http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7...197806,00.htmlReport: Syria blitz killed 700, wounded thousands in Homs
Journalists and residents who fled former rebel stronghold say 122 mm howitzers, 120 mm mortars were used during month-long bombardment; Red Cross still not granted access
Syrian town struggles under siege
http://uk.r*euters.com/article/2012/...A-GoogleNewsUK(*******) - When the fighting stops, Qusair feels empty. An odd motorbike rumbles to life and buzzes away. Men sit by shuttered storefronts, talking in hushed voices. A child laughs and ducks into an alley, gravel crackling under her feet.
But when the artillery and rifle fire begins, the din of war consumes the town. The men pack up their chairs. The children disappear indoors. Black smoke rises on the horizon.
For nearly six months, Syrian troops and tanks have blockaded this town of about 40,000 people, cutting its normal supplies of food and fuel. Medicine is smuggled in from neighboring Lebanon, about 12 km (seven miles) to the south.
Qusair provides a glimpse of how what began as a peaceful protest movement in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad has turned more violent, sectarian and costly in human terms.
Bread, a Syrian staple, is becoming ever scarcer in Qusair. Heating oil, needed to ward off the winter cold, is even harder to come by. Government offices are shut, paralysing life in a town where many used to work for the state bureaucracy.
"You can say in Qusair now, a rich man and a poor man are the same. They eat the same food and wear the same clothes," said a well-known businessman who gave his name as Doctor Abbas.
"There's no banking, no salaries. No hospital, no schools. Everything is stopped," he said, sitting on the low brown cushions of a traditional mafraj sitting room.
The center of Qusair is largely off-limits to residents. Hundreds of troops have occupied the main hospital. Snipers are perched on nearby schools, shooting at anyone who wanders too close. Checkpoints manned by soldiers and tanks ring the town.
Each morning, men line up outside the only bakery still open, huddling under a concrete overhang to escape winter sleet.
"We can't live in these jackets. What are these children going to do?" a 25-year-old car mechanic who gave his name as Wael said, pointing to children in thick wool caps, hands thrust into their coats. "Bashar al-Assad took the petrol and diesel and put in the tanks. None of it comes to the people."
An older man interrupted him. "I had to burn my old boots in the stove to keep my children warm!" he shouted.
Down the street, most shops were closed. There was nothing much to sell and few people had money to spend.
Abu Ali, a shopkeeper, said the army blockade had cut him off from local suppliers, sending sent his costs soaring. Rice now costs 75 Syrian pounds a kilo, up from 50. Prices of goods from lentils to baby diapers have risen at a similar rate.
"Everything used to be made around here," he said, gesturing around his dark store stocked with biscuits, canned tuna and packets of noodles.
Outside, an elderly carpenter smiled sadly when asked about his work. "There's no work," he said, pouring a cup of thick coffee for his visitor. "We're living from hour to hour."
Bearing Witness in Syria: A War Reporter’s Last Days
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/wo...ewanted=1&_r=1It was damp and cold as Anthony Shadid and I crossed in darkness over the barbed-wire fence that separated Turkey from Syria last month. We were also crossing from peace into war, into the bloodiest conflict of the Arab Spring, exploding just up the rocky and sparsely wooded mountain we had to climb once inside.
The smugglers waiting for us had horses, though we learned they were not for us. They were to carry ammunition and supplies to the Free Syrian Army. That is the armed opposition group, made up largely of defectors from President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal army, we had come to interview, photograph and try to understand.
The ammunition seemed evidence of the risk we were taking — a risk we did not shoulder lightly. Anthony, who passionately documented the eruptions in the Arab world from Iraq to Libya for The New York Times, felt it was essential that journalists get into Syria, where about 7,000 people have been killed, largely out of the world’s view. We had spent months planning to stay safe.
It turned out the real danger was not the weapons but possibly the horses. Anthony was allergic. He did not know how badly.
He had a terrible allergic attack that first night after we crossed over the barbed wire. He had another attack a week later, as horses led us out of Syria, just 45 minutes from safety. He died during that attack, at only 43, his wife and nearly 2-year-old son waiting for him in Turkey.
He did not write his articles from our eventful week of reporting and shooting pictures in Syria; his notes, taken obsessively, are barely decipherable. But he would have wanted a record of this final trip, some hint of the questions we sought to answer: Who were these fighters, and did they have any chance of beating the Syrian government? How were they armed and organized? Was the conflict, as in Iraq, worsening sectarian tensions? Just who supported whom?
Unlike Anthony, I do not speak Arabic. I’m a photographer who was most interested in capturing images from an expanding war zone. But I will do my best to convey a sense of what Syria, on edge, was like — in a week that invigorated Anthony as a reporter and witness. He could not wait to get back to write.
Getting the News
Syrian tanks blocked the roads leading in and out of the towns scattered across Idlib Province, a center for the insurgents, and we were surprised by how close we had to pass them on the drive into town. “This is really threading the needle,” Anthony said as we navigated a small, unguarded road that the insurgents considered safe. The men driving us described passable roads as “clean.”
Our journey in took us to a group of men who would be our guides in Syria. They call themselves activists, and unlike the fighters, they’re the civilian side of the revolution. They, too, are risking their lives to tell the world what is happening to their country.
Almost all of them have been jailed and tortured. One showed the marks on his legs where he had been tortured with electricity. Another had scars on his wrists from being tightly bound for so long in a cell. None have seen their families for months, and they routinely change where they sleep as a safety measure.
It was clear that they understood the importance of having Anthony there. Foreign journalists are valuable for getting news out of Syria and into a wider world that might be able to help them (though that wider world seems uncertain about how to do so). His Arabic allowed him to speak directly to people without the buffer of an interpreter. As always, he conveyed a genuine interest that made people open up to him; everyone was equal, no story insignificant.
Most fighters we met had recently defected from the Syrian Army, some just days earlier. I was surprised by how open they were. Only rarely would one cover his face or ask that I not take a picture. Most proudly displayed their military ID cards, holding them up like trophies. They said they defected because they refused to obey orders to kill their own people. Anthony and I talked often about what would happen if this struggle did not go their way. As defectors, capture would mean certain death.
There have been many reports of jihadis or other foreign fighters flowing into Syria, as if it were the next Afghanistan or Iraq. That is the story the Assad government has used as a justification for cracking down so violently. We saw no evidence of that in Idlib — only Syrians.
[SIZE=3]U.S. officials: Iran is stepping up lethal aid to Syria
By Joby Warrick and Liz Sly, [*******#6E6E6E]Sunday, March 4[/COLOR]
[FONT=Georgia]U.S. officials say they see Iran’s hand in the increasingly brutal crackdown on opposition strongholds in Syria, including evidence of Iranian military and intelligence support for government troops accused of mass executions and other atrocities in the past week.
So most news are about how things are getting worse. No peacetreaty in sight.
The peace treaty was a farce from the beginning.
As for Iran, thats probably obvious - Syria sent their thugs to aid in the crushing of the revolts in Iran, now that there is stability in Iran (well ish), they can send the thugs the other way.
Its like a twisted version of The Outsiders...Syria is ****ing Sodapop
Tanks deploy in main city in eastern Syria
http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=260315AMMAN - Syrian army tanks deployed in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor on Saturday to support forces and militiamen loyal to President Bashar Assad who came under rebel attack after three pro-democracy demonstrators were killed, opposition activists said.
"Old Russian T-54 tanks and armored vehicles have taken positions at main roundabouts. Every half an hour or so you hear gunfire by the Free Syrian Army directed at roadblocks manned by security police and 'shabbiha' (pro-Assad militia)," Abu Abdel Rahman, one of the activists, told ******* from Deir al-Zor.
The city, 450 km northeast of Damascus, is situated on the Euphrates river in an oil producing province bordering Iraq, from where opposition sources say weapons are smuggled to rebels operating under the flag of the loosely organized Free Syrian Army.
Opposition sources say Free Syrian Army rebels in Deir al-Zor have been arming and organizing in the last two months as Assad's main forces were focused on trying to put down the revolt on the central city of Homs and its surrounding countryside.
"There are now ten Free Syrian Army brigades operating in Deir al-Zor and more weapons flowing from Iraq, but the rebels' organization is still lacking and security forces retain control on the city in daytime. At night the ground belongs to the rebels," Abu Abdelrahman said.
Syrian rebels in Idlib bide their time
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...365,full.storyReporting from Idlib province, Syria—
The rebels sleep on thin mattresses with AK-47s and handguns by their sides. Their rented apartment has the feel of college dorm meets military barracks — crumpled cigarette packs, old coffee cups, gun magazines and an incongruously feminine touch: plastic sunflowers rimming the doorways.
With cellphone coverage blocked by the government, they spend their days meeting at safe houses like this one to strategize. Before the topic of war comes a crucial question. How do you take your coffee?
Here in Syria'sIdlib province, a key opposition region in the almost yearlong uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad, matters of revolution must wait for Arab hospitality.
"So that if we die as martyrs, we die with a full stomach," rebel Mustafa Saeed said as he waited for lunch to be served.
Despite the urgency of their armed resistance and the rising death toll across the country, rebels here aren't rushing into battle against an army with far superior weapons and organization. Rather, they bide their time, staging guerrilla attacks and planning for the insurgency they want to fight, not the one they are equipped for now.
According to RT Some of the rebels are jihadi's coming from Iraq. Every report I hear from these Jihadi's seems to be same as Libya = "we need you to kill these guys for us."
Will we get the same thanks with desecrated graves etc as in Libya?