad’s but turned against him after his violent response to the uprising, in which activists say 30,000 people have died.

Turkey has nearly 100,000 Syrian refugees in camps on its territory, has given sanctuary to rebel leaders and has led calls for Assad to quit. Its armed forces are far larger than Syria’s.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at the weekend that a potential leader in an interim Syrian government could be Vice-President Farouq al-Shara.

Reports in August said Shara, a former foreign minister who was appointed vice president six years ago, had tried to defect to neighboring Jordan, but Syrian state media subsequently said he had never considered leaving.

“The opposition is inclined to accept these names. Farouq al-Shara has the ability to understand the system of the last 20 to 30 years,” Davutoglu told the state broadcaster TRT.

“Farouq al-Shara did not get involved in the recent incidents, the massacre, in a very wise and conscientious attitude. But perhaps there is nobody who knows the system better than al-Shara.”

(Reporting by John Irish in Paris, Mert Ozkan in Ankara, Daren Butler in Istanbul and Mariam Karouny in Beirut; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Michael Roddy)

UNICEF says agrees with Syria to expand relief efforts: ZAATARI, Jordan – The United Nations Children’s Fund has agreed with the Syrian government to expand humanitarian work across the country in a move that could save tens of thousands of lives, UNICEF chief Anthony Lake said on Monday.

Activists say more than 30,000 people have been killed in the 18-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, but with 1 million people displaced the approaching winter poses as much of a threat as the relentless violence.

Lake said the agency’s agreement with Syria will allow it to go beyond its Damascus operations to reach Syrians in conflict areas. It aims to vaccinate within a couple of months 1 million vulnerable children against diseases such as measles, he added.

“The Syrian government has agreed especially in recent weeks to allow us to work with a number of local groups that will allow us to address the needs of the people,” he told Reuters at a refugee camp for 30,000 Syrians in northern Jordan.

The deal will expand UNICEF’s partnership with more than 40 Syrian civil groups and the Syrian Red Crescent, he said.

UNICEF has opened an office in the Syrian port city of Tartous and talks were under way with Syrian authorities to open one in Homs, scene of massive damage and the heaviest civilian casualties in a year and a half of conflict,

“We have increased our staff in Syria. We are hoping to establish some local offices,” Lake added. “We have a growing opportunity to do much more. We have an opportunity if we can seize it to save and improve hundreds of thousands of lives.”

UNICEF plays a lead role along with other humanitarian groups in providing essential services including water, sanitation and education support in Syria.


Lake said it was difficult to estimate how many children had died but it was clear they had borne the brunt of the conflict. “Clearly thousands of children have been killed and tens of thousands and now hundreds of thousands have been uprooted,” he said.

Despite a $91 million financing gap to address the needs of displaced Syrians and refugees outside the country, Lake said the agency was planning for a conflict that shows no sign of breakthrough, including looking at supply routes and stockpiles.

But the challenges ahead were daunting with winter coming and more than a million Syrians displaced, more than half of whom are women and children and many of them sheltering in schools, mosques and other public buildings, Lake said.

“Much of Syria (has) story after story of great human suffering, but we can do it and my main message is that we should not throw up our hands and say because of the political difficulties and the escalating violence that there is nothing to be done,” he added.

UNICEF figures calculated in collaboration with Syrian authorities show that at least 2,000 schools have been damaged. Many are still housing displaced people despite the start of the school year last month.

“There are tremendous needs across the board in terms of sanitation, in terms of particular interests of education because probably a tenth of schools have been damaged,” he said.

“What worries me (is) the generation of even greater numbers of internally displaced people. Unless we can help educate children and help overcome the psychological wounds then we are going to see the hatreds develop that can replicate the conflict in future generations.”

(Editing by Dominic Evans and Jon Hemming)