Friday 24 August 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death-toll for Friday 24/8/2012: More than 210 Syrians have been killed on Friday
The dead include 121 unarmed civilians, 13 unidentified bodies, 35 rebel fighters, 6 defected soldiers, and no less than 36 members of the Syrian regular forces.
121 Unarmed Civilians:
-In Reef Dimashq province 31 civilians were killed. 21 people were killed in the city of Douma, 1 from wounds, 1 from
-In Idlib province 23 civilians were killed. 8 civilians were killed by the gunfire and bombardment in the city of Ariha, the names were attained at a field hospital. 1 civilian was killed by the village of \nahleyya, next to Ariha. 2 men and 3 women were killed by the bombardment on the town of Kensafra. 2 civilians died from wounds caused by the bombardment on the town of al-Habit. At least 6 civilians were killed by the bombardment on Ma’ar Shmarin, Reef Idlib. 1 civilian died of wounds in Ma’arat al-Nu’man. 1 died by the bombardment on Ma’arat Masreen.
-In Dera’a province 18 civilians were killed. 10 civilians were killed in the town of Da’el, 1 from a sniper and 9 civilians were killed by the bombardment on Da’el, 4 of them were children between the ages of 11-15. The corpses of 7 civilians were found today in the town of al-Hirak, they were killed during a military raid on the town these past couple of days. 1 civilian was killed in the bombardment of Izri’, Reef Idlib.
-In Aleppo province 19 civilians were killed. 5, including a woman and a child, were killed by the bombardment on the Aleppo neighbourhoods of al-Helk, al-Sha’ar, al-Sheikh Khudur,Saif al-Dawla and al-Salheen. 1 civilian was killed by a sniper in the Salaheddin neighbourhood. 1 civilian was killed when his car was attacked in the city of Aleppo. 4 civilians were killed by the bombardment on the towns of Qubtan al-Jabal and Hureitan, Reef Aleppo. 1 civilian was killed by regime troops on the Aleppo-Latakia highway. 3 young men were killed when a rocket landed in a building they were in in Retyan. 3 civilians were shot dead by a military checkpoint in al-Ramoosa.
***The SOHR has documented today the death of 4 civilians killed a week ago in the city of Aleppo***
-In Damascus province 4 civilians were killed. 2 were killed by regime forces in the Nahr Eisha neighbourhood. 1 was killed by sniperin the al-Qadam neighbourhood. A man from the Midan neighbourhood was killed in the city of Dareyya, Reef Dimashq.
-From Hama province 1 man from was killed, he died in al-Qeysa, Reef Dimashq.
*** 13 unidentified bodies were found on 24/8/2012: 5 were found in the town of al-Hirak, Reef Dera’a; 5 in the Nahr Eisha neighbourhood of Damascus; and 3 were found in the town of al-Sabina, Reef Dimashq***
35 Rebel fighters:
Reef Dimashq: 18 people were killed by serious injuries they suffered by the regime bombardment on the city of Dareyya, most of them were rebel fighters. 1 rebel fighter from the province was killed by an ambush in Dera’a.
Dera’a province: 3 rebels killed. 1 rebel fighter was killed during clashes. 2 rebel fighters from the town of Inkhil were killed during clashes with regime forces in the city of Dareyya, Reef Dimashq.
Aleppo province: 5 rebel fighters killed. 4 rebels were killed in the city of Aleppo, one of them died of earlier wounds. 1 rebel was killed by an airstrike on the village of al-Azima.
Hama province: 6 rebels killed. 2 rebel fighters were killed when their car was attacked on the Halfaya-Zour road. 3 rebel fighters were killed by an ambush set up by regime forcesin Reef Hama. 1 rebel was killed by regime fire in Homs.
Idlib province: 2 rebel fighters were killed during clashes in Ariha.
Deir Izzor province: 1 rebel was killed in by clashes in the city of al-Mayadeen
A defected officer was killed during clashes in Reef Dimashq. 2 defected soldiers were killed during clashes in Homs and Damascus. 2 defected soldiers were killed when the car they were in was targeted in Reef Hama. A defected soldier was killed by an ambush in Dera’a.
No less than 36 members of the Syrian armed forces were killed in the provinces of Deir Izzor, Aleppo, Idlib, Homs and Reef Dimashq.
Hama province: Friday protests came out of the towns of al-Latamneh, Kafarnbouda, Kafarzeita and Hamadi Umar in Reef Dera’a, protests also came out of the Tariq Halab and al-Hamidiya neighbourhoods of Hama; they all called for the end of the regime and voiced support for Dera’a and the other devastated cities of Syria. Footage from Kafarzeita today 24/8/2012
Two Kurdish fighters man a checkpoint at the entrance of Girke Lege in north-eastern Syria. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza/IPS.
GIRKE LEGE, Syria, Aug 24 2012 (IPS) - The smuggler wants 200 dollars but Jewan negotiates him down to 100. That’s still a lot for this 26-year-old Syrian Kurd, but he can hardly wait to cross the border to Syria from Iraq. It’s been three years since he last saw his family.
Those were difficult days in Syria. “I was arrested and tortured for 27 days for belonging to a university youth organisation,” the young Kurd recalls as he follows the smuggler at night.
“I was freed after my parents paid 2,000 dollars to a police officer. I fled to Lebanon and I finally arrived in the Iraqi Kurdistan region via Turkey.”
This IPS reporter met Jewan at the sensitive point where the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Syria meet. The point is 450 kilometres northwest of Baghdad, 550 km southeast of Ankara and 800 km northeast of Damascus.
Spread across Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, stateless Kurds number about 40 million. About half live on Turkish soil. Between two and four million Kurds live in north-east Syria. Syria was carved out of the Turkish Ottoman Empire less than a century ago.
After a wave of protests in late July, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad loosened his grip on Syria’s Kurdish region. Local Kurdish leaders now claim control over half their territory, including the border posts with Iraq’s Kurdish Autonomous Region. It is to this region that Jewan was returning.
A few minutes later we are dazzled by flashlights of the peshmerga – the Iraqi Kurdistan region’s military forces. Neither Jewan nor his guide seem to pose a threat, so we are finally allowed to walk towards a light a few hundred metres away. Apparently, that is the first checkpoint on the Syrian side.
In the middle of the dark, halfway across ‘no man’s land’, they come across a pick-up van with its engine on and lights off. The driver and his companion introduce themselves as “PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) fighters” – a guerrilla group fighting against Turkey since 1984.
“We have to wait here, somebody else is coming,” explains one of the fighters with an assault rifle over his shoulder. A few minutes later, a line of men come out from the dark to load bags and boxes on to the pick-up truck.
“That’s all I have,” says Asma, about 50, pointing to her bag in the front seat of the van. “The day I left Syria I swore I wouldn’t be back until my Kurdish land was ruled by its own people.
“I fled my house across this very same stretch of land 32 years ago, literally giving the breast to my little daughter. She won’t be able to see her birthplace because she died two years ago, fighting against the Turkish army in the mountains.”
Rafik has been waiting for hours at a point further down the road to pick up his brother Jewan.
“The way back home is safe, you needn’t worry about anything,” he reassures Jewan. They greet one another with one kiss on the left cheek and three on the right one, the local custom.
There are no reliable figures yet on the number of Kurds returning to Syria. Some said they were returning for only a short while because of the new relative stability of this region where the Kurds now seem in charge.
There’s hardly any traffic on the road, occasionally lit by fire columns alongside. “Many of these lands were ours but the Assads – Syria’s ruling family – gave them to Arab families from the south of the country,” says Jewan. “This area is also rich in gold.”
The coming of the Ba’ath party to power in 1963 led to an Arabisation policy that worked against the Kurds in Syria, the country’s second biggest ethnic group.
Kurdish language was prohibited, and many Kurds were even denied Syrian citizenship. Some Kurds were deported, and Arab settlements established in Kurdish areas.
Today the Kurdish colours – green, red and yellow – are sprayed over walls and murals. The Kurdish flag flies at the entrance of Girke Lege, 35 kilometres from the Iraqi border and 15 km from the Turkish one, suggesting that the situation has changed substantially in the past months.
“The area is fully under our control,” claims one of the fighters manning the checkpoint at the eastern entrance of Girke Lege.
Democratic Union Party (PYD) president Saleh Muslim told IPS from an undisclosed location that Syrian Kurds have not negotiated any truce with the Bashar al-Assad government. “We’re Syria’s second ethnic group and Damascus simply doesn’t want another front with the minorities in his territory.”
Many believe that the Syrian regime is using the threat of a self-ruled Syrian Kurdish region to widen the conflict with Turkey.
Girke Lege is very unlike the images of destruction in Damascus. Kurdish music plays out loud from shops and teahouses. The brand new headquarters of one of the Kurdish political parties working underground for decades, are open well after midnight. Against all odds, Kurds have seemingly found new freedom in the current scenario.
“I had heard about all this but I still cannot believe what I’m seeing,” says a jubilant Jewan after he buys something with Syrian currency for the first time in three years – a kilo of pastry for his family.
His mother can barely contain the tears when she hugs her son again. His arrival has doubtless taken her by surprise, but neither was Jewan expecting to meet his relatives from Damascus.
“We arrived here a few days ago. Our district was being heavily pounded from both sides so we couldn’t stay there any longer,” says Marai, his uncle.
“Twenty years ago we moved from here to Damascus in search of a better life,” adds Alian, Jewan’s aunt. “Today it’s us who do not know when we will go back.”
[local time] 20:56 The death toll in Syria reached 180 people on Friday, Al-Arabiya reported.
20:54 The opposition Syrian National Council on Friday urged the international community to help civilians besieged by the military in the central city of Homs, saying they face a humanitarian “catastrophe.”
20:26 Syrian security forces stormed Al-Herak in Daraa following the withdrawal of Free Syrian Army rebels, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
20:14 Syrian regime forces heavily shelled Al-Hajar al-Aswad in Damascus, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
19:49 The new UN-Arab League envoy on the Syria conflict, Lakdhar Brahimi,said Friday that the Syrian people will be his “first masters” as he started talks with UN leaders.
18:10 Friday’s death toll in Syria reached 146 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
16:58 The increase in fighting in Syria and related clashes in Lebanon are hampering the work of the UN refugee agency as the number of those fleeing the violence reaches record levels.
16:51 August is already the deadliest single month of the Syria conflict with over 4,000 people killed, a watchdog said Friday, amid increasing macabre reports of dozens of bodies found bound and shot in the head.
16:33 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Daraa town of Sahwa.
16:30 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Damascus neighborhood of Al-Zahira. Protesters are chanting, “We will only kneel before God,” and “We prefer death to humiliation.”
16:25 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Edleb town of Habbeet.
16:23 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Daraa town of Kherbet Ghazaleh. Protesters are chating, “Merciful [God], expedite the victory.”
16:17 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Daraa town of Mseifra.
15:47 A protest kicked off in the town of Taqad near Aleppo. (S.N.N)
15:46 Syrian security forces attacked the town of Al-Harak in Daraa, injuring and killing dozens of people. (S.N.N)
15:43 A protest began in the Homs neighborhood of Al-Waar. (S.N.N)
15:33 Christians must do everything they can to avoid the destruction of Syria’s religious pluralism, a Catholic priest forced to leave after spending 30 years in a monastery north of Damascus said this week.
15:15 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Hama town of Al-Latamina.
15:14 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Daraa town of Maaraba. Protesters are chanting for Daraa and Aleppo.
15:12 At least 16 people, half of them women, were killed on Friday when residential buildings were bombarded by regime forces in a town of eastern Syria, a watchdog said.
15:13 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Daraa town Adwan.
15:11 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Edleb town of Sarmada. Protesters are chanting “We prefer death to humiliation.”
15:09 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the town of Harasta near Damascus.
15:08 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Edleb town of Kafr Awid. Protesters are chanting “God, expedite our victory.”
15:06 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Hasaka town of Serekaniyeh.
15:03 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Edleb town of Kfar Sajna.
15:00 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Edleb town of Kfar Takhareem.
14:53 A protest kicked off in the Hama neighborhood of Al-Hamidiyeh in support of the Free Syrian Army. (S.N.N)
14:52 Syrian regime jets are bombing the Aleppo village of Talafeh. (S.N.N)
14:50 Rebels killed more than 40 army troops and blew up an army tank in the Edleb town of Ariha. (S.N.N)
14:40 A massive protest kicked off in the Damascus neighborhood of Baraza. (S.N.N)
14:40 Friday’s death toll in Syria has risen to more than 100 people, Al-Arabiya televison quoted activists as saying.
14:38 The Syrian army is shelling the Aleppo town of Al-Bab. (S.N.N)
14:37 A protest against the regime began in the Homs town of Talbissa. (S.N.N)
14:36 Two protests kicked off in the Deir az-Zour’s neighborhood of Al-Joura, one outside the mosque of Al-Tawba and another outside the mosque of Al-Sahaba. (S.N.N)
14:31 A massive anti-regime protest began in the town of Yabroud near Damascus. (S.N.N)
14:30 The Syrian army’s shelling caused fire to forests in the town of Al-Haffa in the district of Latakia. (S.N.N)
14:29 An anti-regime protest began in the Damascus neighborhood of Al-Jawbar. (S.N.N)
14:27 A massive protest began in the Damascus town of Hajar al-Aswad. (S.N.N)
14:26 A protest behan in the town of New Aleppo outside the mosque of Saad Bin Rabih. (S.N.N)
14:22 The Syrian security forces arrested youth participating in a protest in the Daraa town of As-Sanmeen. (S.N.N)
14:18 The army’s airforce is shelling the Aleppo town of Al-Halak. (S.N.N)
14:15 A protest kicked off in the town of Kfarzeeta near Hama. (S.N.N)
14:14 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Daraa town of Ebteh.
14:14 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the city of Douma. Protesters are chanting in favor of Syrian cities shelled by the army.
14:08 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in the Aleppo town of Kobani.
14:02 The Syrian army is shelling the Aleppo neighborhood of Al-Fardos. (S.N.N)
14:01 An anti-regime protest kicked off in the Daraa neighborhood of Al-Kashef. (S.N.N)
13:58 The Syrian army’s tanks are shelling the Damascus suburb of Al-Fardos. (S.N.N)
13:57 The Daraa town of Nahta is being shelled by the Syrian army’s tanks. (S.N.N)
13:55 A massive protest began in the Damascus town of Babbila. (S.N.N)
13:50 A protest kicked off in the Aleppo area of Hanano. (S.N.N)
13:43 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows a Syrian army’s aircraft shelling the Aleppo town of Atareb.
13:42 The death toll in Syria increased to 80 people killed by security forces, including 20 children, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
13:35 Forty people were killed in a “massacre” committed in Deir az-Zour’s al-Mayadeen, Al-Arabiya televison quoted activists as saying.
13:23 Syrian rebels took control of a regime Al-Hajana (border guards) barracks in Deir az-Zour’s Abu Kamal, Al-Jazeera television reported.
13:21 Friday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 54 people, including more than 15 children, Al-Arabiya televison quoted activists as saying.
13:19 WARNING: A graphic YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows children killed by the Syrian army’s shelling of the town of Dael.
13:17 The Syrian regular forces and the rebels clashed in the town of Al-Harak in the district of Daraa. (S.N.N)
13:15 The Syrian army raided the town of Daraya near Damascus. (S.N.N)
13:09 Mosques in the Homs town of Rastan were targeted by the Syrian army’s shells. (S.N.N)
12:52 Rare safety prevails in northern Syria’s Arfin thanks to a delicate Kurdish balancing act that has granted the population a first taste of autonomy.
12:22 Friday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 40 people, Al-Arabiya televison quoted activists as saying.
12:22 Prominent Syrian film producer Orwa Nyrabia has gone missing after trying to head to Cairo, an activist group said Friday, voicing fears that he had been arrested by the authorities.
11:48 Iran will submit a proposal for ending the conflict in its close ally Syria to a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran next week.
11:20 Five people were killed in shelling of Daraa’s Dael, Al-Arabiya televison quoted activists as saying.
11:20 Syrian regime forces have killed 25 people, Al-Arabiya televison quoted activists as saying.
11:05 Ten people were killed Friday in shelling of Edleb’s Kansafra, Al-Arabiya televison quoted activists as saying.
11:04 A “massacre” took place in Edleb’s Kansafra due to the Syrian regime’s shelling, Al-Arabiya televison quoted activist as saying.
9:26 US military planners are studying contingency plans for a potential mission in Syria without precedent – securing the regime’s chemical weapons in the midst of a raging civil war.
9:11 The Syrian army raided and robbed a hospital in Daraa’s Al-Harak, Al-Jazeera televison quoted activists as saying.
8:58 As the battle for Aleppo closes in on the historical center in northern Syria, heritage sites in one of the world’s oldest cities are being damaged and experts fear the worst is yet to come.
8:42 An American freelance journalist has been missing in Syria for more than a week, his most recent employers said Thursday, expressing concern for his safety amid fierce fighting there.
8:39 MORNING LEADER: Syria said Thursday that it is ready to work with new UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi even as fighting raged in both the capital and second city Aleppo. France meanwhile indicated that it would consider supporting a partial no-fly zone over Syria, but conceded that it would require a willing international coalition that has not yet materialized.
The United Nations refugee agency says that more than 200,000 Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries as the conflict has intensified…
While war rages in Syria and the international community tries to unify the country’s disparate opposition forces, a small group of Syrians has completed plans for the day after President Bashar al-Assad falls.
Their report, due out next week, is among the first substantive efforts by Syrians themselves to map out a transition for post-Assad Syria and avoid what many fear will be continued bloodshed even if he leaves power.
Seventeen months after an uprising against his rule began, Assad remains in office and no single opposition leader has emerged who could unify the country.
Foreign policy experts say even if Assad goes there is no guarantee that the bloodshed will stop. The worst-case scenario of a years-long civil war is a distinct possibility, they say.
Assad regime’s opponents will meet in Cairo to discuss transition plan with or without Syrian National Council, says EU diplomat
The Arab League is to host a meeting of the Syrian opposition in Cairo on Saturday in an effort to produce a common programme to unite opponents of President Bashar al-Assad‘s regime, but the effort has been marred by disunity and a threatened boycott by the Syrian National Council (SNC).
Internal groups and members of the diaspora were invited to nominate delegates to the committee to draft a transition plan for a post-AssadSyria, but the SNC, which has been the main grouping for opposition exiles, had still not come forward with a name by Friday evening.
“The meeting is going to go ahead with or without them. It’s time for them to wake up and smell the coffee,” said a European diplomat, who believes the SNC is reluctant to see its prestige diluted to just one voice on a 21-strong opposition committee.
Over recent months, the UK and the US have abandoned their initial policy of encouraging regime opponents to coalesce around the SNC because of the dominant role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the council and its apparent failure to forge ties with rebel groups inside Syria.
The UK announced earlier this month it would channel £5m in new non-military aid to internal opposition groups rather than the SNC.
France has continued to lend support to the SNC and its officials said they were still trying to persuade the group to take part in the Cairo talks.
Meanwhile, Paris played down reported remarks by the defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, which appeared to reflect backing for some form of no-fly zone over part of Syria. Officials said he had been misquoted and any foreign air activity over Syria would be illegal.