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Entries in Martin Chulov (9)


Syria Feature: Who Killed the 110 Men Found in the Quweig River? (Chulov/Solomon)

The bodies in the Quweig River in late January (Photo: Thomas Rassloff/EPA)

In the days following the massacre, Syrian officials blamed "terrorist groups" for the deaths. State television broadcast a ‘confession’ from an alleged member of Jabhat al-Nusra, the jihadist group....

The confession was derided by every one of the 11 people interviewed by the Guardian as well as dozens of others that came and went from the Revolutionary Security centre during the week we were there.

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Syria 1st-Hand: Spectre of War Reaches "Coastal Retreat" of Latakia (Chulov)

"We are afraid, very, very afraid," said Loubna, a final-year university student and resident of the city. "For so long the regime has been saying we will be safe here. That nothing will happen to us. Nothing can happen to us. But people are leaving, people are dying. Death is so near."

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Syria Feature: A Beginner's Guide --- Who is Arming Whom? (Chulov)

Russia has retained its historical role as the key weapons supplier to Bashar al-Assad's regime over the past 18 months. It is believed to have sent at least three shipments of heavy ammunition to the jointly run port of Tartous in northern Syria. Other Russian supplies are thought to have been flown in.

In late September, Russian envoys around the world were summoned to Moscow for an annual gathering. One ambassador present said the unexpected presence of Soviet hardliners, including Yevgeny Primakov, meant no imminent change in Russia's support, or let-up in weapons supplies.

Moscow has refurbished Syrian attack helicopters, but has been unable to deliver some of them after interference from western Europe.

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Syria 1st-Hand: Clashes and Foreign Fighters in Aleppo (Chulov)

Martin Chulov of The Guardian reached Aleppo soon after insurgents entered Syria's largest city last month, providing a series of vital reports. Five days ago, he "disappeared" because of a lack of Internet access. This morning, however, he returned with a series of Twitter messages pointing to the continued presence of insurgents in the city, despite sustained regime attacks on the ground and from the air, with foreign fighters among those challenging the Syrian military:

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Syria 1st-Hand: Deaths by the Schoolhouse --- Awaiting Regime Attack in Aleppo (Chulov)

Members of the Free Syrian Army in Salaheddin in Aleppo on Monday

The attack came just after 2pm on Monday; two Soviet era Mig fighter jets swept in low from the west, then banked and made a run at the schoolhouse. The impact of the bombs was devastating on the two homes they struck. Fabricated concrete spilled across the street and a nine-year-old girl lay dismembered in the ruins.

The first stronghold established by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the war-torn city of Aleppo had been hit by regime jets, in an attack that failed to take out the rebel leadership but instead killed nine members of a family in a nearby house.

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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"
Saudi Arabia Feature: Dissent is Alive...On Social Media & Behind Closed Doors
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 1st-Hand: The Stories from Houla --- Playing Dead While Your Family is Killed 

11-year-old Ali Adil al-Sayyid explains how he survived as his family were killed by regime supporters in Houla

"My mum yelled at them. She asked: 'What do you want from my husband and son?' A bald man with a beard shot her with a machine gun from the neck down. Then they killed my sister, Rasha, with the same gun. She was five years old. Then they shot my brother Nader in the head and in the back. I saw his soul leave his body in front of me.

"They shot at me, but the bullet passed me and I wasn't hit. I was shaking so much I thought they would notice me. I put blood on my face to make them think I'm dead."

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"Free Libya": A Report from Benghazi (Chulov)

Photo: ReutersAt the heart of the city where he launched his rise to power, Muammar Gaddafi's indignity is now complete. In little more than three days of rampage, the rebels in Libya's second city have done their best to wind the clock back 42 years --- to life before the dictator they loathe.

Benghazi has fallen and Gaddafi's bid to cling on to power, whatever the cost, has crumbled with it. There is barely a trace of him now, except for obscene graffiti that mocks him on the dust-strewn walls where his portraits used to hang.

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Iran Feature: And Now We Bring You This Diversion from Iraq

UPDATE 1730 GMT: So let's check in, after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's day in Tehran, to see if "diversion" is the right word....

Al-Maliki saw the Supreme Leader, who said, "Formation of a government as soon as possible and establishment of full security are among the important needs of Iraq because development and reconstruction of Iraq...can't be achieved without these two [conditions]." He continued, "All politicians and officials in Iraq should focus on formation of a new government as soon as possible," and then had a little dig at Washington, "I wish the almighty God ends America's menace over Iraq as soon as possible ... it will solve the Iraqi nation's problems."

It was more platitudes when al-Maliki saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who put out the sound-bite, "Regional countries and states can manage themselves and the region hand in hand, and by providing for one another's needs they can become each others supporters....Iran completely supports a united, strong and independent Iraq which serves the Iraqi people, Islamic ideals and progress of the region."

But for the most brazen tip-off --- either from al-Maliki or from Iranian state media putting words in his mouth --- that this was primarily a showpiece for the legitimacy of the Iranian Government rather than, in the overblown coverage of this morning, proof of Iran putting together Baghdad's leadership, let's close with the Iraqi Prime Minister's supposed greeting to Ahmadinejad....

""During your visit to Lebanon, the Zionist regime [of Israel] was on high [military] alert, which proved they are really cowards."

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