The Weekly Brief on Syria 10 June 2012

kl:18,28 11|06|2012 Sawtalkurd

Top Stories
Regime perceives international reaction on Houleh massacre as a green light for more: Regime forces perpetrated a new massacre in the village of Qubeir in the province of Hama, claiming the lives of over 100 civilians including 40 women and children. Regime militias raided about 18 houses and slaughtered their inhabitants by knives before torching the houses with whoever remained inside. They also kidnapped the rest of the survivors leaving less than a dozen in the village. Other massacres ensued in the cities of Daraa, Homs, and Haffeh in Latakia. The regime believes the lack of will to resolve the Syrian unrest will allow it to perpetrate more gruesome massacres with nothing more than reprimand and rebuke as international reaction. The massacres will likely concentrate in the villages around the mid and western provinces.

Regime intensifies attacks on UN observers: Sources with the UN observers’ mission disclosed that the regime prohibited them from heading to the villages of Qubeir and Marzaf in Hama to investigate the massacre until two days later. The sources added that they were fired upon on their way to the villages. Ban Ki Moon has announced that heavy weaponry, armour-piercing bullets, and UAVs were also used against the UN observers in Syria almost daily to force them to retreat from areas where regime forces were in action. The regime intensified its assault on the UN mission after its initial transgressions were left without a reaction. These transgressions might escalate and lead to the death of UN observers in the future.

Uprising Developments
Systematic violence against Syrian Sunnis in Lebanon on the rise: Reports indicate that thousands of Syrians left Lebanon during the beginning of this week after Hezbollah loyalists spread threats against Syrian Sunnis in light of the recent kidnapping of Lebanese in Aleppo. A video of a Syrian Sunni worker slaughtered by knife was circulated, triggering the massive exodus. The Lebanese abducted in Aleppo have proven to be Hezbollah officers and militants; however, regime and Hezbollah media outlets continue to call them “Shia pilgrims”.

Regime uses chemical weapons after hinting it would deploy it: Reports claim that regime forces used chemical weapons in the neighbourhood of Safsafa in the city of Homs, and in the areas of Sahel, Bosr Harir, Sour, Hamer, and Lajat in the province of Daraa. The use of chemical weapons came after the regime hinted at their deployment announcing that the Free Syrian Army acquired chemical and biological weapons. Announcements of such nature usually come as precursors to regime actions. The regime has used chemical weapons in the past in the cities of Rastan and Homs but fears of international backlash were enough to end the deployment of such weapons. However, the regime’s realization of the clear international stalemate on Syria will mean it will carry on with the use of these weapons at this time.

Defections on the rise: The highest rates of defections within the ranks of the Syrian Army have been registered this week, as the numbers of defectors have reached hundreds in the province of Idlib and the city of Homs. Furthermore, the defection of a strategic air defence battalion armed with anti-air and anti-tanks missiles was announced. The regime is and will be using more local and foreign sectarian militias in return.

More sanctions on the regime: Switzerland imposed new sanctions on the regime targeting the financial, oil, and metal sectors. It banned the export of materials used for building oil and gas refineries, electrical generator stations, and equipment used for telecom surveillance. Switzerland also banned the trade of precious metals and diamonds with Syria, banned Syrian cargo flights from and to Switzerland, allowed asset-freeze on the Central Bank of Syria deposits, and prohibited the trade with bonds issued by the Syrian government. On the other hand, the Arab League requested the Arab Satellite Communications Institution, Arabsat, and the Egyptian Satellite Company, Nilesat, to end all transmission of the regime’s official and unofficial satellite TV stations.

Regime increases its reliance on local merchants: In a sign of economic weakness, the regime is increasingly relying on loyalist merchants, as it tasked affiliated Aleppean businessmen to start buying grains all over Syria to control the supply of flour and cut off supplies from demonstrating areas. Many cities started forming councils to stop local producers from selling their agricultural products to outsiders which led to food distribution disputes and shortages. The regime has also allowed the private sector to import oil products. This reliance will increase the strength of the merchants’ guilds, and the independency of their networks and militias within the country.

International Reactions
Jordan continues to deport Syrians: Several reports indicate that the Jordanian government started sending back Syrian refugees to Syria on its own expense, while deporting the affluent ones on their own expense to their country of choice. The process started after Syrians fled Lebanon due to the threats spread by Hezbollah loyalists. Jordan fears the security implications of siding with the revolution, and the infiltration of unwanted elements into Jordan which may transfer the conflict over.

Syrian Press Focus
Turkish-Saudi support to the armed opposition: Local newspapers published articles declaring that Turkey and Saudia are cooperating to smuggle arms and fighters to Syria, while an article by Kuwaiti al-Qubs newspaper was highlighted as it stated that dozens of Kuwaitis have crossed the Turkish borders into Syria to join the fight against the regime.

Blaming massacres on revolutionaries: Media outlets announced that a phone call between two terrorists planning to attack the city of Haffeh was intercepted. The city of Haffeh in the province of Latakia has been undergoing heavy regime shelling amid failed raid attempts.

President meets up with merchant guilds: Bashar Assad’s meetings with the local merchant guilds made it to the first pages of most newspapers in Syria. This illustrates the vital role merchants play in empowering the regime to continue to exist.

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