Monday 3 September 2012
25 Kurdish youngsters taken into custody in Qamishlo. Hundreds took to the streets after detentions:
Soldiers of the Assad regime took 25 Kurdish youngsters into custody in Qamishlo, the biggest city in West Kurdistan on the grounds of being draft dodgers. Hundreds of people took to the streets after the detentions on Monday.
Detentions came after Syrian soldiers raided a number of houses and workplaces in Kudurbeg and Suka ?ênî neighborhoods in Qami?lo at midday hours. The youngsters, aged between 18 and 30, were taken to a military center.
Following the detentions, hundreds of young people gathered in front of the Qas?mo Mosque, the area of Friday marches, under the leadership of Komelên Ciwanên Rojavayê Kurdistan (KCRK, organization of youth of west Kurdistan). The protest demonstration of the group continues with the support of shopkeepers who have closed their shops in protest against the detentions.
Syrian state forces took three Kurdish youngsters in Girkê Legê’s village of Girkê Dijwêr on Sunday, in respond to which Kurdish security forces raided the Girkê Legê military post and detained five soldiers in the same day. Detainees were therewith released on a basis of reciprocity.
After the beginning of civil commotions in Syria in the March of 2011, the Kurdish powers in West Kurdistan formed people’s assemblies, opened mother language providing educational institutions, created defence committees and changed the names of villages and cities which have been arabicized in the last 40 years.
The power in the cities of Kobani, Afrin, Dêrko Hemko and Amude was seized on 19-21 by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) which were formed to ensure security in the Syrian Kurdish region.
The mentioned Syrian cities have been managed by committees affilated to the High Kurdish Council which declared its foundation on 24 July as the representative of Kurds in the region.
ANF / QAMISHLO ANF NEWS AGENCY
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for Monday 3/9/2012: More than 200 Syrians have been killed. The dead include 113 unarmed civilians, 13 unidentified bodies, 31 rebel fighters, 3 defected soldiers, and no less than 42 members of the Syrian regular forces.
113 Unarmed civilians (including 19 children):
-In Aleppo Province 38 civilians were killed. 1 was shot by regime forces in the al-Sukkari neighbourhood. 2 civilians, including a woman, were shot by sniper fire in the al-Neirab neighbourhood. 1 was killed by bombardment on the al-Haj bridge in the city of Aleppo. 4 civilians, including a woman and a child, were killed by bombardment on the al-Jlum neighbourhood. 10 civilians, including 4 children, 3 women, and 3 men, were killed due to bombardment on the al-Maysar neighbourhood in the city of Aleppo, today morning. 20 civilians, including 6 women and 4 children, were killed by bombardment on the al-Bab city in Reef Aleppo, and an activist from Reef Aleppo was shot in the Seif al-Dawla neighbourhood in Aleppo.
-In Idlib Province 10 civilians were killed. A little boy and a little girl were killed by bombardment on the M’trem village, by regime forces. 4 civilians were killed by bombardment on the Jarjanaz, Taftanaz, Salqeen, Ma’arat Msreen, and Ma’arat al-Na’san towns. A civilian died, effected by injuries he received due to regime forces gunfire in the Abu al-Zuhur area. 2 civilian corpses were found in the Saraqeb town. A child died, effected by wounds he received during bombardment on the Areeha city.
-In Dera’a province 12 civilians were killed. 1 civilian from the town of Nawa was tortured to death after being detained by government forces. A young man from the al-Mansheef neighbourhood of Dera’a was also tortured to death. 1 civilian died of shrapnel wounds from the bombardment on Tafas. Activists report that 8 were shot by regime forces on the Tafas-Dera’a highway. 1 from the Nmr town was shot by regime forces in the al-Sbeina town in Reef Dimashq.
-In Reef Dimashq Province 15 civilians were killed. 1 from the al-Dameer town died, due to injuries by gunfire on the al-Rheiba road. 5 were shot by regime forces in the Hamurya town. 1 was shot by pro-regime armed men in the al-Ma’adamiya town. 1 was shot by security forces in A’rbeen. 1 civilian from the Douma city was killed by unidentified circumstances. The bodies of 3 civilians were found summarily executed in a house in the town of Arbeen. 3 civilians were shot by regime forces in the Hazza town in Reef Dimashq.
***9 civilians (3 women, 3 men and 3 children) were killed by the car-bomb that went off in Jaramana, Reef Dimashq***
-In Deir Izzor province 3 civilians were killed. 2 civilians were killed by a pro-regime sniper in the Kanamat neighbourhood of Deir Izzor. 1 civilian was killed, several others injured, by the regime bombardment on the city of al-Bukamal.
-In Damascus 4 civilians were killed. 2 civilians (husband and wife) were killed by the bombardment and gunfire in the impoverished Hajar al-Aswad neighbourhood; a civilian from the neighbourhood was killed by regime fire in Aleppo. A child from the Jobar neighbourhood was killed by regime gunfire in the town of Ein Terma, Reef Dimashq.
***13 unidentified bodies were found in Damascus and Reef Dimashq (Ein Terma, Zamalka, Beyt Siwa); the bodies of 6 civilians were found in the al-Qaboun neighbourhood of Damascus, they were all killed by execution-style gunshots***
-In Homs province 6 civilians were killed. 1 civilian was tortured to death in Homs. 1 was killed by a sniper i the Ghouta neighbourhood of Homs. 3 civilians, including a child, were killed in the city of Homs by the bombardment on the old neighbourhoods of Homs and Bab Hud. 1 civilian from Reef Homs was killed by regime forces while on his way back to Homs.
-In Hama province 14 civilians were killed. 1 was killed by a military checkpoint in Karnaz. 6 civiians were killed in Hama, 1 by the bombardment on Reef Idlib, he was originally from the al-Qusoor neighbourhood. 1 by a sniper in the al-Sheikh Anbar neighbourhood. 11 men were killed after regime forces stormed the al-Fraya neighbourhood of Hama.
-In Latakia Province 2 civilians were killed. 2 children were killed due to clashes with regime forces and gunfire in Jabal al-Akrad and Jabal al-Turkman in Reef Latakia.
31 Rebel fighters:
Latakia Province: 23 fighters were killed. 22 fighters were killed due to clashes with regime forces and gunfire in Jabal al-Akrad and Jabal al-Turkman in Reef Latakia. 1 fighter, from the al-Haffa town was killed during clashes with regime forces in al-Qseir in Reef Homs.
Idlib Province: 5 fighters were killed. 3 fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Harem town and Jabal al-Arb’een. 1 fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in the Khan Sheikhun town. 1 fighter was killed by bombardment on the Jarjanaz, Taftanaz, Salqeen, Ma’arat Msreen, and Ma’arat al-Na’san towns.
Deir Izzor province: 1 rebel was killed by clashes in the city of al-Bukamal.
Aleppo Province: 1 rebel fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in the Seif al-Dawla neighbourhood.
Hama province: A rebel fighter was killed during clashes with a military motorcade in Reef Hama
3 defected soldiers were killed, 1 by the military operation on the al-Fraya neighbourhood of Hama; 1 by the bombardment on Reef Idlib, the other was killed by a military checkpoint in Dera’a.
No less than 42 members of the Syrian forces were killed by attacks on government branches and vehicles, and by clashes, in the provinces of Latakia, Idlib, Dera’a, Aleppo, Homs and Reef Dimashq.
[local time] 22:34 Syria’s death toll has risen to 235 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
20:50 The Syrian army will recapture Aleppo from rebel forces within 10 days, a senior commander in charge of the five-week military offensive on the commercial capital told AFP on Monday.
20:38 Syria’s Monday death toll increased to 205 people killed by security forces, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
19:15 Syrian forces have killed 150 people on Monday, most of them in Aleppo, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
17:02 Clashes erupted between regime forces and the Free Syrian Army rebels in Salqin in the Edleb district, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
16:56 Free Syrian Army rebels clashed with regime forces in Sayeda Zeinab in the Damascus district, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
16:17 Syria’s main opposition group pleaded Monday for weapons and urgent military intervention to defend civilians from bombardments by President Bashar al-Assad’s army.
15:39 The bodies of 10 people who had been tortured and summarily executed were discovered in Syria’s Daraa district, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
15:32 Monday’s Syria death toll reached 105 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
14:44 Monday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 83 people, most of them killed in Aleppo, Damascus and Deir az-Zour, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
14:44 The success of a new international peace envoy to Syria depends on states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and not on Syria, says Syria’s information minister.
14:21 More than 5,200 Filipinos are waiting to flee the fighting in Syria but bureaucratic requirements are delaying their return.
13:54 Monday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 69 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying.
13:39 A number of people were killed and others injured in air raids on Bou Kamal and Deir az-Zour by Syrian regime forces, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
13:28 Red Cross chief to travel to Syria, will meet with President Bashar al-Assad, AFP reported.
13:02 Shabiha members executed 16 young men in the Al-Qaboun neighborhood in central Damascus, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying.
12:49 A car bomb on Monday ripped through Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus, killing at least five people, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
11:37 New UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said in an interview with the BBC that the prospect for success in his mission to end the fighting in Syria was very low.
11:35 Air raids conducted by Syrian regime forces on the town of Al-Bab in the Aleppo district killed 18 people, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
10:56 Forty people were killed by Syrian regime forces on Monday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
10:52 Syrian warplane killed at least 18 people in single attack, AFP reported activists as saying.
10:12 Shelling targeted Aleppo’s Al-Maysar on Monday, leaving 10 people dead, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying.
09:44 A defected Syrian pilot said in remarks published on Monday that the Damascus-based Baath regime was choosing particular pilots to shell Syrian areas based on their religious affiliation.
09:00 MORNING LEADER: Troops killed more than 20 people Sunday in a blistering raid on a central village, while twin blasts rocked Damascus and a town near Syria’s second city Aleppo was hit by air strikes. New international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said change in Syria was “unavoidable,” but avoided calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
08:15 Syrian rebels laid siege Sunday to Harem, on the Turkish border, confronting the army and security forces positioned in government buildings and the town’s old castle.
07:58 Arab monarchies in the Gulf on Sunday lambasted Syria’s regime for deploying heavy weapons against civilians while ordering Iran not to interfere in their internal affairs.
KOPINGEBRO, Sweden – Ali Jamal travelled thousands of miles on foot, by train and road to flee violence in Syria while Jomaah piled his family into a camper van to smuggle them north to Europe.
They have now reached safety in Sweden, some of the growing thousands of Syrians who are evading the European Union’s frontier controls to escape the turmoil of the past 18 months.
That is raising calls for a more focused European response to a refugee crisis that has seen over 200,000 Syrians flee to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and, especially, Turkey. From there, a determined, and usually richer, few press on to the EU borders, mainly into Greece, with most hoping for asylum further north.
Sweden alone, 2,500 km (1,500 miles) from Turkey’s European frontier, is expecting 17,000 Syrians to show up seeking refuge this year and next, reflecting a sharply rising trend across the continent; barely a tenth of that number reached Sweden in the first half of this year – itself a marked increase on 2011.
“I crossed a river and someone said, ‘You’re in Europe. No one can stop you now’,” said Jamal, a student from Idlib, recalling the relative ease of reaching a refugee centre in Kopingebro, southern Sweden, after a tough trek into Greece.
Fearing a call-up to President Bashar al-Assad’s army, by which his brother had lately been killed trying to desert, the 24-year-old said he felt he had to flee. He spent two days zig-zagging through the mountains of northwestern Syria, dodging bombs and roadblocks to reach the relative safety of Turkey.
With some 75,000 Syrians already registered there, and the United Nations forecasting up to 200,000 could eventually cram in to camps in Turkey, those who can afford it are casting their hopes further afield; Jamal, speaking at the asylum reception hostel in Kopingebro, near Ystad, said he spent 25 days in Turkey before embarking on a shadowy journey overland northward.
Like Jomaah, who spent thousands of dollars hiring a minivan and driver in Turkey to take his family on a clandestine odyssey across Europe, Jamal offered few details of a trip outside the law; but Syrians see it as their only option to escape danger when formal, visa-limited outward travel is all but impossible.
When Jamal’s brother was among a group of Syrian soldiers shot in March as they tried to desert, his mind was made up: “I am wanted in Syria,” he said. “I don’t want to fight and kill people. I want to study. I want to live a normal life.”
The secrecy of illegal border crossings and the patchiness of statistics combining data from the 27 EU member states means the full picture of Syrian migration into the bloc is unclear.
But Germany saw almost as many apply for asylum in the first seven months of this year – 2,246 – as in all of 2011, while Britain and several other countries also report rising figures, according to data from the EU statistics agency Eurostat.
Fearing a rise in illicit crossings, Greece is boosting patrols on its border with Turkey; EU border agency Frontex said there was a twelvefold rise in Syrians caught trying to cross the Greek-Turkish frontier illegally in the six months to June.
But if nearly 2,400 were stopped, Eurostat said 12,325 Syrians had lodged asylum appeals across the EU from January to June – a figure likely to understate the numbers coming in, due to delays in collating data and the fact that not all register.
While the numbers are still small, whether compared to Syria’s population of over 20 million or to the EU’s 500 million, the move to flight has placed strains on all concerned.
Sweden has had to improvise accommodation. In the case of Jamal and Jomaah that is a hostel normally used by tourists near Kopingebro, on the south coast. Many have moved into picturesque red cottages on an island campsite, which opened last week.
Syrians became the third largest group of asylum seekers in Sweden after Somalis and Afghans at 1,855 in the period from January to July, compared to 303 in the same period last year.
Because of the perceived extreme danger, Sweden has approved nearly all Syrian asylum applications so far this year.
Jomaah, who did not want to give his family name for fear of reprisals against his relatives at home, fled with his wife and children after he was handcuffed and beaten by Assad’s forces.
His father drove them to the mountains, whence they went on foot into Turkey. He paid $8,000 to hire a camper wagon and driver to take them into Europe, winding by back roads through village after village on a three-day journey, living concealed in the back of the van on a box of bread, cheese and yogurt.
“They don’t stop these camper vans,” said Jomaah of the low-profile tactic his guide used to evade the spot police checks which would have thwarted his bid to reach Sweden. “They think, ‘tourists’,” he said. “We were in the back and couldn’t see anything. Maybe it was Bulgaria, maybe Hungary.
“It took a long time to get through Germany.”
Many of those with the means to make it to Sweden have left comfortable lives, are well educated and had good jobs. Jomaah, a ship’s engineer, spoke of a sprawling family villa surrounded by a garden with olive and lemon trees, a car, his dog and even a boat on which he and his relatives went sailing.
Now, they cram into a room fitted with bunk beds from Swedish budget furniture chain IKEA, eat the local meatballs with macaroni and race to finish the family laundry in their once-a-week, two-hour slot at the communal facility.
And not everyone makes it. Several Syrians drowned last month when the boat bringing them from Turkey sank off Cyprus.
CALLS TO DO MORE
Some migration experts are urging the European Union to make it easier for Syrians – and to arrange a more organized welcome.
Noting that Sweden expects 17,000 Syrians to arrive this year and next, making them the biggest national group of asylum-seekers next year, Mikael Ribbenvik, a director at the Swedish Migration Board, said: “Resources are clearly stretched.
“That is a big number for a small country,” he told Reuters.
Philippe Fargues, director of the Migration Policy Centre thinktank at Florence, said Europe should do more to open its borders by saying that anyone coming from Syria could be counted as a refugee, rather than formally have to prove refugee status.
“We are facing a huge crisis at the external border of Europe and that should not continue,” he said.
Fargues argued that European bodies and European Union states also had to do more to coordinate their policies so that Syrians would find it easier to seek asylum – as well as to help those countries dealing with the greatest refugee numbers.
For now, the reality for those Syrians fortunate to make it out and get as far as Stockholm is lining up at a government office in the suburbs of the Swedish capital to go through hours of bureaucracy in order to file a claim for political asylum.
“Everyone who comes here is losing something,” said Antony Sawires, who reached Sweden with his family a month ago after leaving a house in Damascus and a job in the communications industry. “But we win the safety.”
Though counting himself lucky after seeing two cars blow up before he left his home, he was still adjusting to life as a refugee: “I will never have the same lifestyle here,” he said as he waited to be called forward to fill out more paperwork.
But his wife, who did not give her name as her eyes filled with tears, was quick to reassure him: “Home,” she said, “Is where you feel safe.”
(Additional reporting and writing by Patrick Lannin in Stockholm and additional reporting by Elisa Oddone in Berlin and Alessandra Prentice in London; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)
Rebels hit army headquarters in Damascus: AMMAN – Syrian rebels said they planted bombs inside the Syrian army’s General Staff headquarters in central Damascus on Sunday as President Bashar al-Assad’s forces bulldozed buildings to the ground in parts of the capital that have backed the uprising. | Video
Red Cross chief to urge Syria’s Assad to help aid effort: GENEVA – The new head of the Red Cross will urge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to improve humanitarian access to civilians in the war-torn country, the aid agency said on Monday as he arrived in Syria for a three-day visit.
Peter Maurer said he would also continue efforts to gain access for his agency to Syria’s detention centers – which rights groups say hold tens of thousands of people rounded up during the 17-month-old conflict, including teenagers.
“At a time when more and more civilians are being exposed to extreme violence, it is of the utmost importance that we and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent succeed in significantly scaling up our humanitarian response,” he said in a statement.
“An adequate humanitarian response is required to keep pace with needs, which have been growing exponentially,” added Maurer, who took over as president of the independent organization from Jakob Kellenberger on July 1.
Maurer and Robert Mardini, head of the agency’s operations for the Near and Middle East, arrived in the capital Damascus late on Monday, spokesman Hicham Hassan said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has 50 foreign and Syrian aid workers in Syria, but all have been confined to Damascus since late July due to heavy fighting in what it has said has become an internal armed conflict, or civil war in layman’s terms.
The agency was not able to send out any aid convoys for more than two weeks, but did manage late last week to send some food rations and other relief supplies to rural Damascus and Homs for distribution by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the ICRC said.
Maurer, a former senior Swiss diplomat, will meet Assad and senior government officials in Damascus, the statement said.
“Talks will mainly tackle the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and the difficulties faced by the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent as they attempt to reach people affected by the armed conflict,” it said.
LIVING CONDITIONS WORSENING
Syrian civilians’ living conditions are worsening dramatically, as it becomes harder to obtain food and escape fighting which caused a record death toll of 1,600 last week, aid agencies said on Friday.
Tens of thousands have been forced to flee fighting in recent weeks and increasing numbers of wounded are dying for lack of medical care or supplies, the ICRC said.
A car bomb exploded in a district on the edge of Damascus on Monday, causing casualties including women and children, state media and opposition campaigners said.
About 1.2 million people have been displaced in Syria during the conflict and a further 230,000 refugees have registered in four neighboring countries, the United Nations says.
The ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent have distributed relief items to more than 800,000 people this year, most of them displaced and staying in temporary shelters including schools, and ensured that more than one million people have enough clean water, the ICRC said.
Maurer, whose meetings are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, is also due to meet Foreign Minister Walid Moualem, Interior Minister General Mohamad Ibrahim Al Shaar and Health Minister Saad Abdel Salam Al-Nayef.
Syria opened its prisons for the first time almost exactly a year ago under a deal secured by Kellenberger on the first of his three trips there.
ICRC officials visited Damascus central prison last September but their access quickly stalled amid disagreement over the ICRC’s standard requirements, which include the right to interview prisoners in private and make follow-up visits.
After Kellenberger won fresh agreement from Syrian authorities in April, ICRC officials visited inmates at Aleppo central prison in May, but there has been no access since.
(Editing by Pravin Char)
Implementing a mission that is “nearly impossible” is not a routine challenge – even for Lakhdar Brahimi. The new UN envoy to Syria has tackled some of the world’s most intractable conflicts in half a century as a diplomat. But Brahimi, replacing the outgoing emissary Kofi Annan, admitted on Monday that he felt the “terrible weight” of his appointment.
Unlike Annan, he has not said explicitly that President Bashar al-Assad will have to step down. Like his predecessor he will have to manoeuvre around bitter divisions within the UN security council and the apparently unbridgeable gap between the Syrian government and the opposition after 18 months of bloodshed in which some 20,000 people have died.
“I know how difficult it is – how nearly impossible. I can’t say impossible – nearly impossible,” Brahimi told the BBC. “And indeed we are not doing much.”
Now 78, the Algerian official began his career representing the rebel FLN during its independence struggle against France. After 1962 he served as ambassador to Egypt and Britain. Later he was deputy head of the Arab League and its envoy to Lebanon towards the end of its 15-year civil war where he had to deal with “a lot of very bad characters” – an experience some believe may stand him in good stead in neighbouring Syria. He was Algeria’s foreign minister from 1991 to 1993.
In 2001 he was appointed UN special representative for Afghanistan and chaired the Bonn conference, famously forcing delegates to stay up all night until they reached agreement. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain’s UN envoy, said of Brahimi: “There is huge respect in the UN system for his experience, his political and diplomatic judgment and his subtlety in getting through the rocks in an extremely difficult subject.”
Three years later Annan sent him to Iraq to oversee the transition from the US-appointed governing council to a transitional government. Brahimi attacked the US siege of Falluja, attracting smears – from Iraqi Shias as a Sunni, and from Americans who argued that as a former member of Algeria’s governing elite, Brahimi was too wedded to the Arab world’s authoritarian political culture.
Earlier he served as UN special representative to Haiti and to South Africa, building his reputation as a “national treasure” of the world body. Brahimi is also a member of the Elders group, along with Annan and Nelson Mandela.
Brahimi is seen as a mediator of extraordinary depth and experience with what the author Harriet Martin calls a “chiselled charm and patrician manners”. But his advantages are national too: Algeria was a pillar of the non-aligned movement and well-placed to act as a go-between between north and south. It was instrumental in negotiating the release of the US hostages held in Iran in 1980. In the 1990s it experienced its own bloody civil war after the military tried to crush Islamists.
Acquaintances say he is a patient man and without illusions. “He has acquired the unique talent of a man who sees a glimmer of hope in the darkest situation and where others do not,” said the Egyptian journalist Ayman al-Amir. “In accepting the assignment, he must have seen a chance that is worth exploring.”
Brahimi, who like Annan will also represent the Arab League, said he felt as if he was “standing in front of a brick wall”, looking for “cracks” that may yield a solution. “I’m coming into this job with my eyes open, and no illusions that it is going to be easy,” he told the BBC. “It’s a duty to try.”
Brahimi is expected in Damascus soon. But the government there made clear on Monday how it saw the situation. “The conditions for success for Lakhdar Brahimi in his mission is for specific countries – Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – to announce their commitment to the [UN's] six-point plan and completely stop sending weapons [to rebels] and close borders to fighters and close training camps,” said Assad’s information minister, Omran Zoabi.
Reflecting on the Syrian crisis when his appointment was announced, Brahimi said: “Civil war is the cruellest kind of conflict, when a neighbour kills his neighbour and sometimes his brother. What’s necessary is to stop the civil war and that is not going to be easy.”