A DIARY : Syria Live Coverage: A “Ceasefire” Ends

30 Oct 2012 – | James Miller in EA Live, EA Middle East and Turkey

Claimed footage of a regime airstrike on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta this morning

2128 GMT: Syria. Protest in the Tareeq al-Bab area of Aleppo tonight:

1922 GMT: Syria. It’s been an important 24 hours for several key reasons. Below is an excerpt of a summary from the Strategic Research & Communication Centre, an opposition expatriate group:

    At least 16 rebel fighters were killed in fierce clashes with the armed pro-regime Kurdish PKK militia in Aleppo. The rebels detained more than 200 of them as reports say that more than 350 others are fighting alongside the regime forces in the Latakia suburb of Jabal Turcoman.

    Following the collapse of the UN-proposed truce, rebel fighters launched a major offensive on regime forces in Idlib, Damascus, Deir Azzour and Aleppo, whereby they seized control of a five military checkpoints in the Damascus suburb of Douma. They also seized control of the provincial towns of Salqin, Harem and Darkoush in the suburbs of Idlib, besides storming the air force intelligence compound in Aleppo city. They captured a number of military tanks, heavy machineguns and a big quantity of ammunition.

    A Turkish state-media said that more than 70 regime troops turned themselves in to the Turkish authorities after fleeing their positions in the suburbs of Idlib near the border with Turkey.

    The clashes left at least 35 army soldiers and 29 rebel fighters dead.

First, the reports of fighting in Idlib, and the surrender of regime troops, is significant – it adds evidence to the narrative that many regime forces are cut off from resupply and reinforcements by the FSA positions around Ma’arrat al Nouman. The army’s morale is low, but the insurgent morale has never been higher. Also, more captured bases in Idlib, Aleppo, and around Damascus, mean more weapons, ammunition, and supplies for the FSA. We’ve seen how this has been turning the tide of battle for several weeks.

But the most significant development may be between the FSA and the Kurdish fighters. On Friday, FSA units advanced into parts of Aleppo with the permission of the PYD forces. That situation deteriorated within 24 hours, and the FSA has now fought several small battles with the PKK. This conflict is becoming more complicated as both the Syrian insurgents and the Turkish authorities are now openly fighting pockets of PKK/PYD fighters, while other Kurdish groups, mostly the less militarized groups, continue to support the Syrian opposition and defy the Assad regime.

1730 GMT: Turkey. State news agency Anatolia said clashes between security forces and the Kurdish PKK in southeastern Turkey on Sunday killed one police officer and eight insurgents.

The PKK launched five simultaneous attacks against security positions late Sunday, killing the police officer, according to the Sirnak governor’s office. Turkish troops backed by jets had slain eight insurgents in the Beytussebap district of the same province.

1720 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees claim that 104 people have been killed today, with 51 dead in Damascus and its suburbs — including 10 fatalities each in the Hajar Aswad and Jaramana car bombs — and 24 in Aleppo Province.

1600 GMT: Syria. We can;t confirm this video, nor is a date or location mentioned, but it is increasingly common to see IED or mine attacks against regime convoys – and they’re working:

1548 GMT: Syria. There are many reports that several small checkpoints east of Damascus fell to the Syrian military yesterday. The blogger “Angry Arab” has posted a report from a source in Damascus. The report says that the bombing has rarely been worse east of the capital, and car bombs are now daily occurrences (it’s not clear who is responsible for them all). But the bombings, which we often has video of, are also a sign of retaliation. The insurgents continue to advance east of the capital, and many sources suggest that regime loses are very high.

Angry Arab’s source reports this too:

    While the shelling of the eastern suburbs of Damascus continues, heavily, for the fourth consecutive day, the humanitarian outcome is still not entirely clear. Opposition web (Arabic) pages reported wide destruction of the towns targeted by the shelling, news confirmed to me by a trustful source who, until yesterday, has lived in Harasta but obliged to flee to Damascus with his family during the latest campaign. He described the life there as impossible adding that the town is merely a ghost city now, in the absence of drinking water, electricity and food with only fighters and few elders and disabled civilians are still there. Another source with ties to the pro-Assad sectors and who live in Tishreen district, near Harasta, described fierce battles that are taking place there between the military supported by the popular committees (known as Shabiha) from one side and the rebels from the other side adding that, as far as he knows, the military is suffering heavy losses.”

Video reportedly showing the capture of an air defense base east of Damascus. The FSA battalion is the Abu Bara Brigade. It’s not entirely clear exactly where this is, but there are many similar outposts around the capital:

A jet fighter reportedly dropping a bomb on Douma:

1537 GMT: Bahrain EA’s John Horne reports:

Authorities have denied reports in local media that the Kingdom is planning to open an office for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) next November. In a press release, the Bahrain Minister for Human Rights is reported as saying that the “Kingdom of Bahrain does not need to open such an office in the foreseeable future or either the far seeable future”.

Earlier this month, a former minister nominated by the Bahrain Government was controversially elected to join the UNHRC Advisory Council. This followed Bahrain’s Universal Periodic Review of human rights at the UNHRC in Geneva, where it received 176 recommendations by the international community, of which it has pledged to implement more than 140. These pledges were met with skepticism by NGOs.

1532 GMT: Syria. Earlier, Scott Lucas reported that a large carm bomb has exploded in the pro-regime neighborhood of Jaramana in Damascus (see update 1233). The Guardian posts this video:

1519 GMT: Turkey/Syria. For weeks we’ve been reporting cross-border firing incidents where Syrian military forces have launched gunfire, and even mortars, into Turkey. For weeks its been clear that the culprit was the regime. But for at least the last few days it has been far less clear who is responsible for some of these incidents. Now, the US Seventh Army commander and head of US Army Europe, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, says he no longer knows who is responsible for some of the firing coming across the border:

    “We are not sure if these shells are from the Syrian army, from rebels who want to get Turkey involved in the issue or from the PKK [Kurdish Workers’ Party],” he said.

1511 GMT: Syria. Ceasefire? Right now it’s hard to find any place where a ceasefire exists inside Syria. Initially on Friday there was a relative calm and pockets of fighting and violence. Now, it’s hard to even find pockets of calm.

    Fighting is reported in Deir Ez Zor, and Syrian fighter jets have bombed the city. It’s unclear which started first.

    Ma’arrat al Nouman, the key to Aleppo’s supply line, have been heavily bombed from the air today. However, the FSA continues to hold the area around the city, and regime attempts to retake the area appear more desperate by the day. The civilian death toll, however, continues to climb. According to the latest report from the LCC, 3 were killed (including a child) and dozens wounded as a mosque was bombed by regime air forces.

    Fighting, shelling, and bombing plagues Aleppo city.

    Homs has been intensely shelled every day since Friday morning.

    Snipers have killed many over the last several days in the streets to Daraa after regime security forces conducted raids and made arrests.

    Despite all of this, much of the violence is concentrated in Damascus and its suburbs.

According to the Local Coordination Committees, at least 68 people have been killed so far today:

    30 martyrs were confirmed in Damascus and its suburbs, including 10 in Hajar Alaswad; 18 martyres were reported in Aleppo; 8 in Homs; 4 in Idlib; 4 in Daraa; 3 in Deir Ezzor; and 1 in Hama.

See our note on the casualty figures published by the LCC.