Syria Live Coverage: The Pressure Builds On Assad

Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 15:20 | Scott Lucas in Africa, EA Global, EA Live, / Aftermath of the shelling of the Al-Shifa hospital in Aleppo in Syria on Wednesday — at least 15 people were killed and 20 wounded (see 1009 GMT)

Wednesday’s Syria Live Coverage: Damascus Shakes as Assad Regime Wobbles

1520 GMT: Syria. Earlier we noted another insurgent victory, with the taking of a regime base near Mayadeen in Deir Ez Zor Province (see 1150 GMT) — footage of celebrating fighters:

1215 GMT: Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed its opposition to Turkey’s request for NATO Patriot anti-missile systems on the Syrian border.

This would…not foster stability in the region,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

1150 GMT: Syria. Activists claim insurgents have taken another military base in Deir Ez Zor Province, near the border with Iraq. The insurgents have had a series of victories in the area this month, including seizure of an airport last week.

1020 GMT: Syria. David Enders of McClatchy reports on insurgents selling oil from territory thay have taken:

    Syrian rebels have captured two of the three major oilfields in the country’s southeastern Deir al Zour province and are extracting oil that they say is helping to support their rebellion.   “We are at the beginning of winter, and people need oil to run the bakeries and to heat their homes. The weather is very cold here,” said a rebel leader here who, for security reasons, identifies himself by his nom de guerre, Abu Mohamed.>[?   …Dozens of trucks wait in line 24 hours a day to fill up at rebel-held wells, which produce a light crude that can be burned without refining, though the result is dense smoke. Some farmers insist the unrefined crude can be used to power farm equipment, though it seems primarily to be used for heat.  Some of those waiting in line at one well this week said they’d been waiting for days. Along roadsides and at intersections all over the area, men could be seen reselling the oil from improvised tanker trucks and barrels loaded into the backs of pickups.

    Abu Mohammed said the price at which the rebels sell the oil is largely a symbolic one, and prices at the various wells in operation appeared to be about $5 a barrel, far below the world price that hovers above $80 a barrel.

1009 GMT: Syria. VICE notes yesterday’s bombing of the Dar al Shifa field hospital in Aleppo, which reportedly killed 15 and wounded 20 with a probable rise in caaualties — and points to its documentary on the work at the hsostal:

0657 GMT: Syria. Insurgent propaganda or evidence of the chemical weapons stockpile of the Assad regime? Opposition fighters show off canisters with names like Adamsite, CN Gas, Phosgene, and Sarin:

0555 GMT: Syria. With a ceasefire declared in Gaza after a week of fighting, the attention of the world’s media may return to the longer and bloodier war nearby in Syria.

If so, they will find a conflict which has changed in its dynamics. Insurgents have moved from control of a large portion of the country to expansion and pressure on the regime’s cities. Aleppo is already locked in a stalemate, four months after insurgents entered, and now opposition fighters are threatening to put a ring around Damascus. Attacks on regime bases over the last week have further diminished its capability to launch an assault to push back the insurgents, from the air as well as on the ground. On the political front, the opposition moved from its success in gaining recognition — notably from the European Union, Britain, France, Italy, Turkey, and Arab States — to an appeal for financial support. At an international conference in Dubai on Wednesday, the head of the Syrian National Council — one of the group within the new “umbrella” National Coalition — called for a “Marshall Plan” of $60 billion for the post-Assad Syria.

George Sabra said the aid should not wait for the fall of President Assad: “What can be described as an economic ‘Marshall Plan for Syria’ cannot be delayed until the current regime fully collapses. It must be initiated immediately”. He called for the “Arab and international business community’s support” of “fully or almost completely” liberated zones in Syria’s northern cities of Aleppo, Idlib and Tal Abyad.”The regime is in the stage of decline and will not last long,” he asserted.

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