500 Days of Night. 500 Days of Light.

Judging things through the visor of international reactions, the past 500 days in Syria were an age of darkness and missed opportunities. But examining the situation from the point of view of an activist, every day that passed brought more people to the cause, and for all the complications still involved, that is a major achievement. Things will never be the same. Fear is gone. The spell is broken.

Friday July 27, 2012
Today’s Death toll: 110. The Breakdown: 30 in Daraa, 23 in Damascus and Suburbs, 22 in Aleppo, 11 in Deir Ezzor, 10 in Hos, 5 in Idlib, 3 in Hama, 2 in Lattakia, and 1 in Raqqah.
Cities & Towns Under Shelling: Harasta, Arbeen, Moadamiah, Harran Al-Awameed, Zabadani, Madaya, Eltal, Dmeir, Hameh, Yelda, Rankous, Qarrah(Damascus Suburbs), Sit Zeinab, Al-Qadam, Modan, Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, Yarmouk, Kafar Sousseh, Mazzeh, Qaboun, Barzeh (Damascus City), Daraa City, Khirbet Al-Ghazaleh, Tafas, Bostra Al-Sham, Na’eemah, Mseifrah, Jimreen, Hraak (Daraa), Rastan, Talbisseh, Houla, Tal Kalakh, Al-Qusayr, Al-Hosn, Al-Ghanto, Al-Bouaydah, Old Homs (Homs Province), Hreitan, Elbab, Eizaz, Marei, Bayanoun (Aleppo Province), Haffeh, Jabal Al-Akrad (Lattakia), Deir Ezzor City, Mouhassan, Albou Kamal (Deir Ezzor Province), Kafar Zeiteh, Hawash, Shahshabo, Hama City (Hama Province), Jabal Al-Zawiyeh, Ma’rrat Al-Nouman, Saraqib, Maar Shoureen, Ariha, Kafroumah, Al-Rami, Khan Shaikhoon (Idlib).
Op-Eds & Special Reports
Brief History of Aleppo: A Great World City Now in the Grip of War As Syrian government forces and rebels clash in Aleppo, TIME takes a look at the history of this ancient, cosmopolitan city now locked in a state of war
Syria’s Christians, Caught in the Middle of Worsening Chaos Every effort must be immediately made to anticipate the potential for post-Assad retaliation against civilians such as Alawites, Christians, and other minorities associated with the regime (or who simply stayed out of the fight)- and to form a real and workable strategy to prevent it, or to stop it if all hell begins to break loose.
Kurdish worries drag Turkey deeper into Syria war Turkey may be some way from acting on Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s threat to strike Kurdish separatists in Syria, but week by week it finds itself sucked ever further into its neighbor’s worsening war.
By Ceding Northeastern Syria to the Kurds, Assad Puts Turkey in a BindAnkara has been a key backer of Syria’s rebellion, but the prospect of an Iraq-style autonomous Kurdish zone has Erdogan threatening to intervene
Syria regime ‘reeling, armed to the teeth’ with chemical weapons Like a three-card monte player, the Syrian government has been shifting its chemical weapons around the country in the midst of the country’s increasingly violent and chaotic civil war, leaving foreign intelligence agencies to guess where the outlawed weapons of mass destruction might end up – and under whose control.
Meeting the Syrian Opposition in Antakya and Istanbul … It is very difficult on the ground to be sure who it is that you are really talking to and what they represent… Turkish officials maintain a striking degree of control over Syrian opposition forces inside Turkey… the Muslim Brotherhood is pervasive not only within the Syrian National Council (SNC), but among many opposition groups… there is a striking cynicism and anger among fighters within Syria toward the outside world for not providing enough practical support.
Alawistan Bashar al-Assad may be gearing up to create an Alawite statelet along Syria’s coastal mountains. And he has the means to do it.
Kurdish flag-waving unnoticed in Syria Whatever has happened on the ground, which restricted media access to Syria makes very difficult to confirm, the recent assertion of Kurdish authority in northern Syria has led to speculation about Kurdish demands in a post-Assad era.
Assad’s Theater of the Absurd
An example of the kind of propaganda espoused by Assad’s official media organs:
This footage was originally broadcast on the official Souriyya Ikhbariyyah TV network and uploaded by supporters of Bashar al-Assad on July 23, 2012. It depicts a news report claiming that American corporations funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia are constructing life-size replicas of major Damascus neighborhoods in Hollywood to stage the fall of the capital. It also claims that senior level defections are being staged “and will be played by famous actors.”http://youtu.be/GjW5jlSqsRU
The inspiration for this storyline came out of a joke on Facebook, a joke that was actually mocking the Syrian regime’s propaganda. Regime supporters, it seems, did not get the joke and ended up believing and adopting the story!
Another story in this vein concerns the arrival in Doha of an Assad look-alike who is meant to play him delivering a concession speech. The included picture can be downloaded and amplified for the English version.
Some of the news anchors in Assad’s propaganda machine, however, could not stomach having to peddle these lies. Here is Oula Abbas, an anchorwoman atIkhbariyyah, announcing her defection and accusing the regime of stoking sectarian sentiments http://youtu.be/J0UzfzK0fAI
Meanwhile, there were more political defections, including the Syrian Ambassador in Belarus, Taha Farouq http://youtu.be/ETMm_DOgzkI and an MPrepresenting Aleppo, Ikhlas Badawi.
Now it’s Official
After so many months of lies on part of Assad’s propagandists speculations on part of international experts, and dithering on part of international leaders, the incitements and the neglect combined to create a vacuum in areas around Syria that was finally filled by the wrong elements that we were all fearing and warning against. Al-Qaeda is here. But guess who is trying to contain them: the FSA.
Here is Colonel Afif Solaiman, head of the Military Council of Idlib, explains how they freed two western journalists kidnapped by AQ and held for ransomhttp://youtu.be/lzknOugbvSo
The FSA is unlikely to try to fight against the emerging AQ network at this stage, since both have a common enemy they are fighting against: the Assads. But eventually, the two sides will have to battle out. This is another reason why the FSA should be supported.
Video Highlights
In Mayadeen, Deir Ezzor Province, the indiscriminate poundinghttp://youtu.be/EQr-NDqZG7Q claimed many lives and left many injuredhttp://youtu.be/I6dmizQTxoo , http://youtu.be/g1xVkjylPo8 But local FSA unit still fought back and destroyed an invading tank http://youtu.be/pPLLTKAvPfU
In Aleppo City, the pounding by helicopter gunshipshttp://youtu.be/RlgWVZEqLmQ of Firdos Neighborhood leaves many deadhttp://youtu.be/2OjXHu5aXxs But members of Al-Tawhid Brigade managed to capture the local police station arresting over 100 pro-Assad militiashttp://youtu.be/IGgNcM68aGM
In Daraa City, the indiscriminate pounding http://youtu.be/tkHwBH2SEIM ,http://youtu.be/4wPD5TmvEbk of the Mokhayam District left many deadhttp://youtu.be/fNdzjVDofYU , http://youtu.be/dWGgWQivM1M The Mokhayam’s population is a mix of Palestinians and Syrians.
In Damascus, the pounding by helicopter gunships of other restive suburbs and neighborhoods continues: Moadamiyah http://youtu.be/ZyD5MlkEUnE
In Homs Province, Old Homs, Rastan, Talbisseh and Houla continue to be pounded: Houla http://youtu.be/yFGHktDjgiE Rastanhttp://youtu.be/mcd7fEy8CZU Talbisseh http://youtu.be/1sLhwTCi64Q Old Homs (Baba Amr) http://youtu.be/kkmlnRcsRyc
While the pounding of cities and towns continued unrelenting, Friday witnessed as well the usual protest rallies still calling for toppling the regime, and the birth of a new democratic Syria.
Shaar Neighborhood, Aleppo City: protesters chanted for Al-Tawhid Brigade which is now in control http://youtu.be/Rc8ZtUSFvZo
Janoub Al-Malaab, Homs City: http://youtu.be/6cqiQVQXJOw
Abtaa, Daraa Province: People chant “the Syrian people are one: Muslims and Christians” http://youtu.be/THh4ZrX6SiM