President Assad walked around Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs in this video. He promises to make it “better than it was previously” and demands a timeline for the completion of repair work. Al-Jazeera reports that his motorcade was sniped at during the trip.
The Syrian military is carrying out “mopping up” operations in the A’zaz, Hamadan, and Khraytan area, the poor industrial suburbs and towns north of Aleppo. Here is a video of an Mi-2 helicopter that fires a rocket, reportedly over A’zaz (Aleppo) (Thanks Thomas Pierret). Since Monday morning I have been receiving calls about the fact that the roads to the north are closed because of military action. Turkey has shuttered its embassy and Turkish airlines is pulling its flights to and from Syria, which is causing panic in Aleppo, where no open access to Turkey remains open. Businessmen are despondent about being able to keep business going between the two neighboring countries.
Annan says Syria accepts his UN peace plan which Annan insists is an “important initial step”.
Annan said the plan deals with “political discussions, withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, humanitarian assistance being allowed in unimpeded, release of prisoners, freedom of movement and access for journalists to go in and out.”
“So we will need to see how we move ahead and implement this agreement that they have accepted,” said Annan.
Annan’s six point plan and its likelihood of success:
President Assad is looking for a way to end the uprising against his regime without stepping down or turning over power to the revolutionary forces. He believes that the Annan plan can be a step towards regaining international acceptance of his government.
Both sides believe that time is on their side. The Syrian government believes it has the revolutionaries on the run and is carrying out “mopping up” exercises in all the main centers of revolutionary action: Homs, Idlib, and the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo.
The opposition equally believes that time and the world is on its side. It has refused to negotiate with the regime, believing that it will prevail because of international support, international sanctions against the regime, which have pushed the economy into a tailspin, and because both the Arab World and West have stated repeatedly that the Assad regime is finished and is a pariah to the international order. They await arms shipments, money and widespread defections to tip the balance of power against the Syrian Army. The opposition believes, correctly, that President Assad will not carry out reforms that will lead to his ouster. The new UN peace plan does not insist on Assad handing over power to the revolutionary leadership, which is why Assad finds it acceptable and why the opposition has denounced it.
Prohibiting Males of Military age to leave the Country
The Syrian government is prohibiting males aged between 18-42 from leaving the country before receiving clearance by the Military Conscription department. Many upper-class Syrians are leaving the country. Most with children have made arrangements to leave when the school year finishes in order not to disrupt the education of their young. Anyone with a child over 18 will now be stuck.
One Christian industrialist from Aleppo whom I know is telling his friends that he is leaving Syria. His factory in the northern suburbs has been shut down by the opposition and he is unable to travel there any longer because of military operations. He will abandon his property and has already informed his workers that he cannot keep the factory open and that they must fend for themselves.
Another factory owner, whom I know, organized a meeting with opposition leaders in A’zaz, where his factory is located. He could not travel there himself, but delegated a factory administrator who knows the opposition leaders of the town to carry out the talks on his behalf. The factor has already had 300,000 Syrian pounds requisitioned. The opposition agreed to allowing him to keep the factory open. I do not know what further arrangements were made in order to keep its doors open.
Landis and Bassma Kodmani, spokesperson for the Syrian National Council, discuss the state of the Syrian opposition and the Istanbul meeting with Sophie Claudet, Reporter for La Monitor
Also see this discussion of Syria with Robert Wright.
Robert Wright and Joshua Landis (University of Oklahoma, Syria Comment) Discuss the situation in Syria
Alawites: the Mormons of Syria 7:23
The byzantine ideological backdrop to the revolts 9:57
Joshua: Mistrust could lead to a failed state 7:16
The available ideology for young rebels is jihad 8:20
For the West, another multibillion-dollar swamp? 10:52
Joshua: Intervention could make the chaos worse 3:03