Syria Update: Tabbara Interview, City-by-City Update, and Controversy

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Below is Part II of the Mideast Reports interview with Yaser Tabbara last Friday. The first part can be found here.

Mr. Tabbara grew up in Damascus and is now a lawyer at Zarzour, Khalil, & Tabbara LLC. In law school he was research assistant to Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, International Law Scholar and Noble Peace Prize Nominee. Mr. Tabbara is a prominent member in the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). To follow his latest activities including media appearances and publications, visit his blog.

City-by-City Update:
Here are notes that I took while talking with an opposition organizer yeseterday (not direct quotes):

Dara’a- the siege in Dara’a is being escalated. Roughly 300 more troops, including tanks and armed personnel carriers, moved from Damascus on Saturday. A mosque that was a symbol of the resistance was taken after extensive shelling.

Dair Alzour- security forces started to showed signs of besieging the city. Water and power is starting to be cut, and communication is getting hard.

Latakia- it may seem quite here, but that is probably because communication network is weaker. The city has essentially turned into a military zone, and has been divided into about the three “cantons.” There is a bit of a standoff going between the army and the opposition.

Aleppo – continues to remain quite, and has not been a major participant in demonstrations.

Hama, Homs, and Qamishli are seeing sustained demonstrations and violence as well.

Update on the movement itself:
– The goal now is to force Assad from power.
– The movement certainly faces many challenges ahead, but must first focus on the regime.

Here is video that was released by opposition claiming to show scenes of a Massacre on the road between Talbisseh and Homs:

Controversy:
One of the biggest challenges for those not in Syria is determining what information is credible and what isn’t. There are accusations of propaganda coming from all sides, and a debate running about who is really instigating the violence: the army or armed opposition gangs.

This video is a good example of how the same information can be interpreted very differently. It is supposedly showing a member of the Revolutionary Guard who defected and is speaking against the government.

Here are two reactions from commentators featured prominently in the western media.
1. From Ammar Abudlhamid’s blog Syrian Revolution Digest:

‘Harasta / A Soldier’s Testimony: the young soldier interviewed here says that he is from the Republican Guard and shows his military ID and tag to prove it. He says he and 250 of his comrades were told to don the uniform of anti-terrorism units and were then brought to Harasta where they were told they have to help contain armed gangs. But the soldier says that the only people in the streets were the unarmed protesters shouting “the people want to topple the regime” and the security forces firing straight at them without giving any warning. He says at one point he and few other colleagues advanced towards the protesters pretending they were going to shoot, then dropped their weapons and ran for cover with the protesters who protected them with their bodies against security officers who opened fire on them. The young soldier then tells people not to believe government lies about gangs and infiltrators.’

1. From Joshua Landis’ blog Syria Comment:

It purports to be the confession of a Republican Guard, but seems to be faked.
One commentator writes: “The kid that’s supposed to be a defected republican guard soldier looks nothing like that.. he looks like a southern Syrian in army uniform. I’m sure Syrian army experts can easily figure this out.. he did not name his unit, his commanders, his comrades or any other sensitive information to help support his claim.”

Here is a video explaining why the supposed defector is wearing the wrong uniform, wrong badges, wrong hair, wrong rings, and wrong Syrian identity card and could not be a Republican Guard.’

Here at Mideast Reports we are trying to take a neutral stance.

Written by Tik Root a student at Middlebury College

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