Tuesday 16 October 2012

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for Tuesday 16/10/2012: More than 150 Syrians have been killed today. The dead include: 67 Unarmed civilians (including 13 children), 35 rebel fighters, 8 defected soldiers (including an officer-lieutenant colonel), and not less than 42 regime forces. 67 Unarmed civilians:

-In Reef Dimashq Province 16 civilians were killed. 5 civilians were killed in the city of Duma, 1 was shot by a military checkpoint, 2 were shot by regime forces, and 2, unidentified, were found killed near one of the checkpoints in the city. A man died of wounds by shrapnel, Monday night, in the Qatana town. 3 were killed in the Nashabiya town, 2 of them, including a woman, by bombardment on the town and the other was shot by regime forces. 1 was shot by sniper in the Yabrud town. A young man died of wounds he received by a shell in the Shayfuniya town of Reef Dimashq. 3 were killed in the Harasta city, 1 was shot by sniper, a child by bombardment, and a man effected by injuries he received during bombardment on the city, earlier. 2 were killed in the Mleiha town, 1 was shot by regime forces, and the other was found dead near the A’in Tarma town of Reef Dimashq.

-In Deir Izzor Province 17 civilians were killed. 11, including 7 children, were killed by bombardment targeting the houses next to the military security platoon in the Mayadeen city. 2 men were killed by bombardment on the Jbeila neighbourhood of Deir Izzor city. 3 women were shot by regime forces in the Qusur neighbourhood. A man, from the Quriya town, was shot by a military checkpoint in Damascus city.

-In Idlib Province 9 civilians were killed. A woman and 2 children were killed by bombardment on the Kafarnabel town of Reef Idlib. A man was killed in the Wadi al-Daf area, witnessing clashes and regime forces’ bombardment. 3 were killed by bombardment on the towns of Kanusfara, Ma’arzeita, and Ma’arat Harma. 2 women, from the Muzara village of Reef Idlib, were shot by sniper in al-Ghuta al-Sharqia of Reef Dimashq.

-In Dera’a Province 6 civilians were killed. 1 was killed when a bomb exploded in the Tayba town. A Palestinian Doctor was shot in his house in the Qusur neighbourhood of Dera’a city. A woman and a child were killed when shells fell on their house in the Tafas town. An unidentified corpse was found in the Naseeb town of Reef Dera’a. 1 was shot by regime forces.

-In Latakia Province 2 children ( a boy and a girl) were killed by bombardment targeting the Dweirka village of Reef Latakia.

-In Hama Province 6 civilians were killed. 1 was shot by the Qaban military checkpoint in Reef Hama. 1 was tortured to death after being detained by regime forces in the Musha’ al-Furusiya neighbourhood of Hama city. 1, from the A’qrab town, was found dead on the Hola-Homs road, after being kidnapped by pro-regime armed men in Reef Homs, yesterday. A civilian, from the Sheeha village, was killed by regime forces, after his earlier detainment, according to activists. A man, from the Mreijeb village, was killed when regime forces targeted him on the Ma’an village road of Reef Hama. 1 was killed by regime forces gunfire on one of the mosques in the Tareeq al-Bab neighbourhood of the Hama city.

-In Homs Province 2 civilians were killed. 1 civilian died, effected by injuries he received by gunfire in the Abel village. 1 was killed by bombardment on the Rastan city of Reef Homs.

-In Aleppo Province 9 civilians were killed. 3 civilians, including a child, were killed by bombardment on the Sakhur, Sha’ar, and Bani Zaid neighbourhoods. 3 were killed, when a mortar shell fell on the tips of al-Shaikh Maqsud neighbourhood of Aleppo city, with a majority of Kurdish citizens. A man and a child were killed by shelling on the towns of al-Ibzim and Khan al-A’sal. A woman was killed by bombardment on the Kafarbaseen village of Reef Aleppo.

35 Rebel fighters:

-In Reef Dimashq Province 12 fighters were killed. 5 were killed during clashes with regime forces in the towns of al-Hama and Jsreen. 2 died, effected by injuries they received during bombardment on the towns of Hamurya and al-Ghuta al-Sharqiya. 2 fighters, from the Kanaker town, were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Qneitra Province. 1 was killed by an ambush, regime forces had planned for him in the Madaya town. 1 was shot by regime forces, when they raided his house in the Qatana town, at midnight of Monday-Tuesday. 1 was killed by bombardment on the city of Harasta.

-In Idlib Province 9 fighters were killed. 1 died of wounds he received during clashes in Reef Jusr al-Shughur, several days ago. 1, from the Bansh town, was killed during clashes with regime forces in the Aleppo city. 1 died of wounds he received by bombardment on the Ma’arat Msreen town. 6 were killed during clashes with regime forces in Reef Ma’arat al-N’uman and the Dweila village of Reef Idlib.

-In Latakia Province 2 fighters were killed, Monday night, during clashes with regime forces in the Nabi Yunus (Prophet Yunus) summit.

-In Homs Province a fighter was killed by the Monday-Tuesday after midnight bombardment on the Khlidiya neighbourhood.

-In Aleppo Province 5 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in several neighbourhoods of the Aleppo city.

-In Deir Izzor Province 3 fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Deir Izzor city.

-In Dera’a Province 2 fighters were killed. 1 was killed during clashes with regime forces in the Ma’raba town. 1 was shot by regime forces.

-In Hama Province a rebel commander in Sahl al-Ghab was killed during clashes with regime forces in Ma’arat al-N’uman of Reef Idlib.


-8 defected soldiers, one of them an officer-lieutenant colonel, were killed during clashes with regime forces in Hama, Reef Dimashq, and Homs.

-SOHR documented the death of a man, from the A’ziziya neighbourhood of Aleppo city, who was summarily executed in one of the prisons of the Ma’arat al-N’uman city, several days ago.

-News were received about the death of many rebel fighters in the Provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Deir Izzor, and Reef Dimashq, still under documentation.

-Information was received about the death of 5 civilians during bombardment and gunfire in the neighbourhoods of Karam al-Jabal and al-Iza’a of Aleppo city.


-Not less than 42 regime forces were killed during clashes in several Provinces: 9 Aleppo, 13 Idlib, 4 Deir Izzor, 6 al-Qneitra, 3 Homs, 3 Hama, and 4 in Reef Dimashq.

Guardian: Syria’s civil conflict – in pictures | Maysun

An injured man arrives at the Dar al Shifa hospital in Aleppo, SyriaGallery (16 pictures), 16 Oct 2012:Fighting between government and rebel forces in Syria is exacting a devastating human toll. Maysun, a Spanish freelance photographer with Middle Eastern roots, is covering the conflict

NOW! Lebanon
[local time]  22:08 British police on Tuesday charged a man with kidnapping two Western journalists in Syria, one week after he was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport, Scotland Yard said.

British police on Tuesday charged a man with kidnapping two Western journalists in Syria, one week after he was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport, Scotland Yard said.

Shajul Islam, 26, is alleged to have “unlawfully and injuriously imprisoned” photographers John Cantlie from Britain, and Jeroen Oerlemans from the Netherlands, between July 17 and 26, it said in a statement.

Islam, who is a British national, acted “together with others,” it said.

He will appear in court on Wednesday.

A 26-year-old woman who was arrested at the same time has been released without charge. She has not been named.

The man and the woman were detained by officers from the counter-terrorism command on October 9 after arriving on a flight from Egypt. Officers also searched two homes in west London.

Cantlie and Oerlemans were abducted by suspected Islamist militants while covering the fighting between President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and rebel fighters.

They both suffered gunshot wounds when the Free Syrian Army, the main rebel movement, freed them from their captors.

The journalists said that several of the kidnappers were British while others were from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Cantlie said one of them told him he was a doctor in Britain.

See also: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/oct/16/charged-kidnap-british-journalist-syria

 21:55 Syria’s exiled opposition would welcome a ceasefire later this month as proposed by the UN envoy but responsibility lies primarily with the government, leader Abdel Basset Sayda told AFP on Tuesday.
 20:51 The death toll across Syria rose to 94 people on Tuesday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 21:46 Pope Benedict XVI will send a delegation to the Syrian capital to “express his brotherly solidarity with the entire population,” the Vatican said Tuesday.
 19:10 The Syrian government is interested in exploring a ceasefire in the 19-month conflict as proposed by international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jihad Maqdisi said on Tuesday.
 18:35 France will on Wednesday host a meeting of Syrian revolutionary groups and diplomats in a bid to boost support for civilian groups managing rebel-held areas, the Foreign Ministry said.
 17:57 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 76 people, most of them killed in Deir az-Zour, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying.
 17:15 Syria will hold bye-elections on December 1 to fill five seats in parliament, two of which became vacant when sitting MPs defected to the opposition, state news agency SANA said.
 16:30 A family of three was killed in the shelling of Tafas in Daraa by Syrian security forces, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying
 16:20 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 70, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 15:13 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has reached 59 people, including 16 in the town of Al-Mayadine in Deir az-Zour, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 14:51 Prices for basic provisions have nearly doubled in Syria and the UN food agency failed to deliver essential food supplies to 100,000 people last month because of the fighting, it said Tuesday.
 12:14 Around 94,000 displaced Syrians are currently receiving protection and assistance in Lebanon, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) weekly report.
 12:03 A number of people were killed and others injured in the Syrian regime’s shelling of Deir az-Zour, Al-Jazeera television reported.
 11:11 Syrian regime warplanes unleashed relentless pre-dawn air raids Tuesday on rebel positions around Maaret al-Numan, a strategic northern town captured by insurgents last week, a watchdog said.
 10:56 Syrian regime forces killed at least 18 people on Tuesday, activists told NOW.
 7:59 Syrian students who faced beatings and worse for opposing President Bashar al-Assad’s regime have traded textbooks for guns, taking to the front lines in Aleppo with almost no military training.
 7:50 The United States on Monday called on all Syria’s neighbors to keep a careful watch over their airspace, after Turkey said it had intercepted a Syrian plane from Russia carrying military equipment.
 7:47 German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Tuesday that Germany is “ready in principle” to host Syrians who have fled the civil war there, but added that it must be done under an international framework.
 7:30 MORNING LEADER: International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has called for a ceasefire in Syria during the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, as the revolt enters its 20th month with a death toll of more than 33,000. Brahimi made his call on Monday as he shuttled between Syria’s neighbors, which have been bitterly divided by the conflict.

REUTERS: Divided Syrian rebels agree on joint leadership

Photo BEIRUT – Syria’s divided rebels have agreed to set up a joint leadership to oversee their battle to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, two insurgent sources said on Tuesday as fighting raged in cities across the country.

Rebels hope the decision, taken after increasing pressure from foreign supporters on them to unite, will help convince those backers that they are a credible and coordinated fighting force deserving to be supplied with more powerful weapons.

“The agreement has been reached, they only need to sign it now,” one rebel source said. Foreign supporters “are telling us: ‘Sort yourselves out and unite, we need a clear and credible side to provide it with quality weapons’.”

He said Qatar and Turkey were the main drivers behind the agreement, which might be formally announced this month.

It is the latest attempt to bring together Assad’s disparate armed opponents, most of whom have fought nominally under the banner of the rebel Free Syrian Army but who in practice have operated independently, often weakened by deep rivalries.

The new leadership will include FSA leaders Riad al-Asaad and Mustafa Sheikh – criticized by many rebels because they are based in Turkey – and recently defected General Mohammad Haj Ali, as well as heads of rebel provincial military councils inside Syria like Qassem Saadeddine, based in Homs province.

The Syrian National Council has set November 4 as the date for an opposition unity conference in Qatar, organizers said.

The 19-month-old revolt against Assad, which started as peaceful demonstrations, has mushroomed into a civil war with sectarian dimensions, pitting the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against a power structure dominated by the Alawite minority.

Activists say more than 30,000 people have been killed, hundreds of thousands have fled to neighboring countries and more than a million have been displaced inside Syria as entire city districts have been rendered ghost towns by heavy shelling.

The British Observatory for Human Rights said 80 people had been killed in Syria by dusk on Tuesday, after 160 died on Monday. Heavy clashes broke out in the city of Hama, and fighting continued in Aleppo and the northern province of Idlib.

A Reuters correspondent on Lebanon’s northeastern border with Syria saw a helicopter dropping explosives on the Syrian side of the frontier. Refugees unloading blankets from a pickup truck in an olive grove on the Lebanese side stopped to watch big black plumes of smoke rising into the sky.

Underlining increasing international concern about the conflict, Pope Benedict will send a group of top cardinals to visit Syria in coming days to express solidarity with its battered population, the Vatican news service said.


U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has called on Shi’ite Muslim Iran, Assad’s closest regional ally, to help arrange a ceasefire in Syria during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha later this month.

Diplomatic sources said Brahimi is also trying to persuade Assad and the rebels to accept a ceasefire and allow U.N. monitors into the country to oversee it.

Brahimi, who took over after Kofi Annan quit in frustration in August, has been travelling around the Middle East trying to nudge regional powers into accepting his plan, which resembles a ceasefire Annan tried in vain to implement, U.N. diplomats said.

But diplomatic sources familiar with Brahimi’s proposals said that neither Assad’s government nor the fractious opposition had shown interest in halting the conflict.

Major powers at the United Nations remain deadlocked over what to do to defuse Syria’s conflict.

Russia, which has been Assad’s primary arms supplier, and China have vetoed three resolutions favored by Western powers condemning Syrian authorities and opening the way to imposing United Nations sanctions on Damascus.

The French daily Le Figaro said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had described Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s position as “going backwards.”

“Lavrov came to explain to us that Assad will not leave power,” the paper quoted Fabius as saying after a European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said his country was taking “a position for peace … What other countries are doing or have been doing are creating the circumstances for even more bloodshed,” he told reporters in Brussels.

“Some countries are providing weapons, to any side, whether the government side or the opposition side in Syria. We are not doing that. We are not giving them weapons.”

Outgunned rebels have struggled to turn the tide of conflict against government forces endowed with tanks, jets and helicopter gunships. But Western powers have been reluctant to arm the insurgents because they perceive no coherent leadership and fear that weapons are ending up in the hands of Islamist jihadi militants increasingly evident in the conflict.

Mistrust and miscommunication have dominated relations between rebel brigades and each privately accuse the other of incompetence. Differences over leadership, tactics and sources of funding have also widened rifts between largely autonomous brigades scattered across Syria.

The rebel sources said countries who have supported the revolt but whose own rivalries have exacerbated rebel divisions agreed that it was time the rebels fight side by side.

“There will never be unity inside Syria unless the countries supporting the revolt agree because each group is supported and backed by (one) country,” one source said.

“Now the countries are becoming nervous and the Syrian issue has become bigger than they expected and almost out of control.”

Rebel leaders believe a common fighting front would enable coordination of multi-faceted operations crucial to success against a better armed adversary.

“If a brigade wants to hit a (government) checkpoint then an intelligence unit would check it out and then raise a report up to the (regional) command. The command will take a decision on the number of men needed for this operation and the kind of weapons plus other issues,” another rebel source said.

(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations, John Irish in Paris, Angus MacSwan in Lebanon, Khaled Oweis in Amman, Ethan Bilby in Brussels, Naomi O’Leary in Rome; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Mark Heinrich)