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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bradley Manning's contributions to the Arab Spring

P.J. Crowley said today "Real lives were affected by what Bradley Manning did."

Absolutely right!

I want to mention two important positive effects of what Bradley Manning did that played a critical role in the first two revolutions that were to shake the Arab world to its core in January 2011.

Among the documents that Bradley Manning leaked to Wikileaks were over a quarter million US State Department cables. These cables, and the revelations they contained, about certain Arab leaders and their relationship to the US was to play a critical role in developing the revolutionary momentum of the Arab Spring.

This uprising began in Tunisia on 17 Dec 2010 when Mohamed Bouazizi lit himself on fire in protest of police harassment and the economic conditions most Tunisians found themselves in. In the beginning, the demands were mostly economic and they were demands for the Ben Ali regime to reform itself and meet the needs of the people.

After WikiLeaks released certain state department cables liberated by Bradley Manning that were particularly revealing about Tunisian President Ben Ali and his family, Tunisian activists realized that this regime was well beyond repair and the demands rose from the reform of the regime to an end to the regime. Thanks, in part to these revelations made possible by Bradley Manning, the Tunisian uprising developed quickly from a struggle for reforms to a revolutionary struggle to end the dictatorship.

Bradley Manning's influence was also felt in the Egyptian revolution. When Hosni Mubarak was confronted by the activists in Tahrir Square demanding that he step down, his first ploy was to appoint his loyal security chief, Omar Suleiman, as his vice president with the intention of grooming him as the replacement Mubarak. That didn't happen in part because a series of damning revelations culled from the state department cables liberated by Bradley Manning made the Egyptian and main stream media and soon branded him damaged goods, destined to fade away and play no role after he announced Mubarak's resignation.

I relate these two contributions that Bradley Manning has made to the forward movement of humanity because I am aware of them. If they were all, they would already be more than enough to justify what he did.

But there is so much more.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Tunisia, Egypt and the Arab Spring

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

My posts on the Arab Spring and Egyptian Revolution

07/14/2012Egypt: This is What Democracy Looks Like!
08/11/2013BREAKING: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi removes Army leader
All the following articles were first published at the DailyKos or WL Central.
03/11/2011Who's running Egypt?
03/01/2011Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
02/28/2011Californians Support North African Revolts
02/27/2011Google Supports Revolts | Anonymous does too!
02/26/2011Secret U.S. Intelligence Source on Middle East Revealed !
02/25/2011Libyans are spilling their blood for us all!
02/24/2011Arming Gaddafi
02/16/2011Are "mutinous officers" are being executed in Egypt now?
02/15/2011Algeria's 19 year long State of Emergency to end soon, President says
02/14/2011Senior Egyptian Army Officers Ordered Massacre!
02/13/2011Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman
02/11/2011UPDATE: Egypt's Mubarak Has Resigned! - The Mubarak Screw Up & the Suleiman Danger
02/10/2011BREAKING: Mubarak is Defiant
02/09/2011The Google Search for Wael Ghonim
02/07/2011Tunisia's Revolution Continues
02/06/2011UPDATE: Google Goes Rebel, Supports Egyptian Protest
02/05/2011Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause
02/04/2011Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak
02/03/2011Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More! w Petition
02/02/2011Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More!
02/01/2011They Should Have Helped That Street Vendor
01/31/2011Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues
01/30/2011Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution Redux
01/29/2011No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt
01/28/2011Egypt is on Fire!
01/27/2011North African Revolution Continues
01/26/2011Egypt Protests Continue, Tunisia Wants Ben Ali Back
01/25/2011BREAKING: Protesters Plan Massive "Day of Wrath" in Egypt Today
01/24/2011Tunisians Thank Anonymous as North Africa Explodes
01/23/2011Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution
01/22/2011BREAKING: Algerian Protesters Clash w Police as Anon starts OpAlgeria
01/21/2011Tunisia: A Single Tweet Can Start A Prairie Fire!
01/20/2011Anonymous plans Op Swift Assist in Tunisia
01/19/2011Arrested Pirate Party Member Becomes Tunisian Minister
01/18/2011Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation
01/17/2011UPDATED: Tunis: This Photo was Taken 66 Minutes Ago
01/15/2011The WikiLeaks Revolution: Anonymous Strikes Tunisia
14/01/2011EMERGENCY: DKos Must Act Now to Protect Tunisian Bloggers!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Assad's New Strategy: Nothing Makes People Flee Like Murdering Their Children

To hear the main stream media tell it, Assad is on a roll following his victory in Qusayr, but the ground truth is quite different. After abandoning Qusayr, the opposition was able to re-establish its supply lines through nearby towns. Assad's "Northern Storm" that was to take Aleppo next has sounded little thunder and shown even less lightning, in fact with the recent victory in, and yes I can say it, the strategic town of Khan al-Assal [series of videos here], Assad has lost his last major town in Aleppo province and is on the verge of losing Aleppo all together, and with it, northern Syria.

With all its difficulties, the opposition has apparently regained its footing after the shock of the massive Hezbullah invasion. Qusayr, close to the Lebanese border, was relatively easy pickings for them. Still it took much longer than expected. Now their supply lines are getting extended and they are starting to get hit in their rear. Meanwhile, the main body of Assad's force is still trying to put down the opposition in Damascus and wipe Homs off the map. While he has continued ability to rain down great death and destruction from above, overall, he has been losing ground since Qusayr.

So in spite of the hype, Assad knows what the score is. Northern Syria is all but lost to him and he probably can't get it back. So now he is preparing the ground for his "worst case scenario" which would be to carve a rump state in western Syria around Damascus, Homs and heavily Alawite areas like Latakia. It has been reported that he has already asked Israel to accept this. He is trying to create an exclusively Alawite-Shia area in which his power can best be conserved and to do this he has to kick all the Sunnis out. So in these areas he has been engaged in a very brutal campaign of 'ethnic cleansing'. The Guardian reported 22 July 2013:
In Homs city, Sunni districts of Ashere, al-Khoder, Karm al-Zaitoun and Bab al-Sebaa have largely been emptied and replaced by Alawite families, numerous local leaders claim.
The UN recently reported that the number of Syrian refugees has topped 1.8 million in what they are calling the worst humanitarian crisis since Rwanda, the worst refugee crisis in 20 years. What has gotten a lot less coverage are the brutal methods Assad is using to force so many people from their homes and their country.

He is using artillery, missiles and aircraft to make certain areas of the country unlivable and he is wantonly slaughtering civilians. He is specifically targeting children, even attacking play grounds, because he knows nothing makes the people give up the fight and flee like killing their children. Assad might say he gets more "buck for the bang" by targeting children.

The Syrian conflict is also unique in all of history in that the worst torture techniques are regularly used even on pre-teen children. In many ways, Assad's strategy directly involves attacking children by the government. In his war, they aren't collateral damage; they are targets.

Warning! Extremely graphic images below

Of course, when a government rains down this level of destruction on its own cities, they have to know they will be killing a lot of children:

Picture from roof top of famous Khalid Bin Al Walid mosque in Homs | 24 July 2013

According to a UN report released on 23 July 2013:
About 7,000 children under the age of 15 have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011. Half of the refugees are children, and within the country more than three million children need aid.

And from the beginning of the uprising, the Assad regime has specifically targeted children.

A little boy is shot dead in the head in Daraa Oct 2011 after protesting in the streets.

A little boy is choking on his own blood after being shot in the
head and neck by Assad’s forces in Homs in Oct 2011.

Recently, with Assad's new ethnic cleansing campaign, it has gotten even worst and it looks like Assad is specifically targeting children to terrorize whole communities into uprooting and moving.

The question we all have to answer is why do we give him the freedom to implement this child-killing strategy?

And the kids of Syrian have been killed by Bashar al-Assad ever since.

Homs kids see death everyday | 24 July 2013

Homs | This is what bombs do to kids | 24 July 2013

Homs | Many children in this city under siege are starving to death | 21 May 2013

Look at what Assad regime is doing to our children in Syria | 09 May 2013

Refugee children are the lucky ones, at least they are alive | 13 July 2013

Every hour Syrian children die from the lack of medical attention | 13 July 2013

Families were executed on the street in Banyas | 6 May 2013
Photo taken by Syrian Arab Red Crescent

Yet another baby executed in the street of Banyas | 6 May 2013
Syrian Arab Red Crescent photo

Three siblings at makeshift hospital after mom was killed by
Assad's bombs in Tabaqa, al Raqqa | 24 July 2013

This image is not acceptable! Is this the world we want? | 8 May 2013

Assad Massacres Children of Maarat An Numan | 9 Sept 2013

A father carries his dead daughter. Look at mother's face. | 22 July 2013

Life in the refugee camps | 24 July 2013

We will never forget or forgive the crimes of Assad & helpers | 24 July 2013

Forgive me for the graphic images but this deserves to be shown | 23 July 2013

Mother and child murdered and left on the street | 24 July 2013

Another Syrian child has his head blown off.
They don't understand our silence | 25 July 2013

Child victims of Assad torture | 1 July 2013

Syrian kids waiting for food in refugee camp | 23 July 2013

Look what Assad did to this baby | 25 July 2013

30 "terrorists" killed by Assad's thugs | 18 July 2013

A child killed in Aleppo when a tank shelled a vegetable market | 25 July 2013

Assad treats children like garbage | 18 July 2013

Child injured by regime shelling attack in Hamah | 24 July 2013

Child decapitated by Assad shelling in town of Airi Tarma | 9 July 2013

The injured smile - the Syrian child's will to live | 21 July 2013

Another girl had her head blown of by a shell in Al Ghanto, Homs | 3 May 2013
Here is the link to six more videos of decapitated little girls in Syria.

A mother and her fetus are killed by Assad’s forces in Homs.
Here are 7 other videos of mother’s being killed with their fetus’s

Smiles despite wounds | 25 July 2013

With their homes destroyed they sleep where they can | 10 July 2013

Still, the Syrian child's spirit can't be broken! | 15 July 2013

Life goes on. new baby in al-Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan | 24 July 2013

And they can still find a smile | 24 July 2013

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The PSL School of Falsification: A Libyan Rebel Sets the Record Straight

Pham Binh’s “Libya and Syria: When Anti-Imperialism Goes Wrong,” published on The North Star sparked acrimonious debate on the question of imperialist intervention in the Arab Spring. Mazda Majidi’s response to Binh in the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s newspaper, Liberation News, contained a number of false claims about events on the ground in Libya during 2011. What follows is Tripoli Brigade member’s response to those falsehoods.

“Immediately after the rebels took control in Benghazi, numerous dark-skinned Libyans and migrant sub-Saharan African workers were lynched in city streets in a wide-scale campaign of terror.”
The "dark-skinned" Libyans who were lynched in Benghazi were two or three Ghadafi mercenaries caught in their full military fatigue while committing atrocities in the city. Migrant workers? That's a lie. It is true that many were treated badly but no one was killed simply for being dark skinned. Many were indeed paid by the regime to commit certain acts, and I have no doubt that some may have been mistaken. But saying that they were killed simply for being black is a sick, disgusting propaganda attempt. We had several black Libyan rebels in our brigade, some even martyrs.
"The NTC was a right-wing force even before it served as the ground forces of the NATO invaders…"
Don’t make me laugh. I wonder how NATO benefited from “its” NTC forces on the ground. Where's NATO in Libya now?
"…to reverse the remaining elements of the nationalist process initiated by the 1969 progressive coup, also called the Al-Fateh Revolution, led by Gaddafi."
Progressive? Has Majidi seen Libya before the February 17 revolution? It was in a state of constant, systematic deterioration for 42 years despite trillions of dollars in oil revenues. The destruction was social and economic, and we are suffering its consequences even now.
"The NTC did not enjoy the support of the entire Libyan population…"
Of course it didn't; nor did Jesus nor Mohammad. There's no doubt that many people supported Qaddafi but the majority was undoubtedly for the revolution. Otherwise how do you explain the victory? NATO? Where is NATO in Libya now? If the majority didn’t want imperialism and its resulting government, where are the anti-NATO protests after two years??! Qaddafi loyalists now live with dignity with full freedom of speech and no one bothers them.
"On July 1, 2011, in the midst of the massive NATO bombing, hundreds of thousands—perhaps as many as a million people—rallied in Tripoli against NATO. The corporate media gave the protest scant coverage."
I debunked these rallies at the time with Tripoli Green Square Reality Check in which I proved that Green Square couldn't even hold the 1.7 million people Qaddafi claimed attended rallies on June 17th, July 1st and July 8th. After my July 18th "reality check" received wide circulation, Qaddafi never made those claims again. - Clay

"Massive NATO bombing"? Again, I have to laugh. Only a few empty buildings were hit in Tripoli. Big explosions true, but they were pinpoint accurate. That the tyrant organized such an event was testament to the fact that NATO never targeted civilians in Libya (contrary to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places) and that was proven by numbers.

Ask anyone in Tripoli what was the response of Tripolitanians when the NATO bombs struck the tyrant's compounds and they'll tell you it was loud cheers, whistles, and "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). Most of the people in that rally were bussed in from other parts of the country, many not even knowing where they were going, some were forced to attend, and others were from tribes loyal to the tyrant. It was not a popular move in any way. And no, Libya’s population is not 6 million, that figure is 40 years old. Although unofficial, the number is closer 12 million today (thanks for the great census system setup by the “great” Al-Fateh Revolution).
“After the NATO bombing started, the Libyan leadership opened up arms depots in Tripoli to the population, urging everyone to defend the country against foreign attackers.”
This is a lie. The tyrant opened up arms depots as a media stunt. A few dozen AK-47s were handed out to people tied to the regime and their relatives and even those guns were closely monitored and controlled. That campaign lasted for just hours and the funny part is that many of those guns ended up being used against him in Tripoli. My cousin and many others were given those rifles by people who received them and used them to attack the tyrant’s forces. Many others were sold by the tyrant’s cronies to the rebels. That was a 100% media show and subsequent fail.
“…at least in Tripoli, the government enjoyed considerable popularity…“
Amusing. That’s why Tripoli was liberated by its people in one night on August 20 before any of us came in from outside. We found the city liberated and the tyrant’s thugs in shambles (devastated by IEDs, “galatina,” and snipers). His thugs were defeated and fled every part of Tripoli except for his compound and the loyalist (poorest, trashiest) neighborhood of Abu-Salim (those two places were where we [the rebels who came from outside] played an important role).
“Forces loyal to Gaddafi had been gaining control and rapidly moving towards Benghazi, having already made it past Brega.”
That’s true, but our respected author has forgotten that most of the ground they took in early 2011 was empty desert. The only significant populated region in the east is Benghazi and there was no way he would have taken it without flattening the whole city (which he was getting ready to do).
“Libyan rebels did not just receive military training and advice, but functioned under the operational command of NATO…”
Another blatant lie. The truth is that we were upset NATO was doing nothing to the dozens of rocket launchers that were wreaking havoc on civilians (mostly in Misurata and the Wwestern mountains). NATO only acted when we advanced, not the other way around. And the only coordination that went on was us giving NATO coordinates of regime command and control centers, mostly in Tripoli. There was no direct collaboration in battles; we drew up our own battle plans and acted upon them as we saw fit. NATO did its own thing much of the time, mostly bombing ammo dumps and heavy machinery (which was mostly old, rusty equipment that was of no use to the regime in the first place).
“NATO provided aerial support – that is, murdering pro-Gaddafi forces by bombing…”
Another big lie. The great majority of the tyrant’s convoys, compounds, and military formations were repeatedly warned by NATO to clear their positions, leave their convoys, and disengage. They were constantly informed of exactly when the strikes were going to take place and they always fled before that. We picked up the same warnings over our radios and knew exactly where and when NATO was going to strike. Very few of the tyrant’s forces were killed by NATO; I’d even venture to say that more rebels were killed by NATO than regime cronies.
“The pictures of the destroyed city of Sirte are worth a thousand more words than Binh’s reassurances.”
This stooge was obviously not following the battle of Sirte when it happened. Those buildings were destroyed one by one by the rebels themselves due to the presence of regime snipers in every corner. Those holes are all from rocket-propelled grenade holes and 14.5mm AA fire, not NATO munitions. NATO’s role was extremely limited in Sirte. I visited the city and all the battle spots in July 2012 and saw one large building hit from the air which was was to take out a sniper (I have pictures of it actually).
“The Binhs of the future will undoubtedly look back and condemn the Libya intervention as a historic crime…”
The Mazdas of the future will look at how great of a nation Libya had become and regret their ignorant, paranoid, simplistic approach to analyzing the events and outcomes of the February 17 revolution.

In short, we never wanted NATO and we wanted no foreign intervention. We simply asked for our long-confiscated freedom and were met with savage slaughter. We could not sit and wait as the regime wiped out whole cities (as it threatened to do) and kill one-half of the population. We sought the aid of neighbors and of the Arab and Muslim world. They couldn’t help themselves let alone help us. We turned to the United Nations with a final plea and got the support we needed. Despite the imminent slaughter, we accepted only an air campaign and refused ground intervention from the first day. In a show of appreciation, we waved the flags of all the nations who stood with us, some of whom were undoubtedly imperialist powers. But in this case, and contrary to what they do best, the imperialist powers helped save hundreds of thousands of Libyan lives and we are ever-grateful for that. What did the imperialists get in return? Oil? They were already getting that and for very cheap. Military bases? Over our dead bodies. A puppet regime? This government is barely able to work due to the people protesting anything they believe does not represent the core values of the revolution. Plus we, the “rebels,” can take this government down at any moment, and there’s no imperialists in Libya to help it.

These anti-imperialists, although their cause is noble, have allowed their paranoia to blind them and wage an ignorant campaign that is exploited by tyrants to this hour. It is a sad reality but I hope my experience sheds some light on these issues.

Click here for a list of my other diaries on Libya

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why Support the Syrian Revolution?

This may well come closer than anything else I have ever read to explaining why support for the Syrian Revolution is both critical and of world historic importance. I have been blogging about Syria as if nothing else mattered because nothing else is nearly as important. Indeed, the Syrian Revolution is a crossroad for all of humanity.

Republished from Insufficient Respect 1 May 2013 by Michael Neumann. I have added the bold highlighting:
Many reasons are given for supporting either the Syrian revolution or the units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). But while there is sympathy for the Syrian people, hardly ever do those reasons speak to or from Syrian needs. Instead the appeal is to the quite narrow interests of others, always in negative terms: not supporting the FSA will encourage Islamic extremism, invite a regional conflagration, squander opportunities to 'have a say in Syria's future'(!), counter-productively encourage uncontrolled arms proliferation, leave a legacy of anti-Western sentiment in Syria. Syrians are essentially seen either as a menace, or as weaklings likely incapable of countering some menace in their midst.

Of course the idea here is that solid reasons can only rest on hard-headed realism, not sloppy sentiment. But there may be at least two other reasons rooted in a less myopic assessment of the situation. They invoke principles and large historical opportunities - which does not distinguish them from the sort of 'higher' motives that in fact drive a good deal of political activity. They do have implications for the whole world, but they originate not only in the interests but also in the achievements of the Syrian people and their revolution One reason is 'negative', the other, positive.

The negative reason has to do with what Syrians suffer.

It's taken me a while to realize that most people probably don't really know the full extent of Assad's cruelties, or how they compare to the cruelty we know has been inflicted in so many times and places. It's not the sort of material that makes the front pages. An appendix to this post gives some details. For several reasons, none solely sufficient but in combination decisive, the horrors of Syria have unique significance.

First there is the sheer barbarism. Many régimes which have inflicted tortures perhaps as ghastly as Assad's - Chile's Pinochet and the Iran under the Shah come to mind - do not quite match his barbarism for one simple reason: Assad's tortures are not confined to adults, much less to those who have ever posed any threat, but also to children not into their teens. The torture of injured people in their hospital beds, and of medical staff, is also very unusual. Sometimes victims are tortured in order to reveal information, or at least to admit to something, whether or not they did it. Often they are simply tortured to death, simply to have them die in agony.

Second there is the scale of it. Those tortured run into the tens, perhaps the hundreds of thousands. Multiple deaths under torture are reported almost daily. Perhaps as many suffered in Cambodia, or Rwanda, or the Congo; no figures are available.

In practicing such spare-no-one savagery on so vast a scale, Assad has had very few rivals - perhaps Saddam Hussein. But in Syria there's another dimension to the nightmare - and it's no less significant for being less brutally tangible. Never before have such atrocities been not only so visible, but so close to what might be called the mainstream world.

The torturers 'get' Twitter and Facebook. They often record their torture sessions, down to death and mutilation, on their cell phones. When the perpetrators are captured, these videos get onto Youtube. In a world civilization that practically defines itself through its exposure on digital media, this sort of shamelessly public sadism gains a prominence unique in modern history.

Because Syria's atrocities are so open to the world - so much a part of that world - the failure to support the Syrian resistance is no mere strategic error. Though history almost seems a succession of moral failures, this one is special.

Other evils, the mainstream world could ignore or minimize or pretend to ignore. Not this one. Nor can some ideology or reason of state be invoked as even a partial explanation or excuse. Syria is not important enough to be strategically or economically key. Assad is no longer a useful ally to anyone, and his régime represents neither a cause nor the pursuit of any ideal. Indeed no cause can be invoked to support him. If the type and scale of these cruelties are not worth opposing with determination and ferocity, what is? What sort of justice or benevolence - for anyone - can be worth pursuing if this evil is not worth confronting?

The world's cowardice and passivity in the face of these crimes brings the mainstream political order into irredeemable disrepute. No one can assess the consequences of this failure, but it's hard to imagine anything much less than a definitive loss of stature for every mainstream principle and every institution dedicated to uphold them, from the UN to the International Court of Justice to NATO and the whole panoply of apparently useless human rights organizations. Here is an outcome whose dangers go far beyond such bogeymen as extreme Islamists, sectarian warfare, stray weapons or regional destabilization. The danger, though occasioned by Syria's agonies, is of the mainstream world's own making. It will probably exceed by far whatever Syrians could possibly do to others.

In short, the refusal to support the Syrian revolution exposes the uselessness of every political entity - every nation, every court, every assembly, every movement, every human-rights outfit - supposedly out to civilize the world. If that sounds extreme, ask yourself by what date you'd expect these worthy institutions to protect us from savage repression. You might also ask how long it will take to forget so prolonged and public a failure.

But there is also a 'positive' reason rooted in what the Syrian revolution represents.

If it prevails, the Syrian uprising will be the first truly popular revolt to succeed since 1789 - the first since the dawn of the industrial age. Unlike the Russian or Chinese or Vietnamese or Cuban revolutions, it is not the design or possession of some élite vanguard. Unlike the 19th century revolutions of Italy or Latin America, it did not coalesce around the leadership of, quite literally, a man on horseback. It did not arise under the aegis of a military hero like Turkey's Kemal Ataturk. Unlike the Tunisian revolt, it did not succeed because the régime collapsed. Unlike the Libyan revolution, it did not rely on outside participation. Unlike the Egyptian revolution, it did not leave much of the old order in place, so that nothing happens without at least the passive approval of the armed forces.

When people go on about the disunity of the opposition, they haven't considered this difference. Usually you speak of disunity in reference to something once united - a movement, a party, a state. And normally, that's what you find when there is a revolution. But no one tut-tutted that the French Revolution 'lacked unity'. Like the Syrian revolution, that was a spontaneous uprising whose very disunity testified to the depth and breath of its roots.

This is no mere historical oddity. It is proof of something quite unexpected: that a people, starting with nothing, can prevail against a tyrannous modern state with as large and sophisticated a repressive apparatus and any tyrant could desire. The key component of this proof is the courage of the Syrian people. That too exceeds anything previously encountered: never before have civilians refused to be cowed by such widespread cruelty, such firepower, and such slaughter.

The Syrian revolution brings new hope to the world, and therefore demands wholehearted, unqualified support. Unqualified support does not mean heedless support. It does not preclude resolve to address the very real dangers such a revolution poses. Of course supporters also must be ready to work against sectarian infighting and other forms of extremist violence, both in Syria itself and beyond. But these dangers must be countered in any case. These frightening possibilities should blind no one to the compelling obligation, not to sit on the sidelines, but to help that revolution succeed.


Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Assad Regime Thanks US Peace Movement for its Support!

The Syria State TV News carried a glowing report on the "No War on Syria" anti-intervention protests organized by the US Peace Movement on July 10th & 11th in Los Angeles, New York and other cities.

From Assad's point of view: What was not to like? None of these demonstrators were protesting intervention by Russia, Iran, Iraq and Hezbullah in support of his war against his people. And they weren't protesting his use of Scuds, cluster bombs, and poison gas on his cities. They were only protesting suspected or promised intervention by anyone in support of the people Assad has been slaughtering with the help of his friends for two and a half years.

These protests were endorsed by a Syrian-American group "liked" on Facebook by Bashar al-Assad himself and many prominent U.S. anti-war groups like Veterans for Peace and United for Peace and Justice [UFPJ] [complete list here]

Syrians for Trayvon Martin rally under revolution's flag

Peace Protesters in Los Angeles rally under Assad's flag

In a conflict where the opposing forces rally around completing flags, the exclusive appearance of the Assad regime's flag at these protests lets the world know where they stand. Some activists think they can endorse a rally that flies only Assad's flag and promotes his propaganda and still deny that they support Assad, but the Syria government knows better. This newscast takes a break from telling us about all the terrorists they have been killing at about 0:05:08.0. to spend a few minutes to thank the US protesters for their support.

Earlier, at 0:03:09, the image of the US veteran who fought with Al Nusra in Syria before he returned to the US and was arrested, is falsely used as one of the 1500 terrorists the broadcast claims entered Syria last week.

The announcer introduces the segment, saying:
"Thousands of Americans and citizens of the Syrian community in different U.S. cities organized mass marches in solidarity with Syria, calling on the US administration to stop supporting terrorists with money and weapons"
The segment features images of the protests in a number of cities and comments by some of the protesters, including these:
One American activist says "Today we have once again taken a stand with the people of Syria and against the United States policy of intervention and war. This practice by the United States have, of course, been going on for many years and the Syrian people are the latest to suffer from it."

A young blond woman says "I'm here because I believe Syrians should chose what kind of government they should have and the U.S. shouldn't intervene."

Another young American says "I don't think there is any clear indication that the opposition forces have anything positive to contribute to Syrian society."
Obviously these activists don't know what they are talking about, but their naiveté and especially their equation of the Syrian government with the Syria people and their willingness to blame the US government for what is happening to the Syrian people, makes them very useful propaganda supports for the Assad regime's military campaign.

Other SANA headlines that day included:
  • Terrorists killed in Homs and its countryside
  • Armed forces target terrorists’ gatherings in Aleppo city and countryside
  • Terrorists killed in Idleb countryside
  • Terrorists killed in Deir Ezzor and its countryside
Of course the Assad regime only kills terrorists!!

Wounded being treated in field hospital after aerial shelling from regime | 21 July 2013

18+ | 15 civilians killed by Assad's forces in Ariha, Idlib | 21 July 2013

Intense shelling by the regime on the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in Syria | 21 July 2013

18+ | Gruesome Aftermath of Regime Barrel Bombardment | Idlib | 18 July 2013

Child killed by Assad missile in Idlib | 15 July 2013

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Current Military Situation in Syria

The MainStream Left [MSL] has been very vocally demanding that the United States do absolutely nothing to help the people being slaughtered by the murderous Assad regime. As if!

As if Obama and the Imperialists are in the habit of stopping dictators from slaughtering their own people. When have they ever stopped a massacre? They didn't stop Rwanda. They didn't stop Darfur. They didn't stop Pinochet in Chile. They didn't stop Saddam Hussein from gassing the Kurds, in fact, they supplied the gas. They only stopped Qaddafi because they needed the oil. They don't need the MSL to tell them to pay no-never-mine to Assad's chemical attacks and they don't need the MSL demanding a policy of non-intervention in the case of the slaughter presently going on in Syria.

The NATO "allies" may have talked a good game of supporting the Syrian people, that scared the Left and caused it to turn its back on the Syrian revolution, but NATO never really had any intention of helping the revolution. Especially since helping the Libyan rebels bought them very little in the way of control or plunder in that North African country. After all, NATO has bases all over Africa, but none in Libya. The ingrates!

So the sad truth is that the Syrian people will have to fight and win their revolution on their own. They may get some help from other Arab governments, the Libyan Congress is currently debating a bill that would give them $100 million, and there are others that will contribute money and even come and fight alongside their Syrian brothers and sisters, but there will be no NATO equivalent to the kind of support Assad is receiving from Russia and Iran.

Given that harsh reality, the UN report that 5,000 people a month are dying, and fact that Assad won't stop killing until he has killed all his opposition or is put down, this would seem to be a good time to take a new look at the military situation.

The Current Military Situation

Scott Lucas, writing at the new EAWorldView site, critqued the current Main Stream Media line on the Syria situations, saying:
Assad is Not “Winning”
The New York Times blares, “Momentum Shifts in Syria, Bolstering Assad’s Position”, even as the only analyst cited in the article, Hassan Hassan, notes, “[The regime] is not capable of winning back the country.”

In the Washington Post, the Associated Press — relying on no more than a superficial scan of events, a 29-year-old woman in Homs, and the PR lines of General Salem Idriss, the head of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army and an FSA spokesman, pronounce, “In Syria, Infighting Between al-Qaida Groups and Mainstream Rebels Undermining Revolt”.
After Qusayr was re-claimed by the regime in June, I wrote, “Qusayr did not resolve the Syrian conflict. It only highlighted that resolution is distant. The regime is unlikely to alter this with victory in one town.”

The line in much of the media was far different, however. With few, if any, correspondents on the ground — and often relying on the press releases of suspect sources — they first pronounced a regime offensive on Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. When that did not materialise, they projected that the Syrian military would re-claim all of Homs. More...
In spite of the view, widely promoted in the MainStream Media [MSM] after the fall of Qusayr, that the tide had turned and Assad was making serious gains against the revolution, this has not really been the case, as this review of current military developments published on Saturday by Reuters demonstrates:
Syrian rebels advance on northern army-held town

Sat, 20 Jul 2013 02:56 PM
By Erika Solomon
BEIRUT - Syrian rebels advanced on the northern town of Khan al-Assal on Saturday, activists said, and appeared close to seizing one of the last towns in western part of Aleppo province still held by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

The army has been attempting a slow build-up of troops around the province in order to retake Aleppo city, once Syria's biggest commercial hub. So far Assad's push has been dogged by rebel counter-attacks, although a string of government victories elsewhere in Syria has shifted the battlefield tide in his favour after more than two years of bloodshed.

Elsewhere in northern Syria, Assad's forces launched a third day of heavy air strikes on the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that by late afternoon, jets had already flown 12 raids over the town. Initial counts said five had been killed on Saturday, three of them children.
In recent weeks the rebels have been making slow but persistent progress in Deraa province in the south thanks to a fresh but intermittent influx of weapons coming in from neighbouring Jordan.

In Aleppo, near the Turkish border, hardline Islamist rebels - some of them linked to al Qaeda - appear to be leading the fight to seize Khan al-Assal, according to activists in the area who asked not to be named.
Assad's forces have responded to the rebel advance on Khan al-Assal with a string of air raids in the area that set alight swathes of nearby farmland, according to the Observatory. More...
Even though Reuters sticks to the "tide has shifted" narrative based on unmentioned "government victories elsewhere," the recent facts they report paint a very different picture. The same goes for the Times of London claim that fall of Homs was a done deal more than a week ago. They said on 12 July 2013:
The last opposition-held areas of Homs are set to fall within days to the Syrian army after rebel forces decided to “sacrifice” the country’s third-largest city to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, according to diplomats and opposition sources.

The fall of Homs will represent a strategic and propaganda victory for the Assad regime
But the Free Syria Army keeps hanging on, and it has now been some 40 days since the opposition's negotiated abandonment of Qusayr, which if one believed all the western media military hype, was to have heralded a turning of the tide for Assad.

Explosives in dud, near Khalid Bin Al Walid mosque to be reworked & returned! | 19 July 2013

Here is the latest on Homs, from the Al Jazeera Live Blog as of 19 July 2013 10:23pst:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that, Syrian rebel fighters killed 12 members of a pro-regime People's Committees in clashes overnight in the central city of Homs, and troops responded by shelling them on Friday.

The rebel-held district is one of several regime forces have laid siege to for more than a year.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers on the ground, said government troops were continuing to shell the neighbourhood on Friday.
And so the old "stalemate" pattern continues on in Homs. The regime's fighters proved no match for the freedom fighters in face-to-face combat, so once again the regime pulls back and rains down death on everyone, fighters and civilians alike, with its long range artillery. As EAWorldView said on Saturday, 20 July 2013:
It is now six weeks since the fall of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, and predictions that Syrian forces would re-claim control of all of Homs, 18 miles to the north.

Despite heavy shelling of insurgent areas and the re-claiming of a few buildings on the fringes of those neighborhoods, the regime appears to be no closer to that goal.

This morning State news agency SANA limits itself to the claim:
The army tightened its grip on four building blocks in Bab Houd neighborhood, with an official source telling a SANA reporter that many terrorists who had been stationed at these buildings were killed.
A tank is pounding Houla, Homs | 19 July 2013

From the resistance service Homs up-to-date News we have this report for Friday 19 July 2013:
Regime forces shelled Mazraa and Ragga pro-regime villages
Regime forces stationed in the military academy in Waar neighborhood, shelled Mazraa and Ragga pro-regime villages, with several mortar shells, killing at least 5 and injuring 20, and destroying a number of houses.

This attempt comes from the system after the failure and inability to control the besieged areas in Homs, trying to push the insurgents in the pro-regime (Shiite ) villages of Mazraa and Ragga to carry out the attack on innocent civilians in Waar neighborhood.

Grad rockets on Akrama and Qapo village:
Resistance fighters continue to fire Grad rockets on the regime strongholds in the pro-regime areas (Akrama neighborhood and Qapo village) and they achieved exact targets, as many ambulances were seen heading from these areas to Zaiem hospital.
EAWorldView explains that these aren't the usually inaccurate Grad rockets:
An EA correspondent, with sources in Homs, assesses:
When you hear about the Free Syrian Army shelling regime districts in Homs with “Grads”, that’s not exactly the truth.

These “Grads” appear to be pretty precise rockets, neither home-made nor actual (inaccurate) Grads. They target positions of shabiha [pro-regime militia], avoiding civilian losses.

The FSA’s possession of such an armory might partly explain why not even Hezbollah was able to storm the besieged districts of Homs.
An interesting argument, which raises a further question if it is true: who is supplying the rockets to the insurgency?
The correspondent continues:
Regime attacks on besieged Homs and even regime-held districts are brutal, but it seems they do not follow a sensible military tactic.

Instead, this appears to be sheer terror, applied on mostly civilian areas like Al-Waer, etc. out of frustration that they have not gotten a foothood inside insurgent territory.
18+ | Removing shrapnel from a child's face in Arrastan field hospital | Homs | 16 July 2013

800 families are trapped in Homs and under seige by Assad's forces. They have suffered some loses in spite of the FSA's efforts to move them around to keep them safe from Assad's rockets and bombs but Hezbullah and other pro-Assad forces have also suffered heavy loses whenever they attempt to engage on the ground. Peter Clifford On-line gave us an example 17 July 2013:
A report from Tartous today says that a total of 374 dead or injured regime troops have been taken to the regime military’s Basel Al-Assad Hospital there after being killed or injured in fighting against FSA forces in Homs.
Al Ghouta | Homs | Destruction from Regime Shelling | 19 July 2013

Homs up-to-date News also had this bit, copied from the other side:
Comments on the pro-regime FB pages:

Why the army didn't enter Khalidiyeh?!! Why are they launching a campaign on Waar??
Haven't we had enough blood?! Stop waging war against Sunnis!!
They outnumber us, this is gonna take us to a dark place!! We can't kill them all. there are millions of them!!

The admin replied:
" those talking from behind the screen and complaining, can shut up. our army is paying many martyrs everyday, and you accuse them of not doing their jobs!!!"
Born this day in besieged Old Homs, little Jenan is just 6 hours old. The meaning of
her name is "Paradises" although her place of birth is quite the opposite | 19 July 2013

Assad's Aleppo Offensive Fizzes

As I reported earlier, Assad's "On to Aleppo" drive has kinda gotten bogged down in Homs, essentially still attempting to secure the supply routes that were suppose to be secured by the taking of Qusayr. While many media pundits predicted that with Hezbullah's support, Assad would make quick work of the strongholds in Homs, but that has not been the case.

In fact the real news should be that the revolution has effectively absorbed the shock of Hezbullah's entry into the fray and not buckled.

Protest in Damascus suburb | 19 July 2013

Peter Clifford On-line also gave us his appraisal of the military situation as of 17 July 2013, and tells us the opposition has been making gains in the Damascus area:
Lose territory, is just what appears to have happened in Damascus where the Government has been trying to launch yet another major offensive, pushing its way, after a rocket and artillery blitz, into Qaboun and other Sunni suburbs.

Latest reports from Darraya, a suburb that has held out against Assad’s forces for more than 10 months, suggest that over the last 2 days Opposition fighters have fought fiercely to retake a large residential area they had lost earlier.

The retaken territory includes over 30 strategic buildings overlooking the industrial zone near Abu Suleima Addarani Mosque. Opposition fighters say that they killed many regime soldiers and captured lots of ammunition and weapons including a wire-guided missile.

Activists also say that the Opposition has managed to bring in reinforcements into the Damascus area to help resist the Assad Army advance.

Elsewhere in Damascus the Opposition were reported this morning, Wednesday, to be bombarding Damascus International Airport again with Grad missiles and to have killed 10 members of the pro-regime Abu Al-Fadi Al-Abbas Brigade and Hezbollah in fighting around the Sayeda Zeinab shrine.
(07 19 13) Joubar | Damascus | Heavy Gunfire as FSA Battles Regime Forces

He reports that the now familiar pattern of the reign responding to losses on the ground with long range attacks is repeated in Deraa:
In Deraa province Opposition fighters have captured a major checkpoint and a tank at Nawa, HERE: though the Government has since retaliated with an airstrike,
In the Idlib countryside the Opposition have also made progress storming the Maarbalet Military checkpoint near the “Brick Factory”, HERE:
While the struggle between the Syrian revolutionaries and the regime remains the main event, this conflict has developed many other aspects with age.

Civil Wars within the Revolution

Clausewitz said war was simply the pursuit of politics by other, i.e. violent, means. As the politics of Syria is now very complex, so are the civil wars that going on within the context of the overall struggle to overthrow the Assad regime.

Because that struggle has become such a protracted struggle, it has brought many different fighting organizations into the fray, most are Syrian, some represent the Kurdish minority and some represent foreign fighters. Among the foreign fighters, some are Arab nationalists or internationalists who have come to help the Syrian people overthrow their dictatorship and some are religious fanatics hoping to subvert the chaos created by this protracted struggle to create their vision of an Islamic state.

In a number of areas of Syria, the conflict between these different "special interest" groups has devolved into open warfare between them.

Free Syria Army confronts Salafist jihadist threat in the North

In the region around Aleppo, a number of the jhadist groups have thrown down the gauntlet to the democratic revolutionaries by announcing their intentions to declare an Islamic State of Syria in the North at the end of Ramadan and by attacking the Free Syria Army. Peter Clifford On-line reports:
Last Thursday, an ISIS commander was accused of shooting dead a member of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council after a dispute at a checkpoint in Latakia, while other members of the FSA were injured as they fled the scene. Al Jazeera has interviewed one of the injured FSA , HERE:

After a meeting of the its Supreme Military Council, the FSA gave out a 24 hour ultimatum calling for the arrest of the ISIS commander accused of the killing, Ebu Ayman Al-Baghdadi, or “further action would be taken”.

One Opposition activist, commenting on the activities of ISIS, said, “They didn’t come to Syria to help the revolution. They stay in the liberated areas and try to take power”.

Mohammed Faizou, a fighter with the Ansar al-Din Battalion in coastal Latakia province, said that while the Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra “fights the regime and does not interfere with others,” the largely foreign Islamic State fighters “interfere with everything” and are preoccupied with imposing Islamic law.

Kurdish YPG confronts Salafist and jihadist threat in Kurdistan

In the Kurdish region of northern Syria, the YPG is trying to create an independent Kurdish state and have been fighting the jhadist Al-Nusra Front [JAN] and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS]. AFP reported, 19 July 2013:
This week alone, at least 29 jihadist and Kurdish fighters have been killed in two days of fighting in the Ras al-Ain area of Hasakeh province in northeastern Syria.
These clashes ended with the Kurdish forces pushing the jhadists out of Ras al-Ain and the nearby border crossing with Turkey.

The jhadists in the area had enjoyed the support of the FSA, but as the riff grew between them and the jhadists have become more heavy-handed and abusive in implementing their version of the "right path" in the Kurdish areas they controlled, the decision was made to move on them.

Tevgra ciwanen kurd [TCK] has posted this report, 19 July 2013, to its website:
Fighting escalates between YPG and Jabhat Al-Nusra; reaches to the Oil-Rich areas in Al jazeera

After months of Jabhat Al-Nusra and Islamist groups existence in Al Jazeera areas N-NE Syria "Mostly Kurds", locals started to complain and describe the way they suffer under the rule of Islamic extremist rebels; However; The extreme actions by the Islamists ruler "Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or the ISIS" seemed to be getting an increased trend in the last few days, like imposing "Fasting" on the locals; or threatening women to wear the Islamic Hijab "headscarf" and many other Sharia extreme laws without considering "the different cultures of Syrian people" and especially the Kurdish people culture, furthermore; in July 16th a group of Jabhat Al-Nusra attempted to arrest members of the Kurdish armed group YPJ/YPG "People's Protection Units, women branch" in the city of Ras Al-Ayn "Sere Kaniye, in Kurdish" in Hasakah province.

The attempt however has failed but led to clashes between Al-Nusra backed with Islamic extremist rebels and the Kurdish YPG; the Kurdish armed forces won the battle and expelled the Islamic extremist rebels from the city of Sere Kaniye and announced total control over the city in July 17th. The Islamic extremist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra and the ISIS fled toward "Asfar Najjar and Til Hallaf areas" 4km away from the city of Sere Kaniye, losing Turkey-Syria border gate in the city in favor of Kurdish forces YPG. The extremists vowed revenge and bombarded the city randomly using mortar shells, which led to mass exodus among the locals especially in Mahata and Ebra neighborhoods. More...

As you can see, the Syrian conflict is now a very complicated, multifaceted affair, I hope this review of the current military situation helps bring some clarity and shows that reports of the tide turning against the revolution are a bit overblown.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Syrian Refugees demand "No-Fly Zone" from US SecState Kerry

Reuters is reporting:
Angry Syrian refugees demand help from Kerry at camp

Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:12pm EDT
By Arshad Mohammed
(Reuters) - Syrian refugees angrily told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday that the United States should set up a no-fly zone and safe havens in Syria to protect their fellow citizens.

Visiting a camp that holds roughly 115,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan about 12 km (8 miles) from the Syrian border, Kerry spent about 40 minutes with half a dozen refugees who vented their frustration at the international community's failure to end Syria's more than two-year civil war.

He told them Washington was considering options, including buffer zones for their protection, but that the situation was complex and appeared to hint at war fatigue in the United States after years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Where is the international community? What are you waiting for?" a Syrian woman, who did not give her name, told Kerry at the United Nations' Zaatari refugee camp. "At least impose a no-fly zone or an embargo.

"The U.S., as a superpower, can change the equation in Syria in 30 minutes after you return to Washington."

Waving a pen in the air and tapping it on the table, the woman referred to the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends in three weeks. She said: "Mr. Secretary, if the situation remains unchanged until the end of Ramadan this camp will become empty. We will return to Syria and we will fight with knives.

"You, as the U.S. government look to Israel with respect. Cannot you do the same with the children of Syria?" More...
Most people in the US MainStream Left support the position Kerry and Obama are taking in not providing a no-fly zone or weapons with which these Syrians could protect themselves, and are opposed to these demands of the Syrian refugees.

I find this tragic.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Obama's "Good Cop" tactics in Syria exposed!

From the beginning, US President Barack Obama, as the supreme leader of NATO, has talked a good game of support for Bashar al-Assad's opposition in Syria. He has played "good cop" to Putin's "bad cop." He has been helped immensely in this task by elements in the US Left, a majority I'm afraid, that have accused him of arming and, in fact, instigating, the Syrian opposition from the beginning.

Of course, they have never produced anything like a shred of evidence to support these claims. Now as US weapons are finally showing up on the Syrian battlefield, but in the hands of those fighting for Assad, David Ignatius, writing for the Lebanese Daily Star has done a very good job of chronologicalizing Obama's entirely predictable "Good Cop" betrayal of the Syrian Revolution:
Syrians learn to trust the U.S. at their own peril

July 18, 2013 12:58 AM
One of the worst recurring features of U.S. foreign policy is a process that might bluntly be described as “seduction and abandonment.” Now it’s happening in Syria. The seduction part begins with an overeager rhetorical embrace. Nearly two years ago, on Aug. 18, 2011, President Barack Obama first proclaimed “the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” He didn’t back up his call for regime change with any specific plan, but this hasn’t stopped him from repeating the “Assad must go” theme regularly ever since.

The next stage is a prolonged courtship with ever-deeper implied promises and commitments. The CIA began working with the Syrian opposition in 2011, and has been providing training and other assistance. When the Syrian opposition was wooed by other suitors (say, Turkey and Qatar), the United States chased those rivals away with renewed avowals of affection.

Then comes the formal engagement. On June 13, the White House announced it would provide military aid to the Syrian opposition because the Assad regime had crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons. The rebels began preparing warehouses to receive the promised shipments – hopeful that at last the United States was serious about its intentions.

And then? Well, this is a story of unhappy romance, so you know what comes next. It’s what 19th-century English novelists called “the jilt.” To quote a New York Times story published last weekend, it turns out “that the administration’s plans are far more limited than it has indicated in public and private.”

Imagine for the moment that you are a Syrian rebel fighter who has been risking his life for two years in the hope that Obama was sincere about helping a moderate opposition prevail not just against Assad but against the jihadists who want to run the country. Now, you learn that Washington is having second thoughts. What would you think about America’s behavior?

Let me quote from a message sent by one opposition member: “I am about to quit, as long as there is no light in the end of the tunnel from the U.S. government. At least if I quit, I will feel that I am not part of this silly act we are in.” A second opposition leader wrote simply to a senior American official: “I can’t find the right words to describe this situation other than very sad.”

An angry statement came this week from Gen. Salim Idriss, the head of the moderate Free Syrian Army. After the United Kingdom, like the U.S., backed away from supplying weapons, he told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: “The West promises and promises. This is a joke now ... What are our friends in the West waiting for? For Iran and Hezbollah to kill all the Syrian people?” More...

The remains of what used to be a child's bedroom | 18 July 2013

Here are two more pieces from today's news that highlights where the United States really stands with regards to the Syrian Revolution.

From PolicyMic we have this piece:
In Syria's Civil War, Are the CIA and Hezbollah Working Together In An Unholy Alliance?
Usman Butt
17 July 2013
Lebanese officials have confirmed that they were tipped-off about a possible bomb attack in Beirut by the CIA.

It is likely that the targets were senior and high-ranking Hezbollah officials. The CIA tip helped foil the plot. Islamist groups operating along the Syrian-Lebanese border are believed that have wanted revenge for Hezbollah’s role in the re-taking of Al-Qusayr by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Hezbollah is a staunch ally of Syria’s belligerent president and the battle of Al-Qusayr was the first time Hezbollah actively and openly fought alongside Assad’s forces. Hezbollah justified their involvement by saying that they were defending the Arab world against the "same Zionist plot," and that the "road to Jerusalem passes through Al-Qusayr."

According to Lebanese officials, the CIA Beirut station chief passed on information obtained by the National Security Agency (NSA) to Lebanese intelligence, with the "understanding" that it would be passed onto Hezbollah. U.S. law prohibits direct contact between U.S. officials and the militant Lebanese Shia organization. It’s alleged that groups "linked" to Al-Qaeda were planning to assassinate senior Hezbollah officials. Hezbollah acknowledged the warning and tightened security in Al-Dahiyya, a Hezbollah controlled suburbs in Beirut. One Hezbollah internal security commander told the Olympian, “Yes, a warning came from the CIA. They passed us the information thought the Mukhabarat (Military Intelligence), but we had our own information about the bombs."

The U.S. government has not yet commented on the matter, but Lebanese officials have said, that the NSA had intercepted phone calls being made by Al-Qaeda suspects based in Syria, Lebanon and an unnamed Gulf country. The information provided included location of potential suspects and movement of military-grade explosives. The Lebanese army carried out raids in the city of Aarsal, in-which, a number of different Arab nationals, including some from the Gulf, were arrested and explosive equipment sized. As a result of the information, Hezbollah has been conducting, overt security patrols and detaining suspicious people, likely Syrians. More...
This article doesn't connect its revelation with the fact that US weapons have been recently spotted in the hands of Hezbullah fighters, but it should.

Writing in Al Arabia, Joyce Karam tells us:
US Advises French not to Arm Assad's Opposition

Sources tell Al Arabiya that Syria’s opposition has not received any of the arms shipments that U.S. President Barack Obama had pledged to “vetted groups.” Obstruction from Congress’ intelligence committees on funding such effort, has politically crippled the plan. Although the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is authorized to act alone in launching “covert operations” while allocating the money from other sections in its budget.

While Washington has approved indirect arming by regional countries to the opposition, it has exercised its leverage in controlling what kind of arms cross the Syrian border. Sources say that the U.S. has recently advised the French government against selling an Arab country heavy arms that might end up in the hands of the Syrian opposition. It has also not provided key Arab governments like Saudi Arabia and UAE with an “end user agreement” on arms purchases they have made from the U.S. Without such an agreement, re-exporting these arms is not an option.

EAWorldView has this piece today:
US Secretary Of State On Syria No-Fly Zone: “I Wish It Was Very Simple”

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that Washington had “a lot of different options are under consideration” regarding helping the Syrian opposition in their battle against President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking during a visit to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, Kerry addressed questions from refugees as to why the US had not established a no-fly zone over part of Syrian airspace. His response? “It’s not as easy as it sounds.”

“I wish it was very simple. As you know, we’ve been fighting two wars for 12 years. We are trying to help in various ways, including helping Syrian opposition fighters have weapons. We are doing new things. There is consideration of buffer zones and other things but it is not as simple as it sounds,” Kerry was quoted as saying.

Kerry later told reporters that he empathized with Syrian refugees’ frustration — because he felt the same way.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria