Syria Update September 7, 2012

Syria Update September 7, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: More than 160. Of these 129 were civilians, 9 were opposition fighters (including a 15 year old child) 4 defected soldiers, and 28 Syrian government troops.

Thursday’s amended death toll: 224 including 108 civilians.

Today: The EU’s Ministers met today in Cyprus to discuss ways to help the Syrian opposition. http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/syria-conflict.i8h

The opposition and the regime troops clashed all over the country, with the opposition continuing its efforts to seize military and air offensive bases, and the regime continuing to punish areas considered sympathetic to the opposition with shelling and house-to-house raids. Friday protests were held all over Syria, many with banners and slogans in solidarity with the city of Homs which has been besieged for over 100 days.

Defections: The head of Syria’s criminal security branch in Damascus, Awad Ahmed al-Ali, has defected. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2ld3b630VA&feature=player_embedded

Syria’s ambassador to Serbia, Bashar al-Haj Ali has defected. http://www.aljazeera.net/news/pages/22dddf69-e0f2-4376-8858-4ecca89373a1

Aleppo province: In the city of Aleppo, an explosion near the Ma`rouf mosque in al-Shaykh Maqsoud in Aleppo has killed and injured many people, and was caused by rocket fire on this mostly Kurdish neighborhood.

Regime forces have shelled al-Midan, Masaken Hanano, Tariq al-Bab, Salahadin, al-Sakhur, and Saif al-Dawla neighborhoods in the city of Aleppo.

Clashes occurred near the Hanano military barracks. Four opposition fighters and 18 government armed forces troops were killed.

Regime forces have shelled al-Bab destroying homes. Clashes occurred in the Kwiris airport (a military airport) and some reports indicate the opposition took over the airport.

Anti-regime protests were held in Jerias and Atarib.

Damascus province. In the city of Damascus: A car bomb exploded near the Palace of Justice in Mezzeh. An IED exploded in the al-Salhiyya neighborhood. It was also reported that a motorcycle bomb went off near the Rukniyya mosque in Rukn al-Din killing 5 members of the security forces and wounding 6. Clashes continued in al-Tadamon where the opposition attacked a military vehicle killing 4 army troops.

A protest was held in Hajar al-Aswad today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCRovt3Wq1U&feature=youtu.be

A protest was held today in Harasteh. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jFzkMR1DKs&feature=youtu.be

7 people were killed in shelling of Harasteh today.

Regime troops stormed the Sidi Mekdad neighborhood of the town of Bebeela in the morning and fired rockets into area. In Jisreen, “thugs” (regime-supportive shabiha) were burning homes and farms.

Dara`a province: The SAA shelled the town of al-Jiza and then carried out house-to-house raids and arrests. The regime forces are also shelling al-Karak al-Sharqi, Um Walad, A’tman and Erikhel.
Clashes occurred in the town of Tafas.

A protest was held today in al-Kashef in Dara`a. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTYUY1CPuTY&feature=youtu.be

Deir az-Zur province: The SAA continues to shell the city of Bukamal, and the neighborhood of al-Jbeila in the city of Deir az-Zur. 1 civilian was killed in shelling near the Dawar al-Saba` Kilometr in Deir az-Zur.

Hama province: An imam who was delivering today’s Friday sermon in the village of Hesraya was interrupted, dragged away and detained by state security forces.

Hassakeh province: A protest against the regime was held in Darbasiyya today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GqgMR2XOJ0&feature=share

Homs province: The Syrian military has been bombarding these Homs neighborhoods: Bab Dreeb, Bab Hud, Bustan al-Diwan, al-Hamidiyya, al-Midan, al-Safsafa, Suq al-Khadra killing 1 civilian in al-Midan.

Idlib province: Clashes were fought between the opposition and a military motorcade en route to Iskat, killing 1 opposition fighter. Clashes also took place in Salqin.
The Syrian military has been shelling the towns and villages of al-Hbeit, Ihsim, Jabal al-Zawya, al-Rami, Kafarzeeba and Balshun which killed 1 woman in Balshun.

In Jisr al-Shoghor, the opposition (the Wastani Brigade) destroyed a tank.

Latakia province: Regime forces shelled the villages of al-Maroniyat and al-Dweirka killing 2 civilians An opposition fighter died today of wounds received in clashes with regime forces in Rif Latakia several days ago.

Yasin al-Haj Saleh, a Syrian dissident writer was awarded the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development Award from the Netherlands, but as he is in hiding in Damascus, and the Netherlands’ embassy is closed, he cannot collect the award. The Syrian government considers his award to be an insult (to the government) he said.

International:

U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will be holding talks with Arab League officials in Cairo on Sunday and then plans to visit Damascus.

The European Union’s Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Kristalina Georgieva said the EU will provide an additional $76 million in humanitarian aid to Syria.

The Opposition-in-exile is planning for Syria’s future after Assad in the “Day After” project. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WnEQ_HpxPM

Refugees: Although leaving Syria is fraught with danger, borders have been closed in some cases (to Turkey and Iraq in previous weeks), there are no services or housing for refugees in some places and inadequate services elsewhere, the numbers of refugees are increasing. http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/07/syria-crisis-refugees-idINL6E8K7BB220120907

Introducing a Few of Syria’s Creative Figures:
Muhammad al-Maghut, poet, noted for his free verse (1934 -2006) born in Salamiyya to an Isma’ili family.

Nizar al-Qabbani, 1923-1998, born in Damascus. His sister, ten years his senior, committed suicide rather than marry a man she did not love and the theme of women’s oppression entered his work as a poet, whose work sharply criticized Arab society and politics of his time. He was also a diplomat and a publisher.

Zakariyya Tamir, born in 1931 in Damascus, famed for short stories, for adults and children. He supports the Syrian revolution and hopes that Syria will be liberated from “tyranny and horror.” http://freesyriantranslators.net/2012/07/22/a-dialogue-with-zakaria-tamer-2/

Ali Farzat, born in 1951 in Hama, a cartoonist. He was attacked by thugs who broke his hands. He is on Facebook and his cartoons of “Highlander” comment on Syria.

Farid al-Atrash, 1910 – 1974 was born in Suwayda to a Druze family associated with the independence struggle against the French. He became a composer, master oudist, singer and film star in Egypt, starring in 31 movies and recording more than 500 songs.

Asmahan. (Amal al-Atrash) 1912 (or 1915) – 1944 was born at sea as her family traveled from Turkey to Beirut. Sister of Farid al-Atrash, she became a renowned singer of Arabic compositions and an actress in Egypt and challenged conservative attitudes about women with her artistic life-style. Her musical talent was considered to rival that of Umm Kulthum and she sang the compositions of al-Qasabji, Riyadh al-Sunbati, her brother, Farid al-Atrash and others.

Assala Nasri, born in 1969 in Damascus as the daughter of a Syrian composer, Mostafa Nasri. She has produced 23 albums and many singles including “Ah, law ha-l kursi bye7ki” and has a dramatic and powerful singing style. She supports the Syrian revolution.

Sabah Fakhri, born in 1933 in Aleppo is perhaps the greatest traditional-style singer of the Eastern Arab world, of muwashahhat and qudud Halabiyya. He did not follow the typical musical path of pursuing a singing career in Egypt.

Mayada al-Hinnawi, born in 1957 in Aleppo. A great singer whose popularity peaked in the 1980s. She sang the compositions of Baligh Hamdi, Riyadg Sunbati, Mohammad Sultan, Hilmy Baker and others.

Yasin al-Hajj Saleh, born in 1961, an author jailed when he was in his 20’s in 1980 until 1996. He began writing in prison in 1988. He published With Salvation O’Youth: 16 Years in Syrian Prison (al-Saqi, 2012). http://www.aljadid.com/content/yassin-al-haj-saleh’s-taming-syrian-prison’s-beast

Nihad Sirees, novelist, author of The Silence and the Roar. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7006/writing-revolution-and-change-in-syria_an-interview

Some of the Syrian visual artists whose works include protest: http://www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152496317/even-under-threat-syrian-artists-paint-in-protest

Basic Facts about Syria:

A brief chronology of events of the last century in Syria – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14703995

Population: 22,530,746 Ethnicities: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7% Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Isma`iliyya, Druze) 16%, Christian 10%, Jewish (very small numbers).

Human Rights Situation in Syria: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-syria

GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011) GDP: $64.7 billion GDP Growth Rate: -2% (2011)
Unemployment: 8.3% Youth Unemployment (ages 15-24): 19.1% (female unemployment in that age category is 49.1%

Internet Users: 4.469 million (2009)Exchange Rate: 46.456 Syrian pounds per US dollar

Military Expenditures: 5.9% of GDP (2005)

Population Growth Rate: -0797.% (since the conflict)

Population Age Structure: 0-14 years: 35.2%; 15-64 years: 61%; 65 years and over: 3.8%
Literacy: male 86% female 73.6%
Urban Population: 56% of total (2010)

Syrian Arab Army (prior to the conflict) 220,000 regular and 280,000 reserves. Of the 200,000 career soldiers, 140,000 are Alawi.

Syria’s Golan Heights is occupied by Israel and 1,000 members of a U.N. Disengagement Observer Force patrol a buffer zone.

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