Wednesday 4 April 2012

Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: SUMMARY (04/04/2012): More than 100 martyrs are reported today, most of them in the town of Taftanaz (Idlib), where dozens have been killed and hundreds more arrested. Many houses were destroyed and burned, some with the inhabitants still inside. The number of martyrs will likely increase. This doesn’t mean the rest of Syria is living any better – in Beit Sehm (Damascus Countryside) 3 entire families were killed when an explosion destroyed their apartment building. Many other cities are under shelling and sniperfire. Still 6 more days for Ass-ad until Annan’s deadline. See the map for more info. Syria – Wednesday 04/04/2012 – Google Maps

The Syrian Days Of Rage – English: ?(04.04.2012) Khaldiya | #Homs #Syria | Freedom protests despite heavy shelling

 (04.04.2012) Khaldiya | Homs | Freedom protests despite heavy shelling

We are all Hamza Alkhateeb: URGENT APPEAL FOR HELP WITH DIAGNOSIS FROM INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES: Dr. Mohamad Al Mohamad: Patients suffering from hair and memory loss, muscle, arthritis and abdominal pain. Dr. Mohamad believes this is evidence that the regime used bacterial and/or chemical weapons when invading Baba Amr. The symptoms started to show after the residents got out of Baba Amr by three or four days. We documented 12 cases, (this is one of them),,, also two cases died as a result of this. We appeal to the Human Rights groups to help with the diagnosis since we don’t have the proper medical equipment or facilities. We missed you doctor,,, may God protect you and all Syrians.

  Urgent appeal

NOW! Lebanon
[local time]  22:05 Wednesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 92 people, Al-Jazeera television quoted the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution as saying.
 21:51 UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on Syria will address the UN General Assembly on Thursday about President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on rebels in Syria after a truce pledge.
 19:34 A Catholic bishop based in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday called for “an immediate ceasefire” over Easter in clashes between government troops and armed opposition groups.
 17:20 The Syrian National Council on Wednesday declared Edleb’s Taftanaz a “disaster zone” following the continuous shelling by Syrian security forces, Al-Arabiya reported.
 17:15 An explosion targeted two houses in the town of Beit Sahem near Damascus on Wednesday killing 15 people, Al-Jazeera television quoted the Local Coordination Committees as saying.
 17:08 Wednesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 48 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted the Local Coordination Committees as saying.
 15:40 International Committee of the Red Cross chief Jakob Kellenberger traveled on Wednesday to Daraa to assess the humanitarian needs in the birthplace of Syria’s year-long uprising, the ICRC said.
 13:29 Fierce clashes in Syria killed at least 18 people Wednesday, mostly in Homs, as regime forces stormed and shelled villages in fresh operations, monitors said.
 12:27 Syrian forces launched fresh military operations on Wednesday, storming and shelling several towns or villages despite a pledge by Damascus to rein in its troops, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
 12:10 The warehouses belonging to the Red Crescent in Homs were bombed by Syrian security forces, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying on Wednesday.
 11:13 At least 80 people, mostly civilians, were killed on Tuesday as Syrian forces pressed their crackdown on dissent despite a truce pledge, monitors said on Wednesday.
 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Syrian opposition will never defeat President Bashar al-Assad’s army, AFP reported on Wednesday.
 9:05 Syrian forces raided Hama’s neighborhoods, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 8:21 Syrian forces shelled Homs neighborhoods on Wednesday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 8:17 A draft UN Security Council statement on Syria would ask Syria to respect an April 10 deadline to halt its military operations in protest cities, according to a copy of the text seen by AFP on Tuesday.

REUTERS: U.N. ceasefire mission fails to curb Syria violence

Syrian opposition activists accused forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of bombarding rebel areas on Wednesday as a U.N. mission was expected to arrive in Damascus in a first step to implement an international peace plan.

Activists said at least 80 people have been killed since Tuesday despite the imminent arrival of the advance team from the U.N. peacekeeping department.

The advance mission is part of the latest international effort to end a year of bloodshed that began with peaceful protests against Assad’s authoritarian rule in March 2011.

Activists said troops and police loyal to Assad pressed on with a campaign of raids and arrests in rebel areas, accompanied by bombardments, gun battles and sniper attacks.

“Since this morning they have been shelling Khalidiya neighborhood, that is in its 17th day,” said Hadi Abdullah by telephone from Homs, the city of one million which has suffered most in the bloody 12 month uprising.

“Whatever it is that hits the area leaves a horrible sulfur smell, like rotten eggs.”

Human rights group Amnesty International said it had counted 232 deaths since Syria accepted Annan’s plan on March 27.

Assad’s government issued its latest official death toll for the 12-month uprising. It told the United Nations that 6,044 people had been killed of whom 2,566 were soldiers and police.

The United Nations itself says Assad’s forces have killed more than 9,000 people in the past year.

The mission, headed by Norwegian General Robert Mood, is part of efforts to implement a deal between Assad and international mediator Kofi Annan for an April 10 withdrawal of Syrian forces, to be followed by a ceasefire by rebel forces within 48 hours.

During the visit, it is expected to discuss deploying some 250 U.N. monitors to oversee a ceasefire. But his acceptance of a troop withdrawal has met skepticism among the Syrian opposition and its Western and Arab supporters.

“The Syrian authorities have said they will do that by April 10,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in London.

“There is no sign of them doing it so far. Attacks on the citizens, the civilians of their country have continued, the murder, oppression, and torture of the regime has continued…”

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said on Tuesday the Security Council would have to respond if Assad used the next seven days to intensify the violence.

Syria’s ally Russia however attacked the “Friends of Syria” group of Western and Arab nations who met in Istanbul at the weekend, saying it was undermining Annan’s peace mission.

“Everyone has supported Kofi Annan’s plan, but decisions at the ‘Friends of Syria’ group meeting aimed at arming the opposition and at new sanctions undermine peace efforts,” state-run Itar-Tass quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

Despite its pro-Assad tone, some diplomats have said Moscow has grown increasingly frustrated with Damascus and its failure to end the uprising.

“Russia believes regime change in Syria would result in an Islamist regime after a great deal of bloodshed,” one senior diplomat told Reuters.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem is due in Moscow for talks on April 10, Russia’s Foreign ministry said.


The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitor which collates reports from inside Syria, said 58 civilians and 18 soldiers were killed on Tuesday.

It said 20 civilians died in Homs province, including 15 killed in bombardment, shooting and sniper fire in Homs city.

In Idlib province, 20 civilians and seven soldiers were killed in clashes in Taftanaz village, east of Idlib city. Rami Abdulrahman, head of the SOHR, said rebel fighters had hit at least two of the tanks bombarding the village.

In Homs province on Wednesday, seven people were killed during clashes, the Observatory reported.

The Syrian state news agency SANA said “several terrorists” and three security men were killed in Taftanaz. “Armed terrorist groups … were attacking citizens, and perpetrating acts of killing, kidnapping and planting explosives,” it said.

“At a poultry farm in a Dir Baalba orchard (Homs province), the terrorists killed a number of citizens in cold blood, mutilating and burning their bodies after kidnapping them. The terrorists also killed four women at one house in the same neighborhood after storming it,” SANA said.

Accounts of the violence could not be verified because Syria’s government restricts access to independent journalists.

Some analysts predict that huge numbers of Syrians would fill the streets to demand Assad’s resignation if the threat of armed repression were lifted. “Millions will start demonstrating and Assad can’t afford to see this,” said Randa Slim, from the Middle East Institute in Washington.

A video said to have been filmed in Damascus on Tuesday night showed a line of fire, probably from burning tires, cutting off six lanes of traffic on a downtown expressway.

In the Barzeh district of central Damascus, a device exploded in a car belonging to a man close to the authorities and in Beit Saham outside the capital three people were killed and more than 15 wounded by an explosion, activist reports said.

(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon, Oliver HOlmes and Dominic Evans in Beirut, Adrian Croft in London, Steve Gutterman in Moscow, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations. Writing by Douglas Hamilton. Editing by Maria Golovnina)

BBC: Syria rebels ‘will not beat army’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Syria’s opposition will never defeat the country’s armed forces even if it is “armed to the teeth”.

Mr Lavrov warned that there would be “slaughter for many years” if Western and Arab states intervened militarily and supplied weapons to rebel groups.

Gulf states agreed on Sunday to pay the salaries of Free Syrian Army fighters.

Meanwhile, the US has warned the Syrian government not to intensify violence ahead of a ceasefire due on 10 April.

The US permanent representative to the UN, Susan Rice, said Syria’s actions since 1 April did not encourage hope that it would comply with the six-point peace plan proposed by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

Ms Rice said the US was “concerned and quite sceptical that the government of Syria will suddenly adhere to its commitments” and the UN would “need to respond to that failure in a very urgent and serious way”.

The Syrian government has said it has agreed to the deadline, but activists accuse it of stalling for time so it can crush the uprising before UN monitors arrive and say attacks are continuing.

Mr Annan will brief the UN General Assembly on Thursday morning by video link from Geneva on the status of his peace plan for Syria.

On Tuesday, at least 58 civilians were killed, including 20 in military assaults and clashes between troops and rebels in Taftanaz, in the northern province of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Eighteen soldiers died in Homs, Idlib and Deraa provinces, it added.

Explosions and gunfire were reported in several parts of the country on Wednesday, including the city of Homs and near the Turkish border.

“Tanks are still shelling or storming towns and villages before going back to their bases,” Rami Abdul Rahman of the Syrian Observatory told the AFP news agency. “That does not mean they are withdrawing.”

‘Mutual destruction’During a visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday, Russia’s foreign minister said the “Friends of Syria” group of Western and Arab nations backing political change were hindering attempts to end the bloodshed.

“Everyone has supported Kofi Annan’s plan, but decisions at the Friends of Syria group meeting aimed at arming the opposition and at new sanctions undermine peace efforts,” Mr Lavrov told Russian media. to pay the “salaries” of Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters. The money will be distributed through the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC).

The money is the first formal international support for the FSA. Critics said the funds could be used to buy weapons on the black market.

“If the opposition is armed to the teeth, it will not defeat the Syrian army,” Mr Lavrov warned on Wednesday. “Instead, there will be slaughter for many, many years – mutual destruction.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have argued in favour of arming Syrian opposition supporters so they can defend themselves, but other countries supporting political change have opposed the idea, including the US.

The chairman of the SNC, Burhan Ghalioun, warned on Sunday that President Assad would use the divisions in the international community and Mr Annan’s peace initiative to prolong the crackdown on dissent.

‘Co-operation mechanism’An advance team from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) is due in Syria imminently to discuss the deployment of the observers to monitor the implementation of Mr Annan’s peace plan.

In addition to a ceasefire by all parties, it calls for a political process to address the “aspirations” of the Syrian people, the release of detainees, delivery of aid, free movement for journalists, and the right to protest.

On Wednesday Mr Annan held talks in Geneva with Norway’s Maj-Gen Robert Mood, who will lead the advance team.

Gen Mood is a former head of the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), the UN peacekeeping operation in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, is continuing a visit to Syria.

On Tuesday, Mr Kellenberger tried to persuade senior Syrian officials to allow aid workers better access to those who have been wounded or displaced by the conflict, and to implement a two-hour daily halt to the fighting to allow in humanitarian aid.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem agreed to a “co-operation mechanism” for humanitarian assistance when meeting Mr Kellenberger.

Guardian: Syria crisis – UN peacekeeping team heading for Damascus – live updates

Follow live updates as a UN peacekeeping team is bound for Syria and the security council drafts a new statement calling for the immediate implementation of Kofi Annan’s peace plan …