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Entries in Daraa (14)


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 Analysis: International Aid Fuels Key Insurgent Victories in South

View Map of Daraa in a larger map

Map of Rebel and Regime Territoyr in Daraa by stApexf.

Today, insurgents from the Dawn of Islam Brigade captured several key checkpoints across a town named Dael (often written Da'el) in Daraa Province. There are reports that the fighters have control of the entire town.

Dael's fall is significant. It may be the defining example of how the international effort to give military assistance to the rebels, led by Saudi Arabia and the US, is rapidly changing the face of the war.

Control of Daraa Province gives the rebels access to Syria's border with Jordan, from where outside forces are providing military asssistance.

Dael is strategically located for that obejctive. Its capture would both help insulate rebel territory from attack, and serve as a base from which to attack the provincial capital, Daraa.

For these reasons, Dael may have been specifically targeted by what may be the most important insurgent organization in southern Syria, one with ties to rebel commander Salim Idriss.

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Syria Feature: The Life and Death of a Citizen Journalist (Hanano)

On April 25, 2011, a man held up a video camera in Deraa. He was not an experienced videographer and he did not have a tripod.

He stood in front of a group of Syrian army soldiers with tanks and filmed them shooting their machine guns towards civilian targets. Each time he watched the clip on his laptop, he noticed the footage was shaky due to his trembling hand, so he would go back to his exposed vantage point to film once more.

He did this 24 times before he made this passably stable clip:

His name was Mohamed “Abu al-Nimer” Masalmeh.

On January 18, 2013 --- after 22 months of reporting as a citizen journalist from Deraa --– he was killed by army snipers in the village of Busra al-Harir

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Syria Live Coverage: Insurgents Take More Bases as Damascus Hit by Bombs

2047 GMT: According to the LCC, 93 people (including 21 children) have been killed across the country today:

51 martyrs were reported in Aleppo (most of them in a massacre in Zebdiya neighborhood); 15 in Damascus and its Suburbs; 8 in Daraa; 6 in Deir Ezzor; 5 in Idlib; 4 in Hama; 3 in Homs; and 1 in Raqqa.

See our note on the casualty figures published by the LCC.

2017 GMT: Syrians are finding many ways to communicate, even though the internet is down. Some have equipment, given to them by the US, that allows them to access the internet anyway. Some are relying on the some-what unreliable cell networks. Others are using dial-up internet connections. Yet others are using satellite uplinks.

Still others are using a technology that allows them to call a number which will tweet their voice message:

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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."

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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).

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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.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Nothing Certain but Death & Protests

2210 GMT: Syria. By the end of the day, more than 75 people have been killed today in Syria. Large protests, and reports of violence, continue well into the night.

One look at out interactive map (created with help from EA intern Josh Moss), and we can see that the reports of both large protests and violence were not isolated to a few locations, but were very widespread. This provides more evidence that the violence, as well as the opposition to Assad, are intensifying and spreading in every corner of the country:

View Syria - 2012 June 22 - EA Worldview in a larger map

2200 GMT: Bahrain. Was the head of AlWefaq specically targeted by police? Activists claim that this is the case, and they provide this photo as evidence:

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Syria Flashback: The Schoolboys Who Sparked an Uprising (Hamano)

Daraa, 25 March 2011On March 20 last year, an intelligence officer in Damascus rounded up a group of teenagers from Daraa and told them: "You disrespected the president, but he has decided to pardon you." The boys were surprised. They had been held by the authorities for more than a month and Bashir Abazid, who was just 15 at the time, almost refused to believe what he was hearing, because every time the boys had been told they were being released, they had been transferred to yet another intelligence branch.

Remarkably, the teenagers were sent back to Daraa later that same day. "We were terrified for the entire way home," Bashir recalls. As they approached the city and headed towards the Baath party headquarters, they witnessed a scene they only knew from television: they saw crowds of people lining the streets.

"I thought they had prepared the square for our execution," he says. "Our eyes filled with tears. When we got to the square, the officers ordered us to draw the curtains on the bus. That made us even more scared. The news spread to the people that we were inside. They stormed the bus. We opened the shaded windows and I saw my brothers and uncles. My mother was crying. I jumped out of the window."

Bashir's brother embraced him and

cried: "You see all these people? They are here for you."

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Syria Video: Stop One Year of Bloodshed

Today is the one year anniversary of the first protests in Syria, an organized rally in Daraa. Since that day, conservatives estimates of the amount of people killed in the resulting crackdown range from 8,000 to 12,000. EA's estimate is closer to 11,000, but some activists claim to have lists over nearly 20,000 dead. Beyond this, countless are wounded, and perhaps more than 100,000 political prisoners remain in detention, where allegations of torture, or worse, are always whispered.

There have been many video campaigns to commemorate the event. The one below, a collection of videos from the conflict and statements by western celebrities, was sent to EA by super-activist Rami al Jarrah.

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