• Syria

    Aleppo: What is there to say?

    The BBC reports: Syrian pro-government forces in eastern Aleppo have been killing people, including women and children, on the spot in their homes and on the street, the United Nations says. The UN’s human rights office said streets were full of bodies. Meanwhile, the UN children’s agency cited a doctor as saying a building housing as many as 100 unaccompanied children was under heavy attack. Rebels, who have held east Aleppo for four years, are on the brink of defeat. Thousands of people are reportedly trapped in the last remaining neighbourhoods still in rebel hands, facing intense bombardment as pro-government troops advance. ….. The UN’s humanitarian adviser on Syria, Jan…

  • Al-Qaeda,  Journalism,  Syria

    At Fisk

    Guest post by Sackcloth & Ashes When The Independent went entirely online in late March, its readers (or what were left of them) received solemn undertakings that it would keep its high standards of reporting and analysis, even if it was no longer in print. An op-ed by none other than Robert Fisk written on 10th May gives us some idea of how impressive these standards are. Fisk gives his readers a breathless account of how with the rise of IS in Syria, propagandists are at work to whitewash the reputation of the Al-Nusra Front, the al Qaeda-affiliated insurgent group fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime, so as to clear the way…

  • Palestinians,  Syria

    People of Yarmouk ask: Where’s the solidarity?

    As the the long-suffering Palestinian inhabitants of the Yarmouk camp near Damascus are caught in yet another round of fighting and another brutal siege, a heart-rending Facebook post has appeared: Statement by the besieged people of Yarmouk: Humanitarian situation in Yarmouk: With the continuation of clashes between ISIS and Al-Nusra Front on the one hand and the renewed shelling by the Assad regime and Palestinian loyalist groups on the other, the suffering of the people of Yarmouk reaches a whole new level. The attacks have resulted in disintegration of the camp neighborhoods, where many families are unable to reallocate to safer parts of the camp. Those families and the rest…

  • Syria

    The things we don’t notice

    Guest post by Sackcloth & Ashes In a week in which revelations about corruption and graft turned into a parochial story about tax returns, and in which the main event seems to be about an unmarried male politician’s private life, I though HP’s readers might be interested in some of the other stories doing the rounds that for some reason don’t appear to excite our friends in Westminster and the press. The New Yorker has a detailed piece on the Assad files which deserves more attention than it has got. The barbarity of the Syrian regime’s war against its own people is already a matter of record; ‘Caesar’, a defector…

  • Book Review,  Syria

    Syria’s Holy War

    This is a guest post by James Snell Review – The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency Jihadism is in many ways the perfect enemy. It insists upon and mandates self-abnegation – even, in some instances, self-destruction; it despises much of what we consider essential for a just and free society; and it is ever planning and ever plotting to wrest many of civilisation’s most enduring accomplishments from our hands. The fact that its credo is often violent in nature is the icing on the cake. Because it is a perfect adversary, one which remains useful for caricaturists and demagogues, understanding this phenomenon is often…

  • Comedy,  Syria

    “Celebrating” April Fools Day in Aleppo, Syria

    Fun April Fools' Day signs from Aleppo city today pic.twitter.com/0K0F0V8zIc — Elizabeth Tsurkov (@Elizrael) April 1, 2016 Also, take a few minutes to listen to this interview with French journalist Nicolas Henin, who was held prisoner by the Islamic State for almost a year: particularly his view on the role of the Syrian regime in the rise of IS. Finally: Before you buy into the Assad and Putin regimes’ narrative about “liberating” the historic town of Palmyra from IS, read this account by journalist Rasha Elass: Assad has engaged in a cynical game of “tactical withdrawals” and months of ignoring Islamic State as the terror group quickly swallowed one third…

  • Syria

    Partial truce allows Assad’s opponents to return to the streets

    As a partial and very tenuous truce continues in Syria, one encouraging result is the return of non-violent street demonstrations against the Assad regime. “We are not fans of killing, but the regime forced us to fight,” was the protesters’ message, said a local activist [in Idlib province] who goes by the pseudonym Ibrahim al-Idlibi for his safety. As you may recall, in the early months of the Syrian uprising (which began almost five years ago), opposition to the regime largely took the form of secular protests in which hundreds of thousands of Syrian participated, demanding an end to the brutal regime and calling for freedom and democracy. Only when…

  • Lebanon,  Syria

    Hitchens attacker dead in Syria

    One of the members of the fascist Syrian Social National Party who attacked the late Christopher Hitchens in Beirut in 2009 for defacing one of their neo-swastika posters has died fighting for the fascist butcher Assad in Syria. Syrian Social Nationalist Party (the departed, Adonis Nasr, is the, um, heavyset guy in front) National Socialist German Workers Party (Hat tip: DaveM)

  • Syria

    The ‘Good Guys’ in Colour

    This is a cross-post by James Snell The importance of Syria’s civil war in international terms cannot be overstated. It has spawned the greatest mass movement of people since the end of the Second World War. It has provided thousands of terrible, heart-wrenching vignettes, from the unseeing body of a small boy washed up on a Turkish beach to the grisly output of a thousand propagandists, which fill newspapers and television screens on a daily basis. And it is unlikely to be over any time soon. It seems the war in Syria – with all of its subtleties and complexities, many of which transcend national borders – has become the…

  • Syria

    In Search of a Terror-Famine

    This is a cross-post by James Snell Things are done quite differently today. When populations are starved, held captive against their will, there are certain actions which can be put into place. It is very likely that there will be a camera present, for example, with which to document the atrocities in real time. It is likely that those affected, or those assigned to help them or to protect them, will have access to the sort of technology which allows for the dissemination of images, video footage, and personal testimony of the horrors sadly unfolding. This does not make the grinding terror of famine – especially man-made famine – any…