Sunday 7 October 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:Final death toll for Sunday 7/10/2012: More than 160 Syrians were killed yesterday. The dead include: 93 unarmed civilians (13 children), 26 rebel fighters, 5 defected soldiers and no less than 39 regime forces. 93 Unarmed Civilians:
– In Reef Dimashq province 41 were killed. 25 civilians were found dead in the al-Hama town that witnessed military operations and violent clashes during the past couple of days, activists reported that they were shot by regime forces. 1 was shot by regime forces in the Hteita al-Turkman town in the al-Ghouta al-Sharqiya area. 2 were killed by bombardment on the Hamouriya town. 1 was shot by regime forces after detainment in the al-M’adamiya town. 6 were shot by regime forces in the Douma city, Dahiet Qudseyya (Qudseyya suburb) and Zabdin town. 1 died of wounds he received earlier when he was shot by a military checkpoint in the Deir al-A’safir town. 2 died of wounds they received days earlier in the Douma city and al-Mleiha town. A woman and her 2 children were found dead in the Beit Na’m town of Reef Dimashq after they were summarily executed by regime forces.
– In Homs province 6 were killed. A young girl and 2 women were killed when their bus was targeted in the al-Sa’n village. 2 children were killed by bombardment on the al-Burhaniya village of Reef Homs. 1 was shot by sniper fire in the al-Bayada neighbourhood of Homs city.
– In Deir Izzor province 6 were killed in the city of Deir Izzor. 1 died of wounds he received earlier by regime gun shots. 1 died of wounds he received earlier by bombardment on the al-Nufous building. 2 were killed by point blank shots in the al-Joura neighbourhood. 2 were killed by bombardment on several neighbourhoods of Deir Izzor city.
– In Idlib province 8 were killed. A child was killed by bombardment on the Sarmin town. 1 was shot by regime forces in the Talmand village. A civilian from the Idlib city was found dead after he disappeared for 2 days. 5 were killed by bombardment on the M’aret al-Nu’man city of Reef Idlib.
– In Hama province 6 civilians, including a child, were killed by a military operation on the al-Hmeidiya neighbourhood of Hama city.
– In Dera’a province 2 civilians from the al-Na’ima town were killed. 1 was shot by regime forces. A child died of wounds he received last week by sniper fire.
26 Rebel Fighters:
– In Reef Dimashq 3 rebel fighters were found dead in the al-Hama town, activists reported that they were shot by regime forces.
– In Aleppo province 8 rebel fighters were killed. 6 were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Hanano neighbourhood. A rebel fighter was shot by sniper fire in the al-A’mriya neighbourhood. A rebel fighter died of wounds he received days earlier by sniper fire by the Qal’et Halab area.
– In Homs province 10 rebel fighters were killed. 2 were killed during clashes with regime forces in the al-Khaldiya neighbourhood of Homs city. 8 were killed during clashes with regime ofrces in the al-Sa’n village and al-Qseir city of Reef Homs.
– In Deir Izzor province 2 rebel fighters were killed. A rebel commander was killed during clashes with regime forces in the al-Qusour neighbourhood. A rebel fighter was killed by bombardment on several neighbourhoods of the Deir Izzor city.
– In Hama province a rebel fighter from the Halfaya town was killed during clashes with regime forces in the Aleppo city.
– In Dera’a province 2 rebel fighters were killed in Reef Dimashq. 1 from the Nemr town of Reef Dera’a was killed during clashes with regime forces in the al-Ghouta al-Sharqiya. 1 from the Barqa town was killed by an ambush regime forces set up by the al-Keswa town of Reef Dimashq.
– 5 defected soldiers were killed during clashes with regime forces in Reef Dimashq, Damascus, Reef Homs and Hama.
– The SOHR was able to document an additional 14 deaths who were killed earlier. A family of 5 were killed by regime forces in the Dahiet Qudseyya (Qudseyya suburb) of Reef Dimashq. 3 corpses were found in the towns of al-Tal, M’arba and Qatana of Reef Dimashq. A child was killed by bombardment on the al-Sheikh Sharif village of Reef Idlib. A rebel fighter was killed in the Douma city of Reef Dimashq 3 days earlier. 1 was shot by sniper fire in the Aleppo city. 3 civilians were killed in the neighbourhoods of al-Joura and al-Qusour of Deir Izzor city.
– At least 39 regime forces were killed by IED explosions, attacks on military checkpoints and vehicles and clashes in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, al-Raqqa, Hama, Homs, Damascus, Dera’a and Reef Dimashq.
[local time] 21:07 The death toll in Syria increased on Sunday to 110 people, all killed by regime forces, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
20:40 Six people were killed after regime forces and shabeeha raided the Hama neighborhood of Al-Hamidiyeh, activists reported.
20:22 Another explosion rocked Syria’s capital, Damascus, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
19:26 A huge explosion rocked the Damascus neighborhood of Bab Sarija, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
17:55 Sunday’s death toll rose to 83 people killed by regime forces, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
16:29 A Syrian writer and political researcher, known for his virulent anti-Semitic writings, has been tortured to death by state security services, his family and opposition groups said on Sunday.
16:13 A mortar round fired from Syria on Sunday struck the southeastern Turkish border village of Akcakale, where five civilians were killed last week in a strike that provoked a counter-attack from Turkey, television reports said.
15:38 The European Commission said Sunday it has granted 4.6 million euros ($6 million) to the UN children’s fund to educate children in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.
12:08 The Free Syrian Army downed an MIG jet in the town of Jusiyeh near Homs, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
11:26 Syrian forces clashed with Free Syrian Army members in Al-Yarmouk neighborhood in Damascus, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
11:19 Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara “is a man of reason” who could replace President Bashar al-Assad as the head of a transition administration to stop Syria’s civil war, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
11:03 Syrian troops shelled rebel bastions in Aleppo and fought them on the streets of the northern city, while 10 bodies were found after the army routed insurgents from a town near Damascus, a watchdog said.
10:48 Syrian forces killed at least 30 people on Sunday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
10:20 The bodies of 10 people who were summarily executed were found in Al-Hama near Damascus, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
8:04 Discouraged by lack of US support, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have stopped short of arming Syrian rebels with the heavier weapons that could turn the tide of the war, The New York Times said Saturday.
ISTANBUL – Turkish forces fired across the frontier into Syria on Sunday after a shell launched from Syria landed in Turkey’s border town of Akcakale, underlining Ankara’s warning that it will respond with force to any violence spilling over into its territory. | Video
It was the fifth consecutive day of Turkish retaliation against incoming bombardment from northern Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have been battling rebels who control swathes of land close to the Turkish frontier.
The exchanges are the most serious cross-border violence in Syria’s revolt against Assad, which began in March last year with protests for reform but has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones which threatens to draw in regional powers.
The Syrian shell landed near a plant belonging to the Turkish Grain Board, the Dogan news agency reported, several hundred meters from the center of Akcakale where five civilians were killed on Wednesday in previous Syrian artillery fire.
The Syrian Observatory for Human rights said shells fired in retaliation from Turkey on Sunday landed near the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, where rebels have been battling Assad’s forces. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
A Turkish border unit also returned fire after a mortar bomb launched from Syria at around 7 p.m. hit an uninhabited area of Altinozu at the western end of the Syrian border, the Hatay province governor’s office said.
It said the mortar bomb, believed to have been launched by Syrian government forces, did not result in casualties.
The violence continued inside Syria too, with state media and opposition activists saying a car bomb exploded near a police headquarters in the capital Damascus. State TV said one person was wounded. The Observatory said people had been killed and wounded but gave no details.
NATO member Turkey was once an ally of Assad’s but turned against him after his violent response to the uprising in which activists say 30,000 people have died.
Turkey has nearly 100,000 Syrian refugees in camps on its territory, has allowed rebel leaders sanctuary and has led calls for Assad to quit. Its armed forces are far larger than Syria’s.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey does not want war, but warned Syria not to test its resolve.
“You have to be ready at every moment to go to war if it is necessary. If you are not ready for this, you are not a state,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul on Sunday.
“What did our forefathers say? ‘If you want peace prepare for war’ … If you suffer an outrage, you will do what is necessary. Look, we are retaliating in kind,” he said. “If you strike, you will see the retaliation immediately.”
Damascus has said its fire hit Turkey accidentally.
Turkey and other Sunni Muslim powers in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have backed the rebels who are trying to topple Assad, a member of Syria’s Alawite minority which is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam. Iran’s Shi’ite rulers, and the Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah, are strong Assad allies.
The cross-border fire at Akcakale followed a similar incident on Saturday when three mortar bombs fired from Syria landed near the Turkish village of Guvecci, prompting retaliatory fire from Turkey.
The British-based Observatory, which monitors violence through a network of activists inside Syria, said that Syrian barrage was part of a fierce battle between Assad’s forces and rebels for control of the border village of Khirbet al-Joz.
It said rebels seized control of the area after a 12-hour battle on Saturday in which at least 40 Syrian soldiers and nine rebels were killed. The death toll could not be independently verified.
On Sunday, a rebel flag flew over a Syrian military post in the area, visible from the Turkish side of the border.
“In the last four days there were heavy clashes going on here. We couldn’t sleep. Yesterday morning, the Syrian army controlled this area. Now it is calmer,” said Turkish villager Musa Sasak, 27.
Although outgunned by Assad’s forces, rebels have taken control of several border crossings with Turkey and Iraq as well as large areas of rural territory.
They are also battling for control of Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, and have kept a foothold in the suburbs of Damascus despite a heavy army counter-offensive, backed by air strikes from jets and helicopter gunships.
Despite military setbacks, a collapsing economy and the loss of four of top security officials in a rebel bombing in mid-July, Assad remains confident of victory, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine.
“I met in Damascus a president who was very aware of the critical situation. He did not appear detached but self-confident and combative,” said Salehi, who held talks with Assad two weeks ago. “The president appeared convinced it was possible to win the conflict in Syria through military means.”
Salehi added that Assad was “open for any solution that came from within Syria”, but rejected being pushed out by foreign pressure, adding there was no question of him seeking asylum. The Assad family has been in power in Syria for 42 years.
International pressure on Assad has been curbed by deadlock at the United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China have blocked Western-backed draft resolutions which could have led to U.N. sanctions on Syria.
With major powers paralyzed, the death toll has escalated to more than 1,000 a week, according to Observatory figures.
At least 70 people were killed across Syria on Sunday, the group said. The bodies of 21 men had been found in the town of Hameh, in Damascus province, believed to have been killed by soldiers, while at least 13 people were killed in Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city where Assad’s forces have been fighting rebels for two months.
(Additional Reporting by Sarah Marsh in Berlin; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Jon Hemming and Alison Williams)
Rebels seize Syrian army outpost at Turkey border: witnesses: GUVECCI, Turkey – Syrian rebels have seized a government army outpost near the Turkish border province of Hatay and a rebel flag flew over the building on Sunday, while clashes could be heard in the area of a nearby Syrian village, a Reuters witness and villagers said. | Video
Qatar urges Syrian rebels not to kill Iranian prisoners: DUBAI – Qatar, a major supporter of Syrian rebels, urged them on Sunday not to kill Iranians seized two months ago near Damascus, after the captors threatened to start killing their 48 prisoners.
Turkish artillery return fire after a Syrian mortar round lands in a border village and a car bomb kills a policeman at a police headquarters in Damascus.
Five people were killed in a similar incident, reportedly in the same street in the village, Akcakale, last week.
Turkey has been firing daily into Syria since Wednesday’s deaths, as apparently stray munitions fall on its territory.
In Damascus, a policeman died when a car bomb went off in the car park of the police headquarters in the Syrian capital, state media reported.
The building in the Fahameh area of the city was said to have been damaged in the bombing, described as a “terrorist attack” by the Sana news agency.
Witnesses reported hearing heavy gunfire after the explosion.
During the day, fighting intensified in Syria’s second city Aleppo, with fierce battles in two rebel-held neighbourhoods.
AFP news agency reported that warplanes were bombarding the districts of Bab al-Hadid and Shaar.
Syrian forces are also said to be on the offensive in Damascus and Homs.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports said rebels had captured a government outpost near the Turkish border province of Hatay.
Clashes in the area in recent days have led to several mortar bombs landing on the Turkish side from Syria, prompting Turkish forces to return fire.
The rebels are fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in an uprising that began in March last year.
According to activists, more than 30,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Assad began. The UN estimates that at least 20,000 have died.
Sunday’s shell in Akcakale landed in the grounds of a public building near the centre of the village, but there were no casualties as people had already been evacuated, Turkish NTV said.
Media and local officials said Turkey immediately returned fire. An Associated Press journalist said at least six mortars could be heard.
Wednesday’s incident in Akcakale triggered international condemnation.
The UN Security Council said the incident showed the “grave impact” of the Syrian crisis on “regional peace and stability”.
Turkey’s retaliation was the first time Ankara had taken military action across the border since the Syrian uprising began.
And on the next day, Turkey’s parliament authorised troops to launch cross-border operations and strike at Syrian targets for a period of one year.
On Friday, Turkey moved tanks and anti-aircraft missiles into Akcakale, though Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country did not want war.
“Farouq al-Sharaa is a man of reason and conscience and he has not taken part in the massacres in Syria,” Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davoutoglu, said in a weekend TV interview. “Nobody knows the [Syrian] system better than him.”
Davoutoglu was on shakier ground suggesting that the anti-Assad opposition was “inclined to accept Sharaa” as a future leader – many would see him as too closely associated with the regime. But the intervention by Ankara shows that an important neighbour is thinking seriously about a political transition that could in theory win wide international backing at a time of mounting alarm about the crisis.
Sharaa is the most senior Sunni Muslim figure in Assad’s minority Alawite-led government and he has a reputation for living modestly and not being corrupt. He served as foreign minister for 15 years before becoming vice-president in 2006. Persistent reports that he had defected in August were denied by Damascus, but some opposition leaders say he is apparently under house arrest.
Still, being named as an acceptable alternative by Turkey was not likely to endear him to Assad or the senior figures in the military and security establishment who surround the president, Syrian and foreign observers said.
Turkish units on the border fired at targets inside Syria for a fifth consecutive day on Sunday, responding to a Syrian shell that landed near the centre of Akcakale, where five civilians were killed on Wednesday in previous Syrian artillery fire.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkey hit near the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, where rebels have been fighting Assad’s forces. Associated Press reported that eight shells were fired. At least 70 people were killed across the country on Sunday. The opposition says 30,0000 have died since the uprising began in March 2011.
Turkey has said it does not want war but hopes its threats to hit back will act as an effective deterrent. “You have to be ready at every moment to go to war if it is necessary,” the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in a speech in Istanbul. “If you are not ready for this, you are not a state.”
Analysts see Syria as a dangerous quagmire for Turkey, despite the political support of its Nato allies. “Turkey is trapped between national honour and national interest,” the US academic Joshua Landis said in a debate on al-Jazeera TV. “The national honour required that Erdogan responded in some way that shows toughness and resolve and would intimidate the Syrians from further action across the border. On the other hand, the national interest is to stay out of Syria. Syria is a potential Vietnam for Turkey, it’s a swamp. It could suck Turkey in and cost Erdogan a great deal.”
Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, provided a rare account of Assad’s state of mind in an interview with Der Spiegel. “I met in Damascus a president who was very aware of the critical situation,” said Salehi, who saw the Syrian leader two weeks ago. “He did not appear detached but self-confident and combative. The president appeared convinced it was possible to win the conflict in Syria through military means.”
Assad was “open for any solution that came from within Syria”, Salehi said, but rejected being pushed out by foreign pressure, adding that there was no question of him seeking asylum.