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Entries in Faisal Muqdad (3)


Syria Today: US and Russia Manoeuvre Over Support for Assad

1930 GMT: Even Government Sources Admit Baniyas is Different.

The Baniyas massacre on Syria's coast may be a singular event that stands out as being dramatically different than all the other massacres. For starters, the scale of the massacre is at least among the worst of all of Syria's massacres, though some reports suggest that it may be magnitudes worse than any event that has taken place since the start of this crisis. Also, this incident had a clearly sectarian nature to it that is not disputed - Alawite militias loyal to President Assad targeted Sunnis, many of them children, and killed them en masse. In a thorough, nuanced, and eloquent description of the massacre, the New York Times' Anne Barnard and Hania Mourtada point out that the Assad government typically blames civilian deaths on "terrorists" even when their own forces and loyalists are implicated. This time, however, even the government admitted that its people were responsible for a mass killing, though they tell a different tale than Baniyas's residents:

Multiple video images that residents said they had recorded in Bayda and Ras al-Nabeh — of small children lying where they died, some embracing one another or their parents — were so searing that even some government supporters rejected Syrian television’s official version of events, that the army had “crushed a number of terrorists.”

One prominent pro-government writer, Bassam al-Qadi, took the unusual, risky step of publicly blaming loyalist gunmen for the killings and accusing the government of “turning a blind eye to criminals and murderers in the name of ‘defending the homeland.’ “

The article chronicles some of the evidence and eyewitness reports. It also argues that there were those who were trying to break with the sectarian nature of the killings even while the violence was ongoing. In the end, however, it's a must-read article on a story that has been under-reported.

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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 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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