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Entries in Bashar al-Assad (267)


Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Brahimi's Futile Mission to Moscow?

2124 GMT: Syria. A message from Kafranbel:

It may be hard to make out, but the "Pac Man" is really the opposition flag, gobbling up AK-47s on its way to eating Assad. The "ghosts" chasing Pac Man are the flags of Russia, China, Iran, and (perhaps) the US (it's hard to see, but it's red and blue).

2110 GMT: Iraq. Across much of Iraq, large protests have been held today against government policies and behaviors that some Sunni Muslims view as sectarian in nature. In Fallujah alone there may have been tens of thousands in the streets. AP reports:

Tens of thousands of Iraqi Sunnis angry over perceived second-class treatment by the Shiite-led government massed along a major western highway and elsewhere in the country Friday for the largest protests yet in a week of demonstrations...

The biggest of Friday's demonstrations took place on a main road to Jordan and Syria that runs through the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in the Sunni-dominated desert province of Anbar, west of Baghdad.

Several thousand protesters took to the streets in Fallujah, holding aloft placards declaring the day a "Friday of honor." Some carried old Iraqi flags used during the era of former dictator Saddam Hussein, whose Sunni-dominated government was ousted in the U.S.-led invasion nearly a decade ago.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Assad Regime Negotiating a Deal in Moscow?

See also Syria 1st-Hand: Aleppo --- Hunger, Disease, & Little Hope
Wednesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Insurgents Take Another Town in the North

2315 GMT: Bahrain. Claims are circulating that leading human rights activist Zainab AlKhwaja was released from prison on bail today.

Zainab's husband said he was collecting her from prison. He described her as the "apple of the eyes of the people of Bahrain".

Yesterday, the New York Times published an article written by Zainab behind bars. Her trial verdict was also postponed until 20 January.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 156 Killed as UN Envoy Brahimi Meets Assad

See also Israel-Palestine Feature: Jerusalem's "Extreme Makeover" & "Perilous Decline"
Syria 1st-Hand: Attempting to Live a Normal Life in Insurgent-Held Yabroud
Monday's Syria Live Coverage: "94 Killed" in Regime Airstrike on Bakery Queue

2100 GMT: Egypt. The US State Department has reacted to today's official declaration of the approval of the Constitution:

The future of Egypt’s democracy depends on forging a broader consensus behind its new democratic rules and institutions. Many Egyptians have voiced deep concerns about the substance of the constitution and the constitutional process. President Morsi, as the democratically elected leader of Egypt, has a special responsibility to move forward in a way that recognizes the urgent need to bridge divisions, build trust, and broaden support for the political process. We have called for genuine consultation and compromise across Egypt’s political divides. We hope those Egyptians disappointed by the result will seek more and deeper engagement. We look to those who welcome the result to engage in good faith. And we hope all sides will re-commit themselves to condemn and prevent violence.

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Syria Live Coverage: "94 Killed" in Regime Airstrike on Bakery Queue

See also Syria Video Discussion: The Dwindling Resources of the Regime (Al Jazeera English)
Sunday's Syria Live Coverage: Starving in Aleppo

2103 GMT: The Local Coordination Committees report that 115 people have been killed today, including 35 in Damascus and its suburbs, 28 in Homs Province, 18 in Aleppo Province, and 16 in Hama Province.

2017 GMT: Colonel Abdel-Jabbar Oqaidi, the head of the insurgent military council in Aleppo Province, has spoken to Reuters of the change in strategy from fighting regime forces in the cities to surrounding bases in the countryside:

At the beginning...we were forced to attack the forces in the districts to kick them out so that they do not harm civilians.

After achieving fighting experience, we went back to the countryside to liberate the big military bases. These bases are fortified with tanks, rockets, artillery, mortars, in addition airplanes. The siege...cuts off the supply lines to these bases and most importantly it helps elements to defect.

Oqaidi said the remaining obstacle for the insurgents was Assad's warplanes:

We have no problem except for the air force. We're used to the tanks fighting and their shelling, we have no problem except for the air force.

We're used to taking over military bases that have tanks and APCs (armored personnel carriers) but we haven't been used to take over control yet of airplanes and God willing we'll have control of them soon.

Oqaidi estimated that the regime has less than 100 functional planes left.

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Syria Live Coverage: Russia Gives Up on Assad

The message from protesters in Kafranbel today

See also Syria Analysis: Why Assad's Use of SCUD Missiles is Really Important
Iraq (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Security Forces Raid Minister of Finance's Home and Offices
Thursday's Syria Live Coverage: The Humanitarian Crisis

1531 GMT: 71 people have been killed so far today across Syria, according to the Local Coordination Committees:

24 people in Hama, 20 people in Damascus and its countryside, 10 martyrs in Idlib, 8 martyrs in Aleppo (including 5 martyrs in Marja) 6 martyrs in Homs... and a martyr in the Deir ez-Zor.

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.

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Syria Live Coverage: Regime Warplanes Strike in Damascus for 1st Time

2104 GMT: A micro-blogger has collected a series of videos from the FSA offensive against Halfaya, north of Hama city (map). The city is under heavy rebel attack, as the Free Syrian Army and other units are stretching the front lines to the south. After weeks of ambushes, IED attacks, and generally picking at Assad's supply lines, it appears that the insurgents have moved into Hama province with a vengeance. If this kind of momentum can be sustained over the next few days, it could signal a further Assad military collapse, but this one just kilometers from one of the most important cities in Syria:

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Syria Video Feature: Planning For the Endgame? --- Scott Lucas on Al Jazeera English's "Inside Syria"

I appeared on Al Jazeera English's Inside Syria yesterday to discuss latest developments around the question, "Is this the endgame for President Assad?" The other panellists were Ammar Waqqaf of the pro-regime Syrian Social Club and Pavel Felgenhauer, a political analyst and columnist for Russia's Novaya Gazeta.

This was a spiky discussion at times, with differences over the level of the threat to President Assad, the situation of the opposition, and Russia's assessment of whether it should now distance itself from the Syrian regime.


Syria Live Coverage: Uncertainty Over the Mass Killing in Aqrab

1946 GMT: Syrian Media, SANA, now reports that three different explosions resulted in "martyring of a number of people and the injuring of others" at the Interior Ministry in Damascus. SANA does not say whether any officials have been injured, though rumors are flying, rumors which State TV has already denied. They have posted several pictures, two of which we post here (click for full size):

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Syria Live Coverage: "A Political Process to End the Crisis is Still Possible"

2040 GMT: The US decision to place Al Nusra Front on the terrorist watch list will have complicated repercussions. Since we've started covering this conflict, we've been very impressed with both McClatchy and The Institute for the Study of War. As such, we're not surprised that experts from both organizations have, even before the decision was announced, condemned the move because it will complicate the realities on the ground in Syria and potentially isolate Washington from the Syrian rebels:

Some experts warned that declaring Nusra a foreign terrorist organization was likely to hurt the anti-Assad uprising by fueling tensions between the group and other opposition units. The designation could disrupt the coordination behind recent rebel advances and even risk clashes among rebel groups.


“I’m not saying they aren’t a terrorist group. But given the circumstances and given their cooperation with the opposition as a whole, designating them now would be disastrous,” said Elizabeth O’Bagy, an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War who recently returned from touring rebel-held areas to research Nusra and other Islamist groups.

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Syria Live Coverage: Is This the End for Assad?

Anti-regime protest in Binnish in Idlib Province today

See also Syria Audio Feature: Why US and Russia Suddenly Met Thursday --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
Syria Opinion: "The US Must Act Soon" --- James Miller in The American Prospect
Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Morsi Defies Protesters and Warns "Infiltrators"
Thursday's Egypt, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Protests and Fighting at the Presidential Palace

2050 GMT: A curious report from the LCC:

Lattakia: Faranlaq: Fierce clashes between the FSA and regime forces amid attempts by the regime forces to storm the district and the FSA is blocking it.

What's interesting is that we did not know where Faranlaq was, nor were we able to find it on a map. The reason - Faranlaq is not a town or district, but a forest, only 5 milometers north of Lattakia city (approximate location on map).

Usually, fighting in "Lattakia" is in the mountains to the east, many miles from the city, often considered a stronghold of the Assad regime. However, this fighting is located between the city and an important naval base.

How "fierce" are the clashes? We don't know. We have also not independently confirmed the news. If true, it is becoming clear, however, even Assad's strongholds are not immune from the insurgent advance.

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