Wednesday 13 June 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: The number of civilian martyrs documented by the SOHR in Syria, so far, today (Wednesday 13/6/2012), documentation includes name and reason of death, has risen to 43.
-In Homs province 20 were killed. 2 were killed in the Houla area, one was killed while in a detention centre, the other was shot late last night. 14 civilians, 6 of them under the age of 18, were martyred by the regime’s bombardment on the rebel-held city of Rastan. One civilian was shot dead in the village of Ghento, he was from the village of Teir Ma’ale. A child was murdered by regime bombardment on al-Qusayr. A civilian from the Deir Ba’alba neighbourhood was tortured to death after being taken away at the checkpoint by the university. A rebel fighter was killed during clashes in the Jourat al-Shayyah neighbourhood.
-In Latakia province 2 civilians from al-Raml al-Junoubi were killed while trying to hide in the mountains, in the Jabal al-Akrad area.
-In Deir Izzor province 7 civilians were killed, all in the city of Deir Izzor. 2 young men were shot by a sniper. 2 died from wounds suffered caused by earlier bombings. 3 civilians were killed during the clashes in the Muwazafeen neighbourhood. The leader of a rebel battalion in Deir Izzor died during the clashes as well.
-In Idlib province 3 killed. One was killed when his car was hit by a regime rocket in Khan Shaikhoun. 2 people were killed when unknown gunmen targeted a busload of Syrian workers by the Lebanese borders.
-In Aleppo province 1 civilian was killed when a shell fell on his house, during the regime’s bombardment of al-Atarib.
-In Damascus province, 1 civilian, originally from Idlib, was killed when an IED went off in the al-Asali neighbourhood of Damascus.
-In Hama province 2 people were killed. 1 civilian was killed from wounds recieved when troops stormed the town of al-Qastel 3 weeks ago. The other was killed by regime fire, during their operation in Teiba al-Imam today.
-In Dera’a, 6 citizens were martyred. A man was martyred due to wounds he suffered during the regime’s bombardment of Busra al-Sham last night. 2 brothers were kidnapped from their home by unknown gunmen, in the town of Da’el, Reef Dera’a, they were later returned to their mother as corpses. 2 rebel fighters were killed in clashes in the town of al-Museifira.
A child was martyred when a shell landed on his home in Tafs, Reef Dera’a 13/6/2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o_lv5ZSgDE
Unknown gunmen have assassinated Dr. Marwan Arafat, the previous president of the syrian Football Federation, late after midnight after he arrived from Jordan. Arafat’s wife was severely injured during the attack.
10 members of the Syrian armed forces were killed during clashes in Homs, Deir Izzor and Dera’a.
[local time] 22:03 Wednesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 72 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted the Local Coordination Committees as saying.
21:06 Syria, where a 15-month conflict is intensifying, has started its descent into hell, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Middle East country said Wednesday.
20:51 Syrian forces on Wednesday shelled Edleb’s Maaret Al-Noman, killing two people and wounding others, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying.
20:29 Russia and the United States were in dispute over arming the rival sides in the Syrian conflict on Wednesday, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks in Tehran with Syria’s ally Iran.
20:16 Dozens of people were wounded Wednesday during the Syrian forces’ shelling of the Daraa village of Mseifra, Al-Jazeera television quoted the Syrian Media Center as saying.
19:25 A Jesuit priest who revived an ancient monastery in Syria and who has campaigned for peace talks said on Wednesday he was being expelled from the country.
19:22 The Syria army on Wednesday shelled the Daraa village of Mseifra after a number of soldiers defected from army, Al-Jazeera television reported.
19:20 British foreign minister William Hague said on Wednesday that Syria was “on the edge of a collapse” and pledged to urge Russia to use its influence over Damascus.
18:37 South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Wednesday said the UN Security Council should agree to the deployment of a peace force in Syria.
18:23 France plans to ask the United Nations Security Council to make UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s Syria ceasefire plan mandatory, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday.
18:15 The Syrian opposition said on Wednesday that there was no civil war in the country, contrary to UN claims, AFP reported.
15:36 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the US of giving arms to the Syrian rebels?, AFP reported Wednesday.
15:09 Syrian forces killed 34 people on Wednesday, most of them in Homs, Daraa and Deir az-Zour, Al-Jazeera television quoted the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution as saying.
14:45 Around 2,500 Syrians have fled to Turkey in the last 48 hours, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday, adding the numbers had increased amid fresh attacks even targeting UN observers.
14:36 Syrian troops planted mines inside Lebanese territory, a security official told AFP.
14:25 Al-Arabiya broadcasts live footage of an anti-regime protest in Damascus’ Al-Midan neighborhood.
14:18 The Syrian regime said on Wednesday that the town of Al-Haffe has been “cleansed” of terrorists and that calm has been restored, AFP reported.
14:11 France on Wednesday called for a complete halt to arms sales to Syria amid growing Western criticism of Russian weapons exports to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
14:09 As Syria’s conflict spirals to vicious new depths, Iran is doubling down on its support for Damascus out of fear of losing its main pillar of regional influence, analysts said.
13:40 Al-Arabiya broadcasts live footage of the shelling of Homs neighborhoods.
13:15 Damascus is not in civil war but is fighting “terrorists,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, expressing “surprise” at statements made the day before by UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous.
11:48 Syrian rebels withdrew on Wednesday from the besieged town of Al-Haffe and nearby villages that had been under intense shelling by regime forces for eight days, a human rights group said.
11:44 A YouTube official video released by the UN Supervisory Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) shows shelling in Homs and a UN convoy on a patrol mission to inspect damage to buildings in the city.
11:41 Russia’s arms export agency said Wednesday its deliveries to Syria were in line with UN regulations but declined to comment specifically on US claims that it was sending attack helicopters to the regime.
11:13 Syrian security forces shelled Homs’ neighborhood of Jourat al-Chiyah, Al-Jazeera television reported.
11:06 Syrian security forces shelled Homs’ neighborhood of Jourat al-Chiyah, Al-Jazeera television reported.
10:29 China said Wednesday the situation in Syria had reached a “critical juncture” and expressed its “great concern,” as a UN official said the country was now in a full-scale civil war.
9:53 At least 72 people, the majority of them civilians, were killed across Syria on Tuesday, a watchdog said, adding that a mother and her five children kidnapped earlier this week were also found dead.
8:02 The Pentagon on Tuesday defended plans to buy attack helicopters from a Russian arms firm for the Afghan government even though the same company has supplied weapons to Syria’s regime.
7:59 Syria was involved in nearly all breaches of UN sanctions against Iran, the UN Security Council was told Tuesday as international powers raised new concerns over Tehran’s nuclear program.
7:57 NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday that foreign military intervention was “not the right path” in Syria despite the UN’s peacekeeping chief declaring the country to be in civil war.
7:30 MORNING LEADER: Syria is now in a full-scale civil war, the UN peacekeeping chief said, as the US voiced fears the UN mission in the country may not survive once its mandate expires in July. World powers were groping to find a way to end the bloodshed, with the toll growing daily despite a ceasefire that should have gone into effect from April 12.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says he will call on the UN Security Council to make mediator Kofi Annan’s Syria peace plan mandatory.
France would propose that Mr Annan’s six-point plan be enforced under the UN’s Chapter Seven provision, he said.
Mr Fabius said the conflict in Syria had descended into a “civil war”.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned Russia its interests in the region will be harmed if it does not act more constructively.
She told reporters in Washington that Moscow said it wanted peace and stability restored in Syria and claimed to have vital interests in the Middle East and relationships that it wanted to keep. “They put all that at risk if they do not move more constructively right now,” she said.
Mrs Clinton’s remarks came a day after she accused Moscow of sending attack helicopters to Damascus, a claim vehemently rejected on Wednesday by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
n a visit to Tehran, Mr Lavrov insisted that Russia was “not supplying Syria or any other country with items which can be used against peaceful protesters, unlike the United States, which regularly supplies weapons to the region”.
Mrs Clinton urged Russia to join negotiations, hours after the French foreign minister gave his news conference in Paris at which he said he hoped Moscow would agree to his proposal to enforce Kofi Annan’s six-point plan.
But Russia and fellow UN Security Council member, China, would be unlikely to accept a Chapter Seven resolution, which allows for action to be backed up by force.
It was necessary “to resort to Chapter Seven to make the provisions of the Annan plan mandatory”, Mr Fabius said.
“We are working towards this and hope that this move will be swiftly implemented.”
Back in April, Mr Fabius’s predecessor as France’s foreign minister, Alain Juppe, warned that if the Annan plan failed then the UN would “have to move to a new stage” involving enforcement.
Under the Annan plan, all armed violence has to end and all parties must ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting.
The authorities are also required to ensure freedom of movement for journalists and the right for people to demonstrate peacefully.
What is Chapter Seven?
- Permits UN Security Council to take action – military and non-military – if it determines “any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression” exists
- Armed action can be taken if the council finds non-military steps would be, or have proved to be, inadequate
- Measures can include air, sea and land operations
- Action can be vetoed by any of the permanent Security Council members – US, Russia, France, Britain and China
- All UN members required to assist any armed action approved
- Armed action would be directed by UN Military Staff Committee, composed of permanent Security Council members’ armed forces chiefs
Mr Fabius said the Annan plan would now have to be enforced “under pain of very heavy sanctions”.
He said he would get in touch immediately with his European and American colleagues to propose a raft of new, “tougher” measures that would hit not only Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad but also “army officials and all those who support Assad”.
Russia and China both have a veto at the UN Security Council and have already blocked two resolutions calling for tougher action against Damascus.
Earlier on Wednesday, Syrian forces seized control of the western mountain town of Haffa after fierce fighting with rebels. State media said Haffa had been “purged of terrorists” and government forces had “restored security and calm to the area”.
The rebel Free Syrian Army said it had pulled its fighters out of the area to spare residents from further massive bombardments.
Syrian activists said at least 40 people were killed by security forces across the country on Wednesday. At least 12 people, most of them women and children, died in attacks by helicopters and artillery on the rebel-held town of Rastan, north of Homs, activists reported.
The government said it had buried 27 military personnel killed in the conflict.
As diplomatic moves over Syria intensify, the Russian foreign minister is due to meet British Foreign Secretary William Hague in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Thursday.
Asked by reporters whether he felt Syria had descended into civil war, Mr Hague said: “I continue to put it the same way as the last few days, that Syria is on the edge of collapse or of a deadly sectarian civil war.”
The Syrian government and opposition have both denied that Syria has degenerated into civil war. Damascus says it is clearing out foreign-backed terrorists, while the opposition argues it is trying to defend a continuing mass uprising, the BBC’s Jim Muir reports from neighbouring Lebanon.
This is the first substantive move on Syria by the new French government.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has joined the developing consensus in branding the Syrian crisis a “civil war”.
He has taken this logic one step further, effectively branding it as also a threat to peace by declaring France’s intention to seek a UN Security Council resolution under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter.
Such a resolution would allow countries to take military or non-military action to restore international peace and security.
Of course, in reality there is minimal chance of Russia or China allowing such a resolution to pass. But the French move is a clear signal of the increasing gravity and concern with which the crisis in Syria is being seen.
His comments were the toughest yet from a major power in response to the relentless violence in Syria, where many hundreds of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed since an April 12 ceasefire was supposed open up a chance for political talks to resolve the crisis.
Fabius said he hoped Russia, which has shielded President Bashar al-Assad from international action over his bloody crackdown on a 15-month-old uprising, would agree to the United Nations invoking ‘Chapter 7′, which can authorize use of force.
The peace plan brokered by Annan, the former U.N. secretary-general, has so far failed to halt the bloodshed in Syria, where more than 10,000 people have been killed since early last year.
“We need to move up a gear at the Security Council and place the Annan plan under Chapter 7,” Fabius said. “That is to say, make it compulsory under pain of very heavy sanctions.”
His proposal appeared certain to be opposed by Russia, which says Western and Arab powers misused a U.N. Security Council resolution last year to justify armed intervention in Libya.
Fabius said one of the options under consideration at the Council was a no-fly zone, after increasing reports of Syrian forces using helicopter gunships to fire on rebel strongholds, and U.S. concern that Russia was supplying Damascus with more helicopters.
France will propose toughening sanctions on Syria at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers, Fabius said.
World powers would prepare a list of second-tier military officials who would be pursued by international justice, alongside Assad and his immediate entourage.
“They must understand that the only future is in resisting oppression. The time for taking a decision has arrived. They have to jump ship,” Fabius said.
The Syrian government says it is still committed to Annan’s plan, under which it says it has the right to prevent attacks on military or state targets. It says it is fighting foreign-backed terrorists, not a popular uprising backed by armed rebels.
Syrian television said government forces had restored calm and security in Haffeh after they “cleansed it of armed terrorist groups” in a week-long offensive on the region, waged with helicopter gunships and tanks.
Free Syrian Army rebels said they had withdrawn from Haffeh on Tuesday night, but that they feared a massacre of civilians after troops bombarded surrounding villages, then looted and burned them.
Rebel spokesman Selim al-Omar said “heavy shelling by field artillery” had forced out the last 200 rebels defending Haffeh.
“There are several thousand civilians left without anyone to protect them from the Alawite militias surrounding the town,” he said by phone from Latakia province, which includes Haffeh.
U.N. observers who arrived at the town on Tuesday said they had turned back after their vehicles were fired on and they were threatened by crowds throwing stones and metal rods.
Rebels who had crossed into Turkey said at least 50 wounded people had been smuggled across from Haffeh in the past few days but that many more were trapped by fierce fighting, and being shot at if they tried to get out.
A Free Syrian Army fighter recovering at a hospital in the Turkish city of Antakya described the assault.
“First, helicopters attack the villages, later the tanks attack, and then at the end soldiers enter the houses, loot them and set fire to them,” said Mohammad, a 25-year-old fighter with a bullet wound to the shoulder received, he said, as he tried to rescue the wounded.
Turkey said about 2,000 Syrians had crossed its southern border in the space of 48 hours. It said there were now about 29,500 Syrian refugees in Turkey, the highest number since the start of the uprising.
On Tuesday U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous became the first senior U.N. official to say Syria was now in a civil war, a declaration could have legal implications for Assad and rebel fighters in terms of war crimes and compliance with the Geneva Conventions.
But Syria dismissed the comment.
“Talk of civil war in Syria is not consistent with reality … What is happening in Syria is a war against armed groups that choose terrorism,” the state news agency SANA quoted a Foreign Ministry statement as saying.
Washington says it is concerned that Russia may be supplying Syria with attack helicopters. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this would “escalate the conflict quite dramatically”.
She added on Wednesday Russia would put at risk what it sees as its vital interests in the Middle East if it did not move forward more constructively on Syria.
“Russia says it wants peace and stability restored. It says it has no particular love lost for Assad and it also claims to have vital interests in the region and relationships that it wants to continue to keep. They put all of that at risk if they do not move more constructively right now,” Clinton told reporters at a news conference.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he would hold urgent talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday on the sidelines of the conference in Kabul to ask him to put pressure on Assad to implement the Annan plan.
Russia has proposed a conference on Syria bringing together global and regional powers including Syria’s ally Iran.
Clinton also said government forces were massing around Aleppo and that this could be “a red line for the Turks in terms of their strategic and national interests”.
Clinton did not specify if she was referring to the city of Aleppo, Syria’s northerly commercial hub, or the province.
Activists say the rural west and north of Aleppo province is effectively in rebel hands, but that troops are storming some villages in the far north, bordering Turkey.
Heavy shelling was reported by residents in the central city of Homs. They said locals had fled 10 districts of the city after Assad’s troops swept through the area.
In the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, opposition activists said three people had been killed on Wednesday in a tank offensive to uproot rebels who had inflicted heavy losses on government forces in the past few days.
Damascus sees the conflict as a foreign-backed conspiracy against its legitimate rule. Corroborating accounts of what is happening inside Syria is difficult because the government heavily restricts foreign media access.
The United Nations says Assad’s forces have killed more than 10,000 people since the start of the uprising. Syria says Islamist militants have killed 2,600 soldiers and police.
(Additional reporting by Jonathon Burch in Antakya, Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman, Dominic Evans and Erika Solomon in Beirut, Sanjeev Miglani in Kabul; Writing by Oliver Holmes; Editing byKevin Liffey and Andrew Heavens)
- U.S. buying more helicopters from firm supplying Syria 5:47pm EDT
- Russia must be constructive on Syria right now: U.S 2:02pm EDT
All the major powers have committed themselves to the principle of non-intervention in Syria, yet everyone knows that they are all, to one extent or another, violating that principle in practice. Hillary Clinton’s charge that the Russians are shipping attack helicopters to Syria was followed yesterday by reports that the Syrian rebels have received fresh supplies of weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a trade connived in, or at least not actively opposed, by western countries.
The non-intervention regime for Syria, if it can be called that, is as full of holes as its equivalent notoriously was during the Spanish civil war. If it is not yet as much a sham as the non-intervention pact of 1936, that is in part because the conflict in Syria, bloody though it is, has not so far reached a Spanish level of intensity. The relative restraint still displayed also reflects the fact that most of the countries meddling in Syria are uncertain about what they really want and unclear about how far they would be able to control events if they increased the level of intervention. Western countries, in addition, are especially aware that their public opinion would not countenance any decisions that might lead to direct involvement in another Middle Eastern war.
Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, yesterday said Russian supplies to Tehran were for air defence and were legitimate. For good measure he accused the United States of covertly supplying the rebels, a direct accusation which Moscow had in the past avoided making. So the rhetoric is ratcheting up, and so is the fighting, although not to the extent that the rhetoric might suggest.
It is probably fair to say that what unites most outside powers is a desire to avoid an outcome which would be against their national interests rather than a positive desire for a particular result. Russia and Iran do not want to see an ally go down the tube, yet Moscow does not want to be saddled with a regime that cannot control its own people. Even the Iranians probably note, as they supply advisers and security equipment to their Syrian friends, that Iran dealt with its own problems of public disorder without resorting to tanks or artillery. Nobody wants to lose an ally but nobody wants an ally who is crippled. Probably only Saudi Arabia, intent on making Syria into a Sunni country again, and at the same time striking a blow against Iran, has anything like an unalloyed view of the situation.
The United States and other western countries have been increasingly forthright about wanting the Assad family out, yet they are also fearful of what would follow if the Assads do go. So the picture is one in which a degree of meddling is combined with a great deal of caution. Not, sadly, an approach which will bring relief to the Syrian people any time soon.