Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Damascus (27)


Syria Snap Analysis: What Did Israel Bomb, and Why?



One of the explosions on Mt. Qasioun, north of Damascus.

Early on Sunday morning, huge explosions rocked northern Damascus.

Scientists said that the explosions measured between two and three on the Richter scale, a scale designed to measure earthquakes. Giant balls of fire rose above Mt. Qasioun, a mountain that overlooks the capital and is at the center of Syria's largest military complex. The very symbol of Assad's control over Damascus was on fire.

The question remains, however, as to whether destabilizing Assad was the ultimate goal of this airstrike. At the very least, Israel has proven that it is willing to pick a side and go all in if it feels threatened.

This incident should also permanently put to rest the debate as to whether Assad's air defense is capable of standing up to external threats. Assad is completely vulnerable, and has been dealt a serious blow. As a result, Israel may have completely changed the debate about foreign intervention in a single instant, and may have catalyzed an international drive to remove Bashar al-Assad from power.

Click to read more ...


Syria Special: Assessing Tuesday's "Chemical Weapons Attacks"...and Who is Responsible

Damage in the town of Khan al Asal, west of Aleppo

UPDATED at 1611 GMT.

In the end, what evidence suggests that the insurgents did this? There is none, beyond the late-emerging claims of the regime and its supporters. On the other hand, there is evidence that the regime was firing missiles and dropping bombs on these locations. Only one side, the regime, is known to possess the weapons needed to do this --- both the chemicals, and the delivery systems.

We have documented insurgent crimes before. As recently as last Monday, we published information that might embarrass those in the West who support the rebels. On this occasion, however, the evidence does not support the theory that an insurgent group has conducted this attack.

Click to read more ...


Syria 1st-Hand: A Month on the Front Line of "Bloody Stalemate" in Damascus (Tomasevic)

One of Goran Tomasevic's photos of the fighting at the Ain Tarma checkpoint, 30 January 2013

Rebel fighters in Damascus are disciplined, skilled and brave.

In a month on the frontline, I saw them defend a swathe of suburbs in the Syrian capital, mount complex mass attacks, manage logistics, treat their wounded --- and die before my eyes.

But as constant, punishingly accurate, mortar, tank and sniper fire attested, President Bashar al-Assad's soldiers on the other side, often just a room or a grenade toss away, are also well-drilled, courageous --- and much better armed.

So while the troops were unable to dislodge brigades of the Free Syrian Army from devastated and depopulated neighborhoods just east of the city centre --- and indeed made little effort to do so --- there seems little immediate prospect of the rebels overrunning Assad's stronghold. The result is bloody stalemate.

Click to read more ...


Syria 1st-Hand: Battle in Damascus Takes Toll on Regime Soldiers (New York Times)

In this war of murky battlefield reports, it is hard to know whether the rebels’ recent forays past some of the capital’s circle of defenses — in an operation that they have, perhaps immodestly, named the “Battle of Armageddon” — will lead to more lasting gains than earlier offensives did. But travels along the city’s battlefronts in recent days made clear that new lines, psychological as much as geographical, had been crossed.

“I didn’t see my family for more than a year,” a government soldier from a distant province said in a rare outpouring of candor. He was checking drivers’ identifications near the railway station at a checkpoint where hundreds of soldiers arrived last week with tanks and other armored vehicles.

“I am tired and haven’t slept well for a week,” he said, confiding in a traveler who happened to be from his hometown. “I have one wish — to see my family and have a long, long sleep. Then I don’t care if I die.”

Click to read more ...


Syria Live Coverage: Watching the Attack in Damascus

2058 GMT: Idlib. Rania Abouzeid reports new rebel offenses against several key bases in Idlib province, including Wadi Deif which is the main base near Ma'arrat al Nouman (map) and the Abu Dhuhur military airport (map, also see update 1341). This time, she writes, the offensives are different, as the rebels organize to take some of the last key Assad bases in the north:

On Wednesday, the push to take it was forcefully renewed, but unlike previous offensives here and elsewhere that tend to be disorganized, poorly coordinated actions by a few brigades, this phase of the battle has been carefully planned over many weeks. It is not an isolated fight but part of a wider strategy, codenamed Marakit il Bina il Marsoos, or the Battle of Reinforced Structures, to open all the remaining fronts in Idlib province at around the same time — Wadi Deif, the Karmid Checkpoint, the Mastoomeh Checkpoint, the Abu Duhoor military airport and the smaller checkpoints associated with these outposts — before rebels turn their full attention to the regime forces concentrated in Idlib city, the provincial capital, and the city of Jisr al-Shughour, the two key urban areas still in the regime’s firm grip. If the rebels succeed, they will have created the first liberated province in Syria, an area completely free of regime forces and a de facto safe zone — without direct international help.

Read the entire article here.

Click to read more ...


Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Bloodletting in Damascus Intensifies

An Assad helicopter shot out of the skies over Damascus

See also U.S. Audio Feature: James Miller Talks US Arms Sales with Monocle 24
Monday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Will a Few Thousand Deaths Change Anything?

2115 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of the Free Syrian Army shortly after they captured a missile facility:

The opening statement, from a unit of the FSA in the Damascus suburb of "Eastern Ghouta", says a group stormed a rocket maintenance and modification base in the area of Iftrees, finding rockets in a ready-to-launch state and clamed some had been modified to carry unconventional warheads.

According to the statement, "It is not unlikely for the regime to resort to using rockets with unconventional warheads such as chemical, biological or other warheads. The Higher Military Council calls upon Arab nations and the international community to rapidly intervene militarily to save the lives of Syrians before this regime takes revenge with a new level of crime that would have catastrophic consequences on the entire region."

However, Brown Moses, analysing this video from the base, questions the unconventional warfare claim: "What we can see in this video are SA-5 surface to air missiles....It also seems very unlikely these missiles would actually be any use to the FSA without the correct equipment and training, as well as enough time to move them to a safe location before the Syrian Army responded."

Click to read more ...


Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Will a Few Thousand Deaths Change Anything?

1938 GMT: Syria. The LCC's deathtoll is even higher than the CFDPC's. According to the Local Coordination Committees, 224 people have been killed nationwide by regime forces:

148 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs (including 42 martyrs in Zamalka, 39 in a new massacre in Daraya, and 25 in Mouadamiyeh) 27 in Daraa (including 11 in Jiza; most of them are women and children), 12 in Idlib; most of them in Ariha, 10 in Aleppo, 8 in Deir Ezzor, 10 in Homs (including a person who was martyred in Tadamun neighborhood, Damascus), and 9 in Hama.

Dissecting the numbers, it's worth noting that Zamalka is on the other side of the capital as Darayya and Moudamyah.

1927 GMT: Syria. The CFDPC has posted this summary of events in Zamalka, an eastern suburb of Damascus, where battles and shelling have been reported since dawn:

Tanks and helicopters of regime forces began to shell the Zamalka suburb of Damascus early morning causing the collapse of entire buildings on their residents.

So far the number of dead is about 30, among them children, while about 150 people were injured (some of them are in critical condition).

Click to read more ...


Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 230 Dead Inside, More Fighting in Lebanon

The Free Syrian Army attacks the State Media Broadcast Headquarters in Aleppo for the 2nd day in a row on Tuesday (map).

See also Syria 1st-Hand Feature: Travelling with the Insurgent "Lions of Tawhid"
Tuesday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Dark Day for Journalism

0055 GMT: Syria. Back from a vacation break to find this account from a resident of al-Herak in Daraa Province, Muhammed Abu Houran, to Mona Mahmood of The Guardian this afternoon:

Yesterday morning the Syrian army began its campaign against al-Herak in Deraa. They launched a vicious raid against the people who were still in their houses, though most of the people had left the town earlier.

The Syrian army executed any men they found in these houses soon after arresting them. Most of the men who were executed were found in deserted houses. From yesterday until now, fires are still burning --- there is not enough water to put them out.

After three days of fierce battles here, the FSA had to leave its positions as it had run out of ammunition. As soon as the FSA pulled out, field executions were carried out and houses were burned and destroyed. The FSA was able to keep only the southern part of Deraa under its control after long battles that lasted from dawn to the evening – almost 16 hours.

After that, the FSA got more ammunition from neighbouring towns and was able to attack some of the armoured vehicles of the Syrian army. Battles continued till 12 midday today in which the FSA was able to recover some other parts of the town that had been taken by the Syrian army....

We have had 107 martyrs in the last three days, Most of them are civilians. Forty-five of the bodies were executed. There were 13 bodies which were charred completely and today we found another nine charred bodies. We could not identify them at all. They were in the districts which were under the control of the Syrian army yesterday. Most of the executed bodies were slain by knives, and luckiest ones executed by gunshot....


Originally there were 40,000 people in al-Herak but now only 4,000 people are left here. They have been under a tough siege for three months so far --- they can't flee the town....

People now are eating a local sweet named Hallawa. Bread is missing completely. Al-Herak is an agricultural town but the Syrian army is blocking the way to get to the farms. The farmers themselves do not dare to come inside the town.

Click to read more ...


Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Dark Day for Journalism

Video reportedly showing Free Syrian Army fighters engaged in combat in the Arqoub district of Aleppo (map)

See also Syria 1st-Hand: Clashes and Foreign Fighters in Aleppo
Monday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: End of a Red Ramadan

0225 GMT: Lebanon. Seven people have been killed in a second night of fighting in the northern city of Tripoli.

Around 100 people have been wounded in the clashes, as gunmen in the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Alawite rivals in Jebel Mohsen continued to exchange gun and grenade fire, despite deployment by Lebanese troops.

Click to read more ...


Syria Analysis: It's Not Quite "The Battle for Damascus"...But It's An Important Fight

Fighting has been now raging in neighbourhoods of Damascus for more than three days. Even a quick look at an interactive map of the fighting, posted on Monday, established that the regime has a serious challenge on its hands, as it has been unable to dislodge insurgent fighters from the southern part of the capital:

View Syria - 2012 July 16 - EA Worldview in a larger map

EA's in-depth assessment of the Free Syrian Army, posted last Wednesday, assessed that the regime is now weak enough that it is vulnerable to a sudden takeover of the capital, for example through a series of surprise insurgent attacks. So is this the Battle for Damascus?

Click to read more ...