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Tue Oct 2, 2012, 09:13 AM

Syrian capital sees renewed violence

Source: Aljazeera

Rebel fighters have stormed an army post in Douma, killing six soldiers, while intense shelling by government forces sent residents of the Damascus suburb fleeing in panic, a rights group and activists said.

The violence came hours after UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged Damascus to show compassion to its people and Walid al-Moualem, the Syrian foreign minister, said a political solution was still possible if the West and Gulf states halted support for the rebels.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based anti-government rights group, said that at least two civilians died when Douma, in the capital's northeast, was rocked by shelling following the deadly raid by the rebels during the night on a medical centre there that has now been taken over by the military.

Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad also targeted a string of rebel strongholds in towns and suburbs outside the capital at dawn, including in Babila, Hosh al-Arab, Saqba and Zabadani, the Observatory said. The Local Co-ordination Committees, an anti-government activist network, reported that more than 100 shells fell on Zabadani, once a resort destination known for its mild weather and scenic views just northwest of the capital but now devastated by the civil war ravaging Syria.

Read more: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/10/201210295838248282.html

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Reply Syrian capital sees renewed violence (Original post)
pampango Oct 2012 OP
oberliner Oct 2012 #1
Arctic Dave Oct 2012 #2
riderinthestorm Oct 2012 #3
leveymg Oct 2012 #4
David__77 Oct 2012 #5

Response to pampango (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 09:26 AM

1. Will the Assad regime fall?

Hard to get a good sense of where things stand.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #1)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 09:35 AM

2. I don't see it happening but I do see the rebels getting a lot of innocent people killed.


But that would seem to be the MO of these uprisings.

Civil wars suck.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #1)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 09:44 AM

3. I don't think so. He's got too many powerful (and well armed) backers in Russia, China and Iran


Besides, the Alawite Shia understand that if the Assad regime falls, the genocidal bloodbath that follows will make what's currently happening look like a tiny blip. They're going to fight to the death.

This has turned into a vicious civil war between the Sunnis and Shia with a very large number of outside players with their own agendas interfering. Iran has said that if Assad is forced out/assassinated, they'll target Israel (since they know the US and other western powers are backing the anti-Assad/Sunni forces).

For geopolitical stability, at this point, its probably best if Assad "wins" this round. Don't get me wrong. He's a despicable tyrant and worse human being and needs to go. But it would be best if its a negotiated departure at this point. However powerless Annan was/is in this conflict, his bottom line is sound. Assad's departure needs to be part of a negotiated settlement of the civil war.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #1)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 10:05 AM

4. The numbers say no, not soon, anyway, not as things are today.

I'll repost the following info for you:

There are no reliable numbers for trained military defectors within the FSA, 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. There are approximately 2-3 million Syrian Alawite, and elite units are made up of members of that group.

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 are said to number "in the hundreds" but that is growing as are concerns about their influence on the opposition. See, e.g., http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1209/20/ctw.01.html 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 highly sophisticated weapons, including chemical and biological arms, could fall into the hands of extremist groups. 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 oberliner (Reply #1)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 10:13 AM

5. I lean toward "probably." But...

...I do not think it will be because of a military victory by insurgents. More likely by some sort of Russian-engineered coup to smooth the way for a coalition government. There are too many "what ifs."

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