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April 22, 2013

Another Gruesome Massacre Near Damascus

21 Apr 2013

At least 450 people were summarily executed in Jdaidet Al Fadhl, near Damascus. Some of the victims, including women and children and a mosque imam, were reportedly slaughtered by knives. Local Coordination Committees (LCCs) activists say 100 of those had been arrested by the regime’s forces some days earlier. The numbers are expectedly on the increase, with the regime’s forces are still roaming the area and carrying out summary execution.
The regime’s forces reportedly entered the area after anti-regime fighters withdrew from the town. It is probably the first such gruesome massacre on this scale since the Daraya massacre on August 27 last year — often referred to as bloodiest single day of carnage in the Syrian uprising, in which about 1,000 people were killed.
It is not a coincidence that the two massacres, in Daraya and Jdaidet Al Fadhl, occurred in towns close to the capital. Also, another massacre, if only on a lot smaller scale, took place on August 1, when the army went into Jdaidet Artouz and from house by house, dragged more than 20 people to the streets and killed them in a similar manner. An eyewitness, a Christian friend whose family had to leave the town the following day, said the army entered their house and then left after they found out they were Christians. The eyewitness said the tanks demolished a long line of cars while the regime’s forces were handpicking town residents from Sunni neighbourhoods and summarily executing them.

There is a lot of speculation about how the butchery took place exactly. Considering that the town is close to the capital, it is likely the regime is trying to make a point. The same happened last year when rebels tried to enter Damascus in the beginning of the summer.


torture fire

In a separate gruesome episode today, a video emerged showing a number of regime’s Shabbiha (pro-regime armed militias, mostly Alawites) torturing to death two young men in Al-Tal town. The video also shows the Shabbiha putting the young men to fire. In the video, the regime forces put the hair of a man who appears to be in his late thirties to fire, then put it out by kicking his head with their boots, then hit his head with a car tyre. The two young men finally apparently die from torture. Absolutely gruesome.

How will a permanent or even temporary partition of the country impact on the conflict?

A Syria divided

Last Modified: 21 Apr 2013 11:10
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On Wednesday, Syria’s president said his forces have no option but to win the war , or to lose the country

Given that I don’t see any dramatic shift in US policy or any kind of direct intervention … I think that this kind of conflict will grind on and therefore we will have a Syria that is in the de facto sense a divided Syria but in the du jour sense might still exist.– Andrew Tabler, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Speaking in an interview on local TV last week, Bashar al-Assad maintained that thousands of foreign fighters had crossed over from Jordan, and warned that the conflict was increasingly becoming a regional one.

He repeated the allegation that Western powers are directly and indirectly supporting elements of al-Qaeda in their desire to unseat him.

“I think that Syria, in these circumstances, is exposed to an attempted colonisation by all means. There’s an attempt to invade Syria by foreign forces. These forces are using new techniques, it is an attempt to invade Syria culturally,” he told interviewers on pro-regime Syrian television channel Al-Ikhbariya.

This week we focus on the possibility of a permanent or even temporary partition of Syria and whether this would lead to a drop in the level of the conflict.

There’s an objective to create de facto Balkanisation in Syria, there’s an external objective to divide this country. Their neighbours, the Israelis would benefit off this and it would be disastrous  for the entire region.-Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, the Centre for Research on Globalisation

Last week al-Assad extended yet another amnesty to all those who laid down their arms but within hours of the offer, several reports indicated a massive mobilisation of government forces and a series of offensives in strategic areas of the country.

The possible consequence, whether intended or not, is the creation of defined enclaves in which opposition forces are contained.

To discuss this on Inside Syria, with presenter Mike Hanna, are guests: Andrew Tabler; a senior fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Ziad Majed, an assistant professor of Middle East Studies at the American University of Paris and co-ordinator of the Arab Network for the Study of Democracy; and Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya; a Canadian-based sociologist who is also a research associate at the Centre for Research on Globalisation in Montreal, specialising in geopolitical and strategic issues.

“It is not a viable situation, all will depend on how things will develop later – now we have areas where chaos is reigning, in others the opposition controls the ground but cannot always protect itself from air raids and scud missiles. So the situation is still unclear now, time will determine to which direction we will be heading. But I think the regime has a Plan B that is to try to defend Homs and the coast, if Damascus is to fall in the hands of the opposition, but we are not yet there.”Ziad Majed, American University of Paris

Maher Almounnes + Amal Hanano: Hallucinations of War

Amal Hanano (@amalhanano)  –  April 13, 2013
This post, called “Hallucinations of War,” was originally published in Arabic on the blog “Overdose”, which is written from Damascus by journalist Maher Almounnes. It is translated here by Syria Deeply associate culture editor Amal Hanano.Before this war, I used to be described as the smiling optimist. Maybe it was a blessing to be known to my friends as a good listener, because I would simplify situations and solve problems and so forth. However, I still, despite all the pain, continue to smile. And I still, despite all the weariness, find meaning within every tragedy.My first sorrows were losing loved ones, one after the other, as they left the country. But I would console myself with the belief that we would meet again and that our reunion will be sweeter after our separation.

Then we started losing loved ones who would never return. Their martyrdom was both a source of mourning and solace, as “the afterlife is better and everlasting.”

And when we left our home, I told myself that we were leaving one home for another, while there were thousands who had left their homes to live without shelter.

Then my father lost his job. I soothed my mother and told her there were others who had lost their eye or their leg or maybe even their life; thank God my father had not been harmed.

Then one of my best friends was abducted. The silver lining was that he returned with his head still attached to his body and that all that they had given him were a few bruises and slightly swollen soles.

Between these events are countless details, from having to postpone my sister’s wedding dozens of times to losing so many friends because of politics.

However, these details and others, like watching scenes of death in repetition, are details that every Syrian knows well. Death has come so close to each one of us that we no longer even see it.

All we see now is that we are political commodities or material for the media, or at best we are a number that scrolls on the red ticker on a television screen proceeded by the word: Breaking!


Two years. They seem like 20 years of wisdom and 50 years of sorrow. They made me change how I think about a lot of things. (By the way, I write now because I feel like it, not for any other reason.) But they did not stop me from taking advantage of this miserable reality and conspire with the girl I love.

The irony is, I forced this war to bend to my demands and serve my personal interests.

I claim to be the greatest lover in the dirtiest war. I claim to love her as much as the sorrow in Damascus, the number of the bullets in Aleppo, the destruction of the neighborhoods in the old city of Homs.

Every explosion is another reason to listen to her voice with the excuse to make sure she is alright. Would you believe that I now love the sound of explosions? Just so I can rush to call my love even though I know with certainty that she is safe at home.

Our new home that we fled to is located on the outskirts of Damascus, in a conflict zone. It’s wonderful for your home to be in a “hot” zone, because you have a daily appointment with death. And that’s another opportunity for her to worry about me and to call me every morning to make sure I woke up in my bed, still alive.

I work in a neighborhood where people are often detained. Amazing! A little bit of fear in exchange for more chances to be indulged and receive a few sweet words from here or a warm message from there.

And so what else is there in this war? Snipers? Suicide bombers? Mortars?

How beautiful they all are.

Because of them, I made a pact to never upset her no matter the reason. Because my fear is that death will come quickly, leaving a melancholy gaze between our eyes forever.

I owe our neighborhood sniper a rose. Because of him, I call my love every day, a few meters from my home, and each time it feels like our final phone call. I don’t know how I invent the words of endearment. I’m surprised by the beautiful words flowing out of my mouth that melt her and in turn melt me. Until I arrive safely to my doorstep.

I owe this war: 2,000 text messages; tens of handwritten letters; more than 4,000 “I love yous”; hundreds of kisses, embraces and tears of joy when we meet; and hours of pining and waiting.

Who said this war is all bad? I made the most beautiful love story out of this war.

Forgive me darling, our love story is written in steel and fire.

I swear by the blood of martyrs that spilled over my land that I love you until the last bullet, the last bomb and the last drop of martyr’s blood.

Not only because you are my angel, but because I believe: love is mightier than war.

You are mightier than war.

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