<<“The spokesman…said in a phone interview from Daraa that Al-Nusra’s higher salaries and high-quality weapons have spurred many local FSA soldiers to break ranks and join the Islamist group. He estimated that 80 percent of Al-Nusra’s fighting force in Daraa is currently comprised of Syrians, and the other 20 percent of foreign fighters.
“Daraa is partially controlled by Al-Nusra Front and affiliated groups, but it could fall entirely to their hands,” he said.>>
“Aleppo has borne the brunt of rebel anger, as shells and rockets fired from their positions in the east of the city fell heavy as rain in the days leading up to the vote, and continue to do so as I write this and as the voting gets under way. The mayhem and slaughter is unprecedented in the regime areas as hundreds of shells left no neighborhood unmolested. Streets became deserted as people stayed indoors and shops closed, hoping to avoid random death from above. Of course, dozens were not so lucky, and the civilian death toll from just two days of rebel shelling stood at over 50, with scores more wounded and large areas devastated, especially in the Midan neighborhood, an Armenian quarter adjacent to the Bustan al-Basha rebel stronghold. The scenes of death and carnage, especially among children. were so shocking and horrific that even staunchly pro-opposition groups had to speak out against them and demand they stop.
Yet, the bombs ceaselessly continue to fall, claiming even more lives as students attended exams at colleges and schools where ballot boxes were placed”
Further good articles regarding the Syrian elections and it´s implications:
“Schools, universities, hospitals, health clinics, churches, mosques, religious monuments, power grids, railways, bridges, oil fields, historical sites, museum assets, police symbols of public safety and order and other infrastructure were targeted by the rebels with unprecedented level of destruction and civilian plight.”
“All factions of the rebels claim they are the representatives of the Muslim Sunni majority, but the overwhelming majority of some six million Syrians who are displaced internally are Sunnis, now hosted by non-Sunni compatriots in safe havens under government protection…”
The West may oppose Assad’s regime, but on the streets of the capital the people fear a greater evil.
Several of its suburbs are held by rebel fighters, who pound government-held areas with mortars.
most people live under the shadow of constant attack.
Many of the shells land harmlessly, or do not explode. Others cause mayhem. On Tuesday, one struck a school in Bab Touma (St Thomas’s Gate), killing one child and wounding roughly 40. And over the past few days the volume of the bombardment has escalated sharply.
Over the past few days, I have talked to shopkeepers, students, soldiers, doctors, a dentist, MPs and government ministers (including the minister for tourism, who must have the most thankless job in the world). On the basis of these conversations, I would judge not just that support for the regime is holding up, but that President Assad could very well win a popular election, even if carried out on a free and fair basis.
I found – to my surprise – that even people outside the governing Ba’ath party, including some of Assad’s political opponents, said they would support him.
People here see their country as being threatened by foreign powers (above all Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all backed by the West) who are sponsoring the jihadist groups that make up the opposition. I was struck by the fact that this argument is not made only by the Alawite coterie around the president. I also heard it from Sunni Muslims, Christians and members of the various other cultural and religious groups that abound in Syria.
Only a handful of members of Assad’s 30-strong cabinet (I was told two) are Alawite. The prime minister is Sunni, as are the interior minister, the justice minister, the foreign minister, even the defence minister. The delegation that travelled to Geneva for the failed peace talks several months ago was also almost entirely composed of Sunni Muslims (though they would probably reject sectarian terms, and prefer to think of themselves just as Syrians).
I do think the words of my shopkeeper friend are worth pondering. If the insurgents who killed his mother win the war, there will be no Christian churches in Syria any more (just as there aren’t in Saudi Arabia at the moment). Life will be similarly terrible for many of the ordinary Muslims who make up the great majority of the population.
There are no “good guys” in Syria’s civil war. But we should not be blind to the fact that there is a project out there to destroy its rich, pluralist and unbelievably intricate culture and replace it with a monochrome version of Wahhabi Islam, of the kind favoured by Saudi mullahs. And for reasons that history may come to judge very severely, Britain, the United States, and the West have been aiding and abetting this project.
“A source in the Syrian army told Al-Akhbar that “the army is ready for any surprise attack,” pointing out that “opposition fighters are amassing in Daraa and if they attack it will be from there.””
“In conjunction with the attack on the Kimyaa Battalion, fighters from al-Nusra Front attacked the city of Busra al-Sham in the southwest of the Suwaida governorate. However, the army, along with the Popular Committees in the city, were able to repulse the attack which led to injuries among government forces defending the city and many casualties among opposition fighters.
For its part, the Syrian army led a surprise offensive yesterday morning using tanks and air strikes against the villages of al-Hajjeh, al-Dawayeh al-Kubra, al-Sughra, Bir Ajam and al-Buraika in the central and south sectors of al-Quneitra in order to exhaust opposition fighters and diminish their strength, as Al-Akhbar learned.”
“When a rebel was shot and severely wounded during a new offensive on Syria’s southern front, his colleagues knew the only hope of saving his life was to get him to Israel…Israeli soldiers checked the patient for booby-traps and weapons, and then whisked him over the border and rushed him to hospital.
This scenario from last week has played out more than 200 times in the past six months, rebels in southern Syria said…“More than 250 of our people have gone across, they get amazing medical care there,” said a rebel commander in Deraa”
“Hamas has a problem with Egypt, Syria, with more than a million Palestinians who are hostages in Gaza and with Israel. They don’t want to continue as a resistance group, nor do they want to deal as a state. They failed to set a good example when in power. “
“Make no mistake, this is not a “resurgence” of the Syrian revolution…It is simply a cutthroat struggle for power, between jihadist groups of similar ideology, distinct only in name and the identity of their backers, albeit with slightly differing methods of imposing their doctrines on the ground…The Islamic Front, the alliance of jihadist groups now fighting ISIS, were more subtle and less murderous in dealing with citizens, even though they imposed harsh Sharia rules according to their strict interpretation, for example the public flogging of two men who missed Friday prayers in Sukkari, Aleppo by Ahrar al-Sham. It is also important to note that many factions that make up the Islamic Front have been implicated in serious war crimes such as the mass sectarian killings in rural Latakia and more recently in Adra, as well as the summary executions of captured soldiers.”
“”We wouldn’t rule out the possibility of meeting with the Islamic Front,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday. “We can engage with the Islamic Front, of course, because they’re not designated terrorists … ”
“Soon after its creation, the Islamic Front signed a charter that made it clear the group aimed to create a Sunni theocracy, not a Western-style democracy. The documentrejected the prospect of any sort of representative government, arguing that in Islam, only “God is the sovereign.” It explicitly rejects secularism as “contradictory to Islam,” and argues that Syria’s ethnic and religious minorities can be protected on the basis of Islamic law. ”
“Zahran Alloush, the Islamic Front’s military chief,has demonized Syria’s Alawite minority and called for them to be cleansed from Damascus. As he put it in a recent video: “The jihadists will wash the filth of the rafida [a slur used to describe Shia] from Greater Syria, they will wash it forever, if Allah wills it.””
“The rebels appear to have more firepower than in February. Mortars regularly rain down on government-held areas. They may not have as much destructive force as the Syrian army’s artillery, but they are as indiscriminate in their choice of victims.
In the last two weeks of August 123 mortars landed in the Christian quarter of the Old City, an area with no military targets“