Thursday 30 June 2011

Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre:
SUMMARY (30/6/2011): We didn’t know the Syrian army has this many tanks – they are everywhere in the south, in and around Homs, in the east and now hundreds are in Idleb, especially in Jabal Zawiyah where military operations are continuing. Meanwhile Aleppo has seen the biggest protests since 15th March. See the map for more info. Syria – Thursday 30/06/2011

The local coordinating committees in Syria:

Aleppo: security forces in the university square today: Aleppo: the security elements in the courtyard of the University of Aleppo, June 30

Daraa: security forces are conducting a wide inspection raid in AlSad road, they also stormed some houses to detain wanted people, once the security forces got out a demonstration of hundreds started chanting to topple the regime

AMOUDA (30/6/2011): While all eyes are on Aleppo today, there has been a large protest in Amouda in the north east of Syria. They pulled down a picture of Assad before security forces fired tear gas to disperse them.Amouda, 30/6/2011

Demonstration in Deyrik:

This is gruesome – soldier shot in the back of the head:

Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: Homs (30/6/2011): Welcome to Teir Malah, a small village 8km north of Homs city centre. A very quiet place with just 8,000 inhabitants. And tanks… lots of them. Bashar al-Assad says you WILL enjoy your stay.

Kurdish youth revolution – Soresa Ciwanên Kurd: The use of anti-aircraft machine guns to suppress demonstrations

Jabal Zawiyah (29/6/2011): In the last few days we’ve had journalists, the US State Department, even a visiting Congressman, making positive statements about the “national dialogue” which the regime is allegedly embarking on. Unfortunately, this is what the national dialogue sounds like. Rami village, Jabal Zawiyah 29/6/2011

Homs: Tens of army soldiers and security forces are being deployed backed by armored vehicles at intersections leading to Bab Sbaa, especially at the castle.

Teargas thrown at Kurdish protesters in Amouda

Bodies kept in cold storage being inspected by state agents – why are the bodies not returned to the families?

NOW! Lebanon
[local time] 21:15 Shabeeha (Syrian thugs) are besieging Moadamia in Damascus. (S.N.N)
21:10 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Thursday shows people protesting in Kafr Nabl against the army’s entry to Jabal az-Zawiya.
21:10 Protest against the regime begins in Aleppo’s neighborhood of Sheikh Maksoud. (S.N.N)
21:05 Protest begins in Aleppo’s neighborhood of al-Jameelyeh. Protesters are chanting against the regime. (S.N.N)
21:03 People are protesting against the regime in Aleppo’s neighborhood of Amouda. (S.N.N)
21:00 People are protesting in Daraa al-Balad. They are chanting “Death is better than humiliation.” (S.N.N)
19:15YouTube video purportedly filmed on Thursday shows students protesting in Hama.
19:00YouTube video purportedly filmed on Thursday shows tanks deployed in Homs in Teir Maaleh.
18:30 Kafr Nabl in Edleb is besieged from all directions. Helicopters are firing randomly there. Families are fleeing out of fear that security and army forces will storm the town. (S.N.N)
17:35 People are protesting against the regime in Houran’s town of Taseel. (S.N.N)
17:31 Protest begins in Houran’s town of Naheta. Protesters are calling for the overthrow of the regime. (S.N.N)
17:28 Khaled al-Aak died today in Homs’ neighborhood of al-Khaledyeh. (S.N.N)
17:27 People are protesting in Houran’s town of Kherbet Ghazleh. They are calling for the overthrow of the regime. (S.N.N)
17:25 Mohammad Sleiman Khalif al-Rifai, who is from Houran, died today after being tortured in prison. (S.N.N)
16:46 Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters swept the streets of Syria’s second city Aleppo on Thursday, prompting security forces to use batons to disperse them, activists said.
16:29 Three students were arrested in the protest which began in the University of Damascus, Faculty of Economics. (S.N.N)
16:23 Hundreds are protesting in Bab al-Hadeed in Aleppo. People are chanting for the overthrow of the regime. (S.N.N)
16:21 There are reports of protests in the areas of al-Marjeh and Bab al-Nayrab in Aleppo. (S.N.N)
16:21 Protest breaks out in Aleppo demanding the overthrow of the Syrian regime, Al Jazeera reports
16:20 Tanks are heading from al-Bara to Karf Nabl in Edleb. (S.N.N)
15:22 Syrian troops backed by tanks swept into new villages in the northwestern province of Edleb, a rights activist told AFP in Nicosia.
15:17 Women are protesting in Aleppo, Al Jazeera reports
15:16 There are protests in Aleppo and the ‘shabbeha’ are dispersing protesters, Al Jazeera reports
14:49 Army tanks are deployed at the entrances of the city of Kfar Nabal in the Edleb district. (S.N.N)
14:45 The Syrian army has surrounded the Edleb town Bara, and gunfire can be heard in the area. (S.N.N)
11:40 Army tanks have deployed in Homs. (S.N.N)
14:40 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Thursday in the city of Amouda shows dozens of anti-regime protestors fleeing the scene as tear gas is being fired at them.
14:15 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Thursday in the city of Amouda shows dozens of anti-regime protestors calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to “leave.”
13:51 Syrian opposition figures at home and abroad have joined ranks to set up a “national coordination committee” to push for democratic reforms, a rights activist said on Thursday.
12:33 Syria’s second city Aleppo braced for a mass rally on Thursday after activists called on protesters to “light the spark of the revolution” against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
11:34 Heavy gunfire can be heard in the Houran town of Taseel. (S.N.N)
11:34 Security forces fire tear gas at protestors in the city of Amouda. (S.N.N)
11:29 Security forces are arresting people in the Homs neighborhood of Rastan. (S.N.N)
11:20 Syrian forces set up a checkpoint in the Houran town of Taseel. (S.N.N)
10:13 Security forces are heavily deployed in the city of Amouda, and an anti-regime protest is reportedly taking place in front of the city’s Kabira Mosque. (S.N.N)
9:10 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the Homs neighborhood of Qoussour shows anti-regime protestors gathered and chanting “[President] Bashar [al-Assad] is the biggest bacteria,” and “We don’t like you, Bashar.”
9:05YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the city of Harasta shows protestors marching and calling for bringing down the regime.
9:00YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the Homs neighborhood of Bab ad-Drib shows hundreds of people marching and chanting against the Syrian regime.
8:55 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the city of Abu Kamal shows dozens of protestors marching and praising the people killed in recent demonstrations. They are also calling on President Bashar al-Assad to “leave.”
8:53YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the Homs area of Inshaat shows hundreds of people gathered calling for bringing down the Syrian regime.
8:50YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the city of Darayya, which is near Damascus, shows tens of youths gathered calling for bringing down the regime.
8:49YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the Latakia neighborhood of Ramal shows hundreds of people marching and chanting against the regime.
8:48YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night Daraa al-Balad shows dozens of people marching and chanting, “May God curse the soul” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
8:33 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the Damascus neighborhood of Qaboun shows anti-regime protestors gathered chanting, “Let [President] Bashar al-Assad be toppled” and “Let the Baath [ruling] Party collapse.”
8:30YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the city of Zamalka shows dozens of people chanting against the Syrian regime, saying “God is great.”
8:18YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the Homs neighborhood of Waar shows hundreds of people marching and chanting against the Syrian regime.
8:10 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Wednesday night in the Hama area of Helfaya shows hundreds of people gathered calling on President Bashar al-Assad to “leave.”

REUTERS: reports that Syrian troops shot dead 11 villagers on Wednesday, residents said, as authorities pressed on with a tank-led assault that has driven thousands of refugees across the northwest border with Turkey

BBC: Protests in Aleppo as troops comb borde

Rival rallies have been held in Aleppo, Syria’s second city, as troops continue their assault in nearby north-western villages, activists say.

Around 1,000 anti-government protesters gathered in at least two locations, but activists said they were beaten and dispersed by pro-government “thugs”.

Although small, the protests indicate growing dissent in Syria’s second city, which has so far been immune to unrest.

Guardian: Syrian army sweeps through villages as protests gather pace

Activists dismiss government attempts to reclaim reform agenda and boost credibility as public relations campaign

Demonstrations intensified and a government crackdown continued on Thursday despite attempts by the Syrian regime to reclaim the reform agenda and boost its international credibility.

Activists dismissed the moves as a public relations campaign as the army swept through villages in the north-western province of Idleb. Tanks entered the villages of Ihsim and forces were gathered close to several other villages in the district of Jebel Zawiya, activists reported.

Ten people have been killed since Wednesday in the border area despite a report by Syrian state media agency Sana earlier this week that the army operation in the area had finished.

Earlier Sana said the army was chasing terrorists who the government claims killed 120 security agents in Jisr al-Shughour on 6 June, but activists insist troops are looking for army defectors.

Meanwhile, gunfire was reported in the southern city of Deraa, according to the Local Co-ordination Committees. A resident of Deraa said that for residents of the city “the regime has fallen”. But she said the situation remained tense with army and security forces in control and curfews from 2pm to 5pm and from 10pm until the morning.

Elsewhere peaceful protests are being allowed. Army and security forces have withdrawn from the city of Hama, south of Aleppo, according to residents who described it as having been “liberated” for more than two weeks.

“There are currently no posters of the president, no security forces and no checkpoints,” said one young woman.

More than 70 protesters were killed in Hama, Syria’s fourth most populous city, on 4 June. Two members of the security forces were killed by angry mourners at the funerals that followed.

Wissam Tarif, of the human rights group Insan, claims the forces have withdrawn because they are overstretched. Syria’s army is weak by regional standards and experts say it would struggle to cope with simultaneous mass uprisings.

But some commentators suggest Hama is being left as the government tries to calm the situation before dialogue and as international condemnation has grown.

Any crackdown would be likely to inflame a city deeply scarred by a previous crackdown in the 1980s. In the face of an Islamist uprising the government of then-president Hafez al-Assad launched a brutal army assault on Hama which killed at least 20,000 people, many of them civilians.

“But leaving the city for good is not a solution because huge protests now go on every night,” said one resident.

Protests appear to be growing outside Hama too. A group of 300 lawyers protested outside the palace of justice in Aleppo, the northern commercial hub which has remained relatively quiet. Demonstrations were reported in at least three areas of the city on Thursday after the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page called for 1 million people to come out. Protests also took place in Raqqa, a largely Bedouin city in the centre of the country.

On Wednesday the US treasury added new people to its list of sanctions on Syria, including head of the air force intelligence chief Major General Jamil Hassan.[…]

A roadmap for Syria (in English)
Syrian sources have revealed that the US state department is promoting a roadmap for political reforms that would transform Bashar al-Assad’s regime – but leave him in place […]

[This roadmap would actually leave al-Assad with a lot of control. We note that Syrian sources report US co-operation, and ask if these sources are related to those who say there is no problem in Syria,  people are leaving for Turkey to visit their friends,  that the people being killed are terrorists etc.etc.etc?]

added Friday 1st July 2011: Doylech: Chris Doyle: Co-Author of the #Syria road map Louay Hussein tells me never met with US officials nor discussed with regime. Document dead & out of date.

CNN:Syrian military raids villages; protests in Aleppo

Syrian tanks and helicopters opened fire and killed at least two civilians as the military advanced through a series of villages in northwestern Syria Thursday, a push that sent residents running for the hills, a villager told CNN.

“They attacked the old church,” said Mohamed Smail, a farmer who fled his home and spoke to CNN from the hills around Al Bara. “We are calling on international organizations to protect our ruins. They are destroying our cultural heritage.”

Syria has been engulfed by more than three months of anti-government discontent.

The crackdown on anti-government protests in the Jabal Zawiya region of Syria’s Idlib province comes just days after Syrian authorities allowed a historic opposition conference to be held in the capital, Damascus.

Helicopters swept in and dropped commandos into the area from ropes Thursday morning.

Tanks and helicopters bombarded ancient Byzantine ruins in Al Bara, the site of a famous “dead city,” a destination for tourists fascinated by fifth-century Byzantine churches, monasteries, and an iconic, fully intact pyramid-shaped burial chamber.

Smail also said Syrian military units attacked and destroyed the home of a local man named Mohamed Khalife, killing him and his infant son.

“His 1-year-old son, named Hasan Mohamed Khalife, was in the house and we couldn’t save him,” Smail said.

Smail said Syrian troops and plain-clothed shabiha militants had blocked escape routes to nearby Turkey.

CNN could not independently confirm the man’s account.

The number of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey each day has dropped dramatically as Syrian troops moved into border regions, after days of protests and unrest.

The Turkish prime minister’s office released a statement Thursday saying that five Syrian refugees crossed the border over the last 24 hours. More than 15,000 Syrian refugees fled to Turkey to escape the government crackdown in recent weeks. Nearly a third of those refugees have voluntarily returned to Syria in recent days, according to the Turkish government.

Elsewhere, in the large city of Aleppo, 20 busloads of what an activist called “government thugs” attacked the marchers with batons and knives. The attack caused the demonstrators to disperse, and people were injured, but there was no word of deaths.

Video surfaced on the Internet of what activists say was the unrest on Bab Nasr Avenue in Aleppo, and it showed a panicked crowd fleeing down the street.

Syrian forces later intervened, pushed the “thugs” back, and a peaceful demonstration ensued, the activist said.

Another activist, contacted by telephone by CNN, separately said this street was the site of a Thursday confrontation between protesters and government forces.[…]

LONDON EVENING STANDARD: How we Syrians live in fear of the secret police

The overwhelming sense on the streets in Aleppo, where I live, is one of profound fear of the previously powerful Assad regime – which as it becomes increasingly threatened may engage in ever more reckless acts.

Outside a mosque after Friday prayers young men proclaimed their wish for freedom but were beaten with heavy iron bars or slashed with knives by gangs. These may or may not be associated with the criminal fringes of the regime. The ambiguity about the identity of the attackers causes great uncertainty and alarm.

SIS (Special Investigation Service) is an enormous, well-paid secret police service that has dominated Syria for the past 40 years by controlling every aspect of life. It uses interrogation and torture to extract information about dissident groups, who are all described as enemies of the state. The identity of SIS members is kept secret but like the Stasi in East Germany (who helped set up the service in the early 1970s) they are ubiquitous and loyalties even divide families.

Their methods are ruthless. There is no right in this country to claim innocence. Suspects are immediately detained without access to family or to legal advice. They end up being trapped like rats, for the aim is to destroy any opposition. The SIS-prepared document Before the Law has a gravity of wording which prepares you for an unpleasant ending. Threat of execution produces minimal resistance from the suspect.

SIS agents lead suspects to a quiet spot to be killed. Refusing to murder a suspect leads to the agent being shot in the back by his colleagues “like a dog”.

Detention in prison is indefinite and location is secret. An immediate sense of hopelessness prevails with complete anonymity and even isolation. Cells are often underground. One communal cell 20 metres square can hold up to 38 prisoners without basic sanitary facilities. They do not even have space to sit or sleep.

Sometimes suspects are released unexpectedly but then are blacklisted immediately. This results in their not being permitted to travel outside Syria. I am at present detained in Syria under such a restriction, although I am a British citizen.

The generalised fear is of unexpected arrest by unidentified agents for an unspecified crime. Many of those under suspicion are scarcely more than children, guilty only of speaking of freedom. They are arrested, most typically near a mosque after Friday prayers, and agents then force them to call out “President Assad is a great hero” in front of Syrian TV cameras. Afterwards suspects are driven to an isolated spot where they may be killed.

The regime knows it is losing its grip on the middle classes, who may be more difficult to manipulate or convince. But paranoia is everywhere.

After more than 40 years in power the regime has created a nation of its own making – weak, lacking in confidence and unable to think, imagine or invent. The people are fearful of the outside world. They hate all foreigners, who are automatically viewed as enemies of the regime.

Living in Syria at the moment is hard. Businesses are collapsing. Tension is rising, especially among young men worried where the future is leading them. As one young man said: “We used to worry about what little we had and now even that is gone, so we have no longer anything to lose with this regime. It is like we are living in the Stone Age.”