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Tags Houla massacre , Syria incidents , Syria issues , war crime charges

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Old 2nd June 2012, 03:32 AM   #1
Caustic Logic
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Houla Massacre, Syria: What If?

What if the Syrian government's recent investigation and their consistent claims of no role in the Houla massacre is not all a "blatant lie?" (Susan "Viagra" Rice)

The question matters. Let's say intervention happens ala Libya, triggered by this plus the follow-on murders of random people at remote state-run factories (clearly done by the regime). Let's say Russia and China relent in the face of pressure, jets and drones, no soldiers, but lots of weapons and foreign volunteers funneled in, all kinds of sanctions and blockades, etc. Maybe without the air part, whatever. Regime overthrown after a six-month-to-three-year war. The opponents, whichever are most armed, are now in charge.

If the regime was behind the heinous crime, as the Anglo-American establishment is certain by design, we have saved a people from rule by such madmen. The cost might be pretty steep in numerous ways, but I'd say that's a good thing.

If not, then the regime opponents were behind it, to provoke said war, and get themselves in charge. We wouldhave handed Syria and its population over the false-flagging child-slashing terroristsof a pretty foul character. It could get quite ugly once they start their revenge purges, especially to punish harshly the regime "criminals" they blamed for Houla.

And that's AFTER the war, after "we" crushed all efforts of the demonized regime and its mant, many supporting citizens to resist. But with the Libya example, maybe they'll fold quicker, let the purge, and the destabilization of Iran begin fairly soon.

Really the answer to anyone willing to engage the OP question at all would be "well, that would suck," usually followed bit a "however..." So that can't go far. We should discuss then how likely it is, from available evidence, that it does suck, we are on the latter path and should stop and turn back before it's too late.

Let's start here: How do we know - with the certainty fitting such grave matters as the future of a nation of millions - that the Syrian regime or militias were responsible for either phase of attack?

The shelling of the town, is government-done because it was done with pro weapons while the activists/rebels only have sticks and a few old guns, right?

But after was the up-close slaughter of men, women, and children including, reportedly, rape and sodomy, eye-gouging, throat-slitting, head-hammering, and forcing families to watch any and all of it. See here:
http://americansyrians.com/syria/pos...ry-forces.aspx
The government doesn't deny that these things happened-they draw attention to it, saying it looks like the work of hardcore Islamo-nihilists like seen in Algeria, mid-1990s, or Libya, 2011.

Anyway, what's gotten most of the convinced people here convinced it's the Syrian government we need to be pressuring/punishing over this, as opposed to finally helping them or just letting them help defend their own?

Do we even have any reports on the names and affiliations of the families targeted?
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Old 2nd June 2012, 07:58 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Do we even have any reports on the names and affiliations of the families targeted?

A new SANA article from today goes into more details and cites witnesses.

Quote:
... the victims belong to the family of al-Sayed, with Muawiya al-Sayed being a police officer who didn't defect and was always in danger, along with two other al-Sayed households who are related to Meshleb al-Sayed who recently became Secretary of the People's Assembly.

The witness added that another family that was targeted is Abdelrazzaq family which consists of four household and supports the government ...

According to a victim list published by an internal opposition human rights group (could be a temporary link), the majority of the murdered people including most children belong to the second named family, Abdelrazzaq.

Problem is of course that none of this investigation, truthful or not, will be given any credibility by the autistic western media which have distorted the situation for so long. And validating the governments claims about "affiliations" is of course next to impossible. Let's hope the UN observers will do a thorough job at finding out what they really were more or less witnessing.
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Old 2nd June 2012, 08:17 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Anyway, what's gotten most of the convinced people here convinced it's the Syrian government we need to be pressuring/punishing over this, as opposed to finally helping them or just letting them help defend their own?

Do we even have any reports on the names and affiliations of the families targeted?
There was an interesting discussion on CNN a few days ago. One of the major talking points was the lack of knowledge about the opposition. It seems no one is really sure who they would be backing if they did arm the rebels in any significant way

Syria unlike Libya has managed to not allow herself to be isolated, she still has powerful friends in the world, and if any intervention by the west was to be attempted I have little doubt the conflict would widen.

I dont believe much of what comes out of Assad's mouth and I have little reason to be confident about anything being reported from the rebel's side. There is clearly a propaganda war here - so it is just going to take a little more examination than normal to decide a right side and a wrong side - If either even exists
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Old 2nd June 2012, 11:55 AM   #4
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As well the rebels apparently not having any heavy artillery, these satellite pictures seem to provide some evidence of the government's role in the shelling at least:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18274542

I think using disproportionate force, like perhaps the shelling in this case, would be a war crime but not necessarily a crime against humanity.

As for the massacre proper (i.e. the executions), it's hard to apportion blame for certain with the information we have. Both the government's version (people killed for not supporting rebels) and the rebel version (shabiha militia) seem credible enough.

I do get the impression that sectarian violence, and violence in general, by the rebel side is being underplayed in a lot of what I read.
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Old 2nd June 2012, 01:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Captain.Sassy View Post
I do get the impression that sectarian violence, and violence in general, by the rebel side is being underplayed in a lot of what I read.
That was also something CNN spoke too. Apparently the rebels belong to a fairly substantial religious majority, and they may use the unrest to settle some other scores
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Old 2nd June 2012, 03:16 PM   #6
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@C.E.:
Ah, yesterday I saw they were identified as pro-regime, but names witheld to prevent further retaliation. It's possible their plan was to chase out loyalists and make it a purely rebel area and pretend regime supporters don't existin the populace. Already the West acts as if that's true, saying wehope to rescue "the Syrian people." The list gives no case-by-case death details, and some of the translations come through weird, but it has 107 names, including several army officers. They say these positions came under fire, killing soldiers, at the same time Houla was shelled.

Agreed on the difficulty of getting the truth accepted if it's along these lines. It would mean admitting they were wrong and backing a pretty vile force for the takeover. Won't happen easily, probably not at all. I think we're well locked on course, morally. Physically, pragmatism might be able to force a postponement of regime change. If someone can make that the pragmatic choice.

@ MG1962
Reasonable assessment. The truth really does matter enough that we shouldn't even settle for "more than likely" or "apparently." A serious team is needed, including all kinds of skeptics and hard science and all possibilities considered. The main one for me, in both phases of attack, is WHO STANDSTO BENEFIT from a panic-inducing slaughter of children just ahead of Kofi Annan's visit, to underline what the rebels have been saying - the peace plan should be declared dead, the cease-fire called off. They seem ready to fire now, perhaps being better armed than we thought.
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Old 2nd June 2012, 03:37 PM   #7
Caustic Logic
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Originally Posted by Captain.Sassy View Post
As well the rebels apparently not having any heavy artillery, these satellite pictures seem to provide some evidence of the government's role in the shelling at least:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18274542

I think using disproportionate force, like perhaps the shelling in this case, would be a war crime but not necessarily a crime against humanity.

As for the massacre proper (i.e. the executions), it's hard to apportion blame for certain with the information we have. Both the government's version (people killed for not supporting rebels) and the rebel version (shabiha militia) seem credible enough.

I do get the impression that sectarian violence, and violence in general, by the rebel side is being underplayed in a lot of what I read.
Artillery used in an attack with no benefits for the government (attack could backfire on Assad, one news story ingeniously notes) suggests they're just better armed now than we thought.

The article and images don't prove anything. Cat tracks at a "suspected" artillery site don't prove the tracks were made by gov. artillery on that day.
"All the images were taken on the morning of Saturday 26 May, within hours of the massacre ending."
We could presume the tracks weren't there the day before. But that would be stupid.

In fact, when was the Google Maps imagery taken? Anyone with Google Earth could say (I don't have it). Same exact tracks there at that time.

The Syrians say their positions came under fire too, and I think that soldiers were in one case captured and tortured to death by militants. If true, what odds that the opposition was shelling the troops as the troops shelled the city, and then someone swarmed into Taldou.

WHERE'S THE SATELLITE IMAGERY OF THE ACTUAL WEAPONS? FIRED IN DAYLIGHT, SOMEWHERE AROUND THERE, WHY CAN'T SE SEE THE ACTUAL WEAPONS, THE PEOPLE FIRING THEM, AND THEIR LOCATION? WHY ZOOM IN ON OLD TRACKS? (caps lock accidental but fits)

So I challenge the convention apparently agreed to even by the Russians, per Lavrov “We are dealing with a situation in which both sides obviously had a hand in the deaths of innocent people, including several tens of children"

Quote:
Any objective analysis would find Mr. Lavrov’s insinuation laughable. While there is no doubt both sides in a conflict like Syria’s uprising are capable of violence, the notion that opposition forces in this case essentially allied themselves with the government to participate in slaughtering their Sunni kinsmen is far-fetched to say the least.
Globe and Mail

Agreed. More than likely, one side or the other was responsible for both phases of attack.

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Old 2nd June 2012, 05:08 PM   #8
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I don't know. It's a real tough one but I should think the weight of suspicion for the shelling should fall on the Syrian military because they are the only people who surely have the means of achieving that level of shelling. If they targetted that town then it seems reasonable to think the shabiha were the ones who followed up with the massacre of people at close quarters.

I think it may also be a reasonable question to the extent that Assad is in control of his own forces. I doubt he controls the shabiha but then again I really don't know.

I don't favour any kind of military action because I haven't seen enough evidence that anyone really knows what is going on. I also think that once full-scale civil war occurs we are going to see some ruthless and barbaric massacres on all sides.

Good post, Caustic Logic.

ETA: I think, however, an important plan of action is for the UN observers to thoroughly investigate this because if Assad or his military are responsible for this then it is important that he doesn't get away with flagrant acts of murder on the basis of "Who knows who did this?"

This may seem to contradict what I have just said but whether Assad did this or not some pressure needs to be put on his regime to fulfill some of the original terms of the ceasefire which he definitely did ignore.

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Old 2nd June 2012, 05:27 PM   #9
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There's a good article by Patrick Cockburn which I broadly agree with and which shows that even he and his sources don't know exactly what is going on in Syria as a whole:

Quote:
At the heart of the Syrian crisis is a revolution against the police state run by the Assad family for 40 years. But there are two parallel struggles going on that taint and complicate this popular uprising. One is the struggle of the Sunni Arab powers, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, against the Shia. The other is the US and Saudi-led confrontation with Iran, whose most important ally in the Arab world is Syria. Weapons from Saudi Arabia are now reported to be reaching the insurgents. Iraqi officials say that al-Qa'ida fighters in Diyala province north-east of Baghdad, notorious for massacring Shia villagers and travellers, have headed back to Syria.

Understandable self-deception by activists in Damascus is matched by less justifiable self-deception outside the country. Recent suggestions, such as the establishment of a humanitarian "safe haven" on the Syrian side of the Turkish border, are a recipe for war (and will terrify Armenians in Aleppo and Kurds in Qamishli, both communities having dark memories of Turkish rule). Alternatively, pumping in weapons paid for by the Saudi absolute monarchy whose motives are primarily sectarian and anti-Iranian, will only exacerbate the violence.
This is from his report about the response to the Houla massacre:

Quote:
Before Houla, Syria was making some progress in persuading other powers that it was going to survive at least for the moment. The accusation that the ceasefire agreement reached by Kofi Annan was a smokescreen for doing nothing very effective in Syria was largely true. The Syrian authorities blithely ignored provisions about releasing detainees and allowing peaceful protests, but a military ceasefire left President Assad in control of much of the country.

It was in his interest to avoid any atrocity that would draw international attention. It is a measure of the lack of effective decision-making within the regime that they could not restrain their own forces. "Within the regime, there are divisions between the civilians, military and security," believes one commentator in Damascus. "There is not a single authority ruling the state but clusters of authority within the leadership."
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Old 2nd June 2012, 05:30 PM   #10
Caustic Logic
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I don't know. It's a real tough one but I should think the weight of suspicion for the shelling should fall on the Syrian military because they are the only people who surely have the means of achieving that level of shelling.
You want to blame the regime because you're sure they have such weapons while the other side only maybe does. But this decision is tough. Noted.

I don't find it too difficult to make the opposite argument. The rebels stand to benefit, and they could well be more armed than we think. Anyone catch this?

http://jcpa.org/article/alqaeda-jiha...syrian-regime/
One shipment from Tripoli, 150 tons of weapons, stopped short by the Lebanese. Other shipment, who knows?
http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/20...09/212988.html
Quote:
Weapons are being smuggled both ways between Lebanon and Syria, where a 14-month popular uprising has brought the country to the brink of civil war, the United Nations said late Tuesday.

Syria has repeatedly said weapons are being smuggled over its border from Lebanon and other countries to arm rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict. Western diplomats and U.N. officials say that although the rebels have received some weapons they remain severely outgunned.
Enough guns if put in one spot, with 600-800 fighters, could they shell gov. positions, shell a city, and then invade the city? Seems a hard thing to rule out, as so many have been doing.

Quote:
If they targetted that town then it seems reasonable to think the shabiha were the ones who followed up with the massacre of people at close quarters.
Agreed. If the opposite, it was likely the opposition people (not all of them, just the fanatic wing that thinks -with good reason - they can get them the outside support needed) that did it.

Quote:
I think it may also be a reasonable question to the extent that Assad is in control of his own forces. I doubt he controls the shabiha but then again I really don't know.
Yeah, but who the hell would order such a thing at all? It's insane. But this too is a fair point. It's ignored mostly, as the spin is always to blame the government they want desperately to remove.

Quote:
I don't favour any kind of military action because I haven't seen enough evidence that anyone really knows what is going on.
You're in a reasonable minority.

Quote:
I also think that once full-scale civil war occurs we are going to see some ruthless and barbaric massacres on all sides.

Good post, Caustic Logic.
Thanks. Too bad this is just a discussion forum and not the security council. How do I join that forum?

Quote:
ETA: I think, however, an important plan of action is for the UN observers to thoroughly investigate this because if Assad or his military are responsible for this then it is important that he doesn't get away with flagrant acts of murder on the basis of "Who knows who did this?"
Agreed this should be punished and not left hanging in mystery. I wish I could trust the UN's people fully, or have me put in charge. Sham investigations happen, depending who's in charge,what interests and pressures... but it's the best hope we have of getting the truth and aiming our weapons right. We failed the test in Libya, IMO, and destroyed the victims of terrorist violence supported from outside for political reasons, and put the terrorists in charge, and they're torturing people to death for things the terrorists did and blamed the other side. The compulsion to do it again is strong.

Quote:
This may seem to contradict what I have just said but whether Assad did this or not some pressure needs to be put on his regime to fulfill some of the original terms of the ceasefire which he definitely did ignore.
They've been saying the rebels are the main ones breaking it over and over, and I think that makes the most sense, though I don't know all the details. Rebels post-Libya feel the world won't let them lose, so agreeing to back of from the fight is not in their interests. It is in Damascus' interests, so they keep trying to work with Annan and the UN observers. But they keep getting told they have to cease fire, and firing and explosions and death keep happening... what can you do? It's a Catch-22 and it'll probably lead to war, with Assad blamed and tens of thousand at least dead.

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Old 2nd June 2012, 05:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
But they keep getting told they have to cease fire, and firing and explosions and death keep happening... what can you do? It's a Catch-22 and it'll probably lead to war, with Assad blamed and tens of thousand at least dead.
As Cockburn notes in one of the articles I linked to, Assad was bound to other terms of the agreement with Annan that he seems to have simply ignored. I think if he had carried out those other terms then there may be more reason to think Assad is behaving in good faith.
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Old 2nd June 2012, 06:31 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
WHERE'S THE SATELLITE IMAGERY OF THE ACTUAL WEAPONS? FIRED IN DAYLIGHT, SOMEWHERE AROUND THERE, WHY CAN'T SE SEE THE ACTUAL WEAPONS, THE PEOPLE FIRING THEM, AND THEIR LOCATION? WHY ZOOM IN ON OLD TRACKS? (caps lock accidental but fits).
1)because the wepons are mobile and the syrian millitary isn't entirely composed of idiots (they probably assume they are going to be bombed by NATO at some point so are acting acordingly).

2)The satilites aren't that good. Spotting weapons in action would be tricky.
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Old 2nd June 2012, 06:35 PM   #13
Caustic Logic
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
As Cockburn notes in one of the articles I linked to, Assad was bound to other terms of the agreement with Annan that he seems to have simply ignored. I think if he had carried out those other terms then there may be more reason to think Assad is behaving in good faith.
That could be. They say they're complying, but maybe not. I'm not even sure of the terms and if they're fair and make sense. I'm not at 100% steam on this, as I'm stuck trying to finish a big report on a Libyan false-flag massacre that really needs done soon.

But already I think I've exposed a joint lie by the BBC and that "military analyst" pointing to old tank tracks as proof. What kind of analyst cannot check previous imagery to see when the tracks were laid? A stupid one, or a lying one whose interest is in getting military action rolling, analysis be damned?
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Old 2nd June 2012, 06:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
That could be. They say they're complying, but maybe not. I'm not even sure of the terms and if they're fair and make sense. I'm not at 100% steam on this, as I'm stuck trying to finish a big report on a Libyan false-flag massacre that really needs done soon.

But already I think I've exposed a joint lie by the BBC and that "military analyst" pointing to old tank tracks as proof. What kind of analyst cannot check previous imagery to see when the tracks were laid? A stupid one, or a lying one whose interest is in getting military action rolling, analysis be damned?
I'm not entirely certain about it either but I tend to have a high level of trust in Patrick Cockburn and I tend to think he's nobody's stooge.

The problem is that there are propagandists on both sides (as always) so I've been asking around for some help in finding the best disinterested sources. I had thought that some of my friends from the Middle East would know some good sources but they tend to send me some of the most ludicrously unbalanced reports. The same guy sent me both a video of a pro-Assad woman claiming that everyone is behind Assad against a few foreign-backed terrorists and also an article claiming that everyone is behind the opposition trying to depose a bloodthirsty dictator. The same article had a large banner advertisement across the top reading, "Join the CIA!" (seriously!)

I pointed out to him that I find neither source credible for particular reasons but thanks anyway, and does he know who the shabiha are.

He responded:

Quote:
Hi.according to my syrian friend the word shabiha use to be a name of a gang related to asad family (not his immediate family) and they were banned by the the government but later on the name became the syrian code name for the police and syrian intelligence force. to me the assad regime had plotted car bombs before,and plan it like that was the syrian free army but i do not see any interest for the assad regime to do this and at the same time call for syrian people to unite against the west plan to invade syria.
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Old 2nd June 2012, 06:46 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
1)because the wepons are mobile and the syrian millitary isn't entirely composed of idiots (they probably assume they are going to be bombed by NATO at some point so are acting acordingly).
Wouldn't it be smarter ... hold on for this... to just NOT indiscriminately shell a city and then slaughter 20 women and 30 children? As if moving the weapons around helped any -everyone's blaming them anyway just be default.

Quote:
2)The satilites aren't that good. Spotting weapons in action would be tricky.
Yeah true, and it's not like they always hover over a set spot and take continuous video. Although I think they can. And if this set of old tracks is the best they could find, it's pathetic. It looks like people desperate to prove a point that apparently can't prove itself. Why try to prove a set point rather than just examining the facts objectively?

Serious investigation needed. My money's on it not happening, but I hope it's wrong.
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Old 2nd June 2012, 09:06 PM   #16
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A friend with Google Earth and the date info on various images gives a very broad but adequate time frame: the tracks appeared between August 20th 2010 and
February 22nd 2012. At the very least three months before the events in question.

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Old 2nd June 2012, 09:27 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Wouldn't it be smarter ... hold on for this... to just NOT indiscriminately shell a city and then slaughter 20 women and 30 children? As if moving the weapons around helped any -everyone's blaming them anyway just be default.
The point of moving weapons is not to avoid credit but to prevent them from becoming targets themselves. This has been a basic tactic from well the napoleonic era.

I doubt the shelling was entirely indiscriminate shells cost enough that its always worth doing at least some aiming. Killing 20 women and 30 children is just a rather dirrect way of making it clear that opposition has a price. The syrian regime knows what it is doing. This isn't the first rebellion it has needed to crush. Killing families is a fairly standard tactic in such situations. Just consider Matabeleland or Chechnya.



Quote:
Yeah true, and it's not like they always hover over a set spot and take continuous video. Although I think they can.
There is no currently available evidence of a satellite with that ability. In any case the fuel use would be prohibitive. I think I can say with a fair degree of safety that the flyover model of satilite imaging is accurate for the time being.

Quote:
And if this set of old tracks is the best they could find, it's pathetic. It looks like people desperate to prove a point that apparently can't prove itself. Why try to prove a set point rather than just examining the facts objectively?
You spent much time looking at WW2 aerial photos? You very rarely see vehicles because they are a very small target that is easy to camouflage. Vehicle tracks on the other hand cover a larger area making them harder to camouflage. As a result looking for tracks is a pretty much automatic approach.

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Serious investigation needed. My money's on it not happening, but I hope it's wrong.
Its a boarderline warzone. Investigation isn't going to happen.
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Old 2nd June 2012, 09:47 PM   #18
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Still no answer though why they point to these "tell-tale tracks." The tracks meander all over that small tree-farm looking area - why? They're at least three months old. What basis is there for thinking they're connected to the shelling a few days ago as opposed to lumber removal? None, as far as I can tell. Dishonest wishful thinking by a war-hungry professional "analyst" passed on uncritically by a war-hungry media outfit.

Have we looked yet?

Are JREF members smarter than BBC and more level than Forbes McKenzie?

Quote:
Its a boarderline warzone. Investigation isn't going to happen.
Likely all too true, sadly. It's worth reflecting on the cause-and-effect relation there. Bye-bye peace, and good riddance, they're saying, thanks to the false-flagging child-slashers about to take over Syria.
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Old 2nd June 2012, 10:12 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Still no answer though why they point to these "tell-tale tracks." The tracks meander all over that small tree-farm looking area - why?
Again thats pretty normal when moving a short distance to firing positions.

Quote:
Are JREF members smarter than BBC and more level than Forbes McKenzie?
Never heard of him. He's on linkedin as the owner at McKenzie Intelligence Solutions Ltd which companies house has listed being formed 17/02/2011. Interesting it gives an adress of 30 St. John's Lane EC1M 4NB athough the even street numbers only go up to 16.

Probably just some small time bussinessman looking to make a name for themselves. The private "Intelligence" industry is littered with such folk but very few of them are worth much (Jane's Information Group and some of the equipment nerds might be exceptions).

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Likely all too true, sadly. It's worth reflecting on the cause-and-effect relation there.
The cause is that someone is stupid enough to disspute the will of Assad's regime. The effect is rather predictable for the case where those doing the dissputing lack an effective millitary force.

Quote:
Bye-bye peace, and good riddance, they're saying, thanks to the false-flagging child-slashers about to take over Syria.
I'm not sure that running the country for the last few decades can really be described as being about to take over Syria.

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Old 2nd June 2012, 10:30 PM   #20
Caustic Logic
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
Again thats pretty normal when moving a short distance to firing positions.
Maybe you're right, but it looks like they're driving all over in fairly random directions, as if the goal was to cover the whole area with as many random tracks as possible. Logging roads tend to work kind of like that. Maybe artillery roads too.

And of course, when was this artillery driving on these roads? McKenzie makes it sound like Friday the 25th. BBC makes a big deal of the images being taken on the 26th, as if that flippin' matters.

Quote:
Never heard of him. He's on linkedin as the owner at McKenzie Intelligence Solutions Ltd which companies house has listed being formed 17/02/2011. Interesting it gives an adress of 30 St. John's Lane EC1M 4NB athough the even street numbers only go up to 16.

Probably just some small time bussinessman looking to make a name for themselves. The private "Intelligence" industry is littered with such folk but very few of them are worth much (Jane's Information Group and some of the equipment nerds might be exceptions).
Interesting background. He's of course the guy who found these tracks and told the BBC all about what they mean. Private sector solutions, gotta love 'em.

Quote:
The cause is that someone is stupid enough to disspute the will of Assad's regime. The effect is rather predictable for the case where those doing the dissputing lack an effective millitary force.
Or they used their effective military force (they're incapable of surprising us?) to tap into and feed the West's disputation and slaughter some innocents (Assad supporters, all specific info suggests) and blame Assad and get tons of outside support.

With no meaningful investigation, of course.

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I'm not sure that running the country for the last few decades can really be described as being about to take over Syria.
Clever inversion. It shows you know what I mean.

And I forgot to respond to this.
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The point of moving weapons is not to avoid credit but to prevent them from becoming targets themselves. This has been a basic tactic from well the napoleonic era.
Same point applies. Why use your weapons to create a horrible humanitarian disaster that greatly increases the odds of a NATO bombing, and then move them to avoid NATO bombing? I don't buy this. There was no benefit to this. Either
a) the regime (or affiliates) is insane/stupid as well as evil or
b) the opposition (or affiliates) is smart and savvy and evil
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Old 3rd June 2012, 12:33 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Still no answer though why they point to these "tell-tale tracks." The tracks meander all over that small tree-farm looking area - why? They're at least three months old. What basis is there for thinking they're connected to the shelling a few days ago as opposed to lumber removal? None, as far as I can tell. Dishonest wishful thinking by a war-hungry professional "analyst" passed on uncritically by a war-hungry media outfit.

Have we looked yet?
http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q...ula_Tracks.jpg
Are JREF members smarter than BBC and more level than Forbes McKenzie?
There seems to be a certain snarky tone in the way you are talking to other JREF members here. This is strange because the responses you have received have been quite positive so far. Could it be that you are being a bit presumptuous about your audience?
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Old 3rd June 2012, 01:27 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
There seems to be a certain snarky tone in the way you are talking to other JREF members here. This is strange because the responses you have received have been quite positive so far. Could it be that you are being a bit presumptuous about your audience?
Yeah, but not without some reason. I may also be projecting my frustration with the unquestioning complete war-zombie mindset evidenced by governments, media, etc. Apologies if I've offended anyone or turned them off, but hey, what can you expect, you darn NWO shills?

Another way of looking at it is I'm dishing the caustic on certain ideas and arguments - or even hints of them - and not the people. But in fact, I'm not getting ridiculed as an apologist for tyrants quite like I expected. The skepticism here is slightly encouraging. So keep it up, just in case it can ever grow to where it matters and helps in the world.
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Old 3rd June 2012, 02:58 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Maybe you're right, but it looks like they're driving all over in fairly random directions, as if the goal was to cover the whole area with as many random tracks as possible. Logging roads tend to work kind of like that. Maybe artillery roads too.
I don't know. The logging around here tends to result in large scale tree clearence rather than the result we see in the pic.


Quote:
Interesting background. He's of course the guy who found these tracks and told the BBC all about what they mean. Private sector solutions, gotta love 'em.
Well whats your alturnative? The US goverment people aren't going to talk and the Isreali ones are going to say even less as well as saying it in hebrew.

Quote:
Or they used their effective military force (they're incapable of surprising us?) to tap into and feed the West's disputation and slaughter some innocents (Assad supporters, all specific info suggests) and blame Assad and get tons of outside support.

With no meaningful investigation, of course.
Assad has about two properly loyal divisions. If the rebels had an effective millitary force they would be running the country by now. Since they don't both the rebels and anyone standing near them are going to die.


Quote:
Same point applies. Why use your weapons to create a horrible humanitarian disaster
There hasn't been a horrible humanitarian disaster. The deathtoll is still less than 10K and it would really help if you avoided that kind of emotive language.

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that greatly increases the odds of a NATO bombing, and then move them to avoid NATO bombing? I don't buy this. There was no benefit to this. Either
a) the regime (or affiliates) is insane/stupid as well as evil or
b) the opposition (or affiliates) is smart and savvy and evil
Your problem is you are modeling NATO as rational actors. They are not which means that all assad can do is hope for the best while preparing for the worst. In the meantime if he wishes to remeain in power in syria then a certain amount of millitary force is going to be required.

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Old 3rd June 2012, 04:32 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
I don't know. The logging around here tends to result in large scale tree clearence rather than the result we see in the pic.
Fair enough, although I'd have to go back and look closer. Maybe they lay the roads in advance, and/or use the roads for the water truck to water the trees. At any rate, they look like organically dense tree-access roads. Possibly also tracks where artillery regularly drives amongst the trees at random. Proof that happened on the 25th and they fired? Nil.



Quote:
Well whats your alturnative? The US goverment people aren't going to talk and the Isreali ones are going to say even less as well as saying it in hebrew.
I propose tree-access roads, regularly used. I don't even think we can tell if they're "caterpillar tracks" or just dirt roads.

Quote:
Assad has about two properly loyal divisions. If the rebels had an effective millitary force they would be running the country by now. Since they don't both the rebels and anyone standing near them are going to die.
I'm no expert, but I disagree. They've been under attack a lot and seem to be largely holding fast. I think it's mostly Sunni extremists who've defected. A lot of the rest of the country, civilians and not alike, genuinely fears the "freedom" the opposition seeks, and they really support the government. There have been huge pro-Assad demonstrations all across the country that the media never told you about. Way ahead of our diplomats, the media has always only talked to the "activists," and called them "the people of Syria."

Quote:
There hasn't been a horrible humanitarian disaster. The deathtoll is still less than 10K and it would really help if you avoided that kind of emotive language.
I'm presuming some kind of sarcasm there. Perhaps "humanitarian disaster" is not the right phrase for this atrocity.

Quote:
Your problem is you are modeling NATO as rational actors. They are not which means that all assad can do is hope for the best while preparing for the worst. In the meantime if he wishes to remeain in power in syria then a certain amount of millitary force is going to be required.
I have a problem? I question NATO's morality but not its twisted rationality. So I have to disagree there. The rest of it, fine.

Here's a thought - I've asked for evidence how we know what happened. No one's yet cited the eyewitness accounts that prove it with amazing clarity. The blood-smeared boy, especially. Why is that?

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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:01 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Fair enough, although I'd have to go back and look closer. Maybe they lay the roads in advance, and/or use the roads for the water truck to water the trees. At any rate, they look like organically dense tree-access roads. Possibly also tracks where artillery regularly drives amongst the trees at random. Proof that happened on the 25th and they fired? Nil.


I propose tree-access roads, regularly used. I don't even think we can tell if they're "caterpillar tracks" or just dirt roads.
Bottom line is that armatures trying to interpret satellite images doesn't end well. Forbes McKenzie at least has the excuse that he has a company to drum up business for. "who now works for the commercial company that analysed the images" kinda cute don't you think? Suggests the company has employees.


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I'm no expert, but I disagree. They've been under attack a lot and seem to be largely holding fast.
Do you know what happens to groups who lack heavy weapons try to hold fast against those who do and have a relaxed attitude towards collateral damage?

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I think it's mostly Sunni extremists who've defected.
The majority of the Syrian army is confined to barracks their ability to defect is limited but it also prevents them from being deployed.

Quote:
A lot of the rest of the country, civilians and not alike, genuinely fears the "freedom" the opposition seeks, and they really support the government. There have been huge pro-Assad demonstrations all across the country that the media never told you about. Way ahead of our diplomats, the media has always only talked to the "activists," and called them "the people of Syria."
Oh its generally accepted that the Alawites and Christians are on his side. The Kurds don't care and no one is about to start paying attention to the druze. That about 25% of the country. Problem is that most of the actual people in the army (rather than the officer class) are Sunni.


Quote:
I'm presuming some kind of sarcasm there. Perhaps "humanitarian disaster" is not the right phrase for this atrocity.
As I'm sure you are aware that has been a considerable devaluation in such terms. The Nigerian-Biafran War was a horrible humanitarian disaster. Current events aren't really on that scale.

Quote:
I have a problem? I question NATO's morality but not its twisted rationality. So I have to disagree there. The rest of it, fine.
I meant you can't meaningfuly predict what NATO are going to do.

Quote:
Here's a thought - I've asked for evidence how we know what happened. No one's yet cited the eyewitness accounts that prove it with amazing clarity. The blood-smeared boy, especially. Why is that?
Because they speak arabic and the english speaking journalists got shelled.

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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:12 AM   #26
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Holy crap, sorry Geni. Maybe nothing, but I just had a holy crap moment. How many terrorist fighters did the Syrians say launched this whole shell-the-soldiers, shell-the-city, slaughter families operation? around 800, right?

Quote:
f) At the beginning of May a ship loaded with 150 tons of weapons and mmunition destined for the rebels in Syria was detained in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli.8 “The case of the ship Lutfullah 2, which was intercepted by the Lebanese Army, proves that Libya and Turkey are cooperating with other states to send murderous weapons to terrorist groups, in order to wreak more carnage and destruction,” wrote the Syrian ambassador to the UN in a letter to the Secretary General and the Security Council.9

Lebanese authorities said they had seized a large consignment of Libyan weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades and heavy caliber ammunition, from the ship which was intercepted in the Mediterranean. These weapons probably originated in the plundered warehouses of the Libyan army. Moreover, according to Iranian sources, Abd el-Hakim Belhaj, the notorious al-Qaeda commander of the Tripoli area in Libya and a member of the Transitional Government, had conducted negotiations in Turkey with Syrian rebels regarding the supply of weapons and ammunition to rebel forces in Syria. According to the same source, Belhaj was heading a Libyan contingent of 700 fighters.
http://jcpa.org/article/alqaeda-jiha...syrian-regime/

Belhaj, of course, onetime military warlord of Tripoli, previously LIFG founder, negotiator of onetime merge with Al Qaeda, supposedly cancelled after Seif's reformation efforts that had them all rehabilitated and released, swearinf off terrorism - until the uprising last year. Now he's in Syria, allegedly, with a fair amount of weapons and a force the same basic size as the one cited here. Hmmm...

Oops, sorry, Iranian sources. Probably lying. Belhaj will be rebutting this - from Libya - any day now, right?

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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:16 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
But in fact, I'm not getting ridiculed as an apologist for tyrants quite like I expected. The skepticism here is slightly encouraging.

Don't know if you followed it but in all humility I think that my months long coverage in this thread about Russia's and China's veto of UN resolutions, and taking a lot of flak as "Assad lover", kind of prepared the ground. It went from "conspiracy blogs" reporting about the foreign-financed and trained mercenaries/jihadis - while "everybody knew" that "Assad is killing his own people" - to Amnesty International condemning their activities and Clinton "worrysome" admitting Al-Qaeda involvement with overlapping goals to the US.

In the process I also heard the term "Shabiha" for the first time in some SPIEGEL horror stories, which they put out daily at the time. It appeared when it became undeniable that there are other forces than the Syrian army and "good rebels" active. I searched a bit and did not find too many sources for the term. IIRC - don't think I posted about it - it originated with a New York Times story from late last year. Could be that this "Assad thugs militia" is not exactly based in reality, but hard to tell.
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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:22 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Holy crap, sorry Geni. Maybe nothing, but I just had a holy crap moment. How many terrorist fighters did the Syrians say launched this whole shell-the-soldiers, shell-the-city, slaughter families operation? around 800, right?


http://jcpa.org/article/alqaeda-jiha...syrian-regime/

Belhaj, of course, onetime military warlord of Tripoli, previously LIFG founder, negotiator of onetime merge with Al Qaeda, supposedly cancelled after Seif's reformation efforts that had them all rehabilitated and released, swearinf off terrorism - until the uprising last year. Now he's in Syria, allegedly, with a fair amount of weapons and a force the same basic size as the one cited here. Hmmm...

Oops, sorry, Iranian sources. Probably lying. Belhaj will be rebutting this - from Libya - any day now, right?
Hmm RPG rounds and heavy machine guns. The chechen tried that against Putin. Didn't work out too well. How much of a shock do you think they will get when they discover that syrians do actualy know how to fight a bit?
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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:27 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
Bottom line is that armatures trying to interpret satellite images doesn't end well. Forbes McKenzie at least has the excuse that he has a company to drum up business for. "who now works for the commercial company that analysed the images" kinda cute don't you think? Suggests the company has employees.
LOL on the last. As an ameteur that's pretty good at making basic assessments that don't require specialization, just logic, I kind of contest the first sentence.


Quote:
Do you know what happens to groups who lack heavy weapons try to hold fast against those who do and have a relaxed attitude towards collateral damage?
I would guess they tend to get killed. We saw a lot of them charred and dismembered across Libya. Not sure what your point is. Is that a threat that would apply if the regime and those it defends had less weapons?

Quote:
Oh its generally accepted that the Alawites and Christians are on his side.
I wonder if the lynching and persecution of these groups as pro-Assad in rebel territory has anything to do with their dismay that all Syria should become "free?"

Quote:
As I'm sure you are aware that has been a considerable devaluation in such terms. The Nigerian-Biafran War was a horrible humanitarian disaster. Current events aren't really on that scale.
Alright, I used the wrong phrase, Re-visiting what I said, to avoid weapon destruction and other-destruction, it would have been more sane to NOT slaughter with extreme cruelty fifty-plus women and children to create a crisis that didn't exist before, just ahead of Annan's visit and while the West still tries to blameAssad for everything. Moving things around afterwards is like... I'm bad with folksy metaphors.

Quote:
I meant you can't meaningfuly predict what NATO are going to do.
I bet you could, with all the variables at hand, etc. Othwerwise, some broad facts can be known and good guesses made. People do it all the time.


Quote:
Because they speak arabic and the english speaking journalists got shelled.
The what? I meant survivors, primarily people who (say they) saw the head-hammering and rapes and eye-gouging and throat-slitting, by people with "Alawite accents" who explained they were sent by Assad and came from loyalist villages nearby. But witnesses to the shelling too, if they could even say what direction it came from, etc. That's the main evidence that goes to show who did it, but no one's bringing them up yet.

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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:30 AM   #30
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As to the weaponry of possible other actors, I searched the thread for a certain post of mine:

Originally Posted by Childlike Empress View Post
Here's the video linked. It's titled "The Free Syrian Armytakes out Ba'ath party HQ in Homs, killing 60 "Assad thugs" and destroys 2 tanks." Pardalis, we are with your buddies the "peaceful protesters", the Baath Party HQ is across the street. Notice what's left of the tanks. Shows mostly shooting and no human casualties but maybe NFSW.

This is from February 27th. The video I linked has disappeared from YT but I found another copy. The day before:

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE
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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:43 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
I wonder if the lynching and persecution of these groups as pro-Assad in rebel territory has anything to do with their dismay that all Syria should become "free?"
Nah. Goes back further than that. Fundimentaly it boils that that they can count. Non kurd Sunns make up about 65% of the population have spent the last few decades being oppressed by the Alawite minority. Its not unreasonable to expect that they seak a certian degree of recompense.

Quote:
Alright, I used the wrong phrase, Re-visiting what I said, to avoid weapon destruction and other-destruction, it would have been more sane to NOT slaughter fifty-plus women and children to create a crisis that didn'texist before, just ahead of Annan's visit and while the West still tries to blameAssad for everything. Moving things around afterwards is like... I'm bad with folksy metaphors.
Thing is that the group currently ruling syria is well aware that it has no control over what NATO will or will not do. As a result focusing purely no domestic isues is a valid tactic.

Quote:
I bet you could, with all the variables at hand, etc. Othwerwise, some broad facts can be known and good guesses made. People do it all the time.
Not in this case. There appears to be little political will for NATO to act particularity now the French elections have happened. However it would only take the wrong kind of Obama poll dip to change all that.


Quote:
The what? I meant survivors, primarily people who (say they) saw the head-hammering and rapes and eye-gouging and throat-slitting, by people with "Alawite accents" who explained they were sent by Assad and came from loyalist villages nearby. But witnesses to the shelling too, if they could even say what direction it came from, etc. That's the main evidence that goes to show who did it, but no one's bringing them up yet.
They speak arabic not english.
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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:43 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Childlike Empress View Post
Don't know if you followed it but in all humility I think that my months long coverage in this thread about Russia's and China's veto of UN resolutions, and taking a lot of flak as "Assad lover", kind of prepared the ground. It went from "conspiracy blogs" reporting about the foreign-financed and trained mercenaries/jihadis - while "everybody knew" that "Assad is killing his own people" - to Amnesty International condemning their activities and Clinton "worrysome" admitting Al-Qaeda involvement with overlapping goals to the US.

In the process I also heard the term "Shabiha" for the first time in some SPIEGEL horror stories, which they put out daily at the time. It appeared when it became undeniable that there are other forces than the Syrian army and "good rebels" active. I searched a bit and did not find too many sources for the term. IIRC - don't think I posted about it - it originated with a New York Times story from late last year. Could be that this "Assad thugs militia" is not exactly based in reality, but hard to tell.
Good work then, and I salute the bullets you took for the cause. ETA: Sorry I salute you, not the bullets.

I've been hearing around that the Shahiba only emerged as a story recently -the shadow army of Alawites capable of anything, like this. Suggestion they are a made-up ghost story. I don't know, myself. Hearing lots of things for the first time.

@ Geni: Do note the weapons you list are from the intercepted shipment they never got. We don't know how many other shipments got through or what was in them. Possibly zero, possibly ten, including tanks and artillery. How you smuggle those, dunno, but it's possible. That's why I get annoyed with people who say it had to be the regime since the rebels don't have this or that, as if anyone knows, or would tell if they did.

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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:47 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Childlike Empress View Post
As to the weaponry of possible other actors, I searched the thread for a certain post of mine:




This is from February 27th. The video I linked has disappeared from YT but I found another copy. The day before:

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE
Those are APCs not tanks.
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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:49 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
They speak arabic not english.
Okay, I'll start then. This kid sounds pretty convincing right?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...ivor-boy-syria
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Old 3rd June 2012, 05:50 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
@ Geni: Do note the weapons you list are from the intercepted shipment they never got. We don't know how many other shipments got through or what was in them. Possibly zero, possibly ten, including tanks and artillery. How you smuggle those, dunno, but it's possible. That's why I get annoyed with people who say it had to be the regime since the rebels don't have this or that, as if anyone knows, or would tell if they did.
The only known case of smuggling tanks in the 21st century involves the South Sudanese.

Thing is machine guns and RPGs are the kind of thing that you can travel light with and don't require much of a logistics train. Artillery does. As well as being little more than great big "shoot me here" sign in the hands of people who don't know what they are doing.
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Old 3rd June 2012, 06:09 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
Okay, I'll start then. This kid sounds pretty convincing right?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...ivor-boy-syria
Its hardly war, its not as if there is likely to be much tactical or strategic innovation so I really don't see why you are taking an interest. I mean if you are really that into gore I understand a few videos came out of chechnya as well as various more recent stuff. For the more historicaly minded I sugest the blue book covering german east africa.

The Syrian government are fighting an anti insurgency war in the conventional manner without any of this western PR stuff. So yeah sometimes they shoot up a house full of people. Sometimes they grab people off the street and introduce them to the contents of the black & decker catalogue. If this in any way surprises you you probably haven't been paying much attention to the last few thousand years of warfare.
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Old 3rd June 2012, 06:28 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
Those are APCs not tanks.

There's another video in that thread, must be a page before or behind, where you can see them with tanks flying the "rebel" flag. Obviously captured/stolen.
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Old 3rd June 2012, 07:48 AM   #38
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After a week of silence, there's a statement of the russian foreign ministry about the massacre.

Quote:
[...] The results of the investigation by the Syrian authorities, which were announced on 31 May this year, suggest that the crime was a well-planned action of the militants to disrupt the efforts of a political settlement of the Syrian crisis, to drive the situation in Syria to a new round of bloody violence. Moscow, which strongly and unequivocally condemns the violence against civilians, is awaiting the outcome of the investigation mandated by UN Security Council. Those who carried out and ordered this barbaric crime should incur the most severe punishment. [...] Tragedy in Houla showed the consequences of financial assistance and supplies of smuggled advanced weapons for the militants, the recruitment of foreign mercenaries and flirting with all sorts of extremists. [...]

Although not mentioned, it's likely that they also base their conclusion on the report of an Abkhazian journalist team which was in the region and has interviewed witnesses independently of the Syrian authorities. Their original Russian report including videos of the interviews is here, and an English translation of a German translation is here.

This is all quite detailed, including names of some (the locals, presumably) of the terrorists involved. Bad chinese whispers translation slightly improved by me, from the German one:

Originally Posted by Marat Musin of Abkhazian Network News Agency
During our trip to Al-Hula in the province of Homs, we have documented and filmed a dozen reports of witnesses of the attack on the Syrian city of Al-Hula (25th May 2012). The attack was carried out by a unit of armed fighters from Rastan, in which more than 700 gunmen were involved. They brought the city under their control and began with a cleansing action against loyalist (Pro-Assad) families, including elderly people, women and also children.

The bandits presented the dead to the UN and the “international community” as victims of the Syrian army, in order to increase the pressure against the “international community” to force a rapid adoption of a “suitable” resolution against Syria by the UN Security Council (UNSC), which they hope will just be “pushed through” because of the horrible massacre.

Today, the gunman fired virtually at everyone who comes in front of their muzzles. Only an hour before our arrival, they have shot at two armored vehicles of the UN observers, as the armored vehicles tried to reach a checkpoint of the Syrian army in Taldou; we have documented this on video.

Also at us, a machine-gun burst was fired, although it was clear to see that we are only a film crew, consisting of unarmed civilians. [...]

The work of a commission of inquiry of the Syrian Arab Army, and the documented testimonies of us, allow already to name some of the terrorists who committed these terrible crimes:

Radwan Said Farhan
Mashhur Massoud, Nickname: Tyurkavyi (a known terrorist)
Abdelkarim Al-Rahal
Akram Rashash Amer
Muhyiddin Mahmoud Shihab, Nickname: Muhyiddin Dscharban
A gang of terrorists from the Al-Iksha clan
Abdul Rasak Tlas
Yakha Al-Yousef
Said Fayez Al-Talha Iksh
Nidal Bakkur
A terrorist from the Al-Hallaka clan, Nickname: Al-Hassan
Ikram Al-Saleh
Al-Hallak Haysam

Below is the interview with our first witness, who will shed light on the chronology of this crime against humanity (by the so-called “Syrian rebels”): [...]
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Old 3rd June 2012, 08:06 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Childlike Empress View Post
Although not mentioned, it's likely that they also base their conclusion on the report of an Abkhazian journalist team
Where exactly did Abkhazia get the money to support a team of journalists in syria?
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Old 3rd June 2012, 08:19 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
Where exactly did Abkhazia get the money to support a team of journalists in syria?

Pardon? Look at a map. You can drive there by car. Maybe 800 km.
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