Syria: The Shredded Tapestry
Excellent analysis & overview of the situation in Syria, & the equilibrium or lack thereof between the various factions of the anti-Assad forces by Ammar Abduhamid on his “Syrian Revolution Digest” blog. Very worthwhile reading in toto, though it is quite long. Opening paragraphs below:
The Shredded Tapestry: The State of Syria TodayA Trip Report (Turkey, August 10-30)BackgroundThe trip was arranged for the purpose of helping an independent American film company do a documentary on the Syrian Revolution. Khawla Yusuf and I were invited as advisers and interview subjects. But while the film crew made their rounds, Khawla and I had ample time and opportunity to meet with important activists and conduct our own interviews.The trip included visits to Istanbul, Antakya and Ankara, and our interviewees included free Syrian army officers in Antakya as well as rebel leaders and political activists from Syria. Many of the latter came specifically to meet us. Khawla was already a known person to them as she has been in communications with them for the last year.We also met with a number of foreign correspondents covering the Syrian Revolution in Antalya, as well as western officials based in Ankara. Coming at the end of our visit, these meetings served as a good opportunity to share our impressions of the people we met and current developments.General ImpressionsDaily Realities* The average daily death toll across Syria has now risen to 200 martyrs, most of whom civilians, including many children. Massacres in certain places, especially in Damascus Suburbs, now routinely claim the lives of 50 locals and more. On August 25, one particular heinous massacre in the Damascene Suburb of Daraya claimed the lives of 510 locals by latest counts, but up to the date of writing this report, local residents keep stumbling on new corpses in basements of building and nearby fields.* Summary executions by pro-Assad militias operating in and around restive towns and suburbs occur daily and seem part of a systematic effort to subdue rebels and drive a wedge between them and local populations. But while some criticism of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and its tactics can occasionally be heard in local circles, the plan may backfire. As sectarian sentiments increase and more people with scores to settle with regime militias and supporters emerge on the scene, more local FSA brigades will likely form but will await further influx of arms before they start operating at earnest. These new groups will likely be more sectarian in both character and creed.* Pounding cities and towns using helicopter gunships and fighter jets is now a commonplace occurrence throughout the country. All major towns and cities, including Damascus and Aleppo, are not targeted. But due to a recent though limited influx of more advanced weapons, local rebels are rising up to the challenge. Over the last two weeks, several helicopter gunships and two fighter jets have been downed. More significant, however, is the recent move to attack local military airports, a trend that began in Idlib Province with attacks on the Taftanaz and Abu Al-Zouhour Airports where a number of helicopters were destroyed. Still, the pounding of restive towns and villages continues. Meanwhile, the stinger missiles and MANPADs which had been sent to the rebels are still on hold in warehouses controlled by Turkish authorities.continued here.