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from Syrian Revolution Digest, 6 Feb 2013:

How You Failed Syria!

How you failed Syria, let me count the ways: you abandoned her when her movement for democratic change was nonviolent. You let Assad violate her and kill her children. You turned your back on her children when they rushed to her rescue, and pretended you were unaware. You uttered words of sympathy and encouragement, and sent few blankets and tents to people who were at the mercy of mortars and MiGs, not only the elements. You tied her fortunes to complicated geopolitical agendas that are beyond her control or interest. You let her legitimate aspirations and her all too human and humanitarian needs be the last entry on a long list of objectives. What do you expect of her now? Would tell her she is wrong to hate you? Would you blame her should she implode? Do you really think she would care anymore?
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According to observations being reported by EAWorldview and Brown Moses, there are strong indications that the secular Free Syrian Army has recently been getting a significant supply of new weapons of types not possessed by the Assad regime, and so not captured weapons.

These new weapons appear to be going mainly if not exclusively to the "moderates", al Nursa and the the jihadist don't seem to have any.

These new weapons, which include advanced anti-tank weapons, recoilless rifles and RPGs, but not anti-aircraft missiles or MANPADS, are starting to have an effect on the battlefield and have played a big part in recent FSA advances on the ground, most notably in Damascus.

And it is these rapid fire advances on the ground that are driving this whole process at the international level including the latest flurry of big power "discussions" [jockeying for position] around the Syrian crisis, Brahimi's new leaks and the exodus of Russians from Syria.

This intelligence is being brought to you by a worldwide network of activists like Brown Moses, C. J. Chivers and James Miller that make it their business to study the images coming out of Syria and IDing the weapons being used by both sides and helping us understand what that information tells us about the struggle.

These weapons appear to come from the region of the former Yugoslavia, which is a good place to get advanced weapons that aren't easily traced back to you. The real source is any body's guess, which is why I wrote this particular diary, to report this news and give a place for those with time to speculate on who this new source is.

My vote is for Obama. The timing is right, its after the election. There's been rumors that Obama has been reassessing his options; he knows his 'do little' strategy hasn't been cutting it, it's actually allowed the jihadist to seize the initiative and Mali has shown where that can lead. Suddenly the Tuareg MNLA doesn't look that bad to the French. Finally there is the notable lack of MANPADS in this new supply, a signature phobia that I believe Obama picked up in Tel Aviv.

I don't necessarily think the US is supplying or even funding these new weapons acquisitions as there have been others among the "Friend of Syria" that have been willing and able for some time, but I do think this observed change on the battlefield indicates that Obama has removed some of his prohibitions against these weapons.

But before the speculation in the comments, comes the report. From EAWorldView we have this report:

Syria Analysis: Someone is Arming the Insurgents...and It's Working

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 10:19 | James Miller

In mid-January, prominent blogger Eliot Higgins, several journalists, and I noticed an influx in new weaponry into Syria, specifically in Daraa Province in the south. Higgins collected the videos in a blog post and came to a remarkable conclusion --- the weapons, which included several kinds of RPGs, recoilless rockets, and grenade launchers, were all designed,manufactured,  and/or heavily used in the former Yugoslavia, and none of them are part of the Syrian military arsenal.

Someone --- a current player? a new one? --- was giving a big boost in weapons to the insurgents.

Since then, the Free Syrian Army has succeeded with a series of surprise attacks, capturing several towns, border crossings, and roads. They then repelled tank convoys, airstrikes, infantry invasions, and even paratroopers.

A Free Syrian Army fighter fires an M60 Recoilless Rifle in Busr al Harir on 17 January

In the last week, opposition fighters may have overrun nearly one-third of Daraa city. Regime convoys have rushed towards the city, apparently to turn back the surprise advance.

Once again, the insurgents have used weapons that were not made in Syria. In this video, a fighter holds a M79 Osa RPG:

In the following video, insurgents, firing from a bedroom, use a RBG-6 40mm grenade launcher to strike at an Assad military installation . The weapon was designed in South Africa, but this appears to be a weapon licenced by a company in Croatia:

The weapons are being brought in from outside Syria and put into the hands of Free Syrian Army units, rather than the Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra or other factions distrusted by the international coalition supporting the opposition.

Eliot Higgins has now found evidence that the new weapons have made their way into Damascus, Hama Province, and Aleppo Province. This video shows an M79 rocket launcher in the Sheikh Saeed district, recently taken by insurgents, in the south of Aleppo city.

Higgins explains the significance of the military figure in the clip:

The man shown in the video is Colonel Abdul-Jabbar Mohammed Aqidi, reportedly the former commander of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo Province. He is now part of the recently- formed Supreme Military Council, acting as one of six representatives for the Northern Front.

Maybe more tellingly, he is one of two members of the armament committee for the Northern Front, with this video being one of a series from his recent visit to opposition forces in Aleppo.

On Monday, the insurgents launched an offensive against a military barracks in the north of Aleppo city. Though we did not see any weapons that were definitively obtained from outside Syria, the fighters brought a significant amount of firepower down on the barracks, with reports that they have captured the building.

The new offensives, and other insurgents attacks around the city, suggest that this is part of a new, coordinated strategy to hit Assad strongholds and weaken his hold on Syria's largest city.

Then there are the attacks on Damascus International Airport and the military bases that surround it. While other assaults have been beaten back, those of the past week have been relatively successful. Video shows an RPG-22 at the scene, in the hands of the Free Syrian Army:

While foreign weapons have been seen in Syria, we have not encountered them on this scale. All this suggests a new, organised, and well-funded effort is under way to ensure that  "moderate" fighters are capturing territory and weakening the Assad regime.

It is too early to tell whether there are enough weapons to make a long-term impact. None of them be used as an effective counter to Assad's primary threat, his fighter jets. However, if this is an experiment to see a surge in armament makes a difference, the answer is clear.

Click here for a list of my other Daily Kos dairies on Syria
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zornorph, mookins

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 10:08:00 AM PST

  •  So you have decided to follow up on my posts (0+ / 0-)

    from a week ago. Good for you.

    Advanced foreign weapons entering Syria

    Anti tank weapons smuggled into Syria shown

    •  Ah Claudius, I see you're back in Wondersyria - (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clay Claiborne, mookins, killjoy

      where the only planes in the sky are civilian passenger aircraft, where no rockets are ever fired into university buildings, no food queues are ever fired on, and no cluster bombs ever dropped.
      As I always say, just a shame the Syrian people can't join you there.

      •  What you are viewing in that video is why your (0+ / 0-)

        own president doesn't want MANPADS in the hands of even "moderate" rebels. He would not have control of what they get fired at.

        Why don't you take it up with Obama? I just report on events.

        Neither I (nor you) have any control whatsoever of events now occurring in Syria. But, I do know that the more weapons you put into a conflict, the longer it lasts and more innocent people that are killed.

        BTW, Canada does not want the opposition armed in ANY way.

      •  I think his delusions are driven by hate (0+ / 0-)

        That's a powerful combination.

        What does he have here? A dozen comments? Maybe more?

        Cut & Paste, Cut  & Paste

        50 years ago we would have found him in a room, the walls covered with newspaper clippings.

        Today we have the Internet!

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 04:24:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have no delusions and neither does (0+ / 0-)

          the Obama administration. The conflict in Syria is multifaceted with many sides and parties to the conflict which you do very little to clarify. It is not the simplified, binary, good vs evil you portray it to be.

          Even the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights shows a side of the conflict you wish to avoid.


          Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Link

          Fighters beat 3 women with sticks and whips by the Jobar area in Damascus. Women were accused of cooperating with the Syrian authorities.

  •  Not exactly an "exodus of Russians" at this time (0+ / 0-)

    There are tens of thousands of Russians in Syria and less than 100 have been evacuated. I imagine many thousand have also left along with the refugees, many of whom are fleeing from the violence from both parties in the conflict.

    (MOSCOW) — Russia has evacuated families of its diplomats in Syria but is not planning to launch a large-scale evacuation of tens of thousands of its citizens from Syria, the country’s foreign minister said Wednesday.
    Lavrov said the 77 Russians who left Syria took buses to Beirut, from where they flew home overnight on board the two planes provided by Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry.

    “As for the Embassy, we proceed from the assumption that there should be no non-essential staff there,” Lavrov said. “Families have left long ago, but the Embassy is continuing to function in full. There are no other plans yet, or rather we have plans for any situation but there is no talk yet about implementing them.”

    Some observers saw the evacuation of 77 Russians as a possible start of what could become a difficult and dangerous operation to rescue tens of thousands of Russians living in Syria as rebels gain momentum in their fight to oust Assad’s regime. Most of them are Russian woman married to Syrian men.

    Read more:

  •  Rebels using captured heavy arms to bombard (0+ / 0-)

    government strongholds. This escalation will put even more civilians at risk as the tit-for-tat violence increases. The opposition has also been responsible for mortar and tank bombardments within civilian areas in the last several months.

  •  Recoilless weapons (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    In mid-January, prominent blogger Eliot Higgins, several journalists, and I noticed an influx in new weaponry into Syria, specifically in Daraa Province in the south. Higgins collected the videos in a blog post and came to a remarkable conclusion --- the weapons, which included several kinds of RPGs, recoilless rockets, and grenade launchers, were all designed,manufactured,  and/or heavily used in the former Yugoslavia, and none of them are part of the Syrian military arsenal.
    Every rocket is recoilless so I assume you meant recoilless rifles as you meant earlier when you said:
    These new weapons, which include advanced anti-tank weapons, recoilless rifles and RPGs, but not anti-aircraft missiles or MANPADS
    Just so you know, these weapons might be "advanced" only in the sense that they are more powerful than hand-thrown bombs against armor. Thay are not at all "advanced" in the modern technological sense.

    I do not for a minute believe the FSA has not had RPG type weapons up to now. RPGs are ubiquitous in the Middle East in non-governmental hands. Different sub-types might have been spotted but readers should be clear RPGs are not a novelty on the battlefield.

    Recoillesss rifles date back to limited use in WW2 and widespread use by the Koerean War. Since the 1970s it has been made an increasingly obsolescent weapon by guided anti-tank missiles like the TOW.

    So neither of these sightings should be considered an influx of modern weapons which implicates a major modern weapons manufacturer. These source of weapons could be from almost anywhere. These weapons might have belonged to many different owners between now and when they were originally manufactured.

    Bloggers and readers sitting thousands of miles away from the events have no ability to discern which or how many factions are associated with these weapons.

  •  "Secular"?? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Farugia, Rusty Pipes, Smoh

    In every video they are shouting "Allahu Akbar"

    whether or not they call themselves Al Nusra, the vast majority of FSA is Islamist - you can also identify them by their beards like in the 40mm grenade launcher video.

    Contrast this to SAA videos, not single Akbar, not a single beard. You know who the true secularists are.

    •  Why are you so contemptuous of people (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clay Claiborne, mookins

      who draw on their religion for strength in a desparate situation - which is where the Allahu Akbar comes from ? If you had spent the last 18 months fighting tanks, artillery, and jet fighters with little more than small arms I bet you'd be praying to someone too!
      You need to differentiate between them and groups who are hoping to impose a narrow version of Islam on a future Syria. They exist, but they are a minority element even among the Syrian fighters, much less among the opposition as a whole, which still includes many civil activists.
      The SAA and the regime put on a nice show of "secularism" but they are a highly  sectarian force. In any event "secularism" isn't the be-all and end-all of politics. Hitler was a "secularist" - but it didn't make him a good guy.

      •  It's clear that you have little or no (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rusty Pipes, Zornorph

        experience with secular Muslims and non-secular Muslims because you have no real understanding of the use of Allahu Akbar by these two groups of Muslims.

        And this statement is so wrong on so many levels

        In any event "secularism" isn't the be-all and end-all of politics. Hitler was a "secularist" - but it didn't make him a good guy.
        but I'll limit myself to the importance of secularism in governorance. It is impossible for a non-secular, reeligious, government to be truely democratic or accountable to the people because those in power have a very handy excuse for anyone who objects to whatever they decide "What? You are questioning God?".

        Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

        by InAntalya on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 12:48:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  does their secularism help them kill? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Most religions have these troublesome prohibitions against murder, so maybe their secularism has some advantages for their line of work.

      This secularism of the SAA is one that is enforced my the state, not one adopted by an enlightened people.

      It is a fascist "secularism" in which people are forced to pray to Bashar al-Assad! Yes, precisely. Look at some of the leaked torture videos.

      This may be what you prefer but it is not the road to liberation or true atheism.

      The road to that goes through complete freedom of religion and on to freedom of thought.

      Your definition of an Islamist would appear to fit any Muslim who actually did believe in God and is willing to say so.

      I think it may be a bit over-broad.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 04:43:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Reminds me of the WW2 Ethel Merman (0+ / 0-)

      song-  "We'll be singing Hallelujah as we're marching through Berlin".

  •  CIA likely playing a part here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clay Claiborne, mookins

    Given that these weapons first showed up in the South of the country and around Damascus, and not the more hotly contested North (Idlib, Aleppo) I'm guessing this is related to long-running reports that pro-democracy FSA forces have been getting specialized training in Jordan. With the goal of a possible concerted push on Deraa & Damascus.  And that US & allied focus has been on these rebel units while units in the North have been largely left to fend for themselves weapons-wise for fear arms would cross-pollinate with Nusra and other jihadists.

    These videos make it look like those rebel units have now been fully activated and are joining the game.

    This particular mix of weapons would be genuine game changers for any guerrilla or light infantry force...especially when paired with news that pro-Assad armored units in the South of the country often have little if any infantry support.

    Reminded of much focus (by Gaddafi, international media, etc.) was on opposition forces in Benghazi & the East, but it ended up being the Amazigh rebels of the southern Nafusa Mountains that delivered the decisive victory by rolling into Tripoli from the West.

    Follow Me on Twitter!!/ZeddRebel

    by TarantinoDork on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 11:51:14 AM PST

    •  The recent opposition push on Damascus (0+ / 0-)

      appears to be spearheaded by al-Nusra and 5 other jihadist groups fighting under a "Caliphate" banner.

      Rebel groups launch operation to liberate Damascus
      Syrian capital has escaped much of the country’s bloodiest and most violent fighting
      Wednesday 06 February 2013

      A number of the fragmented rebel groups fighting Bashar al-Assad said that they had launched an operation to liberate Damascus today, as the Syrian capital witnesses some of the heaviest fighting it has seen for several weeks.

      Six rebel groups took to social media sites to announce the start of “Operation Epic in the capital Omayyads” - a reference to the first dynasty of Arab caliphs, who chose Damascus as their capital. One of the groups involved was the Salafist Jabhat al-Nusra, which has claimed responsibility for a number of bomb attacks in Damascus and Aleppo in recent months.
      Those loyal to the government said that two suicide bombers had blown up the cars they had parked near a residential part of the city, while the rebels attested that at least 12 people had died, and 20 had been injured, in an attack on a military intelligence centre.

  •  Islamist factions now using heavy weaponry in push (0+ / 0-)

    against government forces within Damascus. This will result in an even heavier response.

    Fierce clashes reported in Syrian capital
    Wednesday, February 6, 11:16 AM

    BEIRUT — Fierce clashes broke out in Damascus between rebel forces and the Syrian military Wednesday after a relative lull in fighting that lasted several weeks.

    Rebel fighters attacked forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Abbasseen Square in central Damascus as well as several neighborhoods surrounding the capital, according to opposition activists.
    The Syrian Islamic Front is one of several Islamist factions that fought in a key battle to take over the Taftanaz military airbase in northwestern Syria in mid-January.

     Another umbrella group of Islamist factions, Liwa al-Islam, said it took part in the assault in Damascus on Wednesday. A statement on the group’s Facebook page called the operation “the battle to enter Damascus.”

    Islam Alloush, a spokesman for the group, said fighters in the assault were using antiaircraft guns and other heavy weaponry confiscated from the Syrian military.

     A reporter with the pro-opposition Shaam News Network who goes by the pseudonym Abu Hassan al-Demeshqi said fighters from the rebel Free Syrian Army, who also took part in the assault, even used confiscated tanks to attack government checkpoints.

     “We witnessed extremely heavy clashes in the streets,” he said.

     By late afternoon Wednesday, rebel fighters had taken over a handful of checkpoints in the eastern and southern portions of Damascus, according to opposition activists.

     Government forces retaliated with artillery and mortar fire in the neighborhoods where the heaviest clashes took place, including Jobar, Zamalka and Tadamon, according to opposition activists.
     “It looks like judgment day is upon us,” said one resident of a western Damascus neighborhood who also asked not to be named for security reasons. “The sounds are extremely loud and heavy, and it didn’t stop since this morning, not for a single second.”

  •  Satellite images of Syrian site bombed by Israel (0+ / 0-)

    Image shows it was only the parking lot where the three 9K33 Osa/SA-8 Gecko surface-to-air missile systems were hit. This would account for the confusion of what had actually been hit during the first reports that came out.

    Bombed Syrian site seen in satellite images

    Satellite images of a Syrian research facility north of Damascus published on Wednesday appear to contain proof of an airstrike allegedly carried out by Israel against an arms convoy last week.

    The Digital Globe satellite photos, broadcast by Channel 2, show a smoke-blackened parking lot outside the Jamraya scientific research facility that, in images published on Google Earth before the bombing, was not charred.

    Here's video of strike area. Apparently empty SA-8 carriers are shown at the end.

    I am thinking that this may have been a "warning shot" by Israel if they thought that the missing missiles were inside the complex being fitted with CW?

  •  The Folly of Arming Syria's Rebels (0+ / 0-)
    Commentary: The Folly of Arming Syria's Rebels
    As the Syrian civil war grows nastier and nastier, there is a growing consensus among mainstream Western policy analysts that the United States can best combat the growth of jihadist groups battling Syrian president Bashar al-Assad by patronizing a more respectable coterie of rebels fighting alongside them. While there may be some reasonable grounds for considering U.S. intervention in the conflict, this isn't one of them.
    But even if an American infusion of arms into the Syrian arena could "ensure the collapse of the Assad regime in weeks," as some interventionists implausibly maintain, it wouldn't necessarily bring a "faster resolution to the fighting." Many Alawites are sure to fight on in the hinterlands of northwestern Syria so long as Iran is willing to supply them, while the country's Kurdish minority won't be eager to relinquish control of its remote enclaves to the likes of those now leading the rebel effort. Christian militias in Aleppo may not disband quietly. The rebels may turn on each other. Chronic ethno-sectarian and factional conflict could drag on for years.

    Syria hawks maintain that if the United States arms and finances combatants, it will ameliorate this rocky transition by ensuring that "weapons go to those advocating a non-sectarian, decent political system for Syria and are denied to those seeking a sectarian outcome." Yet even if such outward distinctions can be taken at face value, increasing the material resources available to “moderates” won't make less resources available to Al-Qaeda affiliates (and might even free up their resources for more nefarious aims).

  •  Do you have EAWorldview's permission to repost? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Because what you have included of the article from that site far exceeds the fair use standards of this site.

    It isn't nice to go to jail ... but if that's freedom's price

    by Rusty Pipes on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 02:56:02 PM PST

  •  US: no aid to be distributed by Syrian opposition (0+ / 0-)
    U.S. Humanitarian Response to the Crisis in Syria

    Special Briefing
    Anne C. Richard
    Via Teleconference
    Washington, DC
    February 6, 2013
    OPERATOR: Pardon me. We’ll go to the line of Josh Rogin with Foreign Policy. Please go ahead.

    QUESTION: Thank you so much. You briefly mentioned that you had met with the Syrian Opposition Council coordination committee to help them develop additional capacity to identify needs. But I’m wondering if you can explain to us why there’s been no effort to give them any of this aid to distribute. Of course, seven senators who met with them held a press conference last week saying that we needed to do this to bolster their credibility inside Syria. I read in The Washington Post that you don’t believe they have that capability. But isn’t that a Catch-22? Is there any plan to give them any of this money at any point?

    ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR LINDBORG: Globally, we provide our humanitarian assistance through the UN system and our NGO partners, and this is specifically to ensure that there is a global humanitarian architecture that can get assistance to people who need it the most on the basis of need. So we’re using the approach that we use globally.

    What’s important is that there is coordination with the ACU. And the UN, for example, now has a fulltime liaison person with the ACU in Reyhanli. We have a fulltime liaison person, as does the UK. And so as they gain additional capacity to provide that kind of input into needs assessments, into coordination, we’re absolutely committed to doing that, as we always are in provision of humanitarian assistance.

    QUESTION: So there’s no plan to ever – there’s no notion that you would ever actually give aid to be distributed through the Syrian opposition leadership?

    ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR LINDBORG: We don’t do – that’s – we don’t provide humanitarian assistance through other governments really anywhere globally. We have a strong commitment to providing needs-based assistance working with the UN and NGO partners.

    QUESTION: Thank you.

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