Syria Live Coverage: Stripping Opponents of Citizenship

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 | James Miller in EA Middle East and Turkey

1700 GMT: Syria. Syrian journalist Hassan Hassan reports that, according to his sources, pro-Assad elements are stealing from Sunni neighborhoods and opposition supporters and selling goods to Assad supporters and Alawite residents of Damascus:     I remember Reuters did an early report about the “Sunni market” where Shabiha sell products taken from rebels’ houses & neighbourhoods. 1/2

    7 Nov 12 – That report was from Homs. Now the same is in Damascus. One friend told me a lorry full of stolen products arrived & women started ululating. Reports of raids on areas where the opposition is strong is nothing new, and rumors have often spread that pro-regime elements raided businesses that were presumed to support the opposition. But it’s never happened this close to Damascus.

Conditions inside the capital are degrading as the war draws closer. This is just another sign that things are breaking down.

1630 GMT: Syria. James Miller takes over today’s live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas, who is on the road today, for getting us started so early this morning, especially after staying up so late to cover the US elections.

Time to get caught up.

Huge blasts rocked the Mezzeh district of Damascus, very close to the heart of the Assad regime. The Guardian reports:

    Susan Ahmad, spokeswoman for the Revolutionary Council in Damascus, said rebels attacked a military airport in Mezzeh and a security department in the area. They also attempted but failed to attack the presidential palace.

The Guardian’s Mona Mahmoud spoke to Staff Colonel Ahmed Nima, leader to the Deraa Brigades that conducted this attack:

    As the Derra brigades we already planned to attack the Republican Palace and Mezzeh military airport. But we couldn’t without the help of the brigades in Damascus.

    More than 100 fighters were involved in the planning and reconnaissance, but only 20 fighter carried out the attack. We used 120 mortars.

    The intelligence general commission is almost burned entirely, and at the military airport runways used by Assads planes were attacked.

    We wanted to show that we could reach into Assad’s den.

    We targeted the hall where Bashar holds his meetings. We got information from people who work inside the palace.

Meanwhile, Syrian authorities have raided the office of a Hamas leader in Damascus, and at the same time the Syrian insurgents have attacked and killed 10 members of a pro-Assad Palestinian faction in refugee camps of Damascus.

The bottom line – the Palestinians have increasingly been drawn into this fight, with most siding with the FSA and some with the regime. Hezbollah and Hamas are both increasingly divided between the regime and the insurgency. The FSA is growing more bold in their attacks on the capital, and though they are unlikely to knock out the regime any time soon, they are drawing Assad’s forces away from the real front lines (Aleppo, Idlib, Deir Ez Zor), just to try to hold Damascus. Even with Assad’s forces concentrating on the capital, attacks like this are more common, not less, and the fighting will continue to escalate as a result.

Of course, this is bad news for civilians who are trying to live their lives. Many people fled to Damascus when fighting got bad elsewhere. Now, there is nowhere to flee.

0655 GMT. Syria. As politicians and activists continued their discussion in Qatar of a new opposition leadership, and as United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned that Syria could become another Somalia, the Local Coordinating Committees reported that 156 people had been killed by security forces on Tuesday.

Sixty of the deaths were in Damascus and its suburbs, 38 in Idlib Province, and 26 in Aleppo Province.