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Entries in Jihad Makdisi (13)


Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 156 Killed as UN Envoy Brahimi Meets Assad

See also Israel-Palestine Feature: Jerusalem's "Extreme Makeover" & "Perilous Decline"
Syria 1st-Hand: Attempting to Live a Normal Life in Insurgent-Held Yabroud
Monday's Syria Live Coverage: "94 Killed" in Regime Airstrike on Bakery Queue

2100 GMT: Egypt. The US State Department has reacted to today's official declaration of the approval of the Constitution:

The future of Egypt’s democracy depends on forging a broader consensus behind its new democratic rules and institutions. Many Egyptians have voiced deep concerns about the substance of the constitution and the constitutional process. President Morsi, as the democratically elected leader of Egypt, has a special responsibility to move forward in a way that recognizes the urgent need to bridge divisions, build trust, and broaden support for the political process. We have called for genuine consultation and compromise across Egypt’s political divides. We hope those Egyptians disappointed by the result will seek more and deeper engagement. We look to those who welcome the result to engage in good faith. And we hope all sides will re-commit themselves to condemn and prevent violence.

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Syria Live Coverage: "94 Killed" in Regime Airstrike on Bakery Queue

See also Syria Video Discussion: The Dwindling Resources of the Regime (Al Jazeera English)
Sunday's Syria Live Coverage: Starving in Aleppo

2103 GMT: The Local Coordination Committees report that 115 people have been killed today, including 35 in Damascus and its suburbs, 28 in Homs Province, 18 in Aleppo Province, and 16 in Hama Province.

2017 GMT: Colonel Abdel-Jabbar Oqaidi, the head of the insurgent military council in Aleppo Province, has spoken to Reuters of the change in strategy from fighting regime forces in the cities to surrounding bases in the countryside:

At the beginning...we were forced to attack the forces in the districts to kick them out so that they do not harm civilians.

After achieving fighting experience, we went back to the countryside to liberate the big military bases. These bases are fortified with tanks, rockets, artillery, mortars, in addition airplanes. The siege...cuts off the supply lines to these bases and most importantly it helps elements to defect.

Oqaidi said the remaining obstacle for the insurgents was Assad's warplanes:

We have no problem except for the air force. We're used to the tanks fighting and their shelling, we have no problem except for the air force.

We're used to taking over military bases that have tanks and APCs (armored personnel carriers) but we haven't been used to take over control yet of airplanes and God willing we'll have control of them soon.

Oqaidi estimated that the regime has less than 100 functional planes left.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: While US Warns About Chemical Weapons, 239 Die

As a motorcade apparently carrying Egyptian President Morsi exits the Presidential Palace, protesters chant "Leave!"

See also Monday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Death Toll Rises Again

2142 GMT: Kuwait. More protests, sparked by the Emir's changes to the electoral laws last month, and encounters with security forces tonight:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Deaths at the Aleppo Bakery

The aftermath of Tuesday's shelling of a bakery in Aleppo

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Tuesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The UN Talks Cease-Fire --- Is Anyone Listening?

2015 GMT: Egypt. Ten liberal and leftist political forces boycotted a meeting with President Mohamed Morsi today, objecting to the proposed Constitution and the Constituent Assembly that drafted it.

The boycotting factions included the Constitution Party, the Popular Current, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Nasserist Party, the Karama Party, the Free Egyptians, the Socialist Popular Alliance, Free Egypt, and the Adl Party.

The meeting was attended by Ayman Nour, spokesman for the Conference Party and member of the Constituent Assembly; Mohamed El-Beltagi, prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party; and Essam Sultan, deputy head of the Wasat Party and Constituent Assembly member. Presidential advisors Emad Abdel-Ghafour --- who is also head of the Salafist Nour Party --- Ayman El-Sayad, Omaima Kamel, Pakinam El-Sharqawi, and Farouk Gowida.

Some of those who attended expressed concern about the Constituent Assembly. Nour told Morsi, "The threat of dissolving the assembly has vanished. We're now left with the possibility that one wing will control the assembly, and therefore we need your intervention."

Nasserist Sameh Ashour said that finalising the constitution before the High Constitutional Court (HCC) rules on the Constituent Assembly was "wrong", insisting that the assembly should freeze its work until the HCC issues its verdict.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A New Diplomatic Initiative?

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The Latest from Israel-Palestine (16 October): Netanyahu's Threats That Will Dominate the Elections

1921 GMT: Syria. Another plane shot down? This video was reportedly filmed over Hanano, Aleppo. At least one parachute is clearly visible:

We'd like to see multiple angles, just so we can compare it to other videos of planes being shot down. However, if confirmed, this is another sign of how weak Assad's air forces are becoming.

The Guardian and C.J. Chivers think so too.

Last August, Chivers wrote that Syria’s fleet of Mi-25 Hind-D attack helicopters, which numbered 36 at the start of the conflict, was insufficient to hold back the rebels.

He also cited estimates that only half the regime's helicopter fleet may be operational at any given time – "maintenance technicians are struggling to keep the machines aloft" – and that some of the original 36 helicopters have been cannibalised for spare parts.

That was late August --- but Assad is now losing helicopters and airplanes at a rate of one to two per day.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Heavy Fighting in Aleppo

2125 GMT: Syria. We're closing today's live coverage, but it has been an eventful day.

Most of the focus has been on Aleppo. Even though we've repeatedly talked about the strength of the Free Syrian Army, even we are surprised at how well they are fighting in Syria's largest city. The regime has no choice but to launch a full-out attack on the insurgents if they ever wish to free the city. As the BBC says it will soon air footage of jets bombing the city, that has already begun. Despite this, insurgents are closing in on the city, the Syrian military appears to be evacuating parts of Idlib in order to gain more forces for the fight for Aleppo, and the battle will likely rage for days.

In the end, the FSA was never capable of holding Damascus. It just may be capable of holding Aleppo. But this does not matter. The regime has ruined the economy of its two largest cities during this fighting, and the regime is bleeding territory to the FSA elsewhere.

We've lost track of the narrative in two other important areas. The violence in Daraa and Hama provinces is staggering. Despite the heaviest fighting in this civil war being elsewhere, the amount of civilians being killed by regime forces in Hama and Daraa is very high. These areas are constantly under attack, efforts to ensure that the FSA never gains a foothold in these areas. But the opposition still thrives in both cities, and in their suburbs, and in the countrysides. The strategy is not working, and one has to wonder what will happen the minute the thumb is let off of the necks of the two provinces that started this uprising nearly 17 months ago.

EA's intern, Josh Moss, and I have been compiling an interactive map of today's events. Most of the locations of the map link back to the individual updates, and vice versa. Click on the link below the map to see it in its own window:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Divided Country

Insurgents drive a captured tank on a highway near Izaz in northwest Syria

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Sunday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Fighting Reaches Aleppo

1948 GMT: Syria. Very interesting news from Aleppo via the BBC's Ian Pannell:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: "Battle" or "Massacre" in Tremseh?

UN observers move through Tremseh

See also Syria 1st-Hand: "There is Killing Everywhere in Homs"
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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Inaction is a "Licence for Further Massacres"

2115 GMT: Syria. Back from an extended Sunday break to find EA sources reporting clashes in Damascus neighbourhoods, including Kafarsouseh, Tadamon, Qabir Atika, and the central area.

Reuters also has witness reports testifying to fighting.

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria says 72 people have been killed today, including four in the capital and 11 in the Damascus suburbs.

A funeral earlier today in the Yabroud section of Damascus:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: An Assad-Annan Plan?


Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: UN Envoy Annan Returns to Damascus

1818 GMT: Syria. Earlier we saw many reports of shells falling on the small town of Busrah al Harir, in Daraa province (map). Now, the LCC shares this video reportedly showing shells falling on the town:

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