Syrian troops storm Damascus refugee area, chase rebels

Beirut , Lebanon- Syrian government troops stormed an area of Damascus populated by Palestinian refugees on Saturday after a four-day artillery assault on the southern suburb where rebels have been sheltering, opposition activists said.

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have largely preferred to use air power and artillery to hit areas where rebels are dug in, deploying infantry only once many have fled. Activists said the new ground onslaught put civilians at risk.

The almost 18-month-old conflict also spilled further over borders when three rockets fired from Syria crashed into an Iraqi frontier town, killing a 5-year-old girl, according to local inhabitants and Iraqi officials.

Anxious to end the bloodshed, European Union diplomats said on Saturday the 27-nation bloc might impose new sanctions on he Syrian government as soon as next month.

Speaking after visiting a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he saw “the first signs of erosion in the regime of Assad”.

“It is necessary we isolate the regime of Bashar al-Assad,” he told a news conference.

“We will use the next weeks while Germany has the presidency of the (U.N.) Security Council to work on this isolation and to increase the pressure on this regime. We think he has gone too far and his time is over.”

Assad’s use of military force to quell an uprising that began as a peaceful pro-democracy movement has cost him many allies in the Arab and Muslim world and caused a trickle of defections from Syrian government and army ranks.

Two Syrian diplomats in Malaysia announced late on Friday that they had joined the opposition, according to a report by pan-Arab television channel Al Arabiya.

But the defections so far are seen largely as symbolic and Assad has increasingly relied on a close circle of relatives and senior members of his minority Alawite sect dominating the ruling elite to maintain his family’s 42-year-old grip on power.

Syrian activist Abu Yasser al-Shami said that friends living in Yarmouk, a densely populated Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus where 10 people were killed on Friday in shelling, had fled the area on Saturday after government troops swept in.

“Assad’s forces stormed al-Basel hospital in Yarmouk Camp and arrested many of the injured civilians,” he said over Skype.

When insurgents thrust into central parts of the capital in July, they were swiftly pushed back to southern districts, like Yarmouk, where there is a thinner state security presence.

INDISCRIMINATE ARTILLERY

Activists say Assad has been reluctant to use infantry as the army is made up mostly of conscripts drawn from the Sunni Muslim majority, many of whom are seen as desertion risks.

Residents complain that the army uses indiscriminate artillery and air strikes. Palestinians have been divided over whether or not to support Assad, but there are signs that more and more are now starting to back the uprising against him.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition watchdog based in London, said shells rained down on Hajar al-Aswad district, which neighbours Yarmouk, on Saturday.

It said 170 people were killed in bloodshed on Friday across the country, many of them in Damascus and northern Aleppo, where rebels say they control more than half of what is Syria’s most populous city and commercial centre.

The Observatory says more than 23,000 people have died in an uprising that has lasted more than 17 months. About 200,000 Syrians have fled to Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.

The conflict has edged ominously over Syrian borders into neighbours with sectarian tensions echoing those of Syria, where mainly Sunni insurgents are pitted against Assad’s Alawite community whose faith is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

As rebels fought government forces for an airfield and military base near the Syrian border town of Albu Kamal, Katyusha rockets hit a residential area of al Qaim in Iraq, smashing through a wall of one house and killing a girl inside.

“She was sitting on my lap just before we heard the rocket. I knew she was dead immediately after the explosion,” said Firas Attallah, the girl’s father, showing a bloodstained mattress amid the shattered glass in his home.

The Syrian war has caused jitters in Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim-led government. Close to Bashar al-Assad’s ally, Iran, Baghdad has resisted joining calls for the Syrian leader to step down.

In smaller Lebanon, the issue of Syria is explosive and the Lebanese government has tip-toed around the topic. But former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the Al-Hayat newspaper on Saturday that Lebanon’s stance of dissociation from the Syrian conflict was “shameful”.

“The self-distancing policy allows the Syrian regime to shell Lebanese villages,” he said, referring to several incidents when Syrian forces have fired artillery across the borders at villages they say are harbouring insurgents.

Lebanon’s army forces raided a southern district of Beirut late on Friday and arrested a member of a powerful Shi’ite clan which has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 20 Syrians and a Turkish businessman.

The army arrested Hassan Meqdad, from the Meqdad clan, which abducted the men on Aug. 15 in what they said was a response to the capture of one of their kinsmen in Damascus by the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Damascus continues to exert influence over is smaller neighbour and even had troops garrisoned in Lebanon until 2005.

The United States has accused Russia and China of effectively prolonging Syria’s bloodletting by blocking efforts at the U.N. Security Council to approve tough sanctions aimed at reining in the Assad government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a summit of Pacific rim states that Moscow and Western powers remained at loggerheads over how to defuse the conflict – a diplomatic impasse in which Western officials say violence has flourished.

“Our U.S. partners prefer measures like threats, increased pressure and new sanctions against both Syria and Iran. We do not agree with this in principle,” Lavrov told reporters. Russia and Iran are Assad’s closest allies.

Lavrov said Russia expected the Security Council later this month to formally endorse an agreement brokered by former U.N. Syria envoy Kofi Annan which envisages a transitional governing authority for Syria.

Washington has angered Russia by going outside the United Nations to work with allies on the Syrian opposition’s behalf. But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Lavrov it was possible to return to the United Nations if Moscow and Beijing were ready to forego their vetoes and back stronger measures.

Reuters

  • 5thDrawer

    ” … and arrested many of the injured civilians”.
    There’s a number one reason for Canada to be upset …. and Iran backs this kind of thing.

    • nayyashAl3arab

      when POLITICAL ANALYSER AMATEURS OF THIS BLOG will start to understand that the kitchen is in washington and not their wishful thinking based on personal instinctive kinship

      • 5thDrawer

        Well, Nayyash … I didn’t say anything about individual Iranians, many of whom tried in 2009 to ‘adjust’ society a little (too early as it turned out). I speak only of their ‘official-dumb’.
        So you either have a global concept of humanity in general, or you don’t. You want all to be treated humanely, or you don’t. You want all to be afforded justice, or you don’t. You think of the world as ‘all’ … or, you don’t.
        ‘We all’ know about politicians in general – although some I suppose imagine they can be kept in check by rotating them more often – or being allowed to watch them with a free honest press. Which, I suppose, is where analysis becomes important.
        My ‘amateur’ analysis says that humans don’t enjoy the Syrian tactics … globally it doesn’t work very well either. Didn’t in the past.
        Given a choice of restaurants, I think I’d much prefer the American kitchen, where at least one can complain to, or thank, a chef – without fear of a meat-cleaver entering the head.

    • nayyashAl3arab

      when POLITICAL ANALYSER AMATEURS OF THIS BLOG will start to understand that the kitchen is in washington and not their wishful thinking based on personal instinctive kinship

      • 5thDrawer

        Well, Nayyash … I didn’t say anything about individual Iranians, many of whom tried in 2009 to ‘adjust’ society a little (too early as it turned out). I speak only of their ‘official-dumb’.
        So you either have a global concept of humanity in general, or you don’t. You want all to be treated humanely, or you don’t. You want all to be afforded justice, or you don’t. You think of the world as ‘all’ … or, you don’t.
        ‘We all’ know about politicians in general – although some I suppose imagine they can be kept in check by rotating them more often – or being allowed to watch them with a free honest press. Which, I suppose, is where analysis becomes important.
        My ‘amateur’ analysis says that humans don’t enjoy the Syrian tactics … globally it doesn’t work very well either. Didn’t in the past.
        Given a choice of restaurants, I think I’d much prefer the American kitchen, where at least one can complain to, or thank, a chef – without fear of a meat-cleaver entering the head.

  • 5thDrawer

    ” … and arrested many of the injured civilians”.
    There’s a number one reason for Canada to be upset …. and Iran backs this kind of thing.

    • nayyashAl3arab

      when POLITICAL ANALYSER AMATEURS OF THIS BLOG will start to understand that the kitchen is in washington and not their wishful thinking based on personal instinctive kinship

      • 5thDrawer

        Well, Nayyash … I didn’t say anything about individual Iranians, many of whom tried in 2009 to ‘adjust’ society a little (too early as it turned out). I speak only of their ‘official-dumb’.
        So you either have a global concept of humanity in general, or you don’t. You want all to be treated humanely, or you don’t. You want all to be afforded justice, or you don’t. You think of the world as ‘all’ … or, you don’t.
        ‘We all’ know about politicians in general – although some I suppose imagine they can be kept in check by rotating them more often – or being allowed to watch them with a free honest press. Which, I suppose, is where analysis becomes important.
        My ‘amateur’ analysis says that humans don’t enjoy the Syrian tactics … globally it doesn’t work very well either. Didn’t in the past.
        Given a choice of restaurants, I think I’d much prefer the American kitchen, where at least one can complain to, or thank, a chef – without fear of a meat-cleaver entering the head.

        • nayyashAl3arab

          well, me too but, there is a big butt; i prefer american life too; i prefer american technology too; americans are nice people; i have no problems with a world run by american kitchen though i have to admit that mac donald and coca cola are carcinogens; i never said syria is run by a regime i would love to govern me; HOWEVER and here comes the BUTTIS SALAFISM BETTERIS WAHHABISM BETTERIS GEAGEAISM BETTERIS SAOUDISM BETTERUNFORTUNATELY I ALSO NOTICED YOU AGREE WITH THE SALAFI IMAM RUNNING THIS BLOG CALLED HANIBAL SOMETHING THAT SHOULD TRANSLATE AS BALLESS.DO YOU AGREE WITH THE DICTATORSHIOP THAT RUNS THIS BLOG? AND WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE WITH THE SYRIAN REGIME?WHEN I WAS FIGHTING SYRIAS OCCUPATION OF LEBANON THIS BLISS HANIBALLESS WAS NOT EVEN BORN HOWEVER ONE NEEDS TO LOOK AT EVENTS OBJECTIVELYlets go to objectivity now: if you believe america is fighting hizbollah and iran, you are wrong: the most stupid strategic error that america would commit is to attack iran the same way it attacked saddam hussayn; amateur yes indeed you are because you swallow whatever politicians declare to the press. america is behind hizbollah; america is behind iran; america is behind assad: if america wanted, assad would have been finished in less than 24 hours; and this is the bad thing about american policy in that it does not care about the byproducts of their plans which are drawn by computers: do you think america cares for a fraction of a second about you or me or Lebanon or geagea or hariri? if you say yes then again you are an amateur. America decides on the basis of cost benefit; america wants to govern the world but does not have enough army to physically occupies it. So america works via agents: all are american agents including assad, hizbollah, iran, hariri, saoudi arabia, arafart…….you name it and you find it on CIA payroll. even now al quaeda, mousslime botherhood and other terrorist organisations are. As far as we are concerned, we are given the choice of two sad and bad choices: either hizbollah or wahhabism. if assad loses, i guarantee you we will all be decapitated in Lebanon; if like me you live in ashrafieh, be sure you would really prefer a shi3a ally to a wahhabi terrorist who wants to apply shari3a law. Now going back to history: if non mousslimes in Lebanon were governed by a more honest individual than amine gemayyel and the criminal geagea who killed more christians than syria and the palestinians together, we would have been in a much better situation to decide. unfortunately because of these two bandits, we got no choice: either assad survives and we live, and i am sure he will survive, or at least assadism will survive because USA does not want him to lose, or he is defeated then we will be decapitated. If you understand this simple principle that all of them are american puppets and that USA does not want any party to dominate, then you would jump from an amateur to a beginner professional in political analysis

  • Patience2

    ” …if Moscow and Beijing were ready to forgo their vetoes and back stronger measures.”  Fat Chance.

  • Patience2

    ” …if Moscow and Beijing were ready to forgo their vetoes and back stronger measures.”  Fat Chance.

  • nayyashAl3arab

    well, me too but, there is a big butt; i prefer american life too; i prefer american technology too; americans are nice people; i have no problems with a world run by american kitchen though i have to admit that mac donald and coca cola are carcinogens; i never said syria is run by a regime i would love to govern me; HOWEVER and here comes the BUTT
    IS SALAFISM BETTER
    IS WAHHABISM BETTER
    IS GEAGEAISM BETTER
    IS SAOUDISM BETTER
    UNFORTUNATELY I ALSO NOTICED YOU AGREE WITH THE SALAFI IMAM RUNNING THIS BLOG CALLED HANIBAL SOMETHING THAT SHOULD TRANSLATE AS BALLESS.
    DO YOU AGREE WITH THE DICTATORSHIOP THAT RUNS THIS BLOG? AND WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE WITH THE SYRIAN REGIME?
    WHEN I WAS FIGHTING SYRIAS OCCUPATION OF LEBANON THIS BLISS HANIBALLESS WAS NOT EVEN BORN HOWEVER ONE NEEDS TO LOOK AT EVENTS OBJECTIVELY
    lets go to objectivity now: if you believe america is fighting hizbollah and iran, you are wrong: the most stupid strategic error that america would commit is to attack iran the same way it attacked saddam hussayn; amateur yes indeed you are because you swallow whatever politicians declare to the press. america is behind hizbollah; america is behind iran; america is behind assad: if america wanted, assad would have been finished in less than 24 hours; and this is the bad thing about american policy in that it does not care about the byproducts of their plans which are drawn by computers: do you think america cares for a fraction of a second about you or me or Lebanon or geagea or hariri? if you say yes then again you are an amateur. America decides on the basis of cost benefit; america wants to govern the world but does not have enough army to physically occupies it. So america works via agents: all are american agents including assad, hizbollah, iran, hariri, saoudi arabia, arafart…….you name it and you find it on CIA payroll. even now al quaeda, mousslime botherhood and other terrorist organisations are. As far as we are concerned, we are given the choice of two sad and bad choices: either hizbollah or wahhabism. if assad loses, i guarantee you we will all be decapitated in  Lebanon; if like me you live in ashrafieh, be sure you would really prefer a shi3a ally to a wahhabi terrorist who wants to apply shari3a law. Now going back to history: if non mousslimes in Lebanon were governed by a more honest individual than amine gemayyel and the criminal geagea who killed more christians than syria and the palestinians together, we would have been in  a much better situation to decide. unfortunately because of these two bandits, we got no choice: either assad survives and we live, and i am sure he will survive, or at least assadism will survive because USA does not want him to lose, or he is defeated then we will be decapitated. If you understand this simple principle that all of them are american puppets and that USA does not want any party to dominate, then you would jump from an amateur to a beginner professional in political analysis