Tuesday 23 October 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for Tuesday 23/10/12: Approximately 190 Syrians were killed. The dead include: 108 unarmed civilians (3 children), 36 rebel fighters, a defected soldier and at least 41 regime forces.
Preliminary death toll included: approximately 120 Syrians were killed so far today. The dead include: 90 unarmed civilians (12 children), 23 rebel fighters and no less than 24 regime forces. 67 Unarmed Civilians:
- In Reef Dimashq province 30 were killed. 2 were killed in the city of Harasta, 1 was killed by clashes and bombardment in the city, a woman died of wounds she received yesterday by bombardment on the city. 7 civilians, including a woman and child, were killed by bombardment and gunfire in the city of Douma. 8 civilians, including an unidentified man, were summarily executed after detainment by one of the military checkpoints in the town, based on activists from the area. 12 civilians, including 3 women and 5 children, were killed by bombardment on a residential complex in the town. A woman was killed by bombardment on the Hamouriya town.
- In Aleppo province 17 were killed. A young man from the I’zaz town was killed under unknown circumstances. 10 civilians, including a child, were killed by bombardment on the Masaken Hanano neighbourhood. A woman and 2 men were killed by bombardment on the neighbourhoods of al-Sakhour and al-Leirmon of Aleppo city. A woman was killed by bombardment on the Kafr-t’al neighbourhood. A woman died of wounds she received days earlier by bombardment on the al-Bab city. An unidentified corpse was found by the Kafr-halab town of Reef Aleppo.
- In Deir Izzor province 14 were killed. 6 civilians, including a woman and 4 children, were killed by bombardment on the al-Boukamal city of Reef Deir Izzor. 3 from the Deir Izzor city were killed, 1 was shot by sniper in the al-Jbeila neighbourhood, 2 were killed by bombardment. A woman was killed by bombardment on the al-Mayadin city of Reef Deir Izzor.
- In Dera’a province 5 were killed. 1 was shot by regime forces in the al-Hrak town. 1 was shot by sniper in the Oum al-Mayathin town. 1 was tortured to death after detainment in the Seida town of Reef Dera’a. 2 were tortured to death after detainment earlier in the city of Dera’a.
- In Homs province 2 were killed. 1 was killed by bombardment on the Talkalakh town. A woman was killed by bombardment on the al-Nahriya village of Reef Homs.
- In Idlib province a man and child were killed by bombardment on the M’aret al-Nu’man city of Reef Idlib.
- In Hama province a man from the al-Mhaymin village of Reef Hama was killed during detainment by regime forces after he was wounded days earlier.
23 Rebel Fighters:
- In Dera’a province a rebel fighter died of wounds he received earlier by bombardment on the Busra al-Sham town.
- In Aleppo province 4 rebel fighters were killed. 1 died of wounds he received earlier during clashes in the Hayan town of Reef Aleppo. 1 was killed during clashes with regime forces in western Reef Aleppo. 2 were killed during clashes with regime forces in the city of Aleppo.
- In Reef Dimashq province 7 rebel fighters were killed. 4 rebel fighters were killed by clashes and bombardment on the Harasta city. 1 was killed during clashes with regime forces in the outskirts of A’rbin city. 2 rebel fighters from the Douma area were killed, 1 died of wounds he received during clashes with regime forces in the Saqba town, 1 was shot by sniper in the city.
- In Deir Izzor province 4 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Deir Izzor city.
- In Homs province a rebel fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in the Talkalakh town.
- In Idlib province 5 rebel fighters were killed. 2 were killed during clashes with regime forces in Reef Jusr al-Shughour and al-Ya’qoubiya village. 3 were killed during clashes with regime forces and bombardment on Reef M’aret al-Nu’man.
- In al-Raqqa province a rebel fighter died of wounds he received earlier by bombardment on the Tal Abiad town of Reef al-Raqqa.
- The SOHR was able to document the death of 3, one of which is a defected soldier, yesterday during clashes with regime forces and bombardment on the perimeter of Harem town.
- Reports indicate that 4 civilians were killed by bombardment on several neighbourhoods of the Aleppo city.
- Activists from the city of Dera’a reported that 9 unidentified corpses were delivered to the national hospital of the city.
- At least 24 regime forces were killed during clashes in several Syrian provinces: 8 in Idlib, 6 in Aleppo, 5 in Reef Dimashq, 4 in Deir Izzor and 1 in al-Raqqa.
See also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zeI8JyYADg: Translation:
“Who’s your God?”
“Who do you pray to?”
“Bashar Al Assad!”
“Who do you worship?”
“Bashar Al Assad, sir!”
“Are you with the [opposition] FSA or the [regime] People’s Army?”
“With Bashar Al Assad. Long live the Fr… [realizes what he says and backtracks in fear] God’s with the regular army.”
And finally: “There’s no God but Bashar! There’s no God but Bashar Al Assad!”
From 35 sec:
“Who do you love!?”
“Who’s your leader?”
“Who’s your God?”
“Allah or Bashar, who’s the best?”
“Allah, …., Bashar and that’s it”
(again)”Who’s the best, Allah or Bashar!?”
[local time] 20:23 UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is pushing “extremely hard” for a ceasefire in Syria and will brief the UN Security Council on Wednesday on his efforts, the UN spokesperson said.
19:33 Tuesday’s death toll has increased to 150, Al-Jazeera reported.
19:13 The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday said it had sent food aid to some 1.5 million people inside Syria in September, up from 850,000 a month earlier.
18:11 The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) does not want to ban members of the ruling Baath party from political life in a post-Assad Syria, saying it has learnt from Iraq’s mistakes, its leader said Tuesday.
17:03 An anti-aircraft shell fired from Syria hit a health center in a Turkish border town Tuesday but caused no casualties, reported the private CNN-Turk television network on its website.
16:55 Damascus accused France on Tuesday of hindering efforts to stop the violence and of supporting “terrorists” in strife-torn Syria, referring to the rebels fighting against loyalist troops.
16:47 The death toll on Tuesday has reached 95 people killed across Syria by regime forces, activists said.
16:39 Human Rights Watch accused Syria on Tuesday of stepping up its use of internationally banned cluster bombs despite assertions by Damascus that it is not deploying the munitions at all.
16:29 An explosion rocked the headquarters of the Syrian army’s fourth division in Moadmiya near Damascus, Al-Jazeera reported.
16:24 Syria’s government on Tuesday described a visit by international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to the war-torn country as “successful” and said it hoped for a rapid resolution to the Syrian conflict.
16:13 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Tuesday shows members of the rebel Free Syrian Army after they had overtaken a regime forces’ outpost in Edleb’s Sahel al-Rouj. Destroyed tanks and military vehicles could be seen scattered around the site in the footage.
16:10 Members of the rebel Free Syrian Army clashed with regime forces in Al-Salihiyya in Deir az-Zour, activists said.
15:49 Heavy clashes broke out between regime forces and members of the rebel Free Syrian Army in the Damascus neighborhood of Al-Aasali, activists said.
14:53 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 71 people, mostly killed in Aleppo and the Damascus district, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
14:40 Syria’s Tuesday death toll increased to 42 people, activists reported.
14:08 Scores were killed when regime forces shelled the Ali Bakery in Aleppo’s Masaken Hanano, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
13:54 A Syrian activist said on Tuesday that the rebel Free Syrian Army was engaging in ongoing clashes to “completely liberate the town of Maarat al-Naaman.”
13:42 A group of angry Syrians set fire to their tents in protest at “bad living conditions” at the Zaatari desert refugee camp in northern Jordan, a leading charity said on Tuesday.
13:38 More than 100,000 Syrians have fled their war-torn country for neighboring Lebanon, itself hit by rising tensions in recent days, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday.
13:37 Iran could soon host a “national dialogue” in the region between all the parties to the Syrian conflict, a senior Iranian official said in media reports on Tuesday.
13:21 A huge explosion rocked the Damascus neighborhood of Al-Baramkeh, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
12:13 The rebel Free Syrian Army overtook a regime checkpoint in Homs’ Qusayr, a Syrian activist told NOW on Tuesday.
11:48 Syrian regime forces killed at least 19 people on Tuesday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
11:17 A narrow majority of Turks is opposed to any intervention by their country in Syria if President Bashar al-Assad’s regime falls, according to a poll published on Tuesday.
11:13 Warplanes raided a district of the northern city of Aleppo as fighting across Syria kept up unabated on Tuesday, despite hopes of a ceasefire for later this week, a watchdog said.
10:15 Syrian regime forces’ shelled and destroyed three houses in the town of Maarat al-Naaman, al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
10:10 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued an amnesty for “crimes” committed up until today, state TV reported.
7:29 Turkey is turning to regional powers Iran and Russia, backers of the Damascus regime, to help it deal with Syria’s bloody civil war that has spilled across its border with deadly shelling and a flood of refugees, analysts say.
BEIRUT – Syrian rebels are battling to seize an army base close to the main north-south highway and say its capture would be a big step towards creating a “safe zone” allowing them to focus on Bashar al-Assad’s southern strongholds.
U.N. expects to feed 1.5 million Syrians monthly till mid-2013: GENEVA – The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday it plans to continue providing food for 1.5 million people in Syria until at least June next year, a sign it expects hunger to persist in a protracted civil war.
A warm autumn day in the Syrian village of Qardaha and a man walks in to a cafe where two customers are arguing. He pulls a gun; shots are fired. The newcomer is wounded and one of the other men killed.
But this is no obscure local feud; it reveals frictions among President Bashar al-Assad’s core supporters. For Qardaha is the ancestral home of the ruling dynasty. And the man who strode in with a pistol was the beleaguered president’s cousin.
Accounts vary of what happened next. But the cafe gunfight and subsequent bloodshed in the village involved only Alawites, the religious minority on which Assad has depended in his civil war against mainly Sunni rebels. The violence shows that fear and anger over his policies may be eroding that support.
Some locals say Mohammed al-Assad, known as the “Mountain Sheikh” for his powerful family ties, argued in the cafe about smuggling and other rackets that underpin the economy of the Alawite hill towns around the port of Latakia; others believe he took exception to complaints about his cousin’s conduct of the war and about the rising death toll the community is suffering.
President Assad’s father Hafez, who led Syria from 1970 until his death in 2000, lies in a grandiose mausoleum at Qardaha, a town of 5,000 nestled amid pine-clad hilltops.
His rule brought wealth and advantage, not least jobs in the army and police, to the long disadvantaged Alawite community, which makes up about 10 percent of Syria’s population. But tribal and other internal tensions have been exacerbated by a war that his son portrays as a battle for survival, not just for himself but for all fellow Alawites against sectarian enemies.
LOYALTY IN QUESTION?
Recent events around Qardaha, however, suggest to some observers, including Western diplomats, that clan rivalries, thousands of deaths among Alawite fighters and economic crisis could break the loyalty of leading Alawite commanders, even as the community finds itself increasingly a target of rebel anger.
With the government severely restricting media access, there is a lack of independent information within Syria but several residents of Latakia region gave similar accounts of events.
One Alawite who has joined the opposition to Assad, Majd Arafat, said there was growing resentment at the suffering of the local population while elite families remained aloof: “The talk all over the mountains is that Alawites are being killed in droves, but none of them are called Assad, Makhlouf or Shalish.”
The latter two families are closely related to the Assads.
A Western diplomat, noting the failure of defections by Sunni generals to sap the strength of Assad’s forces, speculated that were even a less senior Alawite to break ranks, it might raise expectations of a more damaging split: “The defection of one, even a colonel, would be significant,” he said.
Estimates of casualties are hard to establish in Syria. One activist group which compiles reports has said some 7,300 Assad loyalists have been killed, out of a total of 30,000 war dead.
But many believe the overall toll is higher. One who thinks so is a Syrian businessman, not himself an Alawite, who says he funds units of the mostly Alawite “shabbiha” militia, partly to protect his businesses in the area. Speaking to Reuters anonymously, he reckoned the Alawite community in the coastal mountains alone might have lost 15,000 fighters since last year.
In the immediate area of Qardaha, residents estimated that as many as 300 men may have died in the past year, either in battles with rebels or in sectarian ambushes and assassinations.
But the burden, as the riches of the past 40 years, has not been shared equally among the Alawite clans.
The likes of the Makhlouf and Shalish families are cousins of the Assads, and rose from humble beginnings to make fortunes by virtue of winning government tenders – much to the chagrin of more established Alawites sidelined by Assad and his father.
Now those divisions seem to be resurfacing in an environment where the wealth some Alawite mountain leaders have built up through officially sanctioned smuggling and other illicit trades is being threatened by the anti-Assad uprising – and now that many Alawites fear collective retribution from Assad’s enemies.
“Qardaha and its mountains used to be an incubator for regime support. But Assad’s relatives may now have to think twice before walking in the streets,” said the Alawite opposition activist Arafat. “The Alawites are starting to ask themselves ‘why we should back the Assads?’.”
The non-Alawite businessman who funds some loyalist militia said abuses in the clandestine economy run by shabbiha chiefs was turning other Alawites against their rulers: “The regime has been turning a blind eye to the criminality of the shabbiha,” the businessman said. “And it is beginning to hurt it.”
Nonetheless, many Alawites, whose religion is an offshoot of the Shi’ite Islam practiced in Assad’s ally Iran, still support the armed forces and the militia units blamed for sectarian atrocities. Many see them as a bulwark for self-preservation:
“They are afraid of the other side, which has also proved capable of massacres,” Arafat said. “They still see the Assad regime as providing them with a sort of immunity.”
Details of the cafe shootout at Qardaha on September 29, show internal strains are surfacing as the community suffers losses.
The man killed in the gunfight was Sakher Othman. Among prominent members of his family was Isper Othman, a cleric killed in a crackdown by the elder Assad in the 1970s. At Sakher Othman’s funeral, a mourner shouted a demand that Assad quit, prompting loyalist gunmen to open fire, killing four people.
Alawite opposition activists said several pro-Assad fighters were also killed and wounded as fighting spread.
Since then thousands of shabbiha loyal to the president and commanded by Assad relatives have imposed their order on Qardaha and surrounding villages, but anger and disputes have continued.
Activists list members of a number of prominent families which now oppose Assad, including from the Othman, Qouzi, Muhalla, Iskandar, Issa, Khayyer and al-Jadid clans. Homes have been ransacked and several shops owned by anti-Assad Alawites in Qardaha were torched this month, local residents said.
Among notable clan hostilities is that opposing the Khayyers to the Assads. Abdelaziz al-Khayyer, a doctor from Qardaha, spent 12 years as a political prisoner under Hafez al-Assad. He was detained again in September and has not been heard of since.
A delegation arrived from Damascus to try calm passions. It was headed by another prominent Alawite, Walid Othman, father-in-law of Assad’s cousin and Syria’s richest man Rami Makhlouf.
Yet within days there was further trouble, with local people saying youths from rival Alawite families clashed in Qardaha.
These tensions may spell problems ahead for the unity of the Alawite officer corps. And Assad’s forces may also be finding difficulties recruiting in their Alawite heartland – opposition activists say more young Alawites are evading conscription.
“They are seeing that the rebels are getting stronger and that their friends are getting killed,” said activist Lubna Merei, from the coastal town of Jableh, south of Latakia.
However, for all that Alawite communal cohesion may face problems, some believe that the way the civil war has taken on such a bitter sectarian dimension – helped in part by the way Assad himself treated his opponents – may mean the moment has passed when many Alawites might side with the rebels.
Munther Bakhos, a veteran Alawite member of the exile Syrian opposition in France, said the rebels lost an opportunity to make allies in the Alawite heartlands in the early stages of the conflict and he believed that it would now be harder for the mainly Sunni opposition to benefit from the in-fighting there.
“It is naive to think the regime is protecting the Alawites. They are hostage. The regime is using them to defend itself,” Bakhos said. But the sectarian bitterness of the war had made it harder to persuade Alawites to ditch Assad:
“There was an opportunity to pull the rug from under its feet in the first few months of the revolution,” he said. “But now the picture has gotten complicated.”
(Editing by Alastair Macdonald)
Over 100,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon now: UNHCR: GENEVA – Lebanon has become the third of Syria’s neighbors after Turkey and Jordan to register more than 100,000 refugees from Syria’s civil war, the U.N. refugee agency said on Tuesday…