Items About Areas That Could Break Out Into War
December 13, 2011: The battles between rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters and government security forces are growing larger. In the south a recent clash saw hundreds of armed men on each side fighting it out. The FSA forces also had some tanks and artillery. But for the most part the FSA concentrates on cutting off supplies for troops and police battalions. The convoys carrying these supplies are vulnerable to ambush and as the FSA makes more of these attacks more soldiers and police decide to desert or switch sides. Army and police commanders must devote more and more of their time to monitoring the loyalty of subordinates. The supply problems also consume a lot more attention as hungry troops, who are short of ammo, are a big problem. Most of the fighting is taking place in the west and along the Jordanian border down south, with the city of Homs currently at the center of army attention. The capital has been quiet but there continues to be anti-government demonstrations in most of the country.
The UN, and most major powers, are calling for a halt to the violence in Syria. So far about 5,000 have died, most of them civilians killed by soldiers and police. Another 15,000 have been arrested and about the same number have fled the country. UN officials are talking about war crime charges. Despite most UN members demanding a halt to the violence Russia, China, India, South Africa, and Brazil form a block that opposes any foreign intervention against the Syrian government.
The sanctions are hurting and Syria has offered to allow UN observers in if the sanctions are lifted. But the government has been harassing and interfering with the Red Cross observers, thus the UN is not willing to make an observer deal. President Basher Assad is now insisting that he never ordered attacks on civilians, something foreign diplomats find astonishing and disturbing. Over a thousand Syrians have died in the past two weeks and the security forces appear to be massing for even more deadly attacks. The government is increasing the use of secret police assassinations and kidnappings, often in the middle of the night, to terrorize suspected rebel leaders.
December 10, 2011: France is accusing Syria of having ordered the recent terrorist bombing of French peacekeepers in southern Lebanon. Five French troops were wounded.
December 8, 2011: An explosion cut the pipeline carrying oil to a refinery in Homs. This city is a center of anti-government activity and the refinery is a key element of the national economy.