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Entries in Croatia (7)


Syria Live: A Cease-Fire in Aleppo.... But Just to Gather the Bodies

The Red Crescent gathers 31 bodies, some lying for months, from the streets of Aleppo during a cease-fire

See also Syria Analysis: US Arms to Insurgents, "Al Qa'eda", and Muddled Reporting
Bahrain (and Beyond) Live: Stepping Up the Formula 1 Protests
Tuesday's Syria Live Coverage: Airstrikes Continue Around Damascus

2020 GMT: Assad Interview

More on President Assad's defiant appearance on pro-regime Al-Ikhbariya tonight....

"We have no choice but victory. If we don't win, Syria will be finished and I don't think this is a choice for any citizen in Syria," Assad said. "The truth is there is a war and I repeat: no to surrender, no to submission."

The President said that the West was "supporting al-Qaeda in Syria, Libya and other places and [would] pay the price later in the heart of Europe and in the heart of the United States."

Assad addressed the effort --- including the US, Britain, France, and Arab States --- to arm insurgents from a base in Jordan:

We cannot believe that thousands of insurgents are entering Syria with their weapons, at a time when Jordan was capable of stopping and arresting one person carrying a simple weapon for the Palestinian resistance.

"The fire will not stop at our border and everybody knows that Jordan is exposed as Syria is.

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Syria Feature: How "Independent Analysts" Are Breaking the Stories of the Conflict

Britain's Channel 4 profiles EA Worldview's James Miller and other independent analysts on Syria

On Saturday, news emerged of a new kind of weapon --- a 12-tube rocket launcher with a range of 8.5 to 13 kilometrees (5.5 to 8 miles) --- that has made it to the front lines of the Syrian conflict.

The news, significant in itself, is the latest development in the wider, important story of how Syrian insurgents are using foreign-supplied Croatian arms to make crucial gains against President Assad's troops.

These advances since January could even prove to be the tipping point in the two-year insurgency.

There may be another tipping point: by developing methods to gather information and analyze open-source intelligence, an emerging group of "independent analysts" are breaking news stories far ahead of any mainstream outlet.

And in doing so, they are changing the international conversation about Syria.

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Syria Live: Insurgent Attacks in Central Aleppo

1825 GMT: Death Toll Rises. According to the Local Coordination Committees, 75 people have been killed so far today:

36 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its suburbs; 11 martyrs in Quneitra; 11 in Aleppo; 6 in Homs; 4 in Daraa; 6 in Idlib; and 1 in Raqqa.

See update 1308 for a details on the casualty figures posted by the LCC.

1544 GMT: Devastation in Deir Ez Zor. Deir Ez Zor, in the east of Syria, is usually out of the international spotlight, but what's happening there is significant. Rebel groups, led by the Islamist Jabhat al Nusra, have captured most of the city. The airport, however, and a string of bases dug into the mountains, allow the regime to pummel the city. These targets have proven hard for the rebels to capture, despite their overwhelming firepower in the region.

The Guardian's Mona Mahmoud interviewed a member of Jabhat al Nusra today. He gave several interesting pieces of information about daily life there. He also commented on Syria's larger political situation, exposing a rift between Al Nusra and the main group of Syrian leadership:

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Syria Round-Up: Insurgent Advances and Foreign-Supplied Weapons

Croatian Rak-12 Rocket Launcher in Rebel HandsA roundup of the most important developments in Syria over the weekend:

On Friday, Syrian insurgents captured Dael, a key crossroads town in Daraa Province. The victory, strategically important, demonstrated how international military support for the opposition is changing the face of the Syrian conflict. The group that led the attack, the Dawn of Islam Brigade, is central to the Saudi efforts to arm the opposition fighters with Croatian weapons, many of which were used to capture Dael.

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Syria Exclusive: The Western-Armed Insurgents Who Executed POWs and Captured UN Peacekeepers

 The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, filmed last Wednesday, explaining how they seized United Nations peacekeepers to force Assad to retreat from Jamlah village near the Golan Heights

The insurgent brigade that detained 21 UN peacekeepers near the Golan Heights last week, and that executed prisoners of wars day before that, is one of the groups that has obtained foreign arms, research by EA has established.

The revelation's follows last month's discovery, highlighted on EA, that the US is backing an effort by Gulf nations to arm elements within the Syrian opposition.

Last week, as the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade seized the UN peacekeepers, video evidence indicated that it had killed a group of captives in cold blood.

Now we have further video evidence linking the Brigade to the US-supported initiative, from at least January, to get advanced weapons through Jordan into the hands of fighters in Daraa Province in southern Syria..

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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 Analysis: Someone is Arming the Insurgents...and It's Working

A Free Syrian Army member fires an RPG-22 on 12 January in Busr al Harir in Daraa Province

While foreign weapons have been seen in Syria, we have not encountered them on this scale. All this suggests a new, organised, and well-funded effort is under way to ensure that "moderate" fighters are capturing territory and weakening the Assad regime.

It is too early to tell whether there are enough weapons to make a long-term impact. None of them be used as an effective counter to Assad's primary threat, his fighter jets. However, if this is an experiment to see a surge in armament makes a difference, the answer is clear.

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