26 November 2012
by Harriet Fildes, JTW
With the conflict in Gaza occupying the public and the politicians this week, the ever intractable conflict in Syria, which has killed more than 40,000 people since the anti-regime uprising started. has taken a back seat, not for the first time since this conflict began over 20 months ago. This is a summary of last week's events for those who missed them.
• November 14th- continued air-strikes on the turbulent Syrian-Turkish border, ordered by the regime. Assad condemns French recognition of Syrian opposition which Hollande called the “sole representative” of the Syrian people..
Highlighted- the city of al-Bukamal was taken by the Free Syrian Army. The city contained two large air-bases which has consolidated the oppositions control of the area and provided a channel for weapons smuggling from Iraq.
• November 15th- National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces recognised by Turkey. Turkey also intensifies defence discussions with Nato over the ongoing tensions on the border. Britain discusses lifting the arms embargo an recognising the opposition.
• November 17th- France meets with the leaders of the opposition council to welcome new Syrian ambassador, Mounzir Makhous, an Alawite. Turkey is expected to make a formal request to Nato for Patriot missiles.
Highlighted- Turkish journalist, Cuneyt Unal is freed after he was captured three months ago by government troops. Another Turkish journalist is still being held.
• November 18th- Meeting held in Iran between some opposition groups and the government. Russia warns the West against moving too quickly in Syria. US Senator, Mark Udall, discusses the need to implement “No-Fly Zone” in order to protect both civilians and rebel forces. Israel affirms it will not be dragged into the war after conflict between Syrian rebels and Israeli soldiers in the Golan Heights.
• November 19th- EU backs Syrian opposition, recognising them as “legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people” although unlike France, does not recognise them as the “sole” representatives of the Syrian people. Iran holds “No to violence, yes to democracy” peace conference. The regime intensifies aerial bombardment of Daraya, a suburb of Damascus currently held by opposition forces.
Highlighted- Two rebel groups, Ansar al-Islam and Jund Allah Brigades, took over the regimes air defence battalion headquarters near Damascus, as well as another base in Ghouta stating that "Assad's forces use the base to shell many villages and towns in the countryside... is now neutralized."
• November 20th- Britain, joining France, some Gulf states and Turkey, recognises the opposition. Violence escalates with further Turkish border crosses between opposition and Kurdish militias. Iran begins the construction of a gas pipeline to Syria. The regime shells Hajar al-Aswad and massacres Darya, killing around 350 people. Rebels announce the creation of an intelligence service as a “powerful security shield to protect the sons of the revolution from attacks, arrests and killings,"
Highlighted- Syrian Information Ministry hit and Sheikh Suleiman, an air defence base close to the Turkish border where they managed to take much of the explosives stockpile.
• November 21st- Nato agrees to Patriot missile defence for Turkey. Clashes in Ras al-Ain, Northern Syrian, between Kurdish militia and rebels leaves dozens dead, including Syrian rebel commanders.
Highlighted- Erdođan accuses the CHP of working with Assad, asking them to “side with the oppressed, not the dictators.”
• November 22nd- Syrian opposition requires $60 billion for post-Assad reconstruction in the first 6 months of forming a new regime. The North remains intractable with neither the rebels nor the regime taking much ground. he humanitarian disaster deepens in Aleppo after the regime bombed the area, killing at least 15 people and the destroying citizens access to medical care in the entire city.
Highlighted- Rebels capture Mayadeen compound having taken the army airport based there a week earlier. The stockpiles of weapons there consolidate their control over this oil rich Eastern area where they now control to out of three oil fields.
• November 23rd- Rebels take artillery base in Deir al Zour. Tensions rise between Russia and Turkey due to Patriot missile request. The regime presents a list of foreign militants to the UN in a bid to get the country recognised as fighting against international terrorism. A similar list was presented last month to no avail. Regime forces shelled two areas of Damascus and also arrested several people.
Highlighted- The Free Syrian Army presents plan to form “a special military brigade in Damascus and the surrounding area made up of FSA cadres in preparation for the ‘decisive battle’ to liberate Damascus.”
• November 24th- Putin declares trip to Ankara in order to discuss Syria, which according to Russia, has no military solution. Russia argues that Turkey must use its influence over the Syrian opposition to promote dialogue and internal resolution.
Highlighted- A bomb has gone off in a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus killing 4 after a bomb car bomb targeted the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command. Syrian state TV journalist murdered. The main Kurdish militant groups in north-east Syria- the PYD and the KNC, join together in conflict with al-Nusra Front and the allied Ghuraba al-Sham group.
• November 25th- Residents of Derik, north-east Syria, celebrate the regimes removal from the area. Marj al-Sultan airport, a military airport close to Damascus, has been taken over by the Free Syrian Army in another victory. Syrian rebels have also seized Al-Shleeka, a military bases in Deir Salman.
Highlighted- The training camp of a pro-regime Palestinian group, the Popular Front-General Command, based in Damascus, has been seized by Syrian rebels. Incidentally- the PFLP-GC have claimed responsibility for the recent bus bombing in Tel Aviv.
• November 26th- The death toll from yesterday's battle for a military airport and from the regimes bombardment of north-east and south-west Damascus reached 50. Russia once again condemns EU and Gulf recognition of the Syrian opposition. Golan Heights hit by gunfire without injury or further incident. Turkey rules out using Patriot missiles to enforce a no fly zone.
Highlighted- The rebels recent wins are a “blow to the morale of the regime”. This week's seizure of five military bases and masses of weapons shows how the regime is struggling to hang onto power and how much more effective this coalition of rebel groups has become in recent months. Moreover, the stale-mate has broken with anti-regime forces making some very real, though limited gains.