Thursday 3 January 2013

Kurdistan Region shutting border with Syria Kurdistan Region- The Kurdistan Regional Government is shutting its borders with Syria, Firat news agency said.

[SKS comment: Why???]

Kurdish Peshmarga forces are fencing the borders by using barbed wire in Kecrat region, the agency said, adding that the move started from Tuesday, which will cover the border from Tawasa region to Tigris River leaving no border gates between the region and Kurdish. There is no official border between Syria and Kurdistan Region and there is only a border-line check point which is currently open.” Kurdistan Region President Advisor in Syria Affairs, Hamid Darbandi told Rudaw. He denied banning on sending humanitarian aids to Syrian refugees, clarifying that only cigarettes and smuggling staff have been prevented to be transferred. Answering a question about the situation in Syria Kurdistan, Darbandi said People’s Defense Forces (HPG), military branch of Democratic Union Party (PYD), are controlling Kurdish cities of Syria but denied any Kurdistan Region government or non-governmental relations with the armed groups in the Kurdistan of Syria.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for Thursday 03/01/2012: More than 210 people killed.

The dead include: 101 civilians (20 children), 41 regular soldiers, 48 rebel fighters, 3 unidentified persons, 1 defected officer, 3 defected soldiers and 5 foreign jihadi fighters.

*** 2 Libyan jihadis, 1 palestinian, 1 Turk and 1 Saudi fighter were killed during clashes with regular forces in the perimeter of the Wadi al-Deif encampment of Reef M’aret al-Nu’man in Idlib province***

– In Reef Dimashq 45 civilians (10 children) and 15 rebel fighters were killed. 43 civilians, including 7 women and 10 children, were killed by bombardment on the towns and cities of Douma, A’rbin, al-Zabadani, Yabroud, Saqba, Shab’a, Daraya, Nabek and al-Mleiha. 2 civilians from Damascus city were found dead by a military checkpoint in the al-M’adamiya city. 15 rebel fighters were killed during clashes and bombardment on the towns and cities of A’qraba, Yelda, al-M’adamiya, Harasta and Daraya.

– In Idlib 17 civilians (3 children) and 3 rebel fighters were kiled. 3 were killed by bombardment on the al-Hamama village of Reef Jusr al-Shughour 2 days earlier. 5 young men and 2 women were killed by regime bombardment on the Qmeinas town. 6 civilians, including 2 women and 3 children, were killed by bombardment on the M’aret Musrin town of Reef Idlib. 1 civilian was killed by rockets on sermon town. 2 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regular forces in the al-Rami village of Reef Idlib. 1 rebel by clashes in Reef Ma’arat al-Nu’man.

– In Aleppo 13 civilians (3 children) and 8 rebel fighters were killed. 4 from Aleppo city were killed, 1 was tortured to death after detainment, 3 were killed by bombardment on the al-Ansari neighbourhood. 8 civilians, including 4 women and 3 children, were killed by aerial bombardment on the Hayan town of Reef Aleppo. 1 was shot by sniper in the Handrat camp on the outskirts of Aleppo city. 3 rebels from Manbej city were killed by a regime ambush in Reef al-Raqqa. 1 rebel died of wounds he received 2 days earlier in the Jusr al-Haj area of Aleppo city as he was accidentally shot by his friend. 2 were killed during clashes with regular forces in the perimeter of the al-Kandi hospital. 1 rebel killed in the sheikh Sa’id neighbourhood of Aleppo.

– In Dera’a 6 civilians (1 child) and 6 rebel fighters were killed. 3 men were shot by sniper in the Seida town of Dera’a city. A child died of wounds she received earlier by bombardment on the al-Sheikh Muskin town. 1 from the Kahil town was shot by regular forces in Damascus city. A woman was killed by bombardment on the Da’el town of Reef Dera’a. 2 rebels were killed by a regime ambush on the Nawa road. 4 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regular forces in the towns of Tafs and Busr al-Harir.

– In Damascus 4 civilians (1 child), 3 rebel fighters and 3 unidentified persons were killed. A young man was tortured to death after detainment by regime forces. A man and child were killed by bombardment on the Jobar neighbourhood. 1 from the Dumar neighbourhood was killed under unknown circumstances. 3 rebels were killed during clashes with regular forces in the neighbourhoods of al-Qadam and Jobar. 3 unidentified corpses were found in the al-Qaboun neighbourhood.

– In Deir Izzor 3 civilians (2 children), 6 rebel fighters. 1 was killed by bombardment on the Deir izzor city. 2 girls, aged below 18, were martyred by bombardment on the al-Qouriya town of Reef Deir Izzor. 5 rebel fighters were killed during clashes and bombardment on the Deir Izzor city, 1 was a rebel leader. 1 rebel from the province was killed in Reef al-Raqqah.

– In Hama 7 civilians were killed. 1 was killed by bombardment on the al-Latamna town of Reef Hama. 1 died of wounds he received earlier by bombardment on the Halfaya town. 1 from the Qamhana village died of wounds he received earlier due to torture while detainment by regular forces. 1 was killed when a bomb, from the remains of regime bombardment, exploded in the al-Latamna town. 3 civilians from the Hur Banafsa village, who were missing for 20 days, were found dead in the Hama National hospital, activists from the area report that they disappeared by a military checkpoint.

– In Homs 2 civilians and 7 rebel fighters were killed. A child was martyred by bombardment on the al-Qseir city. 1 from the Jouret al-Shayah neighbourhood of Homs city was tortured to death after detainment by regime forces. 7 rebels, including a rebel commander, were killed during clashes with regular forces and pro-regime gunment in the perimeter of the al-Rastan city.

– In al-Raqqa 4 civilians were killed by bombardment on the al-Tabaqa city of Reef al-Raqqa.


A defected officer and rebel commander was killed by a regime ambush in Reef Dera’a. 3 defected soldiers were killed during clashes with regular forces and bombardment on Reef Deir Izzor and Reef Dimashq.

At least 41 regular forces were killed during clashes and attacks on machinery in several Syrian provinces: 5 in Dera’a, 12 Damascus and Reef DImashq, 3 Deir Izzor, 4 Aleppo, 2 al-Raqqa, 2 Hama, i1 in Homs and 12 in Idlib.

*The names of 6 men were documented as killed yesterday by aerial bombardment on the perimeter of a gas station on the al-Mleiha-Zabdin road, raising the total number of deaths by the air raid to 18.*

Damascus and Reef Dimashq: A car-bomb went off in the Masaken Barzeh area of the capital, 9 civilians including women and children were killed. There are reports of more dead and there are likely to be more dead since there are many badly injured civilians. The car-bomb went off in the Qasyoun petrol station in the area. The leader of the pro-regime militia in the al-Assad suburbs was killed as a result of wounds from clashes with rebel forces yesterday. A child died as a result of a mortar falling on the al-Assad suburb, which is controlled by regime forces and pro-regime militia. Violent clashes took place in the town of Hejeira, Reef Damascus. the town of Hejeira was bombarded.
Homs province: 5 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regular forces and pro regime militias in the perimeter of the al-Rastan city. A child was killed by bombardment on the al-Qseir city. Bombardment was renewed by regime forces on the Talbisa town. The al-Hola area was subject to artillery bombardment, no reports of casualties yet.
Idlib province: The jihadi rebels from several factions (al-Nusra front, Ahrar al-Sham, the Islamic vanguard) retreated to the outside of the Taftanaz military airport fence, this comes after violent clashes. The rebels could be planning to relaunch the assault after encircling the airport. The village of Kafarsanja was bombarded by regime forces.
Hama province: Bombardment was renewed by regular forces on the al-Latamna town of Reef Hama. A man was killed when the remains of a mortar shell exploded in Hama. Regular forces carried out a series of raids and inspections in the al-Qusour neighbourhood of Hama city.
Dera’a province: A rebel fighter was killed during clashes with regular forces in the Busr al-Harir town that is under regime bombardment. The towns of Kahil, M’arba and Da’el of Reef Dera’a were bombarded by regular forces which led to the dead of a woman in the Da’el town. Several mortar shells fell on the Tariq al-Sad neighbourhood and Mukhayam al-Naziheen camp of Dera’a city.

Idlib province: 5 civilians were killed, several others injured, as a result of bombardment on the town of Qmeinas by a regime checkpoint. There are reports that 2 women were also killed as a result. Footage of the 5 killed civilians in Qmeinas:

NOW! Syria Thursday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 114 people, activists say Many killed and wounded in Syrian regime’s shelling of Damascus’ Al-Maliha, activists say Slovenia recognizes Syrian National Coalition Activists report that Syrian regime forces have summarily executed five children and two women in Idlib Syria rebels assault northern airports, watchdog says Thursday’s death toll in Syria has reached 64 people, activists say Rebels are shelling the artillery battalion in Aleppo’s Jamiat al-Zahraa, activists say Twenty people were killed and many wounded in the regime’s shelling of Damascus’ Douma, activists say Rebels destroyed two regime tanks in Daraa’s Basr al-Harir, activists say. At least 39 people were killed Thursday in Syria, activists say Regime forces’ shelling of the Damascus areas of Seqba and Douma killed a number of people, activists say Regime forces’ air raids targeted Daraya in the Damascus district, activists say Syria rebels assault northern airports Bored Japanese trucker gets kicks from Syria war tourism Syria death toll surges as clashes rage UN: More than 60,000 killed in Syria conflict … Reuters: Eleven dead in Damascus gas station blast

AZAZ, Syria – At least 11 people were killed and 40 wounded when a car bomb exploded at a crowded petrol station in the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday, opposition activists said.

The station was packed with people queuing for fuel that has become increasingly scarce during the country’s 21-month-long insurgency aimed at overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad.

The semi-official al-Ikhbariya television station showed footage of 10 burnt bodies and Red Crescent workers searching for victims at the site.

The opposition Revolution Leadership Council in Damascus said the explosion was caused by a booby-trapped car. There was no immediate indication of who was responsible for the bombing in the Barzeh al-Balad district, whose residents include members of the Sunni Muslim majority and other religious and ethnic minorities. “The station is usually packed even when it has no fuel,” said an opposition activist who did not want to be named. “There are lots of people who sleep there overnight, waiting for early morning fuel consignments.” It was the second time that a petrol station has been hit in Damascus this week. Dozens of people were incinerated in an air strike as they waited for fuel on Wednesday, according to opposition sources. In northern Syria, rebels were battling to seize an air base in their campaign against the air power that Assad has used to bomb rebel-held towns. More than 60,000 people have been killed in the uprising and civil war, the United Nations said this week, a much higher death toll than previously thought. DRAMATIC ADVANCES After dramatic advances over the second half of 2012, the rebels now hold wide swathes of territory in the north and east, but they cannot protect towns and villages from Assad’s helicopters and jets. Hundreds of rebel fighters were attempting to storm the Taftanaz air base, near the highway that links Syria’s two main cities, Aleppo and Damascus. A rebel fighter speaking from near the Taftanaz base overnight said much of the base was still in loyalist hands but insurgents had managed to destroy a helicopter and a fighter jet on the ground. The northern rebel Idlib Coordination Committee said the rebels had detonated a car bomb inside the base. The government’s SANA news agency said the base had not fallen and that the military had “strongly confronted an attempt by the terrorists to attack the airport from several axes, inflicting heavy losses among them and destroying their weapons and munitions”. Rami Abdulrahman, head of the opposition-aligned Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which monitors the conflict from Britain, said as many as 800 fighters were involved in the assault, including Islamists from Jabhat al-Nusra, a powerful group that Washington considers terrorists. Taftanaz is mainly a helicopter base, used for missions to resupply army positions cut off by the rebels, as well as for dropping crude “barrel bombs” on rebel-controlled areas. Near Minakh, another northern air base that rebels have surrounded, government forces have retaliated by shelling and bombing nearby towns. NIGHTLY BOMBARDMENTS In the town of Azaz, where the bombardment has become a near nightly occurrence, shells hit a family house overnight. Zeinab Hammadi said her two wounded daughters, aged 10 and 12, had been rushed across the border to Turkey, one with her brain exposed. “We were sleeping and it just landed on us in the blink of an eye,” she said, weeping as she surveyed the damage. Family members tried to salvage possessions from the wreckage, men lifting out furniture and children carrying out their belongings in tubs. “He (Assad) wants revenge against the people,” said Abu Hassan, 33, working at a garage near the destroyed house. “What is the fault of the children? Are they the ones fighting?” Opposition activists said warplanes struck a residential building in another rebel-held northern town, Hayyan, killing at least eight civilians. Video footage showed men carrying dismembered bodies of children and dozens of people searching for victims in the rubble. The provenance of the video could not be independently confirmed. In addition to their tenuous grip on the north, the rebels also hold a crescent of suburbs on the edge of Damascus, which have come under bombardment by government forces that control the centre of the capital. On Wednesday, according to opposition activists, dozens of people died in an inferno caused by an air strike on a petrol station in a Damascus suburb where residents were lining up for fuel. The civil war in Syria has become the longest and bloodiest of the conflicts that rose out of uprisings across the Arab world in the past two years. Assad’s family has ruled for 42 years since his father seized power in a coup. The war pits rebels, mainly from the Sunni Muslim majority, against a government supported by members of Assad’s Shi’ite-derived Alawite minority sect and some members of other minorities who fear revenge if he falls. The West, most Sunni-ruled Arab states and Turkey have called for Assad to step down. He is supported by Russia and Shi’ite Iran. (Additional reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman and Dominic Evans in Beirut; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Ruth Pitchford and Giles Elgood)

Guardian: A negotiated settlement of the kind being touted by the international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi would prolong the conflict in Syria, according to two leading analysts. In an article in Foreign Affairs magazine, Bilal Saab, executive director at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, and Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, identified four reasons why such a deal would not work.

1. Rebels are in no mood to negotiate as they sense victory after a long battle. 2. There have been too many “unspeakable atrocities” from both sides to expect either party to trust each other enough to lay down their weapons. 3. The UN couldn’t enforce a settlement. 4. It would be too difficult to broker a diplomatic agreement from rival regional patrons fuelling the current conflict, including Iran.

• But it is precisely because the rebels have the upper hand militarily that the opposition should opt for a political solution, according to blogger Abu Kareem. In a post on his Levantine Dreamhouse blog he argues that a political transition will help keep the mid-level officials vital to maintaining a functioning governmental structure and avoid the kind of collapse witnessed in Iraq.

Even the most thoughtful political transition will be difficult and fraught with danger and yet the alternative of letting this drag on to a military victory will mean that the Syrian state will have to be built from scratch. Starting with a clean slate may have its attractions given the ingrained corruption fostered by two generations of Ba’athist rule but it is too simplistic a notion when dealing with a complex nation that has undergone the most profound period of strife since its independence.