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Sat Sep 29, 2012, 03:29 PM

Ancient market burns, heritage sites at risk as Syrian violence continues

Source: Reuters via the Toronto Globe & Mail

Hundreds of shops were burning in the ancient covered market in Aleppo on Saturday as fighting between rebels and state forces in Syria’s largest city threatened to destroy a UNESCO world heritage site ...

Activists said the fire might have been started by shelling and gunfire on Friday and estimated that between 700 and 1,000 shops had been destroyed so far. The accounts were difficult to verify because of government restricts on foreign media.

Aleppo’s Old City is one of several locations in Syria declared world heritage sites by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, that are now at risk from the fighting.

UNESCO believes five of Syria’s six heritage sites – which also include the ancient desert city of Palmyra, the Crac des Chevaliers crusader fortress and parts of old Damascus – have been affected ...

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/ancient-market-burns-heritage-sites-at-risk-as-syrian-violence-continues/article4577209/

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply Ancient market burns, heritage sites at risk as Syrian violence continues (Original post)
struggle4progress Sep 2012 OP
pampango Sep 2012 #1
David__77 Sep 2012 #2
oberliner Sep 2012 #4
David__77 Sep 2012 #5
oberliner Sep 2012 #6
David__77 Sep 2012 #7
oberliner Sep 2012 #9
joshcryer Sep 2012 #11
David__77 Sep 2012 #18
pampango Sep 2012 #12
leveymg Sep 2012 #15
joshcryer Sep 2012 #10
blaze Sep 2012 #3
leveymg Sep 2012 #8
pampango Sep 2012 #13
leveymg Sep 2012 #14
Tx4obama Sep 2012 #16
closeupready Sep 2012 #17

Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 03:56 PM

1. "...authorities cut the water supply off the city, making it more difficult to put out the flames."

“It’s a disaster. The fire is threatening to spread to remaining shops,” said al-Halabi, speaking from the stricken area by telephone. He claimed Syrian authorities cut the water supply off the city, making it more difficult to put out the flames. He said rebels and civilians were working together to control the blaze with a limited number of fire extinguishers.

Regime shelling of neighborhoods where the opposition is holed up has smashed historic mosques, churches and souks in the central Homs province and elsewhere the country.

The Syrian uprising began in March 2011 with largely peaceful protests but has since transformed into an insurgency and civil war that has defied all attempts at a diplomatic solution. Activists say more than 30,000 people have been killed.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/activists-deadly-fighting-in-aleppos-historic-old-city-sets-fire-in-medieval-souks/2012/09/29/679f4978-0a12-11e2-9eea-333857f6a7bd_story.html

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Response to pampango (Reply #1)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 06:18 PM

2. Aleppo had water, power, food, medicine before the hordes moved in.

They are like the Khmer Rouge and would be perfectly happy seeing the complete destruction of Aleppo rather than engage in political dialogue. They would be fine depopulating the entire city so the people can be reeducated by the rural Salafists.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #2)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 09:16 PM

4. Who exactly are you comparing to the Khmer Rouge?

Can you clarify?

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Response to oberliner (Reply #4)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 09:42 PM

5. The Salafist terrorists in Syria.

They bear major similarities to the Khmer Rouge, but they are actually more crude in their methods.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #5)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 09:48 PM

6. And what is their relationship to those fighting the Assad regime?

What percentage would you say of the people current rebelling in Syria are Salafist terrorists?

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Response to oberliner (Reply #6)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 10:53 PM

7. There are plenty of Syrian people opposed to Assad other than those elements.

That is certainly true, although I'd note than many anti-government forces are not engaged in suicide bombings, summary executions, etc. - many advocate non-armed struggle. Many of them recently convened in Damascus at a conference urging peaceful change. See for instance: http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/23/world/meast/syria-civil-war/index.html

The NCB and other opposition forces are also considered enemies by the armed insurgent groups, and have been especially criticized for opposing foreign intervention and for being secularists.

Unfortunately, just as the Khmer Rouge gained dominance over other Cambodian opposition groups, it appears that so too are the Salafists gaining ground in Syria.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #7)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 06:36 AM

9. Thanks for the info

Hard to know what is really going on over there.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #7)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 06:45 AM

11. You do appreciate that they're potentially gaining ground...

...because of the perception of collective punishment, right?

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #11)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 05:59 PM

18. Of course.

The counterinsurgency strategy is doing what is was supposed to do, in that sense anyway...

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Response to David__77 (Reply #7)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 06:52 AM

12. "The group's first stance calls for "toppling the regime with all its figures and facets which

ensures the ability to build a civil democratic state (and) a state of law, justice and equal citizenship regardless of race, sex and religion."

That is the "first stance" of the conference that you linked to. More from that CNN article:

Furthermore, conference attendees agreed to primarily pursue "non-violent resistance ... to accomplish the goals of the revolution." At the same time, it praised those Syrian troops who had refused to "kill their fellow countrymen" and defected to join the Free Syria Army, which the opposition parties said has a "duty to support, strengthen and defend the peaceful strategy of the revolution."

The Syrian army itself, the group said in its statement, needs to be extracted "from the clutches of the regime, who have forced this national institution to play a contradictory role in placing it against its countrymen."

Al-Assad's government is "primarily responsible for creating the atmosphere that is used for foreign intervention," attendees added.

A day before the summit began, the event's organizers -- the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change -- said that three of its members were detained by Syrian Air Force Intelligence personnel after driving from Damascus International Airport on Thursday.

As you rightly point out the increasingly violent nature of the conflict between Assad and the opposition plays into the hands of the most violent players in the opposition, many of whom are from outside of Syria. But as the conference pointed out: Assad's government is "primarily responsible for creating the atmosphere that is used for foreign intervention".

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Response to oberliner (Reply #6)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 12:26 PM

15. In response to your Q about makeup of opposition fighters, Syrian defectors vs foreign fighters.

Last edited Thu Oct 4, 2012, 09:15 AM - Edit history (4)

There are no reliable numbers, because the source of most of the public estimates are from the FSA, itself, and its political auxillaries. When you look at the numbers provided during 2012, the claim is that several thousand Syrian soldiers have thusfar defected (not all are in the field, many have simply returned home to areas outside gov't control or are in Turkey).

The FSA is said to total 40,000-60,000 but that is a top estimate and may not reflect the number of active strength fighters. The policy of opposition groups seems to be to not provide overall estimates of defecting Syrian military, but to instead report small groups that defect with their officers as they enter Turkey. The number of rebel Syrian non-ex military combatants in the field varies over time, and most are local Sunni militias. See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Syrian_Army

By comparison, the regular Syrian Army is a largely conscript force that numbers 220,000 with an active reserve of 280,000, with additional tens of thousands of in the Syrian Navy and Air Force.

While there have been several dozen high-level defections, the Syrian military appears to still be largely intact, including the top commanders. According to a report in August in al-Arabiya, a Saudi-funded news agency: (1) http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/08/09/231222.html

But with the rebellion is now in its 17th month and the core leadership -- the family of President Bashar al-Assad and the top echelon of the military and security services -- remains intact.

This is despite billions of dollars reportedly pledged by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait to encourage high-level defections, according to a Gulf-based diplomat.

According to a Lebanese security official, there are about 1,200 brigadier generals in the Syrian army, and only about 40 have defected. In contrast, there are only about 100 senior-ranking generals, all of who remain loyal.


Foreign fighters in Libya are said to number "in the hundreds" but that is growing as are concerns about their influence on the opposition. The latest estimate from a reliable source, Emile Hokayem, Senior Fellow for Regional Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, states, "They are realistically about 2,000-3,000 in number." http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/20/world/meast/syria-libya-fighter/index.html

Algerian UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, citing Syrian government sources, places that number considerably higher, at 5,000. See, e.g., http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1209/20/ctw.01.html; c.f., http://www.islamicinvitationturkey.com/2012/09/25/brahimi-to-security-council-5000-foreign-fighters-operate-in-syria/

There are foreign combatant groups from Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, Kosovo, Croats, with smaller detachments from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the other GCC states. The one thing they all have in common is that they are almost all Sunnis. US officials, including Secretary of Defense Paneta, have stated that it would be a mistake, as in Iraq, to attempt to disarm the Syrian military and police or to allow its disintegration. Analysts believe this would lead to chaos in Syria, and risks that the most dangerous weapons, including chemical and biological arms, could fall into the hands of extremist groups and organized crime on the international black market. An estimated 15,000 MANPADS are still unaccounted for after the regime change in Libya.

Recent battles have reportedly depleted rebel Syrian force strength, and rebel casualties have numbered in the hundreds in some offensives. While the opposition is undoubtedly better funded and equipped, and is reportedly receiving some advanced weapons, such as MANPADS, the actual strength of the armed opposition may have been overestimated. See, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57522679/u.s-aims-to-rally-syrian-opposition-with-new-aid/?tag=scrollShell;housing-Home
________________________________________
(1) Wiki: The original investment in Al Arabiya was $300 million by the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), Lebanon's Hariri Group, and other investors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Persian Gulf states. Through MBC, Abdulaziz bin Fahd and his maternal uncle Waleed bin Ibrahim al Ibrahim own and have control over Al Arabiya.

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Response to David__77 (Reply #2)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 06:44 AM

10. Being besieged by rural Salafists as you say doesn't justify collective punishment, imo.

A similar thing happened in Misrata which caused a lot of Misratans who would've otherwise been neutral to take up arms.

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 06:37 PM

3. So sad on so many different levels. :( nt

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sat Sep 29, 2012, 11:01 PM

8. If the FSA doesn't want Syrian cities damaged, they shouldn't hole up in them.

They're always welcome to go terrorize the rest of the world. Wouldn't be surprised if some of them end up here.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #8)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 07:07 AM

13. And if the French resistance wanted their cities undamaged, they should have left the Germans

alone during WWII.

You seem not to blame the Syrian government which shelled cities in the past which had caused much damage to historical sites there and in Aleppo as well. And the government has shut off water to the city which makes fighting the fires much more difficult.

The FSA (Free Syrian Army) is composed primarily of soldiers who defected from Assad's army because they realized they were being used as Assad's protection force against Syrian civilians rather than against Israel or other foreign armes. My guess is that these defectors have little interest in spreading their 'terror' to the 'rest of the world'.

"Wouldn't be surprised if some of them end up here."

So we need to kill those Islamic bad guys 'over there' before they come 'here". Where have I heard that before?

And we need to support a Middle Eastern dictator who wants to kill those 'bad guys' (with civilians as 'collateral damage') - well, that seems vaguely familiar, too.

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Response to pampango (Reply #13)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 11:33 AM

14. They largely did, which is the reason Paris is one of the few European cities that survived WWII

intact. There hasn't been large-scale fighting inside Paris since the Commune of 1848, and the French Army surrendered before the Wehrmacht reached the city in 1940 as it had in 1871 to the Prussians .

The FSA is only one of a number of factions from Sunni countries trying their damnedest to drive the Shi'ia Alawite regime out of Damascus. The Alawites really have been given no other choice than to continue fighting to preserve what's left of the Syrian state and armed forces, without the protection of which they will be ethically cleansed as were the Serbian Kosovars.

I seem to recall that among the Jihadi forces fighting alongside US Special Forces in Kosovo, including a Navy Seal named Erik Prince, was Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda and more than half of the 9/11 hijackers. See, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/12/04/810764/-Erik-Prince-American-Bin-Laden-CIA-Asset-Money-Gunmen

Those who do not learn from history . . .

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 05:15 PM

16. Kick! n/t

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sun Sep 30, 2012, 05:26 PM

17. I have a friend in Aleppo whom I recently friended on Facebook -

He was a friend of mine at a school I attended over 20 years ago, and he has his own business there now. It's not clear to me if he's pro-Assad or anti-Assad but in any case, I hope he and everyone else there pull through.

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