Posts Tagged ‘ 2011 Protests in Syria ’

Syria force surrounds town after defections: residents

George Haddad
Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Global Arab Network – An armored Syrian force surrounded a town near the city of Homs and fired heavy machineguns after the defection of tens of soldiers in the area, activists and residents said.

One woman, 45 year-old Amal Qoraman, was killed and five other people were injured, they said, adding that tens of people were arrested in house to house raids in the town of 40,0000.

Since the demise of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in Libya, activists and residents have reported increasing defections among Syrian troops, as well as more intense street protests in a five-month-old uprising against President Bashar al Assad.

Syrian authorities have repeatedly denied army defections have been taking place. They have expelled independent media since the uprising began in March.

Activists say there have been desertions in eastern Deir al-Zor province, northwestern Idlib province, the Homs countryside and the outskirts of Damascus, where security forces fought gunbattles with defectors Sunday.

At least 40 light tanks and armored vehicles, and 20 buses of troops and military intelligence members deployed at dawn at the entrance of Rastan, 20 km (12 miles) north of Homs and began firing heavy machineguns at the town, two residents said.

“The tanks deployed at both banks of the highway, which remained open, and fired long bursts from their machineguns at Rastan,” one of the residents, who gave his name as Raed, told Reuters by phone.

He said defections began in the town when it was stormed by tanks three months ago to crush large street protests against Assad in an assault that killed dozens of civilians.

Security forces killed Monday a former officer who had played a key role in coordinating army defections, activists said.

Mostapha Selim Hezbollah, a former air force officer in his 40s’, was shot dead when his car was ambushed near the town of Kfar Nubul in Idlib province, which borders Turkey, they said.

“It was a targeted assassination. A companion who was with him in the car was badly wounded but we managed to get him to a hospital. The attack happened just before ‘iftar’ (breaking of fast). We don’t know yet if it was security police or troops who fired at them,” one of the activists told Reuters by phone.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain, said five other people were killed earlier in military assaults on several towns in Idlib.

Source: Global Arab Network.

Syrian activists warn against taking up arms

August 29, 2011 — BEIRUT (AP) — Syrians should not take up arms in their uprising against President Bashar Assad or invite foreign military action like the intervention that helped topple the government of Libya, a prominent activist group warned Monday.

There have been scattered reports of some Syrians using automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and improvised weapons to repel government troops, but there appears to have been no organized armed resistance to Assad during the five-month uprising.

Calls to launch such a resistance have been rare, but they were more widely reported than usual by witnesses at protests in Syria on Friday, at the end of a week that saw Tripoli fall to rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi with the help of NATO.

“While we understand the motivation to take up arms or call for military intervention, we specifically reject this position,” said a statement emailed by the Local Coordination Committees, an activist group with a wide network of sources on the ground across Syria. “Militarization would … erode the moral superiority that has characterized the revolution since its beginning.”

The prime minister of Turkey, a former close ally, warned Assad that his regime could face a demise like those in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya if the violent suppression of protests does not stop. The comments were some of the bluntest warnings yet and were particularly biting because they came from a leader whose government had extensive diplomatic ties with Syria.

“The only way out is to immediately silence arms and to listen to the people’s demands,” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in his monthly address aired on Turkish TV late Sunday. “We have been watching the fate of those who did not chose this path in the past few months in Tunisia, in Egypt — and now in Libya — as a warning and with sadness.”

Human rights groups say more than 2,000 people have been killed since the start of the uprising in March. Witnesses and activists said the crackdown continued Monday as Syrian security forces pursuing anti-government protesters stormed several towns and villages, killing at least six people — including a child — and wounding many others during raids and house-to-house searches.

The largest operation appeared to be in Sarameen in the northern Idlib province, where the London-based Observatory for Human Rights said five people were killed and more than 60 wounded. One person also died during raids in Qara, a suburb of the capital, Damascus.

Similar raids were reported in the village of Heet near the border with Lebanon, along with a military buildup just outside the central town of Rastan, which has become a hotbed of dissent against Assad.

The Syrian government has placed severe restrictions on the media and expelled foreign reporters, making it nearly impossible to independently verify witness accounts. Syria’s opposition has no clear leadership or platform beyond the demands for more freedom and for Assad to step down, and several attempts to form a national council have failed because of disagreements between opposition figures, and in particular, divisions between the opposition inside and outside Syria.

In a sign of just how fragmented the opposition is, a relatively unknown dissident Monday announced the formation of a 94-member national council. The announcement, made in Ankara, Turkey, was greeted with excitement on social networking sites — but the celebrations were premature. Several opposition figures whose names appeared on the list told The Associated Press they had not been consulted.

Meanwhile, in New York, Security Council ambassadors met behind closed doors Monday to discuss rival U.N. resolutions on Syria. Russia introduced a resolution Friday that called for Assad’s government to halt its violence against protesters and expedite reforms, but it made no mention of the sanctions sought by the U.S. and European nations in draft resolution circulated earlier this month.

Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private, said afterwards that it was a useful and constructive session and all 15 council members agreed on the necessity of adopting a resolution. Council members will continue discussing what should be included in the resolution, the diplomats said.

After months of deadlock, the Security Council finally responded to the escalating violence in Syria on Aug. 3, condemning Assad’s forces for attacking civilians and committing human rights violations in a weaker presidential statement. It called on Syrian authorities to immediately end all violence and launch an inclusive political process.

Associated Press writers Zeina Karam in Beirut, Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

Turkey grows frustrated with Syria

ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 29 (UPI) — Ankara won’t talk with Damascus until the Syrian president carries out promised reforms in the country, a Turkish source said.

Ersat Hurmuzlu, an adviser to Turkish President Abdullah Gul, told London’s pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that Ankara doesn’t have a hidden agenda in Syria, noting the fate of the country in the hands of the people.

His comments echo those from Western officials who’ve issued sweeping condemnations of the bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters while keeping a non-interventionist stance.

An official in the Turkish Foreign Ministry told the newspaper on condition of anonymity that Ankara was “very concerned” by what’s happening in Syria.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has issued a series of statements addressing reforms ranging from the right to form political parties to voting measures. Despite pledges of reform, however, the United Nations estimates that at least 2,000 people were killed at the hands of Syrian security forces, including hundreds during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“There will be no dialogue with the Syrian authorities unless they carry out their promises within an acceptable and reasonable period,” the Turkish source said.

More gunfire was reported Monday in Syria near the border with Lebanon.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Jordanians pay price as Syria roils


Border town residents cheer on the Syrian protesters, but feel the sting of trade restrictions placed by Assad’s regime.

RAMTHA, Jordan – A melting pot for refugees from around the world, Jordan has recently welcomed the latest batch of asylum seekers from neighboring Syria, but officials in Amman fear this bite is more than they can chew.

Ever since the popular uprising against the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad took a violent turn five months ago, Jordan’s northernmost towns over the border with Syria have been welcoming dozens of Syrians families and soldiers fleeing crackdown on protesters.

When revolts first broke out across the Arab World at the start of the year, Jordanians here in the city of Ramtha and its neighboring villages were excited at the prospect of despots being brought down. When the unrest spread to Syria, which started in the country’s south not far from Jordan, they welcomed the first wave of Syrian asylum seekers with open arms.

But as the protests wore on and the government of Assad counterattacked with a violent crackdown, the mood shifted. For many residents, cross-border trade is what puts bread on the table, but the crackdown virtually shut the border with Jordan. Syrian authorities refused to allow Jordanian merchants into its territory to buy food and other essentials that supply Ramtha’s stores and markets.

“The siege on this small town sent a message to Jordanian officials that Damascus was ready to cut Jordan from a vital food source in case it supported the revolt,” says Abdullah Zubi, an activist from Ramtha, whose population numbers 100,000 people, making it the biggest town near the border.

The Arab Spring has dealt roughly with Jordan, an American ally, and there is little sign that the regional unrest in abating. At home, King Abdullah has faced protests calling for deep political reforms while chaos in the Sinai Peninsula has cut off the country’s supply of Egyptian natural gas. The economy has had to contend with higher prices for oil and food.

Assad has killed more than 2,000 people in his bid to quell protests against his rule. On Saturday, Syrian forces attacked demonstrators in suburbs of the capital, Damascus, as well in the cities of Deir Al-Zour, Homs and Nawa, human rights activists said. The foreign minister of Iran, Syria’s most important ally, on Saturday called on Assad to “pay heed to the legitimate demands of his people” and warned that a potential power vacuum in Damascus “would bring about unpredictable consequences” for the region.

Jordan imports most of its foodstuffs from Syria or through Syrian territories. So far, the trade line has not been disrupted, but concern is growing that retaliation could lead Syria to seal its borders with Jordan, a blow that the kingdom would find difficult to handle, considering its limited resources and options in the region, say analysts.

But the distress involved more than trade. Several influential businessmen and lawmakers with close links to Syria, hired thugs to stop local residents from taking to the streets in support of the uprising against Assad’s Baath regime, Zubi said. Meanwhile, with protests spreading in Syria and the death toll rising, the exodus intensified from Houran district, the southern tip of Syria and cradle of anti-Assad protests.

Dissidents who arrive in Jordan talk of random killings and arrests as well as looting and sabotage by the Syrian army and civilian groups believed to be close to the under fire regime.

Abdul Rahman, a former Syrian soldier, says he crossed the border on foot from Deraa two months ago, after he refused to shoot at civilians.

“We were given orders to shoot protesters, destroy houses and arrest anyone believed to be a threat,” says Abdul Rahman after performing taraweeh prayer among several Syrian asylum seekers.

The 34-year-old former soldier is seeking asylum with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“I can’t return to Syria as long as the Assad regime is ruling. They arrested my brother and destroyed my house after I escaped to Jordan,” says Abdul Rahman, who often takes part in anti-Assad protests in several cities across Jordan.

In the border town of Mafraq, a tribal stronghold loyal to Jordan’s King Abdullah, several Syrian soldiers cross the landmine infested region in search for safety. Residents say refugees have been welcomed by local families, but there is little public discussion about it for fear of retaliation from the Syrians.

Abu Samara, a tribal leader from Khalidya, is one of the few who are willing to talk about what is happening. He says the livelihood of many Jordanians depends on cross border trade with Syria, including transport of cattle, food items and other merchandise. Scores of residents in Mafraq also work in the smuggling business. Some bring in cigarettes, electric appliances, food items and often drugs.

But more than trade, tribes and families straddle both sides of the border, creating a network of loyalty and mutual support that transcend political and national divisions.

“Jordan and Syria are one country, the people are the same. These borders came into existence only a few years ago, but we still have relatives on the other side of the border and our duty is to help them,” he told The Media Line in a telephone interview.

At Abu Samara’s house lives a Syrian family of six people from Deraa in southern Syria, who arrived nearly two months ago when the Syrian army pushed into the city to silence anti-Assad demonstrators. The parents arrived along with their three daughters and one son.

Political ties between Jordan and Syria, particularly between the fathers of the current two leaders, the late King Hussein and Hafez Assad, have been marred by periodic episodes of tension. While Syria has grown into an ally of Iran and Lebanon’s Shi’ite militant movement Hezbollah, Jordan’s royal family is a traditional ally of the West. In the late 1970s, Syria and Jordan came close to a military confrontation over how to deal with their common neighbor, Israel. In more recent years, relations improved, but they are still fragile as Syria remains in the grip of the Hafez Assad-era old guard.

As the smaller of the two countries and facing its own domestic tensions, Jordan has been sensitive to Syrian concerns. When Syrian dissidents, including renegade soldiers, activists and ordinary citizens, began coming across the border, Amman imposed a media gag on refugees. By comparison, the approximately 7,000 Syrian refugees who have cross into Turkey, on Syria’s north, have been interviewed by the media while dissident leaders routinely meet in Istanbul, the Turkish capital.

Jordanian Ministry of Interior officials insist that the number of Syrians who have fled to Jordan as refugees is limited, pointing out that many Syrians would visit the kingdom in summer for vacation. An official source, who requested anonymity, will admit to only several refugees being welcomed in. Sources at UNHCR said the agency has recently approved requests for asylum from a number of Syrians.

Nevertheless, Jordan has recently accused Syria of siphoning off its underground water and placing the kingdom under strain as it struggles with chronic water shortage and rising population. On August 14, Jordan’s prime minister, for the first time, scolded the Syrian government for resorting to violence to crush protesters and urged an end to violence.

Such remarks could have a profound impact on the already fragile ties between the two sides, say observers.

Source: The Jerusalem Post.

‘فك القيد’ حملة لمعرفة مصير 250 أردنيا في سوريا


خبرني – أطلق ناشطون وحقوقيون وعدد من الأهالي حملة شعبية للدفاع عن المعتقلين الأردنيين في السجون السورية حملت اسم ” فك القيد”.
وقالت الحملة في بيان لها صدر الأحد وحصلت ” خبرني ” على نسخة منه الحملة “تهدف لتسليط الضوء على جرائم النظام السوري و الضغط على الحكومة الأردنية حتى تتبنى موقف جاد يكفل عودة المعتقلين”.
وأضاف بيان الحملة إن هذه الخطوة تهدف أيضا “لمتابعة قضية المعتقلين الأردنيين في السجون السورية وإعطائها الزخم الشعبي والإعلامي الذي تستحقه”
حيث سيكون باكورة عمل اللجنة مخاطبة الجهات المعنية للعمل على حل قضية المعتقلين وصولا إلى تنفيذ خيمة اعتصام دائم أمام السفارة السورية في عمان حتى تتحقق الحرية للمعتقلين.
وكررت الحملة أسفها “للدور السلبي للحكومة الأردنية ممثلة بوزارة الخارجية في التعامل مع ملف المعتقلين الأردنيين في السجون السورية، فما الفائدة من الاتفاقيات البينية والاجتماعات على مستوى رؤساء الوزراء إذ لم نستطع حل قضية المعتقلين”.
وتاليا نص البيان كما وصل ” خبرني ” :
الحملة الوطنية للدفاع عن المعتقلين الأردنيين في السجون السورية
” فك القيد”
مازلت اللجنة الوطنية للمعتقلين الأردنيين في الخارج تستغرب نهج النظام السوري في تعاطيه مع قضية المعتقلين الأردنيين في السجون السورية، فرغم مرور ما يقرب الأربعة عقود على اعتقال بعض الأردنيين يواصل النظام السوري ضرب الحائط بكافة المواثيق والاتفاقيات العربية والدولية المعنية بحقوق الإنسان، حيث يعاني المعتقلين الأردنيين في السجون السورية أبشع صور التعذيب والإهانة.
إن المعتقلين الأردنيين ضحايا ممارسات تعذيب دموية ومهينة حيث يمارس عليهم التعذيب بطريقة الشبح والضرب بكوابل الكهرباء وربط الرجال من بشرهم وجرهم والضرب بالصعقات الكهربائية والتعذيب بالدولاب وخلع الاضافر وإجراء العمليات الجراحية دون وجود أمراض لديهم كما حدث مع المعتقل المفرج عنه حافظ ابو عصبة والذي خلعت أضافره وأسنانه بالكماشة.
إننا في اللجنة الوطنية للمعتقلين الأردنيين في الخارج نرى القصور الكبير من قبل الحكومة الأردنية في متابعة هذا الملف الإنساني الذي يمس ما يقارب الـ 250 مواطن أردني يقبعون في السجون السورية، والسؤال الذي نطرحه على الحكومة اين موقفك من النظام السوري الذي ينتهك اتفاقية الرياض التي تنص في احد بنودها ” انه في حال صدر عفو عام أو خاص يجب أن يشمل كافة المعتقلين بغض النظر عن جنسيتهم” كما هو مطبق في الأردن.إن العفو العام الأخير الذي أصدره بشار الأسد عبارة عن عفو كرتوني حبر على ورق لم يستفيد منه الأردنيين وما زال الأردنيين في غياهب السجون السورية يتلقون أبشع صور التعذيب في فرع 251 على يد سجانهم المدعو أبو غضب.
اليوم وبعد مرور كل هذا الزمان على استمرار اعتقال الأردنيين في السجون السورية منهم أربعة سيدات على رأسهم وفاء عبيدات المعتقلة منذ العام 1985 لا يرق للنظام السوري جفن ولم يصحوا ضميره تجاه الأمهات اللاتي جفت عيونهن من البكاء على أبنائهن.إننا في اللجنة الوطنية للمعتقلين الأردنيين نحمل النظام السوري وعلى رأسه بشار الأسد المسؤولية عن سلامة المعتقلين الأردنيين، مؤكدين أن مصيره سيكون المحاسبة أمام القضاء العادل الذي سيقتص منه.
ونكرر أسفنا للدور السلبي للحكومة الأردنية ممثلة بوزارة الخارجية في التعامل مع ملف المعتقلين الأردنيين في السجون السورية، فما الفائدة من الاتفاقيات البينية والاجتماعات على مستوى رؤساء الوزراء إذ لم نستطع حل قضية المعتقلين.
ولمتابعة قضية المعتقلين الأردنيين في السجون السورية وإعطائها الزخم الشعبي والإعلامي الذي تستحقه فقد أطلق مجموعة من الحقوقيين والناشطين وأهالي المعتقلين الحملة الوطنية للدفاع عن المعتقلين الأردنيين في السجون السورية تحت عنوان ” فك القيد” والتي تهدف لتسليط الضوء على جرائم النظام السوري و الضغط على الحكومة الأردنية حتى تتبنى موقف جاد يكفل عودة المعتقلين.وسيكون باكورة عمل اللجنة معادة مخاطب الجهات المعنية للعمل على حل قضية المعتقلين وصولا إلى تنفيذ خيمة اعتصام دائم أمام السفارة السورية في عمان حتى تتحقق الحرية للمعتقلين. .
منسق الحملة الوطنية للدفاع عن المعتقلين الأردنيين في السجون السورية ” فك القيد”
المحامي عبد الكريم الشريدة
وفيما يلي اسماء عدد من المعتقلين والمفقودين الأردنيين في سوريا
1 – عاهد عبدالله علي الخريسات موجود ومعتقل لدى شعبة فلسطين زنزانة رقم 6 ويلقب ابو الطيب.
2 – ابراهيم عبدالله فايز الشوا، دخل سوريا بتاريخ 6/9/2006 اعتقل منذ دخوله ويعاني من مرض نفسي ويعالج في مستشفيات وزارة الصحة.
3 – حاتم عبدالرحيم محمد البوريني، مفقود في سوريا، غادر الى سوريا في 22/2/2005.
4 – جبر محمد خليل عثمان البستنجي معتقل في السجون السورية منذ 24 عاما.
5 – عماد ابراهيم عبدالهادي محمد الدواية، معتقل منذ 25 سنة.
6 – بشار شريف علي صالح.
7 – خالد محمد عبدالرحيم جابر العموري، معتقل منذ 1982 وهو في سجن تدمر.
8 – محمد خميس الصعبي مفقود في سوريا منذ عام 1983.
9 – احمد فؤاد نمر بشير، معتقل منذ 1982 بسوريا.
10- باسم خميس سمور صقر معتقل منذ 1991 في سوريا.
11 – خالد محمد حسين ظاهر معتقل في سوريا في سجن سدناية وهو محكوم 20 عاما.
12 – حسيب نديم صالح.
13 – وفاء فهمي علي عبيدات، طالبة طب اسنان جامعة دمشق، اعتقلت مساء 17 تشرين اول منذ 1986 من قبل الفرع (251) في المخابرات العامة. وبعد التحقيق معها سلمت للفرع (285) في كفر سوسة.
14 – هاني فهمي علي عبيدات، اعتقل عام 1986 من قبل الفرع (251).
15 – وليد ايوب بركات، في سجن سديانة.
16 – عماد العنابي سكان اربد موجود حاليا في سجن صدنايا .
17 – ابراهيم حسن علي الصقور، موجود في السجن منذ عام 1999 في سجن صدنايا، حكم 15 سنة.
18 – محمد جابر عبد الغني، معتقل منذ عام 1982، ما زال موجودا في سجن صدنايا.
19 – سعيد حتاملة، معتقل منذ عام 1985 سجن صدنايا.
20 – محمد طه عبد المحسن معوسة، موجود داخل السجن باسم مستعار وائل الرمحي.
21 – خالد محمد عبدالرحيم جابر العموري، معتقل منذ عام 1982 في سجن صدنايا.
22 – عمر احمد بدران بدير.
23 – اسامة بشير بطاينة.
24 – يسري احمد يوسف الحايك.
25 – شيخة احمد يوسف الحايك .
26 – ميسر جميل العيساوي، معتقلة منذ عام 1985.
27 – حاتم عبدالله خلف زريقات، وكان الاعتقال في حمص منذ تاريخ 4/3/1981.
28 – احمد محمد اسماعيل زعترة، معتقل منذ عام 1994.
29 – نبيل حسن مصطفى ابو حجاب. 30 – عماد ابراهيم عبدالهادي حمد، معتقل منذ 1988.
31 – خالد عزيز عارف حرزالله، 32 – عدنان محمد محمود حموضة، اعتقل منذ عام 1985 .
33 – خليل نايف مبروك، معتقل منذ عام 1985
34 – بهاء وجيه الشنطي، مفقود منذ عام 1990 اعتقل اثناء عودته من السويد.
35 – عبد الواحد محمود اسعيد (ابو علاء) معتقل منذ 28 عاما.

36 – منذر عبد الكريم نمر تايهة، معتقل منذ عام 1976
37 – كايد صالح حسن ابو جيش .
38 – عماد نايف جبر كناني، معتقل منذ عام 1999 بسجن صدنايا.
39 – خالد ابراهيم يوسف بشابشة، معتقل منذ ستة شهور.
40 – خالد صادق محمود صبيح، طالب صيدلة في تركيا معتقل في سوريا.
41 – عدلي سليم عبدالقادر عبده.
42 – فيصل حماد بن سعيد.
43 – ابراهيم عبدالعال.
44 – جهاد القشة .
45 – ملاك ابراهيم علي الرملاوي .
46 – سمر الخطيب.
47 – امين يوسف جمعة .
48 – محمود صوالحة.
49- عبدالكريم ابو عيشة. معتقل منذ عام 1978 .
50 – عبد الفتاح حسن ابو سنية .
51 – ياسر صالح حسن ادريس.

المصدر: خبرني.

Syrian death toll rises as government crackdown continues

DAMASCUS (BNO NEWS) — At least eight people were killed on Friday during anti-regime demonstrations across Syria, a rights group said on Saturday.

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC), a network of Syrian opposition activists, said eight protesters were killed during demonstrations which took place across the country on Friday, which was dubbed a day of “patience and determination.” According to CNN, at least one person was wounded when security forces opened fire on a group of demonstrators in the Bab Sbaa neighborhood of Homs during a funeral of a man killed Thursday by sniper fire.

In a separate incident, security forces fired on a car, wounding at least one man outside Damascus, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At least one demonstrator was also wounded when Syrian security forces opened fire in Deir Ezzor.

The crackdown continued on early Saturday when security forces surrounding the Rifaie Mosque in the Damascus suburb of Kafr Sousa fired tear gas on thousands of worshipers as they ended their prayers and tried to leave the building, CNN reported. The LCC also reported that security forces were making random arrests outside the mosque.

In the restive city of Daraa, security forces fired randomly in an attempt to disperse two groups of demonstrators. Tanks surrounded more than 2,000 protesters and two armored vehicles outside Daraa’s Omari Mosque, according to CNN which cited LCC.

Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported that 11 army and security forces were killed by “terrorist groups” in Homs and Deir Ezzor. Another 16 soldiers were wounded, the agency claimed.

The violence occurred on one of the most holy days of Ramadan and on the same day that a United Nations team concluded that there is “an urgent need to protect civilians from the excessive use of force” after completing a five-day humanitarian mission to Syria.

The August 20-25 mission added that “the constant presence of government officials” limited the visitors’ ability to assess the situation. “However, the people it was able to talk to in areas of previous or ongoing unrest said they felt extremely intimidated and under constant threat,” the UN said.

This week, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said that more than 2,200 people have been killed in Syria since pro-democracy demonstrations began in Syria in mid-March as part of a broader uprising across North Africa and the Middle East that has led to the toppling of entrenched regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and conflict in Libya. More than 350 people have reportedly been killed since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on August 1.

The Syrian government has repeatedly claimed that the violent acts have been instigated by terrorists who use military uniforms and weaponry to pose as soldiers while attacking citizens but these claims have been rejected by residents, human rights groups, and the international community.

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.

U.S. welcomes Arab pressure on Syria

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) — Washington welcomes a decision by the Arab League to have an emergency meeting on the situation unfolding in Syria, the U.S. State Department said.

Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said Washington was calling on its partners in the region to “tighten the noose” on Damascus in terms of political and diplomatic pressure.

Washington is said to be pushing for a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria. Following a statement at the United Nations condemning Damascus for its crackdown on opposition groups, regional leaders have distanced themselves from Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“The Arab League (on Saturday) will be looking individually and collectively at what it can do to influence the situation in Syria, and we welcome that,” said Nuland.

The United Nations estimates that more than 2,000 people were killed during the uprising against Assad since March.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, in statements Monday said more than 350 people were reportedly killed across Syria since the beginning of August.

Assad in statements published by the official Syrian Arab News Agency said Damascus “would never offer concessions to the west hence the Syrian people have chosen to have their will and independent sovereignty.”

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Turkey, Iran Bump Heads Over Syria

August 25, 2011

When the call came in from Iran on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered his convoy to pull off onto the shoulders of a busy highway for a conversation that last some 40 minutes.

What the Turkish leader and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke about hasn’t been revealed in any detail. The Turkish media said virtually nothing, while Iran’s press reported that their country’s leader urged Erdogan to help mediate between region’s beleaguered despots and the opposition. Almost certainly the conversation was tense.

Just a few months ago the two countries were friends – joined together by growing trade ties, worries about their restive Kurdish populations and by shared Muslim sentiment. But the turmoil of the Arab Spring has quickly found the two countries in opposing camps, especially over Syria and its president, Bashar Al-Asad.

“There’s no doubt that Syria is becoming a battleground,” said Fadi Hakura, Turkey expert at London’s Chatham House. “Turkey has expressed deep dissatisfaction with the approach of the Syrian regime and has called on Al-Asad to implement radical reforms and meaningful dialogue with the opposition, which will inevitably dilute the strategic relationship between Syria and Iran. Iran views the existence of the current regime as an existential issue.”

Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders have framed the fighting in Syria as a battle by Al-Asad to stop U.S. from meddling in the country’s affairs while Turkey’s Erdogan has focused on the bloodletting and the regime’s failure to meet demands for democratic reforms. He has stopped short of calling for Al-Asad to step down.

But the fight is more than a war of words. Although Tehran denies it, Iran is believed to be proving material support to the Al-Asad regime. Newspaper reports cite stories of Iranian snipers firing on protestors, technicians helping to block social networking and others providing advice on containing unrest gleaned from Iran’s experience putting down street protests following the disputed 2009 presidential elections.

Turkey’s role in aiding the Syrian opposition has been more upfront but just as crucial. It has allowed about seven thousand Syrian refugees to cross into its territory and provide eyewitness accounts to the world media, thereby serving as an outlet for news of the Al-Asad regime’s repression. Istanbul has also hosted meetings of opposition groups. Some analysts say Ankara – together with the U.S. – is working to bring cohesion and organization to the disparate groups.

On Tuesday, Syrian activists gathered in Turkey declared a national council to coordinate protests and bring about Al-Asad’s ouster.

In spite of the deep interests at stake, Iran had been hesitant to criticize Turkey until relatively recently, Alex Vatanka, a scholar of Iran at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, told The Media Line.

“The Iranians deeply appreciated improving relations with one of their most important neighbors, which has helped them in the nuclear issue in terms of economics and trade they didn’t want an issue like Syria to bring it all to an end,” Vatanka said. “But in end of the day, they reached a decision.”

Syria is not the first Arab Spring hotspot where Turkey and Iran have found themselves on opposite sides. Turkey backed Saudi Arabia when it helped crush a Shiite-led revolt in Bahrain, angering Iran’s Shiite regime. Iran praised Turkey’s initial opposition to NATO’s helping Libyan rebels, but Ankara eventually came around to supporting the bombing campaign. But Syria – whose president has since March struggled to contain a revolt seeking to topple him – is the place where the two powers have the most at stake.

Al-Asad’s regime is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world, sharing a strong antipathy to Israel and Western intervention in the Middle East and acting as a conduit to arms and supplies to militant groups like Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Belonging to the Alawi sect, an offshoot of Islam, Al-Asad has fewer problems with Iranian Shiism than the Arab world’s Sunni leaders do.

Under Erdogan, Turkey had worked assiduously in recent years to cultivate ties. Turkey shares a long border with Syria and the two countries both have large Kurdish populations they worry about. In recent years, the two countries signed a free-trade agreement and abolished visa requirements, enabling trade to double in the five years to 2010 and tourism to boom.

Warming relations with Syria were part of efforts by the prime minister – who leads the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) – to reorient Turkey away from the West and towards the Muslim Middle East. Turkey even viewed itself as a bridge between Sunni and Shiite Islam.

But, Hakura told The Media Line, the Arab Spring has put Turkey firmly in the Sunni “camp,” which not only includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Gulf emirates and Jordan but, by virtue of their Western orientation, the U.S. and Europe. The shift in Turkey’s policy hasn’t been dramatic – it remained a NATO member and never abandoned its aspirations to join the European Union ¬ – but it made Tehran’s rulers livid.

Reflecting the views heard frequently in Tehran these days, Iran’s hardline Qods daily scored Turkish leaders for surrendering to U.S. pressure. “If Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government does not change its political behavior toward Syria, Turkey will be the main loser of the Syrian events if Damascus gets out of the current crisis,” it wrote in a recent editorial.

Neither Turkey nor Iran can afford to let their conflict ratchet up too much. Turkey gets 20% of the natural gas its needs for its booming economy from Iran, Hakura said. Facing United Nations sanctions, Iran can’t afford to lose a good customer.

Vatanka said that among top Iranian leaders, Ahmadinejad is probably the least inclined to sacrifice the relationship with Turkey to help save Al-Asad because of the damage fraying ties with Turkey would do to the economy.

“The president is looking at his own position in Iran and says ‘I’m someone who needs to reach out to the masses and get as much grassroots support as I can,” explained Vatanka. “So, one of the issues he has to worry about is bread and butter issues that ordinary Iranians care about the most.”

Source: Rise of the Iranian People.

ارتفاع عدد اللاجئين السوريين بالأردن إلى 2700


خبرني- أحصت جمعية المركز الاسلامي من خلال مراكزها الموجودة في مختلف المحافظات الاردنية عدد السوريين الذين فروا إلى المملكة من سوريا بـ2700 مواطن سوري.

ووفقا لاحصائيات حديثة نشرت الخميس بلغ عدد الاسر السورية التي تم حصرها 120 اسرة من بينها 13 اسرة في العاصمة عمان فيما تمركز العدد الاكبر منها في محافظة المفرق (47) اسرة ومن ثم محافظة الرمثا (45) اسرة واربد (15) اسرة.

واشار نشطاء يقومون على تقديم المعونة للعائلات السورية الى ان نحو 20 سوريا فروا الى المملكة بطريقة غير شرعية حيث تم وضعهم تحت الحراسة .

وقدمت غالبية الاسر السورية من درعا وريف دمشق، فيما بدأت عائلات تاتي من حماة وحمص وتبليسة وفقا للنشطاء.

وتقدم الجمعات الخيرية الانسانية العاملة في المحافظات التي يوجد فيها مواطنون سوريون مساعدات عينية لها لتمكينها من قضاء احتياجاتها المعيشية، بالاضافة الى تامينها بالسكن المناسب في ظل ارتفاع اجرة السكن في المفرق والرمثا، حيث يتم تامين اكثر من عائلة في شقة واحدة.

المصدر: خبرني.

Rights group warns Syrian journalists may face torture and ill-treatment

DAMASCUS (BNO NEWS) — Syrian journalists and activists who have passed on information about the country’s unrest to regional and international media may risk torture and other ill-treatment, rights group Amnesty International reported on Wednesday.

The rights group warning comes as journalist Adel Walid Kharsa faces his second week in solitary confinement after being arrested by security forces in his hometown of Hama on August 18. Kharsa was seemingly detained for his news reports on the protests and the government’s violent crackdown despite being cautious by making his reports anonymously by phone.

“If this is the case then he is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“He, like many detained during the regime’s crackdown, is now at risk of acts of brutality while in the hands of the authorities,” said Luther while recommending that Kharsa should be protected from torture and other ill-treatment, allowed immediate contact with his family and a lawyer, as well as given any necessary medical attention.

Amnesty International said it has information indicating that other detainees have been tortured to find out whether they have given news about events in Syria to regional and international media.

One such case is 28-year-old “Wael”, who was detained in May and held for three weeks accused of filming demonstrations with his cell phone in his hometown of Tell Kalakh, south of the western city of Homs.

“I was taken to an interrogator… He accused me of being a correspondent for Al Jazeera, the BBC and [Gulf-based] Wesal channels. It was true that I filmed events with my cell phone but I did not send them to any channel,” Wael, which is not his real name, told Amnesty International.

Wael said he was forced into a stress position known as the shabah (ghost) by being tied by the wrists to a bar high enough off the ground that he was forced to stand on tiptoes for six hours. He said he was also splashed with water and electrocuted.

At least 2,200 people have been killed and tens of thousands have been arrested since pro-democracy demonstrations began in Syria in mid-March as part of a broader uprising across North Africa and the Middle East that has led to the toppling of entrenched regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and conflict in Libya.

Syrian security forces have been carrying out widespread arrests targeting people perceived to have organized or openly supported protests, whether in public gatherings, in the media or on the internet.

The Syrian government has repeatedly claimed that the violent acts have been instigated by terrorists who use military uniforms and weaponry to pose as soldiers while attacking citizens, but these claims have been rejected by residents, human rights groups, and the international community.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.