Syrian Revolution even Bloodier in March, with record 6000 Dead

Syrian dissidents say that some 6,000 people died in Syria in March, the largest one-month toll since the movement to overthrow the Baathist regime of Bashar al-Assad began two years ago. The UN estimates that over 70,000 have been killed in the fighting.

Of the 6000 who died in March, one third, or 2000, were innocent noncombatants, and 300 of those were children. That means 4000 combatants died, between government troops and rebels.

Meanwhile, the rebels continue to take territory on the ground, now having 70% of the country’s oil wells. They recently advanced into a key district in the northern city of Aleppo in their quest to take the city’s international airport (which has been closed for months).

At the same time, oppositionists continue to attempt to form broader political coalitions inside the country. The USG Open Source Center translated a report from al-Sharq al-Awsat [The Middle East} on Monday:

“Syrian oppositionists from revolutionary blocs announced in Cairo yesterday the establishment of a revolutionary grouping called “The Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Syria.” Lu’ay al-Zu’bi, the Syrian oppositionist and leader of the “Believers Participate Movement” and member of the new front, said it was established to repel three plans that are in the way of the Syrian revolution and trying to hijack it from the track decided by the Syrian people.

The front is made up of several movements and political and revolutionary blocs opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad’s regime, among them the “Believers Participate”, the “Unified Syrian Bloc”, led by Wahid Saqr (Alawite oppositionist), the “Revolutionary Forces for the Liberation of Syria Grouping” which is led by dissident Major General Muhammad al-Haj Ali, the “Democratic National Bloc”, the “Arab Tribes Council”, and the “Field Representation Bureau.”

While leadership sources in the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) denied any knowledge of this front’s establishment, other sources in it have told Al-Sharq al-Awsat that this front does not differ from the other attempts by Syrian oppositionists to establish political blocs and denied that there is any contact or coordination with the “FSA” command about it.

Fahd al-Masri, the “FSA’s” official in the Joint Command’s central media department, told Al-Sharq al-Awsat that “the FSA does not interfere in the political action and we do not consider the establishment of several trends opposed to the regime unhealthy but the natural result of the absence of democratic life in Syria for four decades.” He pointed out that “there are in the new front nationalist figures that we respect as we respect the other Syrian opposition spectrum.” He noted at the same time that “the political opposition’s performance has not yet risen to the level of the sacrifices that the Syrian people are making.” “

Aljazeera English says that in view of the gradual expansion of the territory in rebel control, the United Nations has developed a secret contingency plan for Syria should the regime abruptly collapse:

7 Responses

  1. Dear Professor Cole

    Al Jazeera compromised their reputation for objectivity at least a year ago.

    Can this report be taken at face value or is it yet more wishful thinking and propaganda?

    The key charcteristic of this conflict is the battle of the narratives where previously reliable sources are being contradicted by bloggers and reports on the ground.

    A sudden collapse of the government in Damascus is a worst case outcome and one that the UK government among others seems happy to avoid. link to exeter.ac.uk

    • >Al Jazeera compromised their reputation for objectivity at least a year ago.

      What did they do around this time last year?

  2. How about enlightening us on who is supplying both sides of these internecine ethnic conflict despite an arms embargo?

  3. It’s being called a “revolution.” Does the label matter? Only if it distracts from the reality of what’s going on, day to day. I mean, there’s a whole range of descriptors to argue over, “civil war” and “chaos” and “anomie” and “Leviathan,” and the sterile “insurrection” and “insurgency” and “terrorism,” up to and including “all of the above.” Bunches of heavily armed people killing each other, especially the cool murders of captives in the name of G_D! “Allahuakhbar! Allahuakhbar! Allahuakhbar!” What will the near-mid-term endpoint of this look like, one wonders, in the institutional sense?

    We have wonderful “war porn” from the helmet-cams and night vision of Our Troops in Notagainistan. link to youtube.com and link to youtube.com There’s even better, full-color, unedited war porn from the fun and games that I guess they call themselves “jihadis,” “Allahu Akhbar!Allahu Akhbar!Allahu Akhbar!” with a full-30-round celebratory burst from the ol’ AK or cooler weapon into the unresisting air. It’s being carefully collected and archived by the folks over at Syria Comment, one of the professor’s blogroll entries, and I commend this fast-growing set of videos, indexed a variety of ways, to any one of us who secretly gets off on closeups of badly dead former fellow humans, “Allahu Akhbar!”

    The lede is here, link to joshualandis.com, and the triumphal blood and brains are here, ugly and disturbing images for those who want only to think about grand elements of strategy and Big Moves in the Great Game and dismiss the horror of it as “stuff that happens on the way to US getting OUR way in the world,” whoever WE happen to be… link to syriavideo.net

    Yeah, let’s keep playing the Really Wise Geopolitical Great Game, and “favoring” this or that bunch, and and pumping arms into the murder zone on the excuse that “if we don’t do it, someone else will, and then we will lose our ‘influence’ blah blah blah bullsh_t blah…”

  4. This is looking a lot like the anti-Castro Cubans back in the 1960s who had countless splinter groups – Free Cuba Committee, Alpha 66, DRE, Cuban Revolutionary Council etc., etc., etc. that had varying degrees of relationships with the Central Intelligence Agency and were trying to subvert Fidel Castro.

    In Syria, we began with the Istanbul-based longtime exile group known as the Syrian National Council – it got absorbed into a larger organization based in Qatar – where the U.S. has a massive military command infrastructure – and now yet another group pops up in Cairo that is serving as an umbrella group four several other anti-Baathist organizations. Who exactly are these people showing up in Cairo? Muslim fundamenatlists?

    The Syrian National Coalition is the group that is diplomatically recognized by the Western world as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

    What is now emerging in articles in the New York Times and other periodicals is the nature of the role the CIA is playing. Seems as though the CIA has been going into places such as Croatia to set up arms purchases and is otherwise facilitating weapons acquisition for the Free Syrian Army – supposedly to ensure arms stay out of the hands of Al-Qaeda-linked extremists. This is not really smart since many of the supposed FSA leaders are allegedly war profiteers seeking to resell weapons to the highest bidders without regard to whom they may be. Selling to the FSA does not, obviously, ensure that they are also resupplying Jabhat al-Nusra with the same weaponry. If the FSA are conducting joint operations against the Baathists it would only make sense that they make sure the jihadists are well-equipped.

    What about Eric Harroun? Allegations that he was a CIA asset inside Jabhat al-Nusra come from his own dad. Shades of Eugene Hasenfus in Nicaragua in 1986.

    My own guess is that the Syrian rebels are about as big as a CIA-run operation as Operation Mongoose was to Cuba or Operation Cyclone was in Afghanistan. The Senate Intelligence Committee should conduct investigations as to the scope of CIA involvement if they do not have a firm gauge as to what is going on already.

    The legacy of a CIA “victory” in Syria may be similar to Afghanistan or Iraq – bitter and chronic post-Baathist sectarian violence and a wave of anti-Americanism. There is already severe infighting among the exile memebers sitting within the Syrian National Coalition that caused the resignation of Moaz al-Khatib, its chairman.

  5. link to bbc.co.uk

    Syrian regime’s helicopter has fired rockets inside of Lebanon.

    I fear Lebanon may end up being torn as well and the atrocious casualties will rise.

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