Syria Daily, Sept 16: Death Toll Tops 100 For 2nd Day in Row

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LATEST: Islamic State Claims Downing of Syrian Jet Fighter

For the second day in a row, opposition activists reported that more than 100 people have been killed across Syria.

The Local Coordination Committees said it had confirmed 104 deaths by the end of Monday. Of these, 35 martyrs were in Aleppo Province, 16 in Damascus and its suburbs, 16 in Homs Province, and 11 in Qunaitra Province.

The casualties may be even higher. Activists say at least 20 people were killed in Talbiseh in Homs Province by barrel bombs. Abdullah Hammad, a prominent activist for media and aid operations, is among the dead.

Sunday’s toll was 102 killed, with half of them from regime shelling and raids of villages in Hasakeh Province in eastern Syria.

The Syrian military is trying to reclaim territory held by the Islamic State. The Kurdish militia YPG is reportedly doing the same, bringing an on-the-ground alliance with regime forces — claims are circulating that the Syrian-Kurdish offensive executed at least 45 people in two villages near Tal Hamis.

The Violations Documentation Center has now confirmed 104,426 deaths since the start of the uprising in March 2011. Of these, 75,191 were of civilians.

The VDC does not count the number of Syrian troops and allied militias killed in the conflict.


Islamic State Claims Downing of Syrian Jet Fighter

The Islamic State claims it shot down a Syrian fighter jet carrying out an airstrike on Raqqa on Tuesday.

The warplane reportedly crashed into a house in city, controlled by the Islamic State since last year, causing deaths and injuries on the ground.

The regime jet is the first downed by the Islamic State.

Speaker of Syrian Parliament to US Politicians: Arming Insurgents Will Trigger Negative Chain Reaction

The Speaker of the Syrian Parliament, Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, has written senior US politicians to object to any supply of arms to insurgents: “Putting the weapons in the wrong hands is an irreversible action that will trigger a global, negative chain reaction.”

Al-Laham proposed “de-radicalisation” and intelligence collaboration, particularly with Turkey, to counter “terrorists”.

Regime Props Up Currency With Injection of US Dollars Into Market

The regime has propped up the Syrian pound with an injection of US dollars into the market, hoping to maintain an official rate of 185 Syrian Pounds to 1 dollar.

The Syrian Pound was 47:1 vs. the dollar at the start of the uprising in March 2011, but lost almost 80% of its value to reach more than 200:1 by June 2013.

Since then, the checking of the insurgency and financial support from Russia and Iran — including a $3.7 billion line of credit from Tehran — has prevented further decline.

In a curious claim of success, State news agency SANA ignores the past decline and declares, “The Syrian pound price improved for the second consecutive day to record 186 SYP against 1 USD in Damascus and other Syrian cities.”

A less optimistic note comes from Central Bank head Adib Mayaleh, “The CBS observes the market and will hunt manipulators during the coming days.”

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Seven Days with Syria’s First Responders from Civil Defense

    In a war with many villains, these are the good guys. Seven days inside the life-and-death world of Syria’s first responders — the last hope for civilians caught in the chaos.
    By Matthieu Aikins
    Photographs and video by Sebastiano Tomada

    https://medium.com/matter/whoever-saves-a-life-1aaea20b782

    Why the Heroes of Aleppo’s Civil Defense Are Now in Exile in Turkey

    A chaotic war and a fractured opposition punishes the only people trying to save civilians
    By Matthieu Aikins

    https://medium.com/matter/the-making-of-whoever-saves-a-life-5201ff182d

  2. SAA counteroffensive continues smooth around Hama regaining control of Al Jalamah & Tal Malah.

    IS advancing in Aleppo area. 7 villages taken in proximity of Kobane.

    • The rebels performance against the SAA counterattack in Northern Hama is not that impressive. I expected the rebels to lose the positions south of Helfaya/Mherdah and possibly lose these cities as their lines were stretched but expected them to hold there. I told Genome45 I would conced that point at the beginning of the offensive and I have. The rebels still hold the frontline south of Morek so if that line falls and the regime retake Morek then the rebels are in trouble there. Idlib will be much harder for the regime to retake as there are a huge amount of Sunni communities there along with probably the largest group of rebels in any province.

      The IS advances in Kobane are in parallel with YPG advances in Hasakah province. I don’t think the US airstrikes in Syria will happen in Hasakah province. The YPG are advancing in Hasakah with air support from the regime. The YPG won’t get US air support until they agree to cut ties with the regime.

      In Quneitra/Northwest Daraa the rebels may be learning the lessons of Northern Hama. Advancing too fast leaves you open to a counterattack. The rebels may want to hold their positions there and concentrate on taking rear regime positions including Al-Harra and eastern Nawa.

      Last comment. I’ve heard comments that the rebels are saying they need weapons not training. In reality, they need both. To turn down training provided by the US would be a big mistake for the rebels. First of all, without anti-air capability the rebels need as many Anti-Tank gunners as they can get. After Anti-Armor training, a big area the rebels need training on is how to fortify and hold positions. The Syrian army receives proper training on this and it explains why isolated bases in Idlib and other locations are holding out as long as they have. US training has other benefits as it builds contacts with the US and is an opportunity to gather intelligence. It would be very idiotic to turn down training from the most powerful military in the world.

      With better weapons and training along with US air support, the rebels objective over the next year should be to hold the territory they occupy and try to consolidate continuous areas under their control. Ideally, if they could take Idlib from the regime and Northern Aleppo over the next year they will be in a much stronger position strategically in the North.

      • The only training rebels need is on specialized weapons but Obama seems to be proposing something like basic training. Most rebels have had conventional training. Insurgency fighting they’ve learned on the job. Supposedly rebels laughed at most of the training provided by the CIA in Jordan.

        • The Obama administration quote:

          “The Obama administration says the training operation is needed to establish credible, local ground forces to accompany U.S. air strikes against the militants who have conquered large parts of Iraq and Syria, beheaded two American journalists and become a top U.S. terrorism threat in the region and beyond.”

          My point is that the training is necessary for the US to build contact with the rebels. I also think the rebels need more than just specialized weapons training. In any proper military, you would need basic training that lasts at least a couple of months. In addition, Infantry needs another couple of months of training of training including whatever specialized skill they bring to the battlefield. The rebels have performed well so far and looking at the war since the onset it’s amazing what the rebels have achieved. However, keep in mind that the rebellion began with mostly defected troops from the Syrian army. At this point there are a large number of civilians who have joined the various rebel factions. The training they receive is varied but it won’t be as good as the training the US can provide. Would it not be wise to allow the US to train as many troops as possible and allow the rebel factions to concentrate their efforts on holding and gaining positions? As an ex-military member myself I see the value of any military training.

          Fast forward a few months or a year down the road. After significant rebels have been trained by the US. The US is much more likely to support them with air strikes than with groups they have no contact with.

      • 8 months of training? That is a joke. This is a country that had universal military conscription – albeit until recently. The army might not have been anywhere near western standard but draftees would have learned quite a bit about small arms. Then, for most, add a year or two of practical experience in small unit warfare. The ones that are still alive have learned quite bit.

        Remember the interviews with the handful of rebels who went thru the previous training? They thought it was a waste of time.
        It doesn’t take that long to learn how to use a TOW or similar weapon. Does the US plan to give them heavy artillery along with a supply train?

        But bottom line Obama’s plan is a fantasy if he thinks the rebels are going to ignore Assad and only fight against the Islamic State.

    • How about all the losses the regime is sufferting elsewhere? Why is it executing its own troops? Why is in putting up checkpoints to catch draft dodgers? Why has it banned travel abroad to anyone in the militar? Why has it arrested long-time loyalists who complain?

      Sounds like things going bad to me. Do you have an alternate explanation?

    • Not so “smooth.” SAA lost a Brigadier General today in an ambush. Also, thousands of rebels have either been withdrawn or are being withdrawn from Syria temporarily by Obama for “training” in Syria. They’ll be back. Meanwhile the regime must take on two enemies while gaining back what you lost previously at high cost in the Hama area does not offset rebel gains in Damascus (2 central neighborhoods and in Quneitra. Those include opening up new supply lines and breaking longtime sieges in West Ghouta.

      • The breaking of the siege in West Ghouta is really the biggest news. Even if the regime are able to enforce the siege again arms are flowing into rebel areas in Western Ghouta. It appears that this may have been the primary objective of the NW Daraa/Quneitra offensives. I do think Northern Hama is a bit of a blow to the rebels as they are getting rolled back there pretty far.

    • In Hama, rebels have given everything in their offensive, as showed by the numbers of fighters involved and the facts that Golani was personally leading the battle.

      Getting a few kilometers close and holding in Morek probably gave them false hope, leading them to think that putting everything they had would allow them to get the huges prizes, like Hama airport, Mardeh and Hama city itself.

      But the NDF and army defense were too strong and rebels grinded territory way too slowly to threaten Hama. Once the governement had brought reinforcement and reoganized their line it was all over. The “Tiger Forces” brought from Aleppo front made a huge impact on the battlefield especially and rebels had shown to have no answer for that counter offensive.

      If rebels lose Lataminah and Kfar Zitah, the next targets of the Army, or if they are broken on the Morek front, they will lose Khan Shaykun as well and lose all they gained since early this year in that part of Idlib.

      Rebels probably regret launching this offensive as the counter attack triggered is a very serious threat to them. They don’t seem able to reorganize. For the moment it looks like a full rout. If they hold Kfar Zita and Lataminah, it would make their summer offensive a pointless and costing failure. If they lose them, it will be a heavy defeat. If they lose Khan Shaykun it would make their Hama offensive a complete distater.

      • The offensive against Hama airport probably saved the rebels in Aleppo. Meanwhile, the rebels continue to advance in Quneitra and West Ghouta. Does the SAA send The Tiger there next?

        • How about Deir Ez Zour will the “Tiger Forces” go there next? If they do, who’s going to stop the FSA cutting the last regime supply lines into Daraa?

        • would love to hear your definition of what West Ghouta is? Border with Lebanon, border with Israel or western suburbs of Damascus under total government control?

  3. OBAMA IS A WAR CRIMINAL WORTHY OF A NUREMBUG TRIAL

    (This is an imporoved rewrite of a post I’ve provided elsewhere on EA)

    Obama’s stalemate policy involves arming the rebels enough to keep the war going until both sides are forced to an Obama favored, revenge-inspiring political settlement far worse than the Treaty of Versailles. Obama deserves a spot at a Nuremberg-style trial as much as Keitel, Jodl, etc. His stalemate strategy is tantamount to arguing continued genocide as the “best” means to end the Syrian conflict and then taking steps to make sure it occurs. How is that not criminal?

    Obama’s ultimate goal, a “political settlement” achieved by encouraging years of successful mass murder on the premise that doing so would eventually force the rebels and Syria people to accept the present Genocide Regime forever along with its infamous security agencies. Obama’s No Justice, No Peace solution—would actually reward the guilty, including Putin and Khamenei, by making genocide pay off. It would also guaranteeing further radicalization and a never ending vengeful quest for justice denied carried out by the most suited (Al Queda/ISIS type) drawing recruits like flies from all over the Middle East. Is that really a good idea, Mr. Obama?

    The war criminal in the White House now turns a stone deaf ear to the near unanimous good advice of his generals just as did when Hillary and Petreus gave him good advice back in 2011-2012. For advisors Obama has always relied on the absolute worst of the worst: Ryan Crocker, Denis McDonough and Tony Blinken (Biden’s long-time foreign policy advisor), surrounding himself with yes men.

    The generals say half-measures like air power only, no arms for rebel who could have provided boots on the ground, unneeded training for rebels to make them available a decade from now) will never work and will help ISIS, Iran and Assad. Obama does not listen. The analysts say that destroying the Assad regime, rather than keeping it afloat, would seriously damage ISIS. Obama doesn’t listen. The rebels say they don’t’ need trainees. They need arms and decent weapons to fight ISIS. They’ve had conventional training in the Syrian army and could teach the US army insurgency skills which they’ve learned on the job. The training previously offered by the CIA is like sending college grads to kindergasten. Once again, Obama does not listen.

    Obama will do anything to evade necessary action. The Rose Garden backdown in September was quintessential Obama. Thousands of regime soldiers were ready to desert. With that and his air power gone, Assad would have fallen and ISIS would be nowhere today.

  4. TENSION BETWEEN ASSAD & IRAQ: Maliki Blames Assad’s Mukbarrat for Iraq Invasion

    Nouri Malki demands the UN to investigate & stop Assad from sending islamists trained by his Mukhabarat into Iraq.

    http://www.france24.com/en/20090901-maliki-blames-syria-attacks-assad-denies-claim-/

    GREAT BLOG FROM A DISPLACED SYRIA: Obama Lacks the Credibility to Sell Used Cars,Much Less Lead an “Anti-Terror” Coalition

    EXCERPT: Join an Obama-led “anti-terror” coalition? Speaking as a Syrian refugee, I tend to regard Barack Obama as one would regard a neighbor who never lent much more than a glass of water while my house burned, but now expects me to join his vigilante neighborhood gang because someone broke his windows…. Six years into his administration, Obama is learning that there is a price to be paid for screwing over America’s allies and breaking commitments. And it doesn’t help matters when Obama confides to the American press that he foresees the ISIS problem as being one “for the next president, and probably the one after that.”—Aboud Dandachi.

    http://adandachi.com/istanbul/obama-isis-coalition-credibility/

    WHILE HAMLET SNORES IN WASHINGTON, ISIS TAKES 7 VILLAGES IN ALEPPO

    Reports claim Islamic State take control of 7 villages at outskirts of Kobanê. His Hesitancy can’t stop ISIS advance with air power and refuses to arm the rebels lest they shoot a single fighter for his beloved Genocide Regime.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkX9j0J3Sb0

    GARY KASPAROV HAMMERS OBAMA AS HAVING NO CREDIBITY & DESERVING NO ONE’S TRUST

    “Almost exactly one year ago I said Obama ruined the credibility of his office over Syrian “red line” & that friends & enemies were watching. Why would ISIS be afraid or coalition allies trust Obama when they know he’d lose interest in them overnight to save one Senate seat?

    ROGER COHEN ON OBAMA (in NYTimes): Obama “set objectives for which he had no plan. He made commitments he did not keep”

    Fred Hof Gets It Right: DESTROY ASSAD FIRST

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119424/isis-and-syria-why-us-should-eliminate-bashar-al-assad-first

  5. DAMASCUS UPDATE

    #1: Both pro & opposition tweeps say a few Katyushas have landed in Alawite neighborhood of Mezzeh86 in the heart of the Syrian Capital even as Assad’s propagandists claim things have quieted in Damascus.

    #2: Interesting report: Rebels on Syria’s southern front ‘closer to the doorstep of Damascus.

    Apparently command and coordination among rebel units has increased greatly in the south recently. JAN’s increased presence in the south also encouraged such changes. Previously I noted another factor contributing to the advance: mass surrenders by disgusted Sunni conscripts with no interest in dying for the Genocide Reegime.

    http://www.thenational.ae/world/syria/rebels-on-syrias-southern-front-closer-to-the-doorstep-of-damascus#ixzz3DVDuLDvP

    HAMA

    “Brigadier General Ismail Heydar killed in ambush in #Ghab plain by JAN.”—Markito0171. Six soldiers members from regime forces killed due to an ambush set up by Syrian Rebels btw Ariha and Kafar Zayta in the northern Hama according to Tazimorocco. I’m not sure if it was the same ambush.

    IS THIS A GREAT IDEA OR A DUMB ONE?

    “Gen. Dempsey suggests it will take 8-12 months for a training program of #Syria rebels to deploy & begin fight vs. IS. That’s a LONG time.”—Charles Lister, who adds “Deferring FSA involvement is a recipe for failure. In other words thousands of rebel fighters will be withdrawn from Syria for training.

    John McCain has just told Dempsey off, arguing that any rebels Obama trains can hardly be expected to devote most of their effforts to fighting ISIS so long as the Genocide Regime exists. Implied: Get rid of that and rebels can help.

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/mccain-it-s-a-fundamental-fallacy-that-u-s-armed-rebels-will-fight-isis-in-syria-20140916

    McCain criticized Dempsey and Hagel for dodging question of: “If SAF attacks US trained force, will we respond?” Answer: “Priority is ISIS” In other words, Dempsey and Obama would allow Assad to attack the rebels while they are fighting ISIS.

    Meanwhile the rebels have vowed not to join Obama’s “coalition against ISIS” unless objectives include ousting the Genocide Regime. Many Europeans and Arabs say likewise. What’s the point in fighting ISIS if you do nothing about the source that feeds it?

    Business Insider: IRAN AND RUSSIA ARE EXPLOITING A GLARING HOLE IN THE US-LED STRATEGY AGAINST ISIS

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-hole-in-the-us-led-strategy-against-isis-2014-9#ixzz3DV5o56dj

  6. Elijah Magnier claims that Hezbollah was responsible for destroying the bridge Deir Ez Zor. Initially Al Manar claimed that Syrian special forces were responsible. Here is video of the operation: http://youtu.be/MYmoqPxOd44

    https://twitter.com/EjmAlrai/status/511938181353447424

    #BreakingNews:
    #Hezbollah special operation behind #IslamiState lines #DeirEzzor blowing-up Al siyasa bridge #Syria

    This is z first operation so deep inside #IS lines by #Hezbollah. Over 2 tons of explosives were used. Preparation took over 10 days #Syria

    The war between two ideologists #Hezbollah and #IS is open in #Syria. It wasn’t a #Syria-n air strike after all.

    • I’m curious about the destruction of the bridge in Deir Ez Zor. Either the regime or Hezbollah blew the bridge up. The purpose was to disrupt a supply route for IS from Deir Ez Zor to Hasakah. However, the regime is destroying infrastructure which is really an indication that they have given up on Deir Ez Zor completely. Did Syrian state media publicize the destruction of the bridge? I imagine that they don’t say anything as I don’t see how they could spin it into positive news for the regime.

      • there are videos with issam zaheddine logo of the bridge being blown up, and yeah its a massive explosion directly on the support colums, definetly mined.

        i guess that blocking the movement of IS from Iraq to Syrian battlefields is more important than conserving a bridge, worth a few million dollars at the most, probably even less

      • Deir Ezzor province is lost for the moment and it has been since a long time. Rebels had taken most of the province well before ISIS kicked them out.

        The Syrian Army is postionned in Deir Ezzor city and around. There are a large number of troops to hold these areas and it’s not an easy task. They won’t lead any large offensive in the province. The only improvements of the situation can happen in the city itself at short term goal.

        Pounding ISIS positions in the city, disrupting their supplies, benefiting of tribal fighting and ISIS stretched around the province to claw back some quarters of the city slowly is SAA best strategy and hope in that area.

    • As for Hebollah, I hightly doubt they are involved at all in Deir Ezzor. Far from Lebanon, no Shia, not a priority battlefront in Syria.

      Zahreddinne has reputation as a good commander and has done a good job so far at keeping its ground.

  7. Just to remind, as some people on this website criticize the press for saying 6 month ago that the tide was turning in favour of the governement and changing tune.

    This website (EA) has been announcing in August 27 that the Syrian governement was facing defeat and “serious trouble” in Hama according to “well placed sources”, who announced the failures of the governement counter attacks

    http://eaworldview.com/2014/08/syria-analysis-assad-regime-serious-trouble-near-hama/

    Just two week after this article, all rebels gains in Hama have been reversed, there is no threats on the airport anymore and rebels are losing towns they previously held, which put them under heavy pressure.

    • Only problem with announcing Hama is in serious trouble is that it means the regime is weak which you maybe don’t agree with… If losing these places in Hama was no serious problem then the regime would not invest in regaining them only to lose other positions in the meantime… the bigger problem for you is not seeing that for every move to regain anything by the regime, it loses elsewhere

      So for you the regime gained back Hama proving EA was exaggerating, only to lose more of Quneitra, Daraa, and have Ghouta siege broken which you may think are also no serious threat

      So ask yourself what the regime will lose when they try to regain back Deraa, Quneitra and besiege Ghouta again

      I’m guessing Hama again and maybe more of Idlib or etc etc

      It’s never ending, this is the real threat, a broken army cannot be fixed (as you can see in Post Saddam Iraq with its fat bellied undisciplined army fleeing upon facing any real force) Assads army is broken and is now just a well equipped/armed militia fighting for position it keeps losing.

      With all due respect, but maybe you think the entire last 3 years have been just exaggeration all together, so I just wonder why you even bother with this site???

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