Wednesday 1 August 2012

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final report on the documented deaths for Wednesday 1/8/2012

More than 180 Syrians were killed on Wednesday: 115 unarmed civilians, 18 armed rebels, 3 defected soldiers, and 45 members of regime forces.

115 Unarmed civilians:

-In Reef Dimashq 52 civilians were killed. 47 were killed in the town of Jdeidat Artouz by the military operation on the town, which was accompanied by bombardment, gunfire and several summary executions; 43 of the dead have been fully documented with names. 1 civilians was killed in the town of Zamalka due to injuries from the bombardment on the town on Tuesday night. 1 killed by the bombardment of Hazza. 2 were killed by the bombardment of Bebeela and Yelda. the body of an unidentified civilian was found in the town of Ma’adamiyat al-Sham, the body bore severe marks of torture.-In the province of Homs 10 civilians were killed. 8 civilians, including 1 child and its mother, were killed during the bombardment on the area of al Qassir. 2 others, including a women, were killed during the bombardment on the town of Talbiseh.

-In the province of Aleppo 11 were killed. 5 names were certified today after they were killed during the bombardment on the city of al-Bab yesterday. 4 civilians were killed, between them 1 women, during the bombardment on the neighborhoods of Al Kalasah and Salaheddin. 2 civilians were killed from earlier wounds, one of which during the bombardent on the city, the other is a prisoner who was killed during the revolt that occured in the central prison of Aleppo.

-In the province of Dera’a 5 civilians killed. 1 due to his injuries after being hit by a sniper on the Sayda-Dera’a highway in the countryside. 2 civilians from the village of Arh, 1 from gunfire when the village was stormed by the regime, the other was killed while being detained by regime forces. 1 civilian from the town of al-Sheikh Miskeen was killed by a sniper in the city of al-Raqqah. 1 killed by a regime affiliated sniper in the Dera’a al-Balad neighbourhood of Dera’a.

-In the province of Deir Izzor 11 civilians were killed. 8 civilians ( 4 women and 3 children and a man) killed by the regime’s morning bombardment on the village of Safeira al-Tahtani. 2 civilians were killed by the regime bombardment on the city of Deir Izzor. 1 from the regime bombardment on al-Boukamal.

-In Idlib province 15 civilians were killed. 10 of them, of which a child, were killed due to the bombardment of the city of Ariha. A civilian was killed at Tuesday midnight due to the bombardment of the city of Ma’aret al-Na’man. A civilian was killed under torture after his arrest by regime forces from the village of Khan al-Subul in the countryside. 1 by sniper fire in Khan sheikhoun. A mass grave was found in the town of Salqin, Reef Idlib, which contained no less than 10 bodies, only 2 have been documented by the SOHR so far.

-In Damascus 8 civilians killed. A civilian from the neighborhood of Al Shaghour was killed after being shot in Bab Sharqi. 7 bodies were found were found in the al-Qaboun neighbourhood, the bodies bore signs of torture; only 3 names were documented by the SOHR.

-In Hama province 2 civilians were killed. The body of 1 civilian, from the town of Kafarzeita, was found in one of the rooms were Syrian soldiers were centred, near the town of al-Latamneh. A child died of wounds received during the regime’s storming of al-Latamneh last week.

-In Lattakia, a civilian from the city was killed in Aleppo.


18 rebel fighters:

Aleppo prov: 2 rebels killed. 1 fighter was killed after being wounded during the clashes near the police department of Salheen in the city of Aleppo. A rebel leader was killed during the clashes with pro-regime gunmen near the village of Jandarat in the countryside of Aleppo.

Deir Izzor prov: 4 fighters killed. 2 of which during clashes with regime force in the city of al-Mayadeen midngiht of Tuesday. 1 rebel fighter, from the town of Muhassan, was killed in Dera’a. Another was killed during the bombardment on the neighborhood of Al jabela in the city of Deir Ezor.

Damascus: 4 fighters were killed, one of which is a rebel leader, during clashes in the city.

Dera’a prov: A rebel fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in the neighbourhood of Dera’a al-Balad, city of Dera’a.

Homs prov: 3 rebel fighters killed from the bombardment, and the attempted storming of the al-Qaseer by regime forces.

Idlib prov: 3 rebel fighters killed. 1 fighter from the town of Taftanaz was killed during clashes with regime forces on the road to Aleppo. 2 rebels killed by the town of Sarmin at night, they were shot by regime forces.

Latakia prov: A rebel fighter was killed during clashes in the town of al-Haffeh, Reef Latakia.


2 defected majors were killed during clashes in the provinces of Aleppo and Homs, one of them led a rebel battalion. A defected first sergeant was killed during clashes in Yelda, Reef Dimashq.

No less than 45 members of the Syrian armed forces were killed, between them an officer; they died during clashes in the provinces of Damascus, Aleppo, Idlib, Dera’a, Deir Izzor, Latakia and Homs.

Footage sent to the SOHR from the city of Aleppo showing several members of the Al-Berri family, including Ali Zein al-Abideen Al-Berri, being summarily executed by rebel fighters 31/7/2012.
The SOHR posted a video yesterday of several members of the Al-Berri clan after they were captured by rebels, they included Ali Zein al-Abideen Al-Berri.

Footage sent from the city of Ariha, Reef Idlib, showing some of those killed as a result of the regime bombardment on the city today 1/8/2012.

NOW! Lebanon
[local time]
  22:25 France will seek to organize a ministerial-level UN Security Council meeting on Syria before the end of August, but diplomatic sources said the meeting would be moved back.
 22:10 The death toll in Syria rose to 131 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying on Wednesday.
 21:21 The official head of the rebel Free Syrian Army lambasted on Wednesday the FSA joint command in Syria, which has called for the formation of a presidential council to lead to a political transition.
 20:50 The United States Wednesday denounced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as “cowardly” and “despicable” for calling on his forces to continue the fight against opposition rebels.
 19:42 The UN mission in Syria has confirmed that opposition forces in the city of Aleppo have “tanks” and “heavy weapons,” the UN spokesperson said Wednesday.
 19:40 Washington must boost backing for Syrian rebels, including possible arms and air support, and lay out red lines for the Assad regime of what would spark military intervention, experts said Wednesday.
 19:10 Wednesday’s death toll in Syria reached 117 people including 50 killed in a “massacre” outside Damascus, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 18:47 Clashes took place in the Al-Qadam neighborhood of Damascus between Syrian regime forces and members of the Free Syrian Army, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 18:28 President Vladimir Putin will strongly defend Russia’s position on the Syria conflict when he meets British Prime Minister David Cameron in London on Thursday, his spokesperson said.
 18:00 Syrian security forces killed 30 people in Artouz outside Damascus, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying on Wednesday.
 17:58 Syrian security forces’ helicopters shelled the Tadamon neighborhood of Damascus, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying on Wednesday.
 17:51 The death toll in Syria reached 90 people on Wednesday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 17:47 Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu arrived in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region on Wednesday for talks with regional president Massud Barzani on the situation of Kurds in Syria.
 17:17 The Czech embassy in Damascus will represent US interests in Syria after Poland, which had been taking on that function for the Americans after they pulled out in February, withdrew its diplomats last week.
 16:23 Syrian regime forces shelled the villages of Eido and Mzein in the Latakia district, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying on Wednesday.
 16:21 Syrian rebels captured and executed a sniper affiliated with the Syrian regime following a “trial” carried out at this own graveside, Reuters reported Wednesday.
 15:57 Greece will triple the number of guards along its border with Turkey to ward off a possible influx of Syrian refugees, a police source said Wednesday.
 15:52 Wednesday’s death toll in Syria rose to 73 people, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 15:46 Turkey’s military on Wednesday tested its tanks’ speed and maneuverability during an exercise in Turkey’s southeastern border near Syria, reported the Anatolia news agency.
 15:23 Wednesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 50 people, Al-Jazeera television quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying.
 15:07 Eight people were killed, mostly women and children, when a funeral procession was fired upon by Syrian regime forces in the Deir az-Zour village of Mohaymayda, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 14:33 The UN said on Wednesday that the Syria military used fighter jets to fire on Aleppo, AFP reported.
 13:24 Syrian security forces killed 25 people on Wednesday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 13:19 The Syrian army is shelling the Daraa town of Harak with Grad missiles, Al-Jazeera reported.
 13:11 Rebels in Syria have now set their sights on seizing intelligence branches in the country’s commercial capital of Aleppo after taking three police stations there, a rebel commander told AFP on Wednesday.
 12:29 The Syrian army is engaged in a “crucial and heroic battle,” President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday in a speech published by official media agency SANA on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of the army.
 11:43 WARNING: A graphic YouTube video purportedly filmed in Aleppo shows Syrian rebels executing members of the pro-Syrian regime Al-Berri tribe.

 10:43 Fighting between soldiers and rebels broke out on Wednesday for the first time near two Christian districts of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
 9:38 Sustained gunfire and explosions were heard early Wednesday in areas of the Syrian capital hostile to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, activists reported.
 8:27 MORNING LEADER: Syrian troops and rebels poured into Aleppo on Tuesday as both sides battened down for the long haul after 40 police were killed on day four of a pivotal battle in the conflict. Meanwhile, a veteran dissident claimed he had been tasked with forming a government in exile, an announcement the SNC described as “hasty.”
 7:24 An Iranian diplomat was assassinated in Damascus, Al-Arabiya television quoted a source from the Syrian opposition as saying.

Reuters: Syria’s Assad praises troops, keeps out of public eye
Photo ALEPPO, Syria – President Bashar al-Assad told his troops on Wednesday that their battle against rebels would decide Syria’s fate, but his written message gave no clues to his whereabouts two weeks after a bomb attack on his inner circle. | Video

Turkish army stages tank exercises near Syria borderISTANBUL – Turkey’s army staged tank exercises near the Syrian border on Wednesday, Turkish officials said, in a move highlighting Ankara’s unease about security on the frontier.

Syrian troops kill 35 in Damascus suburb -activists:

 AMMAN Aug 1 (Reuters) – Syrian troops killed at least 35 people on Wednesday, mostly unarmed civilians, when they shelled and overran asuburb of the capital Damascus, residents and activist organisations said.

“The tanks and troops left around 4 p.m. When the streets were clear we found the bodies of at least 35 men,” a resident, who gave his name as Fares, said by phone from Jdeidet Artouz, southwest of Damascus.

“Almost all of them were executed with bullets to their face, head and neck in homes, gardens and basements,” he added, speaking of the troop action to crush opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

Fares, who did not give his last name for fear of retribution by Assad’s forces, said soldiers from the Fourth Division, a praetorian guard unit under the command of Assad’s brother Maher, came into his house.

“They examined my ID and let me go. They seem to have been looking for activists or young men with a certain profile to execute,” he said.

He said the bodies were collected at the Omar bin al-Khattab mosque and buried in a mass grave dug by a bulldozer volunteered by the owner of nearby farmland.

“There are more bodies in al-Sahl area but we could not reach them because there is an army roadblock there,” he said.

Another resident of the suburb said the total number of dead was at least 50.

Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said 26 of 35 bodies his organisation tallied in Jdeidet Artouz have been identified and the victims were overwhelmingly civilians.

BBC: Syrian rebel shootings condemned

Rebel fighters in Aleppo, Syria, 31 July Human rights activists condemn the public shooting in Syria of four apparent Assad loyalists by rebels after a video of the killings emerges.

Video posted online shows the men, who included the alleged head of a feared local militia, being put up against a wall and shot with Kalashnikov rifles.

Human Rights Watch has told the BBC the act was potentially a war crime.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the nation’s fate is being decided by the fight against the rebels.

Clive BaldwinSenior legal adviser for Human Rights Watch

The head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which documents violence by all sides in the conflict, condemned the killings by the rebels as “criminal”.

But Russia, one of Syria’s closest allies, said the video showed there were human rights violations on both sides.

Government forces have been battling to oust Free Syria Army (FSA) rebels from Aleppo, the country’s biggest city and its commercial capital, since they launched an assault last month.

The rebels appear to control large parts of the city despite government assertions that they have suffered heavy losses and are being mopped up by security forces.

The UN mission in Syria reports that the rebels in Aleppo are now armed with some heavy weapons including tanks and says that helicopters, heavy machine guns and artillery are also being used in the fighting.

“We are calling on all parties to exercise utmost restraint… to distinguish between civilians and [combatants] in this conflict,” said spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh.

Activists say at least 135 people were killed across Syria on Wednesday, in figures which could not be confirmed independently.

War crime?

The public shootings seem to have taken place on Tuesday, in what looks like a schoolyard.

In a video which appeared on YouTube, gunmen can be seen leading a number of men in their underwear, some of them bruised or bloodied, into the yard, which is crowded with men shouting religious slogans.

Chants include, “The Free Syrian Army forever, we’ll trample on the head of Assad”.

After the half-naked men are put up against a wall, the camera moves back behind the crowd, losing sight of them.

Heavy gunfire from Kalashnikov assault rifles erupts, after which the camera shows a pile of bodies by the wall.

One of the men killed has been identified as Ali Zeineddin al-Berri, known as Zeno, accused of leading a pro-regime shabiha militia group which killed 15 FSA fighters during a truce in Aleppo on Tuesday.

Clive Baldwin, a senior legal adviser for Human Rights Watch (HRW), told the BBC: “What it looks like is execution of detainees and if that is the case, that would be a war crime.”

HRW, he added, had been seeing evidence of abuses such as torture and executions by rebel elements “for some time”.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said of the footage: “This is criminal. This is revenge.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said the killings confirmed human rights violations were “taking place on both sides”.

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is expected to discuss Syria when he meets UK Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to in London on Thursday.

The Aleppo video clearly shows that large numbers of rebel fighters retain control of several parts of Aleppo and seem even to be expanding, despite reports on the state media that security forces are prevailing, says the BBC’s Jim Muir, in neighbouring Lebanon.

Amnesty report

Mr Assad has not spoken in public for two weeks. On Wednesday, he issued a written statement marking armed forces day.

He praised soldiers for confronting “armed terrorist gangs”, saying: “The fate of our people and our nation, past, present and future, depends on this battle.”

The US accused Mr Assad of cowardice for “exhorting his armed forces to continue to slaughter the civilians of his own country” while “hiding out of sight”.

Amnesty International says government forces committed crimes against humanity this month in Aleppo.

In the report, based on research carried out in May, the rights group appealed to the UN Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court and impose an arms embargo on the country.

Amnesty accuses security forces and the shabiha of firing on peaceful protesters and bystanders, including children.

It also says medical teams were targeted and those arrested were often tortured.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 135 deaths on Wednesday while the Local Coordination Committees gave a figure of 170.

Activists estimate some 20,000 people have died since March last year.

Analysis  Jim Muir BBC News, Beirut

There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the troubling video footage from Aleppo, purporting to show alleged members of the hated pro-regime shabiha militia being lynched after capture.

Other videos – all filmed by rebels or activists – showed many bodies strewn around a captured police station. Not all of them looked like combat deaths. For more than a year, government forces, and the shabiha, have been accused of perpetrating many more such abuses – and worse, the cold-blooded slaying of women and children.

There have also been past allegations of abuses by the rebel side, but rarely have they been so clearly documented. Clearly, neither side has a monopoly of righteousness, nor of abuse.

As the conflict sharpens and the regime fights for survival, the level of viciousness may also intensify. The International Red Cross recently ruled that international humanitarian law now applies to Syria.

That means that combatants are obliged to obey the laws of war, and those guilty of abuses may be charged with war crimes.

Guardian: Syrian army pounds Aleppo as video appears to show rebels’ revenge killings

Syrian rebels arrest a man who is claimed to be traitor at an old military base near Aleppo 1 Aug 2012: Regime forces use artillery and aircraft to attack parts of Syria’s second city as Assad praises army for facing ‘terrorist gangs’ …

Syria’s fate depends on army’s battle with rebels, says Bashar al-Assad: 1 Aug 2012: Syrian president praises his soldiers for confronting ‘criminal terrorist gangs’ in statement marking armed forces day …

Syria crisis: rebels ‘execute shabiha’ in Aleppo – Wednesday 1 August 2012:Jet and helicopters hit eastern Aleppo for the first time while the standoff in the south-western district of Salaheddine continues …

Syria regime responsible for crimes against humanity in Aleppo – Amnesty: 1 Aug 2012: Forces ‘routinely’ used live rounds on peaceful protesters, agency says in report that catalogues mass rights violations …

Syria’s rebels add explosives expertise to guerrilla tactics:Commanders use insurgency methods but rage at being compared to al-Qaida, saying if anyone is a terrorist it is Assad …