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2:53 PM PT: Reuters has this report out this afternoon:

From central Damascus, war seems ever closer

5:05 p.m. EST, December 17, 2012
(This story was reported by independent journalists, whose names are withheld for security reasons)

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - From the center of Damascus, Syrians can see the shrouds of smoke rising overhead and feel the shake of explosions that warn of a frontline creeping ever closer.

The same squares where President Bashar al-Assad once drew tens of thousands to cheer in support lie empty and walled off by concrete barriers up to two meters (six feet) high.

Damascus is bracing itself after nearly two years of civil conflict as rebel forces seep deeper into the capital, and anxiety is etched across the faces of people in the city center.

"There is fear and pain in people's hearts, a feeling of despair and paralysis because of the enormity of the crisis," said Suad, an architect in the Salihiya neighborhood. "The sounds of all the different explosions - mortar, artillery and warplanes - suggest the frontline is getting closer," she said.

This ancient city has survived conquests down the ages, from Alexander the Great to early Arab caliphs and Crusaders. Sacked by Mongol invaders in 1400, it was later taken by the Turks and seized more than once by European armies last century. Now Damascus is under attack again, this time by its own people. More...

From the Jerusalem Post we have this report:
Iranian official heads to Moscow for Syria talks

12/17/2012 22:26
Amid escalating violence in Syria, Iranian deputy FM heads to Russia to discuss crisis with counterpart Mikhail Bogdanov.

As pressure grows on Syrian president Bashar Assad to step down, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Countries, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, headed to Moscow on Monday to discuss the crisis with his Russian counterpart Mikhail Bogdanov. More...

RIA Novosti is reporting:
Two Russians Abducted in Syria - Embassy

23:53 17/12/2012

BEIRUT, December 17 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian embassy in Syria confirmed on Monday that two Russian nationals had been abducted near the western Syrian port city of Latakia.

“Two Russian citizens, who worked in the country, have been abducted near Latakia. The embassy takes search measures in close cooperation with the local authorities,” embassy spokesman Sergei Markov said.

He said that circumstances surrounding the abduction are being studied and refused to give any further details citing security concerns. More...

Tearing down Assad’s portrait at the Infantry School Aleppo | 17 Dec 2012

Another child killed by Assad today | 17 Dec 2012 | EXTREMELY GRAPHIC

Follow clayclai on Twitter

There are reports of heavy fighting in many areas of Damascus this morning, as NBC Richard Engels is reported to have gone missing and Syrian VP Farouk Al-Sharaa has been speaking out in favor of a negotiated settlement with the opposition. He is speaking out everywhere. From the Associated Press we get this report:

We can’t win, Assad’s vice-president says

Dec 17, 2012 10:24 AM ET
BEIRUT — Syria’s longtime vice president said the army cannot defeat the rebels fighting to topple the regime, the first admission by a top government official that a victory by President Bashar Assad is unlikely.

In an interview with Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar published on Monday, Farouk al-Sharaa offered the unusually bleak public assessment of the civil war.

“All these opposition forces can only conclude the battle to topple the regime if their goal is to push the country into chaos a cycle of violence that has no end,” al-Sharaa said in the interview. “I don’t see that what the security forces and army units are doing will lead to a definitive victory.” More...

Farouk was sidelined after the July Damascus explosion that took out four of Assad's top people, and hasn't had any real power or influence since. Also today al Akhbar English is running this exclusive interview:
Syrian VP Farouk Al-Sharaa Proposes Alternative to War

By: Ibrahim al-Amin
Monday, December 17, 2012
Syrian Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa is in the heart of the action, but not in the decision-making circles. He keeps in touch with a few officials, speaks to President [Bashar al-Assad] from time to time, and communicates with some of the leadership.

His residence is under the same security precautions as those of figures in the decision-making circles, and so are his movements. But he is full of energy and also keeps communication channels open with members of the opposition and figures, who are not connected to the state or the regime.

Sharaa has his own views on the daily events, including criticisms and apprehensions, which he kept expressing in official meetings, but without going public with them in the media.

Something has changed, however. More...

Amidst all of tis come twitter reports of a coup in progress lead by forces loyal to the veep.

Stay tuned. More, later....

And we have this report from EAWorldView of how this increasingly desperate regime is stepping up the slaughter of its people:
Regime Warplanes Strike in Damascus for 1st Time

December 17, 2012 at 5:13 | James Miller

p>1630 GMT: According to Reuters, hundreds of Palestinians have fled across the border into Lebanon after the Yarmouk camp was bombed yesterday, killing at least 25.

A Reuters witness at the border said they came in buses and cars piled high with belongings. A Lebanese security source said the refugees from Damascus' Yarmouk Camp suburb had tried to flee on Sunday but the road was blocked by fighting.

A video reportedly shows refugees fleeing in cars, buses, and on foot:

1605 GMT: Like most Syrians, the average person just wants to avoid being killed. Over the last two days there have been a steady stream of reports that people are trying to take advantage of lulls in the violence to flee the Yarmouk Camp in Damascus. However, with so many suburbs already engaged in fierce fights, and with every major city in central Syria facing a similar fate, where will these people go?

Another report - these buildings match the architecture of the Yarmouk camp:

1552 GMT: For several weeks we've been tracking reports that Assad forces stationed at the Mezzeh airport in Damascus (map) have fire Type-63 and/or GRAD rockets at positions around the capital. A new video, uploaded today, is being shared by activists and claims to show a rocket attack on the Yarmouk Camp (see previous updates). This visually matches the Mezzeh airport, and the weather is correct:

1538 GMT: In a video posted yesterday, the head PR officer for Syrian intelligence, Alaaddin al-Sabbagh, defected from the Assad regime.


‘I urge the officers from different security services, ambassadors, ministers, delegates, diplomats and military attaches whom I taught and know me very well to join the revolution.”

“The Syrian revolution is open to everyone before the regime collapses completely. The regime today is clinically dead. Long Live Syria, free.”

1530 GMT: According to Reuters, Syrian troops and tanks have massed outside of the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus (map). Naharnethas this flash report (40 minutes old, no further details):

Rebel military council of Damascus: The headquarters of the PFLP-GC in the Yarmuk camp has been stormed.

We're not sure what exactly is happening yet, but the fighting in the Yarmouk camp is a disturbing development. For weeks skirmishes have been fought here, occasionally breaking into fierce battles. But now, it's possible that things are escalating into a street-by-street, house-by-house battle for control of the district. It is this kind of intense conflict that is new to Damascus, and it could spread.

Interestingly, the Free Syrian Army brigades appear to have been avoiding this kind of battle just yet. So far, much of the fighting has been a constant ebb and flow in the suburbs, characterized by ambushes, sudden advances, and quick retreats. Though these battles have been highly effective, the FSA clearly does not have the strength to capture and hold the capital. However, the Palestinian groups on both sides have nowhere to go, and so the escalating tensions may have finally brought an Aleppo-style warfare into the capital.

It's too early to tell if the regime will be able to storm the area and pacify the streets, but this is a concerning development as this area of southern Damascus is a high-density, at risk population, and it appears to be trapped in the middle of Syria's war.

James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us to the afternoon.

1245 GMT: Turkish media report that Ankara has a "new formula" which envisages the departure of President Assad by March.

Under the plan, the Syrian National Coalition, established last month, would lead a transitional authority. A "more disciplined" Free Syria Army would head a "clear military hierarchy".

In September, Turkey considered a plan under which Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa would be leader during the transition.

On Sunday, al-Sharaa was quoted by a Lebanese newspaper as saying that the regime could no longer hope to defeat the insurgency and calling for discussions for a national unity government.

1015 GMT: Al Jazeera English's Zeina Khodr reports on Alawite residents leaving a village in Idlib Province, fearing the entry of insurgents into the area:

1005 GMT: Back from a media break to find the allegations of a defected colonel that President Assad personally gave orders to “oppress civilian demonstrations by all available means", including murder.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, Colonel Enad al-Abbas, the Ministry of Interior official in charge of writing reports based on data collected from police headquarters in Syria's 14 governorates, said that a report was delivered to Assad’s personal office just after midnight every day.

Abbas said that comments on the reports were sent back to the ministry around 3 a.m. with directions to “oppress the demonstrations by all means". When police chiefs from across the country asked about the practical meaning implied by the order, they were told by Minister of Interior Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, “It means by all means, including murder".

0525 GMT: The Local Coordiating Committees claim 183 people were killed on Sunday, including 60 in Damascus and its suburbs, 45 in Aleppo Province, and 32 in Hama Province.

0515 GMT: Regime aircraft have bombarded a district of Damascus for the first time in the Syrian crisis.

The warplanes intervened in the fighting in Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in the southern part of the capital. Reports, supported by video, indicated that missiles hit a mosque sheltering people who had fled violence in Damascus suburbs, killing at least eight people.

The Local Coordinating Coordinated said 15 people were killed in the camp on Sunday, while other activists claimed a toll of 25.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that Ahmed Jibril, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, had fled the camp. The pro-regime PFLP has controlled Yarmouk, but has been under increasing pressure from insurgents and a pro-opposition Palestinian brigade. Activists that there have been scores of PFLP defections amid almost two weeks of clashes.

Alex Thompson also has an interesting piece out today about what its like to cover the war in Syria:

Damascus International: your flight to Aleppo is now departing

It is several days since we attempted the dual carriageway to Damascus International Airport. And although the mortar and small arms fire along the airport road is not what it was, another shot-up vehicle lies slewed in a ditch which was not there yesterday.

In truth, it is not just fighting with arms that makes it difficult for a reporter to access the airport here, it is fighting for government permission to be allowed to film here.

This has taken several days. This morning I said to the Syrian Minister of Information Omran al Zohbi: “How come it takes a matter of hours to fix up filming with the rebels in Damascus – yet we have tried for eight days to film with the Syrian Army without success?”

“Ha! That is because the rebels are not bureaucratic!”

Free speech?

There speaks a man with at least candour and understanding of the regime’s catastrophic inability to come to terms with free and open journalism.

In his interview, the information minister would go on to say they have given access to well over 300 foreign TV crews and they can operate here freely.

I do not doubt the truth of the first part of that statement. However, the second part is a total fiction and surely the genial and urbane Mr al Zohbi, must be aware of this. More...

Here are my related diaries on Syria:
Assad's jets bomb Palestinian refugee camp
Jabhat al-Nusra is a Threat to the Syrian Revolution
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syrian opposition says "Thanks but No Thanks!" to foreign intervention
BREAKING: Assad firing Scud missiles at Syria
Is Assad using white phosphorus in Syria?
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Speaking for the murderous regime in Syria
State of the war in Syria: Most of Damascus now in FSA hands!
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
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Free #Syria responds to Robert Fisk
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UPDATED: Syria's Charge D'Affaires Quits London Post
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Comment Preferences

  •  I hope for the most peaceful outcome for the (26+ / 0-)

    people and for the reappearance of Richard Engel.

    20 innocent children were slaughtered. The gun lobby and NRA bear responsibility and it is time to fight back!

    by the dogs sockpuppet on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:55:06 AM PST

  • is apparently reporting (18+ / 0-)

    that NBC correspondent Richard Engel is missing in Syria.  Can't link it right now, sight seems to be overwhelmed.

    "Differences in political opinion are as unavoidable as, to a certain point, they may perhaps be necessary." George Washington

    by civil wingnut on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:56:16 AM PST

  •  I really hope Richard Engles is OK. (8+ / 0-)
  •  Let there be peace (7+ / 0-)

    And a peace that lasts.

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

    by blue aardvark on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:09:12 AM PST

  •  Unless Assad wants to go the way of (9+ / 0-)

    Hussein and Qadaffi, he should just flee Syria as soon as possible for a country willing to give him asylum.  In fact, were I handling U.S. diplomacy, that would be my first tactic: convince him to run and arrange for another country to take him in, in order to save thousands of lives from the bloodshed.

    But these dictators never seem to understand what's coming to them.  So I suspect Assad will be dead within 6 months, if not sooner.


    •  I'm sure they are..... (0+ / 0-)
      In fact, were I handling U.S. diplomacy, that would be my first tactic: convince him to run and arrange for another country to take him in, in order to save thousands of lives from the bloodshed.

      This space for rent -- Cheap!

      by jds1978 on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:32:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hope it's over soon and Assad's regime falls (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure what will happen in Syria but Assad had to go.

    This has been a classic guerrilla uprising.  It reminds me of Cuba but bloodier.  Then again I don't see a Fidel Castro or a Che Guevara.

    I expect Assad to flee like Batista and others.  IMO he'll go to Switzerland or Iran.  We'll soon see.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:31:41 AM PST

  •  I'm confused. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Overseas, mookins

    Does it behoove the regime to call this a "civil war?"

    Because they do, and some of our media does.

    But isn't this a revolution?  And isn't there a HUGE difference between the two?

    Now, we're talking about a coup, which is the military turning on it's political leaders, which throws everything up int he air, but I just don't see any evidence of a civil war.

    Or am I just dense?

    "A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and me?" - Don Van Vliet

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:33:25 AM PST

    •  I'm not sure the names matter much (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      whatever it's called.

      But, a big worry is the possibility of another civil war after Assad falls, something like Yugoslavia.

    •  Yes, it is a civil war (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac, Alexandre

      There are various groups on both sides, sectarian, ethnic, political, Syrian, non-Syrian. It isn't simply a popular uprising against the regime. It never was or could be.

      It is a civil war that will continue long after Assad is gone, which is precisely what some of the foreign powers involved were shooting for.

      Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Rosa Luxemburg

      by chuckvw on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:00:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The situation in Syria is legally a civil war (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw, jlms qkw, mookins, Wee Mama

      according to international law.

      Qualification of armed conflicts

      II. Armed conflicts of a non-international character

      In the Tadić case, referred to briefly above, the ICTY affirmed that a non-international armed conflict exists when there is: “protracted armed violence between governmental authorities and organized armed groups or between such groups within a State.” (6) Thus, in the view of the ICTY, for there to be a non-international armed conflict:

          non-state armed groups must carry out protracted hostilities; and these groups must be organised.

      Two key treaty provisions set thresholds for identifying the law applicable to armed conflicts of a non-international character:

          Common Article 3 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions; and Article 1 of 1977 Additional Protocol II to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
      In its commentary on the article, the ICRC states that:

          “Speaking generally, it must be recognized that the conflicts referred to in Article 3 are armed conflicts, with armed forces on either side engaged in hostilities -- conflicts, in short, which are in many respects similar to an international war, but take place within the confines of a single country. In many cases, each of the Parties is in possession of a portion of the national territory, and there is often some sort of front.” (7)

      Control of a portion of the territory by a non-state armed group is not required for the application of common Article 3, but would certainly be strong evidence of its application.
      Syria in civil war, Red Cross says
      15 July 2012

      The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says fighting in Syria is so widespread that the conflict is now in effect a civil war.

      The change in status means combatants will now be officially subject to the Geneva Conventions, leaving them more exposed to war crimes prosecutions.

  •  As with most of Clay's "breaking" stuff... (7+ / 0-)'s reported nowhere else, by anyone.  What are the odds!

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:49:51 AM PST

  •  Assad will reap what he Sowed (0+ / 0-)

    And all the people that supported him will get their just dessert ,this will be a bloody battle ,that could leave 100 of thousand of people dead in Syria ,   that    is the only scenario  that will play itself out in this conflict

  •  If we cant see Assad in the Hague then (0+ / 0-)

    I'd like to see him hanging from a lamp-post.

    He is one sick F***er.

  •  Are there any credible sources for this (7+ / 0-)

    "reported" coup, or only the Tweet from freereb?

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:48:48 AM PST

  •  Obama deserves credit, thus far. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, howarddream, FiredUpInCA

    I will give Obama a lot of credit for resisting the clamor of major intervention.  We need to recognize that the the "rebels" largely are made up of fundamentalists, extremists, including elements of Al-Qaeda and we will be better of not taking sides and certainly we shouldn't arm or militarily assist anyone.

    I hope and pray, innocent civilians will be spared, but I also know it doesn't really matter who invades and occupies the halls of power-- Syria will continue to see violence and death. Assad killed one brand of people and the rebels if they take control will kill the other brand of people who were safe under Assad.

  •  Syrian V.P. suggests unity talks (0+ / 0-)

    Keep in mind that al-Sharaa has little to no real power in Syria.

    Syrian V.P. suggests unity talks
     Dec. 16, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Syria's vice president, in an interview to be published Monday, calls for an end to the country's civil war with negotiations to form a unity government.
    In the exclusive interview, which was al-Sharaa's first public statements since July 2011, the vice president said "military and political solutions get further away" every day.

    "The way events are heading will lead to an uncomfortable place where things will definitely go from bad to worse," he said.

    "We must be in the position of defending Syria's existence. We are not in a battle for the survival of an individual or a regime."

    Al-Sharaa said neither side can achieve outright victory.
    "The opposition with its different factions, civilian, armed, or ones with external ties, cannot claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, just as the current rule with its ideological army and its confrontation parties lead by the Baath, cannot achieve change without new partners," he said.

    "The opposition forces combined cannot decide the battle militarily, meanwhile what the security forces and the army units are doing will not reach a conclusive end."

    Read more:

  •  Pro-Assad Terror Group Suffers Big Defeat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clay Claiborne, defluxion10

    Amidst the fighting at the Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp, scores of fighters with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC) defected to the rebels, resulting in the FSA seizing the group's headquarters in the camp and the group's feared leader Ahmed Jibril reportedly fleeing for the Syrian coast town of Tartous.  Videos have been posted online have shown off weapons seized from the PFLP-GC including a heavy 14.5 mm machine gun.

    The PFLP-GC is arguably THE most sophisticated state-sponsored terror group on Earth, rivaling Hamas and even Hezbollah.  Connected to many of the most shocking acts of terror of the last forty years, including plane bombings (such as the bombing of TWA 841), massacres of schoolchildren in Israel, sophisticated military attacks on the IDF, and almost certainly a role in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri.

    The group's founder and leader, Ahmad Jibril, is a former Syrian military officer...and formed the network because he viewed Arafat and other Palestinian leaders as too moderate.

    They operated many terrorist training camps in Syria and Lebanon, run heavy weapons shipments into Gaza, and over the decades had extensive links to not only the Assads but Iran and Gaddafi's Libya.

    Alternative theories for the Lockerbie bombing place blame on significant circumstantial evidence around the PFLP-GC.

    Some commentators online knowledgeable about the PFLP-GC say that these defections may signal the wholesale disintegration of this group.  The New York Times quoted one General Command defector saying that the Assad regime had been using Palestinians like cannon fodder and they'd had enough, opting to side with the Syrian people and not Syria's tyrant.

    Follow Me on Twitter!!/ZeddRebel

    by TarantinoDork on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:24:42 PM PST

    •  This is good news? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hamas abandoned him long ago. Will HZ go down with the dog?

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

      by Clay Claiborne on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:48:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Its good news (0+ / 0-)

        The PFLP-GC is largely viewed as an arm of Syrian intelligence, so their defections should be viewed in that light.  Earlier in this conflict the FSA saw other defections from old Fatah groups like the Palestinian Liberation Army.

        Jibril is the head of the snake of that group.  If his fighters aren't taking orders from him any more, I think it has been defeated as a terrorist network.

        Follow Me on Twitter!!/ZeddRebel

        by TarantinoDork on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:07:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not necessarily good news for the future - (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          especially Israel.

          The al-Nusra Front was the major FSA force that entered Yarmouk and caused the SAA to respond. About 60 PFLP-GC defected to them.

          This could be a marriage made in hell as both hold the same philosophy. Al-Nusra has publicly proclaimed the United States and Israel are enemies of Islam.

          •  The PFLP-GC website has the old Syrian green (0+ / 0-)

            flag with the following on it now.


            ..Syrian Bomber
            To our heros in the Free Syrian Army.. our hearts and souls are with you those of whom sacrificed their blood and lives for us, may Allah reward you all the good and I find no words enough to address you may Allah protect and be with you
            To Bashar 'the duck' who lacks legitimacy and sanity do you see fathers crying their children? soon you will be in their shoes if Allah's will
            To Asmaa, crazy president's wife. Do you see women crying their husbands? soon you will be in their shoes if Allah's will
            To the islamic and arabic conscience and specially Muslims kings and presidents, our profit (pbuh) says « ما من امرئ يخذل امرءا مسلما في موطن تنتهك فيه حرمته ، وينتقص فيه من عرضه ، إلا خذله الله في موطن يحب فيه نصرته ، وما من امرئ ينصر امرءا مسلما في موطن ينتقص فيه من عرضه وتنتهك فيه من حرمته ، إلا نصره الله في موطن يحب فيه نصرته » so those who let us down expect Allah's humilation if you don't support us
            To United States and Europian countries, you claim that you protect the world, help the oppressed and claim democracy. But our revolution exposed your real faces and showed humanity that you are advocates of your own interests and that you don't have a humanitarian principle in what you claim, you only raise those banners to occupy nations, inslave their people and steal their treasures just like you did in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places, and maybe soon in Mali
            To the neutrals in Syria: most of the Syrian neutrals are non-Mulims like our christian brothers and druze brothers and others from other communities, my message to them, Aren't we brothers? Aren't we fighting for our joint dignity and to make a better Syria for tomorrow and the most beautiful country in the world? Aren't you suffering oppression just like us? or your saying to your selves that if those win then we'll get our freedom without sweating for it? I ask not to share the revolution gain with any party that didn't come to its aid and stood aside, otherwise join the freedom and dignity's revolution
            To the Alawite community: to the grandsons of Saleh Al-Ali, Bashar is abusing you, killing you and us just to save his precious occupied place, did Bashar claimed you kings in Syria? Are you living a better lives than us? The answer is clear, maybe you live worse than millions of Syrians, you are our brothers (except for the thugs and murderers among you) please abandon the regime now and join the revolution before it's too late and believe me if you don't join the revolution you will lose alot because you have crossed all the humanitarian and religious red lines against the Syrian people - RevoluSec

            •  Thats not the PFLP-GC's official statement (0+ / 0-)

              Thats a statement put out by Europe-based Syrian activists who have (quite impressively) been hacking the shit out of pro-Assad websites.  I saw this exact message on the Syrian Embassy in Berlin's website a week ago. Glad to see they got to Jibril's website too.

              Follow Me on Twitter!!/ZeddRebel

              by TarantinoDork on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:07:32 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I know. I said "on it now" (0+ / 0-)

                It just shows that the PFLP-GC is splitting (again) with a reported 60 members joining the militant Islamic Al-Nusra against Assad. The balance (including Jibril) are said to be with the SAA on the outskirts.

                The fall of Assad will not necessarily spell the demise of the PFLP-GC if it is absorbed into the Al-Nusra front. Religion is secondary to them. As you know, allegiances turn on a dime in the ME. Yesterday's enemies are today's allies and vice-verse.


                Multiple reports of the imminent OFAC  designation of the Al-Nusra Front, a radical Sunni organisation fighting the Assad regime in Syria, should alert compliance officers whose clients are sending relief funds, and supplies, to Syrian Opposition groups. Its Arabic name is Jabhat Al-Nusra, and the approximate English translation is Front for the Protection of the People of the Levant.

                One important detail: Al-Nusra, which has spewed forth anti-American and Anti-Israeli hatred, reportedly contains a fair number of Palestinians. Don't get caught in an OFAC violation if your clients are in the midst of what you thought were contributions to Palestinian causes, but go straight to Al-Nusra. It has been reported that the OFAC action will take place around 12 December.

  •  "when you feed a poor person you own him" (0+ / 0-)
    Jihadis bankroll aid efforts in Syria to win followers
    December 17, 2012
    Though many foreign organizations are offering assistance in some form, Syrians outside refugee camps along the border say the presence of international aid is virtually non-existent.

    In this vacuum, a number of groups have risen to provide aid, inspired by interests more Machiavellian than charitable. Extremist groups from both sides of the political spectrum are now using aid to attract supporters, but a number of Syrians say that conservative Islamist groups have been among the most aggressive. Jabhat al-Nusra even includes informational brochures and CDs in some of their aid packages.

    “Some people are on the fence politically, but when they get a lot of aid from an extremist group they’ll go with that group,” says Abu Ali, an activist involved in grass roots relief efforts. “Those people with agendas are extremists. It doesn’t matter if they’re from the left or the right, they’re extremists, and when you feed a poor person you own him.”

    Despite these concerns, a number of Syrians say that for the time being their differences are only ideological and not at risk of creating dangerous tensions yet. If Jabhat al-Nusra or any group oversteps the bounds in a Syria without the Assad government, locals say their 21-month uprising has left them equipped to deal with the problem.

  •  US decision in Syria backfires... (0+ / 0-)
    Terror-listing fuels anti-U.S. sentiment in Syria
    December 18

    BEIRUT: The United States’ decision to designate a powerful Islamist group as a terrorist organization in Syria is backfiring, fueling anti-American sentiments on the ground in the country.
     “I have fought alongside Nusra and I have no problem with them,” said one member of the rebel Damascus Military Council near Eastern Ghota near Damascus. “If they want to blow themselves up, it’s fine. We have different ideologies, but our fight is against one enemy,” he said.

    Insisting there was no potential for discord between rebel groups over resources, he said he did not expect the blacklisting to affect weapons supply, especially given most weapons are being seized from government caches inside the country anyway.

    “If they turn against the U.S. later, then that’s a problem for the U.S., not for me,” he said.

    The perception that the U.S. moves – 22 months into a conflict that has seen upward of 43,000 people killed – are late and unsubstantial, is also fueling suspicion and hostility on the ground.

    “Why are they coming now, when the FSA is 5 kilometers away from Assad’s palace and one step away from the airport?” complained one young Damascus resident, who described himself as a regime opponent but declined to be named, citing safety concerns.

    “They waited and waited and now they want to come in and steal the revolution, steal what is left after everyone is dead.”

    “We Syrians know how the Americans work, and we know they are no friends of ours.”

    Read more:
    (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

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