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Entries in Bashar al-Assad (267)


Syria Live Coverage: Minister of Defense "We Cannot Be Broken"

2129 GMT: More Foreign Weapons - Now Near Damascus. All day we've been discussing the fresh infusion of arms in Daraa from foreign countries, many of which are now moving northwards. In updates below, we've directly tied the sighting of these weapons to a sudden surge in rebel offensives and victories in Daraa province, including now Daraa city itself. However, in the last two weeks we've also seen a new offensive for the Damascus airport, one that has penetrated deeper than we've previously seen. Today, this video was uploaded, reportedly showing an attack on Assad military positions near the airport. In the video, two RPGs can be seen. The far one looks like an RPG-7 with an OG-7 anti-personnel warhead (described here). But the closest one is, according to our own analysis and that of Eliot Higgins, an RPG-22 disposable antitank weapon. As Eliot had previously pointed out (see links above), these aren't in the Syrian military's arsenal - but they are in Croatia's.

In other words, everywhere these weapons are showing up there is a surge in rebel offensives - relatively successful rebel offenses. Eliot also points out something else. All these videos appear to show this equipment in the hands of Free Syrian Army units, not the more extreme or independent groups. This also adds to the theory that a foreign supplier is providing these weapons, as it has helped the FSA gain ground faster, before Jabhat al Nusra or other groups take control.

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Syria Live Coverage: After the Diplomacy, More Shelling and Deaths

1613 GMT: Opposition Talks May Be Falling Apart. Over the weekend, opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib, head of the Syrian National Coalition, held talks with the US, the UN, and Russia, where he offered to negotiate with the Assad regime on the condition that Assad is not part of any transitional government. Al Khatib's goal in the talks was to find a solution that would "help the regime leave peacefully." Now, he says, the ball is in Assad's court:

"The regime must take a clear stand [on dialogue] and we say we will extend our hand for the interest of people and to help the regime leave peacefully," he said. "It is now in the hands of the regime."

Al-Khatib said that his initiative was "humanitarian" in order to save Syrian lives and what remains of the country's infrastructure after nearly two years of conflict.

"The big powers have no vision [for a solution] ... Only the Syrian people can decide on the solution."

Khatib faces three major challenges, all of which could unravel the efforts to end the crisis. The first, and arguably most important, is that the Assad regime has not responded to the call to negotiate, and has failed to abide by any other deals it has made in the past. All previous statements have suggested that President Bashar al Assad will not leave his government, the regime will not stop its military campaign against "terrorists," a label for all the rebels (and peaceful protesters) who have resisted Assad rule, and the opposition has no legitimacy.

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Syria Live Coverage: Diplomatic Breakthrough? Opposition Leader Meets Russia & Iran Foreign Ministers

Claimed footage of the moment that a mortar strike killed three activists in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta

See also Iraq (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Dozens Killed in Attack on Police Headquarters
Saturday's Syria Live Coverage: Aid Reaches an Opposition-Held Town

1926 GMT: Casualties. Claimed footage from the al-Ansari section of Aleppo of men digging for survivors in a collapsed building, reportedly struck by a by regime shelling:

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Syria Live Coverage: "Chances of Assad's Preservation Are Smaller and Smaller"

2123 GMT: Death Toll Rising. The LCC now reports that 114 have died so far today:

31 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs, 24 in Idlib (most of them in Ariha), 18 in Hama (most of them in Hawejah), 17 in Aleppo, 11 in Homs, 7 in Daraa, and 6 in Deir Ezzor.

However, this number will very likely rise further. Heavy fires are raging in Jdeidet Artouz, less than 15 kilometers west of the capital, as a explosion has trapped residents inside some of the burning buildings.

Furthermore, heavy fighting is reported across Hama province. According to the LCC's latest reports, many were killed in Baridij, 35 kilometers northwest of Hama, and "dozens" were killed in the nearby village of Magher after intense shelling.

2054 GMT: Rebels Attack Near Damascus Airport. Earlier we reported that there was fighting near the Damascus International Airport. Now, this video, shared on Facebook, reportedly shows an infantry-supported tank of the Ansar al Islam brigade attacking a "shabiha" location near the airport:

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Iran Live Coverage: Supreme Leader's Top Advisor Draws A "Red Line" on Syria

See also Sunday's Iran Live Coverage: Regime Explains --- Talk of "Free Elections" Is "Sedition"

Supreme Leader Aide Ali Akbar Velayati2147 GMT: Bank Watch. The Supreme Audit Court has given Central Bank head Mahmoud Bahmani 20 days to appeal the order for his dismissal because of illegal financial transactions.

2037 GMT: Bank Watch. Najmeh Bozorgmehr of the Financial Times summarises a day's turmoil over the Central Bank and the Iranian currency, with reports of the resignation or dismissal of Bank head Mahmoud Bahmani.

Bozorgmehr puts the fall of the Rial today at 8%, from 32800:1 to 35300:1.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Assad Remains Defiant

2232 GMT: Syria. Brigadier General Salim Idris talks to Al Jazeera English, saying that his forces need more ammunition and weapons to fight Assad. Idris also says that special rebel units are working to protect and monitor chemical stockpiles.

2149 GMT: Bahrain British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has criticised the Court of Cassation's decision to uphold the sentences against the 13 leading Bahrain activists and politicians. In a statement, Burt said:

At the time these individuals were sentenced, reports which were acknowledged by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry suggested that some had been abused in detention, denied access to legal counsel and were coerced into confessing.

I call on the government of Bahrain to meet all its human rights obligations and guarantee its citizens the fundamental liberties to which they are entitled.

I am deeply dismayed at the decision.

2006 GMT: Libya. In order to establish law and order and find a place for many former soldiers, over 6000 militiamen have been trained to be police, according to the new Interior Minister Ashour Shuail:

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Syria Analysis: Assad Says "I Am Not Leaving"

President Assad is mobbed by supporters after his Sunday speech

President Assad spoke for almost an hour on Sunday, often in long, almost-rambling sentences. However, the thousands of words can be reduced to four.

I am not leaving.

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Syria Video: President Assad's Speech Today


Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Assad Addresses the Nation

Iranian cartoonist Maya Neyestani on Syrian President Assad's New Year

See also Syria 1st-Hand: Fire and Ice in the Refugee Camp
Saturday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Back to the War of Attrition

2055 GMT: Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out a general amnesty for Kurdish insurgents on Sunday but said Turkey official would continue to talk to the detained leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan.

Erdogan's chief adviser said last week that the officials had been discussing disarmament with Ocalan, after decades of armed struggle for Kurdish independence, and on Thursday two Kurdish lawmakers paid a rare visit to the PKK leader in his island prison.

Erdogan said Turkey was taking a two-pronged approach, with the State intelligence agency meeting Ocalan: "Talks with Ocalan is not a new process....I have said before that we will negotiate with (Kurdish) politicians and struggle against terrorism."

The Prime Minister said, "General amnesty for those who have been involved in terrorist activities is out of the question. House confinement for (Ocalan) is also out of the question."

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EA Special: 10 Predictions for 2013 --- Assad Gone, an Angry Middle East, and Little Change on "Human Rights"

See also 2012 in Review: How Did EA's Predictions Turn Out?

1. Syria --- The Assad Regime Will Fall It remains unclear what happens once President Assad is gone, but his regime will crumble in 2013. It may find some corner of Lattakia or Tartous to claim as a new capital for some time, but this will not last.

Assad's presence in the east has been reduced to a single airbase near Deir Ez Zor. Insurgents, led by Islamists, are also moving into Raqqa Province, and Hassakah will soon be cut off. The regime's supply lines to Aleppo are completely cut, with insurgents picking off military bases outside the city.

Eventually, Aleppo will fall. Insurgents will march south from Idlib Province, first taking Hama, then Homs, and then on to Damascus. If the Assad regime survives and is not overtaken by a surge in the capital before this, then the regime will have its back against the wall. The majority of Syria will already be in someone else's hands.

But whose hands?

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