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Opposition Using Children in Conflict




(New York) – Armed opposition groups fighting in Syria are using children for combat and other military purposes, Human Rights Watch said today. Children as young as 14 have served in at least three opposition brigades, transporting weapons and supplies and acting as lookouts, Human Rights Watch found, and children as young as 16 have carried arms and taken combat roles against government forces. Opposition commanders should make public commitments to end this practice, and to prohibit the use of anyone under 18 for military purposes – even if they volunteer.

Human Rights Watch interviewed five boys between the ages of 14 and 16 who said they had worked with the armed opposition in Homs, Daraa, and Khirbet al-Jawz, a small Idlib town near the Turkish border. Three of the boys, all age 16, said they carried weapons. One said he received military training and participated in attack missions. Two boys – ages 14 and 15 – said they, together with other boys, supported opposition brigades by conducting reconnaissance or transporting weapons and supplies. In addition, Human Rights Watch interviewed three Syrian parents who said their sons under 18 had remained in Syria to fight.

“All eyes are on the Syrian opposition to prove they’re trying to protect children from bullets and bombs, rather than placing them in danger,” said Priyanka Motaparthy, children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “One of the best ways opposition military commanders can protect children is to make a strong, public commitment against use of children in their forces, and to verify boys’ ages before allowing them to enlist.”

In some cases, boys interviewed said that they had volunteered to fight along with older siblings or family members. In other cases, they said opposition soldiers asked them to participate. In all cases, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, to which Syria became party in 2003, states that, “Armed groups, distinct from the armed forces of a State, should not under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years.”

The Syria Violations Documenting Center, a Syrian opposition monitoring group, has documented the deaths of at least 17 children who fought with the FSA. Many others have been severely injured, and some permanently disabled.

Ongoing initiatives to have armed opposition groups adopt and enforce codes of conduct that promote respect for human rights and international humanitarian law should include provisions making clear that children should not participate in the armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said.

“Majid,” a 16-year-old boy from Khalidiya, Homs, told Human Rights Watch that he participated in combat missions in Syria. “I used to carry a Kalashnikov…. I used to shoot checkpoints … to capture [them] and take the weapons.” Majid added that his battalion, which he said had more than 2,000 fighters, gave him combat training. “They taught us how to shoot, how to dismantle and put together a weapon, how to target,” he told Human Rights Watch. He volunteered along with his older brother and other relatives, he said.

“Haitham” and “Qassim,” two sixteen-year-old boys from Daraa province currently living in Jordan, told Human Rights Watch that they had voluntarily joined a local brigade, though they did not participate in attacks and had not received training. “The FSA just gave us weapons, there wasn’t any training,” Qassim said, referring to the Free Syrian Army. “We had Kalashnikovs, but we had only 30 bullets. I did reconnaissance, [and] we would guard the village at night. When someone came, we would inform the others…. [But] we didn’t go on missions because we were too young.”

“[The FSA] is accepting people from 16 and up,” Haitham told Human Rights Watch. “They’re under a lot of pressure [to win battles].” Majid from Homs also indicated that the FSA accepted children, despite their age. “The job you have depends on you,” he said. “If you have a brave heart, they’ll send you to fight checkpoints.” He added that while he held a combat post for several months, his commanders eventually told him to leave the unit because of his age. “They said we need older guys – you’re too young,” he said.

“Raed,” 14, told Human Rights Watch that he transported weapons, food, and other supplies for opposition fighters in Khirbet al-Jawz, near the Turkish border. Raed and his brother had camped out on the border when their town in northern Syria came under attack. He told Human Rights Watch that fighters asked him to assist them by carrying supplies across the border:

We would help the FSA by bringing them … supplies from Turkey, weapons. We would bring bullets and Russiyets [Kalashnikovs]. All of the kids were helping like this. We were 10 boys between 14 and 18 years old. I know the guys in the FSA and they asked me to help in this way. I did this for four or five months.

In June 2012, government forces began shooting at the border area where Raed and his brother were sleeping, near a group of FSA fighters. “[My] grandparents were at home, but we slept at the border with the FSA,” he told Human Rights Watch. “The day I got shot was the first time that I slept at the border. When I was shot, I was running, and I was shot from behind. The army was about 100 meters away.” Raed received medical treatment in Turkey, but he suffered permanent damage from his injury. “The bullet hit my nerves,” he said. “I feel my leg but I can’t move it. I’ve had four surgeries and have three surgeries left…. I don’t know if I will walk again.”

“Karim,” 15, told Human Rights Watch that before he left Homs in June or July, he and his friends used to climb trees to scout for the Free Syrian Army. “I used to go into the trees,” he said. “I would hide there to see the situation on the ground. We used to help the FSA this way.”

International law sets 18 as the minimum age for participation in direct hostilities. Under the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute, it is a war crime for armed forces or groups to conscript or enlist children under 15, or to use them “to participate actively in hostilities.” According to definitive interpretations of the statute, active participation in hostilities does not only cover children’s direct participation in combat, but includes activities linked to combat such as scouting, spying, sabotage, and the use of children as decoys, couriers, or at military checkpoints. The prohibition on active participation also includes use of children in “direct” support functions, such as carrying supplies to the front line.

In August, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria issued a report in which it “note[d] with concern reports that children under 18 are fighting and performing auxiliary roles for anti-Government armed groups.” It added that, “The commission received assurances from Colonel Riad al-Asaad that an FSA policy not to use children in combat is in place. There is evidence to suggest, however, that this policy is not uniformly being adhered to by the FSA and other anti-Government armed groups.”

“Even when children volunteer to fight, commanders have a responsibility to protect them by turning them away,” Motaparthy said. “Children are easily influenced by older relatives and friends, but their participation in armed hostilities places them in grave danger of being killed, permanently disabled, or severely traumatized.”

Countries financing or supplying arms to opposition groups should urge the FSA to prohibit the use of those under 18 for military purposes, whether as active combatants or in support roles, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch found that refugee boys in neighboring countries remain vulnerable to recruitment and participation. In three group interviews with Syrian refugees, older men, including FSA fighters on leave, asked children in the group what army they supported and showed Human Rights Watch photographs or videos of children carrying weapons and chanting FSA rallying cries. On at least two occasions while interviewing refugees, Human Rights Watch witnessed men encouraging boys to join the armed opposition. Human Rights Watch also reviewed several YouTube videos, including videos on FSA brigades’ Facebook pages or YouTube channels, featuring former child combatant “martyrs” or children who say they hope to be martyred.

“We’ve watched men urge boys to support the FSA and join the fight,” Motaparthy said. “Particularly when their older family members fight with armed opposition groups, or have been killed by regime forces, boys can face pressure to pick up weapons and fight back, sometimes even at very young ages.”

Boys who served the armed opposition groups interviewed by Human Rights Watch came from particularly vulnerable segments of the Syrian population. Three of the five boys interviewed said they did not know how to read, and four had worked full-time before participating in FSA activities. None were attending school at the time they joined the FSA, as even those who formerly attended stopped because schools had closed in their community or because their families deemed the security risk too great.

Some of the boys interviewed by Human Rights Watch outside Syria said they had left Syria only to bring their female relatives to safety, while others said they had left temporarily but planned to return. Majid said that while he had been discharged from his battalion because of his age, he had come to Jordan only to drop off his female family members. He planned to travel to Daraa with a friend to try to enlist in a different unit. “Maybe it’ll be different [and they will accept me] there,” he said.

Haitham and Qassim said they also planned to return to Syria and continue fighting. “[My unit had] a weapons shortage,” Qassim said. “I am waiting for a call telling me they have more weapons, then I will return.” Raed said that he and his older brother accompanied their family to a refugee camp in Turkey, but then returned to Syria and joined the FSA, with whom he worked until he was shot in the leg.

“The FSA comes to the [Zaatari] camp and spreads the message that it is not acceptable to stay in the camp while others are fighting in Syria,” one international organization representative working with Syrian refugees in Jordan told Human Rights Watch. While Syrian refugees have been allowed access to school in host communities, and schools have been established in refugee camps, space remains limited.

“Many older children are choosing not to go to school,” Motaparthy said. “They have missed as many as two years of school inside Syria and they say they don’t see the value any longer. Humanitarian groups working with refugees should work to prevent recruitment in the camps and communities and ensure that all children have access to education

Human Rights Watch





West’s policy on Syria crisis, Unethical: Analyst




An analyst says the approach adopted by the Western powers toward the crisis in Syria is “unethical” as the West always “takes interests over values”.

At least 15 Syrian civilians were killed and 24 others injured in a car bomb attack in the western city of Homs on Sunday. Last week, Syrian newspaper Al Watan published the names of 142 foreign militants from 18 countries, who were killed while fighting against the government. Almost 50 of those named were Saudi nationals.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Danny Makki, co-founder of Syrian Youth in Britain to further discuss the issue. He is joined by two additional guests: Ala’a Ebrahim, journalist and political analyst from the Syrian capital city of Damascus and Jihad Muracadeh, political analyst from Lebanese capital city of Beirut. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Almost on a daily basis there are terrorist attacks and bombings in Syria and usually some civilians are killed. Of course Damascus says that insurgents are behind it and then the opposition says that the government is responsible; but let us look at it in general. We have to always look at which side, actually, benefits, if you want to say benefit, from these types of daily acts of violence there in your perspective?

Makki: well, to start off, not the Syrian government nor the opposition are really benefiting from what is happening. What we are witnessing now is a continued indefensible criminal act of terrorism. This is the new phase of Syrian crisis and this is what the armed opposition are perpetrating against the Syrian population and the Syrian government.

The latest of which was the explosion in Homs which killed up to 15 innocent individuals. We have to understand and comprehend that the majority of the people who are dying in this conflict are civilians and these terrorist attacks against the Syrian infrastructure are directly targeted at killing innocent civilians and this is both reprehensible and can be deemed as a war crime but the biggest problem is we have to hold the regional powers, who support and arm the Syrian opposition, responsible for these acts of criminality and when I say this I mean Qatar and Saudi Arabia and Turkey who through the funding of these armed militias and these al-Qaeda rebels in Syria are essentially continuing the Syria crisis.

The so-called Syrian"rebels", who are also supported by regional actors and regional powers, who also have foreign fighters and jihadists, have been targeting schools, hospitals, civilian infrastructures, government infrastructures, government institutions; they have been executing civilians, they have been executing journalists and they have been executing every person who does not support their criminality.

This is very clear and we can also point to the presence of foreign fighters as the external factor within the Syria crisis. The Syrian government has been killed recently up to 150 foreign fighters who were not Syrian.

Even Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and the Arab League peace envoy to Syria, has stated that there are up to 5000 foreign fighters fighting in Syria. So this is not necessarily a struggle within Syria, an ethnic or a sectarian struggle, it is a regional struggle between the regional powers and the fact that this terrorism is happening is because the direct support for the armed opposition by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

Press TV: Our guest in [Jihad Muracadeh] is saying that the majority of the people in the world or countries in the world do not even recognize the legitimacy of the Syrian government. Your take on that?

Makki: Let’s just be very, very honest. The Syrian government is not bombing peaceful pro-democracy protesters who are holding olive branches; they are bombing rebels who are supported by regional powers, who have very strong links to al-Qaeda, who have very strong links to all the Islamist groups in the region, who are funded and armed and backed by the West and who seek…, some seek an Islamic state, some seek the destruction of the Syrian government.

Jibhat al-Nusrah is essentially a branch of al-Qaeda which is working within Syria and we have seen lots of terrorist atrocities, which have been taking place by Jibhat al-Nusrah and have been claimed that this is an act of Jibhat al-Nusrah.

Most of the explosions in Damascus have been carried out by extremists. The majority of the suicide bombers who are blowing themselves up on Damascus are not Syrian but are sent from other Arab countries, who are jihadists, and we have to comprehend the hypocrisy of this, because this is terrorism and they should be recognized, internationally, as acts of terrorism and the hypocrisy of the Western states in dealing with this is the fact that the West waged the ten-year war against terror in the name of humanity and in the name of fighting al-Qaeda ….

Press TV: What about that [what the previous guest from Damascus just mentioned] Mr. Makki? Looking at that division, what do you think is the goal behind of trying to divide Syria? Because as our guest in Damascus [Mr. Ebrahim] said there have been reference to this by many different entities. What do you think the overall goal of this would be?

Makki: First I agree with your guest in Damascus and I would just like to say that dividing Syria has been on the West’s agenda for the last 40 years, not necessarily throughout the Arab Spring or before this, it has been there for over 40 years because Syria has not submitted to Western hegemony, because Syria has not submitted to the rule of the West and does not have a moderate pro-Western government which allows the American interests in the region.

If we look at the Middle East, almost every single state is under the auspices or the hegemony of the United States of America apart from the Syrian state, because the Syrian state is a revolutionary state against the Western imperialism and against Western hegemony.

It is against post-colonialism and it is essentially a state which supports its own sovereignty. It is the only state in the Middle East which actually does submit to the aspirations of its own people but I just like to make one point, which you made previously; the West waged a ten-year war against terror in the name of fighting al-Qaeda. They killed millions in the process of doing this, yet they support the same terrorists in Syria. Is not this a hypocrisy of the great scale or magnitude?

I mean if we had armed groups in America going round, executing people and chanting Allahu Akbar [Arabic term meaning God id great] would the American government not act, would something not be done?

What we have to comprehend is that the West when they deal with the Syrian crisis, they have an unethical foreign policy because they always take interests over values. Now of the West truly adheres to democracy and humanitarianism within Syria, they would stop the funding and arming of these armed groups and take a stance, which is based on values…






Syria is facing a global war and a takfiri thinking




In its Monday edition, al-Akhbar Lebanese daily stated that the Salafist group fighters were killed in Tal Sireen in their way to the Syrian town of Tal Kalakh, and that others in the group had been wounded.

The daily's source mentioned that the men planned to take a smugglers' route from the Lebanese village of Hleit to Qalaat al-Hosn in Syria after dawn prayers Friday. The group fell into an ambush in Tal Sireen, on the way to Qalaat al-Hasan.

The source added "the young men, ranging in age from 18 to 25, went to Syria at the request of Kh. M., of Fatah al-Islam leaders.”

(Using children and minors in wars are considered war crimes and this is what the terrorist FSA is doing while the world is silent as per their practices).

"The leader was released recently and he moved to Syria to fight alongside with the opposition(al-Qaeda and Doha coalition),"In the mean time, they noted that "he established what looks like an "Islamic" emirate in the area located near the city of Homs."The source continued that people close to Kh.M previously organized groups to be sent to Syria, based on his so-called "Jihad".

"Several individuals were sent for this purpose, before they send such a large number of young men at once."

 A remarkable position emerged from the family of Khodar Alam Dein, was killed in the ambush, Alam Dein's father did n’t know that his son was going to Syria to kill his brothers, he condemned "the misleading extremist groups, scattered in the North, of his son's blood."

The man who knew nothing of his son's plans, demanded accountability for those who tampered with the mind of his son and his friends.

"If my son wanted to fight the "Israelis", I would have sent him myself. But to take him to participate in a conspiracy against our countries, it is not permissible," the father confirmed.

Moreover, al-Akhbar reported that a battalion known as "al-Wadi [Valley] battalion consists of hundreds of fighters, mostly Lebanese."

"This armed group is led by a Syrian defector officer known as Abdul Salam H., who has good relations with a Northern Lebanese MP in terms of funding, coordination and receiving the arrivals," the source reported.

However, according to well-informed sources, the issue of entry and exit of fighters was, and is still the responsibility of a man, who belongs to al-Hujairi family, known as the Sheikh Abu Taia [hat].

"There are several Lebanese groups that infiltare into Syria periodically," they revealed, and noted that "among the most prominent people who recently joined the Syrian rebels are the most dangerious detainees who escaped from Roumieh prison last August."

Similarly, al-Akhbar unveiled that "Shadi al-Mawlawi, the young man who was stopped by the Lebanese Security Forces a few months ago, and then released under the pressure of Tripoli's militants is among the Lebanese fighters in Syria."


Source: al-Akhbar daily,  Edited by B.N





What do they want from Syria?




A general view of the scene of a car bomb explosion in Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus, on November 28, 2012“What do they want from Jaramana? The town brings together people from all over Syria and welcomes everybody.” These were the anguished words of one distraught resident in the Syrian town of Jaramana that was devastated by multiple deadly explosions this week.

The death toll has yet to be confirmed. Early reports on the blasts said 34 were killed. Later, the toll was put at more than 50, with over 120 injured, many critical. All of the victims were civilian.

Over the past 20 months, Syria has witnessed dozens of massacres and horrific car bombings in its capital Damascus and in other cities and countless villages across the country. But the latest atrocity in Jaramana, located close to the capital, is distinguishable perhaps because it most clearly shows the vile Machiavellian mentality of the perpetrators in their broader strategy towards the Middle Eastern country.

As the words of the shell-shocked resident above indicate, Jaramana can be seen as an exemplar of the pluralist nature of the Syrian society, “welcoming everybody”. The town is particularly known for its Christian and Druze Muslim communities, who by all accounts have coexisted peacefully for centuries. The populace is also largely supportive of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

This Wednesday morning, as workers, mothers and school children were going about their usual daily routine, two massive no-warning explosions ripped through the heart of Jaramana. The second blast was detonated minutes after the first one when bystanders were rushing to the scene to aid the wounded. The heinous calculation of the perpetrators was to maximise the killing and suffering.

 “What do they want from Jaramana?” The answer is revealed in the resident’s subsequent words: “The town brings together people from all over Syria and welcomes everybody.”

The terrorist war on Syria, which the Western media trumpet as a “pro-democracy uprising”, is aimed at precisely the opposite of pluralist coexistence. What the terrorists want is to tear the tolerant soul out of the country and plunge its people into an internecine, hate-filled sectarian bloodbath.

The targeting of Jaramana is a deliberate, brutal calculation to precipitate such a bloodbath. The town has been inflicted with several similar, although less deadly, bombings in recent months. On 29 October, a car bomb killed 11 people.

There are no military or state security installations in Jaramana. As noted, it is a urban district known for its tolerance towards mixed religions and cultural heritage. But, for the terrorists and their fiendish mentality, that civic virtue made Jaramana a prime target.

The armed militants in Syria are driven by Sunni extremists of Wahhabist or Salafist tendencies, who see pluralist coexistence of Sunni, Shia, Alawite, Druze, Christian, Jews and non-believers as anathema to their demented puritanical ideology.

Other elements within the Syrian armed militant groups would appear to be simply “soldiers of fortune” – mercenaries and criminal opportunists who have no particular religious affiliation.

However, taken together, these various militant factions are united by one criminal goal: to smash Syria, ruthlessly and recklessly.

The Syrian society, as it currently exists with its emphasis on secular pluralism, must be destroyed at all costs by these extremists and criminal opportunists. The most effective way to sabotage Syria is to unleash a sectarian bloodbath and to pit communities at each other’s throats. That will ensure the collapse of the central government and the splintering of society into sects. In this intended milieu of violence, chaos and fear, Syria will then be at the mercy of those who want to dominate this proud, historic country.

    The enemies are well known. Western governments have had their knives out for Syria over many years, seeing it as a strategic obstacle of popular resistance to Western imperialism and Zionism in the Middle East. The Sunni regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and latterly Egypt under Mohammed Morsi want to see Syria roped into their camp, with the added appeal of undermining Iran’s regional influence.

Saudi Arabia’s autocrats are particularly obsessed with defeating what they perceive jealously as the Shia Crescent represented by Iran, Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Both of these agenda converge on the objective of isolating Iran and setting up the Islamic Republic for an all-out military assault.

Syria is therefore a crucial geopolitical prize for the West and its regional allies. The supposed advocacy of democratic reforms by Western governments and their corporate media mouthpieces is of course a cynical cover for their criminal imperialist agenda. That particular ridiculous lie is exposed by the West’s collusion with the most repressive dictatorial regimes on the planet – the Persian Gulf monarchies – in “liberating” Syria.

Also, if Saudi Arabia and Qatar are so concerned about the welfare of their Arab Muslim brothers in Syria, why aren’t these supposedly chivalrous monarchs sending weapons and fighters to help the besieged Palestinian people of Gaza?

A measure of the Syrian prize is the criminal lengths to which the enemies of Syria are willing to go in order to vanquish the country and install their self-styled regime.

    The massacres of families and children in villages like Houla and Qubair; the cold-blooded execution of civilians forced to kneel before their killers; and the callous bombing of civilians as seen this week in Jaramana are techniques of terror that the Western governments and their allies have perfected elsewhere over several decades. The Americans used such demonic scientific terrorism in Central America; the French in North Africa; and the British in East Africa and more recently in Northern Ireland.

Syria is witnessing the worst of all possible criminal assaults – the evolution and amalgamation of Western state terrorism fuelled with the petrodollars of mindless Arab despots.

Adding to the abomination, many of the crimes in Syria have been filmed by the perpetrators and subsequently released claiming that they were the action of government forces. One incident was the explosive demolition of a mosque by the mercenaries in Aleppo, who were filmed laughing at their war crime. Western media claimed it was the Syrian national army, only for it to emerge that it was actually the members of the so-called Free Syrian Army.

Recent claims that the Syrian armed forces are using cluster bombs to kill children have been given the usual Western media prominence. But given the track record of the Western-backed mercenaries and the Western propaganda machine, the weight of suspicion surely lies on them.

Within hours of the mass murder of the innocents in Jaramana, the United Nations General Assembly in New York adopted a draft resolution condemning the Syrian government for what it called “widespread human rights abuses”.

The condemnation was co-sponsored by the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – the very sponsors of Western state terrorism plunging the Syrian people into a bloodbath. The UN stands as an institution that is not just a debased propaganda tool, it is a propaganda tool splattered with the blood of innocents.

Source: nsnbc




Terrorists target Syrian Internet, Telephones and Journalists




Syrians in Syria as well as abroad became seriously concerned when all telephone and internet connections were disconnected at 12 o´clock CET. The websites of the Syrian Arab News Agency SANA and other Syrian media have been targeted for months but the sudden and total blackout was unprecedented and caused widespread speculation.

According to some sources the blackout could have been an initiative by the Syrian government acting on concerns that some explosive devices might be triggered by cell phones or internet. Others speculated that NATO had begun implementing a plan to substitute Syrian radio and TV with false news in preparation of a coup. Plans for such initiative had been discussed in relation to the two failed attempts to conquer the city of Aleppo as the seat of a foreign backed transitional government.

According to a nsnbc contact who arrived in Turkey from Syria today the explanation for the blackout was that terrorists had managed to sever the main internet and mobile phone towers cables, effectively rendering most of Syria without internet and cell phone connection.

Terrorists also targeted PRESS TV and Al-Alam TV. A bomb blast near the TV stations offices in Aleppo caused structural damage to buildings and destroyed several of the two TV stations vehicles. Nobody was killed during the attack.

Journalists from PRESS TV and AL-Alam have been systematically targeted for months. On 26 September PRESS TV and Al-Alam journalist Maya Naser was killed by snipers after he and Al-Alam´s Syrian station chief Hossein Mortada rushed to the scene of two explosions. Hossein Mortada survived the attack but had to be hospitalized and treated for his injuries. According to nsnbc sources the assassins had been deployed already two hours prior to the bomb blasts.

During the last week before his assassination Maya Naser was working on an investigation which documented that the Turkish Freedom and Justice Party (AKP) of Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdogan released convicts who were sentenced for terrorism to deploy them to fight as insurgents in Syria. Hossein Mortada has received countless death threats and he has survived several attempts on his life.

The Syrian government has held several Western and Arab nations governments  responsible for the killing of journalists in Syria.

While there is an element of plausible deniability related to the use of foreign backed terrorists to censor unwanted media reports the criminality of the belligerent parties does not stop there.  The Arab League violated at least four U.N. Resolutions when it caused Arabsat and Nilesat to cease carrying satellite signals from Syrian Radio and TV stations.

According to RT reports the hacker group Anonymous should have taken responsibility for hacking Syrian government websites because the Syrian government has shut down internet and phone services. It is very unlikely that the report is correct. If Anonymous actually is playing a role in the attack on Syria it is most likely because it has been co-opted.

Who ever is behind the attack, the strategy to prevent Syrians from use of mobile phones and the internet seems to be a self-defeating strategy if the intention is to win the hearts and minds of the Syrian people. It remains to see whether the targeting of the Syrian internet and telephone systems will be a precursor of a coordinated campaign against Syria.

Until internet and phone connections have been reestablished, the safest way to access information about Syria would be through media like PRESS TV, Al-Alam TV or independent media such as nsnbc, The 4th Media and others.

Source: nsnbc




Aleppo as an Islamic Emirate – the “Jihadists” Goal




Al-Watan Syrian newspaper quoted civilians who left their homes in Daria city of Damascus countryside that their city turned into a stronghold for the terrorists who came from several areas in Damascus countryside to carry out the Battle of Damascus.

The residents confirmed that most of the insurgents are foreigners who were wearing the symbol of al-Qaeda and have heavy armoury and mortar launchers.

The newspaper pointed out that the militants are about 2000-4000 fighters who entered large quantity of explosives, booby-trapped roads and buildings and barricaded in houses that they broke in earlier.

The newspaper also stated that the Syrian Army has surrounded the city and started moving forward through its four axises, causing large losses of the militants.

“The bodies of fighters are all over the city” the newspaper wrote, “lots of the corpses were burned, where other militants are still barricading in buildings, mosques and governmental institutions”

The newspaper added that the Syrian Army is predicted to settle the battle in the next few days after removing explosive charges and secure the roads in the city.

“Al-Watan” said that the Syrian Army has a new strategy in its current battle that includes attracting lots of terrorists inside the city and eliminating them.

About Aleppo, the newspaper said that the Islamic groups that link with al-Qaeda have strengthened in their positions in several neighborhoods of Aleppo city.

“The Islamists hold sway over the city after Arab and foreign “Jihadists” entered, attempting to make the city an Islamic emirate” the newspaper stated.





How Qatar Became a Francophone Country




There was a time when most French couldn’t place Qatar on a map. Now, Qatar – a small Gulf state with marginal ties to French culture – is a member of an international Francophone organization. Some have raised eyebrows at Qatar’s new Francophone identity since it has just expelled the director of a secular French lycée from its borders.

At the beginning of 2010, a Qatari prince decided to renovate a 17th century Parisian hotel he had recently purchased. However, after a few months of work, an organization that protects French heritage took Qatar to court to stop the project.

Tensions between the French administrators and their Qatari counterparts have mounted as local authorities pressed for changes in the curriculum and its principles, which have been in place since 1902.It turns out that the Qatari prince wanted to make radical changes to the historic building, such as constructing a car elevator from the parking garage directly to the rooms. The renovation plan also intended to remove an 18th century heater and replace it with modern bathroom facilities.

The renovation was not completely stopped, but the French Ministry of Culture, a heritage preservation group, and the courts came to an agreement with the prince to temper his ambitious renovation plans. Yet in the end, official French instructions dictated that the prince’s project be accommodated.

This is but a small example of what is happening today between Qatar and the French educational mission that was sent to the small Gulf state to run the new lycée (French school) in Doha. Tensions between the French administrators and their Qatari counterparts have mounted as local authorities pressed for changes in the curriculum and its principles, which have been in place since 1902.

The school – Lycée Voltaire – was opened in 2008 by then president Nicolas Sarkozy, under the auspices of Mission Laïque Française (MLF), a non-profit organization that establishes and runs French schools abroad in coordination with the Ministry of Education.

At the time, the French agreed – with the blessings of Sarkozy – to Qatari conditions that the school be run by administrators from both countries, with a Qatari appointed as president of the school’s administrative council. However, after a few years – when the student body had reached 700 pupils – the Qataris began interfering in the school curriculum, and in such a way that conflicts with the identity and mission of the MLF.

In 2011, for example, trouble started with the removal of a history book used in certain grade levels “due to it containing a chapter on Christianity in the Middle Ages,” according to Qatari officials.

In 2011, for example, trouble started with the removal of a history book used in certain grade levels “due to it containing a chapter on Christianity in the Middle Ages,” according to Qatari officials. More recently, the Arabic language textbook used in all classes was pulled and replaced with a book that teaches both Arabic and Islam together. When French teachers and school officials complained to their education ministry, the latter decided to relieve the French director, Frank Chouinard, of his duties.

 The French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur confirmed that the MLF will be leaving the emirate at the end of next month. Le Figaro added, “Financial complications between the Qatari and the French sides led Qatar to terminate MLF’s financial and administrative authority a month ago.”

For its part, the French embassy in Qatar released a statement on Tuesday, stating, “The director of Lycée Voltaire has left his post as director after a dispute with the Qatari side of the administration and will be departing from the emirate soon.”

The statement continued, “The school will continue its operations in Doha, with the support of France, in cooperation with Qatari officials.”

The Lycée Voltaire affair has come at a time of mounting controversy in France about French-Qatari relations as a whole, especially after the oil-rich emirate was inducted into France’s international cultural organization, the International Organization of the Francophonie (IOF).

Buying a Francophone Identity

“Forty years ago, Qatar was nothing more than a pile of sand with a little oil in the eyes of the French,” a diplomat recalled in an interview with Le Point magazine. “Five years ago, most of the French did not even know where Qatar is located on a map,” another said.

Many people in France – who are not benefitting financially from Qatar’s largesse – realize that the rich emirate’s money-fueled invasion of their country will inevitably have some sort of negative impact on their republic.

Qatar today is one of the largest investors in France, buying up significant shares in a wide variety of sectors, including the media, sports, communication, energy, and luxury brands. It has even bought itself a seat in the IOF.

Meanwhile, frustrated IOF officials pointed out that Qatar was not even a Francophone country to begin with to deserve directly becoming a member-state. Qatar became a Francophone country with a blink of an eye. Without fulfilling any of the conditions to become part of the organization, the IOF gladly obliged the emir’s request and officially inducted Qatar as a full “member-state” last month.

This caused quite an uproar within the IOF and the French media, especially in light of the fact that Qatar was immediately accepted as member-state, without having to go through the “observer” stage that many of the new inductees had to go through.

Some news sources reported that Qatar “created a pressure group within the IOF – particularly among some African countries – to support its membership bid.” Meanwhile, frustrated IOF officials pointed out that Qatar was not even a Francophone country to begin with to deserve directly becoming a member-state.

But a spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry begged to differ. “There are fundamental reasons for including Qatar in the IOF,” the spokesperson said, such as Doha’s “inclusion of the French language into its official school curriculum at the beginning of this year, in addition to launching a French-speaking radio station.”

Some French pundits tied the two controversies together, with one commentator summing up the whole affair as follows: “Qatar expels a secular French educational mission from the country and reserves a seat in the IOF with support from some African countries, where [Qatar] is establishing religious schools that take the place of French ones.

Al-Akhbar Daily

By: Sabah Ayoub