Monthly Archives: November 2011

Syria Edges Closer to Civil War

Opposition attacks are getting more focused, and thanks to military defectors, more powerful:

”A group of dissident troops attacked regime youth offices, where security agents were meeting, with rocket-propelled grenades and clashes broke out,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The attack came hot on the heels of a raid on an air force intelligence base in Harasta, outside the capital, on Wednesday by fighters of the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group formed by army deserters that has inflicted mounting losses on the regular army in recent months.

This is all still short of a full civil war and still nowhere near the sort of organization and planning that will be needed to militarily confront Assad’s regime. But that work is clearly underway as the Free Syrian Army continues to organize, undoubtedly with substantial assistance, on Syria’s borders:

Somewhere along the emerald green ridge ahead Syrian troops guard the restive border with Lebanon. Behind them lie piles of upturned orange earth where land mines have been freshly buried. Ahead of them, across a deep, rain-soaked valley which spills into Lebanon, the rebels who were once their comrades in arms are preparing for war.

The rebels of the Free Syria Army who have found refuge on this volatile strip of borderland move freely around on motorbikes that are well within range of Syrian loyalist snipers. But they say they no longer fear their former army colleagues in the hills nearby. Instead, they are looking to them for help.

“There are 100 of them in the valley,” said a former member of an intelligence unit who fled the embattled city of Hama in August and is now based in the Lebanese village of Nsoub. “But the day before yesterday I personally brought 30 people here.” Of the troops still serving with the Syrian army, he said: “They helped.”

It still seems unlikely that the defections and covert support will be enough to field a force that can take the military head-on. And staging a simple repeat of the intervention in Libya is not nearly as simple, or likely to succeed, as it sounds. Some sort of overt coalition support is probably inevitable but it is also probably on the far horizon. This is going to be a long-lasting and unfortunately brutal affair.

Recommend on Twitter: @USEmbassySyria – The official Twitter of the U.S. Embassy in Syria.

Follow developments in Syria with the Blogs of War Syria Monitor at

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi Captured in Libya

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi Captured in Libya

saif Saif al Islam Gadhafi Captured in Libya

He was captured in southern Libya and appears to be in decent shape despite some minor injuries. This is good for Libya as video of Saif getting the same post-arrest treatment that his father received would not have played well at all.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) appears to be working with Libya to ensure that this process proceeds in a manner that is more acceptable to the international community than the events surrounding his father’s capture:

ICC spokeswoman Florence Olara said: “We are in touch and coordinating with the Libyan ministry of justice to ensure that any solution with regards to the arrest of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi will be in accordance with the law.”

Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor, said previously that if Saif al-Islam Gadhafi was brought before the ICC in the Netherlands, he would “have all the rights and be protected,” and would be allowed to present a defense.

The next stage of this drama will be the debate over Saif’s trial. Will he stay in Libya and face Libyan justice or will he be handed over to the ICC?

Recommended on Twitter: @IntlCrimCourt – The International Criminal Court.

Follow developments in Libya with the Blogs of War Libya Montitor at

Need to Know: November 19, 2011