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29 Feb 2012 20:36


World: Stricken area of Homs flanked by Syrian tanks, full-on ground-assault feared

  • It was a very aggressive attack on Baba Amr today. I don’t think they want to enter it anyway; they want to destroy it completely by shelling it from adjacent villages and neighborhoods.
  • Mulham al-Jundi, Syrian activist • Describing the state of Baba Amr, a part of the besieged city of Homs in Syria. Homs has been the site of the most sustained, catastrophic violence in recent months, and tanks have reportedly surrounded the Baba Amr neighborhood on four sides, launching mortar fire and rockets into the fray. Communication into Baba Amr, which had been maintained for weeks, was cut off for a few hours today, conjuring fears of a ground massacre rolling through the area. Thankfully, recent reports suggest this has not yet occurred. The scene in Homs is ghastly, and looks to be getting worse every day — al-Jundi also said it’s hard to discern how many people are left alive, because anybody who moves through the streets risks being shot dead by government snipers stationed on rooftops. source

21 Feb 2012 21:00


World: Video: What the massive mortars hitting Syrian rebels look like

  • The largest mortars used by the U.S. military are 160mm. The bad boys shown in this video of a torn-apart building in Homs are a much-larger 240mm (according to Human Rights Watch), and can be fired from as far as 20 kilometers away. Where did they get these heavy mortar rounds from? Most likely Russia, which produces the “Tulip” weapons system that fires weapons of this nature. (The towed M240 might also be used in these attacks.) So, to put it simply, Syria is lobbing giant weapons in its fight against the rebel movement. source

15 Feb 2012 20:39


World: Syria’s Assad sets date for constitutional referendum

  • A plan for reform, or a play to credulity? Considering the Arab League deal Syria accepted then ignored, the complete lack of efficacy of the peace monitors they allowed the AL to send in, and the recent surge of violence (even in relative terms), it’s hard not to assume the latter. Bashar al-Assad has, nonetheless, set a date for a constitutional referendum, ostensibly for Syrians to approve a democratic system, and presidential term limits (of two, seven-year terms). The vote is scheduled for February 26th, but it begs the question; who would vote in an election if the integrity of it relies on Assad’s word alone? It would also force dissenters to publicly congregate at a place of the government’s choosing; not a welcome idea, we suspect. source

14 Feb 2012 22:01


World: Americans are beginning to sour on foreign intervention

  • 63% of Americans believed, in March 2011, that the US had no obligation to intervene in Libya
  • 73% of Americans believe, as of today, that the US has no obligation to intervene in Syria source

07 Feb 2012 16:32


U.S.: Bashar al-Assad knows a thing or two about easy-to-remember passwords

  • 12345 Assad’s password; go check his e-mail source
  • » The second-most-common password online: Anonymous had an easy time hacking the Syrian president’s e-mail Monday, finding that the password was as easy as QWERTY (except one line up on the keyboard). Many of the 78 accounts at the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs had this porous password. Among the finds? An e-mail prepping Assad for his interview with Barbara Walters, where he infamously denied involvement in the killing of his own citizens. Read more about the incident over at Haaretz. (ht Mashable)

04 Feb 2012 13:29


World: Syria: Hillary Clinton says Russia was unwilling to budge on UN resolution

“I thought that there might be some ways to bridge, even at this last moment, a few of the concerns that the Russians had,” she told the Munich Security Conference. “I offered to work in a constructive manner to do so. That has not been possible.” source

31 Jan 2012 10:33


World: Syria: Russia again favors Assad, bucks against United Nations resolution

  • The Western draft Security Council resolution on Syria does not lead to a search for compromise. Pushing this resolution is a path to civil war.
  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov • Criticizing a draft United Nations resolution which would ask Bashar al-Assad to step aside in Syria. Gatilov suggests the resolution would lead to military conflict in Syria — much like a similar resolution did in Libya. Russia, Syria’s largest ally in the current climate, has been the sticking point for the United Nations in handling the situation in Syria: Previously, they vetoed a UN Security Council attempt to condemn the crackdown in October, and they’ll likely veto the latest resolution. source

29 Jan 2012 21:52


World: Syria conflict: Calls for outside involvement rise as Arab League leaves

  • The current battles taking place in and around Damascus may not yet lead to the unraveling of the regime, but the illusion of normalcy that the Assads have sought hard to maintain in the capital since the beginning of the revolution has surely unraveled. … Once illusions unravel, reality soon follows.
  • U.S.-based Syrian dissident Ammar Abdulhamid • Discussing the current situation in Damascus, where government tanks have gone into rebel strongholds in an attempt to take back the ground. The situation in the country is quickly deteriorating, with another 62 killed throughout the country Sunday, and the Arab League had to suspend their mission in the region on Saturday as a result of the violence. The big question here: Will outside military forces have to get involved to help ease the situation? Libya was a controversial decision for the U.S. and NATO, and the situation in Syria is in many ways as violent and unhinged. While the U.S. may not heed the call again, the United Nations might. A lot of difficult questions to answer in Syria. source

24 Jan 2012 14:40


World: Arab League sets deadline for Syrian extension of peace monitor deal

  • the plan The Arab League’s deadline for the Syrian government to agree to an extension of the peace monitor delegation that’s been in Syria the last several weeks. They also wants the UN Security Council pass a resolution against Syria, giving their role more leverage and legitimacy.
  • the hitchSome have accused the Syrian government of using the peace monitor mission to stall action against them, rather than seek reform; also, don’t expect a resolution from the Security Council with permanent members China and Russia in the mix. source

22 Jan 2012 21:17


World: Arab League expands observer group, wants Assad to step aside

  • We all had hopes that after sending observers, the problem would be solved—that the presence of observers would halt the violence. But that didn’t happen. Saudi Arabia felt unmotivated and I’m telling you that everyone in the [deliberation] hall felt unmotivated.
  • Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al Arabi • Describing the frustration the Arab League’s monitors faced in in Syria over recent weeks. The group wants Bashar al-Assad to step aside and hand power to his vice president. The monitors will stay in the country for a second month. The Arab League, which claimed many deaths came as a result of “mutual violence” (to the chagrin of Syrian activists), plans to increase the size of the observer group to 300 people, get better-qualified people, and improve their training. source