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Entries in Free Syrian Army (124)


Syria Feature: The Conflict --- and Truce --- Between Insurgents and Kurds in Ras al-Ain

Fighters in Ras al-Ain (Photo: Reuters)

Kurdish and Arab militias waged a bitter battle for three months in the northern city of Ras Al Ayn, in Hassakeh province. Now, they’ve reached a truce that has managed to last into a third week, marking an early success for a nascent group of peacekeepers led by famed Christian dissident Michel Kilo....

The months of fighting in Ras Al Ain killed nearly 300 people. It took a diverse group of men and women, Kurds and Arabs, Alawites, Sunnis, Christians, tribal leaders and urbanites to broker Feb. 17’s tenuous peace.

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Syria Live Coverage: Regime Fires SCUD Missiles on Aleppo?

1934 GMT: Explosions - a Universal Experience. From western Damascus to the eastern suburbs, as well as in the southern districts of the capital, heavy shelling is reported in every corner of Damascus. Across Daraa and Idlib provinces, similar patterns can be seen. It's anecdotal evidence, but it seems that the amount of firepower pounding Syria's cities is even more brutal than on a typical day.

The death toll, which is still rising, reflects this. The LCC now reports that 142 people have been killed nationwide. Even though some of these people were killed last night in Aleppo, this still marks an escalated death toll, and when the total number of those killed in the reported Scud missile attack are counted, the full fury of this violence is evident. Here is the distribution of casualties according to the latest report from the LCC:

fifty one martyrs in Aleppo, most of them were uncovered from the Badrou district masscare yesterday, fifty eight martyrs in Damascus and its suburbs, eleven martyrs in Idlib most of them in Shaghar town, nine martyrs in Homs, five martyrs in Hama, three martyrs in Deir Ezzor, three martyrs in Raqqa, and two martyrs in Daraa.

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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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Syria 1st-Hand: An Emotional Road Trip Through Idlib Province (Hanano)

Syrian family leave Taftanaz after shelling by regime forces (Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP)

As I walked away, I saw a tall, elderly man with a red-and-white scarf on his head speaking with men from the neighbourhood. He gestured with his hands and repeated over and over: "This is my home, did you see it? This is my home." They tried calming him, telling him to be grateful that none of his loved ones had been killed in the strike. He responded, crying: "This is my home." Our eyes met and I was ashamed that I had embarrassed him by meeting his tearful gaze. I looked down and walked away.

Sitting alone in the car for the first time that day, my own tears escalated into uncontrollable sobs. I thought I would have felt these emotions when I crossed the border, when I saw the graffiti, when I saw the destruction, but the old man was the missing connection. These primal expressions of despair are absent from the images and even the videos. You can't imagine them from a distance. You have to be close enough to see the tears.

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Syria 1st-Hand: Aleppo --- Hunger, Disease, & Little Hope (Sly)

Before the War --- Protest at Aleppo University, May 2011

Some blame the Free Syrian Army for starting a fight it couldn’t finish. Others blame the government for steadily escalating the use of force to try to crush the rebels. Many, like Awuf, blame both. “We are civilians trapped between the two sides, and they are using us like wood on a fire,” he said. “Both sides are wrong.”

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Syria 1st-Hand: A Letter from Aleppo on Deprivation, Islamists, the Opposition...and Hope (Walls)

It is for this child, it is for Hamza’s memory, for the Qashoush, for nearly 50,000 fifty thousand Syrians, young and old, who were murdered in such cold blood by the Assad gangs --- accompanied with the fanfare barked by ugly and cruel herds of mindless loyalists --- it is for the victims, for Syria, and above all it is for humanity that Syrians can’t lose hope. We can’t afford to lose it, even knowing that this regime might and can easily resort to mass murder weapons in its arsenal.... To the scared child I say, sweet child, they have been bombarding us for forty two years. Little by little, they destroyed our heritage of civility. But my sweet child, we will get that back. Granted, we may lose some of our innocence, but from you dear child, we will learn it again....

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Is Assad's Military Collapsing?

2107 GMT: Bahrain Government authorities claim they have arrested a "domestic terror cell" responsible for planting "fake bombs in several crowded areas throughout Bahrain". They don't specify what a "fake bomb" actually is, but do say that they found one when they raided the house of one of the suspects.

Yesterday, newly appointed Bahrain Government Spokesperson Sameera Rajab told pro-regime newspaper Gulf Daily News that reports of an imminent terrorist attack were baseless and being spread "to create panic and chaos".

2103 GMT: Syria. For over an hour we've been looking at, analyzing, and searching for additional videos after several different sources posted images from the air-defense base that was captured by the FSA yesterday southwest of Damascus, near Hajar al Aswad and Buwaydah (map, see yesterday's entries).

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Syria Analysis with Videos: The Insurgent Advances Across the Country

Free Syria Army units in control of an artillery piece and other equipment, reportedly in northern Idlib province, where the base of the Regular Army's 46th Regiment was located:

UPDATE: More video has been added to the bottom of this entry:

In Idlib and Aleppo Provinces, the Free Syrian Army is expanding its hold on territory and has not suffered a military setback in these two regions in more than two months. The insurgents are no longer lightly armed, accelerating the pace of their advance.

In Damascus, the regime still holds the upper hand, and the probability of a sudden collapse of the Assad strength is minimal. However, the Free Syrian Army is still winning battles. Despite intense bombing campaigns by the regime, the FSA is keeping Assad forces on the defensive in some locations.

Having to concentrate on the capital, the stretched regime forces have failed to retake Ma'arrat al Nouman, the key in the northwest to Aleppo and Idlib. Assad forces appear to be retreating in the east, with only one remaining airbase in Deir Ez Zor Province.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Insurgents Take a Military Airport in the North

See also Syria 1st-Hand: A Taxi Ride In the Damascus Suburbs
Israel-Palestine Live Coverage: Talk of Ceasefire Fades as Israel Pounds Gaza

Saturday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Insurgents Change the Situation on the Ground

2059 GMT: Jordan. Security officials are holding and interrogating 130 citizens for 15 days on suspicion that they called for the overthrow of King Abdullah II at protests this week. They face charges of "threatening to undermine the regime, illegal gathering, and creating civil strife", which can carry sentences of up to 5 years.

Human rights lawyer Musa Abdallat said of the detained individuals, "These are prisoners of conscience who should be released".

1919 GMT: Bahrain The Ministry of Interior offers its thought for the day:

Some may disagree. The main opposition society AlWefaq recently released a report on the attack on Friday prayers led by Sheikh Isa Qassim which took place on 9 November. Authorities reportedly set up 26 separate checkpoints to keep worshippers away from Duraz. People who attempted to travel to the mosque by foot were fired on with tear gas.

The Government, however, is unlikely to heed the dissent. It said Sunday that “a number” of Shiite religious figures have been referred to the public prosecutor for delivering political sermons or leading anti-regime chants.

See also Preaching Religious Tolerance, Practicing Religious Discrimination.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Fighting Escalates Near Damascus and in East

See also Israel-Palestine Live Coverage (13 November): Deadly Clashes in Gaza --- Does Hamas Have a Plan?

Monday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: New Opposition Leadership Named --- Now What?

1654 GMT: Syria. Shocking video --- while we cannot verify the claim, the amount of bombs and shells falling on the eastern and southern suburbs of Damascus today is startling:

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