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Entries in Riyad Hijab (7)


Syria Live Coverage: Insurgents Claim Another Victory Near Aleppo

See also Syria Video Feature: Planning For the Endgame? --- Scott Lucas on Al Jazeera English's "Inside Syria"
Syria Feature: A Requiem for Aleppo
Saturday's Syria Live Coverage: "The Only Terrorism is That of Assad"

2015 GMT: Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa has admitted in an interview that the regime will not be able to defeat the insurgency and restore its authority --- he said, "“The opposition forces combined cannot decide the battle militarily," but continued, "Meanwhile what the security forces and the army units are doing will not reach a conclusive end.”

A pessimistic al-Sharaa said, “With every passing day, the military and political solutions get further away. The way events are heading will lead to an uncomfortable place where things will definitely go from bad to worse.”

Al-Sharaa pointed to a "historical settlement...stopping all shapes of violence, and [with] the creation of a national unity government with wide powers":

The opposition with its different factions, civilian, armed, or ones with external ties, cannot claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian People, just as the current rule with its ideological army and its confrontation parties lead by the Baath, cannot achieve change without new partners.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A New Opposition Leadership?  

See also EA Audio: James Miller on Opposition Leadership & Failure of Ceasefires
Wednesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Regime Steps Up Airstrikes


1821 GMT: Syria. An emotional appeal from an online activist:

Closer analysis offers an interesting detail among the tragedy. To be clear, a bomb does appear to fall, causing a massive explosion below. This appears to be East Ghouta, and those appear to be residences, so many may have died.

But those "rockets" are not rockets at all - they are flares, used to avoid surface-to-air missiles. Once again, we have evidence that the Syrian air force has permanently changed their behavior and is routinely guarding against these SAM missiles which have fallen into FSA hands in the capture of many area bases.

An analyst we spoke to over a month ago suggested that most pilots would never fire these countermeasures unless they had a radar alert that they had either been locked onto or fired at. Otherwise, the pilot may run out of flares before needing them. Is the FSA actively hunting regime jets east of Damascus?

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Insurgents Hold Out in Aleppo

A demonstration last night in Nile Street in Aleppo in Syria

1944 GMT: Syria. Yesterday we posted reports that Kafranbel, a town in Idlib made famous for its witty protest signs made in English, was under heavy attack by regime forces (map). At the end of the day, there was little news beyond the report that many shells had fallen and many civilians were injured.

Previous regime incursions into Idlib have ended very poorly, with many destroyed tanks, killed soldiers, and even with large amounts of defectors and armored vehicles falling into the hands of the Free Syrian Army. From the looks of this fight, it appeared different, as if the military were focusing on shelling the city from afar, and were committing far more forces to the fight than before.

However, history repeats itself. News broke today that the FSA had inflicted heavy losses yesterday. One video claimed to show that the FSA had destroyed an armored vehicle and a hospital that had been occupied by the military. Those victories were only the tip of the iceberg. Many videos are emerging, each matching a series of separate activist reports, that show a large amount of destroyed military equipment after heavy battles today:

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Crumbling Regime?

See also Syria 1st-Hand: Deaths by the Schoolhouse --- Awaiting Regime Attack in Aleppo
Syria 1st-Hand: Fleeing Aleppo
Syria Snap Analysis: What the Prime Minister's Defection Might Say About State of the Conflict
Monday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Rumour and Reality in Aleppo

2038 GMT: Syria. Zabadani, northwest of Damascus (map), has been shelled every day for weeks, mostly starting at around sundown each day, the time when people break their fasts, the time when people are most vulnerable. Today, the LCC has a desperate claim:

Intense shelling by artillery, tanks, and rocket launchers in Housh area of the city. More than 50 martyrs have been reported thus far.

However, there appears as though there has been a translation issue. Fares Mohamed, with the LCC in Zabadani, says that 50 shells have fallen, rather than there being 50 martyrs.

This is breaking news, so sources are scarce, but two disturbing (and unverified) videos claim to show the explosions. It's night, making the videos even harder to verify, but Fares Mohamed says that the video appears to have been taken in Zabadani:

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Syria Snap Analysis: What the Prime Minister's Defection Might Say About State of the Conflict

Riyad HijabOne of the most striking claims over Prime Minister Riyad Hijab's defection is that the Assad regime not only picked Hijab to help lead it out of crisis but also threatened him with death. This may be an assertion to curry favour with the opposition, but if it is true, this means that President Assad really does not have anyone he can trust or turn to without fear of consequences. It could mean that the only reason there are not more defections is fear, but --- with the decision of Hijab and his brothers to leave Syria --- it is a fear that is slipping.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Rumour and Reality in Aleppo

2055 GMT: Syria. Fares Mohamed, who is associated with the Local Coordinating Committees, has sent us a message that Zabadani, northwest of Damascus (map), has been heavily shelled today. According to Mohamed, 2/3rds of the population has fled, the rest are trapped, the humanitarian situation is growing desperate, and the shells fall every day.

Still, even for a population used to shelling, the videos posted today from neighboring areas show an intense barrage.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Turkish Plane is Shot Down --- What Next?

See also Bahrain Snap Analysis: When Police Attack Marchers Who Carry Flowers...
Friday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Nothing Certain but Death & Protests

2135 GMT: Egypt. Supporters of Presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq and the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces have gathered today at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier in Nasr City, raising Egyptian flags and banners such as "Egypt Above All" while chanting "Long live Egypt," "The people and the military are one hand", and "The people want Ahmed Shafiq."

Egypt Independent reports hundreds of demonstrators but images indicate a far larger crowd.

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