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New material on the on going massacre in Douma has been moved to a new diary here.
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LiveStreaming the Massacre
Late Wednesday evening I wrote a dairy BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared, starting about 11PM and on through the night, I cataloged the information that was coming over the wireless about a massive new attack by Assad's forces on this suburb of Damascus, Syria.

The information mostly came in via Twitter with links to raw YouTube videos and pictures. There were even a number of LiveStreams coming from Douma from time to time. Nothing as gruesome as LiveStreams of people being shot or cut open, though I fear that is in our future, mostly these were courageous cameras pointed out windows. They caught the sounds mostly, but that was chilling enough, and the flash of artillery explosions.

The next day the news reports started coming in about a massacre in Douma. It fit the now familiar pattern, first the Syrian army shelled the community with their artillery, then the shabiha, Assad's armed terrorist gangs, came in to do the close up killing with small arms and knives. The overnight death toll was put at 41, but that's not the final count because Douma is still under attack by Assad's forces.

The world is letting Douma happen. I was able to write a timely blog, reporting the cries for help as the first shells began to rain down and the first reports of shabiha mobilization began to come in. It made no difference. We were all spectators to a massacre. This may be the first time parts of one were Livestreamed. I admit, there wasn't much to see, but I'm sure production quality will improve with practice and I'm afraid this affair will go on for awhile longer and provide it because the world doesn't seemed inclined to help the Syrian people bring to justice a mass murderer who is also the head of state, and it may take them a while to do it on their own. So grab your popcorn and settle in before the LiveStream.

Meanwhile, Back at the UN
The next dairy I wrote was Thursday morning: BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad! which broke the news of a new meeting of the UN Syria Action Group in Geneva on Saturday to deal with the crisis. Friday, Clinton had a surprise meeting with Lavrov on Syria ahead of the Saturday meeting and I covered that to BREAKING: Clinton, Lavrov to debate Syria in Russia today.

It is now Saturday, the nine member countries have just concluded their meeting and held a press conference only minutes ago.

The short story is that, faced with the rising tempo of events in Syria, they have decided to do nothing.

Two main points came out of their closing communication:

1.) They re-affirmed their commitment to Kofi Annan's six point plan.

2.) Called for a transitional government formed from both members of the current government and the opposition. Most notably, the language in Kofi Annan's original proposal for this meeting widely interpreted to exclude Bashar al-Assad was missing.

"I expect the Syrian parties to cooperate"
Special Envoy Kofi Annan just said this in the press conference Q&A [10:24am pst] by this he means that this new plan for the formation of a transitional government is entirely dependent on the voluntary cooperation of Bashar al-Assad. He expects Damascus to "embrace" this plan!

As I said in the title, the UN is blowing more smoke and it it now time to consider the culpability of those who throw up a smoke screen for a massacre.

10:42am pst: Clinton is say she interprets the communication to mean Assad must go in spite of agreeing to the removal of the anti-Assad language that was in the original call to meeting.

10:56am pst: Lavrov is saying not only was anti-Assad lang removed, but lang calling up Assad forces to cease fire and withdraw from cities first was removed.  

             Demonstration at the Golden Mosque in Damascus Friday June 29, 2012

Here is the Official UN Syria Action Group Communique


Here is the BBC News report:

UN envoy calls for transitional government in Syria
30 June 2012 13:50 ET

The UN's envoy for Syria has said there is international agreement that a transitional government should be set up in order to end the fighting.

Kofi Annan said an international conference in Geneva had agreed there should be a "transitional government body with full executive powers".

This could include both members of the government and opposition.

However US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could not remain in power.

Saturday's "action group" conference was attended by both Western powers and Russia and China.

Mr Annan also called for an immediate ceasefire and adherence to the UN's six-point peace plan.

He said there should be access to Syria for humanitarian organisations and media.

Some 15,800 people have died in the 16-month uprising against the rule of President Assad, activists say.

More than 180 people are said to have been killed on Friday alone as government forces reportedly shelled a suburb of the capital Damascus and the restive central city of Homs.

On Saturday, activists and witnesses said many residents were fleeing the Damascus suburb of Douma, which has come under sustained assault from government forces. Mr Annan said the international community was increasing pressure to end the violence.

That will be very good news for Syrians fleeing the violence today in Douma.

        Video of mass burial today 6/30/202 after massacre in Douma, Syria

Here are my related diaries on Syria:
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 10:17:23 AM PDT

  •  The UN is letting (5+ / 0-)

    "external forces" foment a "revolution" by providing arms, funds and target selection, and then turning its back on the real cause of the slaughter(s) when the Syrian government responds.  What would you have them do, be "gentle and benign" like the US was in Falluja ? ? ?

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 10:24:18 AM PDT

  •  This sounds exactly like neocon propaganda. (5+ / 0-)

    Word for word.  Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Fred Kagen, all the neocons are saying the same things as the diarist here.

    Explain why you are saying the exact same things about Syria and Assad that the neocons are saying.  This is a democratic blog, we're not supposed to be on the same side as the neocons.

    "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 10:33:15 AM PDT

    •  The trashing of the UN (4+ / 0-)

      also fits into the Neocon gameplan. They has to discredit the organization to neuter the security council prior to the Iraq adventure.

      This diary is a travesty.

      •  Exactly, you can pull the exact same stuff from (4+ / 0-)

        the pages of the American Enterprise Institute, Foreign Policy Initiative, and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), all neocon thinktanks that succeeded PNAC.  Same people as PNAC, the ones who brought us Iraq and were the biggest cheerleaders for the Libya bombings by NATO.  
        NATO needs to be stopped and abolished, it's not needed anymore.  It was a Cold War creation specifically for protecting the European countries from supposed Russian aggression.  Now it's morphed into a global military machine.  

        "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

        by BigAlinWashSt on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 11:15:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Annan has said that "all parties involved should (4+ / 0-)

    stop the violence" and that there is evidence of a third party involvement (i.e., NATO thru proxies Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and others).  

    "The UN-Arab league envoy to Syria Kofi Annan says all parties involved in the country’s unrest must stop violence, calling for stronger international action to back his peace plan.
     Briefing the UN General Assembly on Syria on Thursday, Annan said there is evidence of a ‘third party involvement’ in the ongoing crisis in the country."

    He absolutely did not say it was all dependent on Assad.

    "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 10:58:24 AM PDT

  •  Clay this is neocon propoganda (4+ / 0-)

    It's really hard to tell who is committing what massacre.

    For instance, a report concluded that Syrian rebels are responsible for Houla Massacre:

    A new report in one of Germany’s leading newspapers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and most of the victims killed were members of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad. The reports cites anonymous opponents of Assad who admitted their involvement in the massacre.
    •  Louis Proyect wrote about that on his webste (0+ / 0-)

      He said:

      . On June 9th an article appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung by Rainer Hermann that has been picked up by all the pro-Assad websites and that likely got its first airing on Moon Over Alabama, an erstwhile propagandist for Muammar Qaddafi. The Moon translated and posted what it considered the most relevant passage in Hermann’s article:
      Syrian opposition members who are from that region were during the last days able to reconstruct the most likely sequence of events based on accounts from authentic witnesses. Their result contradicts the pretenses from the rebels who had accused regime allied Shabiha they alleged were acting under the protection of the Syrian army. As opposition members who reject the use of lethal force were recently killed or at least threatened, the opposition members [talking to me] asked that their names be withheld.

      The massacre of Houla happened after Friday prayers. The fighting started when Sunni rebels attacked three Syrian army checkpoints around Houla. These checkpoints were set up to protect the Alawi villages around the predominantly Sunni Houla from assaults.

      One attacked checkpoint called up units from the Syrian army, which has barracks some 1500 meters away, for help and was immediately reinforced. Dozens of soldiers and rebels were killed during the fighting around Houla which is said to have lasted about 90 minutes. During these fights the three villages were closed off from the outside world.

      According to the witness accounts the massacre happened during this timeframe. Killed were nearly exclusively families from the Alawi and Shia minorities in Houla which has a more than 90% Sunni population. Several dozen members of one extended family, which had in recent years converted from Sunni to Shia believe, were slaughtered. Also killed were members of the Alawi family Shomaliya and the family of a Sunni member of parliament who was [by the rebels] considered a government collaborator. Members of the Syrian government confirmed this version but pointed out that the government committed to not publicly speak of Sunnis and Alawis. President al-Assad is Alawi while the opposition is overwhelmingly from the Sunni population majority.

      As was the case in the NY Times article, Hermann was reporting from Damascus and not on the spot in Houla. The only thing that struck me as a bit implausible in Hermann’s article is this: “Members of the Syrian government confirmed this version but pointed out that the government committed to not publicly speak of Sunnis and Alawis.”

      I really have to wonder how he can say this when early reports, also widely circulated by pro-Assad bloggers, made it clear that no such commitment existed. Early on, in a departure from the one-sided version of the NY Times, Bloomberg News presented the government version:

      Among the dead in Houla was the family of a lawmaker who refused to withdraw his name from the parliamentary vote, Haddad said. Several hundred militants carried out the killings in Houla, General Qassem Jamal Suleiman, who heads the Syrian investigation into the killings, said May 31.

      Syria has found evidence that fighters from Libya and Tunisia with ties to al-Qaeda are “already among the rebels,” Haddad said, adding that some of the massacre was filmed. “The main aim is to cause failure of the Annan plan and to provoke foreign military interference.”

      Apparently, General Qassem Jamal Suleiman did not get the message about not blaming anybody in public. Maybe his cell phone was off that day.

      But the plot thickens, as they used to put it on radio serials when I was a little kid.

      Yesterday Der Spiegel, another big-time German publication, made their own phone calls to “eyewitnesses” and their account  differs from Herman’s:

      Defending the Rebels

      Eyewitnesses Contradict Houla Massacre Claims

      By Christoph Reuter

      Recent German media reports have suggested that Syrian rebels carried out the Houla massacre and then blamed President Assad’s forces. But eyewitnesses to the killings contradict those claims.

      It was the afternoon of May 25, when Houla near Homs became internationally famous as a synonym for the brutality of the Syrian regime. It was the site of a massacre where 108 people died, mostly women and children.

      In recent days, German media reports have suggested that rebels carried out the massacre and then blamed Assad’s troops. Reports from eyewitnesses who spoke to SPIEGEL give a different impression, however.

      Aiman Hassan Abd al-Rassak, a farmer and survivor of the massacre, watched as buses containing Syrian military troops drove up the hill where the village of Fullah is located, half a kilometre to the south, shortly before 5 p.m. on that day. Some 60 to 70 uniformed men marched towards the village, accompanied by around 200 men in civilian clothes.

      Al-Rassak, who had recently been arrested, found a hiding place between the bushes and fields. Just minutes later, he heard his wife and five children being killed.

      Two further eyewitnesses, Umm Shaalan Abd al-Rassak and Samira Suwai, also observed the two groups of military and civilian-clad men as they gathered on the hilltop and walked into the Taldo district. The army’s grenade bombardment of Houla had stopped shortly before.

      Another witness, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, Saria, described the arrival of two big white buses and at least three large cars. He also saw soldiers in uniform, intelligence officers with weapons and men wearing tracksuits and civilian clothing carrying machetes and clubs.

      It was only these men who went into the houses, he reports. It is impossible to prove whether they were really shabiha militia from Fullah and neighbouring Alawi villages. That seems to be a reasonable assumption, however, seeing as they arrived by foot in the village on the hill.

      Other statements by witnesses also contradict the recent reports, published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and other outlets, which blamed the opposition for the massacre. Contrary to the reports, only Sunnis live in Houla, and not any Shiite converts who are loyal to the regime.

      And why in any case would rebels carry out a massacre of their own supporters, who were, incidentally, buried with the participation of Sunnis from Houla?

      So who’s telling the truth? I have no idea. I would say this, however. If you think that Der Spiegel’s reporting is to be rejected out of hand because it is supposedly biased against Bashar al-Assad, keep in mind that they published this as well back on
      March 29:

      An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story

      By Ulrike Putz in Beirut

      Human Rights Watch has condemned abuses committed by Syrian rebels in their stronghold of Homs. But one member of a rebel “burial brigade” who has executed four men by slitting their throats defended his work in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. “If we don’t do it, nobody will hold these perpetrators to account,” he said.

      Hussein can barely remember the first time he executed someone. It was probably in a cemetery in the evening, or at night; he can’t recall exactly. It was definitely mid-October of last year, and the man was Shiite, for sure. He had confessed to killing women — decent women, whose husbands and sons had protested against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. So the rebels had decided that the man, a soldier in the Syrian army, deserved to die, too.

      Hussein didn’t care if the man had been beaten into a confession, or that he was terrified of death and had begun to stammer prayers. It was his tough luck that the rebels had caught him. Hussein took out his army knife and sliced the kneeling man’s neck. His comrades from the so-called “burial brigade” quickly interred the blood-stained corpse in the sand of the graveyard west of the Baba Amr area of the rebel stronghold of Homs. At the time, the neighborhood was in the hands of the insurgents.


      Not the kind of reporting one would expect from a pro-rebel outpost.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 03:09:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you have proof of the following: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shawn Russell, mickT, protectspice
        But when all the dust has settled, and the double-speak worked through, the facts remain: Russia is in the process of sending two Russia warships with 450 Russian Marines [combat troops], along with 16 “refurbished” Mi25 helicopters. So far the “anti-interventionists” seem to want to handle this bold intervention by an imperialist power by denying that it is actually happening or justifying it.
        - Comment by Clay Claiborne (@clayclai) — June 20, 2012
        I would suggest that you research your claims better rather than jump to conclusions. What we need in DKos is truth, not more propaganda.

        Looks like the 3 refurbished helicopters will eventually be sent

        Russia to ship three repaired helicopters to Syria on schedule: official

        Russia would deliver three repaired attack helicopters to Syria on schedule, federal military technological cooperation service said Thursday.

        Director of the service, Alexander Fomin, said that Russia has repaired three Mi-25 helicopters in line with a contract Moscow and Damascus signed in 2008.
        Moscow said it has maintained military-technical ties with Damascus, but denied supplying Syria with arms that could be used against "peaceful demonstrators."

      •  Louis Proyect is the Clay Claiborne of his sphere (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shawn Russell

        So what else is new?

        It's not like this fellow Herrmann is the first with the idea.

        Immediately after it happened there were reports that the Houla victims were a handful of decidedly pro-government families. You would have to believe that the Assad regime was up to some 11th dimensional chess for this to make sense.

        So it's really just a matter of basic logic at this point. Like, the one rogue marine killing spree in three different villages, complete with body disposal. The proof is inaccessable but the truth remains.

  •  Yet another? (4+ / 0-)

    You wrote in another diary:

    The Turkish Foreign Minister announce 7:30 GMT Sunday that Turkey would be consulting with its NATO allies with regards to a response to the shooting down of a Turkish Air Force F-4 Phantom reconnaissance jet by Syria. As a NATO member Turkey has the right to call upon military support from the NATO alliance if it is attacked and some have said they consider the Syria downing of the jet an act of war even if the jet was in Syrian air space.
    Meanwhile, the U.S Intel said this:
    U.S. intelligence indicates that a Turkish warplane shot down by Syrian forces was most likely hit by shore-based antiaircraft guns while it was inside Syrian airspace, American officials said, a finding in tune with Syria's account and at odds with Turkey.
    Wall Street Journal

    When you are more warmongering than the Wall Street Journal, you really need to question why are on a blog that was founded by people that hated the neocons push for war on Iraq.

  •  John McCain agrees with Clay Clairborne (4+ / 0-)
    John McCain says US should be 'ashamed' of inaction over Syria conflict

    Senator John McCain has accused Barack Obama of a "disgraceful" abandonment of Syria's revolutionaries, and called on the US administration to defy Russian objections and arm Bashar al-Assad's opponents.

    The Republican former presidential candidate also called for the declaration of safe havens inside Syria, protected by US air power if necessary, after visiting refugee camps at which he said he met women who were raped and soldiers who defected to the opposition.

    "The question is how many more have to die at the hands of this bloody dictator before we intervene?" he told the World at One on BBC Radio. "I think you have to arm the opposition. They are desperate for arms."
    The senator rejected concerns from some in the US Congress that it would be dangerous to arm the Syrian opposition activists when it is not clear what their loyalties or whether they are linked to Islamic extremists. "I heard that same tune as far as Libya was concerned. I heard the same thing in Bosnia and Kosovo by those who simply have a view that we don't intervene to help people who are struggling for their freedom," he said. "These people are the direct repudiation of al-Qaida. Al-Qaida believes in acts of terror to bring about change. These people believe in peaceful demonstrations to bring about change.

  •  I think you need to listen to a Nobel Laureate (5+ / 0-)

    Listen to Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and heed her words:

    In all our hearts we know War is not the answer for Syria (Nor for Iran). Intervention in Syria would only make things worse. I believe all sides are committing war crimes and the provision of arms will only results in further death. The US/UK/NATO and all foreign governments should stay out of Syria and keep their funding and troops out of Syria.

    We should support those Syrians who work for peace in Syria and who seek a way of helping the 22 million or so people of Syria to resolve their own conflict without furthering the chaos or violence.

    •  This is self serving rubish when communities are (0+ / 0-)

      being bombed by their own government.

      I believe all sides are committing war crimes
      Is a comforting excuse to allow Syrians to be slaughtered by Assad's forces.

      Yes, maybe, technically, all sides are committing war crimes. But we don't know that for sure.

      What we do know for sure is that only one side is using tanks [until a few recent captures by the FSA], artillery, helicopter gunships and now, his air force on civilian population areas. This is a huge war crime that is costing thousands of lives.

      All we know for sure is that Assad's government is committing war crimes and Assad's government claims that the rebels are too.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 02:48:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Both sides using heavy weapons in civilian areas (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shawn Russell, protectspice

        Many police and military being killed.

      •  Clay you are very much biased and not objective (4+ / 0-)

        The UN claims both sides are committing war crimes including the rebels:

        The U.N. panel also said there is a growing list of abuses committed by anti-government armed groups, including executions of military forces and suspected informers. Anti-government armed groups have increasingly resorted to roadside bombs and have abducted civilians and government forces, apparently for prisoner exchanges or ransom, according to the report.
        Why does that not factor in, in your analysis? And more importantly, why are you in a liberal/progressive site promoting a neoconservative agenda?

        (1). You distort reality by being a propagandist who showcases only one side of the issue, while either excusing or ignoring the crimes of the anti-Assad forces and

        (2). You promote military might abroad, essentially sending other people's sons and daughters to protect, preserve and spread your ideals.

  •  Words of wisdom for you Clay (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shawn Russell, BigAlinWashSt, mickT
    Reporting conflict in Syria
    In the aftermath of the massacre at Houla last month, initial reports said some of the 49 children and 34 women killed had their throats cut. In Damascus, Western officials told me the subsequent investigation revealed none of those found dead had been killed in such a brutal manner. Moreover, while Syrian forces had shelled the area shortly before the massacre, the details of exactly who carried out the attacks, how and why were still unclear. Whatever the cause, officials fear the attack marks the beginning of the sectarian aspect of the conflict.

    In such circumstances, it's more important than ever that we report what we don't know, not merely what we do. In Houla, and now in Qubair, the finger has been pointed at the shabiha, pro-government militia. But tragic death toll aside, the facts are few: it's not clear who ordered the killings - or why.

    Given the difficulties of reporting inside Syria, video filed by the opposition on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube may provide some insight into the story on the ground. But stories are never black and white - often shades of grey. Those opposed to President Assad have an agenda. One senior Western official went as far as to describe their YouTube communications strategy as "brilliant". But he also likened it to so-called "psy-ops", brainwashing techniques used by the US and other military to convince people of things that may not necessarily be true.

    A healthy scepticism is one of the essential qualities of any journalist - never more so than in reporting conflict. The stakes are high - all may not always be as it seems.

    •  "Confusion" about what is really going on (0+ / 0-)

      serves every body looking for any excuse for inaction. That includes the US, UK & EU as well as the UN.

      Of course there are counter claims. It could not be otherwise because thieves with always jell "stop theft.:

      In Douma right now it is clear who is doing the attacking and killing civilians. It is the side that has been shelling the people their and then using his air force on them. Then he sent in the shabah, that not the same as some unit getting really pissed and throwing someone out a window.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 07:30:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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