Monday 20 August 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for 20/8/2012
The dead include 113 unarmed civilians, 32 rebel fighters, 4 defected soldiers, and no less than 47 members of the Syrian regular forces.
113 Unarmed Civilians:
- In Reef Dimashq Province 29 civilians were killed. 16 civilians were killed in the towns of Daraya and M’adamiet al
- In Idlib Province 23 civilians were killed. 8 were killed by the bombardment on the city of Ariha. 6 civilians ( 2 men, 2 women and 2 children) were killed by bombardment on the villages of al-Rakaya, Tramla and Madaya in Reef Idlib. A civilian from the village of Madaya was killed by extreme torture after he was arrested in the city of Hama. 2 civilians were killed by the bombardment on Ma’arat Misreen. 6 civilians were killed by the bombardment on the town of al-Bara and the city of Saraqib.
- In Dera’a Province 19 civilians were killed. 7 civilians, including a child and 2 women, were killed by bombardment and clashes in the city of Dera’a. A civilian was shot by sniper fire in the Da’el town at dawn. 6 civilians were found dead after they were summarily executed in the al-Hirak town; 4 others died in the town as a result of the violent clashes and bombardment by regime forces. 1 civilian from the town of al-Sanamein was killed by regime forces in Damascus.
-In Damascus Province 13 civilians were killed. 1 was killed when a mortar shell fell on his house in the Kafrsusa neighbourhood. 12 civilians, including a child and 10 unidentifed men, were found dead in the Souq al-Tahrib in the al-Qaboun neighbourhood in Damascus, they were killed by gunshots.
- In Homs Province 10 civilians were killed. A woman and child died from wounds they received by bombardment on the Talbisa town. 2 civilians were killed by the bombardment of Talbisa. 2 civilians (women) were killed by bombardment on the al-Nahriya village. 1 was shot by sniper fire in the al-Qseir city. 1 was killed by bombardment on the al-Rastan city. 1 was shot by sniper fire in the Deir Ab’laba neighbourhood in the city of Homs. 1 civilian from the province was killed in the Barzeh neighbourhood of Damascus.
- In Aleppo Province 9 civilians were killed. 2 were killed by bombardment on the Tqad town in Reef Aleppo. 1 was shot by sniper fire in the Seif al-Dawla neighbourhood. A civilian died from wounds he received by bombardment on the Aleppo city. 1 died of wounds he received by bombardment on the Hreitan town in Reef Aleppo. 4 civilians from the Babka village were found dead earlier this morning after they have been detained for 4 days in the al-Sheikh Sleiman mountain in western Reef Aleppo.
- In Deir Izzor Province 8 civilians were killed. A woman and a man were shot by a sniper in the city of Deir Izzor. 4 were killed by the bombardment of the Hamidiya neighbourhood. A man and a child were killed by the bombardment on the city of al-Boukamal.
- In Hama Province 2 names were documented, they were shot yesterday by sniper fire in the neighbourhoods of Bab Qabli and Souq al-Shajara in the Hama city.
32 Rebel Fighters:
- In Reef Dimashq Province 13 rebel fighters were killed. 12 were killed in the town of Daraya and M’adamiet al-Sham. 1 was killed by an ambush in the al-Zabadani area.
- In Latakia Province 4 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the al-Turkman mountain.
- In Aleppo Province 4 rebel fighters were killed during clashes in the Salah al-Din and Sheikh Abubakr neighbourhoods of Aleppo.
-In deir Izzor 3 rebel fighters were killed. 2 by gunfire in the village of al-Kharita. 1 from earlier wounds received near the Deir Izzor airport.
- In Homs Province 3 rebel fighters were killed. 2 rebel fighters were killed in the Tadmur city. A rebel fighter from the al-Sakhna town was killed during clashes with regime forces in Reef Dimashq.
- In Dera’a Province 2 rebel fighters were killed. A rebel fighter was killed by an ambush in the al-Sheikh al-Muskin town. A rebel fighter from the town of Mleihet al-A’tsh died by wounds he received during clashes in Damascus.
- In Idlib Province a rebel fighter was shot by regime forces in the Aleppo city.
- In Deir Izzor Province 2 rebel fighters were shot in the al-Khreita village in Reef Deir Izzor.
3 defected soldiers were killed during clashes in Dera’a and Deir Izzor. A defected officer was killed during clashes in Idlib.
At least 47 regime forces were killed during clashes in the provinces of Latakia, Dera’a, Reef Dimashq, Damascus, Homs, Idlib and Aleppo.
Hundreds attend funeral of Syrian Kurdish youth killed by Assad’s security forces: QAMISHLI, Syrian Kurdistan,— On the highway between Hasakah and Qamishli, Nechirvan Barzan Sabri, 20, was killed; two others were wounded on Saturday.
The Syrian state news agency reported that security forces had killed a terrorist who had fled from a checkpoint near Abu Rassain village. After the car was shot at, security forces claimed to have found weapons in the car.
The pro-Kurdish news agency ANF reported that Sabri, born in Derek, was killed, but his body had not been delivered to his family. Omar Farhan Omar and Barzan Sabri Omar were named as the wounded.
According to Syrian activist Hivin Kako, the car was shot at because there were explosives inside. “There is news of one person killed and his dad was injured,” Kako told Rudaw.
London-based Kurdish activist Azad Dewani told Rudaw that the incident happened in the region of Qamishli (Western Kurdistan), but he was not sure exactly where the checkpoint was. “According to the statement, they did not stop when they were asked to by security,” Dewani said.
Last week, an IED explosion also rocked the Qamishli neighborhood of al-Bashiri, according to the Syria Observatory for Human Rights. The bomb targeted one of the military security branches in the city; there are unconfirmed reports that two officers in the branch were killed.
According to the news website Avesta Arabic, several civilians were wounded, and the area has been closed off by Syrian security forces. The bomb was attached to a three-wheeler.
A unit of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has allegedly claimed responsibility for the attack. “We confirm that the target was an infamous security HQ which is known as [Abu Ali's platoon]. According to our information, the explosives we placed on a tricycle,” Avesta reported.
The attack might be related to new strategies of the FSA. Riad al-Asaad, the head of the FSA, told Rudaw that the FSA has Kurdish contacts and had tried to form a joint military body in Kurdish areas under FSA command.
“We have sent some officers on a special mission in Hasakah and Qamishli in order to form this battalion of the FSA and work together,” Asaad said.
On Aug. 12, the FSA announced the formation of a military council in Hasakah in a statement on YouTube. The same day, the Martyrs Battalion of Al-Zahra in Qamishli was formed. FSA member Fahad al-Masri called on Kurds to join the FSA, but so far the group’s units in Hasakah province are mostly Arabs.
This resulted in several clashes with President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces, especially in the mixed town of Hasakah. According to the Facebook page of the Kurdish Youth Coordinators Union, heavy gunfire was heard in Hasakah’s Nasra neighborhood last Friday.
Saturday also saw violence in Qamishli after regime forces targeted demonstrators with gunfire and tear gas in the central mall, and arrested many activists,www.ekurd.net according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC-Syria).
The Kurdish news site Welati reported that a small demonstration greeted the FSA, after being shot by unknown gunmen, possibly members of the feared pro-state Shabiha militia. Welati noted that these events spread fear in the area.
Moreover, Syria’s state-run news agency SANA claimed three terrorists were arrested on the Qamishli-Hasakah highway, and five more in the Abu Rassain area in Qamishli, which may indicate the presence of FSA elements in the city.
Fadi Mqayed, a Syrian activist living in Germany, told Rudaw that before the formation of the military council, the Al Jazeera Shield Brigade, which consists of local Arabs from the region, carried out operations in Hasakah province. Al Jazeera is a synonym for Hasakah province.
“But they don’t operate in Qamishli, just in Hasakah,” Mqayed added.
According to the Kurdish news website Xabar24, the operations of the FSA in Kurdish areas could lead to tensions between the FSA rebels and militias of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which opposes the presence of the FSA in Kurdish areas. Kurdish leaders told the BBC that Kurds now control 50 percent of Kurdish areas in Syria.
Kawa Rashid, a Kurdish activist and spokesperson of the Movement of Syrian Kurdistan, told Rudaw that Riad al-Asaad does not represent the FSA. “It seems the FSA wants to enter the Kurdish areas to relieve the pressure on other [Arab] cities,” Rashid noted.
“The Arab opposition thinks the Kurds are not active in the revolution. But that is not true, and they have participated from the beginning,” he added.
Rashid emphasizes that Syrian Kurds do not want armed groups in their areas. “We must be careful that certain groups do not bring problems to our region. The regime will not fall in Qamishli or Hasakah; it will fall in Aleppo and Damascus. If they want to fight, they have to fight there. We want to protect our region against the Syrian army, terrorists and criminal groups,” he said.
Bekir Mustafa, a member of the Kurdish Youth Movement, told Rudaw that “there are groups who always try to blow up the military security branch in Qamishli.”
It seems that most Kurdish political groups oppose the presence of the FSA in Kurdish areas and fear that this will bring chaos to regions that have remained relatively safe. Even Kurdish politician Mustafa Juma, head of the Kurdish Freedom Party (Azadi), said in a statement that he opposes the presence of the FSA in Kurdish areas, although he supports the overthrow of the regime.
Despite this, there have been improvements in relations between Kurds and the FSA in Aleppo province. According to the Wall Street Journal, FSA rebel commanders in Aleppo say a flare-up in Kurd relations would play into the regime’s hands.
Dewani told Rudaw that the Syrian Kurds “do not accept Salafi sectarian Islamic propaganda, although we respect the rights of defending civilians who are oppressed by the regime.”
He added that the FSA “contacted Arabs in Kurdistan, and a few Kurdish activists. They established a group in Hasakah. Their existence in Kurdistan will not help the revolution. It will create tensions and conflicts between the Kurds and Arabs and they do not accept or recognize Kurdish rights.”
By Vladimir van Wilgenburg, Amsterdam
Syrian Conflict Gives Kurds New Freedom: AFRIN, Syria [VOA News]: As fighting intensifies in the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Damascus, the Syrian government has withdrawn its troops from several Kurdish areas in northern Syria. Kurdish leaders there have set up their own security force and say they intend to maintain control of their areas no matter what happens in Syria’s conflict. Some Kurds see this as a step toward fulfilling the dream of having their own homeland.
When Syrian government forces withdrew recently, the Kurdish city of Afrin came under the control of the Kurd’s Democratic Union Party, known as the P.Y.D. Afrin has its own checkpoints and flies its own flag.
Hundreds gathered in the nearby village of Jolbul to bury a local son who died fighting in the 28 year-old struggle by separatist Kurds in Turkey against the Turkish government. Most Syrian Kurds support this struggle and privately many say they aspire to the same goal: a Kurdish homeland in their region.
Kurds make up 10 percent of Syria’s population but have never been officially recognized by the government of the Syrian Arab Republic. The PYD commander in this region, who goes by the name Hassan, says the Kurds now control about half of the Kurdish areas along Syria’s border with Turkey. But he notes the region also has non-Kurdish communities.
“The demographics [population distribution] do not support independence here and we are not looking for independence,” Hassan explained. “All we want are our human rights and self-determination, not separation, just democratic autonomy.”
The Kurds are not taking sides in the 17-month conflict between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels of the Free Syrian Army. Commander Hassan says neither side is willing to acknowledge the Kurds’ identity or demands and so their struggle will continue.
“Whatever happens, as long as the regime attacks the Kurdish people and maintains its policy regarding us, the Kurdish people will continue to sacrifice and will resist to the last drop of blood,” Hassan said.
Altogether the Kurds number about 30 million, spread across parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Their aspirations trouble the central governments of those countries. Syria’s Kurds, surrounded by conflict, are in a delicate position. But the war has given them a new freedom that they vow never to surrender.
[local time] 22:09 The Syrian regime forces are shelling the Saraqeb Hospital in the district of Hama, Al-Jazeera quoted the Syrian National Council as saying.
21:36 The Syrian forces killed 122 people on Monday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
21:33 US President Barack Obama said on Monday that if Syria were to move or use its chemical weapons it would be a “red line” that would change his perspective on how to respond to the conflict.
20:36 French President Francois Hollande insisted Monday that there can be no political solution for Syria unless President Bashar al-Assad steps down from power.
19:27 The death toll in Syria reached 100 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
18:25 Five explosions hit the Deir az-Zour city of Abu Kamal, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
18:23 A Japanese journalist died in the Syrian army’s shelling of the Aleppo neighborhood of Suleiman, Al-Jazeera reported.
17:38 Syria’s death toll rose to 84 people killed by security forces, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
17:25 Syria lashed out on Monday at comments by new international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi describing the increasingly brutal 17-month conflict as a civil war.
17:07 The Syrian Information Ministry on Monday denied the news reported by Russia Today that a high-ranking Syrian officer died in a Moscow hospital earlier on Monday.
16:32 The Syrian Information Ministry denied the death of a high-ranking military official in a Moscow hospital, NBN reported.
16:14 Russia Today quoted an unnamed source on Monday as claiming that a high-ranking Syrian military official had died in a Moscow hospital.
15:52 French President Francois Hollande was due later Monday to meet with the new United Nations peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, Hollande’s office said.
15:45 Monday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 63 people, the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution said.
14:03 Syrian regime forces on Monday shelled a number of neighborhoods in Damascus, including Kfar Soussa, Al-Jazeera television reported.
13:21 Monday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 55 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying.
12:07 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Monday shows the aftermath of air raids conducted by Syrian regime forces on Aleppo’s Tadef.
11:28 The Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday got off to a bloody start in Syria, with at least 84 people dying across the country, most of them soldiers, and Damascus rocked by clashes, a watchdog said on Monday.
11:08 Turkey cannot handle more than 100,000 Syrian refugees and instead proposes a UN buffer zone inside Syria to shelter them, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in remarks published Monday.
11:02 The Syrian regime forces on Monday killed 20 people in the town of Moadamiya near Damascus, Al-Jazeera television reported.
10:46 The Syrian regime forces on Monday shelled the town of Moadamiya near Damascus, killing and wounding people, Al-Jazeera television reported.
10:01 The opposition Syrian National Council and new UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had a run-in on Sunday over whether it was time for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
10:00 Turkish authorities crossed the Syrian border Sunday to distribute humanitarian aid to Syrians who have been forced from their homes and are massed at the border, emergency officials said.
Turkish authorities crossed the Syrian border Sunday to distribute humanitarian aid to Syrians who have been forced from their homes and are massed at the border, emergency officials said.
The authorities gave out food and other supplies on Syrian soil, just across the border from the southern Turkish town of Reyhanli, in a region where hundreds of displaced Syrians were waiting to enter Turkey, officials told Turkish news agency Anatolia.
Syrians who fled their homes to escape fighting between President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and anti-regime rebels often face hours or even days of waiting in the no man’s land border region to be processed and admitted into Turkey.
Their numbers increased sharply last week as regime forces pounded the northern city of Aleppo, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) from Reyhanli, with shells, air raids and sniper fire.
Some 1,000 Syrian refugees, including army officers and soldiers, have arrived in Turkey in the past 24 hours. Turkey is now harboring some 70,000 refugees in all, according to officials.
Authorities handed out baby food, sleeping bags and sanitation supplies to those waiting at the border. The Turkish Red Crescent has opened four centers at the border to accept donations from locals. -AFP
9:48 Jordan said on Sunday four rockets fired from neighboring Syria fell inside its northern border area, wounding a young girl and sparking a letter of protest.
9:42 Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad joined prayers at a Damascus mosque Sunday for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, as his forces reportedly pressed on with a deadly assault against rebels.
9:33 German spies were stationed off the Syrian coast and were passing on information designed to help rebels in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
9:32 British intelligence on Syrian troop movements was helping rebels launch successful attacks on regime forces, a Sunday newspaper reported, quoting an opposition official.
9:26 Syria’s Ministry of Information on Monday denied media reports that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem was named vice president, replacing Faruq al-Shara.
7:14 Syrian security forces heavily shelled Daraa al-Balad, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying on Monday.
Reuters:Obama to Assad: U.S. would act if chemical weapons used: WASHINGTON/BEIRUT – President Barack Obama warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday that U.S. forces could move against him, notably if he deployed his chemical weapons against rebels trying to overthrow him. | Video
Russia: Syrian rebels getting lots of Western arms: MOSCOW – Russia on Monday cited what it called increasing evidence that Syrian rebels were obtaining large amounts of Western-made arms, suggesting the United States and European countries are helping fuel persistent violence in the divided country.
Turkey suggests need for UN safe haven in Syria: ISTANBUL – The United Nations may need to create a “safe zone” within Syria to accommodate a growing number of refugees from the fighting there, Turkey’s foreign minister was quoted as saying on Monday.
President Barack Obama says the use of chemical weapons by Syria would change his calculations on US military action in the conflict.
US President Barack Obama has said the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be a “red line” that would change his thinking on intervention in the crisis.
He said he had “at this point not ordered military engagement”.
But he added: “There would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.”
Earlier the new UN special envoy to Syria faced criticism for refusing to say whether President Assad must quit.
President Obama, speaking to reporters at a White House briefing, said the deployment or use of biological weapons would widen the conflict in the region.
He said: “It doesn’t just include Syria. It would concern allies in the region, including Israel, and it would concern us.”
He warned President Bashar al-Assad and “other players on the ground” about the use or movement of such weapons.
He said: “A red line for us is [if] we see a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around, or being utilised. That would change my calculus.”
Syria holds the world’s fourth-largest stockpile of chemical weapons. Last month a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman said the weapons would never be deployed inside Syria.
However, the BBC’s Kim Ghattas in Washington says the US has seen unconfirmed reports recently that the Syrian authorities have been moving the country’s chemical arms stockpile.
Earlier on Monday, the UN’s new envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi told the BBC that he was “not in a position to say yet” whether President Assad should go, but was “committed to finding a solution”.Mr Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, last week succeeded Kofi Annan who resigned after both sides largely ignored his peace plan.
On Sunday, UN observers ended their mission to verify its implementation.
Their departure came after the UN Security Council agreed to allow their mandate to expire at midnight, and instead set up a new civilian office in Damascus to pursue political contacts that might lead to peace.
Since being confirmed as the new UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Mr Brahimi has acknowledged that he has no concrete ideas of how to end the conflict, which he believes has been a civil war for some time.
On Monday, he told the BBC that he was not ready to say whether President Assad should step down despite widespread international condemnation of his government’s crackdown on dissent since protests erupted in March 2011.
“I am not in a position to say yet, because I was appointed a couple of days ago. I am going to New York for the first time to see the people who I am going to work for, and I am going to Cairo see the Arab League,” he explained.
After announcing his resignation, Mr Brahimi’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, said: “It is clear that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office.”
The main opposition coalition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), said Mr Brahimi’s stance showed “disregard for the blood of the Syrian people and their right of self-determination” and demanded he apologise.
Mr Brahimi stressed that he was “committed to finding a solution full stop”.
“I am a mediator. I haven’t joined any Syrian party. I am a mediator and a mediator has to speak to anybody and everybody without influence or interest,” he added.
“Then I’ll make up my mind about what to say and what to do.”
On the ground in Syria, seven UN vehicles drove out of the capital on Monday morning, carrying some of the last members of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), all of whom are expected to leave the country by the end of the week.Fighting continued in Aleppo on Sunday despite the start of Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr
As they departed, government forces were trying to retake the Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya from rebel fighters, opposition activists said. One report said seven people had been killed by shellfire.
The UK-based opposition activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said fighting in the southern city of Deraa had left 15 people dead, including two children.
Shelling by tanks and warplanes also caused houses to collapse in the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least 14 people, activist Mohammed Saeed told the Associated Press. The buildings were in the Sakhour and Qadi Askar districts, he said.
The UN says more than 18,000 people have been killed in the conflict, 170,000 have fled Syria and 2.5 million need aid within the country.
Hope for Kurds?: Crisis in Syria boosts Kurdish hopes
By Orla Guerin BBC News, Syria
Government forces have pulled out of much of the quiet corner of SyriaWith Syrian forces focused on the fighting in the big cities, Kurdish leaders say they now control half of their region in the north-east. Travelling undercover, the BBC’s Orla Guerin found many already looking forward to autonomy in a democratic Syria.
With gold-rimmed glasses, a neat black moustache and a pinstripe shirt, the middle-aged man who came to meet us could have been a bank manager.
He was unmarried, he explained, and had no children. He wanted us to know that was a choice, not a twist of fate.
“As a Kurd I am not free,” he said. “I couldn’t father a child who was also a prisoner.”
Instead of becoming a husband and a father, he became a guerrilla fighter, and an activist.
“We Kurds are in charge here. We’ll have no problems.” Amer Syrian Kurd in Qamishli
He has spent 15 years fighting for self-rule for the Kurds. These days he feels it is getting a lot closer.
In parts of Syria’s Kurdish north-east, that is how it seems.
Under a hot sun, we travelled through dusty villages and towns, passing hillsides where shepherds still tend their flocks.
And we found something missing – the dark shadow of the security forces.
After a wave of protests in late July, President Bashar al-Assad loosened his grip on the Kurdish region, probably so that he could try to tighten it elsewhere.
Kurdish leaders say they now control about half their territory. Kurdish flags have replaced Syrian ones. Kurdish language schools have opened.And though the government’s security forces are not gone completely, they are lying low.
Over glasses of tamarind juice in the city of Qamishli, a former law student turned politician summed it up. “These days,” said Amer, sitting cross-legged on the carpet, “the police wouldn’t show up even if someone was killed.”
On our undercover journey through the region, bumping into the Syrian military was not part of our plan.
But we had a telling close encounter as we filmed outside a courthouse. Our local guide had assured us it was safe.
“We Kurds are in charge here,” he said. “We’ll have no problems.”
Then a young Syrian soldier emerged from inside. In a vest, and sandals, he was not dressed for combat. He stood in silence, looking a bit scared of us.
A moment later a plain-clothes Syrian official strode into view – the type of man who could have detained us or dispatched us to Damascus. But he was more interested in hurrying us away.Schools teaching the Kurdish language have opened across in north-east Syria
Travel among the Kurds and you get enmeshed in a web of hospitality. It seems every door is open, every hand is outstretched.
And over plates of figs and grapes, and cups of cardamom-flavoured coffee, every family has a story of suffering to tell.
In the home of Said Hameh, we sat in a circle on the floor, in the Kurdish way. “Just to gather here like this would have been impossible a month ago,” he said. “We couldn’t dare talk to a journalist.”
Recalling how the regime had fired him from his teaching job, Said beat the patterned rug in frustration with his fist.
He and many others want the government erased from the region altogether.Kurdish militia checkpoints have sprung up
“They are not killing us,” he said “but we are not completely free. Freedom means more than just existence. If I go somewhere, I could still be arrested.”
The Kurds insist they want peaceful change, but they are ready for a fight if it comes to it. District by district, they have been setting up armed self-defence units. And a militia has sprung up, though it is media-shy.
“Those guys are everywhere, but they are not under our control,” said Saleh Mohamed, the softly spoken leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union – the most powerful party here.
He also denies having operational links to the guerrillas of the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK, who have been fighting for self-rule across the border in Turkey for decades.
Mohamed is a veteran of the struggle for Kurdish rights, with the CV to prove it.
I asked how long he had spent in prison. “Not long,” he said, with a laugh.
“Just two or three months a year – every year – since 2003. And it was the Middle East-type of prison with the underground rooms for torture.”
Mohamed talked about the past and the future of his ancient people with an unhurried air. “I believe our struggle is beginning to have results,” he said, voicing a feeling shared by many Kurds.
It is unclear what will emerge from the broken jigsaw of Syria but the Kurds are already benefiting from the chaos. They are pushing for autonomy in a new Syria.
But ultimately many yearn for Greater Kurdistan – an independent state for all the Kurds.
- 20 Aug 2012: Festivities neglected as violence continues, with cities under fire and 10 bodies reportedly found bearing signs of torture
- 20 Aug 2012: Criticism of FSA tactics is building, dialogue seems unlikely and many feel the country’s future will be decided by outsiders. Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis grows ever worse
- LIVE: Follow the day’s developments as they happened