Saturday 25 August 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for Saturday 25/8/2012: Approximately 370 Syrians have been killed
The dead include 174 unarmed civilians, more than 130 unidentified bodies, 21 rebel fighters, 3 defected soldiers, and no less than 39 members of the Syrian regular forces.
174 Unarmed Civilians:
-In Reef Dimashq 85 civilians were killed. 1 from wounds in Douma. 80 civilians casualties have been fully doc
***More than 120 still unidentified bodies were found in the city of Dareyya, Reef Dimashq. The SOHR is working on fully documenting them. 2 unidentified bodies were found in Mou’adamiyah, Reef Dimashq***
-In Dera’a province 22 civilians were killed. 14 civilians were killed by point-blank fire by regime forces in the town of al-Hirak. 2 were killed in the city of Dera’a, 1 of them was killed by a rocket in Der’a al-Balad. 1 was killed by regime fire in al-Kateeba, Reef Dera’a. 1 killed by the bombardment on the town of al-Ghara al-Gharbiya. A young man from the town of Namer was killed by a sniper in the Baramkeh neighbourhood of Damascus. 1 civilian from Busr al-Harir was tortured to death. 1 civilian was killed in Busra al-Sham. 1 civilian was killed by a sniper in the town of Da’el, Reef Dera’a.
-In Idlib province 19 people were killed. 5 civilians, including 2 children, were killed by the bombardment on the town of Qmeinas, Reef Idlib. 10 civilians, including a woman and a child, were killed by the regime bombardment on the city of Ariha. 4 civilians, including a little girl, were killed by the bombardment on the towns of Sarjeh and Ma’arat al-Nu’man.
-In Aleppo province 17 killed. 1 from the town of A’zaz, when his car was targeted near the city of Ma’arat al-Nu’man, Reef Idlib. 12 civilians were killed in the city of Aleppo: 2 civilians were shot dead by regime forces after being detained by them in the Helk neighbourhood of Aleppo. 2 civilians were killed by the bombardment on the city of Aleppo. A civilian was killed by a sniper in the Qal’a neighbourhood. 1 civilian from the Furdous neighbourhood of Aleppo was gunned down by pro-regime gunmen while on his way to the village of Bsartoun, Reef Aleppo. 1 civilian died from wounds in the city of Aleppo. A woman died of wounds she received during gunfire in the Meysaloun neighbourhood. 2 civilians were killed by a sniper in the Meysaloun and Meidan neighbourhoods. 1 civilian was killed by an ambush set up for him by regime forces in the Seif al-Dawla neighbourhood. 2 women were killed in the town of Menbaj, 1 from wounds and one from today’s bombardment. 3 civilians from the town of Andan were killed: a child was shot and killed by a military checkpoint, a man and a woman were killed by the bombardment on the village of Tel Houthan.
***8 unidentified bodies were found in the Jam’iyat al-Zahra’ neighbourhood of Aleppo***
-In Deir Izzor 15 civilians were killed. 5 by the bombardment on the town of Buqrus. 6 in the city of Deir Izzor : a civilian was also shot by regime forces in the al-Joura neighbourhood, another was killed by shrapnel in the neighbourhood; A civilian was killed by random fire in Dier al-A’tiq, 3 civilians were shot by regime forces in the neighbourhood while trying to assist one of the wounded. 4 civilians were killed and dozens others injured by bombardment on the al-Bal’oum neighbourhood of al-Mayadeen city in Reef Dier Izzor.
-In Hama province 12 civilians were killed. 1 by the bombardment on al-Latamneh. A woman from Qal’at al-Madiq was killed by the bombardment on the village of al-Faqee’, Reef Idlib. A child was killed by the bombardment on the town of Karnaz. 4 civilians were killed, including a child, by the regime bombardment on the villages in Sahl al-Ghab. 3 civilians were shot by regime forces in the town of Souran. 2 were killed when they were targeted by a checkpoint rocket in Reef Hama.
-In Homs province 4 civilians were killed. A child was killed by the bombardment on al-Ghento, Reef Homs. 1 civilian was shot dead by a military checkpoint in the city of al-Quseir. 1 civilian was killed while returning from the village of Teir Ma’alla. A woman civilian was killed by the bombardment on the village of al-Makarmiya, Reef Homs.
**The SOHR has documented the death of 11 civilians who were killed two days ago: 5 were killed by the bombardment on the town of Sabina, Reef Dimashq. 3 were killed by the bombardment on the Furdous neighbourhood of Aleppo. 2 killed in Hama.**
21 Rebel fighters:
Idlib province: 10 rebels killed. 2 rebel fighters were killed in the Ferkeyya village, one was a rebel leader. 8 rebels were killed by clashes in Ariha.
Deir Izzor province: 2 rebel fighters were killed during clashes in the al-Joura neighbourhood.
Aleppo province: 4 killed. 3 rebels were killed during clashes in the city of Aleppo. A rebel fighter from the Tal Ref’at town was killed during clashes with regime forces in Aleppo.
Dera’a province: 3 rebels killed. 1 rebel killed by clashes in Dera’a city. 1 rebel from the town of Nasib was killed by clashes in Dareyya, Reef Dimashq. 1 was killed in Busra al-Sham, Reef Dera’a.
Reef Dimashq: A rebel fighter from the town of al-Belaliya was executed by regime forces after he was captured.
Latakia province: A rebel fighter was killled during clashes by the al-Furluq checkpoint in Reef Latakia.
**The SOHR has documented the death of 1 rebel fighter who was killed in Hama province two days ago.**
A defected soldier was killed by clashes in Reef Idlib. 2 defected soldiers were summarily executed by regime forces after they were captured in Souran, Reef Hama.
No less than 39 members of the Syrian armed forces were killed during clashes in Damascus, Reef Dimashq, Deir Izzor, Idlib and Dera’a.
[local time] 20:05 Syrian army forces launched arrest raids and clashed with rebels in the southwestern belt of Damascus on Saturday in what activists say is a renewed bid to crush the insurgency in the capital “once and for all.”
19:57 Dozens of bodies were found on Saturday in a besieged town near Damascus where Syrian troops have been waging fierce attacks to try to crush rebel holdouts in the capital, a monitoring group said.
19:48 Saturday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 142, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
19:40 Switzerland has pledged financial support to an independent network of doctors in Syria who are trying to create a field hospital in the conflict-torn nation, an official said Saturday.
18:40 Syria’s state news agency SANA said on Saturday that a fake email had been sent out in its name claiming that Vice President Faruq al-Shara had been sacked.
18:24 Syrian missiles land in Turkish territories, as Syrian regime forces shelled towns neighboring Latakia, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
17:36 Saturday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 136 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
16:52 Al-Arabiya television reported on Saturday that Lebanese General Security arrested Wael al-Khaledy, head of the High Commission for Syrian Relief.
16:37 Saturday’s death toll has increased to 100 people, among whom 12 children and a woman, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
15:28 The Syrian National Council said on Saturday that there were heavy clashes between rebels and army forces in Aleppo’s Al-Jadida neighborhood, Al-Arabiya reported.
15:21 Syrian forces shelled Daraa’s Naheta and Dael, Al-Arabiya reported.
14:45 Syrian troops carried out raids and clashed with rebels Saturday in a town southwest of Damascus where a watchdog said more than 100 people have been killed in an army onslaught this week.
14:04 Syrian forces shelled the town of Damir near Damascus, Al-Arabiya quoted the Syrian National Council as saying.
14:00 Syrian security agents have arrested a television actor who opposes the Damascus regime, activists said on Saturday, a day after a prominent independent filmmaker disappeared.
13:07 Syrian security forces killed 19 people on Saturday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
12:56 Rebels say they are digging in for a war of attrition in Syria’s commercial hub of Aleppo, where the battle is now dragging on into a second month of bloody stalemate.
9:45 The body of a veteran Japanese war reporter killed while covering the anti-regime movement in Syria’s second city was flown home on Saturday.
9:33 The head of the now-defunct UN observer team in Syria, General Babacar Gaye, left Damascus on Saturday after the Security Council called time on the troubled mission, his aides said.
8:00 An AFP feature story details how the staff at the Dar al-Shifa hospital in Aleppo brave dangerous conditions in the strife-stricken city to try to save the growing influx of wounded patients.
Reuters: Fierce fighting in Syria swells refugee exodus
AMMAN – Syrian troops forced rebels to abandon a battered Damascus suburb on Friday in the latest battle of an intensifying civil war that the U.N. refugee agency said had prompted more than 200,000 people to flee the country. | Video
Lebanese Shi’ite hostage arrives home from Syria: BEIRUT – A Lebanese man who was kidnapped with a group of 10 other Lebanese Shi’ite pilgrims in Syria in May arrived home on Saturday, hours after Syrian rebels released him as a “goodwill gesture”…
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has played down possible Syrian links to a recent rise in guerrilla attacks in Turkey, saying unrest across the border was not the cause of Turkey’s problems.
Turkey has seen an upsurge in attacks over the past few weeks, including a car bombing in the southern city of Gaziantep on Monday that killed nine people. Some Turkish officials have blamed the attacks on the conflict inSyria.
In an interview on Turkish television late on Friday, Davutoglu said although militants may be trying to take advantage of intensifying fighting in neighbouring Syria, such attacks were not new in Turkey.
“Terror in Turkey did not appear as a result of the developments in Syria, it is a problem that has lasted for 30 years,” Davutoglu said.
“The terror organization may want to exploit chaos in Syria, however, to think that Turkey’s terror incidents originate in Syria would a be a deficient approach. It is not possible to explain terror with one factor,” he said.
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a militant Kurdish group that has been fighting the Turkish state for self-rule since 1984, is usually referred to in Turkey as “the terror organization”.
The government blames the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, for Monday’s attack in Gaziantep, a hub for international aid for Syrian refugees. Turkish authorities have arrested over a dozen people in connection to the bombing.
The PKK, which has stepped up attacks on Turkish security forces in recent months, particularly in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country, has denied involvement in the bombing in Gaziantep.
Davutoglu’s comments stand in contrast with a view shared by a growing number in Turkey, including some from his own party, that the PKK is getting direct support from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and Kurdish groups in Syria.
Speaking a day after Monday’s bombing, a Gaziantep lawmaker from the ruling AK Party said the raid had been planned with Syrian intelligence and was in retaliation for Ankara’s policy towards Syria.
Turkey initially cultivated good relations with Assad but relations have deteriorated since the uprising against him began 17 months ago. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has become one of his harshest critics and has raised the possibility of military intervention in Syria if the PKK became a threat there.
Turkey suspects a major Syrian Kurdish movement, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), of having links with the PKK. Turkish analysts believe Assad let the PYD seize control of security in some towns in northern Syria to prevent locals from joining the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Assad has denied that Syria had allowed the PKK to operate on Syrian territory close to the Turkish frontier.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Turkish official told Reuters on Friday the government still had no solid evidence of any Syrian link and said there had been other waves of militant attacks in the past when relations with Syria were good.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the PKK and Turkish forces since the militants launched their insurgency 28 years ago with the aim of carving out a separate state in mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey.
It has since scaled back its demands to political autonomy and more cultural rights for Turkey’s estimated 14 million ethnic Kurds.
Clashes between Turkish security forces and PKK militants have intensified in recent weeks, particularly in Turkey’s southeastern Hakkari province near borders with Iraq and Iran.
(Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Rosalind Russell)
Syria arrests filmmaker, actor who helped crackdown victims: AMMAN – Security forces in Syria have arrested a filmmaker and an actor who helped people made homeless or jobless by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, their friends said on Friday, part of an apparent crackdown on the country’s secular intelligentsia.
Arwa Nairabiya – who founded the “Damascus Dox Box” documentary film festival – was arrested at Damascus airport on Thursday evening before boarding a plane to Cairo, fellow filmmakers and relatives said.
Secret police agents also raided the home of Mohammad Omar Oso, an actor who had starred in several popular television series, and took him to an unknown destination, the Damascus Media Centre activists’ group said in a statement.
Thirty-five year-old Nairabiya was part of a new generation of Syrian filmmakers who had defied a state ban on independent film production even before the revolt against Assad began 17 months ago.
“It seems it is a crime to establish an independent cinema movement in Syria,” said fellow Syrian director Ahmad Malas, in a video statement recorded at an undisclosed location outside Syria. “We call for freedom for Arwa Nairabiya, actor, producer and graduate of the Syrian Higher Cinema Institute who is always smiling.”
One of Nairabiya’s friends, speaking from Damascus on condition of anonymity, said he feared for his safety. “We pray that Arwa gets off lightly. The regime has been brutal toward Syria’s intellectuals,” the friend said.
The Syrian state has a Soviet-like monopoly on cinema and television production. The establishment shunned Oso, who is also in his 30s, when he refused to join the state-controlled actors’ guild and sign statements declaring support for Assad at the start of the revolt, his friends said.
Nairabiya has championed the cause of human rights and freedom of expression in the face of state attempts to control culture through institutions that monopolize teaching of art, film and dance to support the personality cult of Assad.
ARTISTIC EXPRESSION REPRESSED
Syrian security forces, who have arrested tens of thousands of people since the uprising began, do not comment on detentions, which human rights groups say are arbitrary.
Assad has claimed to have introduced what he regards as far-reaching political reforms in response to pro-democracy street demonstrations, yet strict state restrictions on freedom of speech and artistic expression have remained in place.
Three months ago, Assad’s forces shot dead Bassel Shehadeh, another young filmmaker who had abandoned a Fulbright scholarship in the United States to document a military crackdown on the central city of Homs.
In another incident, authorities blamed “treacherous hands” for the killing earlier this month of director Bassem Mohiedine in a Damascus suburb rocked by clashes between the military and rebels. No one has claimed responsibility for his death.
In a third case, the relatives of sculptor Wael Qastoum said he died last month after being tortured in a Damascus prison.
Qastoum, a Christian from Homs, had spoken out against state repression, said a relative who asked not to be named.
Other leading cultural figures have been badly beaten. Secret police agents last year assaulted Ali Farzat, the country’s best known cartoonist, and broke both of his hands.
Witnesses said pro-Assad militiamen, known as shabbiha (ghosts) beat novelist Khaled Khalifa earlier this year after he attended a funeral for Rabih Ghaza, an activist who was found shot and stuffed in the trunk of his car near a security branch in Damascus.
Many of the new generation of filmmakers have been inspired by French-educated Syrian director Omar Amiralay, who made international award-winning films that chronicled what he regarded as Syria’s demise under the Assad family’s rule.
Amiralay died of natural causes at age 66 one month before the uprising broke out, having famously warned Assad that Syria “is marching steadfastly on its hooves to its own demise, after being betrayed by its rulers.”
(Editing by Andrew Osborn and Todd Eastham)
BBC: Syria’s minorities drawn into conflict: [22 August2012] As the fighting in Syria intensifies and grows more sectarian in nature, a journalist in Damascus tells how the country’s many ethnic and religious minorities are being drawn into the conflict.
One evening in Bab Touma, a Christian area in the Old City of Damascus, Abu George had to wait all night at the front door of his house waiting for his son to come back.
“It was a crazy night. There was a lot of shooting going on in the area,” the 60 year old says. “My son went out, as he wanted to join the fight. He is a teenager and I can’t control him.”
Over the past few weeks, there has been rising concern within the capital’s Christian community about its young men joining the fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents.Priest in Bab Touma
“The young, unemployed Christians in Damascus responded to regime appeals to take up arms to defend themselves,” says a local priest.
“They were told Salafists were coming to kill them,” a reference to ultraconservative Sunni Islamists who are a growing influence on Syria’s uprising.
“The regime is trying to inflame sectarianism and get the Christians involved in the battle.”
The young Christians were urged to join what the government has named “Popular Committees”, which are tasked with protecting neighbourhoods from attack. To many, however, they are just groups of pro-government thugs.
Some Popular Committees – like those in Bab Touma and the neighbouring Christian area of Bab Sharqi – have even agreed to be armed.
Most Christians, who make up about 10% of Syria’s population, have sought to avoid being drawn into their country’s increasingly sectarian conflict, which has seen the majority Sunni community bear the brunt of the crackdown from security forces led by Alawites, members of a heterodox Shia sect to which Mr Assad belongs.
“This is an act to show power and abuse power,” the priest says.
“But we are working hard to raise awareness among Christians to avoid getting involved in the conflict, and many people have refused to take up arms.”
Some Christian opposition activists have reached out to members of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), and both have tried to reassure the community that they will not be targeted.
In one of the suburbs of Damascus, al-Montasir Billah Omar, a spokesman for the FSA’s al-Baraa bin Malik Brigade, met representatives of other rebel formations to write a joint statement warning local Christians not to take up arms.Al-Montasir Billah OmarAl-Baraa bin Malik Brigade, Free Syrian Army
“We call on our brothers in Syria to maintain the social mosaic that distinguishes the country,” urged the statement, which was signed by the Military Council for the Syrian Revolution in the Suburbs of Damascus, and other FSA brigades.
“We assure the people of our country that our slogan is: ‘We are all one people of one country.’”
Mr Omar, a father of two in his early 30s, is a leading figure in the FSA.
“Our fight is not against any of the minorities in Syria, not even the Alawites, but with the Assad regime,” he says.
He adds that if it were a sectarian conflict, FSA fighters could have launched raids on Alawite villages in retaliation for the deaths of Sunnis, but that they had not.
“It is the regime that is bombarding cities and killing us, but we will not take revenge.”
As the FSA representatives were meeting to discuss the statement, a shipment of food arrived which was due to be distributed to internally displaced people.
“These food supplies are sent to us by Christians and Alawites families. Our war is against Assad not his sect,” Mr Omar says.
Jaramana is a little town located to the south-east of Damascus, home to many secular young Syrians from various Muslim sects, but whose population is predominantly Druze.
The Druze, who make up 4% to 5% of the population, follow a monotheistic religion drawn on Ismailism, a branch of Shia Islam, and like Syria’s Christians initially tried to avoid taking sides in the uprising.
The Syrian government has also made efforts to prevent protests taking place in Jaramana.
Nadia, a Druze journalist who has lived all her life in Jaramana, says every demonstration was suppressed and opposition supporters were reported to the security services to help the government keep Jaramana quiet.
But that was not the case when Shabiha, a term used to describe pro-government thugs, started to get armed in the town, Nadia says.
“The security people recruited all the convicted criminals in prison, released them under an amnesty and armed them under the pretext of protecting the area from armed Salafist gangs,” she adds.
Looking east from the balcony of her small flat, Nadia points to a helicopter firing on another district of Damascus, from where black smoke is rising.
“When the violence intensified in towns surrounding Jaramana, there was a large number of displaced people running here to seek shelter. Almost everyone in town wanted to help, including people who are loyalists to the regime,” she says.
‘Divide and rule’
Then two weeks ago, rumours started to emerge about a series of assassinations in Jaramana.
A few members of the Popular Committee, who locals described as Shabiha or criminals, were killed.
Some blamed Free Syrian Army fighters from neighbouring towns, but others suspected people in Jaramana. The Popular Committee, they said, had become a gang that was forcing people to pay protection money.
But Nadia says the incident that truly united everyone – and prompted Druze religious leaders to issue statements of condemnation – was the public killing of a rebel fighter in a central square in Jaramana by Popular Committee members, who then drove his body around the town to intimidate people.
They also went to schools where many displaced people were sheltering and accused them of being terrorists. Nadia says Jaramana’s residents rejected this, and that local clerics called on people to remain rational and united.
Nadia says she cannot accept being stopped and searched in her own town by criminals, who are operating under the guise of providing protection.
“This is unbearable, why should I accept it?” she asks. “The regime is doing everything it can to divide and rule, but luckily there are still wise people around.”
Washington and Ankara have agreed to create an “intelligence shield” to prevent militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party from freely entering and operating on the Turkish territory from Syria as they discussed “after Assad” future.
The format of the Turkish-American anti-terrorist cooperation anticipates joint collection and sharing of intelligence data on militants’ activities on the Syrian territory and Turkish border districts, including possible rotation of chemical weapons on Syrian territory.
According to the Turkish NTV channel the “intelligence shield” is to be directed by CIA operatives that have been previously working in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The shield’s creation is the first known result of work by the Turkish-American “operations planning group”, the creation of which was initiated during the visit of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Ankara on August 11.
“As you know, this meeting was called as a result of the conversation that the Secretary [of State] and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had on August 11. And they had agreed to have intensive conversations about operational planning. And so those conversations began today went into some detail,” commented the meeting the US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland…