Insurgents take a Republican Guard headquarters in Adra, east of Damascus
See also Syria Analysis: A New Insurgent Alliance --- With New Weapons --- Is Changing the War br>
Syria Analysis: The Lessons from Airpower in the Libyan Uprising br>
Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Is There Any Hope in the "National Dialogue"? br>
Tuesday's Syria Live Coverage: Car Bomb on Turkey Border; Insurgents Take Major Dam
2113 GMT: Aleppo Airport Closer to Falling. Videos claim to show the rebels attacking the base of the 80th regiment, one of the key defenses for Aleppo airport, the largest major airbase in the north. It is from this the airport that Assad has launched most of his attacks in Aleppo, and without it the rebels have the city nearly surrounded and cut off from reinforcements.
Videos show the rebels pounding the base with RPGs and sniper fire, while other videos show the rebels looting the base of both ammunition and anti-aircraft weapons:
39 martyrs in Aleppo; 34 martyrs in Damascus and its suburbs including 14 in Jobar; 27 martyrs in Idlib; 13 in Homs; 13 in Dier Ezzor; 12 in Daraa; 9 in Hama; 4 in Raqqa; 4 in Latakkia; and 1 in Hassakeh.
Airstrikes in many areas are increasing, but they don't seem to be hurting the rebel advances. Rather, most of those killed in the airstrikes are civilians. Take this video, in the Karam Altareb neighborhood of Aleppo, where airstrikes have devastated a residential neighborhood:
And this is the Jouret Awwad district, just to the southeast:
1959 GMT: Jobar Barracks Update. A keen-eyed reader points out that the most probable cause of the explosion in the previous update is a car bomb.
1715 GMT: Rebels Advance in Jobar. We were so busy yesterday that we did not have a chance to post it, but on the night of February 11th, sources tell us that the Syrian rebels managed to break into a military barracks in Jobar, east of Damascus, (we're not exactly sure which complex) and capture dozens of Assad officers. The video below, sent to us on Twitter, shows the start of the attack on the barracks. We're not sure what causes the explosion at 1:40, but it is some heavy weaponry in the hands of the rebels.
Rebels capture prisoners inside the base:
Hat tip to @FreeingSyria for the videos.
38 martyrs in Aleppo; 30 martyrs in Damascus and its suburbs including 14 in Jobar; 27 martyrs in Idlib; 13 in Homs; 13 in Dier Ezzor; 9 in Daraa; 6 in Hama; 4 in Raqqa; and 4 in Latakkia.
Now, in nearly every province, higher than normal death totals are being reported, a sign that the conflict is burning intensely today, and the fighting is not confined to small pockets or individual areas.
1618 GMT: Rebels Press Yesterday's Gains. The rebels had a busy day yesterday, but they have continued their attacks today. Several videos show the rebels attacking Assad positions in Adra, east of Damascus, a day after they captured a Republican Guard palace. This video shows some of the intense fighting. Another shows the rebels using an anti-tank missile:
Meanwhile, in Aleppo, rebels continue to press their attack against the base of the 8oth regiment, and the Aleppo International Airport that the base guards. According to activists, most of the base is in rebel hands. The video below shows snipders near the road of the airport:
Various scenes from the battle near the regiment 80 base. From the looks of the video, it does appear that they are in control of the outer gate and the outer defenses, though there are reportedly buildings within the base that have yet to fall:
1556 GMT: A New Rebel Alliance - With New Weapons. The video posted below is a significant piuece of the puzzle. There is now growing evidence that the secular Free Syrian Army and the more moderate Islamist groups formed a new alliance in the south, to the exclusion of Jabhat al Nusra, to receive new weapons from the outside and to prepare to capture Damascus. We've posted a separate analysis:
See Also Syria Analysis: A New Insurgent Alliance --- With New Weapons --- Is Changing the War.
1525 GMT: Syrian Rebels Trained on New Weapons. Yesterday's dramatic news was the rebel capture of an airbase in Aleppo province (complete with some working fighter jets), and the rebel assault against the largest Assad base in the north, Aleppo International Airport. However, as we've been writing for several weeks, this new surge in rebel activity is at least in part the result of new weapons and new organization of rebel groups in Daraa and Damascus. As we've also pointed out, there is ample, and growing, evidence that these weapons which have shown up since late December are coming from foreign powers.
Today, we have a significant development, a piece of evidence that both adds credence to the theory that these weapons are coming from outside Syria, and also gives insight into the new organization of rebel groups. Brown Moses (Eliot Higgins) finds this video:
We're publishing analysis soon.
1355 GMT: Death Toll Higher So Far Today. It's relatively early, and the death toll often doubles from this time until the end of the day, but the Local Coordination Committees are already reporting that 84 people have been killed so far today:
22 martyrs were reported in Idlib, most of them were in Kafernbel; 19 martyr in Damascus and its suburbs; 13 in Aleppo; 13 in Homs; 9 in Dier Ezzor; 5 in Hama; and 3 in Daraa.
The higher death toll appears to be driven by slightly elevated numbers in Homs and Deir Ez Zor, and heavily inflated numbers in Idlib, as well as the sadly typical numbers in Damascus and Aleppo. At least 7 people were killed in a single rocket attack in Kafranbel, Idlib, according to the LCC. Meanwhile, in Jobar, an eastern suburb of Damascus that has been ground zero for the new rebel offensive, 13 people were reportedly killed in an airstrike.
The Local Coordination Committees (LCC) is an activist network operating both inside and outside of Syria. They claim to use stringent verification processes to ensure that a member of the LCC can vouch for any information posted either on their Facebook page or their website. The LCC also populates a database of those killed in the Syrian conflict, which can be seen at the website for the Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria.
The LCC's casualty figures are a mix of insurgents and civilians, and never include regime casualties. Syrian State Media has stopped reporting regime casualty figures.
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us to the afternoon.
1211 GMT: Assad and the "Hopes" of His Citizens. Speaking after a Cabinet meeting and the swearing-in of new Ministers, President Assad declared "that the current circumstances in Syria caused citizens to have greater hopes in terms of what they expect of the gGvernment, which gives the ministries and state establishments an extra responsibility that must be transformed into positive work energy in order to achieve all that could be achieved of citizens' hopes and relieve them".
Assad said the regime faced the challenge of those who "worked methodically to destroy the country's infrastructure".
1111 GMT: Opposition Official Inside Syria. Footage of the visit of George Sabra, the deputy head of the opposition National Coalition and president of the Syrian National Council, to the insurgent-held town of Azaz near the Turkish border:
1105 GMT: Negotiations. The Minister for National Reconciliation, Ali Haidar, has backed away from his indication --- given to a British journalist earlier this week --- that he would meet officials of the opposition National Coalition in a foreign country: "The national dialogue will be held, in its second stage, exclusively in Syria because it is a matter of national dignity."
Haidar said on State TV on Tuesday, "There is no initiative at the table of the Syrian government or the ministerial team tasked with implementing the preparatory stage for dialogue… We only heard ideas via media outlets… The government is not a media office to answer the others' inquiries through media."
Haidar continued with a dismissal of the offer of National Coalition head al-Khatib of discussions if the Assad regime met conditions such as the release of political prisoners: "In principle, I consider that any Syrian figure, whether inside or outside Syria, who wants national dialogue and political solution to the crisis as a person on the right path, but the details needs long examination."
"Qatar has decided to hand over the Syrian embassy building in Doha to Mr Nizar al-Haraki after his appointment as ambassador...for the National Coalition," a Coalition statement said. "The flag of the revolution will be raised above the building."
0609 GMT: Casualties. The Local Coordination Committees claim 136 people were killed on Tuesday, including 11 children and five women. Forty-seven of the deaths were in Damascus and its suburbs, 32 in Aleppo Province, and 20 in Homs Province.
0555 GMT: Insurgent Advance. The series of important insurgent victories continued on Tuesday. A day after Islamist-led forces captured the country's largest dam, opposition fighters took the Jirah military airport east of Aleppo and and attacked another base that guards the city's international airport. Both events pointed to a wider development, noted by EA's James Miller:
Unlike last year's offensives, the primary weapons are tanks, armored vehicles, 4x4 vehicles equipped with various armaments, howitzers, artillery pieces, and other heavy weaponry. While the insurgents have been capturing these weapons all along, it has not been possible to bring them into the open and use them this heavily. This is a sign that not only are Assad's armored vehicles thinning, but his airforce is far less formidable than it once was.
So do the insurgents now have the strength to move on a major city? We noted on Tuesday morning that an Islamist-led force had surrounded the eastern city of Deir Ez Zor on all sides. There was no significant assault yesterday, but Miller offered this summary to me last night:
Look at the firepower and coordination of the insurgents as they pressure these bases. Mortar attacks, sniper attacks, then the 4x4's attack and the infantry overruns the position. They're really good at this now.
I think Deir ez Zor and Idlib are getting close to a battle.