Syria Update, November 8, 2012

Syria Update, November 8, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Early death toll: 93
Tuesday’s death toll: 205 (and 7 more deaths confirmed today)
Monday’s death toll: 234 including 17 women and 11 children.
Sunday’s death toll: 212

The Syrian National Council has been electing a president and two leadership bodies in Doha. However, the reorganization may not stave off the plan to create a new opposition organization as preferred by the U.S. More about the plan and the responses to it can be found here: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2012/11/05/reactions-to-syrian-national-initiative/ecnn

The SNC will vote on the Riad Seif plan on Thursday and may well reject it.http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=453977

Tawfiq Chamaa, the spokesperson for the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations said that 95% of all of the international aid in cash and materials sent to the Syrian Red Crescent is being seized by the Assad government and used to aid the Syrian military instead of reaching the civilians for whom the aid is intended. A representative of the UN World Food Program, Elizabeth Byrs, claimed this was not true of its program, however, Chamaa pointed out that a convoy of 11 trucks of the World Food Program (whose aid is primarily distributed by the Red Crescent) disappeared recently. http://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/regime-grabbing-most-aid-sent-syria-red-crescent-ngo

Aleppo province: Clashes took place near the al-Muhalab military barracks and in the Shaykh Sa`ad, Sakhour and Sleiman al-Halabi neighborhoods and 2 opposition fighters were kille.d The Syrian military shelled Bustan al-Basha and Ansari, killing 1 man in Ansari.The Syrian military shelled Anadan, Deir Hafer, Hreitan and Kafar’ama, killing one man in Heritan and also the towns of Bayanoun, Dabeq, Ikhtibrin, Retyan and Sfeira. Clashes took place in the town of Kafarnaha and the Syrian military are shelling that town. The opposition hit a fighter jet flying out of the Neyrab military airport. One of the most feared snipers in Aleppo is romanticized.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9652931/Syria-rebel-sniper-takes-inspiration-from-Jude-Law-film.html

Damascus province: The Syrian opposition killed 10 members of the PFLP-GC (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, the group which has been supporting the Assad government and killing the opposition) on Wednesday near Yarmouk.

Fighting between the PFLP-GC and the opposition has intensified in Hajar al-Aswad and Street 30 near Yarmouk over the last few days. The Lions of Islam, one of the opposition groups reportedly fired on Assad’s presidential palace today, but missed the target. Assad has several residences in the city, and it is not known if he was at the palace at the time.

The Syrian military shelled al-Qaboun, Hajar al-Aswad and al-Qadam, killing 1 man in al-Qadam and 3 were killed and 25 injured in Hajar al-Aswad. The opposition fired mortars today at the Mazzeh 86 neighborhood, killing 3 civilians. (The neighborhood is pro-regime and mostly people from the coastal areas, i.e. Alawi) An explosion and gunshots were reported in the Sayyida Zeinab area near the al-Safir hotel.Two opposition fighters were killed in clashes in Harasta.

Yesterday, three IED explosions killed 10 civilians (later on this was reported as 19 killed presumably due to deaths of the wounded) and wounded more than 40 in the al-Wurud neighborhood of Qudsayya.Gunmen assassinated Mohammad Osama Laham, the brother of Syria’s speaker of Parliament, Jihad Laham, as he drove to work on Tuesday in the Thuraya area of al-Midan (Damascus). A judge, Abad Nadhwah has been assassinated today in the Barzeh neighborhood of Damascus. Explosives were planted under his car and detonated.The Syrian military heavily shelled the town of Beit Sahm in a counteroffensive, so far more than 15 are reported to have been killed, but are not yet identified. The Syrian military invaded the town of Serghaya firing at residents, carrying out  raids and detentions. The Syrian military shelled the towns of Deir al-Asafeer, Shab’a and Zamalka. Clashes were reported in the eastern Ghouta. Shelling on Kafr Batna killed 5 civilians.

Dar`a province: The opposition killed 3 security officers in the Dara`a al-Mahatta square. A sniper killed a woman in Tariq al-Sad.Gunfire killed an 8 year old child in the town of Busra al-Sham. The Syrian military shelled the town of al-Maliha, killing 1 civilian.

Deir az-Zur province: The Syrian military shelled the al-Erdi, Hamidiyya and Shaykh Yasin neighborhoods of Deir az-Zur today.The Syrian military shelled the city of Bukamel. In clashes in al-Mayadeen, two opposition fighters and one defected soldier were killed.

Hama province: An explosion shook the neighborhoods of al-Sabouniyya and Shari’a. The Syrian military shelled the town of Karnaz..The opposition in Homs and Hama have formed a united front: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m61mxuclrGs&feature=youtu.be

Homs province: Clashes took place in the Deir Ba`lba neighborhood of Homs killing 2 opposition fighters and a defected soldier. Shelling on Deir Ba`lba killed 1 civilian. The Syrian military have been shelling and attacking this area for several days and there is reportedly a grave shortage of medical aid.Col. Kaseem Saadeddine, an opposition commander in central Homs escaped an assassination attempt in an ambush by shabiha loyal to Assad. His driver was wounded.The Syrian military and the opposition clashed in the village of Taldheb killing one opposition fighter.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the village of al-Najiya killing a 5 year-old child and shelled the village of Tel Mardikh and the towns of Kafrouma, Mahambal and Sarjeh. The Syrian military shelled Saraqeb, killing 8 civilians yesterday. An opposition fighter was killed in clashes with the Syrian military near the Wadi al-Dayf military base. Yesterday, the Syrian military  shelled Ma`arat al-Nu`man killing at least 7 civilians. Yesterday, clashes took place at Mahambal and at the Wadi al-Dayf base and that area was bombarded by Syrian air power. In clashes near the village of al-Shughour, 4 Syrian military troops were killed.

Latakia province: On Monday, it was reported that fighter jets were dropping TNT on villages in Latakia province.

Raqqah province: The Syrian military shelled the city of Tabeiqa and 4 civilians were reportedly killed. Yesterday, clashes took place at military checkpoints in the towns of Tabeiqa and `Ain ‘A`issa and the Syrian military shelled `Ain `A’issa. An IED was set off on an oil line in the eastern part of the province yesterday.Kidnapped/Detained. The SOHR reports that it fears for the life of Dr. Abdelaziz al-Khayar, the deputy chairman and head of foreign affairs for the Syrian National Coordination Body for Democratic Change (NCB). He was abducted on 21 September, 2012 by Syrian air force intelligence upon his return from China as part of an NCB delegation along with Maher Tahan and Eyas Ayash.

International: A Turkish official speaking anonymously said that Turkey and its allies discussed the option of using Patriot missiles to protect a free zone inside  Syria.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria has warned that if the fighting continues the country could become like Somalia – “it will mean the fall of the state, [the] rise of warlords and militias.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/mohammed-osama-laham_n_2081764.html

Pope Benedict XVI has cancelled a planned mission to Syria and is instead sending an envoy to Lebanon to meet with Syrian refugees.Britain will begin establishing contacts with Syrian opposition military figures to aid unification of the opposition of the movement. This effort was announced as PM David Cameron meets with Syrian refugees at the Zaatari camp in  Jordan.On Monday, Cameron lashed out at the United Nations for failing to more strongly oppose the Bashar al-Assad government. Speaking in the UAE, Cameron said, “I think in the case of Syria, the United Nations has let the world down,” … “Like-minded countries like our two countries (Britain and the UAE) should go on working together to try to see what more can we do to help the Syrian people throw off this brutal dictator who’s murdering so many … You know that Bashar al-Assad cannot possibly stay running his country … He has to go.” Cameron has also said that Assad could be given safe passage out of Syria, if that would mean the end of fighting there. 

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