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Welcome to A Closer Look On Syria

For a word on our approach and how you can contribute to the project, continue here. On the Main Page below are general news and some select incidents studied at ACLOS since its creation in 2012. For more current analysis, check "Recent changes" or "New Pages" in the menu to the left, or use the search box.

Syria News

21 Apr. The OPCW fact finding mission finally makes it to Douma and visits "one of the sites" of the alleged chemical attack to collect samples.

The militants in the eastern Qalamoon hand over about 50 heavy military vehicles to the SAA as part of the peace deal made there.

Syria and the Russian Federation's Republic of Crimea sign an economical cooperation agreement.

Situation Rastan pocket

Fights over the Rastan pocket are going on with fierce resistance by the "rebels" and only moderate success by the SAA.

20 Apr. Firat News Agency publishes a history of US support to the Turkish military.

Assad returns légion d'honneur

19 Apr. Assad returns his French Legion of Honor medal, saying he won't wear honors of a "slave country" that bombs Syria.

The scientific service of the German parliament finds that the FUKUS strikes on Syria clearly violated international law, dismissing the British attempts at legitimization and contradicting statements by Angela Merkel who called them legitimate.

The OPCW fact finding mission has still not visited Douma.

18 Apr. U.N. team fired on in Syria while visiting suspected chemical sites, which may delay or jeopardize inspections. It was reported and denied that a Russian officer was wounded, and it is now said that a Syrian guard was lightly wounded and Russians were not on the scene of the incident.

17 Apr. Syria ranks first at Arab Sambo and Kurash Championship in Beirut

16 Apr. In the afternoon, Israeli Defense Minister Abigdor Lieberman states that his country will not be limited in its actions in Syria by anyone, including Russia. At late night usually trustworthy sources report that Israel attacks several SAA air bases with missiles fired from jets over Lebanon and from northern Israel, including Dumayr airbase where Russian forces are known to be stationed. All objects are said to have been taken down by air defense. In the morning, neither Israel nor USA confirm the attack which some claim to be air defenses false alarm.

As what he thinks is the first Western journalist, Robert Fisk makes it to Douma and is allowed to wander around freely - finding no trace of and a lot of skepticism about a chemical attack. Around the same time, an American TV team does the same with the same results.

The SAA takes a couple of villages from Al Qaeda in an offensive in the east of the Rastan pocket that started yesterday. In a second afternoon advance, five towns and several strategic positions fall to the SAA.

Due to continued Turkish machinations with the water supply, the regions on the upper Euphrates are limited to 12 hours of electricity the day.

At a special meeting of the OPCW, Russian Ambassador Shulgin tells the group that Russia has "irrefutable evidence" that the alleged Douma chemical attack was staged.

Syria celebrates "National Day", commemorating the independence from France 72 years ago.

15 Apr. The militants in the remaining East Qalamoon pocket accept a bus ride to Idlib.

Situation Southern Damascus

The SAA concentrates more and more troops around the ISIS-controlled Yarmouk camp in southern Damascus.

14 Apr. A lively UNSC meeting takes place which ends with the rejection of a Russian draft resolution condemning the obvious violations of the UN Charter FUKUS committed (live recordings by Ruptly,Russia 24, Washington Post).

According to Lavrov, a Swiss laboratory has determined that the OPCW samples of the Skripals show the usage of BZ in addition to a "Novichok" family substance.

The OPCW fact-finding mission to Douma continues deployment and arrives in Damascus in the afternoon.

The Syrian Army General Command declares the eastern Ghouta to be free of terrorists.

Around 4 AM Damascus time, France, UK, US (FUKUS) attack Syria with approximately 120 cruise missiles. Four (plus four) UK aircraft attack Homs from well outside Syrian airspace. Trump tweets Mission Accomplished!

13 Apr. Russian defense ministry spokesperson Konashenkov tells the press details about the staging of the alleged chemical attack in Douma.

Syrian UN ambassador Ja'afari tells the press details about how "rebels" got hands on chemical weapons.

British Maj.-Gen. Jonathan Shaw CB CBE, former commander of Multi-National Division (SE) in Iraq in 2007 told Sky news that Assad had no motive to launch a chemical attack at this time at that place; his comments were interrupted.

12 Apr. Trump tweets: Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard asked extremely pertinent questions to Secretary Mattis about the legality of an attack on Syria. The response was very cautious.

Christian Blex, head of the German parliamentary delegation that recently visited Syria for several days, gives a detailed report of their experiences (German language video).

11 Apr. Russia issued a NOTAM to close an area next to Syrian territorial waters to conduct missile exercises on 11-12, 17-19 and 25-26 April, 10.00- 18.00 Moscow time. Opponent's unauthorized strikes shall be planned accordingly. Russia called chemical attack in Ghouta a staged fake and expressed hope that irresponsible military adventures will be avoided altogether; the latest by Peskov. Putin discussed Syrian situation with Netanyahu and urged to refrain from destabilizing moves. Shamanov(MP, Col.-Gen, ret.): there are direct Russia-USA contacts, at the level of chiefs of staff (his earlier warning here).

Russian Navy said to take off Tartus base to sea, in anticipation of possible strikes (ISI satellite photos)

Russian military police will be deployed in Douma from 12 Apr.

Trump tweets: Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

Forty minutes later he tweets: Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?

Russia is to increase Navy deployment off Syria-Rusvesna

Nikki Haley with Dr. Morad at the UNSC

10 Apr. As anticipated and warned in advance, at consultation meetings as well as seconds before the vote, Russia blocked the US-lead UNSC resolution on 'the new attribution mechanism for the chemical attacks in Syria' (Russia and Bolivia against, China abstained). Russian draft failed as well (6 for, including China, Kazakstan, Bolivia, 7 against, including all the West, 2 abstentions).

The third draft to condemn chemical weapons use and support the fact-finding mission, without immediately establishing an investigation mechanism, was rejected as well, with 5 in favor (Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Russia) to 4 against (France, Poland, UK, USA), with 6 abstentions (Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Netherlands, Peru, Sweden). The third draft was tabled by Russia, moved to consultations with the meeting suspended by Sweden, but ultimately failed. The three draft summaries are here.

'OPCW Will Deploy Fact-Finding Mission to Douma, Syria', says OPCW.

NBC News: Russia has figured out how to jam U.S. drones in Syria, officials say (and is doing so according to the report)

T4 airbase and its broader surroundings

9 Apr. Russian MoD (TASS): two F-15 aircraft of the Israeli Air Force, without entering Syrian airspace, struck the T-4 airfield with eight guided missiles from the territory of Lebanon. Western part of the airbase where Iranian forces are located was targeted; photo report claims moderate damage. Two "US officials" talking to NBC say Israel informed the US in advance of the attack.

Almasdar news: 'Cruise missiles' target T-4 Military Airport, west of Palmyra, in eastern Homs. Loud bangs heard, anti-aircraft systems activated. (AFP),(BBC). Pentagon did not confirm or did not comment; White House did not confirm -TASS. US officials denied -Reuters. SANA: 8 missiles shot down, there are killed and injured in the attack.

The Russian UN ambassador Nebenzia says at the UNSC meeting that the alleged chemical attack in Douma is "no doubt" staged and invites the OPCW to visit the scene on the ground (of which Russia and Syria are in control) as soon as the next day.

Situation in East Ghouta

7 Apr. Jaish al-Islam rebels in Douma, aided by the White Helmets apparently kill 40 hostages with chlorine gas, despite numerous Russian warnings of a staged CW provocation. The U.S. accuses the Syrian government and Russia of the alleged attack, renewing fears of yet another U.S. missile strike on Syria and further heightening international tensions after the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal. (Reports: Reuters, Al Jazeera, AP, Colonel Cassad, ACLOS team)

6 Apr. Hadi Nasrallah: 13 mortars fired from "rebel"-held Douma stroke the city killing 4 including a child

al-Masdar: Russian indicates it's distinctly displeased over continued Douma resistance and bombs the insurgents.

5 Apr. Nikki Haley hosts Dr. Morad of the Syrian American Medical Society at the UN Security Council.

Elijah J Magnier:The war is Syria is over but the US forces and the consequences of their dangerous presence remain.

Emanuel G May: Battle of Qalamoun about to start. Twitter Report and Map

4 Apr. SMM Syria: US SOCOM UNDER MASSIVE ATTACKS IN SYRIA - Multiple vehicles destroyed. Many US casualties after attack by pro-Government forces starting April 2 to now.

ISIS desert pocket

3 Apr. The SAA supported by the Russian Airforce apparently starts an offensive against the ISIS desert pocket between Palmyra and the lower Euphrates.

The resettlement of "rebels" from Douma to the north is in full swing.

According to SOHR, "ten of thousands" of Faylaq Al-Rahman fighters and their families, who were evacuated from Jobar, Ain Terma, Arbin and Zamalka, have over recent days arrived per bus in Afrin, where they settle in the homes of the (mostly Kurdish) people who fled the town during the Turkish "Operation Olive Branch".

Iran, Russia, Turkey: While the defense ministers meet in Moscow, the presidents meet in Ankara to discuss Syria. The meeting ends with a joint statement by the presidents.

2 Apr. The last of the PKK-affiliated militias who saved the Yezidis from ISIS in 2014 leave Sinjar/Shengal after a ceremony on the mountain (interview with a commander).

The SAA takes over a handful of villages in the north of the Rastan pocket after apparently the residents protested against the local gangs, who then left the villages.

Rusvesna: 'Syrian partisans attacked the US base in Raqqa' (report, leaflet, video)

Twitter: Turks now entering Khan Shekhoun

1 Apr. al-Masdar: Douma surrenders after all.

Some Jaysh al-Islam militants from Douma will be evacuated to the town of Jarablus (under the control of Turkish-backed rebels) in northeast Aleppo province whilst other fighters will reconcile

31 Mar. RT: All East Ghouta towns liberated, All E. Ghouta towns liberated (but no mention of Douma!)

30 Mar. After Macron received a delegation from the SDF in Paris the day before, Erdogan reminds him that he shouldn't "bite off more than he can chew". Shortly after, loyalist Turkish Anadolu Agency publishes a map showing five French bases on Syrian territory, all near Kobane. The Parachutist Regiment of the Navy’s Infantry is deployed there according to the paper.

29 Mar. Trump says the US will end its military presence in Syria "very soon".

al-Masdar: The SAA will not assault Douma due to large number of prisoners held there. Vanessa Beeley reports from the IDP camps outside Douma.

28 Mar. Rebels in southern Syria reject reconciliation with government, vow to fight.

Reports that Jaish al-Islam intends to fight it out in Douma.

27 Mar. Statement to the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria (27 March 2018) includes the detail that 140,000 people from Afrin have sought refuge in Tal Rifaat. Meanwhile Turkey has announced that Tal Rifaat is its ultimate target in the present operation.

Fresh reconciliation talks over the Rastan pocket are going on on initiative of "rebel" groups.

26 Mar. Saudi Arabia: Several reports that in the night the Saudi capital Riyadh has been targeted by a ballistic missile fired from 1100 km away Yemen, which was intercepted. According to Al Sura it has been three missiles and on one, the Saudi air defense not only failed to intercept, but the defense missile turned onto the city, with both impacts causing at least 17 injured (report with video allegedly showing the failed intercept).

IS / associates now control the majority of al-Qadam suburb in South Damascus. This is in addition to their existing control of Yarmouk Camp and environs.

Iraq: According to Al Masdar citing local activists, the PKK-affiliated Kurdish militias have withdrawn from Sinjar and been replaced by the Hashd al-Sha'abi following Erdogan's threat to invade the region (background report) .

25 Mar. Erdogan announces new military operations to capture Tal Rifaat in Syria and Sinjar in Iraq. Both are controlled by Kurdish militias Turkey sees as PKK proxies. In Tal Rifaat the Russian military has a presence. The Iraqi Defense Minister reacts stating that “Iraq will not be sitting with its hands tied against attacks against its territory.”

While the evacuations of Harasta and the Damascus suburbs in the south of the eastern Ghouta are on their way (video talking with some passengers), Jaish al-Islam is still refusing to surrender, but has opened humanitarian corridors out of Douma again while negotiations brokered by Russia are going on.

At a cabinet meeting, the Syrian government sets up a reconstruction and investment plan for the Ghouta.

Turkish-backed "FSA" groups are fighting each other over the loot in Afrin city.

24 Mar. Former PYD-co-chair Salih Muslim speaks at a seminar in the Swedish parliament about the situation in Afrin. According to him, there are 3,000 fighters among the Turkish proxy forces who had fought for ISIS before fleeing to Turkey from Raqqa and Kobane.

Tens of thousands take it to the streets in many European capitals and cities on what was planned as "World Afrin Day" by Kurdish organizations.

23 Mar. Al Masdar reports that the SAA has struck a deal with Faylaq Al-Rahman, the group dominating the south-west of the Ghouta pocket, about giving up four suburbs and accepting a bus ride to Idlib. The four are the notorious strongholds Ain Terma, Arbin, Jobar and Zamalka who have been under "rebel" control for six years. The evacuation is scheduled to start tomorrow at noon. With a deal in Harasta already realized, this would essentially leave Douma, controlled by the Alloush's Army of Islam, as last remain of the former Eastern Ghouta pocket.

Pentagon: Russian Guidance Prevented Clash With Coalition Forces in Syria

22 Mar. Elijah J Magnier: The Turkish army and the Syrian army exchange fire artillery all night around the city of Nub'bul where the Turkish Army and its allies advanced and occupied 3 villages in rural Aleppo previously under SAA control.

Hundreds of insurgents and their families leave Harasta on buses. (but mostly not green ones)

21 Mar. The Kurds are celebrating Newroz, the beginning of Spring and the new year.

Southfront / Hezbollah Media: 1,500 FIGHTERS OF AHRAR AL-SHAM TO LEAVE EAST GHOUTA WITHIN 24 HOURS UNDER AGREEMENT WITH GOVERNMENT

20 Mar. Peto Lucem: SAA forces are advancing in the Damascus suburb of Hazeh and have secured the heavily fortified Ain Terma valley.

19 Mar. U.S. and NATO forces are said to be planning a large-scale land invasion of Syria.

18 Mar. Turkish-led FSA forces capture Afrin city (Afrin Administration statement).

VV Putin wins his fourth presidential election with over 75% of the votes from around 67% turnout.

al-Masdar: Major rebel faction in east Damascus ceases hostilities with Syrian Army, begins talks with Russia

"Jaysh Tahrir al-Sham" militants shot down with MANPADS a Su-24 plane (apparently Syrian AF) over the mountains of Eastern Kalamun in Damascus province near the border with Lebanon (report),(video).

17 Mar. Russia again accuses the U.S. of preparing a military strike against Syria (RT Eng.). Threatens to retaliate to any cruse missile attack by sinking U.S. ships. According to RT, a Pentagon spokesperson called the statements "extremely absurd".

RT: Over 30,000 leave militant-controlled E. Ghouta as people continue to flee for safety.

16 Mar. Sayed Hassan Ridha: Tens of thousands of people have now evacuated Eastern Ghouta

Russian MoD mocks EU document on new sanctions on Syria dated Mar. 19, released in error, and allegations of chemical weapons use by pro-Assad forces in Hamouriyah, East Ghouta (Sputnik, Eng.)(TASS).

Commander of U.S. Central Command: Syrian Regime Has Won Civil War

Battle for Afrin

15 Mar. The Turkish army is indiscriminately shelling and bombarding civilian neighbourhoods in Afrin city center where hundreds of thousands of people are under siege. According to Kurdish sources, since yesterday alone 13 people died and dozens were injured (ANF 12, ANHA 12 (all with videos)).

14 Mar. al-Masdar: SAA closing on East Douma, taking remaining farms on Eastern border of Douma urban area.

Syria Glory: Reports of shelling by the SAA on Turkish military positions in the town of Mare’. This is in retaliation for a Turkish air attack on troops loyal to the Syrian government at al-Zyara crossing which killed 8 fighters and wounded 10 others.

13 Mar. Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become the new Secretary of State. Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA.

TASS: Militants are preparing a provocation with poisonous substances in Syria to justify a massive US blow to the government districts of Damascus. This was stated on Tuesday by the Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov (video 1, 2, 3). The RF Ministry of Defense is ready to take retaliatory measures "to target both the missiles and their delivery vehicles" if there is a threat to the Russian military Gerasimov said. Later Lavrov echoes the statement warning Nikki Haley that it is one thing "to exploit the microphone at the UNSC" but real life military actions are a whole other thing.

12 Mar. Within Syria: Suggests that Syrian forces are moving into Afrin without an agreement with the YPG, taking South Eastern parts by force including Tell Rifat and Mingh airbase.

ANNA News: According to reports, the National Defense Forces are now in control of : Tell Rifaat, Deir Jamal, Kimar, Al-Ziyara, Burj al-Qass, Bashmara, Busufan, Menagh and the Menagh Military Airbase.

Following a call published in eight languages on an anonymous blog called "fight4afrin" last week, which asks to start today with militant actions against Turkish state institutions and their perceived helpers in NATO countries, a series of arson attacks seems to have begun in Germany with at least two Ditib mosques in Berlin alone attacked, in addition to several other targets through-out the country. Ditib is the umbrella organization of Turkish mosques in Germany, which is directly run by the Turkish state.

Andre Vltchek reports from Al-Azraq in Jordan, which is a refugee camp as well as home to the Air Force base NATO seems to have chosen as replacement for Incirlik in Turkey, with the Germans and Dutch pioneering the move.

@Suriyak: Parts of Yarmouk Camp to be evacuated of fighters - without any fighting! Not sure if this includes ISIS.

11 Mar. Muraselon: Hmeimin military airport attacked again by single insurgent UAV. UAV shot down.

10 Mar. The SAA has progressed so far into the heart of the Eastern Ghouta that it has effectively split it into three parts, with Douma and Harasta respectively under close siege and a larger urban sprawl to the south. Meanwhile, the Kurdish defenses in Afrin are collapsing and the Turkish-backed Islamists are reportedly only a couple of hundred meters away from the canton's name-giving city.

ANNA news, several text updates on Turkish forces advances in Afrin, and pro-government advances in East Ghouta. Cassad: Afrin report and photos.

9 Mar. Several sources report pro-government demonstrations in the "rebel"-controlled cities of the Eastern Ghouta.

8 Mar. The main water pumping station for Afrin city is out of service after being damaged by Turkish bombing, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without sufficient drinking water supply.

Russia unsuccessfully continues to try to persuate the Ghouta gangs to take a green bus ride to Idlib.

7 Mar. The general command of YPG releases a statement calling on Russia "to undo its decision of allowing the Turkey’s invasion on Afrin and stop participating in killing the people in Afrin and destroying its towns and villages." (Among Russian mainstream and internet media, ANNA News is one of the few with some current news from Afrin, with most of attention to East Ghouta, or PMC and losses reports. It is also covered here, but with the attention to the effect of it on Deir ez-Zor. This source is listed as a 'special project' of ANNA news; another one apparently is 'Kurdistan Insider' ).

'US military intelligence has no information indicating that the February offensive against the Syrian opposition forces near the settlement of Hashsham in the province of Deir ez Zor was directed by the Russian Armed Forces. This was reported on Mar. 6 by the director of the Intelligence Directorate of the US Department of Defense, Lieutenant-General Robert Ashley' (TASS ).

A German parliamentary delegation of the "populist" AfD (Alternative for Germany) party has been visiting Syria in recent days. After a meeting with reconciliation minister Haidar, the leader of the delegation complains at a press conference that the image of Syria in German media is seriously distorted. Meanwhile, on prime time German public TV, Grand Mufti Ahmed Hassoun, with whom the delegation met the day before, is smeared with an out of context and butchered quote, trying to make it seem as if he had threatened Europe with a wave of suicide bombers, thus making the AfD delegates "terrorist supporters".

6 Mar. Report: Russian military transport aircraft An-26 crashed at Khemeymim airbase on the approach to landing Six crew members and 33 passengers were killed, all military, including a Major-General. The causes are investigated, but said to be not due to enemy fire. A technical fault is blamed. Video of the crash

Washington Post: SDF forces withdrawing from Deir ez-Zour to fight in Afrin. Notably this latest tranche of around 2,000 fighters are ethnic Arabs.

The SAA has captured 40 percent of the Eastern Ghouta pocket in their recent offensive. While these are the more rural areas, reports from the cities remaining under "rebel" control show raised Syrian flags and civilian protests against the gangs.

Director LT. Gen Robert Ashley gives testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee On Emerging Worldwide Threats Facing The U.S.

5 Mar. The US Embassy in Turkey is closed "due to a security threat" and will stay closed for at least another day.

Turkish government officials demand that Germany arrests and extradites PYD ex-co-chair Salih Muslim, who according to them has been in the country over the weekend taking part in demonstrations against "Operation Olive Branch" (~20,000 on Saturday in Berlin alone). According to SPIEGEL, the German government refuses to comment on the issue.

According to Kurdish sources, Turkey flies air raids with more than 50 warplanes on several city centers and villages in Afrin canton, killing and injuring scores of civilians. The agency calls it the "second heaviest" attack of this kind since the beginning of the Turkish aggression.

4 Mar. A large Turkish army convoy with over 100 military vehicles is spotted on its way to Afrin canton.

3 Mar. Lucem Significant advances by SAA in East Ghouta since the start of the offensive

Southfront: Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces advanced in the heart of the East Ghouta pocket and captured the al-Oabb farms between the districts of Duma and Misraba and the town of al-Shaffoniya.

ANNA news report and video: At least 15 Syrian pro-government militiamen were killed in an air strike of the Turkish Air Force on Kafr Jana airbase in the Afrin district. Earlier, a checkpoint of Russian military police was located there. After Russians withdrawal, it was taken over by the Kurds, who gave it to Syrian pro-government forces with the start of Turkish invasion.

A video (allegedly) showing 2 children escaping from East Ghouta and running to a government checkpoint, published by a Telegram channel linked to Russian military sources.

2 Mar. Firat News Agency publishes a document described as internal FSA report to Turkish intelligence MIT about the deaths of a single day, February 24. The 47 people listed are said to be mostly Syrians from villages around Aleppo. The night before, they published a list of 40 names of Turkish soldiers who had been delivered to one single hospital after events in a village near Rajo on March 1. 13 of them are said to have been dead on delivery. According to the Turkish state, the total losses in the over 40 days of Operation Olive Branch are 41 Turkish soldiers and 116 FSA fighters.

1 Mar. Shoigu: SU-57 left Syria after two days there, some photos on internet are fake (never in the open together).

Putin delivered yearly address to the Federal Assembly, unveiling Russia's new doomsday weapons.

al-Akhbar, 22 Feb. 2018 Washington to its allies: Let us divide Syria ('divide' used 4 times, 'Iran' used 2 times, auto-translated date of event appears to be 11 Oct. 2017). Apparently independent Near & Moyen-Orient publication, appeared on or before 22 Feb. 2018, but dated 26 Feb. 2018, with a reference made to the Security Conference in Munich, 17 February; 'Iran' used 4 times, 'divide' used 0 times; the claim is about a diplomatic telegram allegedly sent by Benjamin Norman on 12 January, 2018, reporting on the first meeting of the "Small American Group on Syria" (United States, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Jordan), held in Washington on January 11, 2018. Tillerson policy address is 17 Jan. 2018. (professional German translation of Al Akhbar article)

Southfront: Fighting continues in many places in Syria. Insurgents in Idlib keep fighting each other. SAA moving slowly into Ghouta. Humanitarian Pause isn't working. Turkish backed forces slowly advancing into Afrin despite resistance by Kurdish forces. No mention of NDF and militias in fighting in Afrin.


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Chemical Weapons (starting late 2012)

Main article: Category:Chemical Weapons
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A running theme in Syria news is claims about the use of chemical weapons and the red lines they would cross, if confirmed. Our category on this topic covers most reported incidents, especially all high-profile ones like the one that almost started a world war. In 2013, the allegations mostly involved the use of the nerve agent sarin. Since Syria surrendered its stocks to avert war, the allegations from 2014 to present shifted to use of chlorine gas. In both phases, ACLOS has discovered many problems with the accusation of government CW use, as well as much evidence that opposition forces are the ones actually guilty for many incidents. This trend continued when in early April 2017 the topic hit big news again, just to return once more a full year later.

Aleppo Aid Convoy Attack (September 19, 2016)

Main article: Attack on Red Crescent convoy in Urm al-Kubra
OFAB-250 bomb in Urm al-Kubra warehouse.jpg

Around 20 or perhaps 30 civilians are killed in in an attack on an aid convoy near Aleppo, destroying more than a dozen trucks hauling medical aid. This is another disputed incident; the West and its sponsored activists alleges a Russian or Syrian air attack is to blame, while Russia and Syria don't seem to know exactly what happened. ACLOS investigates.

And not to be distracted: this came just two days after the US airstrike on SAA in Deir ez-Zor that killed at least 60 Syrian soldiers in a well-known position of theirs, in a rather implausible "accident."

Houla (May 25, 2012)

Main article: The Houla massacre
Ali-Al-Sayed 1.jpg

The initial ACLOS investigation. The murder of around 108 civilians, among them up to 49 children, in the town of Taldou belonging to Houla in Homs province, is maybe the most famous event that happened in Syria in 2012. It was immediately blamed on the government and led to several countries expelling their Syrian ambassadors. Initially attributed to the use of heavy weapons, it quickly turned out that most of the victims were killed by short-distance violence. This led to the blaming of Alawite "Shabiha" militias loyal to Assad. While the UNHRC closed their investigation in mid August stating to be reasonably certain that indeed government loyalists were the perpetrators, a lot of the conflicting evidence collected in our research was either washed away or not considered at all, while contradictions in the testimonies of witnesses backing their conclusion were denied. A central question is who was in control over the area at the time - our attempt to answer this based on all collected evidence can be found here.

Homs Massacres (2011-present)

Main article: Homs Massacres
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Although relatively secure by now, the city districts and rural surroundings of Homs were home to some of the most shocking massacres of the Syrian war, especially in early 2012 when rebels had control over most of the city (that was following a short-lived Syrian military withdrawal brokered by the U.N. and Arab Laague). The ongoing ACLOS effort to list and analyze as many massacres as possible, so far includes more than 40, accounting for at least 1,400-1,900 deaths of almost strictly civilians victims. Alleged details are compared with common family names, district demographics, and the usual ACLOS techniques, to establish useable insights. Consider the Khalidiya Massacre of February, 2012, with 138 people killed, rebels said, as family homes were shelled. But the victims were 100% male and 94% adult, pre-segregated just like the prisoners of rebels the other side claimed the victims were. And this one's no fluke; strangely similar patterns repeat over and over in what makes for chilling reading.


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Ukraine News

21 Apr. LPR. ministry of security source is quoted saying that Ukraine prepares a false flag sabotage operation against chemical industry facility 'Zarya' (dawn) in the city of Rubezhnoe, Lugansk region, to coincide with Poroshenko visit to the Donbass. The aim of the sabotage is to undermine one of the warehouses of the enterprise where explosive substances are stored, and to blame the authorities and LPR armed forces and use this to justify introduction of a 'peacekeeping mission' to the Donbass.

20 Apr. DPR MOD accused 'Azov' in staged provocation: at around 6 a.m. today, Azov militants fired at the area of the village of Lebedinskaya, located in the territory under their control. In addition, a group of journalists of the TV channels "1 + 1", "Inter", "TSN" was seen last night in the vicinity of this settlement.

17 Apr. DPR. Five employees of Donetsk filtering station were wounded by Ukrainian firearms fire which hit a convoy of cars bringing a shift of workers to the facility. Following the attack, it was decided to suspend filtering station operations for 5 days initially. Alternative water supply from the Upper Kalmius reservoir is being established.

LPR. Ukraine shelled military equipment being prepared for the traditional Victory Day parade in Lugansk, with OSCE notified in advance. Historic WW2 era anti-tank howitzers, T-34 tank and LPR vehicles were damaged (video). Historic weapons are being repaired and are expected to participate in the parade after restoration, including the T-34 tank

UAF prepare pontoon bridge across the Seversky Donets

12 Apr. UAF prepare a pontoon crossing across the Seversky Donets on the approaches to the LPR -Semen Pegov, Rusvesna.

11 Apr. DPR MOD: Seven civilians were wounded in overnight shelling of Donetsk by Ukraine, about 60 flats or houses were damaged, a gas pipeline was damaged in 12 locations. Basurin calls this 'an act of genocide', links it with planned international visits to Ukraine and Donbass and other international events, submits that it is done to provoke return fire and use it to blame LDPR at those meetings. He indicates readiness to respond (no description of any actual response).

7 Apr. DPR MoD: Ukrainian sniper killed a civilian woman, moving on Ukrainian territory towards DPR; also on 6 Apr. a DPR soldier was killed by UAF sniper

6 Apr. DPR MoD weekly report, 2 DPR soldiers killed by sniper fire, 101 ceasefire violations by Ukraine, examples of Ukraine covering losses and thefts, such as 2 UAF RSG killed and 3 wounded on landmine field on March 30 near settlement of Luganskoe; RSG members themselves were blamed to avoid paying compensation

4 Apr. DPR MoD: More claims on provocations prepared against international representatives, including Danish de-mining Group.

3 Apr. DPR MOD: Ukraine prepares staged provocations, in particular against journalists, to be covered by media stationed in ATO area. Reminds on kidnapping, torture and murder of DPR soldier Tkachenko, calls for an investigation. Describes SBU program 'they wait for you at home', renaming it 'betray your home', and portraying this as propaganda played by actors with real people responding getting in trouble (allegedly missing, maimed, or received prison terms claimed to be unrelated to the program).

Ivan Bubenchik, participant of the Euro-Maidan in Kiev (2014) who previously publicly admitted killing 'Berkut' police, with shots from behind, is detained in Kiev and brought to the court in Kiev, to be informed on suspicion of committing those crimes. Bubenchik previously ignored demands to appear in court. He is the first to be charged in killing 'Berkut', investigated since 2014.

2 Apr. DPR soldier repairing window of one of the damaged houses was killed by UAF sniper fire in Kominternovo

Kommersant: Normandy format meeting may be planned in Aachen, Germany, in May. Ukrainian sources are quoted to link this with approaching presidential elections in Ukraine, lack of progress, and 'poisoned climate' created by the Scripals incident. Peacekeepers are said to be on agenda. Obviously with Moscow not on board not much can be accomplished.

Russian Duma panel suggested migration amnesty for Ukrainian citizens and those without citizenship arriving from the territory of L/DPR republics. Migration situation is not ideal and is highlighted by cases of opolchenie members under threat of deportation to Ukraine, where they are likely to recive lengthy prison terms and serious mistreatment. The latest such case, Nikolai Tregub, under deportation orders, is described by a well-known journalist Steshin in the (mainstream) Komsomolskaya Pravda, 3 Apr.

31 Mar. DPR war correspondent Mikhail Adronik reports from Kominternovo: in just under 9.5 hours from the start of the 'Easter ceasefire', it was broken by Ukraine. 4 mortar shells were fired on the village at 9:35 a.m, followed by automatic grenade launchers fire

It is reported that Ukrainian forces kidnapped a DPR soldier who was returning to his unit on 26 Mar. DPR MoD states that he did not cooperate with his kidnappers and was tortured and killed.

30 Mar. DPR ombudsman: in the past week, 5 people were killed, 4 soldiers a woman killed by Ukrainian shelling of Gorlovka (report and photos, Mar. 25); 3 soldiers were wounded. Since Jan.1, 30 soldiers and 2 civilians were killed, 47 people (37 soldiers, 6 civilian men, 4 civilian women) were wounded. There have been ceasefires, one after another, with the Easter ceasefire the latest one, but despite that, shelling and deaths never really stopped.

Ex UAF instructor in Sniper Training Vladimyr Smaga, who switched sides and joined LPR, tells that foreign instructors from England, France and the United States have been training Ukrainian fighters since 2015. Servicemen are trained in Yavoriv and Zhitomir proving grounds not for strengthening the defense capability of Ukraine, but for direct participation in hostilities and conducting subversive and terrorist activities in the Donbass. Groups of up to 30 people formed after the training courses were sent to the Donbass for practical training using knowledge and skills obtained under the guidance of foreign instructors. According to Smaga, in real military operations, units suffered significant losses - up to half killed or wounded. Losses were carefully concealed by the command, according to Smaga.


29 Mar. Joint Statement by the leadership of the Normandy format countries, identical up to minor translation differences (Kiev), (Moscow). Reaffirm commitment to implementing all aspects of the Minsk Agreements; Easter ceasefire announced from Mar. 30.

26 Mar. The "Ukrainian People's Tribunal" against eight representatives of the Ukrainian authorities begins in Donetsk.

23 Mar. Basurin: Ukrainian reports of DPR shelling Avdeevka are fake, apparently made to justify 'response' shelling overnight by Ukraine.

Basurin: UAF fired on Sakhanka for 2 days; Ukrainian fire correcting drone ('Fly eye' model, according to Basurin) was shot down (photos).

Savchenko faces Lutsenko in Rada

Savchenko in court, out of the cage, in arraignment and detention conditions hearing (text livestream); (live stream recording). Starts a hungerstrike. By court decision, locked up for 2 months without bail.

22 Mar. UAF fired mortars on Sakhanka, DPR, in the morning when children were walking to school, and despite the 'absolute ceasefire'. Two houses were damaged.

SAVCHENKO is detained in UKRAINE, after her MP immunity was withdrawn by the Rada. She faces 10-15 years to life in prison, accused of 'plotting violent overthrow of the constitutional order and seizure of state power.' Moskal' unloads: she was taken prisoner (by L/DPR forces) 'because she fell off BTR being drunk'; '15 people were killed'; she is 'a Russian agent', and 'prepares a coup' too. -Meanwhile, the European Parliament may take up her case. SBU video; Savchenko's own bizarre mock video. Answers Lutsenko video-doing a one woman's Maidan

Yulia Tymoshenko doubts that the non-factional people's deputy Nadezhda Sachenko could organize a coup d'etat in Ukraine, but declares that the fraction will vote for depriving her of her immunity. Savchenko was on Timoshenko's 'Batkovshina' party list in 2014, but broke off and is a non-affiliated Rada MP.

18 Mar. UAF fired mortars on Northern Donentsk from Peski. Last evening, Sakhanka village in DPR south was hit, a house was damaged.

Vladislav Voloshin a 29-year-old 'Hero of the ATO' pilot accused of a role in MH17 shoot-down, reportedly committed suicide by a gunshot in Nikolaev, Ukraine. In the last few months he was head of a regional utility company "Nikolaev International Airport".

16 Mar. Poroshenko announced replacing of 'ATO' by a new 'reintegration of Donbass' format, appointed gen-lt. Sergey Naev to the commander of 'unified forces', gave a task to have armed forces 'capable of liberating' rebel territories, 'with priority and no alternative' way to do it by political-diplomatic means. (The real meaning of all that remains to be seen).

15 Mar. DPR ombudsman: in the period from 2 to 15 March, 5 DPR soldiers were killed, 2 soldiers were wounded.

Nadezhda Savchenko: I saw how Parubiy Pashinsky brought snipers to the 'Ukraina' hotel Conservatory building (statement on video),(correction). Appeals to Putin to release detained ('in Russia' and L/DPR) Ukrainians and to have '20 Russian citizens' held by Ukraine freed (beginning of the video).

14 Mar. Basurin: UAF fire hit vehicles of utility workers coming to Donetsk filtering station, vehicles were damaged, luckily no-one was hurt. Utility workers are now afraid to go to the filtering station (Ukrainian positions are close to the entrance). This and numerous earlier violations places water supply to some 100 thousand people in jeopardy.

Basurin also states (again) that incoming Sec. Stat. Pompeo has recently visited ATO zone in Avdeevka, on invitation of SBU chief Gritsak. SBU press secretary comments that she 'does not have information'.

Ruban, Savchenko
"Ruban's weapons"

8 Mar. Ukrainian authorities arrested famous Ukrainian negotiator Vladimir Ruban, accused him of illegal weapons trade, with some ammunition photos to support the charge. Vladimir Ruban negotiated many prisoners of war exchanges and is well regarded. More details in talk.

6 Mar. Ukrainian helicopter was spotted 800 m from the separation line, and a powerful explosion was reported 20 min prior. DPR protests, asks OSCE and JCCC to investigate.

5 Mar. After the start of the latest so-called 'absolute ceasefire', Russian MP Zhurvalev visiting Donetsk came under Ukrainian small arms and mortar fire, said to survive. In another report, Ukrainian sniper fired on utility workers in Gorlovka. No one was hurt.

3 Mar. Tent camp of Saakashvilli supporters on 'Mikho'-Maidan is taken down by police. Cassad intermingles dramatic today's photos with Western media quotations condemning human rights violations at 2013/2014 pro-Western 'Euro'-Maidan.

2 Mar. Kurt Volker: LPR and DPR need to be dismantled, Ukrainian sovereignty and border control restored --all but dooming his mission and undermining the Minsk agreements, which require that key elements (special status, constitutional changes, elections, etc) has to be agreed with Donetsk and Lugansk representatives, i.e L/DPR. (Added: MP Alexey Pushkov, with a similar comment. He also states, 'without L/DPR agreement there will be no peacekeepers in Donbass').

Le Temps: Hundreds of American and Canadian soldiers have been training the future officers of the Kiev Army for two years at Yavoriv training ground, Western Ukraine.

Ukrainian reconnaissance-in-force group of about 15 people attacked DPR positions near Oktiabrskoe settlement, Mariupol area. One DPR soldier was wounded and another captured. Reinforcement arrived and repelled the attack. It is said that 2 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and at least 2 wounded.

1 Mar. 'Gazprom' returned March payments back to Ukrainian 'Naftogaz' and intends to stop deliveries over a contract dispute.

28 Feb. Contact group agreed on (yet another) "absolute truce" from March 5 (LPR-Deynego).

27 Feb. LPR: UAF fired 122 mm artillery shells on LPR positions in the area of Svetlodarsk

Disturbances near Rada building in Kiev are reported. Apparently it started as a conflict between two groups of protesters, who then either joined forces, or were joined by some provocateurs, to attack the police. 9 people were arrested, 8 police officers were injured. Irina Gerashchenko stated that among those who threw stones at the police and participated in the riots were Rada deputies (Kiev police chief was unable to confirm or deny that, and said that they will examine video evidence). Video.

Activists of Saakashvili's party, Movement of new forces (Рух нових сил) published a video claiming that Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko attacked activists camped outside of his house, threatened them with physical violence, used an axe to damage a generator, took and threw away an activist's cell phone when he tried to call. An eyewitness testimony of how the Attorney General Lutsenko plunged with an ax at activists near his home.

26 Feb. DPR MOD/Basurin report shows increased shelling, heavy weapons use by UAF (Rus.)(Eng.) Volvo center in Donetsk fired on with twenty 120 mm mortar shells, 4 houses damaged and a civilian 'Gazel' car destroyed in Dokuchaevsk.

25 Feb. Ten 120 mm mortar shells were fired by UAF on Zaitsevo, near Gorlovka. Houses were damaged (report and videos)

OSCE evacuates from Gorlovka? -User dashboard video and on-video comment with such claim.

In the past day, 1 DPR soldier was killed by Ukrainian shelling.

24 Feb. Russian FM press office: Having signed the (Reintegration of Donbass) law, P.Poroshenko de-facto crossed out the Minsk agreements and untied the hands of the "war party".

23 Feb. Basurin: Marked ambulance car was hit by Ukrainian PTUR, killing 3 people, a wounded DPR soldier, a medic and the driver (burned-down ambulance on video). Basurin accused UAF of a war crime. Also tells that the Ukrainian side tried to conceal this event in the news release; but accidentally released details on a planned Ukrainian attack (giving the name of the unit as the 'tactical group Mospino).

DPR ombudsman: in the past week (as of 22 Feb.), 4 DPR soldiers were killed, 2 soldiers wounded.

On the Soviet Red Army day, a parade in Krivoy Rog, Ukraine with some Red Army flags, Red Guards emblems (+lots of Ukrainian flags). This is despite the date no longer officially celebrated in Ukraine, with OUN day replacing.

22 Feb. Conflicting signals from Kiev, with an impression of preparing for warfare to take Donbass back by force, while claiming to be committed to 'peaceful settlement of the problem of the liberation of the occupied territories' (presumably, by deploying 'peacekeepers' and receiving Western 'defensive weapons', in order to 'liberate' the rest of Donbass, with no mentioning of Minsk, or the rebel L/DPR republics, involved in Minsk too although indirectly).

21 Feb. OSCE's Alexander Hug in Donetsk calls on both sides to stop the fighting, for the sake of civilians on both sides longing and crying for peace.

20 Feb. Poroshenko signed so called 're-integration of Donbass' law; instructed the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff to submit proposals on changing the format of the ATO by April 1, with a talk about 'the right to self-defense'. (It is not entirely clear what that means in practice, but is taken as a sign of escalation).

18 Feb. Saakashvili- organized anti-Poroshenko march, and an anti-Russian nazi pogrom in Kiev.

17 Feb. LPR: Unidentified persons attempted to sabotage the territory of the State Television and Radio Company (GTRK) and to damage the civilian emergency alert system, 'which may indicate the preparation of Ukrainian Armed Forces for the resumption of hostilities' (report and video), (another video, OSCE on the scene).

Neo-Nazis from C14 group staged a pogrom in the building of the Russian cultural center Rossotrudnichestvo in Kiev. At that time, there were children inside rehearsing a play "The Inspector General" (Rusvesna)(strana.ua).

16 Feb. Alexander Hug in a press conference from Lugansk tells of continued ceasefire violations, banned weapons near separation line, Ukrainian soldiers advancing and seen in Novoalexandroovka, etc; calls on the sides to implement their entirely unambiguous obligations under Minsk agreements. (With passion--but with little change on the ground, for years).

DPR ombudsman: in the past week, 1 DPR soldier was killed, 4 people (3 soldiers and a civilian man) were wounded.

12 Feb. Saakashvilli is detained in a Kiev restaurant (report and videos), said to be put on board of a plane to Poland.

10 Feb. DPR correspondent 'Mag' reports frequent, several times per week, flights of 'Global Hawk' RQ-4B , said to be 'along the front line and around Crimea'; suspects that a serious Ukrainian attack is in the works.

9 Feb. DPR ombudsman: in the past week, 2 DPR soldiers were wounded, no deaths reported. From 1 Jan. to 8 Feb., 8 people were killed (7 soldiers and 1 civilian), 31 were wounded (23 soldiers, 5 civilian men, 3 civilian women).

Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Grigory Karasin opposes the inclusion of the US in the "Normandy format" (related discussion of how Volker line is not helpful).

8 Feb. Basurin: (Rus.)(Eng.)A group of officers from the US Armed Forces, accompanied by representatives of the UAF General Staff, arrived to the so-called ATO zone to hold an inspection. Currently, brigades of the UAF, which are part of the Donetsk operational-tactical group, are being inspected. The main purpose of this inspection is to check the readiness of the UAF formations to conduct offensive operations. Besides, Western experts are interested in the problem of the Ukrainian military command's plundering funds allocated by US special services (as claimed). At LPR press briefing, Feb 7, it was stated that US Army delegation headed by Defense Attaché Wofford visits Ukraine troops’ outposts in Donbas and that it may lead to deterioration of security situation.

5 Feb. Briefing by Basurin, where he says that UAF plans an offensive along the whole separation line, to overrun republics defenses and to advance all the way to the border with Russia; demonstrates maps of presumed attacks, reports that heavy equipment is moved away from storage areas, shows evidence of resent advanced payments and Ukrainian social media posts supporting his claim ("Ukrainian, rejoice, the war will end soon", by Maxim Pashkevich, with a document said to describe UAF general staff plan to overrun rebel republics). Appeals to the world, tells that plans to counter the offensive are made.

1 Feb. Assassination attempt on DPR defense minister Vladimir Kononov from a tripod-mounted RPG-26 is reported, Ukraine blamed. No-one was hurt.

UAF shelled Dokuchaevsk oil refinery, there are damages to the refinery equipment and a residential house (quoting DPR representative in JCCC Yakubovich).

Videos

More videos on talk page

Photos

  • Recent history in a nutshell in those photos to the right:
Poroshenko, Kiska - EU entry at Uzhgorod
Alley of Angels, in memory of killed children of Donbass. Ukraine "über alles"?-Donetsk Partisan
Ukrainian AF killed and wounded in 'ATO', Maidan, Kiev
  • Aftermaths of Ukrainian shelling of the village Zheltoe (Yellow), LPR, 29 Nov. 2016 lug-info.

Sources

Note on sources. At present, pro -Ukrainian and pro-Russian sources more often than not offer opposing claims on events, and a choice needs to be made. Currently factual part of reporting by pro-Russian sources appear more accurate, complete, and closer to truth, out of the two available alternatives. It is also less known, as the other side has greater support by the Western mass media. For that reason, a lot of reporting here is based on Russian sources. It is not done for the sake of supporting any pre-determined narrative. If and when Ukrainian sources appear more accurate, they will be used without a reservation.

Some Ukrainian source reporting is very good, for example Tatyana Montyan numerous videos, some of them translated, are spot-on and at times appear closer to reality than any pro-this or that narratives. However the bulk of Ukrainian media is unreliable, and often just unbelievable, not passing cross checks (e.g. as was illustrated numerous times by well-read on both sides Ukrainian journalist Anatoly Sharii); or else, is filled with hate and may cheer more people harmed or killed (any of such sort, from any side, is totally unsupported here).

OSCE

Official Ukrainian sources

Ukrainian media

DPR and LPR

Minsk Agreements

Safety zone (no heavy weapons) agreed at Normandy format meeting in Minsk, 12.02.2015. Black: current front line; red-19 September line. At the bottom it says: source: the web site of the President of Russia

Agreements

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Archive 2015
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Ukraine (2014 - Today)

ACLOS has covered events in Ukraine since the 2014 regime change and through the ensuing conflict. Three most important subjects among many considered:

  • Maidan snipers February, 2014 Analyzing the mysterious February, 2014 shootings that helped demonize Ukraine's government at just the right time.
  • Odessa Trade Union massacre May 2, 2014 Analyzing the killing of dozens of pro-federalism activists in Odessa, which the civilized world shrugged at and ignored. (based on numerous videos of the event, documented authorities response, and witness interviews; still mostly on talk pages).
  • MH17 (2014, July - Today)
Followed from the very beginning. However still remains mostly on talk page, sub-pages, and sub-page talk pages.

Kobane (2014, July, September - Summer 2015)

Main article: Assault on Kobane
Kobane water cannon.jpg

A very similar chain of events like years before in Ras Al-Ayn (see below), only this time it made the news (months after we started the article). Not least because this time, the attackers call themselves part of ISIS, the "newly arrived" enemy of all that's good and decent.

Ras Al-Ayn (November 8, 2012 - Summer 2013)

Main article: Assault on Ras Al-Ayn
Sere kaniye burial.jpg

Ras Al-Ayn, directly at the Turkish border in the north-east, early November 2012: The Kurdish dominated and mostly self-governed town gets assaulted by hundreds of Islamist fighters coming across the border from Turkey, under the eyes and with help of the Turkish military. After typical sectarian assaults on the civilian population, Kurdish militia takes up the fight against the foreigners. In the process of the following weeks, the town sees shelling by both the Syrian and the Turkish army, several defeats of the Islamists with retreat behind the Turkish border, and finally a fragile truce. On January 16, again large groups of foreign fighters with tanks cross the Turkish border and heavy clashes break out. After a month of heavy fighting, another peace agreement is signed on February 17. Five months later, following an Islamist attack on female Kurdish fighters, heavy clashes lead to the final conquer of the border station by the Kurds, which leads to increasing tensions in other parts of the region.

Tremseh (July 12, 2012)

Main article: Tremseh massacre
Confiscated tunisian passports.jpg

When news of this alleged massacre reached the media, it came with alarming numbers of up to 300 civilians murdered in the small village of Tremseh northwest of Hama. In the following hours and days, both pro- and anti-government sources helped to clear the picture of what is now mostly called the "Battle of Tremseh" between the army and anti-government fighters who had used the village as their base for operations in the region. The real death toll seems to be some civilians caught in the crossfire and a couple of dozen killed anti-government fighters. In addition, many including foreigners were arrested and their arms and equipment confiscated.

Other research...