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Entries in Bashar al-Assad (267)


Syria Live Coverage: Airstrikes Continue Around Damascus

Photo: AFP1942 GMT: Fighting Near Border with Lebanon.

NOW Syria reports from the border village of al-Qasr, just inside Lebanon, where insurgent fire hit for the first time:

Al-Qasr [did not] feel like a place hit by lethal rocket fire just two days ago. Despite an army statement Sunday declaring its increased presence in the area, there wasn’t so much as a routine checkpoint impeding our entrance. In the village center, all shops were open; adults and children alike going about their business as usual. It could have been anywhere in the Beqaa.

Except, of course, for the two crumbled walls near the main mosque, results of an unprecedented series of rockets fired Sunday by Syrian rebels that, for the first time, left one resident dead and up to nine injured (another was killed by the same attack in Hosh al-Sayyid Ali, a nearby village on the Syrian side of the border). The blood of 23-year-old Ali Hassan Qataya, light brown by now, still spans the width of the street where he died.

“He was just visiting,” said a local resident who did not give his name. “He lived in Beirut, and came here to visit his fiancée.”

Why, then, was Qataya killed? The Syrian National Coalition, the opposition body recognized by over a dozen countries as the representative government-in-exile, said Monday that “the Free Syrian Army was forced to respond to [the] repeated aggressions” of Hezbollah, whom it accused of carrying out “military operations on Syrian territory.”

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Syria Video: President Assad's Interview with Turkey's Ulusal TV

A 40-minute interview with President Assad on Turkish TV channel Ulusal, conducted on Tuesday and broadcast on Friday night:


Syria Live: The Regime's Warning Over the Foreign Base in Jordan

2040 GMT: Grad Rockets In Ma'arrat al Nouman. We've been talking a lot about Ma'arrat al Nouman in recent days. On the front lines of Idlib province, the rwebel stronghold is flanked by two important bases, both of which have proven impossible for the rebels to breach despite months of bombardment. The bases are equipped with heavy bunkers, dug in artillery, and are being provided air support by Syrian jets.

Interestingly, however, we've seen a lot of new rebel equipment show up near Ma'arrat al Nouman, including several Do-It-Yourself launchers for 122mm rockets, better known as Grad rockets. Even more interestingly, some of these weapons and rockets appear as if they have been shipped to the area, perhaps from other Assad bases where they have been captured. This suggests that the rebel command organization may be making the capturing of Wadi al Daif and the Hamidiyeh bases a priority:

2017 GMT: Wounded Rebel Commander Recovering. Riad al Assad, a rebel commander who was injured in Deir Ez Zor, is recovering in a Turkish hospital, according to a prominent activist:

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Syria Live Coverage: Opposition Gathers to Name A Prime Minister

Claimed footage of insurgents hitting a regime tank in Idlib Province

See also Syria Video Discussion: Two Years After the Start of the Uprising
Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Dozens Arrested in Cairo Protests
Sunday's Syria Live Coverage: Fighting Escalates Near Damascus

2110 GMT: Damascus. An opposition Facebook page has claimed "a number of 120mm heavy caliber a joint operation coordinated with battalions operating in Damascus".

Targets included the Presidential Palace, Damascus International Airport, and security buildings.

"The operation comes in conjunction with the second anniversary of the start of our revolution, which is a revolution of freedom and dignity against the despotic regime of the criminal Bashar al-Assad," the statement said.

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Syria Live Coverage: Fighting Escalates Near Damascus 

See also Syria Feature: Remembering A Voice For the Syrian Revolution
Iraq (and Beyond) Coverage: At Least 10 Killed in Basra Bomb

1544 GMT: Insurgent Advance Near Golan Heights. Insurgents commanders said they have seized a Syrian military intelligence compound in the southern Hauran Plain near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The compound near the Yarmouk River in the town of Shagara, 8 kilomtetres (5 miles) from a cease-fire line with Israel, fell after a five-day siege, opposition sources said.

"We have completely taken over this security compound this morning. It's a command centre for the shabiha [pro-Assad militia]," said Abu Iyas al-Haurani, a member of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. "Anyone who was arrested in the Yarmouk Valley was sent to this military intelligence headquarters to be tortured and it has a strategic importance. With its fall we have completed our liberation of the town of Shagara."

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Syria Live Coverage: Fighting on the Iraq Border

Extract from President Assad's interview with Sunday Times of London (see 0800 GMT)

See also Palestine (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Minister of Finance Tries to Resign Amid Financial Crisis
Saturday's Syria Live Coverage: The Fighting Around Aleppo

2205 GMT: Casualties. Footage, with graphic images of the wounded, has been posted of the aftermath of regime shelling of the Damascus suburb of Douma.

1840 GMT: Elections in Insurgent-Held Areas. A vote has been held to elect 29 council members for insurgent-held areas in Aleppo Province.

"For the first time, Aleppo will have a freely elected provincial council. We hope the whole of Syria will have a free election soon," candidate Yehia Naanaa from Hreitan said.

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Syria Live Coverage: "Assad Must Be Held Accountable for His Crimes"

Mass anti-regime protest in the Saqba area of Damascus on Friday

See also Syria 1st-Hand: The Bombings That Broke "Peaceful" Salamiyeh
Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Protests and Clashes Continue
Friday's Syria Live Coverage: Insurgents Advance in South and East, Down Regime Jets

2100 GMT: Blackout. Electricity has been cut in the capital tonight --- the BBC's Lina Sinjab reports:

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Iran Live Coverage: Tehran's Support for Syria Will Cause "War Between Shia and Sunni"

See also Iran Analysis: The US Makes a Non-Offer on the Nuclear Talks</ br>
Friday's Iran Live Coverage: Syria --- The Islamic Republic's "35th Province"

Supreme Leader & President Assad

2110 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Journalist Edition). One of the 16 journalists seized three weeks ago, Fatemeh Sagharchi of Jamaran and former head of the Strategic Research Library, has been released on bail of 120 million Toman (about $30,000 at unofficial.rate).

Fourteen journalists, most of them from reformists publications, remain behind bars. No formal charges have been announced, although authorities and politicians have put out the message that they collaborated with foreign media.

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Syria 1st-Hand: How to Start an Insurgent Battalion (Abdul-Ahad)

Formation of the Al Hasan bin Ali Battalion in Hama last week

For decades, the dictatorship in Syria worked to stamp the people into submission: every pulpit, every media outlet, every schoolbook sent out the same message, that people should be subservient to the ruler. In Syria (as in a different way in Iraq, Egypt and the rest), those in authority – from the president to the policeman, from the top party apparatchik to the lowliest government functionary – exercised power over every aspect of people’s lives. You spent your life trying to avoid being humiliated --- let alone detained and tortured or disappeared – by those in authority while somehow also sucking up to them, bribing them, begging them to give you what you needed: a telephone line, a passport, a university place for your son. So when these systems of control collapsed, something exploded inside people, a sense of individualism long suppressed. Why would I succumb to your authority as a commander when I can be my own commander and fight my own insurgency? Many of the battalions dotted across the Syrian countryside consist only of a man with a connection to a financier, along with a few of his cousins and clansmen. They become itinerant fighting groups, moving from one battle to another, desperate for more funds and a fight and all the spoils that follow.

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Syria Live Coverage: Assad Changes His Ministers Amid Economic Crisis

See also Syria 1st-Hand: A "Sliver of Hope" in Non-Violent Civil Movements
Tunisia (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Prime Minister Threatens Resignation if New Cabinet Not Accepted
Saturday's Syria Live Coverage: The Fighting from Damascus to Idlib

1737 GMT: Iran's Lifeline to Assad. Egypt's Syrian Economic Task Force has said that ships belonging to Iranian oil companies, but disguised under different flags, are crossing through the Suez Canal with oil and sometimes weapons for Damascus.

At least two ships have been identified as belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC). One of the ships changed its flag four times --- including Malta, Bolivia, and Sierra-Leone --- and its name once in the last 11 months, and the SETF said it lacks proper certification.

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