Syria Daily, Feb 16: Opposition Coalition Sets Conditions for Political Solution

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TODAY’S SUMMARIES

Syria’s opposition National Coalition has adopted a 13-point statement of Basic Principles for a political resolution to the four-year conflict.

In a three-day meeting, the Coalition’s General Assembly stressed the need to resume negotiations under UN auspices, based on the outcome of the Geneva II Conference in 2012.

Last month, Russia convened a meeting of regime officials and some members of Syria’s domestic opposition. However, most leading opposition groups stayed away: the Coalition rejected the abandonment of the principle that President Assad must step aside for a transitional government, and other groups objected to the detention of their senior members by Damascus.

The Coalition restated on Sunday that there must be a “transitional governing body with full executive powers, including the powers of the President of Republic and his authority over the state ministries, agencies and state institutions, including the armed forces, police intelligence and security agencies and branches”.

Under Sunday’s Principles, the transitional governing body will hold internationally-monitored elections for a Constituent Assembly, which will drafting a new Constitution. A referendum to approve the Constitution will be held under UN auspices.

The Coalition said a halt to the killing, torture, detention, and displacement of civilians is a prerequisite for resuming talks: “[This is] a test for the Assad regime’s compliance with of human rights laws and the UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.”

The Coalition has not met with Assad’s representatives since two sets of discussions — which could not even agree on an agenda — in Geneva in early 2014.


Jabhat al-Nusra Claims Downing of Regime Helicopter Near Besieged Base in Idlib Province

The Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra claims that they have downed a regime helicopter near the besieged Abu Duhur base in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.

Rebels have surrounded the base, threatening to overrun it or cut off supplies to it.

Video: Remains of “Teacher’s Tower” in Jobar Section of Damascus After Regime Bomb

Regime forces have blown up one of the tallest structures in rebel-controlled Jobar in northeast Damascus, the “Teacher’s Tower”:

The Tower was reportedly empty — or with only a few rebel spotters — at the time of the underground detonation.

State Media: 9 Killed by Rebel Rockets in Aleppo

State news agency SANA says nine civilians, including three children, were killed on Monday by rebel rockets on the al-Serian neighborhood in Aleppo city.

The site says 20 others were injured by rockets fired from the Bani Zaid section of the divided city.

The claim is based only on “a source in the northern city”, with no supporting image. Rebels have claimed that the regime has falsely blamed them in the past for the attacks.

No Movement in Regime’s Counter-Offensive South of Damascus

Sources on both sides of the conflict say there has been little movement of the frontlines since Sunday in the regime’s counter-offensive south of Damascus (see map).

A source close to the Syrian military says that, while President Assad’s forces — including Hezbollah and Iranian commanders — have taken territory such as the town of Deir al-Addas, the gains are tenuous: “As Assad, the army can move into area when it wants to — it has armored vehicles and superior firepower, after all. It is a different matter securing the areas.”

A pro-opposition source claims the regime has taken troops from other fronts in and near Damascus, including Jobar and East Ghouta, to reinforce the counter-offensive. Rebels report a few airstrikes, but with only structural damage and no casualties, as well as shelling.

Fighting is mainly along a 20-km (12-mile) front in southern Damascus and northern Daraa Provinces. A second regime counter-offensive in Quneitra Province in southwest Syria, near the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, has not made any significant advances.

Rebels Break Off Cooperation with UN Envoy After His Recognition of Assad

Rebels have announced that they are breaking off cooperation with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, after his recognition of President Assad as essential to any political solution in Syria.

Both the Revolutionary Command Council and the Sham Front, who represent the vast majority of Syria’s rebels, issued statements denouncing de Mistura’s declaration, which followed his meeting last week with Assad.

The Sham Front asserted, “[De Mistura’s] statements not only ignore the massacres that have been committed, and continue to be committed, by the regime across Syria, but also ignore the latest crimes in Douma in the Damascus countryside, located only kilometers from the UN envoy’s residence in Damascus.”

Up to last week, the UN and De Mistura’s predecessors had promoted plans calling for a “transitional governing authority”, with Assad stepping down from power.

Opposition Criticizes Islamic State, Regime’s Mass Killing of Civilians with “Caged Children” Protest

Challenging both the Islamic State and the Assad regime’s mass killing of civilians, the opposition has staged a “caged children” protest.

The video echoes the Islamic State’s execution of a Jordanian pilot in northern Syria earlier this month: the jihadists burnt Moaz al-Kasasbeh alive in a cage.

However, the immediate message to the world is about the Assad regime’s sustained bombing of the Damascus suburb of Douma, which killed more than 250 people and injured hundreds in the week from February 5 to February 12.

Syria Feature: Remembering Douma — Two Stories of the 100s Killed by the Regime

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Top Economist: “RUSSIAN ECONOMY IS GOING DOWN, DOWN, DOWN AND MAY COLLAPSE COMPLETELY”

    That video is must viewing.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2015-02-16/russian-economy-may-collapse-through-war-schmieding?cmpid=yhoo

    I read lots of comments about how Russia can survive another collapse as bad as the nineties. That might be true if variables had not changed.

    Then Russians had a lot of sympathy. Now they don’t. Then Russia could attract investment. Now domestic and foreign investors mistrust Russia. Then prospects of higher oil prices were stratospheric. Now for many reasons, it isn’t so. The best way to grasp the pickle Russia is in–a situation that could have been avoided with better leadership–is to imagine America in the same situation:

    –IMAGINE our economy depended mainly on sale of one resource whose value had dropped in half and was undermined down the road by new technology.

    –IMAGINE an earlier American president had blown that economic bonanza via theft, unaffordable giveaways intended to boost popularity, empire seeking, enemy making and above all failure to diversify when the resources were there to do so.

    — IMAGINE our president chose to directly support Iran’s quest for dominance and genodical war on Sunnis, invade neighbors and alienate most of Europe simultaneously.

    –IMAGINE our southern land borders were much larger and populated almost exclusively by Sunnis were aware of our war on Sunnis elsewhere.

    — IMAGINE our borders adjoined a country with ten ten times our population, a more diverse economy a modernizing armed forces yet we had made ourself overly dependent on that country, allowing it to drive hard bargains.

    –IMAGINE that this common border consisted of a massive empty space rich in resources stolen earlier from the above country and increasingly populated by folks of the same background–a situation much like that of Russians in the eastern Urkraine.

    Re: the economist video

    Ending war and given back stolen territory would end sanctions and allow partial recovery of Russia’s economy only Endemic causes include corruption, lack of openness and checks, investor mistrust and the missed opportunity to divesify when the money was there.

    Increased economic efficiency and the coming of shale oil help keep oil prices down but the big revenue killer for Russia is Saudi reaction to the Sunni reaction to the Putin-Khamenei War on Sunnis and the “Chechnya tactics being employed. The economic losses to Russia alone could total hundreds of billions if this war goes on another year to two.

    In pooh poohing the potential consequences in Central Asia and Afghanist, especially after the Americans leave, Russians remind me of a five-back a day smoker who waives off all concerns and warnings.

    • IS :PUTIN THE RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLD?

      http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/on-gps-is-putin-the-richest-man-in-the-world/vi-AA9o7gp?ocid=HPCDHP

      Bloomberg: PUTIN LETS RUSSIAN CONSUMERS FEEL THE PAIN AS ECOMY SUFFERS

      “Mussolini made the train run on time.” “Hitler built a nice autombahn.” “Putin restored order.” All true and so what. Those who note such things don’t consider that in all three cases the downsides were much, much bigger. Putin has royally screwed the Russians and blown their best opportunities for the future. They’ll need time to figure out how badly they’ve been shafted but they’ll get there–too late to do any good.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-16/putin-lets-russian-consumers-feel-the-pain-as-economy-succumbs?cmpid=yhoo

      Bloomburg: WHY PUTIN FEARS CHINA (You’ll find this at the same site and directly below the above article)

      Having alienated the West, Putin has placed himself at risk by being overdependent on China and having placed all his eggs in one basket. China is increasingly upset as Putin sells weapons, include naval craft, to India and Vietnam, longtime enemies. It trusts Putin no more than Europeans, east and west. The following two paragraphs will give you some idea of why Putin’s courtship of Asia won’t be easy:

      “Putin’s accelerated Asian focus is a mix of military engagement and efforts to promote trade, the latter starting from a low base. Russia is only the 14th-largest trading partner of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with two-way trade worth $19.9 billion in 2013, up 10 percent on the prior year, according to Asean. Russia ranked as China’s ninth-most important commercial relationship in 2013.”

      “Russia’s geo-strategic eyes are bigger than its stomach,” said Brad Williams, a specialist in East Asia relations at the City University of Hong Kong. “Simply put, Russia doesn’t have the economy to support a sustained presence in Asia.”

  2. CAN THE REGIME’S SOUTHERN OFFENSIVE STILL SUCCEED?

    Despite a lousy start, heavy casualties and being outnumbered, yes. Along with the usual suspects, this offensive includes more elite forces than Assad has mustered for some time or is likely to muster again which is why it is a must win. Yet even the two best chances of victory have major downsides not including manpower and equipment losses.

    In Quinetra, where rebels have been a protective barrier, Israel will not tolerate too much success on the part of Iran and Hezbollah.

    Elsewhere rebels could drive rebels off their northernmost line in Dawa Province but unless the rebels planned an imminent assault on Damascus, unless the Bad Guys can take Al Harrah, Sheik Miskiah or both, I don’t see much strategic benefit.
    Meanwhile you have to count the “opportunity cost” of not employing these forces on more dire fronts. Once taken, those northern positions must be “sufficiently” garrisoned and supplied or else.

    In that case rebels will keep sufficient sources a bit further south to deter mischief or take advantages of any opportunities to the north. Remaining rebel forces should be sufficient to finish off cut off regime forces further south. Once Ezra falls rebels would have the option of cutting off Sweida Province and eliminating regime forces east of the Lajat wasteland. That should please the Druze population residents who are increasingly disenchanted with the regime.

    Zeddonymous has this to say concerning the offensive: Looking like Assad picked the worst week to launch an offensive into Deraa. Snowstorm grounds air support. Hezbollah taking heavy losses,,Southern Syria is a dense mosaic of fortifications built for an Syria-Israeli War that never happened. Rebels so far able to hold on. Many Iranians and Hezbollah captured or killed along with gear like motorcycles, G3 rifles.

    Pardoxy says Hezb & Iranian militias trying to infiltrate Mas’hara from Tal Bazaq; artillery cover fire

    OBAMA”S NUCLEAR DEAL WOULD ALLOW IRAN TO HAVE NUKES AS SOON AS HIS TERM EXPIRES

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheldon-filger/obama-iran-and-the-late-w_b_6688774.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

    Congress would not have a say in the matter, despite the constitution’s safeguard requirement that 2/3rds of the Senate must approve treaties. Obama would also “thank” Khamenei by ending sanctions even those passed by Congress.

    THREE WOMEN GET HANDS CHOPPED OFF FOR CRIME OF USING CELL PHONES

    http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-bans-cell-phones-islamic-state-chops-womens-hands-whips-men-calling-their-1817016

      • Nigeria is slowly descending into mayhem, amidst the DAILY Boko Haram´s attacks there is a war going on inside the governing kleptocracy. Elections have been postponed and maybe forever…

        http://saharareporters.com/2015/02/15/scheme-afoot-bribe-national-assembly-members-postpone-elections-again

        “President Goodluck Jonathan and his inner circle have begun new moves to jettison elections altogether, hoping that members of the National Assembly will agree to postpone polls once again and instead settle for a so-called interim national government, according to information received from several sources, one of them embedded in the Presidency in Abuja. “

        • One of my lectures, Dr Youssef is Nigerian ill be sure to ask him about it, as I he knows about transitional justice and emergency law, he’ll be able to give an expert opion on the matter.

          Also Nigreria is very big what happens in the North may not directly effect the Largos in the south, not mention over 100 million people, that is a large enough group to find 10 times the men to train to eliminate theses loons. unlike the much smaller countries like Syria or Liberia.

          • And yet, Nigeria can’t seem to muster competent or capable military strength to confront Boko Haram; success against them seems to come from Chadian and Nigerien troops at the moment. The Nigerian Army has a really bad reputation, especially in the north, where they have been charged with many human rights violations as well.

  3. ALEPPO

    –JAN knocks off 30 Genocide Army Fighters in an Interesting Location; Al Hass, south of Al Salfira reports the Al Safira News Center. iS the regime’s remaining land supply line at risk?

    –Breaking: YPG & FSA have captured a critical intersection from ISIS near Qarah (Qawzak) and the Suleiman tomb: the Aleppo-Hasaka & shuyukh road conjunction

    HOMS-PALMYRA

    Rami (not always reliable) claims ISIS used a 14-ton VBIED to blow away a regime checkpoint between Homs and Palymyra (Tadmur).

    DAMASCUS

    Reports say JAN has been shelling the airport

    Ex-CIA head & Secretary of Defense: Perceiving Obama as Weak, Putin Took Full Advantage

    http://freebeacon.com/national-security/leon-panetta-obama-not-tough-enough-on-putin-u-s-in-whole-new-chapter-of-cold-war/

    Flight Times Drop as Gulf States Shift Air Power to Jordan

    http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/bahrain-sends-fighter-jets-to-jordan-for-war-against-isil

    • If you watch the clip properly, you see the kids aint sacred, because its fake, unlike the Jordanian pilot a military fully grown man who was screaming in fear because that was real. its like the people who protested Bush, would restage waterboarding.

      While on the subject of hurting kids. How sick dose the not a qualified Ayatollah Khamenie have to be to have a 16 year old girl hanged for being raped by one of HIS revolutionary guards-who was neither executed or jailed for that matter? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/5217424.stm
      Oh that’s right some bearded anti-sematic, bigoted misogynist, sectarian, imperialist, murderous, egotistical self-seeking loony pig-rat, decided that rape victims are the worse than rapists and they should die for something that is not their fault, unless as Khamenei thinks that’s the girls fault for letting herself be penetrated, its a man three times her age should know better than to find a girl young enough to be his daughter sexually attractive. So how is Khamenei/Khomeini any different from bin-Laden, Bagdadi or Mullah Omar (founder of the Taliban) exactly? If the answer is because he is Shiite, then your repeating the Hitler view of your religious/political mean you no longer qualify as human so its ok for me to kill you.*

      How sick are the Ayatollahs that execute more kids than any other country mostly for baseless crimes against chastity?
      “Iran is known to have executed at least 17 juvenile offenders since the beginning of 2004 – EIGHT times more than any other country in the world.”-Human Rights Watch http://www.hrw.org/news/2007/06/19/iran-leads-world-executing-children

      *Now that I think about Khamenei and Hitler have so much in common lets list facial hair, kill political opponents and people who don’t subscribe to their views ie night of long knives and the 1988 executions of Iranian political prisoners , killing gays for being gay, raging anti-Semites who dream of whipping the Jewish race into extinction, blame the Jews for EVERYTHING just stick the word Zionist in front of literality any problem and its the Jews fault, hence they think they desver to be nuked/gassed for crime of breathing oxygen. Have your supporters deny the Holocaust, while secretly whishing it 12 instead 6 million who perished. Both believe women should be submissive to men, both hates democracy, both persecutes people of deviant faiths like Ba’llahulas in Iran or Catholics priests and Jehovah’s Witnesses in German controlled territory. they also support like-minded nuts in other countries, who also want to kill Jews, again for paranoid non-existent reasons that boil down to jealousy, like Hezbollah, Ustache, the Arrow Cross Party etc. rig the judiciary to find nearly anyone accused of a crime guilty, after torturing them into “confessing” regardless of weather they did or not. Lets stop ranting right now otherwise i’ll end writing something longer than all the Harry Potter Books combined, which is apparently Zionist devil worship http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/141433#.VOKL0pvyHIU, they ban vaccinations too as they were invented by a Jew.
      But hay what’s all that compered to playing jail with some kids?

    • Nevermind that you don’t understand concepts such as analogy and imagery. How is the killing of hundreds of people by indiscriminate aerial bombardment and the immolation of a live prisoner in a cage a “baseless point” ?

      I mean, I feel like someone would have to be pretty sick to refer to such actions in that way..

      • sick because i think its a bit evil, putting kids that are probably traumatized for war into ISIS like prisoner suits and into cages?

        It might be that their parents or kidnappers whichever are into ISIS but doubt that younger kids are having a blast being used as a propaganda tool (yeah not the first time) by the rebels

  4. Here is footage of the “Teacher’s Tower” falling:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwbgOz_rxtY

    The tower stood through fighting for 3 years. Here’s footage of it having been shelled when people still lived in it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j23DhP3HsYw

    By 2013 it became a ruin after heavy bombardment:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZeebxDG49Y

    It was the site of heavy fighting last year:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqD_a0auQ3U

    What’s remarkable is how much the regime has fought over Jobar for literally years now, and still without success. Between there, Darayya, and al-Wa’er in Homs it’s a real competition for the most tenacity displayed by a population against siege and attack.

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