While travelling secretly through Syria, Wolfgang Bauer met with rebel leaders in the city of Homs and witnessed the brutality of a regime waging war against its own people.
The knock on the door is soft, barely audible at first. Faten, in the kitchen clearing away the dishes, freezes at the sound. She listens carefully. Her husband, Ahmed, is in an armchair watching television. He turns off the volume and cocks his head to the side. “Shit,” he says. The knocking is harder now and more insistent. Loud thuds echo through the apartment. The front door is the only thing that separates them from the terror outside. “Shit,” Ahmed says again and rises from the armchair. “Who is it?” He dashes to the drawn curtains and holds his head close to the fabric to peep outside. He looks out the window to the street, over to the neighbour’s, then to the courtyard. Faten stands at the peep hole, visibly nervous and agitated. She hesitates a moment before looking out. Suddenly it’s quiet. “I don’t see anybody,” Faten whispers in a voice bordering on panic. She’s not usually like this. Faten is the one who’s always calm and composed in the family, who tries to laugh off danger with her dry sense of humor. Ahmed goes to her, looks briefly into her eyes, touches her shoulders and pens the door.
AnzeigeAll morning in Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, dozens of people have been taken from their apartments. Nobody knows exactly how many. Armed secret police are moving from door to door. Now and again, a volley of gunshots shatters the silence in the streets. Ahmed, who is in his mid-50s, steps out of his home straight-backed to conceal his fear. “They smell it,” he says. “They’re trained for that.” As Ahmed steps out, I, the visitor from abroad, flee to the back rooms of the apartment. Ahmed and Faten’s house is my hideout. The family elders have discussed and decided that they’ve decided to risk everything for me, their freedom and their lives so that this story can be written. “You must report!” Ahmed had said. “The world must know what’s happening in our city!”The Syrian revolution is the most unexpected of all Arab uprisings this year. Everyone, even abroad, assumed that President Bashar al-Assad was immune to unrest given his tight network of some two dozen competing security agencies. For the past half year, Assad has used excessive violence against his opponents. Tanks have been firing on civilians, war ships on cities. But the brutality has so far achieved only the opposite of what Assad wanted – the protests are expanding, they’re spreading through the entire country and are drawing ever more people. Since the beginning of the unrest, the regime has sealed off its borders to the foreign media. It simply doesn’t want any witnesses. Officially, there isn’t a single independent correspondent in the country at the moment. Assad, a former eye doctor, is all too aware about the power of images. He knows that the international media will only report what they can show. If there are no images, then probably won’t be much reporting. So the world can only see an unfocused and blurry Syria as seen on photos taken by demonstrators in Damascus and Homs on their mobile phones. The photos have a faraway quality much like the images that NASA robots transmit from Mars to Earth. It’s as if Syria has fallen off the map.Children become tank expertsI keep my writing pad on the family’s bookshelf. It’s camouflaged as a Bible to prevent it from being seized. I can feel my heart beating wildly, leaping right up into my throat. Ahmed walks around the house and comes in again. He’s unsure. “Maybe it was the boy next door?” he says to Faten. For a while, the two peer nervously through the white curtains again. Then Ahmed turns up the television volume while Faten returns to the kitchen. They cling to every bit of normality they still have left.Homs, home to two million people, is a significant and ambitious economic hub in Syria. It has an oil refinery and is surrounded by industry. The city has benefited from Assad’s cautious opening of the economy in the last decade. But many things here have now lost their original purpose. Streets have become shooting ranges while schools have been converted into prisons. Tanks are stationed at several intersections. Children here can easily reel off their various models T-60,T-62, T-72. Now and again, they shell buildings and homes.The city has become a battlefield. Most of the shops are closed. Many residents have fled to the capital Damascus, Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city or abroad if they can. Still, the mass protests continue. On some days, almost half a million people are out on the streets of Homs. The neighborhoods in downtown Homs – the heart of the uprising – are largely Sunni and poor. People here have barricaded their lanes with uprooted electricity poles, garbage bins wedged in between. Private cars, parked seemingly accidentally by the roadside, are used to block streets in an emergency. The army has tried repeatedly to invade the district. At night, streaks of red gunfire and artillery light up the sky.“Does anyone want more ice cream?” Faten asks in a burst of gaiety as the family sits around the dinner table. Her sons laugh and hold out their porcelain bowls to her. The 12-year-old Emrad is the one with the chubby cheeks. Mazen, 25, has changed a lot in the months since the protests began. He’s usually on the front line of the demonstrations. But he’s temperamental and has difficulty controlling his anger. His parents have tried to restrain him and even his friends have a hard time calming him at the protests. Mazen has beaten up policemen and has pushed snipers down from roofs. Twelve of his friends have died in the last weeks; eight alone in the past days. “Recently, he stood in the kitchen with a bloody T-shirt because he pulled an injured person off the street,” Faten tells me.Horrors unfold with clockwork precisionAfter dinner, Faten is busy washing up when Mazen’s mobile phone rings. “They arrested a friend of mine half an hour ago,” he calls out to his mother. “They’re going to get me next,” he says. Mazen presses his hands to his face. “Now they know my name.” Faten puts aside the dish cloth.
“What do you want to do?” she asks.
“I have to get him freed.”
“That’s just too dangerous, Mazen,” she pleads.
But what is dangerous in a situation like this? Mazen paces up and down in the kitchen, making phone calls, organizing his friends. Then he disappears into the night.The horrors in this city unfold each night with clockwork precision. “It’s time,” Ahmed says and leads me quietly and quickly outside to the car so that no one hears or sees us. The lane lies in complete darkness. With the neighbors’ help, Ahmed has switched off the street lights to make it harder for the government snipers to take aim. It’s shortly before 8 pm, leading up to the moment that all of Homs braces for each day. The city palpably tenses up. The soldiers travel in busses to take up their positions. Demonstrators fill the streets. They head in small groups for the meeting points in their neighborhoods. There are children among them, some of the boys not older than ten. As always during Ramadan, they will break their fast and at 10 pm beat on drums, raise their fists in the air and chant, “Assad, get out! Assad, get out!” As always, the protests will only last a few minutes. The army will then begin firing. Ahmed wants me to meet the organizers of the demonstrations before that happens. He drives through empty streets full of rubbish past bullet-riddled houses.As quickly as we came out of Ahmed’s house, we disappear into another one. Three men are waiting in a dark corridor. They’re around 60 years old and seem nervous. We exchange firm hugs. I’m the first journalist they’ve spoken to. They’re risking a lot too by doing that. The three don’t identify themselves and I don’t ask. They’re businessmen, members of a committee that coordinates resistance groups in the city. They decide where and when demonstrations are held. They distribute megaphones and cameras. “We can’t go back,” one of them says. “If we stop the protests, we won’t keep them busy anymore. Then they’ll come and get us – one after another.”Originally, the protests in Homs didn’t call for the overthrow of the regime. The people only wanted the local mayor to quit. The men I speak to say he’s the most corrupt politician in the country, “the biggest thief,” as they put it. He apparently lined his own pockets whenever he could. He allegedly imposed a private tax of €1,400 on every new car and €6,500 on every electricity meter. The government, however, reacted to the protests with tear gas and arrested half of the 200 demonstrators. The first protest march called for the mayor to resign. The second, a week later, attracted 7,000 people. This time they demanded freedom. On April 18, the residents of Homs seemed to take their cue from Cairo’s Tahrir Square where Egyptians launched a successful demonstration to topple Hosni Mubarak. Some 80,000 people came to a central square in Homs. The atmosphere was euphoric. Speeches were held, tents were spread out to occupy the square. Many believed that the pressure on the streets would work. Instead, the army opened fire at 1:55 am. Hundreds are believed to have died, some say thousands. Until today, it’s not clear exactly how many people were killed.The men glance nervously at their watches. We hastily head back to Ahmed’s apartment. In the kitchen, Faten explains to me who and what I need to watch out for in the city. She warns that the surveillance state looms large in daily life. She says almost all the taxi drivers are informants for the secret service. The street cleaners are also dangerous. “Sometimes I see one of them always popping up his head above our fence,” she says. Faten imitates the street cleaner and laughs. Her son, Mazen, walks into the apartment, out of breath. His mobile phone is jammed to his ear. He says he now knows which intelligence agency has arrested his friend. It’s the military intelligence, the most notorious of all. “How did you find out?” his mother asks. “We give them money,” Mazen replies. He says he’s hoping to buy his friend out of prison through middlemen. That’s how it’s often done.Executing the wounded in hospitals“Come along,” Mazen says to me. Tonight, he wants to show me a liberated part of Syria. Mazen has brought along 18 men to protect me. They carry guns under their shirts. We travel in a convoy, three cars driving one after the other. They’re all linked by wireless communication. “Sometimes the secret police ambush us but we know the back roads,” Mazen says. His group forms the militant core of the protest movement in the poor neighbourhood of Baba Amr, which the army has been trying to storm for months. Our convoy races through the city. We stop for red lights at some traffic junctions. At times, we see cars filled with women and children – remnants of daily life in the city. Mazen finds out on his mobile phone that the protests have begun. Twelve people have already been injured; one has been killed. Our goal is the hospital, “liberated Syria” as Mazen calls it half ironically. “We ensure it stays that way,” he says.The hospital is blanketed in blue neon light. It’s flanked by men with Kalashnikovs standing guard. Mazen proudly tells me that they could stave off an attack by the military for half an hour. We hurry to the entrance.Women dressed in black fill the corridors. Doctors rush from room to room, exchanging skeptical looks. An eleven-year-old boy lies on a blood-stained mattress. His mother sits at the foot of the bed. Shrapnel ripped into the boy’s right foot. A bullet hit his left foot, which has swollen to the size of a football. The boy smiles bravely. In the next room, a man in his mid-20s has a bullet dislodged in his back. The doctor, who’s checking the catheter, says he’ll probably never walk again. The next patient was shot in the stomach, another sustained a gunshot wound in the chest. One man has had a bullet pass through his leg. There are lots of shrapnel injuries. The doctors working here risk being imprisoned in dungeons run by Syria’s state security services. The country’s hospitals are far from being a safe harbor for dissidents; rather they are a danger. “You come in with a bullet in your leg. And you come out with a bullet in your head,” an anti-government doctor in Damascus had told me. At night, intelligence agents are said to come up to the beds and carry out killings.That’s why doctors all around the country have built up underground structures. There are clandestine clinics in private apartments and secret pharmacies. In a bid to track down wounded anti-government activists, the Syrian government has placed the disbursement of blood supplies and medicines against tetanus under a central supervisory authority. That way, intelligence agencies notice if doctors order a lot of the supplies. So far, the revolution in Syria hasn’t involved smuggling weapons but rather plastic bags for blood into the country.Mazen’s men lead me from room to room. They say I should see everything except the crazy person in the cellar. He was once one of them. But now he just unsettles them because he isn’t brave or heroic anymore. Mazen says he only cries, babbles and smears his excrement on the walls. The man was released a few days ago from prison where he was beaten and tortured. The authorities used a razor blade to cut the skin of his scrotum to shreds. They shoved metal pins under his fingernails and jolted it with electric shocks for weeks. The doctors at the hospital have chained him to a wall in the cellar because they’re worried he might kill himself.
“I won’t let myself be arrested,” Mazen tells his mother later as we sit drinking coffee in the kitchen back home. He’s been given a Smith & Wesson pistol today. “I’ll kill myself first,” he says. She looks at him helplessly.The city threatens to explode under the enormous pressure and tension. Almost half the residents are Sunnis, 20 percent are Alawites while the rest are Christians, Yazidi and Zaidi. The cracks between the communities are widening each day. The Syrian regime is deeply suspicious of Homs ever since it rose up in revolt against the Assad family during a 1982 insurgency by the militant Muslim Brotherhood drawn from the majority Sunni community. In response, the government tried to weaken the influence of the dominant Sunnis in Homs. It built villages around the city for families from Assad’s Alawite minority, which commands power in the government and military. The Sunnis felt encircled and threatened. Since the outbreak of the current unrest, most of the Alawites have fled from the downtown area in Homs. In the suburbs, Alawite gangs have destroyed Sunni businesses. There have been reports of deaths. The Alawites have secured the streets leading to their residential areas with checkpoints. Their street barricades aren’t manned by the military, but by Alawite civilians who now fear being massacred in a Syria without Assad. Homs now resembles Beirut in the 1980s, divided along ethnic and religious lines where it’s too dangerous for people to travel in a particular direction because they will be shot if they do so. I sleep fitfully at night. It doesn’t help that a cupboard at the end of my bed holds the evidence of Mazen’s efforts to build crude bombs.“This is the fair price that we’re now paying,” Ahmed says the next morning. “The price for all the years that we stayed silent as a society.” During breakfast, Faten says that a friend has sent her pictures on her mobile phone of new tank convoys rolling towards the city. “What are they planning?” Faten asks. Faten’s friend visited us just two days ago. She was completely hysterical. Her two daughters had walked to their school though it was closed for the holidays. The two made their way to the playground but found it full of blood. “What does that mean?” Faten’s friend asked her after her daughters came home crying. “They’re using schools as prisons,” Faten told her. “That’s what they’re doing all over the city.”Turning schools into prisonsThe secret police who arrested Mazen’s friend a day earlier have demanded €5,550. The informant has told Mazen that his friend has been tortured. “Oh God,” says Mazen and paces around the apartment. “I must do something!” But he doesn’t have the money. His eyes are dark, his face ashen. He remains strangely vacant even when he’s agitated.“Where is my son?” Fateh writes today in her diary. “The boy whose laughter was so infectious, who washed himself thrice a day, whose hygiene obsession we all made fun of. Where is he now? I miss his grin, his mischievous smile, his crazy dancing and most of all, I miss his love for life.”Much like bees buzzing around their queen, Mazen’s men cluster around their leader. He’s a young, bearded man to whom I’m introduced to at the group’s headquarters. He’s charismatic, calm and level-headed. The men gave him the honorary title “Sheikh” during the protests when he seemed to emerge as their born leader. “He’s wanted by the intelligence service – dead or alive,” Mazen says. “We take care that a lot of young men are always around him.” We’re in a house in a narrow lane full of guard posts of the anti-government fighters. The Sheikh has invited me because he wants to introduce me to some special guests. Young children play around his legs. All visitors have to give up their weapons. I sit in the Sheikh’s reception room opposite two men in white robes. I wonder if this invitation is some kind of trap. “They want to talk to you,” the Sheikh says. The men are high-ranking intelligence officers in the city. Actually, I don’t want to meet people like them. The older of the two looks at me and says, “How are you?”The man exudes calm and has an open smile. He sits straight-backed and unmoving on the carpet. Only his right thumb twitches nervously. He tells me that he provides the rebels with information about where, when and how the security forces plan to attack in Homs. He says he can no longer watch the killings without doing anything about it. But he can’t just desert the intelligence service either because that would endanger his family. “A friend of mine quit his job,” he says. They came into his house, raped his wife and took him away.” So he continues to go to his office every morning where he has a desk job. Almost half his colleagues at the intelligence branch he belongs to are currently off work sick. He says they’ve bribed doctors to get the sick leave notes. “Those who’ve already carried out killings can’t go,” he says. “They’re hunted by both sides.” He says he was once proud to be an intelligence officer and belong to the country’s elite and serve his country in the struggle against Israel. “Eighty percent of what we did served as a deterrence and only 20 percent was actual beatings. Now everything is only about physical violence,” he says. Earlier, he says, he was always taken out to restaurants for free meals because everyone tried to be in his good books. The people respected him, he says. Now, he’s happy when no one recognizes him on the streets. “I am lost,” he says in English.There are plenty of men like him in the intelligence services. They’re sleeper agents of the dissidents. They’re spread across all intelligence departments. They witness the atrocities, note the names of the torturers and murderers and keep secret diaries about the imprisoned and the dead. It’s all meant to save them on the day that a new government comes to power and demands accountability from them. The man sitting opposite me claims that 120,000 people are currently in jail. Temporary prison camps have sprung up all over the country – in cinema halls, factories and universities. In Homs alone, authorities have converted 25 schools and warehouses into prisons. “The prisoners are kept there for a week at the most. They’re beaten first, then questioned,” he says. The man gives the names of a few schools and the Sheikh nods his head in agreement. Three-fourths of the prisoners are usually released after a week, often after a ransom is paid. “The president has personally introduced this practice,” the officer says. He claims the buying back of prisoners helps Assad to pay his thugs and soldiers because the regime is slowly running out of money.Gruesome rumors of organ tradeThe officer says the place where the most gruesome atrocities are carried out lies some 30 kilometers outside the city of Homs. This is where the military intelligence operates an underground prison in an industrial area. “That’s the worst. The place has a capacity of 10,000 people but it’s not full yet,” he says. Some 12,000 dissidents have died in Syrian prisons for far, he says. 6,000 are missing. They’ve disappeared into the depths of a shadowy secret police world to which his and his colleagues have no access. The officer speaks of mass graves. He says the military intelligence has dug 32 graves around Homs. Each contains between 60 and 100 bodies. The security forces, he says, pack the corpses in trash bags – one over the torso, another over the legs. Garbage trucks then drive the dead to the graves. Many of the victims have their organs – the liver and kidneys – removed beforehand. The officer thus confirms the rumour that the government is trading in organs removed from dead dissidents. “The organs go to Lebanon and Egypt. That’s what our people posted in hospitals and in customs are reporting,” he says.The numbers given by the officer are much higher than those cited by Syrian opposition groups. The local coordination committee speaks of 2,000 dead and 15,000 people arrested so far. “Those are only the victims who we know by name,” the group’s spokesman says. “Given the scale of the military operations, I assume that in reality the figures are much higher.” The intelligence officer who’s been speaking to me has a request. “You must help us,” he says, referring to the West. Anti-government demonstrators are still trying to keep their protests peaceful but he warns that a civil war is inevitable. “Too many people have died,” the Sheikh chimes in. He says the demonstrators are beginning to arm themselves. He speaks of hideouts in the neighborhood for rifles, anti-tank missiles and rockets and even an anti-aircraft cannon seized from the army.
The intelligence officer claims that around 10,000 soldiers have deserted in the district of Homs, which stretches up to the border with Iraq. There are reports of increasing shoot-outs between deserters and soldiers.The Sheikh urges me to leave the city The officer brings up an issue which was taboo in the Syrian opposition for a long time – a foreign military intervention. “What differentiates us from Benghazi, from Libya?” the officer asks, referring to the imposition of the UN-backed, NATO-led no-fly zone over Libya this year. He appeals to the West to send military advisors and weapons to Syria. He wants a no-fly zone over Homs. That’s something everyone here seems in favor of – the Sheikh, the three protest coordinators I met the previous day and even the level-headed Ahmed. They all agree that NATO must do something for Homs. They say they’re aware of the consequences. NATO, they say, must carry out massive bombing campaigns and destroy everything that can be even remotely dangerous for the dissidents. Just like in Libya. Large parts of the army would then join the opposition. According to them, Syrian opposition groups abroad have made a mistake by ruling out the possibility of a military intervention by the West. “They all sleep safely in their beds,” the Sheikh says. It’s not clear to them just how dramatic the situation in the city has become, he says before repeating: “We request NATO help us!”The tanks that set out for Homs in the morning now threaten to encircle the city. The Sheikh urges me to leave the city in the night before the escape routes are blocked. I return to Faten’s kitchen table. Ahmed has met in the afternoon with local politicians with whom he wants to set up a party. The men have already written a large part of the new party platform. “It’s very social democratic,” Ahmed says and grins. He’s exhilarated. Across the country, opposition groups are trying to form a national interim council much like the one set up by rebels in Libya, Ahmed says. That would provide a coherent opposition representative to deal with the West. It’s the second attempt to establish an interim council. The first failed after almost all the opposition members were arrested.“Shouldn’t we also go?” Faten asks in the evening as Ahmed gets ready to drive me out of the city. “Is it better to leave Homs? Or is it more important to stay here?” she says, crying as she loses her carefully constructed composure. Faten would like to go to her sister in Damascus but Mazen wants to stay. Leaving would amount to a betrayal of his dead friends. While his father was busy discussing rules for the new party in the afternoon, Mazen was on the rooftop firing his new gun for the first time.The indiscriminate killings begin unusually early this evening. “What do I do now?” Ahmed asks, his hands on the steering wheel as shots ring out around us. He’s reached the main road in his car. The demonstrations haven’t begun yet. On either side of the street, young men stroll to the mosque. Suddenly they head for cover behind fences and in entrance ways. From our car we see hundreds of uniformed troops running, stopping, cocking their rifles and shooting. Then they begin running again. “Stay calm,” Ahmed says, more to himself than to me. He turns into a side street and hopes that it’s safer there. Ahmed got his car back from the repair shop just two days ago. But by now, bullets have pockmarked the fenders and the back doors. In the side street, other cars too are carefully inching forward. The drivers roll down their windows and give each other advice on how best they can skirt the danger.
Faten calls Ahmed on his mobile phone to say Mazen is in the midst of the demonstrations. Ahmed groans and fights off the temptation to call up his son. He’s worried he could distract Mazen at the wrong time. He turns right one more time and then again and suddenly we’re directly behind the security forces. Six of their buses are blocking the three-lane road. Armed soldiers get in and out in groups. Traffic is jammed behind the convoy, shots are fired in front of it. There are heavy booms and the rattle of sporadic machine gun fire. The buses stop for a few minutes and then determinedly roll onward. Ahmed drums his fingers on the steering wheel. A soldier at the rear end of a bus suddenly points at me. Three others do the same. But luckily the convoy reaches an intersection and Ahmed turns off.Four people are killed that evening and 40 are injured. Mazen will stay in the hospital all night to protect the wounded. Young men now want to get out the weapons hidden away in the neighborhoods. A secret committee of the Syrian opposition arrives from the capital Damascus. They stay for 15 hours, speak with various groups in several districts. The time isn’t ripe yet, they say, and warn that the dissidents are still too weak militarily to take on the much stronger regime. The proponents of a peaceful opposition get their way – once again.The next day, thousands of people take to the streets again in Homs. They’re armed with nothing more than their mobile phones.Translated from German by Sonia Phalnikar.
While travelling secretly through Syria, Wolfgang Bauer met with rebel leaders in the city of Homs and witnessed the brutality of a regime waging war against its own people.
Martyrdom of Abdallah Salom in Adawia neighborhood by security gunfire
demonstration in Dablan street in the city centre despite the heavy presence of the security raid campaign in the eastern neighborhoods of Kafralaha and Taldahab during which somes houses were looted and fire shot in order to terrorize the population
Talbiseh: very heavy fire shooting leads to the fall of several wounded. The area is encircled, more than five shells are hitting the citadel while two shells are hiting the Ali Bin Abi Taleb mosque
Qusair: the daily sit-in has started and people are chanting for toppling the regime
Qusair: God is Greater chants from Ali Ibn Abi Taleb Mosque, along with fire from anti-aircraft weapons
Qasir: dispersion of a sit-in by heavy machine gun shooting Hawla: fire shooting in the air by elements of the security and the army at the checkpoint of the Houria roundabout. On top of this, stun grenades are thrown to disperse the demonstrators
AlRastam: residents are holding a sit-in in the main square to prevent the security forces from kidnapping the dead body of the Turkish truck driver before he is formally delivered to the embassy delegation Hama
Masyaf: Dr. Hasan Durzi and Ahmad Bazo have been arrested
martyrdom of Safwan Zahra from Hamidiyeh neighborhood after having been beaten yesterday evening with a baton by Shabiha members while he was participating to a demonstration. This assault on him led to brain injury and to his death after his transfer to the National Hospital. His family was forced to sign a document certifying that his death is due to a stone injury during a incident
Damascus Midan: a demonstration with a clear participation of women came out from Doqaq street
Midan: hundreds of people are taking part to the funerals of the martyr Shadi Arq going from Hudhayfah Bin Alyaman mosque to Halqa cemetery
wave of storming and arrests in Shurta street in Daf Al-Shouk neighborhood after a demo chanting for toppling the regime took place before Iftar time Damascus Suburbs
Zamalka: A young girl and a man injured by security gunfire when they’ve been trying to disperse a demonstration
Zabadany: massive demonstration started after Taraweeh prayer from Al-Jeser Al-Kabeer (the big bridge) mosque in solidarity with the besieged cities and demanding the topple of the regime
Qatana: a demonstration came out after the Maghrib prayer asking for the break of the siege of Sar’an city by the security. The city was besieged by the Shabiha and the security which are surrounding the mosques and spreading barriers in different areas while proceeding with a massive campaign of raids and arrests
Douma: full power outage, and the security is running the sirens to terrorize the people, and attack on about 1,500 protester in the municipal square by the security forces and Shabiha (regime armed thugs
Zamalka A massive demonstration marched from Taouba mosque
Zamalka: Security forces disperse a demonstration using batons and detain dozens
Qara: demonstration after Taraweeh prayer chanted to topple the regimeDaraa
a women demonstration started in the Arba’in neighborhood after Taraweeh prayer asking for the fall of the regime Inkhil: Systematic gunfire in the city; area residents are responding by chanting, “Allahu Akbar
Inkhil: Security forces used heavy gunfire to disperse demonstrations setting off from the Sa’ad, Huda, Sahabeh, and other mosques
Jiza: security and military cordon around the town with raids on houses located in the surrounding farms. Until now, no intrusion or fire shooting are to be reported
Jiza: completely encircle of the town by the army and security and fear of storming in the next hours
Dael: protesters are chanting for freedom to the detainees and toppling the regime, and security forces enters the city again
Dael: massive demonstration started after Taraweeh prayer in Al-Awsat (middle) street in solidarity with the besieged cities and chanting for toppling of the regime
Nawa: A demonstration marched after Taraweh (Ramadan night prayer) chanting to topple the regimeJableh
Isam Dawod was arrested in front of his house in Al-Drebieh neighborhood in which security forces and Shabieha have set fire in two shops
Dr. Zhra Al-Bitar and her sister Amal Al-Bitar were arrested by air-force security from Jableh airport, before they get on a plane to Egypt, Dr. Zahra was treating protests’ wounded people since the start of the uprising, and received some threats from her pro-regime colleagues
Military forces raid Al Thaghra, Al Dribah, Al Ezi neighborhoods again from Al Masbah street side
more than 20 security and military cars arrived to Al Faid neighborhood and closed Al Faid road with barricades next to AL Faid mosqueLattakia
The Beirakdar Mosque in the Sleibeh area is under siege by security vehicles; multiple people were randomly arrested as they exited the mosque
both Abdulwahhab Qlinjo, 33 years, and Ahmad Omar Rifaee 30 years, where arrested in Raml
A demonstration marched from Fatahi mosque in Slaibeh in solidarity with Jableh and the besieged cities and chanting to topple the regime Aleppo
a demonstration in Marjeh neighborhood is asking for the fall of the regim
Homs, your wound does not need witnesses
The attempts of the regime to polish its picture abroad always comes before the international community wants to take steps against the regime’s violence and continuous killings to give its allies a chance to negotiate and block the steps of the international community to convict the regime. This is an attempt to lengthen its lifetime for some longer and not to lose its international legitimacy after it lost its legitimacy internally by stepping up the violence past natural limits and committed crimes to be classified as crimes against humanity as declared by international human rights organizations.
After the statement of Assad that he will withdraw the military from all cities, which did not happen, he backpedaled and justified the solution involving the military and security forces during his latest interview. He left announcement of political change very vague, clinging to his stubborn ignorance of what is happening on the street. Today, the regime tried to rid the cities of all military and security presence, only on the planned route of the United Nations fact finding delegation which passes through the quietest neighborhoods of the cities visited. The security forces could do nothing else than to disperse the demonstrations that had gathered by force of arms immediately after the delegation had left. This led to the death of cititzens, including a child. One car of the United Nations came back to rescue one of the injured. The delegation continued to move through made up neighborhoods of the cities, assuming that if they see the made-up neighborhoods they will not recognize the signs of destruction in it, in Lattakia and Banyas and Zabadani and others.
Residents continued to call for demonstrations in many of Homs’ neighborhood, leading to gunfire in which more protesters were killed.
After Taraweeh, demonstrations were chanting for toppling of the regime and refusing the recent TV interview by Al-Assad, and comparing it to Al-Qathafi (who has fallen), congratulating their brothers in Libya, and supporting the people of Homs. In spite of the military siege of Kiswa, people demonstrated and many of them were arrested. Thousands have been arrested in Harasta, Douma, Idlib, Deir Ezzor (and its towns Mayadeen and Bukamal), Daraa (and its towns Inkhil and Daeel) the towns that witness daily gunfire and raids.
The most prominent gathering today was in Raqa, where more than 100 lawyers held a sit-in responding to a call from “Syria’s Lawyers for Freedom”, demanding the ruling of law, and to release the detainees; several lawyers were subsequently arrested in a violent and humiliating way. In Swaida, where peaceful uprising continued alongside the other cities, three female activists were arrested during the daily sit-in, and were later released. A quick demonstration also took off at the centre of the commercial heart of the capital, and finished by arresting a number of participants.
Violent assaults of the security forces, Shabiha and loyalists of the Fouashra Clan against Kurds after security forces caused strife amongst them. More than 10 were injured, and there are reports about martyrs as well.
Detention campaign started near Anas bin Malek mosque and reached: Mohammad Joma’a, Maher Joma’a, Bassam Shekh Uthman and many others
Army and security forces patroling along the main road and other parts of the town to terrorize the people in the town. Arbitrary arrests are taking place.
Security forces search houses, in search of wanted persons, pushing the residents to pay bribes to prevent arrests. Additionally, family members are forces to pay money for the release of detainees
martyrdom of Alaa Abu Al-Laban and his son Majd by a shell hit their house balcony in Waer neighborhood, with gunfire in Nazeheen and Baba Amr neighborhoods. Also tanks returned to Khaldieh neighborhood to relocate in it after withdrawal from this neighborhood yesterday.
Military and security operations has continued by storming into towns in Saraqeb, east Maaret Al-Nouman, Hawleh and neighborhoods in Lattakia, which led to fall of many martyrs and many injured, as well as arrests in these areas and Damascus Suburbs, but the security forces continued to withdraw from Zabadany, which was expecting the visit of the UN mission as it did in Palestinian Raml a few days ago
Despite Assad’s attempts to bring the situation (in theory) to pre-revolution, considering that the reforms are formalities and continue to lie and ignore the demonstrations and the demands of the people of his departure, the people did not accept any truce or promises to introduce laws and road map that has no meanings in reality given the continued raids, killings and arrests of thousands, and particularly because of the lack of recognition of Al-Assad committing crimes, protecting the security forces and evasion of the idea of accounting the criminals who did those crimes by the direct orders from him by virtue of his positions controlling all the basic strings in the country .
the expected meeting was sort of a reason for the larger numbers to come out in demonstrations tonight after the live broadcast, the protesters didn’t wait for Taraweeh prayer to end to declare their rejection of his statements and their determination on toppling the regime and trial of the president, demonstrations has started in Daraa’s towns, Inkhel, Taseel and Daeel which the security forces have meddled to disperse it, with the army, also in Kesweh which streets has turned to fields of random shooting in the purpose of intimidation, and same thing for its neighboring towns of Damascus Suburbs, the demonstrators in Homs neighborhoods also demanded trial of Bashar and retribution from him, also in Aleppo which came out from areas different from where it usually came out from, also Qamishlo and Hasakah which demonstrations increase every day, and Tbaqa in Raqa wasn’t calm either, all these demonstrations were coming out despite the security presence which spreads from sunset hours until after midnight to disperse the demonstrations in all the cities and towns and usually siege the mosques that the demonstrations usually come out from, but, to no avail.
sound of sporadic gunfire from the leadership of the ninth division near the city in the middle of reports about defection of a number of officers from the army
heavy shooting when storming the city with more than 40 buses loaded with security units, and shooting on the town’s station in an attempt to accuse the people to lift arms
Steady gunfire from Shuhada Square and around the main street; gunfire is intermittent in the western
The Ramileh area and the Rahman Mosque have been surrounded in an attempt to disperse a demonstration that started immediately after and in response to Bashar al-Assad’s interview.
A demonstration in front of the Mullah Yousef Mosque in the Mufti area in reponse to Bashar al-Assad’s interview; demonstrators are chanting for freedom and encouraging people to join.
arrest of Mohammad Hafeez Haj Mossa Khalaf instead of his activist son Raman Khalaf
martyrdom of Mostafa Hasson (19 years old) Iraqi resident in Hamedieh neighborhood affected by his wound after being shot with an explosive bullet in the abdomen; to disperse the protesters last Monday 15-08
arrest of Rima Zakaria Al-Hassan by a secruity barrier upon her return from Bab Al-Siba hospital, where she works as a nurse
martyrdom of Taha Hosamo and injury of others, among them is Kenan Aerotah as a result of gunfire by security. Injured were kidnapped and transfered by security and police cars, and they also destroyed storefronts
arrest of Orwa Naoof and Wafi Al-Homsi after they were lured to a cafe by the security, Wafi Al-Homsi was arrested from in front of the cafe
shooting in Masyaf town
I am proud to be from the capital of the Syrian Revolution and from the real heart of Homs Bab Alsebaa (thank you my father for that)
Homs returns to the forefront as the capital of the Syrian revolution. The city and its suburbs presents daily martyrs for freedom, and it is not witnessing quiet days since several months. Today, the city neighborhoods witnessed sporadic heavy gun fire that doesn’t stop and took the lives of 9 martyrs from the eastern and western parts of the city and even from Palestinian Refugees camp. Among the martyrs, a lady was sitting in her home, and a man who went to his work. All that didn’t prevent people of the city from going out in after-Taraweeh demonstrations challenging the injustice and oppression although it was faced by heavier gun fire.
Also the suffering didn’t end in Raml and Palestinian Refugees camp in Lattakia, the neighborhood that was emptied nearly from its population after it was subjected for many days to shelling and gun fire and malicious assaults by Shabiha (regime’s armed thugs). Immigrants are still being killed in the way of escape and the besieged people still bleed to death because of lack of medical supplies and impossibility of movement. We cannot stand on the real numbers of the martyrs, but the escapees’ tells are enough to expect dozens of martyrs. There were more than 30 bodies of them have withdrawn today to the center of the square and the security men dressed them military uniforms with an official media filming to justify the killing and destruction. What is going on in Raml, also we see it in AlSkantore, Qunenis, and Qala’a, the old neighborhoods in the city which is opposing the regime since the firt days of the uprising and since the first siege of the city 4 months ago.Demonstration which demands toppling of the regime and supporting other cities started after Taraweeh prayer (Ramadan night prayer), from Qamishli and Amouda in the far north-east to Aleppo that witnessed increasing numbers of protesters and a first attempt to march toward its biggest squares “Saad Allah Al-Jabry”, and to Idlib which is challenging shooting, siege of the Suburbs and tens of tanks spread there, which was shelling all day and last night, to Lattakia which is also challenging shooting, and Hama which is still isolated from the world and living under the mercy of the security forces and its suburbs which was taken a week ago with arresting campaigns accourding to wanted-lists are still going in homes and on barricades, also in Damascus Suburbs, Douma, Harasta, Zabadany, Kesweh and Mouadamyeh which are all living under the military and security heavy presence and barricades are in every entrance and every main street, also in Damascus with its old and new neighborhoods even if it was small due to the spread of security and mass arrests that took place recently in the capital and its suburbs, and to Daraa where a demonstration goes off to decompress other demonstrations in the first revolutionary province and most vulnerable to the violence of the army.Homs
Martyrdom of Rasha Borhan Al Ammar, 17 year old, in Bab Sbaa when a grenades penetrated her house shoot by a security checkpoint next to her house Kseer: Mutual shooting between security forces and shabiha (regime’s armed thugs), city area were isolated from each other and a curfew was imposedAleppo
a demonstration in Al Hareri street near Al Malab Al Baladi chanting for toppling the regime
A demonstration went out in Bustan Zahra chanting to topple the regime and in support to the besieged cities
Gunfire by military security elements about an hour ago in the neighborhood of Salah Addin against a demonstration which marched infront of Owais AlQurani mosque chanting to topple the regime
the security forces and Shabiha attack more than two thousand demonstrators that came out of Sayf al Dawleh mosque. More than 25 demonstrators were arrestedLatakia
Security forces breaks into the shops and destroys their contents in Gharraf neighborhood
heavy gunfire on Al Harash road right now
security forces and Shabiha has broke into institution building for Palestine refugees in Raml camp and sabotaged it’s contents of documents and identification papers for the Palestinians
an attempt to ignite a sectarian disorder by Shabiha through exploding a car in Mashrou AlAwqaf which contains Aalwite magority, knowing that the explosion took place next to the state security branch and the area is pretty much like a security barracks, Dunya TV instantly came to the location for recording few minutes after the explosion Jableh
Intensification of inspection procedures on the entrances while security reinforcements are gathering in the governmental compoundDamascus
A Brief demonstration a while ago in Taliani, chanted to topple the regime and thrown leaflets and paper clippings which the security men are still collecting until now Damascus Suburbs
Douma: Demonstrations marched from Hasiba, Baghdadi and AlKabir mosques gathered together to walk around the city chanting to topple the regime
Zabadany: A demonstration has taken off from Al-Jisr mosque after Taraweeh prayer
Kesweh : Huge demonstration went off a while ago inspite of heavy security existance and strong siege
Tal: start of a demonstration of hundreds of people with women participation going from Farouq mosque towards Biba then the Post areaIdlib
Shooting from shabiha (regime’s armed thugs) at demonstrators in Saraqeb
heavy gunfire in most of the villages of jabal Zawyeh with coming of security and army reinforcements with tanks to the villages specially around Ihsem village, while the arrest raids in Mraayan led to arrest more than fifty peopleHama
Raid campaign, random arrests and heavy gunfire in the neighborhood of Qosour rigth now.
Gunfire also in Saboneih neighborhood Daraa
Daeel: a mass demonstration after Taraweeh prayer in the martyr Yasser Al Asmi square and the chants for the besieged cities and Raml
Jasem: a demonstration in Al Bileh neighborhood to reduce pressure on the demonstrators in the west neighborhood and who are subjected to repression by the security forces and the army
Jasim: massive demonstration in solidarity with Lattakia and all the besieged cities despite the aggressive security presence
Security forces and the Syrian army, stationed since yesterday near Talae’a camp, stormed Raml at dawn today by military vehicles. The operation was carried out from three axes: Gharraf Street, Mokhayam Street and Bahar (sea) road.
Vehicles have reached Horyah (Freedom) Square amid heavy gun fire from heavy machine guns supported by shelling via naval force anchored off the beaches of Raml.
And there is reports of defections within the army, who confronted the security forces and clashes between them occurred.
So far, we confirm that 25 martyrs have fallen (including 3 children), in addition to a large number of wounded, while people are not allowed to help the wounded. Security forces in Raml stole bodies of martyrs from the cemetery.
Storming the Raml area was accompanied by heavy and random shooting intermittently in a number of boroughs in Lattakia, which has led to a number of injuries. Southern Raml has witnessed mass emigration of women and children since the early hours of the morning, and the same happened in Kneinis neighbourhood at noon.
Today, the city is holding a general strike as a means of protest against the military campaigns in the besieged neighbourhoods.
Mohammad Hussain Ali was excuted by shabiha (regime’s armed thugs) supported by security forces in a checkpoint on Homs-Hawla road, all Hawla residents (based on ID cards) were forces to get off a bus and Mohammad Hussain Ali was shot directly, the bus was also shot and 7 were wounded
Military and security forces stormed Saqba, Hammorieh and and Jisreen at 1:30 AM, they stormed many homes and conducted a large detention campaign. Mosques were prevented from raising Azan of Fajr prayer, they retreated at 3 PM chanting “O Bashar don’t care, we’re your men who drink blood” and they left graffitis that mentions Assad as a god
Abbas Dawood Shekh was killed due to artillery shelling yesterday on Sarjeh
internet service have been cut off in Amouda
Derik: Hundreds are participating in a demonstraion in the town of Deereek. They are chanting in support of Homs and Lattakia and Rukneddin and all the besieged areas
More than 2,000 people are in the funeral of martyr Mahmour Omar Wahbe, who was killed on Friday by a sniper while he was attending the funeral of another martyr (soldier Sami Qitt Al-Layen). 7 buses of Shabiha and vehicles of security forces headed to the square of Al-Kabeer mosque where the funeral was taking place. Heavy security presence at Al-Sakhra borough with one of the passerbys been arrested by a security car that was wandering in the area. Security forces and the army attacked the funeral using gunfire, then besieged the cemetery for some time before allowing people out after checking their identity cards looking for certain wanted people
دعونا نتأمل هذا المنعطف بدقة تقودنا لاستشراف واقعي, فمرةً أخرى تعود بنا الصورة لتأكيد ما ذكرناه من دراسات متتالية عن الثورة السورية وهي أنّ وحشية النظام لا حدود لها ولا نحتاج هنا إلى إعادة ذلك البرنامج المتنوع من القتل وهدم البيوت بالقصف الثقيل، فرمزية ذبح طفل حماة نحرًا كافية وحدها للدلالة على عقيدة قطاع الجيش العقائدي المؤمن برابطه الفئوي مع النظام.
أضحى النظام عاجزا عن بسط إرادته على الشعب بل اشتعل جنونه أمام قرار كل شرائح الشعب العمرية وخاصة الشباب الانخراط في حركة فداء
الروس لا يُبالون بالدماء مقابل مصالحهم, ولكنهم أيقنوا بأنّ سلسلة المجازر التي نفذّها النظام ستعجل بعوامل السقوط
رسائل الثورة تخنق المحيط
ومن الواضح أنّ هذا البعد الذي صنعته الثورة في رسالتها الكبرى قرئ وفقًا للمدار الذي قدمناه وهو أنّ السلاح المركزي للنظام وهو القتل يفشل وبالتالي كان تأكيدًا لهذا المعنى أن تأتي رسالة الفزع من أكثر عواصم العالم دفاعا عنه بعد طهران وهي موسكو.
وآخرون التقطوا الرسالة
وسبق أن أكدنا أنّ تجارب واشنطن الصعبة مع تغير الأنظمة فجأة في العهود الثورية جعلتها أكثر حذرا في انتظار مآلات مصير الأنظمة ولذلك فقد كان إعلانها الأخير، ضمن خطتها في اتخاذ موقف مع المستقبل الجديد.
تغيُّر الموقف الخليجي
كان لافتا في المشهد العام تغير الموقف الخليجي إضافة إلى محاولة نبيل العربي أمين الجامعة العربية التخفيف من آثار تأييده السابق للنظام السوري بعبارات قلق وتردد, لكن من غير شك أنّ خطاب العاهل السعودي كان الأبرز من حيث سقف إعلانه موقفه من المذابح وتركيزه على مخاطبة الشعب السوري وسحبه سفيره, وإن وجّه الحديث إلى الأسد عن الإصلاح فهي ناحية برتوكولية لا أكثر.
تبني السعودية لموقف صريح يعترف بحتمية التغيير لا يتطابق مع موقفها من الثورات الأخرى ولا مع طريقة تعاطيها الدبلوماسي
إذ إنّ الجميع يعلم أنّ حديث الإصلاح أضحى صفحة من التاريخ الماضي لا أكثر, غير أنّ تبني السعودية لموقف صريح يعترف بحتمية التغيير لا يتطابق مع موقفها من الثورات الأخرى ولا مع طريقة تعاطيها الدبلوماسي, المهم أن تحول هذه الزعامة التي لها مواقف مشابهة في إطار شخصيتها الذاتية أضحى بُعدًا مؤثرا في حركة المشهد الدولي والإقليمي.
قيادة الثورة والوعي المركزي
التقاطع الذي يتحصّل عليه الشعب السوري إنما هو جزء مشروع للثورة التي واجهت منفردةً خصما طالما لعب بطاقاته لمصالحه على حساب مصالح الشعب
وهذا التقاطع الذي يتحصّل عليه الشعب السوري وينتزعه عبر صموده إنما هو جزء مشروع للثورة التي واجهت منفردةً خصما طالما لعب بطاقاته مع المحيط الإقليمي والدولي لمصالحه على حساب مصالح الشعب.