Syria Daily, April 3: Refugees in Lebanon Pass 1 Million

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Syrian Refugees In Lebanon Credit The Wire

LATEST: Claims of Chemical Weapons Attack in Jobar in Damascus

THURSDAY FEATURE

What Happened When Insurgents Captured Kessab? — Propaganda & Reality

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR reports that Syria’s refugees in Lebanon passed 1 million on Wednesday.

The Syrian refugees now make up almost 20% of the Lebanese population.

In April 2012, there were 18,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and in April 2013, there were 356,000. More than 2,500 new refugees are being registered each day.

Of Syria’s pre-war population of 22 million, almost 12% — 2.6 million — are refugees, and an estimated 5 million are displaced inside the country.


Claims of Chemical Weapons Attack in Jobar in Damascus

Amid heavy clashes between regime forces and insurgents, claims are circulating of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian military.

Claimed Video: Syrian Forces Retake Tower 45 in Northern Latakia

Footage has been posted which claims to be of Syrian troops atop Tower 45, a key hilltop overlooking villages in northern Latakia Province in western Syria:

TOWER 45

Insurgents took Tower 45 at the start of their offensive almost two weeks ago and have been repelling regime counter-attacks this week.

Chechen Commander of Insurgent Faction Killed in Aleppo Province

The commander of the Chechen-led faction Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar, Muhannad Shishani, has been killed in fighting in Aleppo Province, according to the Kavkaz Center website.

JMA has been fighting in Sheikh Najjar, east of Aleppo, alongside the Nuraddin az-Zinki brigade and the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra.

14 Regime Barrel Bomb on Sheikh Najjar Near Aleppo, 5 Killed & Dozens Wounded

Pro-opposition Orient News claims the regime dropped 14 barrel bombs on Sheikh Najjar, east of Aleppo, killing five people and wounding dozens:

Regime forces have been attacking the insurgent-held village and the nearby industrial area for weeks.

(h/t Joanna Paraszczuk)

Regime Ground Offensive Moves on Southeastern Suburbs of Damascus

Sam Dagher of The Wall Street Journal reports on a Syrian military offensive after the breakdown of local ceasefires near Damascus:

Rocket strike on Mleha:

Aftermath of a barrel bomb on Mleha:

(h/t Joanna Paraszczuk)

Death Toll Surges, with 111 Killed on Wednesday

The death toll in Syria spiked on Wednesday, passing the 100 mark for the first time in several days.

The Local Coordination Committees reported that 111 people were killed, including five women and 11 children. Of the deaths, 37 were in Idlib Province, 32 in Damascus and its suburbs, and 19 in Aleppo Province.

State news agency SANA claims 13 civilians were killed by insurgents’ mortar attacks in and near Damascus.

The Violations Documentation Center records the deaths of 92,056 people since the start of the conflict in March 2011. Of the dead, 67,422 were civilians.

The VDC’s toll is conservative, as it only counts those casualties it can confirm and it does not document the deaths of regime forces.

On Wednesday, heavy fighting continued in the Jobar section of Damascus, and regime airstrikes were reported throughout the country. Insurgents continued to hold gains in their two-week offensive in Latakia Province in western Syria.

A barrel bomb on Daraa city:

Aftermath of an airstrike in Daraa Province in southern Syria:

Aftermath of regime attack on Ajjbailah in Deir Ez Zor Province:

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Update #1

    AN IRANIAN GENERAL HINTS ASSAD IS FALLING & REGION IS ENDANGERED

    Iran’s military chief of staff warns that Assad’s fall could lead to major sectarian war in the region. Iran should have thought about that before seeking Shia dominance in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon—all of which has fueled civil wars on which extremism feeds.

    ASSAD REGIME JOINS FORCES WITH ISIS/AL QUEDA ONCE AGAIN

    A week ago Al Queda-linked ISIS and its regime launched coordinated and simultaneous attacks on the Kurdish YPB joined in co-coordinated attacks on the Kurdish YPG. ISIS agreed to attack Tal Tamir while the regime’s task was to attack Hassakah. Nobody believes it was a coincidence.

    Arab Chronicle: BIG OFFENSIVE UNDERWAY IN DAMASCUS?

    A large concentration of Iraqi foreign militia in Abbasid Stadium has been the main obstacle to breaking into Center City and Abassid Square from Jobar, where rebels may have killed as many as 100 shabbiha when they blew up a building yesterday. Another 25 regime fighters died in combat elsewhere in Jobar and a large number of troops (most likely Iraqi militia) in Mieha. With strong rebel forces to the north, south and east and most regime reserves in Lattakia, I don’t see how Assad can expect much help there.

    ALEPPO REBELS TO ASSAD: “NO, YOU CAN’T USE NAYRAB AIRPORT!”

    Nayrab Airport is under fire again. With land routes closing or closed in all directions, that’s important. Air Force Intelligence, which runs most Assad neighborhoods, suffered some serious damage from a major hit by the rebel’s “hell cannon” on Wednesday.

  2. RUBBING IN HIS CRIMEA WIN, PUTIN IMPORTS MORE SERIOUS WEAPOONS IN SYRIA

    Putin continues to take advantage of a weak and incompetent president—the gift that keeps on giving.

    Assad;s new help includes longer-range Russian Smerch and Uragan rockets and the use of MiG-29 fighter jets with ground-attack capabilities, most of which will target civilians Why not? Putin’s military hand may be far weaker but he plays like a midget street fighter gouging eyes and hitting below the belt while a big muscle bound opponent falls to the mat, crying “Unfair!”

    Obama is simply no match. He could complicate things easily for Putin in Syria with a handful of cruise missile attacks on Assad’s air bases and artillery positions but he’ll continue to play by Marquis of Queensbury rules. Hopefully it is too late for Putin & Co. to save Assad since Obama will do nothing. JFK could learn a lesson from the Bay of Pigs, but Omama isn’t JFK or Churchll. Business Weekly describes presidential humiliation:

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-04-02/putin-defies-obama-in-syria-as-arms-fuel-assad-resurgence

    DEFECTIONS, EXECUTIONS GROW AS REGIME’S PROBLEMS MOUNT

    Air Force Intelligence (the Syrian equivalent to Gestapo) executed six officers for trying to defect in Qalamoun, claims Rami Lolah. That comes on top of similar problems in Lattakia, Baniyas and Aleppo.

    REGIME ATTRITION ON WEDNESDAY

    Rebels reportedly killed 80 regime forces in the Mieha section of Damascus, beheading some militia infamous for atrocities. Over 200 bad guys were KIA in just two Damascus neighborhoods. Jabhat Al-Nusrah claims it knocked off 40 more in Latakia. A new and graphic video shows just how badly the regime is getting mauled as it attempts to stop the coastal offensive.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3btKo0H3Qk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    SYRIAN ECONOMY MAY TAKE 30 YEARS TO RECOVER, UN STUDY SAYS

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/04/02/223277/syrian-economy-may-take-30-years.html

    Only nut cases enjoy a Taliban lifestyle. Assad could have demanded a clause requiring separation of church and state before agreeing to democratization. Alawites and others could have demanded it. Most Sunnis in Lebanon are pretty liberal, culturally, compared to Hezbollah. So were many in Syria.

  3. Turkey’s direct intervention in Syria, using Chechen and other extremist foreign fighters to attack Armenian towns and villages, is a dangerous escalation of violence in a quickly expanding region of instability, stretching from the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, to the periphery of Europe and beyond. It brings back dark memories of the 20th century, when Europeans were killing each other in the tens of millions and systematically exterminating millions of minorities, while Turkey was offering its own contribution to the genocidal rampage, killing over one million Armenians as the Ottoman empire collapsed on itself.

    Turkey, with a failed foreign policy and intense domestic instability, poses a serious threat to the region. There were already murmurs a year or so ago, when the Turks surprised their NATO allies by opting to purchase a Chinese missile defence system over NATO approved hardware. While the order has been delayed, and the official responsible for negotiations sacked, the damage has already been done.

    Not only that, but Erdogan is blossoming into the maniacal leader that everyone, in particular the West, hoped he would not be. Under siege by his domestic enemies, but with renewed democratic mandate, it is likely that he will now go on the offensive, crushing his enemies domestically while stretching his muscles abroad. He has admitted as much, declaring in his victory speech that Turkey is in a state of war with Syria, and that his enemies are traitors who should be punished to the fullest extent.

    NATO’s most eastern ally is going rogue. NATO’s most eastern ally has an overtly expansionist Islamist agenda, and is willing to use Chechen and Al Qaeda affiliated foreign fighters to invade a foreign country and attack a minority it massacred less than a century ago. All the while, NATO’s most eastern ally is being encircled by Russia, who has already consolidated its control over the Black Sea; has prevented its ally in the Levant from collapsing; and is keeping a close eye on the Caucasus.

    The fire is spreading, quickly. And by the looks of it, the West is dumbfounded and unable to react.

    • Turkey’s direct intervention in Syria is a dangerous escalation of violence.

      What about the direct involvement of Iran and Putin since March of 2011? What about step upped involvement of Iran and proxies in the spring of 2013? What about Putin’s step up in advanced weapons currently (see my report today? Why aren’t they dangerous escalatiions? Didn’t the prolong the dictatorship, its methods and its destruction and thereby radicalize Sunnis? Why is escalation fine and a bare fraction of that escalation of the other side not OK?

      Chechens have nothing to do with Turkey. They’ve been here for awhiile now and it was Assad’s crimes, assisted by Putin, Iran and proxies that opened the door. And what do Armenian villages have to do with anything? At least rebels aren’t destroying them as Assad & allies constantly barrel bomb everywhere Sunnis live.

      Cry me a river. Don’t you realize how hopelessly unsympathetic your position is? Only those like yourself, who already adore fascism (IRI, Putin or Assad-style) would do so.

      • Because as a sovereign state, Syria is entitled to request the support of its allies when under attack. Iran even has a mutual defence treaty with Syria, obliging it to come to the defence of its ally.

        There is another difference too: Iran’s involvement in Syria has been defensive, with the aim of restoring control and territorial integrity; Turkey’s recent involvement, on the other hand, is expansionist, dangerously reminiscent of a genocidal past, and contrary to its strategic alignment with the West and NATO. And while Iran has been consistent in its willingness to negotiate a political settlement, it is the opposition’s backers who have been divided and increasingly unable to control events on the ground.

        Any strategic gains that Iran has made (of which there have been a number) are a consequence of circumstance – nothing else. There was never a concerted effort by Iran to expand its footprint in the region. Iran’s openness to dialogue confirms its commitment to a negotiated settlement.

        It was clear from the beginning that the armed uprising would breed instability throughout the region, but what was less clear was just how far the instability would spread, and who would fill the ensuing political vacuum. The opposition and its backers hoped they could profit from the conflict, betting on the quick demise of the Assad regime, but the situation is far from certain. Iran can hardly be blamed for that.

        The current instability in the Middle East is unprecedented, and it is a continuation of the collapse of the post-Ottoman paradigm. It is also a consequence of Western indecision (which at times appears to be intentional). But being indecisive is one thing; losing strategic control over a NATO ally, who has expansionist ambitions and whose leader is increasingly rogue, is a whole nother thing.

        • 1. It looks like that you do not even know why the mutual defense pact between Syria and Iran was founded.

          Iran and Syria had declared they had formed a mutual self-defense pact to confront “threats” at 2005. The move was announced after a meeting in Tehran between Iranian Vice President Mohammed Reza Aref and Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari.

          What were this threats?

          The announcement comes amid a week of high tension in the region following the assassination in Beirut of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The US intensified its search for punitive sanctions against Syria after the Harriri murder , accusing Damascus of complicity in the killing of the independent-minded former premier who was expected to stand for re-election on an anti-Syrian platform.

          As we now know Assad and Khamenei (libanon Hizbollah) had planned the murder of Harriri. Therefore syria and iran joined together to fend off any possible attacks from outside. That was the reason for the Syrian – Iranian defense pact.

          You will not find any legitimacy for the action of iranian Quds force killing syrian people because the defense pact is directed against government attacks from the outside.

          2. Iran’s involvement in Syria is not defensive.
          Iran is fighting in syria to export its Shiite revolution from 1979. Khameneis Syrien fight against syrian people is focused on its own expansion. Therefore Iran has even set his battle against israel to the second spot. Now Irans first spot is fighting against sunni – arab interests. This iranian fight is first and foremost expansive.

          3. The interests of Turkey and Iran at the core are not much different. Erdogan continues to support the sunni Muslim Brotherhood and Tehran pursues his expansionist aspirations to establish a shia state or a Shiite enclave in syria. If it goes beyond that to the founding of an Islamic syrian state they both would agree. Both will expand their economic relations because turkey is highly dependent of cheap iranian energy imports. That is the key for the Turkish economic upturn.

          4. iranian footprint at middle east.
          Look to Iraq, to Libanon, to Jemen and to the failed iranian polices to find balancing polices to saudi arabia.
          Its all about to get shiite supremacy at mid east.

          5. current instability in the Middle East is unprecedented

          Khamenei is doing every thing to pour oil into the fire. His latest move: He sends Hizbollah to Syria.
          If even the US Army wasn`t able to stabilize Iraq or Afghanistan – what do you think what will happen at syria?
          Iran can`t win against a sunni majority. In addition, iran raises money out of the window which urgently is needed to build on its own economy to pacify and to develope his own country.

          Remember the facts – “yellow cake” nobody can eat – only the iranian hardliner and the mullahs will benefit from the atomic bomb and the war against Syrians.

          • “If even the US Army wasn`t able to stabilize Iraq or Afghanistan”

            This is your best comment so far. Yes, I wonder why those darned Americans – who come from thousands of miles away from a radically different culture, and who know absolutely jack all about the Middle East – were unable to stabilise Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, what a tough, tough question. Shall we have a civil debate about it?

  4. Director of ‘Shakespeare in Zaatari’ Drives out Pro-Assad Media From Camp

    Syrian actor and director Nawar Bulbul forced the representatives of the Russian and Chinese TV to leave Zaatari refugee camp, and refused to let them film his play, ‘Shakespeare in Zaatari.’

    A video, posted on YouTube, showed the actor standing in front of the two press crews, who were in total disbelief, saying: “If you came here to film for the Chinese or Russian TV, then go out of here. But if you are here as friends who came to see the show, then you should sit in the audience seats.

    The two teams returned to their employers empty-handed, according to activists.

    http://www.syrianobserver.com/News/News/Director+of+Shakespeare+in+Zaatari+Drives+out+ProAssad+Media+From+Camp

  5. Tower 45 back in regime hands. Latakia offensive already over. Regime on the offensive in damascus too. This will never end. Rebels chances of advances are nill. Regime advances are far more concrete but extremely slow. No in end in sight even if clearly the regime is slowly taking the upperhand throughout the country.

    • Poor Caligola is so desperate for a victory, however evanescent. His frequent absence here reflects their scarity lately. Bear in mind:

      1. The high cost and time required to retake the hill does not bode well.
      2. The regime’s lousy record at holding gains (Didn’t it retake this hill for bried hours some days ago?)
      3. Further progress in Lattakia will require more time and similar casualties. Attrition is the rebel game.
      4. Meanwhile rebels will continue to reap payoffs elsewhere in Syria.
      5. If and when the regime ends the Lattakia offense, it will only have regained what it possessed less than a month ago. The diffierence: A) its forces and those of allies will be substantially reduced; B) Rebel gains elsewhere.

      • You are so stubborn that you keep forgetting i am not a pro assad but actually quite the opposite. I am just tired of reading your dillusional reports. I hate to read wrong facts. Simple as it is.

  6. Update #3

    NDF MILITIA FIGHTING ASSAD’S ARMY IN ALEPPO AGAIN TODAY

    So reports Tazimorocco this morning. Air Force Intelligence (hated by all) runs most neighborhoods. That doesn’t help. Nor does reports of executions and mass arrests.

    PUTIN TO DRAFT CHECHENS, INGUSHES AND DAGESTANIS AFTER AVOIDING THEM FOR YEARS

    http://www.interpretermag.com/moscow-to-draft-north-caucasians-without-former-restrictions/

    The article says “draft” not enlist, meaning muslims would have no choice about joining. No doubt that Crimean Tatars will be drafted tool. Puritanical newbies are sure to love foul-mouthed, vodka-swilling, ultra-nationalistic Great Russians.

    For many years such these groups have been banned from Russian’s military. Why the switch?

    Reason #1: A n aging, shringing Russian population.

    Reason #2: A growing, youthful muslim population.

    Reason #3: Putin desires an “prestigious” (and expensive) 19th century-style empire containing many people forced to join.

    In an age of asymmetrical warfare, the internet and popular movements for democracy, the Russian dictator needs people to fill his ranks and learn how to use all the fancy equipment he has been purchasing. To meld his new empire together Putin hopes to replace the old unifying ideology of communism with “Greater Russia” patriotism which should have major appeal to muslims.

    For some reason, many Russian officers think this is a very bad idea.

    A SIGNIFICANT PHOTO TODAY FROM TOWER 45 IN LATTAKIA’S “MEAT GRINDER”

    The regime may have taken the tower today it’s not clear but this photo is interesting.

    https://twitter.com/free_syria_army/status/451714239515070465/photo/1

    The captives are identified as Hezbollah which tells us: 1) Alawis have taken high casualties and haven’t been able to do the job; 2) Hezbollah can expect similar losses; and 3) other fronts will have fewer Hezbollah and well as other fighters shipped off to Lattakia. I wonder how many of these prisoners survived regime bombing runs.

    A large rebel convoy from Idlib Province has arrived in Lattakia today.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1uCabc5cJI

    IDLIB PROVINCE: Rebels have announced a major offensive. Likely targets: the cut off army and air bases east of Marat al Numaan. Regime has responded with air attacks.

    DAMASCUS:

    Having suffered a military disaster yesterday in Mleiha Wednesday against “the mysterious and effective” Rahman Corps (tazimorroco’s description) the Iraqi militia responsible massacring hundreds of civilians in Nabek some weeks ago is reportedly getting slaughtered again in Mleiha. Yesterday it lost 80+ fighters—many beheaded afterwards. These guys are really hated and I doubt surrender will be tolerated after their crimes in Nabek.

    Rebels and regime are engaged in heavy fighting today east of Sweida Province between East Ghout and the Jordan border. My guess is the regime is trying to close rebel supply lines. Chances of success are not good.

  7. Caligola: He is doing that for far more then a year now. On a daily basis. He didnt even stop with his twitter fantasies for Christmas Day or New Years Eve.
    Make whatever you want out of that.

    • I am for credible news, i hate hypered inflated accounts which have no grasp whatsoever with reality. Not even pro assad supporters go to this lengh. And he keeps refering to me as an assad supporter which i am not, quite the opposite infact. But even from a rebel perspective its too much to take everyday. The real facts are simply another story.

    • Yassam,
      I finally stopped subscribing to e-mail notifications when posting on the Syria threads where RT is active to save myself the trouble of deleting all his drivel from my inbox every morning. The fact that I no longer subscribe to others’ comments has unfortunately also made me less inclined to post comments of my own.

      I’ve often wondered what the purpose is of the much vaunted Comments policy http://eaworldview.com/comments-policy/ (which, over time, seems to have been written and re-written with RT in mind) if it’s never enforced?

      • Catmari:
        I do not like censorship and the pre-moderation policy, but you are right, that almost every single point of the EA Comments Policy is getting violated by RT: Ad Hominem attacks/ Personal Insults/Spam/ Racist language/Comparison to Nazis/Generalizations about large groups of people and of course “Excessive length”.

        He has successfully driven away everyone else from the Comment Section and apart from high-profile battles it is now used as his personal blog alone.
        Its a shame, because I found the comments, which formerly came from symphatisants of all sides of the conflict and had -compared to most of the other syrian-centered websites or blogs- relatively few nutjobs and gave a wide spectrum of news, as one of the strong points of EA.

        But in the end, its their website and EA has to consider for themselfs how they enforce their comment policy.

        • Thank you to all for contributions.

          I have been leniently recently because I appreciate the diversity of views — and the passion with which they are held — as well as the information, which is vital support for our coverage.

          I remind readers:

          1. Keep your comments focused on information and analysis, not on other readers
          2. Bring in reliable information — if the information is not confirmed, please make this clear
          3. Be concise.

          Thanks to all,

          S.

  8. Just wondering why EA thinks a visitor who reads a thread entitled “Syria Daily: Refugees in Lebanon Pass 1 Million” might also like an article entitled: “Police: Teenage girls use knife to force autistic boy to perform sex acts” or want to get the latest news on “upskirt bans in Massachissets”? 😉

    But seriously, I have already sent several serious complaints to The Guardian for similarly jarring ‘recommendations’ automatically produced by that truly mindless http://www.outbrain.com service. They always include one or two articles with topics that frankly are an insult to a reader’s intelligence and imo reflect poorly on the website.

    I don’t know if you’re just experimenting with the service, but it really looks bad seeing an article like the ones I mentioned ‘recommended’ amongst the titles of EA’s own core content. :-)

    • Catmari,

      We are trialing Outbrain, which generates the article links. While most are useful in highlighting our coverage through other stories, there are the cases you note above.

      We are monitoring and welcome feedback such as yours, as we make a decision on whether we retain the service.

      S.

      • Having first experienced the sometimes absurd and even embarrassing juxtapositions of topics produced by Outbrain on The Guardian, and considering how much more specific and limited EA’s content range is than The Guardian’s (where some of these titles could fly), I’d be very wary of using it if I were you. That is, unless you can define the filters to the point that only relevant content from other sources is displayed.

        For example, “North Korean drones send shock waves across South” or “Analyst Upgrades Apple, Says the iPhone 6 Will Be Huge”, although not lurid or absurd, still do not fit it at all with the threads they’re currently on, Syria Daily, April 1 + April 4. On the other hand, “Bloodiest Battles of Military History” will most certainly be of interest to many EA readers :-)

        But items like CNN’s “Du Pont heir convicted of raping daughter spared prison” and “Courtney Cash, grandniece of Johnny Cash, found dead in a box” just don’t belong on EA.

        In fact, CNN seems to be the source of the most random recommendations so far. Right now on various Syria threads: Sandusky ‘was found guilty before trial,’ says ex-Penn State coach’s wife; Montana newlywed Jordan Linn Graham gets 30 years in husband’s murder; Mississippi death row inmate Michelle Byrom to get new trial and John Daly seeks help after sinking to new PGA Tour low. !!

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