[Marxism] What is Really Happening in Syria Descent Into Holy War

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 18 08:18:19 MST 2012

On 12/17/12 12:35 PM, Louis Proyect wrote:
> ======================================================================
> Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
> ======================================================================
> On 12/17/12 11:47 AM, Ron Jacobs wrote:
>> http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/12/17/descent-into-holy-war/
> I know that Patrick Cockburn is a very good reporter but I have to
> question this:
> This misperception of the reality on the ground in Syria is fuelled in
> part by propaganda, but more especially by inaccurate and misleading
> reporting by the media where bias towards the rebels and against the
> government is unsurpassed since the height of the Cold War. Exaggerated
> notions are given of rebel strength and popularity.


Russia sends warships to Syria to prepare for evacuation

The move is the first sign that Moscow is worried about rebel advances 
on Damascus

John Hall
Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Russia has sent warships to the Mediterranean in preparation for an 
evacuation of its citizens from Syria, according to a Moscow news agency.

The move is the first sign that Russia, a key ally of Syrian President 
Bashar al-Assad, is worried that rebel advances now threaten the capital 

Moscow’s actions come just a day after rebels seized the Yarmouk 
Palestinian camp two miles from the city centre. The camp is considered 
to be a possible springboard for a thrust into Damascus.

Although the anti-Assad opposition has waged a 21-month-old uprising, 
its most significant military and diplomatic gains have come in last few 

It has recently captured a series of army installations across Syria and 
secured formal recognition from Western and Arab states for its new 

Assad's allies have largely stood behind but Russia, his main arms 
supplier, has appeared to waver this week, issuing contradictory 
statements repeating opposition to Assad stepping down and airing 
concerns about a possible rebel victory.

Russia's Interfax news agency quoted unnamed naval sources as saying 
that two assault ships, a tanker and an escort vessel had left a Baltic 
port for the Mediterranean Sea, where Russia has a port in Syria's 
coastal city of Tartus.

“They are heading to the Syrian coast to assist in a possible evacuation 
of Russian citizens ... Preparations for the deployment were carried out 
in a hurry and were heavily classified,” the agency quoted the source as 

It was not possible to independently verify the report, which came a day 
after Russia confirmed that two citizens working in Syria were kidnapped 
along with an Italian citizen.

In Damascus, activists reported overnight explosions and early morning 
sniper fire around the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.

The Yarmouk and Palestine refugee “camps” are actually densely populated 
urban districts home to thousands of impoverished Palestinian refugees 
and Syrians.

“The rebels control the camp but army forces are gathering in the 
Palestine camp and snipers can fire in on the southern parts of 
Yarmouk,” rebel spokesman Abu Nidal said by Skype.

“Strategically, this site is very important because it is one of the 
best doors into central Damascus. The regime normally does not fight to 
regain areas captured any more because its forces have been drained. But 
I think they could see Yarmouk as a red line and fight back fiercely.”

Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees, most living in Yarmouk, 
descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948, and 
has always cast itself as a champion of the Palestinian struggle, 
sponsoring several guerrilla factions.

The battle in Yarmouk was one of a series of conflicts on the southern 
edges of Damascus, as rebels try to choke off the capital to end 42 
years of rule by the Assad family, who belong to the minority Alawite 
sect, derived from Shi'ite Islam.

Both Assad's government and the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels have enlisted 
and armed divided Palestinian factions as the uprising mushroomed from 
street protests into a civil war.

Streams of refugees have fled Yarmouk, the Syrian Observatory for Human 
Rights said. Many have headed to central Damascus while hundreds more 
have gone across the frontier into Lebanon.

More than 40,000 people have died in Syria's conflict, activists say. 
Around 200 died yesterday alone, according to the British-based 
Observatory, which has a network of activists across Syria. Violence has 
risen sharply, and with it humanitarian conditions are deteriorating.

The World Health Organisation said around 100 people were being admitted 
daily to the main hospital of Damascus and that supplies of medicines 
and anaesthetics were scarce.

It also reported a rise in cases of extreme hunger and malnutrition 
coming from across Syria, including the rebel-dominated rural areas 
outside the capital, where the army has launched punishing air raids.

Aid organisations say fighting has blocked their access into many 
conflict zones, and residents in rebel-held areas in particular have 
grappled with severe food and medical shortages.

Fighting raged across Syria today, with fighter jets and ground rockets 
bombarding rebel-dominated eastern suburbs of the capital and army 
forces shelling a town in Hama province after clashes reignited there 
over the weekend.

Rebels overran at least five army sites in a new offensive in Hama 
yesterday, opposition activists said.

Qassem Saadeddine, a member of the newly established rebel military 
command, said on Sunday fighters had been ordered to surround and attack 
army positions across Hama province. He said Assad's forces were given 
48 hours to surrender or be killed.

In 1982 Hafez al-Assad, late father of the current ruler, crushed an 
uprising in Hama city, killing up to 30,000 civilians.

Qatiba al-Naasan, a rebel from Hama, said the offensive would probably 
bring retaliatory air strikes from the government but said that rebels 
were keen to put more strain on the army as living conditions 
deteriorated in the province.

“For sure there will be slaughter - if the army wants to shell us, many 
people will die,” he said by Skype. “But at the same time our situation 
is already getting miserable. ”

Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa said in a newspaper interview 
published on Monday that neither Assad's forces nor rebels seeking to 
overthrow him can win the war.

Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim in a power elite dominated by Assad's Alawites, 
is not part of the president's inner circle directing the fight against 
Sunni rebels but is the most prominent figure to say in public that 
Assad would not prevail.

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