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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

28 Feb 2012 15:31


World: UN’s estimate of Syrian death toll increases with recent surge in killing

  • 7,500 killed in Syria since last March, UN says source
  • » “Indiscriminant bombardment by tank and rocket fire”: Those were the words of the UN’s undersecretary general for political affairs, Lynn Pascoe. The killing in Syria has reached something of a fever pitch in past months, with the bombardment of Homs in particular leading to grim headlines, and truly ghastly footage. The UN currently estimates that over 100 people per day are being killed by Bashar al-Assad’s security forces. Said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on Assad as a war criminal: “I think that based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category.”

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

01 Feb 2012 20:12


World: Sec. of State Clinton makes case to UN on Syria

  • Every member of the Council has to make a decision: Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of the Syrian people? Are you on the side of the Arab League? Are you on the side of the people of the Middle East and North Africa who have during this past year spoken out courageously and often for their rights? Or are you on the side of a brutal, dictatorial regime?
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton • Stating her case to the UN Security Council, on the matter of the violent turmoil that continues in Syria. Clinton is clearly arguing on somewhat simplistic moral grounds, trying to put more pressure on Russia, which has said they’ll veto a resolution if it mandates that Bashar al-Assad step down from power. In particular, memory of the NATO mission in Libya is likely in play — Russia approved a resolution to protect Libyan civilians, only to see it broaden into a mission to depose dictator Muammar Gaddafi, which they opposed. Consequently, they’re now unwilling to agree to a resolution that carries either the overt or implied goal of regime change. 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