Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Carnage Continues Across Syria

Amnesty International has released satellite imagery showing artillery impact craters for Aleppo and its surrounding towns. It shows hundreds of craters and just how intense the fighting has been.
The international human rights group said both sides fighting in Aleppo, the country's largest city, might be held criminally accountable for their failure to protect civilians.

It said the images, obtained from commercial satellites over the July 23 - Aug. 1 period, showed more than 600 craters, probably from artillery shelling, dotting Aleppo's surrounding areas. The craters were represented with yellow dots in the images.

One photo, from July 31, showed craters next to what looked like a residential housing complex in the nearby town of Anadan, Amnesty said.

The organization expressed concern about the deployment of heavy weaponry in residential parts of Aleppo.
This is Bashar al-Assad's take on the Hama rules initiated by his father. The New York Times has reported that rebel forces have withdrawn from parts of Aleppo as Assad's forces have begun a ground action. However, rebel forces have indicated that they have not withdrawn. Fighting has been most intense in the area of Salaheddiin.

Meanwhile, Iran admits that some retired members of its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) were among the 48 people the rebels have captured/kidnapped though Iran claims that the group was simply a bunch of pilgrims to a religious shrine. The US State Department has no reason to doubt the rebel statements about the 48.
On Wednesday, however, Iran's foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by the Islamic Republic's government-controlled media as saying, "some retired individuals from the Guards and army" were among those being held.

"After some time in which pilgrims from Iran were not being dispatched to Syria... we took steps to send retired forces from various organizations," he was quoted as saying by Iran's state news agency and other state-run media. "Some retired individuals from the Guards and army were dispatched to Syria to make a pilgrimage."

Salehi continued to reject claims that the hostages were playing an active military role.

A day before admitting the hostages' links to the elite Iranian military unit, Salehi sent a formal letter to United Nations Secretary-General, to "seek the cooperation and the good offices of Your Excellency for securing the release of these hostages."

Rebels took the Iranians hostage recently, claiming they are members of the IRGC. In a video published on Sunday, Capt. Abdul Nasser Shumayr of the Free Syrian Army's al-Bara Brigade said three of the captives had been killed in "fierce shelling" by security forces, and he threatened to execute the rest if the bombardment continued.

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