Monday 9 July 2012

Syrian Observatory for Human RightsMore than 60 Syrians killed so far today, Monday 9/7/2012: 37 civilians are among the dead; 32 unarmed civilians:

-In Idlib 10 civilians were killed. 8 were killed by the bombardment of Ariha, reef Idlib. The bodies of 2 civilians were found this morning in the city of Saraqib, they were found slaughtered. 2 civilians were killed from wounds they received when regime forces raided their home yesterday in Khan Sheikhoun.

-In Homs 2 civilians were killed. 1 was killed by a sniper in the city of al-Qusayr. A civilian was killed by the regime bombardment on the Khaldiya neighbourhood of Homs.

-In Hama province 5 civilians were killed. They were killed in the town of al-Latamneh, their bodies were found in the al-Asi river after they were shot dead at the poultry farm checkpoint. 2 civilians, from Karnaz, were killed when a mine exploded in Reef Busr al-Harir. 1 civilian was killed when regime forces raided the town of Souran.

-In Aleppo province 6 killed. 6 people were killed by the regime bombardment on A’zaz, only 3, including a child, were fully documented. Violent clashes are taking place by the entrances of the city.

-In Reef Dimashq 3 civilians were killed. 1 civilian was killed during the security services crackdown on the town of Qatana, which is on its second day. 1 civilian was killed by the bombardment of Deir al-Asafeer. A civilian was killed by regime fire in the city of Douma.

-In Dera’a province 1 civilian was killed from wounds received when regime forces stormed the town of Sheikh Miskeen earlier.

-In Deir Izzor province 2 killed. A young man was killed by bombardment and clashes in the city of Deir Izzor. 1 killed by the bombardment on al-Zer, and its neighbouring villages.

-In Damascus 1 civilian was kiled by random fire by the southern mutahalliq (ring road), Kafarsouseh.


5 Armed rebels:

Dera’a province: 2 rebel fighters were killed. 1 at dawn during clashes with regime forces by the Jordanian borders, in the town of Tel Shihab. The other was killed by a security services ambush in the Dera’a neighbourhood.

Homs prov: 3 rebel fighters were killed by the regime bombardment on al-Rastan.


A defected soldier was killed when Syrian troops stormed the town of Souran.

No less than 24 members of the Syrian armed forces were killed today. 6 were killed by an ambush, by rebel fighters, near al-Qureteen, Reef Homs. 3 soldiers, including an officer, were killed when their car was attacked on the Saraqib-Ariha road. 2 soldiers were killed by an IED in the city of aleppo. 2 others killed when a military supply vehicle was attacked in the southern ring road, Damascus. 4 killed during clashes by the entrances to the city of A’zaz, Reef Aleppo. 7 soldiers killed by clashes in the city of Homs.

Footage of the 2 civilians slaughtered in Idlib:  Footage has been sent to the SOHR showing the bodies of the 2 civilians found slaughtered this morning near the city of Saraqib. The footage shows that their necks were slit and that their hands were tied; the bodies also show signs of torture, it seems like they were killed today. Activists report that a military vehicle dumped the bodies.


NOW! Lebanon
[local time]
  18:55 The death toll in Syria reached 41 people on Monday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 16:49 The Syrian regular forces and the rebels are clashing in South Damascus, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 16:18 The Syrian regular forces killed 30 people on Monday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 14:53 Syria’s army pounded besieged rebel-held areas of Homs on Monday, monitors said, as troops also shocked Qusayr residents with a morning bombardment and 31 people were killed across the country.
 14:40 Activists said on Monday that Syrian security forces “heavily shelled” Aleppo’s town of Ezaz, Al-Arabiya reported.
 13:33 Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Syria needed dialogue between the regime and opposition rather than foreign intervention to ensure a lasting peace.
 13:20 Activists said on Monday that Syrian forces shelled Homs’ Rastan and killed a number of people as well as injured others, Al-Arabiya reported.
 13:03 UN and Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan will travel to Tehran on Monday after he wraps up a visit to Syria, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.
 12:58 French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Monday, with the two discussing the bloodshed in Syria among a range of international issues.
 12:52 UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed there should be a shared approach with rebels to end the violence, AFP reported on Monday.
 12:39 Activists said on Monday that Syrian security forces killed 21 people in Edleb, Al-Jazeera reported.
 12:20 Syrian forces committed a “massacre” in Edleb’s Ariha, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 12:18 Syria said on Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held a “constructive” meeting with UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, AFP reported.
 11:32 Russia on Monday hosted a delegation led by top Syrian dissident Michel Kilo for talks as Moscow comes under growing pressure from the West to halt all support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
 8:30 MORNING LEADER: International envoy Kofi Annan has arrived in Syria after admitting that his peace plan has so far failed to end nearly 16 months of carnage, as scores more die in the violence-wracked country.

BBC: Annan Syria talks ‘constructive’

The UN and Arab League’s envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, says he has held “constructive and candid” talks with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, has said he has held “very candid and constructive” talks with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

He told reporters they had “agreed an approach” to end the violence, and he would share this with rebel groups.

The former UN secretary-general later arrived in Iran to discuss the crisis with leaders there.

On Saturday, Mr Annan admitted his plan to find a political solution to the escalating violence had not succeeded.

A ceasefire was supposed to begin in mid-April as part of his six-point peace initiative.

Opposition activists said security forces were shelling parts of the cities of Deir al-Zour, Deraa, Homs, Aleppo and Damascus on Monday. More than 100 people were killed on Sunday, mostly civilians, they added.

‘No guarantee’

After his meeting with President Assad, Mr Annan told reporters in the Syrian capital that they had “discussed the need to end the violence, and ways and means of doing so”.

“We agreed an approach which I will share with the armed opposition,” he added. “I also stressed the importance of moving ahead with a political dialogue, which the president accepts.”

“President Assad reassured me of the government’s commitment to the six-point plan which, of course, we should move ahead to implement in a much better fashion than has been the situation so far.”

A Syrian foreign ministry spokesman, Jihad al-Makdisi, echoed Mr Annan’s comments, writing on Twitter that the talks had been “constructive and good”.

Discussions focused on the implementation of the peace plan, Mr Makdisi added.

Mr Makdisi said both men considered the recent Action Group on Syria meeting in Geneva an important step towards creating an environment for national dialogue and a political solution to the crisis.

The Action Group urged all parties to recommit to a sustained cessation of violence and the immediate implementation of Mr Annan’s initiative. It also called for the creation of a transitional government formed on basis of mutual consent, which could include officials serving under President Assad and opposition members.

Mr Annan later flew to Tehran, where he was expected to brief the Iranian government on the outcome of the Action Group meeting, to which it was not invited following objections by the US.

Arriving on Monday night, he told reporters he was there to “to see how we can work together” to find a solution to the conflict.

Syrian anti-government protest being held in Binsh, near the northern town of Idlib on 8 July 2012Peaceful protests have been continuing in Syria alongside the growing armed conflict

On Saturday, Mr Annan told Le Monde newspaper that it was clear that his plan had not succeeded, adding: “Maybe there is no guarantee that we will succeed.”

He said criticism of the international community’s failure to negotiate a political solution had too often focused on Russia, which has opposed foreign intervention.

“Russia has influence, but I don’t think that events will be determined by Russia alone.”

Moscow has continued to supply weapons to Damascus, noting that there are no UN sanctions prohibiting the trade.

On Monday, officials in Moscow said Russia would honour its current contracts with Damascus, but announced that it would not agree to any further arms deals until the situation stabilised.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have called for the arming and financing the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), while the US has said it is providing “non-lethal” aid, such as communications assistance.

‘Very good plan’

With his ceasefire in ruins, Mr Annan is now focusing on trying to win agreement on some kind of political transition, says the BBC’s Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon.

The opposition insists any transition must include Mr Assad’s departure from power, something he again ruled out in an interview with German television on Sunday.

“The president shouldn’t run away from challenge and we have a national challenge now in Syria,” Mr Assad told ARD.

“The president shouldn’t escape the situation, but from the other side you can stay as president, stay in this position only when you have the public support.”

Mr Assad also insisted that the fight against “terrorism” had to go on, blaming Western and Arab support for the opposition for undermining Mr Annan’s initiative.

“The biggest obstacle is that many countries do not even want this plan to succeed so they offer political support and continue to provide the terrorists in Syria with arms and money.”

REUTERS: Annan and Assad agree political approach for Syria

U.N. peace envoy Kofi Annan said he and President Bashar al-Assad agreed on Monday on an approach to Syria’s conflict that he would now take to the opposition, and flew on to Iran for talks with the main regional ally of Damascus.

The former U.N. secretary general is trying to rescue his six-point peace plan, which was worked out with the Syrian government and rebels in April but faltered because the ceasefire it was supposed to begin with never took hold.

Major powers agreed at a meeting with Annan on June 30 that a transitional government should be set up in Syria, but remain at odds over what part Assad might play in the process.

“I just had a positive and constructive discussion with President Assad,” Annan said before leaving for Tehran.

“We agreed an approach which I will share with the opposition,” he told reporters in Damascus. He gave no details, but again stressed the importance of halting violence that has killed more than 15,000 people in 16 months, by an opposition count.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said in a Twitter message: “In both meetings we reassured Annan of Syria’s commitment to implement the 6-point plan and hoped (the) other side is mutually committed.”

In a TV interview on Sunday, Assad said he remained committed to Annan’s plan and accused the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of supplying arms and logistical support to insurgents fighting to end 42 years of Assad family domination of the pivotal Arab state.

“We know that (Annan) is coming up against countless obstacles but his plan should not be allowed to fail, it is a very good plan,” he told Germany’s ARD network.

“The main obstacle (is) that many countries don’t want (it) to succeed. So they offer political support and they still send armaments and send money to terrorists in Syria,” Assad said, according to a transcript of the interview, held in English.

The White House said on Monday it supported Annan’s mission but time was running short. “President Assad’s behavior has been heinous and we judge him by his actions, not his words,” spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

The U.S. State Department said it had seen no sign of Damascus being ready to stop violence and was skeptical about Annan’s chances of making progress in Iran.

“To the extent that he (Annan) can stress to the Iranians the importance of cooperating with the plan that’s a good thing, but we haven’t seen signs of that either yet,” spokesman Patrick Ventrell told a news briefing.


Syria, led by members of the Alawite sect related to Shi’ite Islam, has alleged that the Sunni Muslim-led Gulf monarchies are backing unrest among its Sunni majority to check Shi’ite influence in the region, notably that of Shi’ite Iran.

Russia, which has thus far defended Assad from the threat of U.N. sanctions, said it would not deliver Yak-130 fighter planes or other new arms to Syria while the situation there remained unresolved.

“While the situation in Syria is unstable, there will be no new deliveries of arms there,” Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy director of the Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation, told journalists at the Farnborough Airshow in Britain, according to the Interfax agency.

The refusal to send more arms to Syria – such exports date back to the Soviet era – may be the most pointed move yet by Moscow to distance itself from Assad as rebels gain some ground and the death toll climbs.

Annan’s plan calls for an end to fighting by government security forces and rebels, withdrawal of the government’s heavy weapons from towns, return of the army to barracks, humanitarian access and talks between the government and opposition aimed at a “political transition”.

Opponents of Assad invited to Moscow for talks insisted that the political dialogue Annan is trying to initiate must start with a change at the top – a position that Russia rejects, and Annan’s plan does not specify.

“The transition period must begin with Assad’s departure,” said Samir Aita, representative of the opposition Democratic Syria Foundation. “A national government must be created, and in order to do that, an all-Syrian national conference, where all representatives of the Syrian population would express their opinions, needs to take place.”

The main opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), is also expected to take part in the talks. A senior member of the group said a delegation of 10 members led by the group’s head, Abdelbasset Sida, will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.

“The delegation will ask the Russians not to be an obstacle in the way of any movement aimed at toppling Bashar (al-Assad),” said Mohamed Sermini.


Anti-Assad activists in Syria reported army shelling and clashes with rebels on Monday in Deir al-Zor, Deraa, Homs, Aleppo and a neighborhood of Damascus. Residents reported the sound of gunfire in the capital. An activist website said more than 100 Syrians were killed on Sunday, most of them civilians.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday opposition forces were growing more effective, and the sooner the violence ended, the better the chances of sparing Syria’s government a “catastrophic assault” by rebel fighters were.

While Assad has faced sanctions and international condemnation over his crackdown on dissent, major Western and Arab powers have shied away from direct military action.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a speech in the Netherlands: “We will continue to try to persuade Russia and China, but if the Kofi Annan plan fails, no option to protect lives will be off the table.”

Assad told his German interviewer he did not fear that he might share the fate of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed after capture, or Hosni Mubarak, the toppled Egyptian president sentenced to life imprisonment.

Assad said most of the victims of the uprising were supporters of the government.

“From the list that we have, from the names that we have, the highest percentage are people who are killed by gangs, different kinds of gangs … If you talk about the supporters of the government – the victims from the security and the army – are more than the civilians,” he said.

Activists, who keep lists of names and dates of death, and Western governments say more than 15,000 people have been killed by forces loyal to the government, the great majority of them people who opposed the government and their innocent families.

Syria says more than 2,600 members of the security forces have been killed.

(Additional reporting by; Mariam Karouny in Beirut,Nastassia Astrasheuskaya in Moscow,Thomas Escritt in The Hague; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Tim Pearce)

Guardian: Annan-Assad talks on Syria described as ‘constructive’Syrian president and UN special envoy offer little detail after third meeting as Russia suspends arms exports to Damascus …

 Syria’s deadlock can be broken only by an arms embargo Jonathan Steele: Russia and the west must use their leverage to bring about a ceasefire and halt Syria’s descent into full-scale civil war …