Friday, 19 February 2016
"Russian airstrikes have avoided so far locations where Daesh are, and concentrate on rebel-held areas where they hit civilian neighbourhoods indiscriminately. Russia is backing murderous dictator Bashar Assad, and is not slowing down its campaign of bombing civilians until they reach a result favourable to their interests. While Iran deploys every sectarian militia at its disposal to save the murderous tyrant, including Lebanese Hezbollah. Meanwhile, there is complete inaction on part of the world community."
Tuesday, 16 February 2016
'During the July 2006 war between Israel and Hizballah, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese fled south Lebanon and south Beirut – the Hizballah heartlands where Israeli strikes were fiercest – and sought refuge inside Syria.
Syrians welcomed them into their homes, schools and mosques. Several thousand were sheltered in Qusayr, a Sunni agricultural town between Homs and the Lebanese border. It made no difference that most of these refugees were Shia Muslims. They were just Muslims, and Arabs, and they were paying the price of a resistance war against Israeli occupation and assault. That’s how they were seen.
Summer 2013. Throughout May, hundreds of Hizballah fighters led a devastating assault on Qusayr. Because they were local men defending their homes, the Free Syrian Army were able to resist the onslaught for weeks, but were finally defeated. A Shia flag was allegedly hung over the town’s main Sunni mosque, if true, a signal of sectarian conquest.
Various excuses were offered up: to protect the Lebanese borders, or to protect the shrine of the Prophet’s grandaughter Zainab outside Damascus. None of them explained Hizballah’s participation in battles as far afield as Hama or Aleppo. Why would Nasrallah choose to infuriate Lebanese Sunnis, to make Lebanese Shia targets of sectarian revenge attacks, to deplete and downgrade his anti-Zionist fighting force?
Sheikh Subhi al-Tufayli, who led Hizballah between 1989 and 1991, blamed Iran: “I was secretary general of the party,” he said, “and I know that the decision is Iranian, and the alternative would have been a confrontation with the Iranians. I know that the Lebanese in Hizballah, and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah more than anyone, are not convinced about this war. ... Iran and Hizballah bear responsibility for every Syrian killed, every tree felled, and every house destroyed.”
This is something that leftists, when they were internationalists, once understood: states are designed to protect the property, position and privilege of the various elites which run them, not to safeguard the interests of ordinary people. This means Iran is not the protector of the Shia, Saudi Arabia is not the protector of the Sunnis, and Israel is not the protector of the Jews.
Need it be said that the Assad regime is the deadliest enemy of Alawis?'
'Incredible footage obtained by Sky News shows how Syrian activists are resisting ISIS in Raqqa, the city that was dubbed ‘the capital of ISIS’. The activists are part of the group ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently‘ (RBSS), a loosely-organized group of activists, described by the New Yorker as “as kind of underground journalistic-activist enterprise”, who have been struggling against both Bashar Al Assad's regime at the start of the revolution and then, when the Free Syrian Army (FSA)-held city fell, ISIS.
We learn of Abdulaziz Al-Hamza, a Syrian activist who is now in exile in Turkey due to his sympathies towards the FSA and co-founder of RBSS. Al-Hamza met another activist, Sarmad Al Jilane, also in exile in Turkey and, along with 15 other people, they set up RBSS in the hope of facilitating the transfer of images and videos taken by anti-ISIS activists still residing in the heart of the terror group's ‘capital’, which controls territory across parts of Syria and Iraq.
RBSS was honored with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)’ 2015International Press Freedom Awards for their journalism. In his acceptance speech, RBSS’ spokesperson said:
"I speak today on behalf of millions of Syrians who are looking for a free, democratic and united country.
I am deeply sad for my beautiful country. It is suffering greatly from regime fever and the cancer of terrorism, so greatly that I fear its spirit will melt.
We are caught between two aggressive and brutal forces. The first is a criminal regime, obsessed with power, claiming to fight against terrorism by killing children.
The second spreads evil and injustice, and paints our nation black.
Each of them considers us criminals because we are disclosing their actions to the world. Now the mere mention of the name of “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” has become a crime punishable by death." '
Monday, 15 February 2016
"We haven’t seen a good day in years. The shelling never stops, even for an hour or two. Life has changed, all the places you remember are gone: forget them, it is too painful. The bombs dropped by the regime are indiscriminate, destroying everything in their path. Everything is changed, destroyed or deserted, without life.
Even in our dreams we no longer know what “safety” means. Every time you open your eyes you don’t know if it the last time you will see your kids.
It is not just fighting on the front lines, it’s not just the continuous bombing. There are snipers hidden in every corner on the way out of the city.
We are constantly adapting our lives. Schools have had to move underground, and medical centers have to manage with limited supplies. We tried to build new democratic institutions: we elected new leaders. Everything has been a struggle.
We tried to go north to different neighborhoods, but bombs were falling there. We could see the planes flying above us, they sometimes display Syrian flags, sometimes Russian, sometimes we don’t even know. It feels like they are following us everywhere we go.
The surrounding communities of Anadan, Marah, Tal Refat, Hretan, Bynoon, Azaz are also suffering. These towns and villages started a peaceful revolution. They stood with Aleppo when Syrian government forces attacked civilians in the city. They took in people fleeing the bombs and the shelling.
But what happened to them? They were bombed, every single day. People do not know who the planes are aiming for and whether they will be next to die. Tens of air strikes per day, for the last 120 days.
And now it is time to leave. I didn’t ever expect this time would come, but I have to give up. I am leaving for a place I am not sure even exists.
Aleppo stands in front of a big war machine armed only with small weapons. It is not just a geographical target. Aleppo is karama, it is dignity, it is the revolution against injustice.
Goodbye Aleppo; my hometown, the place where I spent my childhood, where all my memories are.
I hope to see you there again one day, my friend."
'Karam al Masri is watching his city die. Or more accurately, he is watching the life gradually ebb from it. Masri is a 25-year-old photographer in Aleppo who documents the fatalism, fear and sometimes the defiance of tens of thousands of civilians who remain in rebel-held areas of the city now almost encircled by Syrian government forces and their allies.
'Opposition groups have already said they cannot accept the ceasefire if it does not halt Russian airstrikes. “No negotiation can take place while Russia is bombing our people,” said a senior member of one major Islamist opposition group. “It is a certainty that Russia will continue to attack us while claiming to target al-Nusra. They claimed that their campaign in Syria was to fight Isis but, so far, 85% to 90% of their attacks were against the moderate revolutionary groups, with a high percentage of civilian targets.”
“The people that the Americans had been trying to sponsor are now targets of an enemy that bombs without mercy or discretion, and the Americans don’t have a problem with that?” said one Free Syrian Army member in Aleppo, who declined to be named. “They never deserved our trust.”
“No matter what [Isis] does, no matter how bad they are, they are not as bad as the regime. They [the government] are the first enemy. They are why Syria is ruined, and they are why I am in this camp,” said 20-year-old Khalil Efrati, who had left his Raqqa home around three weeks earlier. “Yes, Isis are merciless and they do horrific things, but the regime does worse.” '
Sunday, 14 February 2016
' "A month before the city fell to Daesh, we had received information that Daesh was planning to attack Tadmur and the adjacent city of Sukhna. We conveyed the information to Assad himself," said Mohamed Qassim, who formerly served as attorney-general in Syria’s central city of Tadmur. "But instead of laying out a plan to defend the city, Assad ordered military forces to vacate Tadmur in hopes of tempting Daesh to fill the vacuum," he said.