Arab Spring Syria

Russia sending aircraft to evacuate its citizens from Syria

www.washingtonpost.com/world/russia-sending-aircraft-to-evacuate-its-citizens-from-syria/2013/01/21/c747b6dc-6406-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story.html

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“Abu Hafs”, waving a sword: “We will cut off their heads with our swords, and make the soil vomit their bodies. This is our vengeance against the [Alawite] infidels, who betrayed ‘Aisha and Abu Bakr. You are only 5%, we will trample you underfoot.”

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Risking his life: Abdullah, a former baker, eventually manages to reach the woman despite bullets raining down around him

He told CNN: ‘We had a feeling she was still alive. We wanted to save her, to get her to a hospital.’

But as Abdullah slowly crawls across to the woman on his stomach, loud gunshots start to fire around him as his fellow rebel fighters shout: ‘Cover, him, cover him.’


www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2247651/Syria-Video-captures-bravery-teenage-boy-17-risking-life-save-total-stranger.html

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Members of the FSA perch atop a tank stolen from the regime in Aleppo province on Dec 12, 2012 Photo: AP Photo / Manu Brabo

After the uprising began as a peaceful protest movement in March 2011, Mr. Assad rejected calls for deep reform — from his people, from Turkish officials who spent years cultivating him, even from militant groups he had long sponsored, Hamas and Hezbollah, which, according to Hamas, offered to arrange talks with the rebels.

Instead, Mr. Assad took his father’s path. To put down an Islamist revolt in the 1980s, Hafez al-Assad bulldozed entire neighborhoods and killed at least 10,000 people. The son now presides over a crackdown-turned-civil war that has killed four times that many, and counting.

In a government that has become even more secretive, it is impossible to know exactly how Mr. Assad makes his decisions. Some people say he wanted to reform but his father’s generals and intelligence officials, along with his mother, convinced him that reforms would bring their downfall.


www.nytimes.com/2012/12/25/world/middleeast/no-easy-route-if-bashar-al-assad-opts-to-go-or-stay.html

Decisive Intelligence Indicator

With the rebels holding a swathe of rural Syria and closing in on Damascus, Mr Assad is rapidly running out of money. International sanctions, particularly a European Union oil embargo, have cut off the most important sources of revenue and deprived the regime of billions of dollars. One assessment suggests that Syria’s central bank has only $3 billion or $4 billion, a reserve that is being depleted at a rate of about $1 billion every month.

If true, this suggests that Mr Assad will run out of cash — and be unable to pay, arm or supply his army — by April at the latest. That would leave him with no choice but to rely entirely on Iran, his most steadfast ally.


www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9742034/Syria-Russia-finally-admits-that-Assads-time-is-nearly-up.html

”Accounts of conditions inside the Syrian regime in recent days have shed new light on the psychological toll of the nearly two-year-old civil war on Assad, depicting the Syrian leader as isolated and fearful as his regime appears to be on the verge of crumbling around him.”


www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/syrian-leader-assad-said-to-be-isolated-fearful-as-regime-faces-collapse/2012/12/28/dd3e98fa-508a-11e2-8b49-64675006147f_story.html

“Iraqi Shiites did not initially take sides in Syria. Many Shiites here despise Mr. Assad for his affiliation with the Baath Party, the party of Saddam Hussein, and the support he gave foreign Sunni fighters during the Iraq war.

But as the uprising became an armed rebellion that began to attract Sunni extremists, many Shiites came to see the war in existential terms. Devout Shiites in Iraq often describe the Syrian conflict as the beginning of the fulfillment of a Shiite prophecy that presages the end of time by predicting that an army, headed by a devil-like figure named Sufyani, will rise in Syria and then conquer Iraq’s Shiites.

…Hassan al-Rubaie, a Shiite cleric from Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province, said, ‘The destruction of the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab in Syria will mean the start of sectarian civil war in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.’”


www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/world/middleeast/influx-of-iraqi-shiites-to-syria-widens-wars-scope.html

War in Syria Is Becoming Sectarian, U.N. Panel Says


www.nytimes.com/2012/12/21/world/middleeast/war-in-syria-is-becoming-sectarian-un-panel-says.html

Bashar al-Assad vows to ‘live or die’ in Syria
Syrian president warns against foreign intervention as members of opposition groups remain in disarray at unity talks in Doha


www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/08/bashar-al-assad-live-die-syria

Buried in white shrouds tied up with pink bows: The little girls slaughtered by Assad’s thugs after massacre in Damascus
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Harrowing: These four young girls, their bodies wrapped with bright pink bows, were among 22 civilians allegedly slaughtered by stated-sponsored militiamen in a Damscus suburb


www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2222543/Four-young-girls-victims-brutal-massacre-Damascus-suburb.html

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Balkanization of Syria

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President in name only, Assad plays for time
By ceding large parts of Syria, the tyrant has effectively admitted that he cannot win

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www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9438240/President-in-name-only-Assad-plays-for-time.html

For besieged Syrian dictator Assad, only exit may be body bag

His public and private comments suggest that Assad is preparing to follow the example of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, staking his life on his regime’s survival. A growing consensus in Washington and in Middle East capitals now holds that Assad — a man once viewed as a moderate capable of reform — will be forced from power only by death or capture.

“There will not be any negotiations,” said Jeffrey White, a former senior Middle East analyst for the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency. “He will go down fighting, and he will probably do it in Damascus.”

Senior U.S. analysts who have studied Assad’s recent public appearances described him as increasingly divorced from reality. While they said Assad is neither stupid nor cowardly, he appears to have bought into his own rhetoric, perceiving himself to be the savior of his ethnic clan, the Alawites, as well as the embodiment of the Syrian state. He also appears unfazed by his pariah status, they say.


www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/for-besieged-syrian-dictator-assad-only-exit-may-be-body-bag/2012/07/31/gJQA0d9nNX_story.html

The West must prepare for Syria’s endgame

The rebels’ capture of airfields and military bases has speeded up the collapse of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime

By Shashank Joshi
7:53PM GMT 06 Dec 2012

Over the past century, civil wars have been getting longer. Between 1900 and 1944, they tended to last just one and a half years. By 1999, they stretched to an average of 15. Will Syria, like Libya’s eight-month revolution, defy this trend and wrap things up within two years? Or, like Lebanon next door, is it fated to be a catastrophic slow-motion implosion that will plague the region long into the future?

The answer remains unclear, principally because the end of the regime’s grip on Damascus is not the end of the story. We might see a messy retreat of loyalist forces out of the capital and towards the Levantine highlands and coastal plains. Or the civil war might mutate into a fratricidal battle pitting the anti-Assad jihadist factions against moderate rebels, or Kurds against Sunnis, or militia against militia.

Now, the good news: these disturbing possibilities notwithstanding, we are witnessing the beginning of the end for the Assad dynasty, the last republican monarchy of the Middle East. And events, as they often do, are moving quicker than our policies.

At the end of November, the CIA is reported to have estimated that President Bashar al-Assad had just eight to 10 weeks left. With our attention on Gaza two weeks ago, we missed the turning of the tide. Syrian rebels of all stripes began over-running military bases on a daily basis. They seized heavy weaponry like artillery and tanks, and acquired sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons, which they immediately put to use by shooting down jets and helicopters.

As the regime haemorrhaged airbases, not only did this sap the government’s key advantage – airpower – but it also set in motion a virtuous circle: the spoils of war taken from one base made it easier to capture the next one. What all this means is that Syrian rebels are no longer just harassing checkpoints or sniping at convoys. They are an increasingly potent fighting force with at least some of the appurtenances of a conventional army.

Then, after months of indecisive fighting around Damascus, the capital came under intense attack. The airport was rendered unusable, EU and UN diplomats left the country, and the regime compounded its isolation by shutting down the internet. According to the New York Times, Russian envoys to Assad “described a man who has lost all hope of victory or escape”. And he is not the only one: this week the regime’s most senior Christian figure, foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi defected. Meanwhile, the deputy foreign minister visited Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador – presumably to search out opportunities for convivial asylum.

Amidst these developments, we have struggled to respond. The US, emerging from its election-season paralysis, is agonising over how far it should support the opposition, let alone intervene militarily. It was spooked last year when it realised the blurriness of the division between moderate and extreme rebel groups on the ground. Britain and France are mulling over the provision of arms, on the basis that the risks are outweighed by the importance of shoring up moderate rebels. Turkey is deeply frustrated, having failed to secure a no-fly zone. By the time everyone makes a decision, the whole thing could well be over.

The unprecedented rebel military advances mean that we must start thinking about the endgame itself. We should avoid the illusion of control. We have only limited influence over the direction in which Syria goes, but there are constructive steps we can take. Although Assad would gain little from using chemical weapons, desperate regimes make strange choices. Last year, Colonel Gaddafi pointlessly fired ballistic missiles toward rebel-held territory a week before his regime collapsed. In 1991, Saddam Hussein lobbed 42 missiles at Israel. Nato’s deployment of the Patriot missile defence system to Turkey is therefore prudent.

However, the greater danger is that chemical weapons are seized by extremist groups, whether Hizbollah, which has been training close to some storage sites, or Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate. Unless we can be sure that Syrian army units guarding chemical weapons will retain absolute control, it may become necessary to secure, remove or destroy at least some of the stockpiles. This would require a US-led Jordanian force, assisted by trusted Syrian rebels, with Britain and other states likely playing a role. If rapid destruction or removal is impossible, then the sites should be protected by Arab forces. A large-scale Western footprint would be unacceptably dangerous, and should be ruled out entirely.

In the interim, we should be reasserting the offer of safe passage for Assad. However improbable, it would be far preferable to a last stand which leaves Damascus in ruins. We should also be thinking of ways to protect Syria’s minorities, particularly Assad’s Alawite sect, from what could be horrific retribution. Regrettably, this can probably only be done by keeping the Syrian armed forces from dissolving or being disbanded, as occurred in Iraq in 2003. We should also be unafraid of talking to Russia and Iran about these contingencies. There is little to be gained by ignoring potential spoilers.

Over the coming months, there is every chance that Bashar al-Assad will receive a bullet in his back – very possibly from his own side. When that occurs, let no one say we were unprepared.

Shashank Joshi is a research fellow of the Royal United Services Institute

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9727156/The-West-must-prepare-for-Syrias-endgame.html

Syrian rebels sidetracked by scramble for spoils of war
Looting, feuds and divided loyalties threaten to destroy unity of fighters as war enters new phase


www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/27/syrian-rebels-scramble-spoils-war

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“The Syrian government hails from the Alawite minority. But much of its administration and its military ability depend on Sunni bureaucrats, soldiers and officers like Captain Trad, whose alienation has been growing and whose defections risk increasing as Syria’s internal war takes on deepening sectarian tones.”


www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/world/middleeast/syrian-pilots-defection-signals-trouble-for-government.html

 Arab Spring Syria

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Amen

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A convoy of Syrian army tanks are captured on video being attacked by rebel fighters as they travel close to the Turkish-Syrian border. Two appear to hit anti-tank mines, with one also targeted by what seems to be a powerful projectile. It is believed the crew members in both were killed. Although there has been no official confirmation, the tanks are thought to be Syrian army vehicles, loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, just like his father,  Arab Spring Syriais a nibblet.

Look at his head.
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Syria’s Assad has embraced pariah status

By Marc Fisher, Published: June 16

More than a decade before the Arab Spring, there was the Damascus Spring.

In the first months after Bashar al-Assad took over Syria in 2000, a wave of free expression broke out after he sent signals that were interpreted to mean that he planned to relax his father’s autocratic control. Dissidents formed 70 dialogue clubs, met openly and published two critical opinion magazines.

Then, as suddenly as the new era had begun, Assad’s forces cracked down. Those who spoke out were arrested, and economic reforms stalled.

“We saw that the Spring was only a way to have the people accept the transfer of power from the father to the son,” said Mohammad al-Abdallah, a Syrian activist who took part in the dialogue, only to find himself and his father and brother arrested months later. “It was clear Assad was no reformer.”

Today, as Assad’s government responds with unrelenting force to a popular uprising of the sort that has brought down regimes across the Middle East over the past 18 months, Syria’s ruler has embraced his image as a global pariah. He will not flee and will not bend to foreign pressure, he has said publicly and privately.

In Assad’s mind, his presence and control are the only protection from mass killings for his Alawite clan — a Shiite sect that makes up about 12 percent of Syria’s population.

“He has no illusions about how he is perceived around the world,” said the Rev. Patrick Henry Reardon, pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, who met with Assad for 90 minutes in December. “But he sees it as an almost metaphysical necessity that he must hold his country together and, to do so, he’s got to knock a few heads.”

When Assad took over Syria after the death of his father, longtime autocrat Hafez al-Assad, the new president was widely perceived as a reformer, someone who might apply Western ideas of modernity and openness to ruling an Arab state. After all, he had lived in London, married a British-born woman and become an advocate of new media technologies. He was a big fan of Phil Collins, ELO and the Beatles.

Unlike his tougher older brother Basil, who died in a car crash in 1994, Bashar al-Assad had not been trained to rule; he was a physician, a scientist, secular and worldly in style and rhetoric.

In his inaugural address, Assad issued what sounded to many like a call for change: “We should face ourselves and our society bravely, and conduct a brave dialogue . . .in which we reveal our points of weakness.”

But the government’s reaction to the Damascus Spring proved to be a more accurate indicator of how Assad would rule. Despite his rhetoric about shaping a more modern and democratic society, Assad adopted a narrative in which Syria was ever under assault by a conspiracy of radical Islamists, the United States and Israel. The more he has been pressed over the past 15 months from within and outside Syria, the harder he has pushed back.

“In his mind, if Syria becomes the North Korea of the Middle East for 10 years, so be it,” said David Lesch, a historian at Trinity University in San Antonio and author of a book about Assad.

MORE 2 pages


www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrias-assad-has-embraced-pariah-status/2012/06/16/gJQAsY9shV_story.html

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Syria’s Ambassador to Iraq Reported to Defect

Syria‘s ambassador to Iraq was reported to have defected on Wednesday, which if confirmed would be the second prominent defection from President Bashar al-Assad‘s government in less than a week.

A high-ranking general in the elite Republican Guard, Manaf Tlass, a friend of Mr. Assad and the son of a former defense minister, fled Syria last Thursday.


www.nytimes.com/2012/07/12/world/middleeast/syrias-ambassador-to-iraq-nawaf-fares-reported-to-defect.html

Exclusive: Arab states arm rebels as UN talks of Syrian civil war
Saudi Arabia and Qatar ‘supplying weapons’ to anti-Assad forces, while fears mount for civilians


www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/exclusive-arab-states-arm-rebels-as-un-talks-of-syrian-civil-war-7845026.html

Syrian rebels show ‘huge growth’ in capability

By Jim Michaels, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Syrian rebels are growing more effective as they have increasingly turned to roadside bombs and other guerrilla tactics to topple the regime of Bashar Assad, according to military statistics and analysts.

Syrian forces have pushed rebels from major cities, such as Homs, but insurgents operate with near impunity in parts of the countryside, outside the reach of Syria’s overstretched military.

“We’ve really seen in the month of June and first week of July a huge growth in rebel capability,” said Joseph Holliday, a Syria analyst at the Institute for the Study of War who recently completed a report on the conflict. Rebels are getting a boost from ammunition and money that have begun flowing into Syria, primarily from Persian Gulf countries, the report says.

The employment of improvised explosive devices, such as roadside bombs, has nearly doubled through June of this year compared with all of last year, according to theU.S. Military’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. The numbers that percentage is based on are classified. The Institute for Defense Analysis, which conducts research for the U.S. government, reported that 236 improvised explosive devices were discovered or detonated in Syria this year.

Despite rebel progress, Syria’s army is still capable of holding the major cities and protecting the regime, creating conditions for a long struggle. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this long bloody cycle of attrition could go on for quite some time,” said Aram Nerguizian, a military strategy analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Rebel ranks have swelled to about 40,000 since the insurgency started more than a year ago, according to the Institute for the Study of War report. They face overwhelming firepower from an army of more than 200,000 active-duty troops, pro-government militias and security services equipped with tanks, artillery and helicopters.

Russia, a major arms supplier to Syria, said Monday that it would not sign new weapons contracts with Assad’s regime until the situation calms down. International envoy Kofi Annan said he has reached a framework with Assad for a cease-fire but has yet to discuss it with rebel leaders.

Some Republicans call for the United States to do more to support the rebels against an adversary aligned with Iran. “We should get arms to them so that we can balance the forces,” Arizona Sen. John McCain told CBS’ Face the Nation this weekend. “It’s not a fair fight.”

Insurgents have abandoned efforts to hold cities such as Homs, where an offensive by the Syrian military drove them from the city.

“They understand they can’t confront the Syrian army,” said Sterling Jensen, an analyst at the National Defense University’s Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. “They are going to just weaken it.”

The new rebel strategy has freed up fighters to concentrate forces in strategic areas such as Atarib, a town that controls the road between the Turkish border and Aleppo, a commercial hub. Rebels have held the town despite repeated military offensives, Holliday said.

Rebels are growing more organized, establishing regional military and civilian councils. However, many rebel groups remain rivals, competing for resources and influence. “Eventually they’re going to have to unite more,” Jensen said.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-07-06/syria-rebels-IEDs/56117876/1

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Torture of the child martyr: ‘Rebel’, 13, shot, kneecapped and had genitals removed before being killed by Syria’s sadistic regime

By LIZ HAZELTON
Last updated at 6:52 PM on 1st June 2011

Devotedly washed and sprinkled with rose petals, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb lies prepared for burial.

But the rituals of death cannot wipe away the horrific injuries that have mutilated his body almost beyond recognition.

Nor do they blot out that Hamza – riddled with bullets, kneecapped and with neck broken and penis hacked off – has the rounded cheeks and gentle face of a child.

At 13, he is one of the youngest known victims of Syria’s ruthless crackdown on protesters who have tried to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The teenager’s family were told not to speak of his terrible fate. But in a pitiful act of defiance, they posted the footage of his corpse online.

The action led to his father being arrested last week. His whereabouts are unknown.

Posted on YouTube, the video is accompanied by a chilling commentary which details the worst of Hamza’s dreadful wounds.

An unseen attendant tenderly shifts the scarred limbs and head so that the viewer can see each injury, including two bullets which were fired through each arm and then entered his chest.

‘Look at the evidence of his torture,’ the narrator urges. ‘Take a look at the bruises on his face and his neck that was broken. Take a look at the bruises on his right legs.

‘In addition there is worse. They did not satisfy themselves with all the torturing so they cut off his genitals.’

At this point, the video is censored as the wounds are too horrific to show.

Hamza was picked up by security forces at a protest in Jiza, a village in the rebel province of Dar’a in Syria on April 29.

For an agonising month, his desperate family waited for him to go home, terrified of what had become of him.

And when his broken body was finally returned, the injuries which disfigured almost every part of his flesh told the horrific story that he could not.

Amid the mass of cigarette burns, the bullet wounds and bruises, it is impossible to know what finally killed him.

But it is perhaps unsuprising that Hamza, with his childish features and innocent smile, has become the most potent symbol of Syria’s uprising.

Thousands of protesters took to the country’s bloodied streets this weekend chanting his name.

Children demonstrated in Damascas while people clambered on the roofs in Aleppo to mark the ‘Day of Hamza’.

In the city of Hama, 116 miles from the capital, a huge crowd occupied the central square clutching copes of his photographs in their hands.

The video footage of his mutilated body posted online – and broadcast on Al Jazeera – has further fuelled the anger of Syria’s protesters.

Facebook group ‘We are all Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, the Child Martyr’ has attracted 58,000 people while the English version has 3,000 members.

Radwan Ziadeh, an exiled human rights activist told the Washington Post the boy had already become a symbol of the Syrian revolution.

‘(His death) is the sign of the sadism of the Assad regime and its security forces,’ he said.

‘Torture is usual in Syria. It’s not something new or strange. What is special about Hamza is that he was only 13 years old. He really is a child.’

The Syrian uprisnig against President Bashar al-Assad is now entering its seventh week.

Foreign journalists are banned from entering the country and the rebellion has been conducted amid a media blackout.

But stories of the brutality of Assad’s troops have still trickled out indicating that protests have been ruthlessly suppressed.


www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1392684/Hamza-Ali-al-Khateeb-child-martyr-tortured-death-Syrias-sadistic-regime.html

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Murdered teenager becomes symbol of Syrian uprising

LATEST UPDATE: 02/06/2011 – BASHAR AL-ASSAD – SYRIA

Hamza al-Khatib, a 13-year-old Syrian boy who disappeared following an anti-government protest in late April, appeared to have been brutally tortured before his death. Pictures have added fat to the fire in the ongoing Syrian revolt.

Hamza al-Khatib was missing for a month after he was arrested by Syrian security forces on April 29. His parents received his mutilated body last Wednesday after signing a government form saying they would bury him immediately.

But before his burial, video footage of the 13-year-old Syrian’s bruised and bullet-ridden body was posted on YouTube (warning, this video contains extremely graphic images).

hqdefault Arab Spring Syria

Activists on Facebook site Syrian Revolution 2011 allege that Hamza – who disappeared after protests in the flashpoint Deraa region – had been subjected to a horrifying litany of violence. The YouTube footage includes shocking images of the young boy’s broken head and bruised body covered with cigarette burns and bullet holes.

“There were a few bullets in his body used as a way to torture rather than kill him,” the group’s founders write. “Clear signs of severe physical abuse appeared on the body, such as marks made with hands, sticks, and shoes. Hamza’s penis was also cut off.”

By Monday the group, titled “We are all Hamza al-Khatib, the child martyr”, had attracted more than 50,000 members ( the English version had almost 5,000) since its creation on Saturday.

Facebook user Wesso Messo posted the message: “We are all Hamza al-Khatib, and we all dream of freedom. Today, because of Hamza, we will achieve this freedom with determination and will. We will not let Hamza’s blood, and that of other martyrs, flow in vain.”

Whereas earlier street protests had mostly been limited to Friday, this time demonstrations over Hamza’s killing took place across Syria throughout the weekend – in a sign that the boy’s death may be providing the protest movement with new momentum.

Activists said at least 15 people were killed over the weekend, with many more wounded. The UN on Monday called the latest crackdown “shocking”.

Since the start of the unrest, the Syrian regime has denied visas to foreign journalists, so reports of arrests, killings and the size of demonstrations cannot be independently verified.

Police brutality ‘at the heart’ of uprising

Torture and violent death at the hands of Syria’s security services have been widely documented, but what sets Hamza’s killing aside is his age, and the apparent willingness of the state to inflict brutality on children.

Indeed, Syria’s uprising, which has so far claimed at least 1,500 civilian lives according to rights groups, was in part ignited by the arrest (and subsequent release) of children for spraying pro-revolution graffiti in Deraa.

Nadim Houry, the head Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher for Syria and Lebanon, said it was impossible to gauge how far Hamza’s death would inspire the future of the rebellion.

“What’s at the heart of all this is police brutality,” he said. “It is police brutality that started [the Syrian uprising] and HRW wants an investigation into this killing.”

By taking Hamza al-Khatib’s name as its title, the eponymous Facebook group is following in the footsteps of pro-democracy movements that inspired the ultimately successful revolts of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Tunisia.

We are all Khaled Said” – again on Facebook – is a group dedicated to the memory of a young man brutally killed, allegedly by police officers, in Alexandria, Egypt.

The media attention proved to be one of the sparks that bought thousands out into the streets demanding – and ultimately bringing about – the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

The Tunisian uprising also had its symbol, Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor who set himself alight after officials confiscated his wares, and whose death in December 2010 was the catalyst for the fall of the first despotic regime to crumble in the “Arab Spring” revolts.

http://www.france24.com/en/20110530-murder-teenager-new-symbol-syrian-uprising-arab-spring-protest-demonstration-violence

Tortured and killed: Hamza al-Khateeb, age 13

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/05/201153185927813389.html

Syrian opposition vows ‘to bring down the regime’

http://www.france24.com/en/20110602-syria-middle-east-opposition-vows-bring-down-the-regime-bashar-al-assad

Syrian forces kill 34 in Hama, crackdown intensifies

By Yara Bayoumy | Reuters–26 minutes ago

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian security forces shot dead at least 34 demonstrators in Hama on Friday, an activist said, in one of the bloodiest incidents in their crackdown on an 11-week-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

In a pattern seen every Friday since mid-March, protesters have marched out of mosques after noon prayers, to be met by security forces intent on crushing a revolt against Assad, in power in Syria for the last 11 years.

Three residents said security forces and snipers fired at tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the city center in one of the biggest protests seen so far in Hama, and scores of wounded were taken to a nearby hospital.

“The firing began from rooftops on the demonstrators. I saw scores of people falling in Assi square and the streets and alleyways branching out. Blood was everywhere,” a witness who gave his name as Omar told Reuters from Hama.

“It looked to me as if hundreds of people have been injured but I was in a panic and wanted to find cover. Funerals for the martyrs have already started,” he said.

Protests in Hama have a particular resonance, as the armed forces crushed an armed Islamist uprising there in 1982 on the orders of President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, killing up to 30,000 people and razing parts of the city to the ground.

Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters he expected the death toll to rise because many people at the demonstration had serious injuries.

“Tens of thousands turned up in Hama and Idlib in the biggest demonstrations since the uprising began. This is a natural reaction to the increased killings and lack of seriousness by the regime for any national reconciliation,” he said, adding that one person was killed in Idlib.

Syrian forces also opened fire on demonstrations in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor and in Damascus’ Barzeh district.

Activists and residents said thousands of people marched in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Kurdish northeast, several Damascus suburbs, the cities of Homs and Hama and the towns of Madaya and Zabadani in the west.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/security-forces-open-fire-protests-spread-syria-123632836.html

Syria to Target Gas Rigs in Next War, Warns Vilnai
by Gil Ronen

Minister of Home Front Defense Matan Vilnai described an exceedingly harsh scenario of the next war between Israel and its Arab neighbors Wednesday. Speaking to the heads of vital industries, Vilnai said that the next war will last at least a month and that Syria will target Israeli offshore gas fields.

Details of Vilnai’s speech were published by Globes.

In the next round of fighting, he said, hundreds of missiles with half-ton warheads will strike central Israel daily.

In a conflagration with Hamas, the terror organization “will try very hard to hit Tel Aviv,” he assessed. “Not everything will reach here [Tel Aviv] and most will fall on the way, but some rockets will strike here too.”

Accurate Syrian missiles will target Israeli economic interests like the offshore gas fields, he warned. “The Syrians do not need to fire dozens of missiles at these facilities,” Vilnai explained. “Their systems are accurate enough that by firing a few missiles – everything goes up in the air. The offshore facilities are a soft underbelly.”

“The Arabs know how to learn lessons,” said Vilnai. “They are not cowards and they do not run away like we were all taught in the past. They know they cannot defeat the IDF in the field of battle so they intend to hit the heartland with missiles.”

“We need to prepare for a war with Syria, with Hizbullah and with Hamas,” he told the industrialists.

“In an all-out war, most of your employees have been called up to the various fronts, and simultaneously, hundreds of missiles fall in central Israel. Not thousands, hundreds. We checked this and measured it. We calculated how many missiles they have, how many we can destroy in attacks we initiate, how many we can intercept in mid-flight and more. They will fire thousands of rockets and missiles daily and hundreds will hit central Israel. And this will take at least a month, including Fridays and Saturdays, without rest.”

The minister’s meeting with the heads of industry was coordinated with Industrialists’ Association chief Shraga Brosh, in preparation for a large scale home front drill that will include the vital industries.

www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/144710

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About Jerry Frey

Born 1953. Vietnam Veteran. Graduated Ohio State 1980. Have 5 published books. In the Woods Before Dawn; Grandpa's Gone; Longstreet's Assault; Pioneer of Salvation; Three Quarter Cadillac
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