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Wednesday
Aug222012

Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 230 Dead Inside, More Fighting in Lebanon

The Free Syrian Army attacks the State Media Broadcast Headquarters in Aleppo for the 2nd day in a row on Tuesday (map).


See also Syria 1st-Hand Feature: Travelling with the Insurgent "Lions of Tawhid"
Tuesday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Dark Day for Journalism

0122 GMT: Syria. An account of the attack on a Damascus suburb by a resident, Nizar Hazim:

The shelling against Kafarsouseh started at 6 in the morning today. The shelling was coming from tanks based at Damascus highway called al-Mutahelq al-Janoubi. The tanks were shooting also at Nahr Aisha, which is a neighbouring district and al-Qadam district.

The shooting lasted for almost two hours, it included mortars which were coming from Mezzeh airport. Soon afterwards, the Syrian army started a big campaign of raids against the house in Kfar Sousseh. As a result of the raids, people in Kafarsouseh found 24 bodies.

All these bodies were executed by gunshots to the head from close distance. We still have some missing people whom we can't find. We were targeted by the Syrian army because Kafarsouseh is the front for Darayya and al-Mouadamiyeh districts. These two districts are the base for the FSA. When they want to do any attack against the Syrian army in the heart of Damascus, they come to Kafarsouseh to launch their attack and then pull out soon after to the groves al-Bassateen. The Syrian army is taking revenge on us but I can assure you all these people who have been executed today are civilians, none of them are FSA.

0055 GMT: Syria. Back from a vacation break to find this account from a resident of al-Herak in Daraa Province, Muhammed Abu Houran, to Mona Mahmood of The Guardian this afternoon:

Yesterday morning the Syrian army began its campaign against al-Herak in Deraa. They launched a vicious raid against the people who were still in their houses, though most of the people had left the town earlier.

The Syrian army executed any men they found in these houses soon after arresting them. Most of the men who were executed were found in deserted houses. From yesterday until now, fires are still burning --- there is not enough water to put them out.

After three days of fierce battles here, the FSA had to leave its positions as it had run out of ammunition. As soon as the FSA pulled out, field executions were carried out and houses were burned and destroyed. The FSA was able to keep only the southern part of Deraa under its control after long battles that lasted from dawn to the evening – almost 16 hours.

After that, the FSA got more ammunition from neighbouring towns and was able to attack some of the armoured vehicles of the Syrian army. Battles continued till 12 midday today in which the FSA was able to recover some other parts of the town that had been taken by the Syrian army....

We have had 107 martyrs in the last three days, Most of them are civilians. Forty-five of the bodies were executed. There were 13 bodies which were charred completely and today we found another nine charred bodies. We could not identify them at all. They were in the districts which were under the control of the Syrian army yesterday. Most of the executed bodies were slain by knives, and luckiest ones executed by gunshot....

<=

Originally there were 40,000 people in al-Herak but now only 4,000 people are left here. They have been under a tough siege for three months so far --- they can't flee the town....

People now are eating a local sweet named Hallawa. Bread is missing completely. Al-Herak is an agricultural town but the Syrian army is blocking the way to get to the farms. The farmers themselves do not dare to come inside the town.

1814 GMT: Syria. Back from a working break to check in briefly...

The death toll in Syria has exploded. According to the Local Coordination Committees, 158 people have been killed by regime forces so far:

98 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs (including 46 who were field-executed in Qaboun; 25 who were field-executed in Kafar Souseh and another 7 who were also field-executed in Nahr Aisha), 18 in Idlib, 17 in Daraa, 11 in Homs, 9 in Aleppo, 2 in Hama, 1 in Hasakeh, 1 in Deir Ezzor and 1 in Lattakia.

This number does not include regime losses.

The numbers in Damascus are astronomical --- a clear escalation that could bring the epicenter of the fighting back to the capital.

1423 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordinating Committees now reports that 80 people have been killed nationwide:

50 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs; including 25, who were executed in the field in Kafar Souseh, 10 in Homs, 7 in Idlib, 5 in Daraa, 4 in Aleppo, 2 in Hama, 1 in Hasakeh, and 1 in Lattakia.

First, a note on the numbers. The LCC, an activist network, reports to use verification techniques to ensure that they have confirmed all of the numbers they post. This often means that the LCC is a lagging indicator, as it takes time to confirm news. The LCC numbers include civilians and insurgents, and do not include regime casualties. State media also does not report regime casualties.

Obviously, the focus of the violence today is Damascus.

1405 GMT: Syria. The CFDPC, a network of activists reporting on Damascus and its suburbs, have now posted the names of 24 people who have reportedly been executed by the regime in Kafer Souseh (map). That number was previously 12.

1338 GMT: Syria. The Telegraph posts a heartbreaking report on the death of Japenese Journalist Mika Yamamoto. The first video is the last she took, and ranges from the team experiencing the "indiscriminate" gunfire of the regime to meeting a father and a baby on the streets, to a dramatic conclusion.

In the second video, Yamamoto's colleagues describe the events of the day, including Yamamoto's final moments when they were helpless to prevent the attack that cost her her life.

1300 GMT: Syria. A resident of Moudamyah, just west of Damascus (map) has spoken to The Guardian, via phone, and gives a must-read account of the violence that has been happening there for the last three days. Ahmed Mua'dami reports that the pro-regime elements have used a combination of artillery, helicopters, Alawite militia, and military ground forces in order to kill dozens of civilians, many of whom were arrested before their bodies were found. In one of the more dramatic parts of the account, a helicopter opened fire on a group that was burying the bodies of the dead:

As people were looking in one of the basements of the houses, they were stunned to find the bodies of 40 people. The house was near the high road and beside Omer ben al-Khattab mosque.

People decided to take the bodies to the cemetery to bury them at 6pm yesterday, but as they were carrying out the burial a warplane came to fire on the mourners and killed 16 people.

All the people who were executed had received several gunshots and had been stabbed by knives too. A few of the bodies were even burned. All the martyrs were young and old men – there were no children among them although there is a single body of a woman.

The shelling against Mouadamiyeh is relentless and continues till now. Warplanes and the artillery based at the mountains of Mouadamiyeh are shooting at us. It is the base for the 4th Brigade of the Syrian army.

1250 GMT: Syria. Damascus is not the only place being hammered from shells and rocket attacks today. Aleppo has been heavily shelled today. A reliable activist shares two videos:

1244 GMT: Syria. A shell falls in what appears to be a residential neighborhood of Nahr Eshe, a southern district of Damascus (map):

The video is posted by the reliable activist news agency, Shaam. It matches eyewitness reports, and dozens of similar videos taken from various perspectives today.

1231 GMT: Syria. The Guardian reports that 40 people have already been killed today in Damascus alone, according to activists:

Activists say up to 40 people have been killed after regime forces shelled two Damascus districts and conducted house-to-house raids in search of rebel fighters. At least 22 people were killed in Kfar Sousseh and 18 in the nearby district of Nahr Aisha, activists told Reuters. AP put the death toll in the two areas at 23 citing activists. The Local Coordination Committees activist group claimed that 12 people were publicly executed in Kfar Sousseh. The attacks may have been designed to kill or capture rebel mortar teams who have used the two neighborhoods in recent days to target the city's Mazzeh military airport, activists said..

1221 GMT: Egypt. The trial for Islam Afify, Al-Dostour newspaper's editor who is accused of inciting sectarian violence and insulting President Morsi, begins on Thursday.

Confiscation of Al-Dostour newspaper and other cases filed against journalists have raised fears over freedom of the press. Activists including those critical of the newspaper condemned the court's decision as a violation of freedom of speech.

Others journalists are also facing trial on the same charge of "insulting the president", include longtime nationalist activist and editor-in-chief of Egyptian weekly Sawt Al-Omma, Abdel-Halim Qandeel, as well as editor-in-chief of weekly Al-Fagr, Adel Hamouda.

1215 GMT: Syria. The amount of violence in Damascus and its suburbs appears to be the highest it has been at any time since the start of the uprising, with the possible exception of the "battle for Damascus." The following is a quick summary of the headlines provided by the LCC, an activist network. This information has not been confirmed, but we post it mainly to give an overview of the amount of violence.

James Miller reports for duty again. Thanks to Scott Lucas for handling the last few hours of news.

1116 GMT: Syria. The Coalition of Free Damascenes For Peaceful Change has now posted names and details of 120 people it claims were killed by regime attacks in Damascus and its suburbs on Tuesday. Most of the casualties were in the Syrian military's assault on and entry into the suburb of Moudamiyeh.

The Local Coordination Committees claim that 12 people were publicly executed in Kafarsouseh this morning.

1112 GMT: Syria. Amidst the report of intense shelling and fighting in Damascus suburbs, a clip of a regime tank convoy moving into Nahr Aisha:

1107 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of shelling of Masaken Hanano in Aleppo Province, which reportedly wounded several people:

1000 GMT: Syria. Residents of Damascus report that the Syrian army has deployed tanks on a ring road surrounding the capital and shelled southern neighbourhoods where insurgents operate.

At least eight people were killed in the shelling and aerial bombardment, with ensuing raids, on the Kafarsouseh, Darraya, Qadam and Nahr Aisheh sections.

"The whole of Damascus is shaking with the sound of shelling," a woman in Kafarsouseh neighborhood said. She said that the army's artillery was also firing on the capital from the Qasioun and Saraya mountains overlooking Damascus.

Maaz al-Shami, a member of the Damascus Media Office, a group of young opposition activists monitoring the crackdown, said the regime forces were firing on insurgents who have returned after a fierce army campaign last month: "A war atmosphere in Damascus is setting in."

0950 GMT: Syria. Al Jazeera English's Andrew Simmons reports on the struggle of hospitals in Aleppo:

And Anita McNaught reports on the economic crisis in Syria's largest city:

0330 GMT: Syria. The country is burning. Sections of Homs are already on fire today, despite the fact that it is only almost dawn, and shells have already fallen on some Damascus suburbs, and in Hassakah, Deir Ez Zor, and areas of Daraa Province, with reported battles between the insurgent Free Syrian Army and the Assad military. After 230 people were killed yesterday, expect another bloody day today.

Video reportedly showing shells falling before dawn in Idlib Province:

Reported explosions in Mezzeh, only a few miles from the heart of the government in Damascus:

0225 GMT: Lebanon. At least 10 people have been killed in a second night of fighting in the northern city of Tripoli.

Around 100 people have been wounded in the clashes, as gunmen in the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Alawite rivals in Jebel Mohsen continued to exchange gun and grenade fire, despite deployment by Lebanese troops.

0025 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees reporting 230 people killed by security forces on Tuesday, including 104 in Damascus and its suburbs --- notably from the shelling and regime attack on Moudamiyeh --- 42 in Aleppo Province, and 32 in Daraa Province.

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