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Entries in C.J. Chivers (7)


Syria Feature: The Surge in Foreign Weapons for the Insurgents (Higgins and Chivers/Schmitt)

Colonel Abdul-Jabber Mohammed Aqidi, a prominent insurgent commander in Aleppo, holds up an anti-tank M79 rocket launcher

While Persian Gulf Arab nations have been sending military equipment and other assistance to the rebels for more than a year, the difference in the recent shipments has been partly of scale. Officials said multiple planeloads of weapons have left Croatia since December, when many Yugoslav weapons, previously unseen in the Syrian civil war, began to appear in videos posted by rebels on YouTube....

Officials familiar with the transfers said the arms were part of an undeclared surplus in Croatia remaining from the 1990s Balkan wars. One Western official said the shipments included “thousands of rifles and hundreds of machine guns” and an unknown quantity of ammunition.

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Syria Feature: Insurgents Fighting With A Hodge-Podge of Weapons (Chivers)

Photo: Bryan Denton/New York TimesWorking together and at the urging of antigovernment fighters, local businesses and tradesmen have organized into a network engaged in making weapons, in part by delegating different tasks among the various trades. Some shops concoct explosives and propellants, a job that one organizer, Ahmed Turki, said had best been accomplished by a local painter with experience mixing chemicals. Others, who have electricians’ skills, wire together the circuits for makeshift bombs.

Machinists and metallurgists assemble rockets and mortars, as well as the bodies for mortar and artillery shells or the large cylinders often used to hold the charges in roadside or truck bombs. (These men also manufacture truck mounts for machine guns captured from government forces; one novel design included using a disc brake from a motorcycle to arrest the movement of the weapon as its operator adjusts the gun’s elevation.)

Still others remove the propellant from captured tank and artillery rounds, which is then repurposed in the rebels’ arms.

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Libya Feature: NATO's Secrecy Over Civilian Deaths From Its Bombs (Chivers)

Sometime late last Aug. 8, NATO warplanes flying from Europe arrived over the Libyan farming village of Majer, where forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi were withdrawing and anti-Qaddafi forces were claiming ground. Civilians were in motion, too — seeking pockets of safety away from the roaming sides, neither of which fought with precision or clear rules. This is the type of situation in which air support can be especially risky and in which, even with a careful calculus of modern target planning, mistakes are likely.

The aircraft that night have never been publicly identified by NATO, which has treated their origins and nationalities as strict military secrets.

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Libya Snapshot: Why the Insurgents Are Struggling in the Advance on Tripoli (Chivers)

The capture last week by Libyan fighters opposed to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of the mountain village of Qawalish signaled a shift in the front lines in the rebels’ slow advance toward Tripoli, Libya’s capital. It also provided a fine-grained view of the western rebels at war, offering insights into their leadership, logistics, tactics and conduct on the battlefield.

Some of what emerged was grim, including the aggressive and sustained looting and arson of Qawalish that followed the rebels’ entry into the town. (The arson continued on Monday. Almost a week after the town fell, two homes and an auto-parts shop were freshly ablaze.) These were crimes. But other rebel actions spoke to different elements of the character of opposition fighting units in the mountains — including the mix of enthusiasm, inexperience and initiative that has in turns both endangered the rebels and at times made them safe. In Qawalish, all of this could be readily seen.

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Libya Snapshot: The Hidden Workshops of Misurata (Chivers)

When the bloody siege of this isolated city began, the rebels who rose against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s conventional army had almost no firearms. Many of them relied on hands, knives and stones.

Now they roam the streets as a paramilitary force built around hastily armored trucks that have been fitted with captured machine guns set on crude turrets and mounts.

The transformation, evident in an offensive late last month that chased many of Colonel Qaddafi’s forces from Misurata’s center to its outskirts, is in part the result of a hidden side of this lopsided ground war: a clandestine network of rebel workshops, where these makeshift weapons have been designed, assembled and pushed out.

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Syria, Libya (and Beyond) LiveBlog: A Speech and a City Demolished

1920 GMT: Doctors say Yemeni security forces wounded at least 10 people when they fired on a protest march in Sanaa today.

About 200 more demonstrators were overcome by tear gas when they marched outside their normal protest zone in the streets near Sanaa University.

"We neared the Sanaa Trade Center when police confronted us with tear gas, and suddenly opened heavy gunfire on us from all directions," said Sabry Mohammed, a protester. "A state of terror set in among the demonstrators, and some of them fled into side streets."

1915 GMT: State TV reports that Oman plans to spend 1 billion rials ($2.6 billion) to "satisfy the demands" of protesters seeking jobs and political reforms.

Earlier this spring, up to seven people died in a series of demonstrations against the regime of Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Dozens of protesters have continued to camp in tents near the country's Shura Council in the capital Muscat.

The Sultan's office did not specify how the money would be spent.

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Libya Feature: Rockets, Snipers, and Resistance in Misurata (Chivers)

Photo: Filippo Monteforte (AFP/Getty)Misurata is nearly severed from the world, a densely inhabited city where anti-Qaddafi rebels have been all but surrounded by Colonel Qaddafi’s conventional troops. They face front lines to their south, east and west. The Mediterranean Sea is at their back.

They endure regular barrages from high-explosive munitions and shortages of equipment and ammunition. But kept alive by tenuous resupply into the port they barely hold, the rebels have created a maze of fighting positions and tank obstacles. They have managed for almost two months to prevent their city from being overrun.

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