Thursday 27 September 2012

Three hundred killed in single day in Syria, group says: Reuters, BEIRUT – More than 300 people were killed in Syria on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, in one of the bloodiest days in the 18-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

World leaders meeting at the United Nations have expressed concern at the continuing violence in Syria but are deadlocked over their response to the conflict, which the Observatory says has claimed 30,000 lives since March 2011.

The British-based organization, which monitors violence in Syria through a network of activists, said in a report released on Thursday that 55 people were killed in rural areas around Damascus. They included at least 40 who appeared to have been shot in cold blood in the town of al-Dhiyabia, southeast of the capital.

Other activists have put the death toll in al-Dhiyabia as high as 107, blaming Assad’s security forces for what they said was a massacre. Video published by activists showed rows of bloodied corpses wrapped in blankets. The victims shown on camera appeared to be male, from 20-year-olds to elderly men.

The Observatory also said 14 people were killed in a rebel bomb attack on a military command centre in Damascus and in an ensuing prolonged gunbattle between rebels and security forces.

Violence in Syria has deepened as the fight against Assad has became more militarized and the president has responded with increasing use of force – including regular air strikes and bombardments against rebel areas.

In the first nine months of the conflict, the United Nations human rights chief said around 5,000 people had been killed. U.N. officials have given up trying to monitor the violence but the Observatory’s figures suggest five times as many people have been killed in the second nine-month period.

The Centre for Documentation of Violations in Syria, which is linked to the grassroots anti-Assad Local Coordination Committees, puts the overall death toll at 27,318.

(by Dominic Evans; Editing by John Stonestreet)

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:  Final death toll for Thursday 27/9/2012: Approximately 160 Syrians killed.
The dead include: 89 unarmed civilians (11 were children), 13 rebel fighters, 1 defected soldier, and 35 regular soldiers.

A Kurdish Popular Defence Comittees member was killed during clashes with rebel fighters from the Salah al-Din battalion infront of his house in the Iskan village of Reef Hama in the city of A’frin.

There are reports that 19 civilians were also killed, 8 by gunshots in Aleppo, 7 by regime fire in the Qadam and Jobar neighbourhoods of Damascus, 4 by pro-regime gunmen in the towns of al-Buweida and Sayyeda Zeinab, Reef Dimashq.

NOW! Lebanon
[local time]  21:59 Thursday’s death toll has increased to 109, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 20:13 A second Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s assault on a Syrian army headquarters in the heart of Damascus, in a statement posted to the Internet.
 19:52 Thursday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 73, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 18:13 Several thousand Syrian rebels on Thursday afternoon launched what they said would be a decisive battle for control of the strategic northern city of Aleppo.
 17:40 Thursday’s death toll has increased to 62, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 17:38 The Free Syrian Army completely controls Manbej near Aleppo, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 16:47 Syria’s Thursday death toll rose to 59 people killed by the regime forces’ gunfire, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 16:35 The Free Syrian Army announced that it launched “a decisive battle” in Aleppo, Al-Arabiya reported.
 14:28 Unidentified attackers blew up an oil pipeline in the northeast Syrian province of Hasaka on Thursday, after a car bomb attack on an army checkpoint near Aleppo overnight, a watchdog said.
 15:16 Syrian security forces killed at least 40 people on Thursday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 14:28 An oil pipeline was blown up in northeast Syria, AFP reported.
 14:17 Syrian regime forces and rebels are violently clashing near Al-Nayrab airport in Aleppo, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
 13:51 Military prosecutors have charged eight Syrians with “unlawful assembly” after riots erupted this week at their refugee camp in northern Jordan, a judicial official said on Thursday.
 13:21 Syrian troops pummeled districts in east Aleppo on Thursday, after an overnight rebel attack on an army checkpoint outside the northern metropolis, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

 An explosion rocked Al-Bayad neighborhood in Hama, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
 13:10 Syrian regime army fired three shells on the area of Urfa in southern Turkey, Al-Jazeera television reported.
 13:01 A rocket and mortar rounds fired from Syria that hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights in recent days were not aimed at the Jewish state, an Israeli minister said on Thursday.
 12:20 The UN refugee agency warned Thursday there could be as many as 700,000 Syrian refugees in countries neighboring the war-torn nation by the end of the year, up from 300,000 now.
 11:36 A huge explosion rocked the town of Qodsaya in the district of Damascus, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 9:16 More than 305 people were killed across Syria on Wednesday, making it the bloodiest single day of the 18-month revolt, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
 9:06 Syrian regime forces killed 17 people on Thursday, mostly in Aleppo, Al-Jazeera television cited activists as saying.
 8:03 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Tehran was working to set up a separate contact group on the conflict in Syria, in a move unlikely to be welcomed by many nations.
 8:00 Arab ministers on Wednesday weighed calls for an Arab intervention in the Syria conflict, while Western nations pressed Russia and China to drop opposition to international action.
 7:57 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday appealed for the “paralyzed” UN Security Council to make a new attempt to reach an accord to end the Syria conflict.
 7:54 Aid groups in Syria need better access to people ravaged by the war between government forces and the rebels who are fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad, the EU said Wednesday.

REUTERS: Syria rebels say launch “decisive battle” in Aleppo

BEIRUT – Syrian rebels said they had launched a major attack in Aleppo on Thursday at the start of a “decisive battle” to push President Bashar al-Assad’s forces out of the country’s biggest city.

Nations seeking Assad’s exit struggle to produce a planUNITED NATIONS – Western and Arab states demanding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s exit are under pressure to produce a plan to make that happen, but their unwillingness to act outside a deadlocked U.N. Security Council leaves them looking fractured and powerless…

Up to 700,000 Syrians may flee by year-end: UNHCRGENEVA – Up to 700,000 Syrian refugees may flee abroad by the end of the year, the U.N. refugee agency said on Thursday, almost four times its previous forecast for the exodus from the deepening crisis.

BBC: Syria refugees to reach 700,000 by year’s end – UNHCR

Khaled stands with his father at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, in this Save the Children handout photo taken on August 30This boy is one of thousands living in refugee camps near Jordan’s border with Syria
The UN’s refugee agency has warned that as many as 700,000 people could have fled Syria by the end of the year, a huge increase on its previous estimate.

Some 294,000 refugees have already left Syria, and the UNHCR is appealing for $490m (£300m) to deal with the crisis.

Most of the refugees are housed in camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Meanwhile, rebels in Aleppo say they have launched a “decisive” offensive on the city, where they have been battling government forces for weeks.

Hundreds of rebel fighters from different brigades were reportedly taking part in the offensive.

A UK-based activist group said that Wednesday was the bloodiest day of the 18-month-old conflict so far, with more than 305 people being killed across Syria.

Rami Abdel Rahman, from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the figure included only those whose names had been documented.

“If we count the unidentified bodies, the figure will be much higher,” he said.

The observatory (SOHR) said 199 of Wednesday’s dead were civilians.

The SOHR is one of the most prominent organisations documenting and reporting incidents and casualties in the Syrian conflict. The group says its reports are impartial, though its information cannot be independently verified.

Other groups estimated Wednesday’s death toll to be considerably higher.

UN ‘paralysed’

The UNHCR said between 2,000 and 3,000 refugees were fleeing the violence into neighbouring countries every day.

“Many refugees are arriving with only the clothes on their backs,” said Panos Moumtzis, the agency’s regional co-ordinator for Syrian refugees.

“Some have been displaced many times before leaving Syria. They need humanitarian assistance from day one.”

The agency said in March it estimated that about 100,000 people would have fled by the end of the year.

But that number was surpassed in July.

The agency said it was urgently trying to prepare for winter, warning that many of the refugees were still living in tents.

Earlier this week, the UK announced £8m ($13m) in funding to help Syrians who had fled the fighting.