Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 13, 2012

Syria: Insurgents Claim Another UN Meeting "Massacre"

Updated below

Massacre Reported in Syria as Security Council Meets

Syrian opposition activists said more than 200 people were killed in a Sunni village on Thursday by government forces using tanks and helicopters, which, if confirmed, would be the worst in a series of massacres that have convulsed Syria’s increasingly sectarian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Initial reports of an atrocity in Tremseh came as Security Council diplomats were meeting in a closed session at the United Nations to work on drafting a new resolution to force Mr. Assad’s government and its armed antagonists to honor a cease-fire, allow the monitors to resume their work, and carry out a peace plan by the special envoy Kofi Annan.

A UN meeting and a "massacre"? Haven't we seen that before?

January 27, 2012
Violence surges in Syria as U.N. Security Council meets

BEIRUT — Violence surged in Syria on Friday, with government forces using heavy artillery to bombard several towns, while the United Nations debated a resolution on ways to end the bloodshed, intensifying the diplomatic pressure on Damascus.
“In some areas, the shelling has not stopped for three days in a row,” said an activist in the central city of Homs who uses the name Hadi al-Homsi. “The regime is now waging full-scale war against the people.” He described what he called a “massacre” in the district of Karm al-Zeitoun, a focal point of government military operations in the city.

February 3, 2012
U.N. Security Council to meet on Syria as deaths mount

More than 200 people were reported killed in Syria, hours before the U.N. Security Council was scheduled to meet and likely vote on a draft resolution intended to pressure the government there to end its months-long crackdown on demonstrators, diplomats said.
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said early Saturday that 217 people, including women and children, had been killed in Homs in what the group characterized as a "massacre."

June 1, 2012
12 Syria workers 'executed' on eve of UN watchdog meet

Syrian government forces summarily executed 12 civilians on their way home from work in a fertiliser factory in Qusayr, activists in the central town told AFP by telephone on Friday.

The reported killings late on Thursday afternoon came on the eve of a special session of the UN Human Rights Council called to discuss the conflict.

June 6, 2012
Syria accused of new massacre as U.N. meets

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian troops and militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad stood accused by opponents on Thursday of a new massacre of scores of villagers hours before a divided U.N. Security Council convenes to review the crisis.

If confirmed, the killings of at least 78 people at Mazraat al-Qabeer, near Hama, will pile on pressure for world powers to act, but there is little sign they can overcome a paralysis born of sharp divisions between Western and Arab states on the one hand and Assad's defenders in Russia, China and Iran.

There was and is clearly a pattern recognizable here. Before any big UN event on Syria the opposition sets out to balme the government of committing a "massacre".

The Syrian government denies to have perpetrated the current "massacre" as it did in the other cases. It asserts that there was a big fight in Tremseh with "many" terrorists killed.

Tens of terrorists overrun the village of al-Trimsa in Hama Countryside yesterday, killing or wounding tens of Syrian civilians.
The competent security units, in response to al-Trimsa inhabitants' pleads, clashed with the terrorists, inflicting huge losses upon them, capturing scores of them, confiscating their weapons, among which Israeli-made machineguns.

3 security personnel were martyred during the clashes, according to SANA reporter in Hama.

A first graphic video of the aftermath of the "massacre" uploaded by the opposition shows 14 dead man of fighting age with seemingly typical battle wounds.

The Syrian government certainly has no advantage by committing any mass atrocity before important UN meetings while the insurgency and its western sponsors are clearly using them for their propaganda purpose.

But this UN meeting "massacre" scheme is getting stall as even some journalists finally recognize this scam for what it is.

Liz Sly, the Washington Post Foreign Correspondent on Syria, remarked today:

The pattern of massacres on the eve of UNSC meetings on Syria is starting to look very real. Reports of 200 dead near Hama; UN meets tmrw.

And Paul Danahar, the BBC Middle East Bureau Chief tweeted:

'Massacre in ‪#Syria‬ as UN meets' is headline everywhere....again. This is either an increasingly odd coincidence or it isn't one at all

That was, I believe, a rather rhetorical question.

The Wall Street Journal has some anonymous "U.S. officials" claiming that Syria is moving nerve gas it is alleged to have out of storage. Is such an unverifiable claim a preparation for another "massacre"? One perpetrated with whoever's nerve gas?


AFP now reports:

Separately, two Syrian activists said most of those killed in the Thursday incident were rebels, and that they died in fighting.

"At this stage, though we do not yet have the final count, the number of civilians killed by shelling is not more than seven," said Jaafar, an activist at the anti-regime Sham News Network.

"The rest were members of the [rebel] Free Syrian Army," he told AFP.

"An army convoy was on its way to the region of Hama when it was attacked by the FSA," he said. "The army staged a counter-attack with the support of [pro-regime] reinforcements from [nearby] Alawite villages. The FSA resisted for an hour before it was defeated."

An activist at a media center in Hama also said "a large number of rebels were killed in fighting between the FSA and the regular army."

The heavily armed insurgents lost a battle. How this is supposed to be a "massacre" is beyond me.

Posted by b on July 13, 2012 at 7:49 UTC | Permalink

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Hiba Kelanee
This excellent report on the Syrian TV al Dounia doesn't only prove that the opposition has made falsefied claims about a "massacre committed against civilians in Tremseh" by the Syrian army and the "Shabiha", but also proves that alJazeera Arabic TV channel tried to CONCEAL the fact that there were "FSA" militants in the area and the fact that the dead bodies paraded by the opposition belong to young fighters whose bearded faces were sdisguised by alJazeera!!.

Posted by: brian | Jul 15 2012 11:33 utc | 101

About the political caricaturist that had both hands broken before being dumped on the road with a bag over his head as a warning that was mentioned in the Khaileh article:

Posted by: www | Jul 15 2012 11:35 utc | 102

ah the Guardian....what awonderful source of...well anything!

Posted by: brian | Jul 15 2012 12:01 utc | 103

Ali Ferzat can speak for himself Brian
They broke my hands to stop me from drawing Assad (Video)

Posted by: somebody | Jul 15 2012 12:09 utc | 104

so youre saying Assad had his hand broken? why dont i believe you or him?

Posted by: brian | Jul 15 2012 12:25 utc | 105

Brian I suggest you listen to what Ali Ferzad says. Maybe it will not fit into your brain structure. That would not be Ali Ferzad's fault.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 15 2012 12:51 utc | 106

Open Letter to the Editors of National Review Online

Regarding comments in NRO like this:

I am with Andy McCarthy on this: we need to stay out of it. The more they focus on killing each other, the less they focus on killing us. Sad that they are slaughtering their own innocents, but not worth expending an ounce of our blood and treasure to stop. Maybe the longer these animals kill each other, the faster the rest of the world will come to recognize the danger they and their tribalistic religion pose to civilization.

Posted by: Antifo | Jul 15 2012 13:02 utc | 107

I saw a TV interview of Ferzat from a hospital bed with both his hands bandaged and he could barely talk. It's as hard to believe that he was beatten up by opposition forces to pass the blame to the Syrian government forces because he was drawing anti-Assad caricatures as it is hard to believe the the government forces actually committed the horrors at Houla or Tremseh. Government forces did not do Houla and Tremseh but the insurgents did not break Ali Ferzat's hands to teach anyone a lesson. Both sides are guilty of horrors.

Brian, Jazeera has been making news since Libya and is now continuing about Syria, but it's not much diffrent in the "making news" department from the government organ SANA or the al-Dunya that you swear by. There's an ongoing power play between Saudia and Qatar and it's being reflected in the news being packaged by the Arab networks and fed to the West.

Posted by: www | Jul 15 2012 13:04 utc | 108

I would contend the police-state thing, many countries go thru periods of paranoia where citicens can not speak there mind for fear of being arrested - like in a police state. In the US post 9.11, a LOT of people were arrested simply for being critical of Bushs foreign policy, or voicing sympathy for the political motives of the terrorists - that would really do you in - not supporting terrorism, but simply stating that there are reasons some guys don't like the US, that was enough to have you dissappear to a military facility with no due process or trial. and from what i can gather, these kind of things happen in Syria too, as in the old DDR, that's what a police state is about, where the police can take you in for simply voicing dissent, with no supporting law or violation. I would put the US in the same category as Syria, both have been known to use torture, both make people dissapear for periods simply for being critical to the gov, or publishing info not liked by the regime, in that sense, there is maybe less freedom in the US than in Syria, only in the US there is more self-censorship than in Syria - at this time - that's a fact, there is more dissent being published in Syria than in the US.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 15 2012 13:22 utc | 109

Alexander 109
are you serious?
"In the US post 9.11, a LOT of people were arrested simply for being critical of Bushs foreign policy, or voicing sympathy for the political motives of the terrorists - that would really do you in - not supporting terrorism, but simply stating that there are reasons some guys don't like the US, that was enough to have you dissappear to a military facility with no due process or trial"

have you got any sources for this?

Posted by: somebody | Jul 15 2012 13:46 utc | 110

>>> I would contend the police-state thing, many countries go thru periods of paranoia where citicens can not speak there mind for fear of being arrested ->>>

Alexander, the period in Syria had lasted for over 50 years. Although the majority in Syria are still backing Assad and the regime, there are a lot of people that have been put through the grinder since those 50 years and chief among them are the Brothers that still have a score to settle from the days of Hama in February 1982 when it was surrounded by tanks and pulverized into rubble and several hundred of them summarily excuted on June 27, 1980 after a failed attempt by the Brothers to kill the President. THe Brothers today are the head of the armed rebellion in Syria.

A bit of background on what happened in Hama from Wiki; keep in mind that the Brothers were no angels as they were keen on massacring the Alawites that they considered apostates; those radical ideas still prevail among the Brothers and one has to ask if they have a hand of these horrible massacres taking place:

"... The Ba'ath Party of Syria, which advocated the ideologies of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism, had clashed with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with a conservative ideology, since 1940.[11] The two groups were opposed in important ways. The Ba'ath party was secular, nationalist and led by the minority Alawites, which conservative Sunni Muslims considered Apostates. The Muslim Brotherhood, like other Islamist groups, saw nationalism as un-Islamic and religion as inseparable from politics and government. Most Ba'ath party members were from humble, obscure backgrounds and favored radical economic policies, while Sunni Muslims had dominated the souqs and landed power of Syria, and tended to view government intervention in the economy as threatening.[12] Not all Sunni notables believed in fundamentalism, and those who did not often saw the Brotherhood as a useful tool against the Ba'ath.[13]

After the clashes in Hama, the situation had periodically erupted into sporadic clashes between the government and various Islamic sections. However a more serious challenge occurred after the Syrian invasion to Lebanon in 1976. From 1976 to 1982, Sunni Islamists fought the Ba'ath Party-controlled government of Syria in what has been called "long campaign of terror".[13] In 1979 the Brotherhood undertook guerrilla activities in multiple cities within the country targeting military officers, government officials. The resulting government repression included abusive tactics, torture, mass arrests, and a number of massacres. In July 1980, the ratification of Law No. 49 made membership in the Muslim Brotherhood a capital offense.[14]

Throughout the first years of the 1980s the Muslim Brotherhood and various other Islamist factions staged hit-and-run and bomb attacks against the government and its officials, including a nearly successful attempt to assassinate president Hafez al-Assad on 26 June 1980, during an official state reception for the president of Mali. When a machine-gun salvo missed him, al-Assad allegedly ran to kick a hand grenade aside, and his bodyguard (who survived and was later promoted to a much higher position) smothered the explosion of another one. Surviving with only light injuries, al-Assad's revenge was swift and merciless: only hours later a large number of imprisoned Islamists (reports more than 1200) were executed in their cells in Tadmor Prison (near Palmyra), by units loyal to the president's brother Rifaat al-Assad.

Posted by: www | Jul 15 2012 14:02 utc | 111

Yeah, I'm serious. in Michael Moores docu there were several interviews with guys being taken in for voicing critcism against Bush at their workplace or gym, and getting unpleasent visits from FBI and police. I'll find you some links, rather than pull it from my ass, I'll get back to it.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 15 2012 14:03 utc | 112

Oh Alexender :-)) an unpleasant visit or spending a day at the police station is no fun, but you do not disappear ...

Posted by: somebody | Jul 15 2012 15:06 utc | 113

Brain @ 94

Thanks for the link.

I too think is a perp organization.

I was quite shocked to see its dishonest coverage of Syria. Just like many liberal or "progressive" blogs. Please look at the blogroll at Distant Ocean for a list of lefty blogs you would think would not be silent or dishonest on the issue of Syria . . . but they are. is a perp organization. There is no other explanation for its behavior.

Posted by: Walter Wit Man | Jul 15 2012 15:20 utc | 114

Alexander, you are right in a way, as the US has been doing all those things to non-US citizens all over the world. That is presumably the reason of the strange "ethical" emphasis of "killing your own people".

The US court system is also considered unfair by black people, as somehow they end up in prison in disproportionate numbers.

US citizenship is by birth, so there are cases where the US is not really concerned about what is being done to one of their citizens, like in the case of the Turkish US citizen killed by Israel.

There are these cases of US citizens being caught up in the war on terror and they did not really disappear:

However all states are about monopolizing power, and you need a very active and critical civil society to make sure the state is not misusing that monopoly.

The problem arises when the state monopoly of power is used for personal power with no institutional remedy.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 15 2012 15:23 utc | 115

Antifo @ 107,

I've seen similar right-wing arguments.

They want to stay out of the war but claim both sides are savages which simply lays the moral groundwork for later U.S. action.

Not to mention this viewpoint avoids blaming their government.

Posted by: Walter Wit Man | Jul 15 2012 15:27 utc | 116

It doesn't take much attention from police or FBI to shut up most westerners, so surely it has an impact on de facto freemdom of expression.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 15 2012 15:31 utc | 117

They tried to disappear Susan Lindauer under Patriot Act 1 and involuntarily drug her b/c they claimed she was crazy.

She claims Patriot Act 2 was designed to help disappear people like her better.

Jose Padilla was similarly held incommunicato, etc.

Posted by: Walter Wit Man | Jul 15 2012 15:33 utc | 118

Re police state . . .

Let's see some hard data. What are the respective prison populations of Syria and the U.S. going back 4 decades or so and what type of people are being arrested?

As far as "secret" goverment powers . . . we've already been through this but I see www and somebody aren't interested in gathering facts but simply repeating their predetermined conclusion. The U.S. also has secret laws. Obama has signed a number of significant one's recently. For instance, here: Let's see an honest substantive comparison b/w U.S. and Syrian "emergency" or "secret" laws. And btw, Syria has been faced more legitimate threats from its border (Irael, cough cough) than the U.S.

As far as political parties . . . I don't know. Maybe Syria's party(ies) offer more real choice than America's two parties.

I'm not seeing a fair analysis, using data, that Syria is a 'police state' anymore than the U.S. is a police state.

Posted by: Walter Wit Man | Jul 15 2012 15:38 utc | 119

"There are these cases of US citizens being caught up in the war on terror and they did not really disappear:"

Caught up? Lots of people are in Guantanamo for no reason at all. They got "caught up" for many reasons. I would not assume the people locked up in Guantanamo did anything to deserve it.

And why are you making Guantanamo the exception? Like you can just skip over it.

Where's the Assad "regime's" Guantanamo?

Posted by: Walter Wit Man | Jul 15 2012 15:42 utc | 120

US citisens are so tightly controlled and indoctrinated, that they don't represent much of a dissident problem, only foreigners need to be dealt with harshly, like assassinated. The meekness of Americans say something about what type of authoritarian state it is, not much protest even as their constitutional rights are being dissolved before their eyes, in a matter of years.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 15 2012 15:53 utc | 121

>>> Re police state . . .

Let's see some hard data. What are the respective prison populations of Syria and the U.S. going back 4 decades or so and what type of people are being arrested? >>>

Walter, there is no active military insurgency in the US and NATO is not doing its utmost to unseat President Obama. Therefore any comparatives between the 2 countries are superfluous.

Posted by: www | Jul 15 2012 17:51 utc | 122

>>> Where's the Assad "regime's" Guantanamo? >>>

It's fun disappointing you, Walter. Syria had 3 of them going at one point in time and in comparison to them, Guantanamo would have appeared like a Club Med facility, but to President Assad's credit he shut down the worst of them, Tadmor (Palmyra) Prison in the first year of his presidency. This shows that President Assad is a better president than Obama that talked about shutting Guantanamo but never did. But alas, with so many prisoners overtaxing the penal system since the insurgency took off, Syria has had to reactivate Tadmor to house some of the people arrested in the last 18 months but surely conditions there today are not what they were a decade or so ago. If you're really interested about prisons, look up "Tadmor Prison" to find out how things were back in the dark days; Amnesty Org had a lot to say about it too.

Posted by: www | Jul 15 2012 18:26 utc | 123

Walter, kidding aside, there aren't better prisons whether in the US or Syria. Prisons are not intended to be comfortable places anywhere in the world. The worst that can happen is to have someone unjustly held in a prison somewhere and mistakes happen even in the US.

Posted by: www | Jul 15 2012 18:38 utc | 124

>>> I was quite shocked to see its dishonest coverage of Syria. Just like many liberal or "progressive" blogs. Please look at the blogroll at Distant Ocean for a list of lefty blogs you would think would not be silent or dishonest on the issue of Syria . . . but they are.>>>

Dishonesty is not only about distorting the truth as is being done about Syria, it's also about neglecting to show some of the positive aspects of Syria and the good it has done. Here's a short list from Fellowship of Reconciliation blog that recognizes some of those "positives". What's good about it is that it doen't fail to mention some of the negatives along the way:

Bashar Assad does not rule Syria alone, but he is the most moderate of those in charge. Other members of his family head the military and security forces.

The Syrian Government has been repressive and is known for harsh limits of political freedom

The Syrian Government has been the #1 protector of refugee populations fleeing western wars in the region. Syria hosts over a million Iraq refugees, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and absorbed thousands from Lebanon during Israel’s 2006 war on that country

We hear that the Assad’s rule Syria as an Alawite cabal, but in fact, there are many Sunnis in high places in the Syrian government, military bureaucracy and business community. (Syria Comment, Friday Breakfast Club) Bashar Assad’s wife is from a Sunni family

At the highest levels, there is no religious conflict and no civil war in Syria. There are increasingly desperate businessmen and a government intent on controlling what it sees as an insurrection fueled from outside the country.

In the course of the last year, poor people have become poorer and more desperate, and have in some cases turned on one another in sectarian attacks.

The Syrian government has spoken with numerous representatives of internal opposition groups and held a referendum on a revamped constitution which increases political freedoms and the potential for broader participation in the political process

The Syrian Government has periodically released large numbers of prisoners detained during the peaceful protests and military sweeps.

Posted by: www | Jul 15 2012 19:00 utc | 125

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