Talk:Quseir Campaign

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A priceless gift from syrianews.cc

From here, parroted for example by NBC. :oD --CE (talk) 21:57, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Page Start Notes

As CE recently noted, we hardly have anything at this site about Quseir, a vital border town for channeling Sunni fighters and supplies from Lebanon from early on, even as the government forces push their first total attempt, pretty successful, it seems, to cleanse the place. So to cover this lengthy campaign, here's a page. I'd like to have a front page eventually, but talk is fine for now. I for one don't know enough to even start a summary page. --Caustic Logic (talk) 01:57, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

I think it was Petri who noted that. I noted, however, that Navi Pillay is falling over herself denouncing alleged massacres, which I read in this article about the Syrian gov complaining. I put together some stuff over at the "skeptical" thread preempting a reaction I foresaw but should have known more specifically to revolve around whining about Hezbollah. :oP --CE (talk) 02:10, 3 June 2013 (UTC)
Could have been Petri. The presumed visual dissimilary is muted in the world of text. :) I need to actually read a bit here, finally. Pillay's concerns might be useful here. Have some tabs open, will pop back later. --Caustic Logic (talk) 05:41, 3 June 2013 (UTC)
Whining about Hezbollah has its own article. (or talk page at least.)-- Petri Krohn (talk) 10:38, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I was typing Quseir and Qusayr, settling on the former for the page name. But now it seems Qusair is far more common. Should this be moved and re-directed to Quseir or even Al-Quseir Campaign? --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:14, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Quseir Massacres?

Frequently throughout the Syrian war, government forces and allied militias will just pop out of nowhere in some remote village or outlying city district in a rebel hotbed area and kill random or even government-supporting Sunnis or even Shi'ites or Alawites (to frame rebels). As with the Houla massacre, for example, rebels are always there to take pictures of the unconcealed, un-guarded bodies, to prove just what the government usually denies. This tends to happen when there's no formal government offensive there (until after the massacre, anyway, they say). So when they push a coordinated attack to cleanse a city or stetch of countryside, one would expect far worse regime massacres, with women and children slaughtered not in the low dozens but in the mid-hundreds. Daraya and Harak, for example, saw mass battles in August 2012 leading to huge massacres during the campaign, but mostly of rebel fighters, it seems. As they engage rebels in combat, it seems there's less energy left over to massacre innocents as much as they'd like.

I'm not too versed with reported massacres accompanying the battle of al-Quseir, By and large, women and children were largely allowed to leave, for one thing. As regime forces and vicious Hezbollah fighters move deeper into rebel stronghold, I'm sure there have been some. But considering how the whole world is intently watching, news media ready to pounce on any documented slaughter of innocents - , one might expect there to massacres galore covering the news pages. Scanning headlines, Google News search for massacre + Syria, one sees numerous links related to the Baniyas and al-Bayda surprise massacres, interesting recent cases covered at those links. Then :

  • Residents risk massacre as Hezbollah 'invading' Syria's Qusair
  • Syria offensive threatens massacre in Qusair
  • Assad, Hezbollah forces enter Syria rebel town; massacre is feared
  • Fears of a massacre in Syria
  • Armed Rebels Massacre Entire Population of Christian Village in Syria

The last is the oddball - more the usual out-of-nowhere pattern that yields real and horrific massacres (although in this case details are still very thin - covered here). But in a month or more of fighting in Quseir, such things are still only feared, it seems, and intently feared. Maybe they're saving upfor a big slaughter at the end, once the last armed rebels are eliminated. But I predict that's the time it will be least likely to happen, for whatever reason. --Caustic Logic (talk) 01:57, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Reported Massacres

Any worth analyzing could be briefly analyzed here. --Caustic Logic (talk) 01:57, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Al Arabiya English ‏@AlArabiya_Eng tweets:

#BreakingNews: Free Syrian Army fighters say they retreated from #Qusayr following a massacre which took place in the town

I just wonder how the shabiha managed to murder all the people BEFORE the Free Syrian Army left? -- Petri Krohn (talk) 16:47, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Khoshkeledoc ‏@Khoshkeledoc at 8:32 PM (EET) - 5 Jun 2013

:(( v @Fsa_Media_Hub: upto 1000 men women & children feared Massacred by #Hezbollah after #Qusayr was overran #iranelection

Khoshkeledoc ‏@Khoshkeledoc at 8:31 PM (EET) - 5 Jun 2013

Free #Syrian Army fighters say they retreated from #Qusayr following a massacre which took place in the town (AA) #iranelection

francesca borri ‏@francescaborri at 8:20 PM (EET) - 5 Jun 2013

#qusayr all my friends are dead - all of them... all of them

Sorry I haven't been keeping up here, and I see you beat me to the punch with evidence my hunch was just slow. I just had it hit me there can't not be massacres. End of the road, control of neighborhoods, home, apartment buildings, etc. Fighters staying behind publicly to help other fighters and "civilians" retreat... in case they're caught. But generally, they say they're gone, they can't defend. Then people are horribly slaughtered, as the army and of course the Satanic Shi'ite forces, are either in control or about to be. Why did that tweeter say they withdrew AFTER a massacre? All you have to do is say just before. How'd you see it then? You didn't -an eyewitness escaped and told you. Duh! Idiot gave us a clue even before this massacre has a name or details. I'll be behind on those as I write up a thing about clues from a month ago and a year ago. --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:23, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

"1000 men women & children feared Massacred by #Hezbollah" suggests a decent number were, and I bet horribly. Hard to predict the details, but by past precedent, they'll settle on something low triple-digits (2-300), but really around 50-70 civilians, padded with dead rebels. But this situation is quite different. Like Daraya, upper triple digits and beyond are sadly plausible. --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:31, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

By the way, I looked some more and I STILL see no clear massacre reports. 1,000 seems to refer to all civilians still there then, massacre to artillery against rebels, dead mostly rebels. Even in Arabic, no mentions of children hacked up, no named families, anything. Original observations seem to hold. --Caustic Logic (talk) 22:30, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

Rebels, combatants or civilians?

Moved from Talk:Al-Qusayr. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 10:33, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Syrian Sama TV showed yet another "massacre"[1] in al-Qusayr in Syria today.

The video shows one or two piles of bodies. The dead males do not look like jihadi. Except for one Kalashnikov, they do not even look like combatants. In fact, they look like civilians, refugees or killed civilian captives. Yet the SAA displays them to television and the channel displays them to the world audience. Evidently they have a strong claim that these men died in battle combating the Syrian Arab Army. If this is true, this video might give insight into investigating other claimed massacres. One must not let a bright civilian attire mislead one into believing that some dead people are peaceful protesters or other massacre victims. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 02:54, 25 May 2013 (UTC)

Interesting. I'm aware of that problem, where fighters even intentionally dress civilian to look innocent if killed. I also look for age and fitness clues and mostly method of death. Like the 100+ men laid at the mosque in Daraya - too clean and too widely reclaimed to be battle dead. Despite being almost all fighting age males, I suspect those were hostages executed before the retreat, loaded at leisure to make claims with later. Otherwise, fighters also makes some sense there, and more sense in other cases, including of course al-Bayda. --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:16, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
Here is a video of rebel attack in central Daraa today. Everyone is wearing civilian clothes. Makes them kind of look like locals. Maybe the unarmed ones are. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 11:36, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Notes

  1. The alternate meaning of massacre is rejoicing over the size of defeat of your opponent in war or sports.

Evacuation Controversy

Notes: Original population, peacetime, 30-40,000 (just under 30k in 2004, most say 30 in 2012, one AP article says it was "about 40,000). After the 2012 rebel takeover, the Christian and smaller Alawite communities left, were expelled, or otherwise ceased to exist there as it became all-Sunni by early 2013. Christians were reported as nearly 10,000, 1/4 to 1/3 of the population, ordered out for unstated reasons in June, 2012. (see here and here) Others would leave, fighters would come, etc. So we say below 30,000 quite roughly, and it's a harder and less diverse lot, on average, than the word "town" usually brings to mind. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:23, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

May 11, a day after UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay's stated fears of mass displacement [1], it was reported that the Syrian government allegedly gave civilians in Quseir a chance to displace themselves before the fighting really started. AFP reported:

Syria’s army warned citizens to evacuate Qusair ahead of an attack, a military source said Friday ... “Leaflets were dropped over Qusair asking civilians to leave the city, with a map of a safe route by which to evacuate, because the attack against the city is coming soon if the rebels do not surrender,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity. [2]

The U.S. State Department complained over these reports on May 10: "Ordering the displacement of the civilian population under these circumstances is the latest demonstration of the regime’s ongoing brutality." The truth and/or effectiveness of the evacuation scheme is disputed. Reuters reported on May 30 that it was at least significant and, when you think about it, probably saved lives:

Thousands of civilians are believed to have fled Qusair before the offensive began - Assad's forces distributed leaflets by plane saying they would be attacking the town. Some activists estimate Qusair's civilian population was at about 20,000 when the offensive began. [3]

If around 20,000 of the original 30,000 (per the same source) is an opposition estimate, one can presume at least that it's not high, and something like 1/3, or even more, of the city's people had safely made an exit, somehow. Presumably and hopefully, these would be disproportionately women and children, and their numbers might have been reduced by 50% or more. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:55, 5 June 2013 (UTC) and --Caustic Logic (talk) 22:38, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

AFP, however, had heard that it was all a lie, that that was the latest demonstration of the regime’s ongoing brutality, and also heard why the rate of escape wasn't higher:

Activist Hadi al-Abdullah, who spoke to AFP over the Internet, denied the claim. “I am in the town of Qusair, and this morning I visited two villages nearby, and I can assure you no leaflets were dropped anywhere near here,” he said. “What is more worrying than that is that there is no safe exit for civilians. All of us here in Qusair have been condemned by the regime to a slow death,” added Abdullah, a spokesman for the Syrian Revolution General Commission, a network of anti-regime activists. “Every time civilians try to leave the town, they are shot or shelled at the town’s edges by tanks or snipers. We are trapped – civilians, activists and fighters together.” [2]

It hardly seems worth contesting that many more people who tried to flee, to reject being human shields for the rebels, would be killed trying, or turned back or scared back - that neither side would try at times seems too much expect. The question is which side had the reason to block the exits so. The effect, AFP reported: "Activists said ... approximately 25,000 residents were believed to still be in the city," complicating the government offensive, calling for condemnation of the assault on a city still filled with a lot of human shields. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:55, 5 June 2013 (UTC) --Caustic Logic (talk) 22:38, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

That idiot should know better than to lie about something even the f-ing state department has already "complained" about almost a month ago. --CE (talk) 14:07, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Reuters was hearing, by the 30th, more about the increasing number of wounded. Activist Malek Ammar told them "we have 700 people wounded in Qusair and 100 of them are being given oxygen. The town is surrounded and there's no way to bring in medical aid." [3] The reported numbers would climb quickly. June 2, an AFP article focused on the injured; with an an unstated number of civilians remaining, SOHR said around 1,000 injured people needing evacuation for medical care, and the a joint statement by UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos and UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay" cited "as many as 1,500" in that situation. They also said they "were "extremely alarmed" by reports that civilian neighbourhoods were under fire," even though that's just where the rebels had dug in. "We urge the parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian agencies to evacuate the wounded and provide life-saving treatment and supplies," they said. [4]--Caustic Logic (talk) 11:55, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

To work in: May 25: Over 2,500 refugees from Qusair arrive in Lebanon

More than 2,500 refugees have arrived through the Lebanese town of Arsal in the wake of a Syrian regime offensive on the town of Qusair, the UNHCR said Friday. The refugee agency’s local spokesperson, Dana Sleiman, cautioned that this figure, garnered from local authorities and much lower than the number aid agencies anticipated arriving from the besieged Syrian city, was not yet comprehensive.

The United Nations refugee agency could, however, provide some details about the new arrivals. According to its weekly update, more than half of the Qusair refugees arrived with neither legal documentation nor belongings, and many reported they had had to flee to different cities inside Syria before eventually making it to Lebanon. To this information, Sleiman added that while the families arrived in Arsal, many had since proceeded to the Wadi Khaled region of Akkar, in the north.

This is how Pepe Escobar explains it: -- Petri Krohn (talk) 10:34, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

So the first thing the SAA did was to encircle Qusayr. Then Hezbollah stepped in - as most of Qusayr's population of 30,000 had already left for either Lebanon or Jordan.
The final, wily SAA tactic was to allow the Aleppo-based al-Tawhid brigade to sneak into Qusayr to help the al-Farouk. So when these twin top FSA brigades were properly encircled, the SAA pounced. Virtually no civilians were in town, apart from a few farmers nearby. There was no "genocide".

Rebels left with "civilians"?

"In face of this huge arsenal and lack supplies and the blatant intervention of Hezbollah... tens of fighters stayed behind and ensured the withdrawal of their comrades along with the civilians," said the statement.

Source: Rebels withdraw from Qusayr, Syrian army claims victory -- Petri Krohn (talk) 13:52, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

USA Today says only "wounded civilians" escaped. Syrian army captures al-Qusayr from rebel forces

Syrian rebel fighters and wounded civilians were forced to flee al-Qusayr Wednesday, as Syrian troops, supported by Hezbollah militia, advanced on the strategic city close to the Lebanese border.

Why does this make me think that the word "civilian" in fact means wounded rebel / terrorist? -- Petri Krohn (talk) 13:56, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

McClatchy today: Pro-Assad forces retake strategic city of Qusayr in major setback for rebels

It was unclear how many civilians remained in Qusayr when the rebel forces withdrew. The Syrian Opposition Coalition, an umbrella group for the opposition against the government, repeatedly said in the final days of the battle that thousands of civilians were trapped by the fighting.
Reports say 15000 people were still inside #Qusayr when it was over run by #Assad gangs backed the #hezbollah mafia "god help these people"
al-Qusayr may have fallen to Assad's forces - meaning that thousands civilians are still trapped within the city, at risk of being slaughtered by Assad and Hezbollah's forces. Raising our voices and urging intervention is essential. In the words of Hadi Abdullah, Qusayr-based journalist and activist:
Furthermore, in the words of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:
Homs province: Fighters from the Lebanese Hizbullah have overrun the city of al-Quseir after intense bombardment cover overnight by regime forces, which continued until dawn today.
Reports indicate that the rebel forces retreated from the city due to lack of ammunition and men, this comes despite the many promises that supplies would reach the rebels of al-Quseir.
The SOHR voices its deep concern over the fate of more than 1200 injured in the city, we urge the Red Cross to enter the city immediately.'
Raising awareness and getting various humanitarian groups and governmental outlets to act is ESSENTIAL. To save more lives, and prevent more small, vulnerable towns from falling into the hands of Assad and Nasrallah's brutal forces, a no-fly zone and international intervention are urgently needed, including supplying the Free Syrian Army with all the arms it needs.

The New York Times on the last Qusayr Media Center video:

As Government Forces Arrive, Injured People 'Abandoned' in War-Torn Qusayr
Before the rebel-held town of Qusayr fell to government and Hezbollah forces on Wednesday, activists posted a video online that shows dozens of injured people, mostly civilians, trapped in a makeshift clinic. Artillery fire can be heard throughout the video. One older man estimates that there are 1,200 injured people there. "The Arab countries and European countries don't do anything for us; only God is with us," he says. Another man says, "The Arabs have abandoned us," and begins to cry.
What We Don't Know
We do not know what happened to the injured when the town fell to the government. We do not know how government forces are treating surviving residents and rebel fighters who may have remained in Qusayr, or if any form of retribution is taking place. We do not know current conditions in the town.
The video was published on June 5, 2013. MediaInfo says the video is encoded at 2013-06-03 15:41:14 UTC. YouTube has a habit of assigning encoded-dates exactly 24 hours before the video is uploaded and encoded by YouTube. I cannot explain the date. It seems however unlikely any of this footage was created today. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 22:29, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Alexblx ‏@Alexblx at 11:13 PM (EET) - 5 Jun 2013

15,000+ civilians who fled #Qusayr are now outdoors in nearby #AlBowaidhah village without water, food and medicine ACTION NEEDED @HasanSari7 #Syria
Another fighter said he was going home to rest after four sleepless nights. "We went in, there was some fighting and then (the rebels) withdrew," he said. "We saw them leaving in about 400 cars."
Residents had long since fled the fighting. There were few traces left of the rebels who made a last stand here over the past week.
A spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Damascus, which works with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to deliver aid, said the group was still waiting for permission from the government to enter Qusayr, after being told earlier this week to wait for an end to the fighting.
“Right now we’re hearing reports that the inhabitants of Qusayr have fled,” said Rima Kamal, the ICRC spokeswoman.
Harba said he believed that rebel fighters were possibly still in the northern and western parts of the town. Syrian state TV showed footage of army troops in the clock tower square, which is in the southern part of the town, Harba said.
Jaad Al-Yamani, an activist and aid worker on the outskirts of Qusair, said the opposition fighters were still stationed in the northern neighborhoods but he was unable to communicate with anyone inside. Meanwhile, the town’s civilians and injured had all been able to flee to the neighboring towns of Al-Bweida and Al-Salhiya.
“Now there is no one left except for the fighters,” he said.

lyse doucet ‏@bbclysedoucet – 7:53 PM - 6 Jun 2013

Told only 150 households still in #Qusayr, about 500 people..used to be a city of 30,000 ..before the war #Syria

This video by Qusair Media Center shows mainly unarmed men fleeing Qusayr. Are these civilians or rebels who were allowed to flee to Lebanon without their weapons? In one part of the video the rebels are driving toward the setting sun. In another sequence people seem to be walking away from the sun somewhere below the horizon. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 23:18, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

+ More of the same. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 16:37, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

Al Akhbar has details:

Hala Jaber

Some interesting tweets after visiting Qusair https://twitter.com/HalaJaber

On #Qusair retreat, no sign of the 15,000 civilians caim that supposedly retreated with the rebels (cited video)
Those who left early on the offensive remain in narby areas not being "slaughtered, executed or burnt" by anyone. View conversation
Make shift hospital extremely well stocked & equipped. Boxes & boxes & shelves filled with medical supplies. (cited pic
#Qusair_Dabaa tunnel stairway (pic)

Etc. and a report in the Sunday Times (preview only) on the secrets of "tunnel town." --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:14, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

Notes

  1. U.N. commissioner warns of possible atrocities in Qusair, Syria By Raja Abdulrahim, Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2013, 1:40 p.m.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Syrian army warns civilians to leave Qusair Agencies, via the DailyStar (Lebanon), May 11, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 Syrian rebels plead for help as army bombards strategic Qusair By Erika Soloman, Reuters, Amman, May 30, 2013 6:21am EDT
  4. Aid agencies alarmed over civilians trapped in Syria town of Qusair AFP via Times of India, June 2, 2013

Qusayr captured by SAA

Moon of Alabama cites Lebanese Naharnet. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 11:53, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Spin

Qusayr on Strategic Road between Damascus and Syrian Coast?

There is no road there yet, only a construction site. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 12:48, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

It is also strategic for the regime because it is located on the road linking Damascus with the coast, its rear base.
At 10 miles west of the Syrian-Lebanon border in the Homs province, al-Qusayr is a lifeline for the Syrian regime, a key crossroad on the road running from north to south between the coast and Damascus. It is also a strategic point in the supply route of the regime's ally, Hezbollah, Lebanon's Shia military organization, as it moves weaponry and fighters from east to west.
Qusayr's rebel occupation also hindered Assad's forces from accessing the coastal heartland of the Alawite sect (a minority offshoot of Shia Islam which the Syrian president belongs to). Some speculate Assad would seek refuge in the heartland via the Mediterranean port of Tartous if Damascus fell.

Moon of Alabama commented on this anomaly two weeks ago:

Notice that there is no road through Qusayr running from the south-east to north-west. There is not even a minor connection from Damascus to Tartus that runs through the town. If you were planning a trip from Damascus to Tartus would you consider passing through Qusayr? Unless you would want to walk you likely would not do so. Why then are journalists asserting that the Syrian government would do so?

I commented there:

Al Qusayr would connect Damascus to Tartus, if only the new motorway bypassing Qusayr to the southwest would be finished. Google Earth says it has been under construction for the last 10 years. What is now missing is one set of pillars in the bridge in Qusayr's southern intersection. (One TV report from the spot mistakenly claimed that the bridge had been "destroyed".)

What is also missing is the section west of Qusayr. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 13:38, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Is there? Well, There must be a road or easy system of them, whichever, so the point seems valid. And road could mean planned road, to augment existing ones. The direct to the coast is northwest, pretty much through Qusair, I think is the valid main point why it's good news the rebels are evan admitting defeat, even after their heroic reinforcements arrived a couple days ago. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:13, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
The autobahn to Tartus starts at the ring in Homs and runs north of the big lake. The Damascus-Qusair-Tartus connection fail is part of an attempt to tell the fairy tale of Assad trying to create an "alawite rump-state" with ethnic cleansing and the rest, spun by the orientalist morons like Josh Landis. --CE (talk) 14:24, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Yes, CE, exactly! I have been too busy today to explain why I put this up here. As MoA already pointed out, this meme is repeated over and over again in the media. He cannot find the source for the idea. I don't think all these journalist have suddenly been studying Google Earth. The only explanation is that it is a CIA talking point force fed to their agents in the prestitute media. What did the original Power Point slide say? It seems to be part of some plan for the division of Syria, with Damascus and the coast forming the Alawite rump-state. I do not know who is pushing the partition, apart from the CIA that is. It is clearly in their plan to surrender Qusayr and the new motorway and let al Nusra have Homs and Hama. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 14:53, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Same crap even a bit enhanced (turned around the supply line thing) by our old friend Martin Chulov at the end of the article. And he sure knows better. But the nature of his "journalism" has been obvious for a long time, not only to himself. --CE (talk) 20:34, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Sources

Video

al-Buweida

The 15 000 civilians were said to have escaped to Eastern Buweida (al-Buweida al-Sharqiya). The town has now fallen to the Syrian Arab Army. We should be expecting massacre reports soon.

In fact the village was the site of a massacre already a year ago. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 09:23, 8 June 2013 (UTC)