BREAKING NEWS: Assad has just targeted Homs civilians with deadly new weapon (roundup post)


by FG

According to the video's uploader, the footage shows the moment that the barrel bomb fell on the Hamidiya neighborhood on Saturday.

Several activists claim the video was filmed in the area, however the Telegraph is unable to independently verify the location.

The clip follows the first reports, as disclosed in the Daily Telegraph, that the Syrian regime have begun using the improvised "barrel bombs"in Syria's second city, Aleppo.

Filled with TNT, oil and chunks of steel, the exploding barrels kill and maim across a wider area than high explosives.


1) Will this use of barrel bombs finally force the West to act in providing anti-air at least?  Will it force the opposition to unify (see subpost on that)? 

2) Will the development lead Khamenei to order the IRCG to develop a similar weapon....just in case?


Ironically, I had just put together the following item for this roundup when the above news broke.  It's also from the Telegraph two days earlier--the only source to report on the new weapon at the time and until the incident in Homs.  I think that will change now.


Excerpt:  The "barrel bombs" have emerged as an improvised weapon with the aim of causing maximum death and desItruction, The Daily Telegraph can disclose, as the regime seeks to break rebel resistance in Syria'ssecond city, Aleppo.

Filled with TNT, oil and chunks of steel, the exploding barrels kill and maim across a wider area than high explosives.

"The sound was like nothing else I've ever heard. It was an almighty whoosh," said Mohammed Ibrahim, a fighter recovering from an explosion that he said was of terrifying intensity caused by such a bomb.

"I was lucky I was standing behind a corner but I was still knocked off my feet. When I came round my ears were bleeding."

Resembling a bandaged survivor of the Great War trenches, he staggered on his feet as he displayed his injuries. He also had perforated eardrums...

...dissatisfied by the level of destruction its munitions are meting out, the regime this week introduced its own homemade bombs.

The bombs are carried on helicopters that have been videoed hovering above targets before the crew pushes the device out to fall to the ground.

A spokesman for the Local Coordination Committee in northern Aleppo said that the barrel bombs have been used in at least two areas of the city.

"The first incident was over a public park in the Bab al-Nairab area of the city where people had taken refugee from the shelling," said the spokesman, Abu Amir. "They were ordinary people who were defenceless against this type of attack." Videos on the internet show barrels that did not explode in Batbo, 20 miles west of Aleppo, as well as three locations in Idlib province and in Homs.

OBSERVATION: In the past week Assad has used his air power to destroy at least ten bakeries and civilians waiting in line for bread.  Does anyone think that is "accidental?"  Frashogar blames the rebels for this, even if thye don't possess a single aircraft. 


Rebels have captured an anti-air building in Deir-al-Zoir and with it 16 troops, an unknown number of ant-air missiles,  and an arsenal of an arsenal of rocket-propelled grenades and heavy ammunition.



These guys are doing more damage than Predators operating in Pakistan.  I suspect help inhibits how far Al-Maliki can go in sucking up to Iran.  It also raises the question of why vaunted Al Quds is nor providing such help.  I suppose it is too needed elsewhere (helping look-alike dictators in Syria and Iran stomp their own people.


more from FG

IMPORTANT:Woman beats the odds to make Saudi Arabia's first film

by FG on

This is not just a minor development.  Re-read that headline and note that this is a double achievement and a very significant one politically.  Having married themselves to conservative Salafi clerics long ago, the Saudi government has to find clever ways of detaching itself gradually without producing an explosion.  It's a bit like handling nitroglycerine.   

This is not just the first film by a woman in Saudi Arabia but the first Saudi film period.  Saudi Arabia has no movie theaters at all but may have some soon.   Saudis can see film on DVDS and satellite TV anyway so what's the point?  Maybe the first theaters will have women's days and men's days (to prevent "making out") but it is still progress.

I'm sure such developments, aggravated in this case by the director poing for photos dressed fully in western style with no veil or hajib, will infuriate the most ultraconservative clerics.  As in Iran, such clerics have held their country back for fear of losing their flocks and benefits.  Their livelihood depends on preventing progess.  


As you check out the excerpt below, put yourself in place of a Saudi viewer and ponder the film's subversive theme. Watch enough of such films and, except in the case of total reactionaries, your long-held thinking about how life should be can change drastically.  In Mexico, a soap opera designed to produce smaller families had more effect that all previous political sloganeering.

Exposure to music--especialy protest music and satiree--can have the same effect, especially among the still mallable young. Thus, the prosecution of Pussy Riot in Russia has done more than anything to increase anti-Putin sentiment in Russia.   Note also the growing anti-clericalism of protestors there.

Never underestimate the political impact of cultural change in countries where it was once hard to know how the other half lives.   Once exposed to that, people begin to say, "Why can't we have such rights and freedoms (including social freedoms) here?"

Aside from their need to benefit politically by promoting anti-western xenophobia, this is why Iran's ruling mullahs stess anti-westernism and enforce social policing.  They sense the danger though all they can do is postpone the inevitable like King Canute trying to hold back the tide by royal command.  If you don't know that legend, look it up online.  

Meanwhile the threatened types always complain about "western cultural imperialism" as if it were a conscious, centrally organized plot instead of what it really is--a haphazard, demand-driven infiltration of what is seductively attractive to humans by its very nature.  That includes western music with its female stars and art.  

Seeing a woman like Hillary Clinton or Condoleeza Rice do her job so effectively doesn't hurt either iwhen it comes to smashing illusions about the competence pr incompetence of women when it comes to carrying out previously all-male tasks.  I've noted in the past that women's rights is critical to Middle Eastern progress and undermining of religious conservatives who prevent it. Economically too it makes no sense to waste the intelligence resources of half one's population.

Even without movie theaters, western-inspired change will come because such freedoms have universal appeal regardless of origin.  Does anyone enjoy being oppressed, pushed around or having no rights?  Frashogar, Khamenei and Assad will assure us they do but I don't believe it.  These infectious ideas are the real souce of Assad's and Khamenei's problems.  No matter what they do, infiltration will occur by so many other means impossible to stop--the internet, foreign travel, DVDs, satellite TV, etc.  

In Breszhnev's Russia, DVDs smuggled in from the West by the few people with rare traveling privileges--including KGB types--had a major and eye-opening impact on A public so well-insulated and thought-controlled previously. Note antoher similarity to the USSR.  Much of the smuggling is done by the privileged IRCG.  Making things worse are that so many children of the privileged have spent time in top western universities exposed not only to western education but to western societies.


In Haifaa Al Mansour's landmark film "Wadjda," 10-year-old Waad Mohammed plays a girl who is also testing the boundaries of a woman's place in a highly conservative society where her love for Western music and fashions land her in trouble.

Mohammed's impish personality and resilience in the face of adversity add to the poignancy of the story and left some of the film's first viewers in tears.



Did rebels capture shoulder-fired anti-air? Perhaps

by FG on

The latest news regarding the recent capture of anti-air weapons after a regime base fell to the rebels is that the weapons are shoulder-fired, not Sams of trhe sort captured a few weeks ago.  

If true, such weapons would be easier to use without a great deal of special training.  It's likely that some defectors would already possess such skills.


In Pakistan, as in Iran, extreme Islamists can play nasty tricks

by FG on

Anything goes with these bums.  Iranians will remember the Abadan fire and the acid-in-the-face treatments used to compel women into dressing "Islamically.

Now it turns out that the man who accused a Christian girl with Down syndrome of defacing the Koran did the defacing himelf,--and a clertic at that (an iman infact).  Of course Iranian know that clerics would never behave o badly.  And there is a witnes who actually saw him  burning pages from the Koran which were then placed in the kid's shopping bag.  A mentally deficent youngster like this would be an easy mark.  

Shame!  Shame!  But how many Pakistanis fell for it?  In these countries one man's word is enough to tir up a mob.  You can bet the accuser profited by looting some of those abandoned Christian homes as foam-in-the-mouth theocrats ran amok while he played the village hero and defender of Islam.

When Zia encouraged radical Islamists inside Iran and then used them as a "deniable" tool of foreign policy against neighbors, he opened a Pandoras box.  Now Pakistan has become a land of intolerance where moderates are in the minority and opponents of allowing blasphemy to be a crime are murdered. 



Best of luck to Jahanshah Javid, founder of

by FG on

He put lots of work into that job and now he is leaving.  Read the story at: 



UN Secretary-General attacks Holocaust denial while in Iran

by FG on

Without naming Iran directly, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon denounces his hosts at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran for threatening to destroy Israel and for denying the Holocaust.



Excerpt: ... the unexpected vehemence of Mr Ban's comments undermined Iran's quest for global prestige and its efforts to show that it was not isolated.

The Guardian has a very interesting report about the divisions among Syrian living on the Golan Heights and the kind of pressures the regime has been uing to limit open display of dissent there.




Obama is known to be strongly opposed to such an attack though government attitudes could change if Romeny wins.   The latter appears to know nothing about foreign policy except how to offend every leader he visit.

Disagreements over that have let the US to reduce the number of forces involved in a joint exercise.   That does not mean that the US will not asist Iranians if--after Assad' fall--they should rise up against the regime long enough to show the rebellion is for real. 





Is Tlass Syria's best option now?

by FG on

I refer to a broad-based temporary government (stress on temporary).


1. Among Alawites, a Tlass-headed government would negate the credibility of regime claims that the opposition consists sole of Al-Queda-style jihadis.

2. The news would likely increase defection and make untenable the few regime-held strongholds in northern areas presently controlled by the FSA. 

3. The combination of a unified opposition government and full possession of substantial territory would make foreign recognition and foreign assistance much more likely.  For one thing, Tlass is unlikely to allow anti-air weapons into the hands of radical Islamist.

4.  A Tlass-headed government would give Putin a palatable alternative to Assad, a sure loser with whom he is stuck at present.


1. A temporary government, if established now, will  also have the needed time to increase some legitimacy it will need to limit instability afterward,

2.  If Tlass’ presence cannot limit anarchy and sectarian strife afterwards, nobody can.

3. Enough regimes have demontrated the risks of going against "people power" these day.  That will encourage the temporary government not to daddle in handling over power to one based on popular legitimacy which can be obtained only through free and open elections.

4. If Putin hopes to retain any clout in the Middle East he will not be able to offend the temporary government or its succesor by continued support for the IRA.  Loss of that support would be as devastating to Khamenei as Assad's downfall.


I’ve opposed this idea previously because of Tlass’ past ties to far right parties in France even if a left-wing French government has since become his primary advocate. If Syrians hope to speed up Assad’s ouster and contain damage afterwards, which of these alternative is better?: 

-- negotiate with Assad (unthinkable)?

--Fight a longer war of attrition giving Assad time to pulverize the country?

--Set up a temporary government headed by the Muslim Brotherhood?