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Last Updated 8:43pm pst

7:43pm pst BREAKING NEWS: #Damascus Suburbs:# Deir #Al-Asafir: #Assad #Regime forces surround the town amid fears of an invasion. There is a lot of migration from the city out of fear of another military operation

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Suddenly my tweeter feeds are alive with reports of big explosions followed by heavy gun fire in Damascus.

I consider that confirmed. Something big just started in Damascus.

More as this develops.

Apparently now the Assad Regime is shelling various parts of Damascus from the Qasiyoon Mountain according to @IbnOmar2005

           Big explosion from shelling on #Damascus from Qasioun mountain | 4:51pm pst 30 July 2012

At 5:18pm pst we have this report:

Damascus Suburbs : Beit Sahm: A shell landed on the outskirts of town and several buildings were damaged

                 The fear is gone | Protest in Damascus today | 30 July 2012

      Anti government demonstration took place in the Salihiyeh area of Damascus | 30 July 2012

      Night anti government demonstration in the Duma suburb of Damascus | 30 July 2012

In the face of the growing strength of the Free Syrian Army as growing revolutionary force in Syria, the US government wants to see the apparatus of state violence preserved without Bashar al-Assad. according to an new article from Reuters:

US defense chief: Syria military must remain intact when Assad goes
Mon, 30 Jul 2012 23:31 GMT

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - Government forces in Syria should be held together when President Bashar al-Assad is forced from power, the U.S. defense secretary said on Monday, warning that the mistakes of the Iraq war must not be repeated.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in an interview with CNN during a visit to Tunisia, said maintaining stability in Syria would be important under any scenario that sees Assad leave power.

"I think it's important when Assad leaves, and he will leave, to try to preserve stability in that country," Panetta said.

"The best way to preserve that kind of stability is to maintain as much of the military and police as you can, along with security forces, and hope that they will transition to a democratic form of government. That's the key." More...

            FSA Statement on the treatment of Assad detainees | 5:36pm pst 30 July 2012

The Washington Post is reporting:

Syrian rebels seize rural territory while Assad forces focus on major cities
By Liz Sly, Updated: Monday, July 30, 7:06 PM

AL-BAB, Syria — War came late to this little farming town set amid rolling hills in the Syrian countryside east of Aleppo, where the absence of upheaval was long construed as an implicit signal of support for the government led by President Bashar al-Assad.

But once the battle started in May, it unfolded at lightning speed, at least by the standards of a revolt that is dragging into its 17th month. Residents are celebrating their near-complete victory over regime loyalists after the town’s last army garrison fled Sunday, its food supplies gone and its morale shredded.

With that, al-Bab became the farthest point in a swath of rural territory stretching south from the Turkish border toward the city of Aleppo that has slipped beyond government control in recent weeks.

The unraveling of the regime’s authority here in this northern province has been overshadowed by the battles for control of the cities of Homs, Damascus and, most recently, the provincial capital Aleppo, where government forces are waging a full-scale offensive to recapture neighborhoods seized by rebels in recent days.

But even as Assad’s forces have poured resources into sustaining their hold on major population centers, they have steadily been losing control of the countryside, in a series of seesawing battles that have not yet proved decisive but that appear to be giving the momentum to the rebels. The story of the battle of al-Bab, an overlooked front in a war of many fronts, suggests that the government’s hold here was always more fragile than had been thought and that it has become significantly more so in the past few weeks.More...

Here are my related diaries on Syria:
UPDATED: Syria's Charge D'Affaires Quits London Post
BREAKING: Ground assault on Aleppo begins!
BREAKING: Protests across Syria in spite of Assad regime violence
ALEPPO: Step outside the Matrix and witness the Horror
UPDATED: US fears massacre in #Aleppo, #Syria
BREAKING: Reports of clashes between Jordan Army & Assad's Syrian army
BRAKING: Obama stops Putin from re-arming Assad in Syria
Syria: Foreign meddling increases as crisis builds
BREAKING: Aleppo, Syria bombed with fighter jets
BREAKING: Syria issues a correction, it has no WMD to use
BREAKING: Arab League asks Assad to step down!
Bashar al-Assad: New images released as slaughter continues in Syria
no blood for oil
BREAKING: Activists report toxic gas attack in Deir ez-Zor, Syria
Glenn Greenwald sees Islamist Terrorism as main issue in Syria
Will Syria's Assad make a chemical attack in Damascus on Saturday?
BREAKING: I know where Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is!
BREAKING: Massive Fire near #Assad's Presidential Palace in #Damascus, #Syria
BREAKING: Is Syria's Bashar al-Assad dead or dying?
BREAKING: Damascus explosion kills Defense Minister, other key figures
The battle for Damascus is coming
BREAKING: General Strike in Damascus
BREAKING: Intense fighting reported in Damascus now!
BREAKING: Syrian defector spills beans as important new defection reported.
Does Syria's Assad have something on Kofi Annan?
Tremseh Massacre in Syria: What we know
BREAKING: ~227 reported massacred by Assad's forces in Tremseh, Syria today!
Syria: Is Assad regime on the verge of collapse?
BREAKING: Russian Warships reported in Syria
BREAKING: #Russia changing on #Assad but not as fast as conditions in #Syria
UN Observers say violence in Syria is ‘Unprecedented’
BREAKING: Defection of major Assad insider reported in Syria
BREAKING: WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million #Syria emails
When did "Never Again" become "Whenever?" | #Douma
BREAKING: Incredible mass rally in Aleppo, Syria today!
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on Syria
My response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
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

  •  So much for Assad regaining control of the capital (0+ / 0-)

    It's terrible what is going on over there, but deposing him will hopefully be worth it.

  •  It seems to me one possible paradigm of the Syrian (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    uprising could be the Irish war of Independence. Here's a bit of analysis (granted it's Wikipedia) which may illustrate the Syrian opposition's strategy:

    "Peak of violence, December 1920-July 1921

    During the following eight months until the Truce of July 1921, there was a spiralling of the death toll in the conflict, with 1,000 people including the RIC police, British military, IRA volunteers and civilians, being killed in the months between January and July 1921 alone. This represents about 70% of the total casualties for the entire three-year conflict. In addition, 4,500 IRA personnel (or suspected sympathisers) were interned in this time. In the middle of this violence, the Dáil formally declared war on Britain in March 1921.

    Between 1 November 1920 and 7 June 1921 twenty four men were executed by the British. The first IRA volunteer to be executed was Kevin Barry, one of The Forgotten Ten who were buried in unmarked graves in unconsecrated ground inside Mountjoy Prison until 2001. On 1 February, the first execution under martial law of an IRA man took place. Cornelius Murphy of Millstreet, Cork was shot in Cork city. On 28 February, six more were executed, again in Cork.

    On 19 March 1921, Tom Barry's 100-strong West Cork IRA unit fought a large-scale action against 1,200 British troops - the Crossbarry Ambush. Barry's men narrowly avoided being trapped by converging British columns and inflicted between ten and thirty killed on the British side. Just two days later, on 21 March, the Kerry IRA attacked a train at the Headford junction near Killarney. Twenty British soldiers were killed or injured, as well as two IRA men and three civilians. Most of the actions in the war were on a smaller scale than this, but the IRA did have other significant victories in ambushes, for example at Millstreet in Cork and at Scramogue in Roscommon, also in March 1921 and at Tourmakeady and Carowkennedy in Mayo in May and June. Equally common, however, were failed ambushes, the worst of which, for example at Upton and Clonmult in Cork in February 1921, saw three and twelve IRA men killed respectively and more captured. The IRA in Mayo suffered a comparable reverse at Kilmeena. Fears of informers after such failed ambushes often led to a spate of IRA shootings of informers, real and imagined.

    The biggest single loss for the IRA, however, came in Dublin. On 25 May 1921, several hundred IRA men from the Dublin Brigade occupied and burned the Custom House (the centre of local government in Ireland) in Dublin city centre. Symbolically, this was intended to show that British rule in Ireland was untenable. However, from a military point of view, it was a catastrophe in which five IRA men were killed and over eighty were captured. This showed the IRA was not well enough equipped or trained to take on British forces in a conventional manner. However, it did not, as is sometimes claimed, cripple the IRA in Dublin. The Dublin Brigade carried out 107 attacks in the city in May and 93 in June, showing a falloff in activity, but not a dramatic one. However, by July 1921, most IRA units were chronically short of both weapons and ammunition. Also, for all their effectiveness at guerrilla warfare, they had, as Richard Mulcahy recalled, "as yet not been able to drive the enemy [the British] out of anything but a fairly good sized police barracks".

    Still, many military historians have concluded that the IRA fought a largely successful and lethal guerrilla war, which forced the British government to conclude that the IRA could not be defeated militarily."

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

    by TofG on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 05:17:44 PM PDT

  •  Not covered on MSNBC, CNN.... is on (0+ / 0-)


    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 05:51:51 PM PDT

  •  Breaking: Al Asad Farts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Claudius Bombarnac

    The guy in the video is filming from Jabal Qasiyun. The shelling is not from Jabal Qasiyun.

    Jabal Qasiyun has a wonderful view of the city. Which is why he is there.  (or you do say since he is sitting on Jabal Qasiyun filming, he is shelling?)

    He is hoping (God is the Greatest) to get a great video to show the world how evil that president is.

    All he gets is a boom.

    Doesn't know who did what to whom.

    Yet this is enough for a 'Breaking' from you.


    •  The rebels are now using 122 mm mortars (0+ / 0-)

      as well as tank rounds.

      They are also using IED's. The rebels are doing their own fair share of blowing up civilian buildings:

      •  It's an RPG (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It can be seen clearly in the video that the "bomb" is an RPG.

        You try to mask (deflect, equal) the government random non-stop artillery shelling with one case of street fighting?    

        You lie! You know you lie and we know you lie! The question is why you do it? Please enlighten us!

        •  An RPG cannot do that kind of damage... (0+ / 0-)

          This was an IED which the rebels have become very proficient at manufacturing.

          Outgunned Syria rebels make shift to bombs

          Some of these bombing skills may have been brought back from fighters who joined the Sunni insurgency in neighboring Iraq against the U.S. occupation forces. The presence of hardliners from a Syrian Sunni majority that feels oppressed by Assad and his fellow Alawites who dominate the administration has been among causes for concern among those who fear a sectarian civil war similar to that which devastated Iraq over the past decade.

          "There's no question that a lot of Syrians fought with al Qaeda elements in Iraq and it's likely that many rebels today learned bombing skills fighting there," said analyst Joseph Holliday, from the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War.

          Syrian rebels appear more capable, yet still outgunned

          Hidden away in rebel safe houses in this artillery-scarred town is a small arsenal of heavy weapons captured from Syrian security forces.

          Fighters proudly opened garage doors to reveal trucks mounted with an enormous 120 millimeter mortar and a anti-aircraft gun.

          The weapons have seen action.

          •  Do you know what a mortar is? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            One can see clearly in the fist clip that a projectile hits the building and then there is the explosion. The projectile trajectory is horizontal (watch the clip again). This fact automatically excludes the ied's and the mortar.
            How can you, the expert, mention ied and mortar in this specific case? Or maybe, as I suspect, you have no idea what you are talking about.

            The building crumbles because the resistance structure fails due to the explosion and not because the explosion is big.

            Do you agree with me that the real problem is the fact that the government indiscriminately bombs the neighbourhoods in a tentative to terrorize the citizens back into submission ?  
            Do you agree that if the government would stop doing this and let the people freely protest and have free elections (with Assad, of course gone to another country) then all this would stop ?

            Do you?

            •  I just said the rebels have a range of weapons now (0+ / 0-)

              You can't tell what caused the explosion from the video, but it seems too large for an RPG.

              IED just means improvised explosive device. They can take many shapes and be used for many differing purposes.

              Syrian Rebels Hone Bomb Skills to Even the Odds
               Bombs have been in rebel use since violence intensified in Syria in late 2011. But since midspring, anti-Assad fighters have become bolder and sharply more effective with their use, and not only in what is apparently their hand in the assassinations in Damascus.
              “The bomb is not only essential, it is a main part of our success,” said a former Syrian Army artillery major, who called himself Abu Akhmed and leads a fighting group in Idlib, a northern Syrian province, in a meeting in a house in this Turkish city crowded with fighters.

              “When you think of why we are improving and getting stronger, it is not because more weapons are coming in from outside,” he added. “The main reason is because we are becoming more organized, and because of our bombs.”

              The bombs that Abu Akhmed described, known in Western military jargon as improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, have done more than kill Syrian soldiers and deny the Syrian Army access to Syrian terrain.

              Here's rebels using a mortars
              Do you agree with me that the real problem is the fact that the government indiscriminately bombs the neighbourhoods in a tentative to terrorize the citizens back into submission ?  
              That's nonsense. No military in the world fires randomly to "terrorize the citizens".  They are all targeted (although some may miss or the target was chosen wrongly for whatever reason).
  •  Protest clip you posted (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Claudius Bombarnac

    That clip above is remarkable.   It seems to show about 20 people or less.   Is that the support the rebels have among the population in Damascus?   Having 10-15 people singing and chanting can barely be called a protest.

    •  Aleppo 1 Year ago (0+ / 0-)

      Aleppo was relatively peaceful until 4000 rebels (who don't even live there) invaded and started killing police and security.

      This caused the army to respond. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have now started to leave the city.

      So, who is the group that is putting civilians at risk?

      •  Of course you are right Claudius Bombarnac! (4+ / 0-)

        The slaves are always guilty. How dare they revolt against their masters!
        In your deformed world view Assad is just a poor innocent guy.
        He was forced to bomb the city. Poor Assad! He was forced to torture and kill all those children women and men. Proof is the Adounia television (the official tv channel of the Assad regime) and the staged manifestation with people brought by force.
        Poor Assad's army they are forced to shell every living thing.

        Poor Claudius Bombarnac!

        •  The point I'm trying to make is that not all (0+ / 0-)

          Syrians are against Assad. This is a civil war with half the people on each side.

          Your comments show that you have been taken by the propaganda. There are atrocities from both sides. The real losers in this civil war are the innocent civilians caught between the two groups.

          Where were you two, tyhree or foaur years ago. Did you even know Syria existed? What do you think about the tens of thousands of Kurds who have died at the hands of the Turks using American supplied arms?

          Just like most of the people who have come lately into this tweet/facebook uprising, you could care less about the people in this area for the last two decades.

          •  All syrians are against Assad (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mookins, oldliberal

            Many are still afraid. Some are afraid even to admit it. Some will not ever admit it because they are ashamed for enduring it for so much.
            A wrong doesn't justify another wrong. The Turks are guilty of many bad things (the Armenian genocide, do you remember?)
            I am an old Kosac (maybe too old). I was writing diaries here about Palestine a long time ago, when ip diaries wars were fought tooth and nail by many other kosacs (Arafat was alive and well at that time).

            Do you know about Hama massacre? Does this explain you why people in Syria were afraid even to admit opposition to the regime? Do you have the slightest idea what it means to live under a dictatorship of this kind?

            How can you say that the Syrians are not against Assad? How dare you !!! How dare you insult these people !!! How dare you !!!

            •  I did not say Syrians were not against Assad (0+ / 0-)

              I said that many Syrians support him. There were very large demonstrations in support of Assad in Allepo.

              Most people just want the carnage from both sides to stop.

              •  False!!! (0+ / 0-)

                There is no carnage from both sides! There is carnage from the government side only!
                The revolutionaries defend themselves and fight for freedom from the carnage.

                There is no moral equivalence between the two sides. It is a huge mistake to even try to find one.

                I'll give an example hoping that you'll understand: When you say that the Syrians are not against Assad's regime is equivalent with the XiXth century assertions that "blacks did not want to be free. Only the lazy ones wanted this" And they gave all sort of examples: "that one that run away he was always a trouble maker. He didn't like work and he was angry that the master whipped him. Now look at his poor wife, she had to be whipped by the master because of him"

                Do you understand how preposterous is what you are saying?

                •  A large number of people have done very well under (0+ / 0-)

                  Assad. There has been crop failures during that last few years and the rural people have not been doing very well.

                  If there were few Assad supporters, the civil war would never have started.

                  Assad Supporters Celebrate Russia and China Veto
                  (Video: Reuters/Photo: Getty Images)

                  Supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad take to the streets to thank Russia and China for U.N. resolution veto.


                  Pro Assad supporters went out in force a year after the start of the Syrian uprising burning and old French occupation flag

                  There have been atrocities by both sides in this conflict. It is a war. War is an atrocity.

                  I don't support either side. It is an internal matter. The rebels do not want outside interference. The only thing they want is arms.

                  The military is going to end up controlling the country if the US has a say in the matter. If the Islamist's take control, millions of people will leave the country for good - just as happened in Iraq.

          •  One of my diaries (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            is here. It was written in 2007.


    •  They protest in Damascus (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clay Claiborne, mookins

      The price if caught is death (or torture if one is lucky).

      I honestly do not understand how some people like you continue to believe Assad's propaganda no matter what. You continue to grip on every small detail and vain hope that maybe, maybe Assad will remain in power. That maybe people are not against him.

      Wake up! Assad is dead, he and you do not know it yet, but he's dead.
      Wake up! The people of Syria slowly, slowly are shedding their fear and regain their dignity.

      •  If Assad is dead then why is the fighting still (0+ / 0-)

        going on? What you are telling us is that the removal of Assad doesn't make one damn bit of difference. I thought it was the "monster Assad" who was responsible for Syria's problems.

        •  Because he doesn't know it yet! :-) (0+ / 0-)

          It was a figure of speech. It meant that he is finished and it is just a matter of time until he will be killed. These regimes are like dinosaurs it takes some time until they realize that they are dead.

      •  Funny (0+ / 0-)

        What a ridiculous post.   Let me repeat once and for all.  I despise all dictators, including Assad of course.  

        Who buys into propaganda is a different story.   I think you do, not me.   I dont think the rebels there represent the majority of the people of that country.   Most people there dislike the dictatorship of course, but at the same time do not want to see their country destroyed, as it is happening by the Saudi-backed rebels.   A large number of them are paid mercenaries and jihadist foreigh fighters.  The rebels are the ones who try to provoke civilian causalties, by essentially using civilians as human shields.     They went to densely populated areas of large cities there, using civilians for their protection.  How could you approve that type of approach?

  •  Shouldn't we be helping Assad? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clay Claiborne

    Wasn't he a gracious host for our black sites in Syria?

    Hyperbole will be the death of us all!

    by MrHinkyDink on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 07:55:13 PM PDT

    •  That was before "The Redirection" (0+ / 0-)

      The US had changed from supporting the Shia to supporting the Sunni in 2005.

      The Redirection
      Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?
      by Seymour M. Hersh March 5, 2007
      One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran.
      The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”

      Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

  •  Al Qaeda’s Arab Comeback: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Capitalizing on Chaos in Syria, Mali

    Can you imagine the amount of arms Al Qaeda will be getting when the Assad regime falls. We are looking at tens of times more than in Libya. Lots of mountainous areas to hide in unlike Libya.

    Jul 30, 2012 4:45 AM EDT
    Destroying Timbuktu in Mali, exploiting the turmoil in Syria, successfully attacking in the Sinai—at the operational level, al Qaeda is stronger than it’s ever been, says Bruce Riedel.

    Al Qaeda has exploited the Arab Spring to create is largest safe havens and operational bases in more than a decade across the Arab world. In the 18 months since the Arab revolutions first began, al Qaeda has grown stronger, despite founder Osama bin Laden’s death and a lack of mass appeal.
    Jihadist websites are reporting every day that new al Qaeda “martyrs” have died in the fighting in Damascus and Aleppo from Saudi Arabia, Palestine, and Egypt. Reliable reports from journalists speak of bands of jihadists operating in the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and elsewhere, all with a loose affiliation to al Qaeda.

    •  Al Qaeda's been nowhere in all the Arab Spring. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Of course they try to claim it as their own, and of course they have some trivial numbers of fighters.

      All the dictators have said the resistance is created, imported or 'exploited' by terrorists. The tyrants pose as protectors to hold onto power, but they never protected anything but their own power and wealth.

      The Arab Spring is so obviously a genuine movement to be free, that only a fool would believe the dictators' lies.

      I don't think you're a fool. Why do you play the fool for them?

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