Tuesday 25 September 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:Detaining women and children in Banyas only inflames civil war.
-In Aleppo Province 20 civilians were killed.1 died from wounds he received a couple of days earlier by bombardment on the Qarlaq neighbourhood. 7 civilians, including a child, were killed by bombardment on the neighbourhoods of Sakhour, Bustan al-Basha, al-Feid and Tariq al-Bab. 2 civilians, including a woman, were shot by sniper fire in the neighbourhoods of al-Ramousa and Bab Janin. 3 civilians, including 2 women, were shot by sniper fire in the al-Zabdiya neighbourhood. A child was shot by sniper fire in the Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood.1 died from wounds he received several days ago. A civilians from the al-Halk neighbourhood was killed by bombardment on the Saraqeb town of Reef Idlib. A young girl from the Khan al-A’sal town was killed when the car she was in was shot by regime forces on the Damascus International road. 1 was killed by bombardment on the al-Tawama town. A rebel fighter from the Mar’ town was killed during clashes with regime forces in West of Reef Aleppo. A 23 year-old youth and a 60 year-old man were killed by bombardment on the Tariq al-Naqrin area. The towns of Kafr-karmin, Kafr-da’l and Qubtan al-Jabal of Reef Aleppo were bombarded by regime forces which led to several injuries. Clashes took place between regime forces and rebel fighters in the al-Sakhour neighbourhood in the city of Aleppo, accompanied by regime bombardment on the neighbourhood.-In Reef Dimashq Province 11 civilians were killed. 3 were killed by bombardment on the Mleiha town. 1 civilian died, effected by injuries he received due to regime forces gunfire, in the city of Harasta, several days ago. 2 civilians, including a child, were killed when shells fell on the A’rbeen town. 2 men were shot, when regime forces raided the Sayida Zainab area of Reef Dimashq. 2 civilians from the Daraya city were killed when their car was targeted by a military tank’s shell. 1 died from wounds he received earlier by bombardment on the city of Douma.
-In Dera’a Province 11 civilians were killed. 1 civilian, from the Kharbat Ghazala town, was shot by regime forces after his detainment in Damascus city. A woman was killed by bombardment on the Sheikh Mskeen town, which is witnessing violent clashes. The corpses of 9 men were found in the Ibti’ town, which Syrian regime forces have retreated from, and 2 of them were identified.
-In Deir Izzor Province 11 civilians were killed by bombardment on the neighbourhoods of al-Jbeila, al-Hamidiya, al-U’rfi, and al-Qusur of Deir Izzor city.
-In Idlib Province 5 civilians were killed. 2 were killed by bombardment on the city of M’aret al-Nu’man. 2 civilians, including a child, were killed by bombardment on the al-Bsheiriya town. 1 was killed by bombardment on the Tal Khanzir village of Reef Idlib.
-In Hama Province a 17 year old boy was shot by sniper in the Rashad street of Hama city.
16 Rebel fighters:
-In Reef Dimashq 1 fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in the Zayabiya town.
-In Homs Province 4 fighters were killed. 1 fighter died, effected by injuries he received during clashes with regime forces, in the Talbeesa town, several days ago. 3 were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Sultaniya area and the neighbouring Naqeera village.
-In al-Qneitra Province 9 rebel fighters were killed when they attacked regime forces’ military checkpoints in the villages of al-Hmeidiya and al-Huriya of the Syrian al-Golan.
-In Dera’a Province 2 fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the towns of Deir Bakht and al-Kateeba.
-Not less than 26 regime forces were killed due to IED explosions in machineries, attacks on checkpoints, and clashes in the Provinces of Dera’a, Damascus, al-Qneitra, Homs, Idlib, Aleppo, and Deir Izzor.
Shells used as vases for flowers. Brave Syria
[local time] 22:06 French President Francois Hollande calls on the UN to protest Syria’s “liberated zones,” AFP reported.
22:04 France’s President Francois Hollande on Tuesday called for UN protection for “liberated zones” under opposition control in Syria.
21:42 An Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks in Syria, including a fierce assault this month on an army barracks in Aleppo, US monitors reported on Tuesday.
20:38 Syrian forces have arrested at least 68 people, including three children, in a sweep of the coastal city of Banias led by Sunni Muslim officers loyal to the Alawite-dominated regime, a watchdog said Tuesday.
20:20 The emir of Qatar, a key backer of the Syrian opposition, on Tuesday called for an Arab military intervention in Syria to halt the conflict.
19:42 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 147 people, most of them killed in Damascus and Aleppo, activists said.
19:20 Jordan’s interior minister said on Tuesday the government was probing riots by angry Syrians at a refugee camp, and planning to isolate unmarried men to avoid more disturbances.
19:16 The Damascus regime said its forces recaptured a strategic district of Aleppo city, a claim rejected by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which gave an nationwide toll of 85 people killed nationwide on Tuesday.
19:09 Syrian security forces have killed at least 134 people on Tuesday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
18:12 The Tuesday death toll in Syria rose to 117 people killed by the gunfire of regime forces, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
17:39 Several people were injured in a car bomb near a military checkpoint in the Damascus neighborhood of Al-Zahira, activists were quoted by Al-Jazeera as saying.
17:32 UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said the Syria “calamity” is turning into a global crisis as US President Barack Obama led growing calls for an end to Bashar al-Assad’s rule.
17:23 US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “must end,” AFP reported.
17:04 Germany urged the world community meeting at the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday to stand together to find a way to end the war in Syria and stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.
16:55 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 96 people killed by the regime forces, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
16:37 Iraq’s cabinet on Tuesday decided to provide humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria and launch a relief campaign via the Iraqi Red Crescent, government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.
16:29 UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that the Syrian civil war is a “calamity” that now threatens world peace and demands action by the divided UN Security Council.
15:34 Syrian regime jets targeted mourners in the Daraa town of Ebteh, Al-Arabiya quote activists as saying.
15:26 Syria’s death toll increased to 57 people killed by regime forces, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
15:24 A top Islamist lawyer said on Tuesday the nephew of slain Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among six jihadists arrested in Jordan last week as they tried to cross into Syria.
15:02 The Syrian regime on Tuesday announced it had retaken the large Arqoub district of Aleppo, the country’s second city, but a watchdog reported there was still fighting between troops and rebels in the area.
13:44 Syrian regime forces stormed the town of Dael in the Daraa district and burned down several homes, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
12:52 Syrian regime forces killed 38 people on Tuesday across Syria, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
12:31 A Syrian rebel commander, Colonel Kassem Saadeddine, has escaped an assassination attempt by pro-regime forces unscathed, a spokesperson for the Free Syrian Army told AFP on Tuesday.
10:13 Soldiers shot dead a child on Tuesday in Syria’s Aleppo province when troops targeted the car she was in, after a bloody day in which 116 people, including 12 children, were killed, a rights watchdog said.
9:44 Syrian mortar rounds, apparently fired during fighting between government forces and rebels, fell in Israeli-held territory early on Tuesday but caused no casualties, the Israeli military said.
9:42 Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said Monday that he opposes any foreign military intervention in the Syria conflict but believes President Bashar al-Assad must go.
8:55 A global children’s aid agency warned on Tuesday that Syrian children are being “badly traumatized” after witnessing killings, torture and other atrocities in their country’s brutal conflict.
8:47 Syria’s main opposition coalition issued a statement on Monday, guaranteeing no vengeance attacks would be carried out against the country’s minority Alawite sect, to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
8:00 Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said Monday there was no end in sight for Syria’s war as President Bashar al-Assad clings to power, while his forces reportedly pounded rebels, killing at least seven children.
Global Post: Inside Syria: One hospital’s story (VIDEO)
If you want to get an idea of how bad it is in Aleppo, Syria, visit a hospital.
ALEPPO, Syria — A father burst through the hospital doors, a blood-drenched son in his arms. A young man followed close behind, his face blown open in the latest spate of government air raids.
In the hospital’s reception area, a little girl wailed as doctors stitched a foot torn open. Nurses rushed back and forth among the onslaught of new patients.
A boy, 11, quietly passed away on his hospital bed, and his father wept. A nurse pushed through the crowd, blood splattered across her white uniform and headscarf. “The screaming, always the screaming,” she said under her breath. “When will it end?”
This is an average day at this hospital in central Aleppo. We can’t publish its name because hospitals, ambulances and clinics are prominent targets for regime air strikes and the director fears media attention will draw increased attacks. This particular hospital has already been hit twice, with a dozen near misses.
Doctors and medical facilities have been key targets since the early days of the uprising. The remains of ambulance vehicles, bombed or destroyed by gunfire, mar the streets of Aleppo and surrounding villages. Every medical facility in town bares some damage from explosions. The doctors here say they have all been arrested at least once for their role in treating the wounded. Most were tortured.
Every day, about 70 to 100 patients pass through the doors here. Doctors estimate that 80 percent of them are civilians.
Volunteer medic Abdulrakman Haleq, 24, was a veterinary student before the revolution began. When fighting broke out in the streets of Aleppo, hundreds of doctors fled, leaving just a handful of trained professionals to deal with the medical crisis. Haleq now plays a key role, alongside dozens of other volunteers.
“These doctors made their fortune off the people, but when they were needed most, they left. Where is their humanity?” he asked.
In his time as a medic, Haleq has witnessed numerous attacks on the hospital. Its upper floors are pockmarked from helicopter gunfire and rockets have blown several rooms apart.
“Dr. Mohammed was asleep in his bed on this corner,” Haleq said, pointing to a room now completely destroyed. “I had come to my room to find a patient in my bed. I argued with the nurses about this. Our argument woke Dr.
Mohammed. Just as he came down the corridor to tell us to shut up, the rocket hit and blew apart his bed.”
The extent of the damage to the hospital makes it difficult to believe, but to date no staff have been injured in such air strikes.
Most patients arrive here on the back of pick-up trucks. Although torturous and potentially fatal, transporting patients this way cannot be avoided. Of the hospital’s five ambulances, only one remains.
“I painted the roof so it can’t be recognized by air,” said the hospital’s lone ambulance driver, Sham Sadeen, who before the conflict was a wedding dress designer. “Everyday I tell my mother goodbye. Every day I see the MiG’s flying over my head.”
Sadeen said his ambulance was one of 100 donated by the Japanese government at the beginning of the year. To his knowledge, 46 have already been destroyed. But Sadeen said he has no regrets.
“Before I designed only for women. Now I work for all humanity,” he said.
When an explosion rocked the street outside the hospital, pedestrians ran for cover. Several doctors raced toward the sound of the blast to look for survivors. Sadeen rushed to his van. For the hospital, it was yet another close call.
The threat to these doctors does not come only from the air. Recently, the team discovered a spy living among them. The man arrived like a savior, bearing government-stamped medical certificates and claiming to be a surgeon.
The staff grew suspicious when he failed to understand even basic medical procedures. One operation caught on a camera phone showed the imposter searching for shrapnel in the body of an elderly woman by making several large incisions, and searching inside her flesh with his fingers and metal tools. An X-ray revealed he had been searching in the wrong location.
Hospital staff said seven patients died at his hands before his true identity was uncovered. Aware that he would have turned all of their names over to authorities, a group of nurses discussed their options in a cramped room used for taking short naps in between the chaos.
“He seemed so sweet. He drove me home twice. Now my family has to flee the city. But I can’t leave my post,” said one of the nurses, who asked not to be named.
Like many of the doctors, none of these women had prior experience in medicine. But now they are practically experts in the treatment of trauma patients.
“I came here because there is a great need,” said Amiha, 22, a former psychology student. “It’s a beautiful job, saving lives.”
Downstairs, a doctor was busy removing shrapnel from the thigh of a patient as he lay wincing on the floor of the waiting room. Guards helped a taxi driver inside who said he had been shot in the shoulder. He had driven himself to the hospital. Near the surgery room, an older man tearfully cradled the head of a bloodied young woman.
Sitting outside on the curb, Haleq took a break from the madness. To his right, the body of a man and a boy were covered with a blue sheet, waiting to be identified.
“In time, the death becomes normal,” he said, surveying the scene. “Maybe we have lost our ability to feel … maybe.”
BEIRUT – Khalid, 15, said he was hung by his arms from the ceiling of his own school building in Syria and beaten senseless. Wael said he saw a 6-year-old starved and beaten to death, “tortured more than anyone else in the room”. http://supportkurds.org/reports/exposed-the-crimes-against-syrias-children
Syrian rebel bombs target security building in Damascus: BEIRUT – Bombs planted by rebels exploded at a school building occupied by pro-government militias in Damascus on Tuesday and world leaders discussed Syria’s deepening crisis at a U.N. General Assembly meeting, but without proposals to resolve it.
Hundreds of Syrian refugees riot in Jordanian camp: AMMAN/GENEVA – Hundreds of Syrian refugees demanding help to return home from a camp in northern Jordan rioted and clashed with security forces on Monday night, Jordanian and United Nations officials said.
Fearful Alawites pay sectarian militias in battered Homs: (The identity of the journalist has been withheld for security reasons)
“Shabbiha” militias in Syria’s most shell-shocked city used to offer fellow minority Alawites protection out of solidarity. Now, security comes at a price: About $300 a month.
Alawite residents in Homs say they are being coerced into helping fund the war effort of the “shabbiha”, brutal sectarian militias supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on an 18-month-old rebellion.
“The shabbiha exploit our fear. Every time, there is some excuse – they need food or ammunition. But it’s basically a silent understanding now that each month the wealthier families pay,” says Fareed, a greying surgeon who lives with his family in Zahra, an Alawite district of Homs.
The cost of war is rising at the site of the longest- running battle between Assad’s forces and the rebels. Fareed fears his children could be kidnapped for ransom if he doesn’t pay the shabbiha what they call “protection money”.
Shabbiha are formed mostly from members of Assad’s own Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam. They have been the fiercest enforcers of a bloody crackdown on the uprising led by Syria’s majority Sunni Muslims, even accused of massacres.
The disgust some Alawites have at the idea of paying for them symbolizes a greater inner conflict many in their sect are struggling with: Do they risk rejecting the crackdown by their Alawite-led government and its brutal militias? Or do they buy in, literally, to the shabbiha argument that this is a fight for existence against Sunnis determined to take revenge?
“I’m not comfortable with it, it seems wrong. But I have no choice,” says Saeed, 40, a balding engineer in a slick black suit. “If I didn’t pay, I could be at risk. These guys are dangerous.”
After months of fighting, only the shabbiha-guarded Alawite enclaves like Zahra are relatively unscathed. Zahra has swelled to nearly 200,000 Alawites in recent months.
The neighborhoods belonging to Hom’s large Sunni population have become graveyards of bombed buildings and shattered streets. Very few families remain.
“THE SAFEST PLACE IN SYRIA”
With jobs and money drying up due to the unrest, the $300 fee is no small sum.
But Alawites in Zahra say that while they know the money they pay is extortion, and that shabbiha violence towards Sunnis puts them more at risk, they are regularly reminded of how precarious their fate is.
As the sound of crashing mortars in the distance shakes the silverware on his dining room table, Fareed stops his rant against shabbiha and sighs.
“Some days, I think we really do need them to protect us,” the elderly doctor says, surveying his four children silently eating their meal.
The fight for Homs has fallen off the front pages as battles erupt in Syria’s bigger cities, Damascus and Aleppo, but it has not eased. Gunfire perpetually rings in the background. Buildings are collapsing in the daily hail of mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
Shabbiha gangs used to rake in money by looting rebellious Sunni districts in Homs after the army raided them. But now that source of cash has run dry. Asking for “protection money” may be a way to make up for that.
The groups have become well organized in Homs. They have divided Zahra into six regions, each with a local “boss”.
In each area, the boss sends young men with shaved heads and camouflage pants to monitor, strutting about with their rifles in hand. The army stays out, only manning road blocks on the outskirts of the district.
“There is no state presence in Zahra any more, even though it is surrounded by Sunni areas. Yet it is the safest place in Syria,” says Saeed, reluctantly giving the shabbiha their due.
One improvement residents say their donations funded is the building of two 20-metre high blast walls towering over Zahra’s main square. The street had once been within easy range of rebel gunmen atop buildings in neighboring districts.
“This used to be the deadliest spot in Zahra,” says Manhal, the surgeon Fareed’s son, as he walks behind the two massive white-washed walls.
Instead of seeing residents scurrying below, all gunmen nearby can see now is a giant poster that shabbiha plastered over the wall: A portrait of former President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, who ruled for nearly 30 years until his death.
Frustrated rebels have taken to shooting at the picture instead. The eyes, nose and mouth are riddled with bullet holes.
NOWHERE TO GO
Not far from Fareed’s family home, Wael “the accountant” combs a thick glob of hair cream into his dark hair and gets on his motorbike to make the monthly rounds for his boss.
“In my area we have 15 families. I get the money for the boss whenever there is a need: weapons, gas, car repairs, food for our boys,” says the 25-year-old tough.
Wael doesn’t think what he does is exploitative. He sees it as a service that residents need to pay to maintain. Unhappy residents can leave Homs if they want, he argues.
“We even arrange convoys to help them get out – that costs 10,000 lira ($120).”
There is no end in sight to Syria’s civil war. International powers are too deadlocked to negotiate. Fighters show no interest in laying down their arms. Meanwhile, groups like the Alawites feel more vulnerable, and the shabbiha have taken advantage.
Umm Hani, a mother of two in Zahra, noticed the trend after a stunning bomb attack in July that killed four top security officials in Damascus.
“After that, the regime was shaken. And the shabbiha started to take more power, they started to demand more money. Without saying a word, they made their message clear: We are the ones responsible for you. Pay up.”
There are deep wrinkles around Umm Hani’s blue eyes after months of anxiety. Alawites like her feel trapped. She doesn’t have enough savings to leave Syria. She feels she would be unsafe in the mostly Sunni refugee camps on the borders. Paying is the only choice.
“Where can we go? Who would accept us? So we stay, and we deal with our new little pharaohs.”
(Writing by Erika Solomon; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
Harrowing tales: Allegations of sexual violence against Syrian prisoners
Negotiating Aleppo’s checkpoints is not an easy task. As the frontlines shift, rebels and government soldiers come to resemble each other: they dress the same, are equally menacing, and put fear in your heart. One afternoon, as the fighting in Salah al-Din subsided, I stood with a group of rebels manning one of these roadblocks.
State TV channels had declared Salah al-Din “free from terrorist elements”, and a few civilians had taken the opportunity of the lull in fighting to try to find loved ones or visit their apartments. The rebels checked ID cards and pulled some people for questioning, but mostly tried to dissuade people from driving into the middle of a war zone.
A young, pink-faced man dressed in a clean, short-sleeved white shirt and black trousers arrived at the checkpoint. He was brought to Captain Abu Mohamed by a fighter who said he thought two of the man’s cousins were working for the regime.
The captain questioned the pink-faced man politely, until it became apparent that he had mistaken Abu Mohamed and his men, who were all dressed in military fatigues, for regular soldiers.
The captain played along, asking if there were members of the Free Army in the area the man was crossing into.
“There are, sir,” said the young man. “If you have enough men I can lead you to them. I know their places I can assure you.”
Abu Mohamed called one of the rebels over and told him they had found a proud citizen who could help them. This man was also dressed in military uniform, but he had a thick beard and his jacket was adorned with FSA insignia.
The boy flinched. “Are you rebels, sir?” he asked.
“No, no, but we dress like them to infiltrate them,” said the rebel.
“Sir, I want to join you and help you fight them.”
“Great. We will take your name and give you two weeks’ training and can make you a lieutenant.”
The other rebel started filming the young man with his phone, pretending he was doing it for the pro-regime TV channel. Like a schoolboy standing in front of the teacher, the young man started parroting regime rhetoric: “The terrorist elements are in the school right now. They number 56. Only 11 of them Syrians, sir, these terrorist elements are committing terrorist activities that are terrifying the innocent citizens. They entered my house took our TV set and tried to rape my mother they go around stealing houses and raping young boys and girls.”
The joke ended when the rebel with the phone landed a huge slap on the man’s neck. The boy froze as the extent of the trouble he was in dawned on him. More rebels gathered. The boy tried to change his story and then changed it back again, knowing he was in the middle of something bad.
Captain Abu Mohamed intervened. He led the young man onto a nearby bus and asked one of the fighters to guard him. But a crowd of rebels had gathered around the bus and another slap landed on his face. He was clearly shocked, confused and didn’t know who had captured him. He fluctuated between denouncing the army and the FSA.
Four men led him out of the bus, Abu Mohamed shouting at them not to hit him. The men took him into an office they had been using as sleeping quarters and for the first time a look of horror covered the young man’s face.
Then four of the rebels took him into a smaller room and closed the door. The men grew disturbingly calm.
First they made their suspect kneel. “Sir, sir, I made a mistake,” the young man pleaded. “Please sir.” His voice was quivering.
The rebels went silently to work. They didn’t speak, but each seemed to know exactly what to do. They made the suspect lie on his stomach as one fighter put his foot on his spine and pulled his arms back until he screamed.
Two more knelt by his feet, pushing his lower legs between a kalashnikov and its sling and twisting the gun until it was tight around his calves. A fourth rebel pinned the young man’s shoulder to the ground with his foot, placing the tip of a bayonet on the nape of man’s neck.
A fifth man tore through the contents of a cabinet until he found a power cable. He sat twisting it and wrapping it in tape until it resembled a nightstick. A sixth young rebel sat with a pen and paper to take notes.
“Sir, sir, it’s a mistake! I thought you were soldiers!”
“Tell us who are the shabiha [government militia] that you know,” asked the man with the bayonet.
“Sir, I don’t know. I am a normal citizen!” His voice was high-pitched and filled with terror.
The man standing on his spine pulled back the young man’s arms while the men at his feet twisted the gun’s strap tighter. He screamed.
“I will talk,” he said, gasping for air. “I will talk.”
He gave the rebels several names, which the man with the paper wrote down. They asked for more. He gave more.
“You are lying now.”
“Sir, I am not.”
The interrogator’s every question was accompanied by the man’s arms pulled to the back, a tightening of the rifle sling and more pressure on the bayonet.
Then the two men lifted his feet and the man with the power cable swung it high and landed it perfectly on the man’s fat, bare feet. The screams became more like squeals now. The sweat was pouring from the torturers faces as they bent to their task.
“This is so you can remember!” shouted the man with the cable.
“Stop! I will give all the names you want!”
When the young man who was writing lifted his head and said he was repeating the same names, the man who was pulling his arms jumped up and landed on the young man’s kidneys. He began to weep so they started another round of beating.
“Why don’t you tell us what we want?”
But there was nothing he could have said that would have stopped the men.
When the young man’s ordeal ended for the day, the sun was setting. Abu Mohamed said he was sure the kid was mad.
Three days later, I met one of the men who had been torturing the young man. He had a sorry look on his face.
“All the names he gave us were fake. Those people don’t exist. Now the Islamists have taken him. They are interrogating him and they are not letting anyone else see him.”
• Names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved