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Thread: Deja Vu: Syrian Tanks Storm Hama

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Deja Vu: Syrian Tanks Storm Hama

    Scores of people have been shot dead with reports of bodies lying in the street as Syrian troops in tanks unleashed a nationwide assault, including in the opposition stronghold of Hama, on Sunday morning.

    It is an escalation of the bloodshed after almost five months of protests against the regime of president Bashar al-Assad.

    Videos posted online showed columns of black smoke rising from the city after tanks moved in at dawn, with witnesses reporting indiscriminate firing at citizens .

    Residents shouted "God is great!" and threw firebombs and stones at the tanks as they pushed through the city.

    Government forces also opened fire in the eastern cities of Deir Ezzor and Al Boukamal and the southern town of Hirak.

    "The tanks came into the city around 5.30am from four different directions," said a resident in Hama reached by phone, with gunfire audible in the background.

    "They ran over some of the makeshift checkpoints and there is gun and tank fire," he said.

    The death toll is steadily rising, with activists saying at least 40 people may have been killed in Hama alone.

    Bodies were reported to be piling up in hospitals, where doctors were calling for blood donations.

    Those confirmed dead include Khaled al-Hamed, who activists from the local co-ordination committees said was shot and then run over by one of the tanks while attempting to flee his neighbourhood.

    In what appears to be a co-ordinated nationwide assault on the eve of Ramadan, the military also moved into the eastern cities of Deir Ezzor and Al Boukamal on Saturday, activists and residents said, with reports of a further 10 people shot dead there on Sunday.

    The attacks also come a day after a Syrian army colonel said he had founded an army of defectors after fleeing with hundreds of soldiers.

    The man, identifying himself as Colonel Riad al-Asaad, told AFP: "I am the commander of the Syrian Free Army" and warned against any attack on Deir Ezzor.

    Amateur footage circulating online purported to show defecting soldiers in Hama, including one video showing soldiers kissing protesters.

    Four people were also killed after forces entered the southern town of Hirak, close to the southern city of Deraa where protests first broke out en masse, the local co-ordination committees said.

    More than 200 people were also arrested in Moadimiyeh, close to Damascus, in dawn raids.

    Activists say they believe the regime is trying to scare people off the streets before the holy month of Ramadan, when protests are expected to intensify after daily evening prayers.

    "It's a massacre, they want to break Hama before the month of Ramadan," an eyewitness who identified himself by his first name, Ahmed, told the Associated Press by phone from Hama.

    He said he saw up to 12 people shot dead in the streets in a district known as the Baath neighbourhood. Most had been shot in the chest and head.
    A doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters that the Badr, al-Horani and Hikmeh hospitals in the city had received 24 bodies.

    "Tanks are attacking from four directions. They are firing their heavy machine guns randomly and overrunning makeshift roadblocks erected by the inhabitants," the doctor said. Machine-gun fire could be heard in background as he spoke.

    "There are bodies uncollected in the streets," said another resident, adding that army snipers had positioned themselves on the roofs of the state-owned electricity company and the main prison.

    Tank shells were falling at the rate of four a minute in and around northern Hama, residents said.

    Now notorious government official Reem Haddad, who has provoked comparisons with Iraq's Comical Ali for insisting on absurd explanations for the brutal government responses to protests, told al-Jazeera that forces had entered Hama because people could not go about their daily life.
    "It's as if it belongs to another planet," she said.

    Human rights groups say 1,600 civilians have died in the crackdown on the largely peaceful protests since mid-March and thousands have been detained.

    Bloodshed has only served to rally more people to the streets, while the regime has focused on consolidating its support base.

    But after offers of reform, dialogue, raids, killing and targeted arrests have failed to sway protesters, the regime appears to have decided to escalate its use of brute force.

    Hama had become the centre of demonstrations, with thousands taking to central al-Aasi square after government forces moved out of the city after shooting more than 70 people dead on 3 June.

    Protesters have been controlling the streets but government forces have been ringing the city since the start of July and conducting overnight raids.
    Before the assault on Hama, electricity and water supplies had been cut, activists said, in a tactic regularly used by the regime before entering towns.

    Snipers were reported to have taken up positions on rooftops around the city as well as in Deir Ezzor.

    Analysts say the regime has been holding off from attacking Hama owing to its sensitivity.

    At least 10,000 people were killed in the Sunni city of 800,000 in 1982 when the army put down an armed Islamist revolt against the rule of Assad's late father, Hafez.

    Earlier in July, US and French ambassadors made a visit to the city to show solidarity with the protesters, while Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said there must not be "another Hama" in reference to 1982's massacre.


    Syrian tanks storm Hama | World news | guardian.co.uk


    No one’s going to intervene this time, if the west couldn’t roll a two-bit tent-dweller in Tripoli in four months, we’re not going to dislodge Assad.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default U.N. condemns Syrian attacks on civilians

    Security Council blasts Assad regime, as body count from months-long crackdown surpasses 1,700, by some estimates






    After months of deadlock, the U.N. Security Council finally responded to the escalating violence in Syria on Wednesday, condemning President Bashar Assad's forces for attacking civilians and committing human rights violations.


    The trigger for the council to act was the military assault launched by the Syrian government over the weekend against the city of Hama, 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of the capital Damascus, which has a history of defiance. The offensive by Syrian forces, backed by tanks and snipers, was continuing Wednesday with reports of at least 100 dead in four days.


    The presidential statement adopted by the Security Council calls on Syrian authorities to immediately end all violence and launch an inclusive political process that will allow the Syrian people to fully exercise "fundamental freedoms ... including that of expression and peaceful assembly."


    Assad's regime has been using force since mid-March to put down citizen protests demanding political reforms, and activists say some 1,700 civilians have been killed. The Syrian leader has promised reforms, but the council expressed regret at "the lack of progress" in implementing them and called on Assad to keep his word.


    European and U.S. council members had been pressing for a legally binding resolution that would strongly condemn Syria. But Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa had been arguing that condemnation wouldn't promote negotiations, promised reforms by Assad, and an end to the violence.


    They also feared that a resolution might be used as a pretext for armed intervention against Syria. They point to a council resolution allowing the use of military force to protect the civilian population in Libya which, they argue, has been misused by NATO to justify five months of airstrikes against Moammar Gadhafi's regime.


    The Europeans and the U.S. agreed to a weaker presidential statement, which still becomes part of council record, in order to get all 15 council members to sign on.


    British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the statement "demonstrates the rising international concern at the unacceptable behavior of the regime and shows that president Assad is increasingly isolated." French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called the statement "a turning point in the attitude of the international community" and said Syria must now halt the attacks and implement reforms.


    Lebanon, a neighbor and close ally of Syria, didn't block adoption of the statement. But Lebanon's deputy U.N. ambassador Caroline Ziade invoked a procedure not used since 1974 by the Americans and 1976 by China, disassociating the country from the statement after it was read at a formal council meeting by the current president, India's U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri.


    Ziade said that "while we express our deep regret for the loss of innocent victims," the presidential statement "does not help in addressing the current situation in Syria." She reiterated that whatever affects Syria affects Lebanon, and vice versa.


    Puri told reporters that "what is most important ... is that the council was on one page and completely unanimous" in the message it was sending to Syria, a view echoed by Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant and U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice.


    While the U.S. wanted a resolution, Rice said, "the most important thing to us was strong content and a clear and unified condemnation."


    "We didn't want a split council and we didn't want a weak statement," she said in a phone call with reporters. "I think the Assad regime was counting that the Security Council would be unable to speak and that they would not be condemned."


    Speaking on behalf of France, Germany and Portugal as well as Britain, Lyall Grant said the statement "delivers a clear, unambiguous and united message to the Syrian regime: barbarous acts must cease in Syria."


    "The Syrian people have a right to liberty, democracy and justice," he told reporters. "Damascus must respond quickly and unequivocally to these legitimate aspirations."


    The presidential statement calls for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to update the Security Council on the situation in Syria in a week, and Lyall Grant made clear that "we'll expect to see a change of approach by Syria in the next seven days."


    Both Puri and Lyall Grant said there could be further Security Council action if the violence doesn't end.


    The secretary-general welcomed the statement "as a clear message of the international community," calling events of the past few days "brutally shocking."


    Diplomats said one of the key issues during negotiations had been how to address the violence against unarmed civilians as well as attacks on Syrian security forces. The Europeans and the U.S. insisted they should not be equated and that civilians could not be condemned for defending themselves against their attackers.


    In June, Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay called for a full investigation of alleged abuses by Syrian authorities against the protesters.




    U.N. condemns Syrian attacks on civilians - Syria - Salon.com
    It's no longer a dog whistle, it's a fucking trombone


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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    I remember reading years ago about the massacre Hafez Assad perpetrated against the area. I think it was an Islamist area in open revolt against his regime. He absolutely crushed and obliterated it - with very little consequences or international condemnation. I'm guessing that Syria's military thinks it can pull of the same approach twice.

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    And the world remains silent..

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Mired in Libya and Fearful of Consequences, West Holds Back From Syria Intervention

    "Liberal Interventionists" in Washington had hoped, last March, that the decision by the U.S., Britain and France to launch U.N.authorized military action in Libya represented a new Western willingness to protect civilians under threat by their own regimes. The paralysis of the same governments and the wider international community in the face of the more sustained brutality now unfolding in Syria suggests that the humanitarian interventionists dreamed in vain.

    The regime of President Bashar al-Assad has chosen the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan to unleash a brutal armored assault on a city bombed to rubble by his father, President Hafez al-Assad, to suppress an earlier rebellion in 1982. More than 140 residents of the city are reported to have been killed since Saturday, bringing the total death toll for the four-month uprising close to 2,000. Five times as many have been detained. And yet, despite its escalating brutality, the crackdown clearly isn't working.

    But the U.N. Security Council, which authorized military intervention to protect Libya's risen citizenry, finally managed Wednesday to agree on a rebuke of the "the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities," but with no consequences for the regime.

    Arab regimes long at odds with Damascus and its Iranian allies, and who blessed the intervention in Libya, have remained largely moot on the Syria crisis. Military intervention by any outside power remains highly unlikely.

    The Libya experience, of course, has dimmed prospects for intervention on Syria's behalf. Having successfully prevented an assault by Gaddafi forces on the rebel capital of Benghazi, the Western powers running the NATO campaign began to expand its objectives far beyond those set by the Security Council, morphing a mission authorized to protect Libya's civilians into a military campaign for regime-change. NATO has been flying close air support to rebel "infantry" who were expected to sweep into Tripoli and drive out the tyrant, and when that failed, it appears to have on more than one occasion launched strikes that might have killed him. Almost five months later, however, Gaddafi remains in place, and Libya is a quagmire, with the NATO mission running out of steam while its goals remain elusive.

    If Libya has been a cautionary tale of the danger of mission-creep for NATO militaries, for the likes of China and Russia -- whose assent is required for any U.N.-authorized action -- it has been yet another example of Western perfidy, exploiting a consensus on protecting civilians to launch yet a regime-change war. Hardly surprising, then, that Moscow and Beijing have been reluctant even to allow the U.N. to condemn Syria's behavior lest such censure be taken as the legal fig-leaf for yet another military adventure. Russia has also been a longtime ally and patron of the regime in Damascus, although last weekend's brutality in Hama prompted harsh condemnation from Moscow.

    In Washington, as analyst and Foreign Policy magazine editor Blake Hounshell notes, the usual suspects are bashing the Obama Administration to do more to align the U.S. with the Syrian rebellion, accusing him of a fecklessness that they say has emboldened Assad's crackdown -- a charge that Hounshell says both ignores the realities of the power struggle in Syria, and (perhaps routinely) overestimates the leverage the U.S. can bring to bear on the situation.

    But regardless of the state of debate among the U.S. punditry and on the Security Council, there's no appetite in Western capitals for military action in Syria. That's not only because how the Libya mission has played out or because of the limited resources Western powers have to devote to expeditionary warfare, today, but also because of the specifics of Syria's situation.

    For one thing, it's not entirely clear who, in Syria, falls within the rebel camp and who opposes it. Key sectors of the society -- whether for reasons of sect or political and economic interest -- continue to support the regime. "With no way to know whether a majority supports regime change," warns Hounshell, "it would hardly be wise to declare al-Assad illegitimate and denounce dialogue with the government as folly without a critical mass of Syrians making it clear they felt the same."

    The opposition is divided and its composition unclear. Western powers alarmed by last week's debacle in Libya, where the rebels' military chief appears to have been assassinated by an Islamist militia on his own side, will be wary of suggestions that some of the violence in the Syria rebellion (some 300 members of the security forces are reported to have been killed in its course) is coming from jihadist Syrians who fought in the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

    Even if those specific fears proved to be unfounded, there's plenty of evidence to suggest a violent component is emerging within the rebellion, and it's a safe bet that the regime's brutality will likely intensify armed resistance.

    The wider geopolitical implications of a rebellion and repression dynamic that appears to break worryingly on sectarian lines also gives pause in foreign capitals. While many in the West would dearly love to break the Damascus-Tehran axis, supporting a largely Sunni rebellion against a regime supported by the Christian and Alawite (an offshoot of Shi'ism, from which the regime's leadership is drawn) minorities could have dangerous implications for the already unstable equilibria in neighboring Lebanon and Iraq.

    Still, Western hopes that Assad could still lead a reform process to resolve the conflict now appear increasingly forlorn. The regime's actions appear to have irreparably alienated its key neighbor and trading partner, Turkey, which is being pushed further onto the path of supporting the opposition by the sheer brutality unleashed by Assad (and the resultant flow of refugees across its border). That, and the escalating economic isolation of the regime by European powers may prevent Assad from pulling Syria out of the slide towards economic collapse, which would doom a regime held together in no small part by patronage.

    So, it may well be that the regime is heading into a death dive. But even then, military action remains unlikely -- and the priority of the Western powers, as well as Turkey and Syria's Arab neighbors, will be to forge a common regional understanding to contain the damage of what may prove to be a nasty endgame.
    It's no longer a dog whistle, it's a fucking trombone


    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.


    If I wanted the government in my womb I'd fuck a Senator

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