September 2012: Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari confirms Revolutionary Guards involvement in Syria
We start Sunday with the carousel of propaganda and rumours, amid the politics of the conflict and escalating foreign intervention.
At the start of the week, the headline rumour posing as news — spread by pro-regime media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — was that the Syrian military would soon launch an offensive to re-claim all of Aleppo. That attack never materialised; instead, on Friday we saw mass protests in Syria’s largest city for the opposition.
Then the rumour-as-fact, supporting the US decision to join Britain and France in overtly supplying weapons to the insurgency, was of definitive proof that President Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons. McClatchy News, parallelling EA’s analysis, knocked that claim back on Friday with testimony from experts raising doubts.
This morning’s rumour-as-“world exclusive” comes from The Independent on Sunday’s Robert Fisk, sitting in Beirut, who says he “has learned that a military decision has been taken in Iran –– even before last week’s presidential election – to send a first contingent of 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces”.
Really? We offer an analysis, “Fisking from Beirut — 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards“, dissecting the claim.
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) June 16, 2013
Amid Continued Clashes in Deir Ez-Zur, Syrian National Coalition Say Humanitarian Situation Deteriorating
In a statement on Sunday, the Syrian National Coalition said that the humanitarian situation in Deir Ez-Zor and its surrounding villages is deteriorating due to regime bombardment.
The Coalition said:
In the midst of heavy bombardments, in Deir Ezzor and surrounding areas, rebel forces are fighting neighborhood by neighborhood to free the region from Assad and his criminal militias. The Free Syrian Army is unyielding and continues to advance in neighborhoods like Al-Sana’a and Rashidiya. However, even with these brazen advances, the humanitarian situation is deteriorating in the city, due to the horrible conditions imposed on civilians. Practical solutions are required immediately to halt further tragedy.
This footage posted earlier today shows homes in Deir Ez-Zur burning as a result of shelling by Assad’s forces.
This footage shows regime shelling of the Rusafa neighborhood today:
There is also some footage of insurgents in Deir Ez-Zor shooting at regime aircraft, including this video from Saturday:
Damascus has hit back at Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s announcement that Cairo will suspend diplomatic relations.
“The Syrian Arab Republic condemns this irresponsible position,” an unnamed official said, declaring that Morsi had joined the “conspiracy and incitement led by the United States and Israel against Syria by announcing the cutting of ties”.
He said, “Syria is confident that this decision does not represent the will of the Egyptian people.”
As Syrian state media reports advances for regime troops in Jobar, Damascus, this video purports to show the aftermath of a regime airstrike on the suburb on Saturday. The footage shows a young woman being pulled from rubble:
This short video purportedly shows insurgents from the Swords of Righteousness Brigade attacking regime forces in Jobar:
Syrian State media claimed that the fighting continued Sunday, when regime forces clashed with insurgents near a soap factory in Jobar. SANA said several insurgents were killed in the fighting.
Amid increasing sectarian tensions and violence — including reports last week of a mass killing in the village of Hatla, near Deir Ez-Zor, the two videos below show Islamist insurgents identifying themselves as from the Islamic State of Iraq and As-Sham blowing up a Shia place of worship in Deir Ez-Zor.
It is not clear whether the Shia place of worship is in Deir Ez Zor town or in the surrounding area.
Map Showing Location of Deir Ez-Zor:
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has announced that Cairo is cutting off diplomatic relations with Syria, ordering the closure of the Syrian Embassy and the withdrawal of the Egyptian charge d’affaires from Damascus.
Morsi also called on Lebanon’s Hezbollah to leave Syria: “We stand against Hezbollah in its aggression against the Syrian people. Hezbollah must leave Syria — these are serious words. There is no space or place for Hezbollah in Syria.”
The President, addressing a rally for solidarity with the people of Syria, asked the international community to implement a no-fly zone.
The Local Coordination Committees claim 79 people were killed on Saturday, including 24 in Damascus and its suburbs, 17 in Aleppo Province, 12 in Homs Province, and 11 in Hama Province.
The Violations Documentations Center records 63,709 deaths since the start of the conflict in March 2011, an increase of 72 from Saturday. Of the dead, 49,068 are civilians, a rise of 43 from yesterday.