See also US Elections 2012 Audio: Obama's Victory and "What's Next for Foreign Policy" --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
Yesterday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Suicide Car Bomb Kills More than 50 Regime Troops
Bahrain Special: Growing Concerns Amid Questions Over Bombs and A Tide of Repression
Bahrain Timeline: The Regime's Path of Repression from 23 September to Today br>
"When the regime attacks one of our medical facilities, whether it's a hospital or something else, they load up everything they can carry, and they burn the rest," said Tawfik Chamaa, a Geneva-based doctor and spokesman for the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM).
"They take as much as they can, and that just depends on how many soldiers they have, but most of the time they resell it on the black market," he told a news briefing in Geneva.
The International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), global aid agencies with a presence in Syria, said two specific allegations that Chamaa made about other foreign aid being diverted were unsubstantiated.
But the ICRC said it was treating them "very seriously" and following them up with the UOSSM and Syrian authorities
This is also not a claim we have seen any evidence for. However, Syrian troops have infamously placed snipers on roofs of hospitals, shelled hospitals, raided hospitals and arrested patience, and have otherwise forced most of Syria's medical care underground.
The officials say Mohammed El-Fil was shot in the head Wednesday by assailants on a motorbike. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
According to officials, there have been at least 55 assassinations of security or intelligence officers since mid-2011.
1804 GMT: Bahrain. A source shares with us video from a rally in Bahrain, a "march of solidarity with political leader Hassan Mushaima in Bilad Al-Qadeem." Hassan Mushaima is both serving a life sentence and suffering from cancer, and there have been reports that he is being denied treatment in prison:
57 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its suburbs, including 25 in Biat Sahem; 15 in Idlib; 7 in Aleppo; 4 in Homs; 3 in Daraa; 3 in Raqqa; 3 in Lattakia; and 2 in Deir Ezzor.
As can be seen from the numbers, Damascus is once again ground zero for the most intense violence - at least as far as the civilian populace is concerned.
1739 GMT: American Elections. Scott Lucas speaks with Monocle 24 about Barack Obama's re-election, and what it means for US foreign policy, especially in the Middle East.See also US Elections 2012 Audio: Obama's Victory and "What's Next for Foreign Policy" --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
1716 GMT: Syria. Turkey has said that it may deploy Patriot Missiles to defend a buffer zone in northern Syria from Assad attacks (h/t to Catmari in the comments):
The Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday that the missiles are one of a number of scenarios being considered as a way to stop regime attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians.
The official says planning was put on hold pending the U.S. election, but the issue is likely to be taken up now that President Barack Obama has won a second term. He says any missile deployment might happen under a "NATO umbrella."
1700 GMT: Syria. Syrian journalist Hassan Hassan reports that, according to his sources, pro-Assad elements are stealing from Sunni neighborhoods and opposition supporters and selling goods to Assad supporters and Alawite residents of Damascus:
I remember Reuters did an early report about the "Sunni market" where Shabiha sell products taken from rebels' houses & neighbourhoods. 1/2— Hassan Hassan (@hhassan140) November 7, 2012
That report was from Homs. Now the same is in Damascus. One friend told me a lorry full of stolen products arrived & women started ululating— Hassan Hassan (@hhassan140) November 7, 2012
Reports of raids on areas where the opposition is strong is nothing new, and rumors have often spread that pro-regime elements raided businesses that were presumed to support the opposition. But it's never happened this close to Damascus.
Conditions inside the capital are degrading as the war draws closer. This is just another sign that things are breaking down.
1630 GMT: Syria. James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas, who is on the road today, for getting us started so early this morning, especially after staying up so late to cover the US elections.
Time to get caught up.
Huge blasts rocked the Mezzeh district of Damascus, very close to the heart of the Assad regime. The Guardian reports:
Susan Ahmad, spokeswoman for the Revolutionary Council in Damascus, said rebels attacked a military airport in Mezzeh and a security department in the area. They also attempted but failed to attack the presidential palace.
The Guardian's Mona Mahmoud spoke to Staff Colonel Ahmed Nima, leader to the Deraa Brigades that conducted this attack:
As the Derra brigades we already planned to attack the Republican Palace and Mezzeh military airport. But we couldn’t without the help of the brigades in Damascus.
More than 100 fighters were involved in the planning and reconnaissance, but only 20 fighter carried out the attack. We used 120 mortars.
The intelligence general commission is almost burned entirely, and at the military airport runways used by Assads planes were attacked.
We wanted to show that we could reach into Assad’s den.
We targeted the hall where Bashar holds his meetings. We got information from people who work inside the palace.
Meanwhile, Syrian authorities have raided the office of a Hamas leader in Damascus, and at the same time the Syrian insurgents have attacked and killed 10 members of a pro-Assad Palestinian faction in refugee camps of Damascus.
The bottom line - the Palestinians have increasingly been drawn into this fight, with most siding with the FSA and some with the regime. Hezbollah and Hamas are both increasingly divided between the regime and the insurgency. The FSA is growing more bold in their attacks on the capital, and though they are unlikely to knock out the regime any time soon, they are drawing Assad's forces away from the real front lines (Aleppo, Idlib, Deir Ez Zor), just to try to hold Damascus. Even with Assad's forces concentrating on the capital, attacks like this are more common, not less, and the fighting will continue to escalate as a result.
Of course, this is bad news for civilians who are trying to live their lives. Many people fled to Damascus when fighting got bad elsewhere. Now, there is nowhere to flee.
0655 GMT. Syria. As politicians and activists continued their discussion in Qatar of a new opposition leadership, and as United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned that Syria could become another Somalia, the Local Coordinating Committees reported that 156 people had been killed by security forces on Tuesday.
Sixty of the deaths were in Damascus and its suburbs, 38 in Idlib Province, and 26 in Aleppo Province.
0650 GMT. Bahrain. Continuing its escalating crackdown, the regime has revoked the citizenship of 31 Bahrainis who are members of the opposition. They include opposition leader Dr Saaed Shehabi, former AlWefaq MPs Jalal Fairoz and Jawad Fairooz, academic Abdulhadi Khalaf, and Ali Mushaima, the son of Hussan Mushaima, the leader of the Haq movement who is currently serving a life sentence.
In a statement published by Bahrain State media, listing the names, the Minister of Interior said the step was taken on grounds of "state security".
A hard-line regime supporter published the names of the 31 on social media even before the release of the official statement.