Nick Turse
Evidence of ‘industrial-scale killing’ by Syria spurs call for war crimes charges

guardian:

image

Syrian government officials could face war crimes charges in the light of a huge cache of evidence smuggled out of the country showing the “systematic killing” of about 11,000 detainees, according to three eminent international lawyers. Read the full story 

Photograph: Reuters

McClatchy offers this is a list of the journalists acknowledged to be missing in Syria. (Others are known to be missing, but their families have asked that details not be released.)

Austin Tice, American, missing since Aug. 13, 2012, Damascus province

Bashar al Kadumi, Jordanian, missing since Aug. 20, 2012, Aleppo

James Foley, American, missing since Nov. 22, 2012, Idlib province

Didier Francois, French, missing since June 6, 2013, Aleppo

Edouard Elias, French, missing since June 6, 2013, Aleppo

Nicolas Hénin, French, missing since June 22, Raqqa province

Pierre Torres, French, missing since June 22, Raqqa Province

Marc Marginedas, Spaniard, missing since Sept. 4, 2013, Hama province

Javier Espinosa, Spaniard, missing since Sept. 16, 2013, Raqqa province

Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, Spaniard, missing since Sept. 16, 2013, Raqqa province

Samir Kassab, Lebanese, missing since Oct. 15, 2013, Aleppo

Ishak Moctar, Mauritanian, missing since Oct. 15, 2013, Aleppo

Close to 100 fighters from eight rebel brigades gathered in a field in the outskirts of Hama province, Syria, on Monday, October 28, 2013 promising to open routes for humanitarian aid in the province. The rebels announced they were uniting to form a new force called “Liwaa Mujahideen Hama” or “Brigade of Fighters in Hama.” At the meeting, LMH officials said the coalition would be able to organize safe passage for aid workers throughout Idlib. Fighters compared weapons and socialized.
© Daniel C. Britt/Corbis

Close to 100 fighters from eight rebel brigades gathered in a field in the outskirts of Hama province, Syria, on Monday, October 28, 2013 promising to open routes for humanitarian aid in the province. The rebels announced they were uniting to form a new force called “Liwaa Mujahideen Hama” or “Brigade of Fighters in Hama.” At the meeting, LMH officials said the coalition would be able to organize safe passage for aid workers throughout Idlib. Fighters compared weapons and socialized.

© Daniel C. Britt/Corbis

Today my helmet is a veil, and my flak jacket a hijab. Because the only way to sneak into Aleppo is by looking like a Syrian.
Close to 100 fighters from eight rebel brigades gathered in a field in the outskirts of Hama province, Syria, on Monday, October 28, 2013 promising to open routes for humanitarian aid in the province. The rebels announced they were uniting to form a new force called “Liwaa Mujahideen Hama” or “Brigade of Fighters in Hama.” At the meeting, LMH officials said the coalition would be able to organize safe passage for aid workers throughout Idlib. Fighters compared weapons and socialized.

© Daniel C. Britt/Corbis

Close to 100 fighters from eight rebel brigades gathered in a field in the outskirts of Hama province, Syria, on Monday, October 28, 2013 promising to open routes for humanitarian aid in the province. The rebels announced they were uniting to form a new force called “Liwaa Mujahideen Hama” or “Brigade of Fighters in Hama.” At the meeting, LMH officials said the coalition would be able to organize safe passage for aid workers throughout Idlib. Fighters compared weapons and socialized.

© Daniel C. Britt/Corbis

Let us posit that the Syrian government did, in fact, order last week’s chemical attack that killed hundreds of Syrian citizens, including women, children and others who had not taken up arms against the Assad regime.

In Washington, the eagerness to initiate military action in order to punish Assad is now palpable. Before ordering any such action, President Obama should answer several questions. He should share those answers with the American people, before not after pulling the trigger.

First, why does this particular heinous act rise to the level of justifying a military response? More specifically, why did a similarly heinous act by the Egyptian army elicit from Washington only the mildest response? Just weeks ago, Egyptian security forces slaughtered hundreds of Egyptians whose “crime” was to protest a military coup that overthrew a legitimately elected president. Why the double standard?

Second, once U.S. military action against Syria begins, when will it end? What is the political objective? Wrapping the Assad regime on the knuckles is unlikely to persuade it to change its ways. That regime is engaged in a fight for survival. So what exactly does the United States intend to achieve and how much is President Obama willing to spend in lives and treasure to get there? War is a risky business. Is the president willing to commit U.S. forces to what could well become another protracted and costly struggle?

Third, what is the legal basis for military action? Neither Russia nor China is likely to agree to an attack on Syria, so authorization by the U.N. Security Council won’t be forthcoming. Will Obama ask Congress for the authority to act? Or will he, as so many of his recent predecessors have done, employ some dodge to circumvent the Constitution? With what justification?

Not to be missed reporting by the NYT’s intrepid C.J. Chivers…
cjchivers:

"Guilty Until Proven Innocent." An Escapee’s Tale.
On the NYT, the account of an American freelance photographer held for seven months in jihadi rebel prisons in Syria. Matthew Schrier, 35, (above, not long after his escape) was robbed, tortured, beaten and accused of working for the C.I.A. by men who then assumed his identity on-line. Kidnapped in Dec. 2012, he escaped on July 29. He returned home to New York this month, with a firsthand jailhouse account of prisons run by Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamist group aligned with Al Qaeda.

Mr. Schrier’s detention is one of more than 15 cases of Westerners, mostly journalists, being abducted or disappearing in Syria this year. The victims range from seasoned correspondents to new freelancers, like Mr. Schrier, who was covering his first war.
Some were abducted in 2012, others a few weeks ago. Many are thought to be held by two Al Qaeda-aligned groups. At least one is believed to be a captive of Mr. Assad’s intelligence services.
For many cases there are few leads. The victims have vanished — a pattern that makes Mr. Schrier’s account exceptional and rare.
His experience also suggests the difficult choices for foreign governments that in principle support the rebels’ goal of overthrowing a dictatorship accused of using chemical weapons against civilians, but in practice fear aiding opposition factions that embrace terrorist tactics, intolerant religious rule or the same behaviors — abduction, torture, extralegal detention — that have characterized the Assad family’s reign.

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
By U.S. State Department consular services in Turkey. The photo was used in Mr. Schrier’s replacement passport, with which he recently flew home.


Not to be missed reporting by the NYT’s intrepid C.J. Chivers…

cjchivers:

"Guilty Until Proven Innocent." An Escapee’s Tale.

On the NYT, the account of an American freelance photographer held for seven months in jihadi rebel prisons in Syria. Matthew Schrier, 35, (above, not long after his escape) was robbed, tortured, beaten and accused of working for the C.I.A. by men who then assumed his identity on-line. Kidnapped in Dec. 2012, he escaped on July 29. He returned home to New York this month, with a firsthand jailhouse account of prisons run by Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamist group aligned with Al Qaeda.

Mr. Schrier’s detention is one of more than 15 cases of Westerners, mostly journalists, being abducted or disappearing in Syria this year. The victims range from seasoned correspondents to new freelancers, like Mr. Schrier, who was covering his first war.

Some were abducted in 2012, others a few weeks ago. Many are thought to be held by two Al Qaeda-aligned groups. At least one is believed to be a captive of Mr. Assad’s intelligence services.

For many cases there are few leads. The victims have vanished — a pattern that makes Mr. Schrier’s account exceptional and rare.

His experience also suggests the difficult choices for foreign governments that in principle support the rebels’ goal of overthrowing a dictatorship accused of using chemical weapons against civilians, but in practice fear aiding opposition factions that embrace terrorist tactics, intolerant religious rule or the same behaviors — abduction, torture, extralegal detention — that have characterized the Assad family’s reign.

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH

By U.S. State Department consular services in Turkey. The photo was used in Mr. Schrier’s replacement passport, with which he recently flew home.

globalpost:

This article is part of a series wherein GlobalPost correspondents write the backstory of their own reporting. 
JABAL AL-ZAWIYA, Syria — Two shots cut through the forest silence. The gunmen dropped instantly behind their rocky shelters. Six hundred meters away, two regime soldiers were down.
Those precious bullets, a scarce commodity among Syrian rebel fighters, had found their targets. It took a few minutes for the spray of return fire to begin penetrating the trees in a wide radius surrounding the government checkpoint.
We stayed low and quiet, attempting to analyze the gunfire. A frightened stray dog burst through the trees. As it darted back into the forest, a collective chuckle of relief after the unexpected invasion of our hiding place broke the lingering tension.
Continue reading at GlobalPost.

globalpost:

This article is part of a series wherein GlobalPost correspondents write the backstory of their own reporting. 

JABAL AL-ZAWIYA, Syria — Two shots cut through the forest silence. The gunmen dropped instantly behind their rocky shelters. Six hundred meters away, two regime soldiers were down.

Those precious bullets, a scarce commodity among Syrian rebel fighters, had found their targets. It took a few minutes for the spray of return fire to begin penetrating the trees in a wide radius surrounding the government checkpoint.

We stayed low and quiet, attempting to analyze the gunfire. A frightened stray dog burst through the trees. As it darted back into the forest, a collective chuckle of relief after the unexpected invasion of our hiding place broke the lingering tension.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

futurejournalismproject:


Syrian Death Map
Via the Guardian:


The conflict in Syria continues to claim lives, over a year since the war started - especially in west of the country. This map, created for us by the team at CartoDB, uses data from Syrian Shuhada - also used by the UN - and each circle represents the number of people who died each day. The play button starts the calendar of deaths, which can be paused at any point


Via CartoDB


One of these online activists involved in “the media war” is curating a casualties database based on information from several websites that have already documented killings or casualties from direct sources. The “Syrian Revolution Martyr Database” (www.SyrianShuhada.com) currently collects detailed info and links to 22.601 deaths since March, 2011…
…The Vizzuality team worked on the visualization. The map is powered by CartoDB to manage and serve the timeseries data and uses d3.js for the animated datapoints and graph.
The man behind the Syrian Suhada database —who did not share his personal information— launched the project in early May 2011. He designed the website and back-end database, and populated it initially with the first available data on casualties. Currently a team of 2 curate the data contained on the site


Image: Screenshot, Syria conflict: a year of deaths mapped. Via The Guardian.

futurejournalismproject:

Syrian Death Map

Via the Guardian:

The conflict in Syria continues to claim lives, over a year since the war started - especially in west of the country. This map, created for us by the team at CartoDB, uses data from Syrian Shuhada - also used by the UN - and each circle represents the number of people who died each day. The play button starts the calendar of deaths, which can be paused at any point

Via CartoDB

One of these online activists involved in “the media war” is curating a casualties database based on information from several websites that have already documented killings or casualties from direct sources. The “Syrian Revolution Martyr Database” (www.SyrianShuhada.com) currently collects detailed info and links to 22.601 deaths since March, 2011…

…The Vizzuality team worked on the visualization. The map is powered by CartoDB to manage and serve the timeseries data and uses d3.js for the animated datapoints and graph.

The man behind the Syrian Suhada database —who did not share his personal information— launched the project in early May 2011. He designed the website and back-end database, and populated it initially with the first available data on casualties. Currently a team of 2 curate the data contained on the site

Image: Screenshot, Syria conflict: a year of deaths mapped. Via The Guardian.

globalpost:

Need to know:More than 100 countries meet today in Parisin a bid to form a united front on the crisis in Syria.
Russia and China won’t be among them.
Both countries have shunned the so-called Friends of Syria alliance, where the agenda is set by Western and Arab allies who want President Bashar al-Assad to leave power. Beijing and Moscow baulk at what they claim would be interference with another nation’s sovereignty, especially when talk turns to military intervention.
The absent Friends were in everyone’s mind, nonetheless: addressing today’s meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded that Russia and China “get off the sidelines” and agree to a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Syria’s government.
One unexpected addition to the guest list, however, is Syrian Brigadier General Manaf Tlas: the senior officer and long-time ally (friend?) of Assad reportedly fled Syria last night, and is said to be on his way to France.
Want to know:George Zimmerman’s defense team is scrambling to raise the thousands of dollars they need to secure his release, after a judge yesterday set his bail at $1 million.
His family doesn’t have “anywhere near” that sum, according to Zimmerman’s lawyer. His legal fund contains $211,000 for his entire defense, and donations to it have been slowing, the attorney said.
The man who shot Trayvon Martin has been in jail since last month, when the same judge revoked his bail after prosecutors said that Zimmerman and his wife lied to the court about their finances. 
“By any definition, the defendant has flouted the system,” Judge Kenneth Lester ruled. “But for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people’s money.”
Dull but important:Libyans vote tomorrow to elect a national assembly, their first free ballot in more than 40 years. 
The 200-member congress they elect will appoint an interim goverment and select a committee to write a constitution, which will then be submitted to voters in a referendum.
It’s the first, crucial step toward political stability in Libya – political stability that will, in turn, bring back foreign investment to the country’s most valuable natural resource, its oil. GlobalPost surveysthe prospects for the oil industry in a new Libya.
Just because:Two former Argentinian dictators have been sentenced to jail for stealing babies.
Jorge Rafael Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, who presided in turn over Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship, were found guilty of overseeing the systematic theft of children born to political prisoners. At least 400 babies are thought to have been taken from their parents and adopted by members of the regime, in an attempt to stamp out the opposition movement.
Bignone and Videla were sentenced to 15 and 50 years, respectively. The sentence all but guarantees they will die in prison: the two men, both in their 80s, are already serving lengthy jail terms for other crimes committed under their rule.
Strange but true:Did A Farewell to Arms leave you vaguely unsatisfied? Would you have prefered it if they’d all – spoiler alert – lived happily ever after in their Alpine cabin?
Well, it turns out Ernest Hemingway wasn’t entirely sure about the ending either. So not-entirely-sure, in fact, that he wrote it 47 times. Those 47 “what ifs” will be included in a new edition of the novel, to be published next week.
From what we can tell, they’re all pretty much variations on the “we’re all going to die” theme. But fingers crossed, there might be at least one version in which we do so in a full-scale alien invasion.

globalpost:

Need to know:
More than 100 countries meet today in Parisin a bid to form a united front on the crisis in Syria.

Russia and China won’t be among them.

Both countries have shunned the so-called Friends of Syria alliance, where the agenda is set by Western and Arab allies who want President Bashar al-Assad to leave power. Beijing and Moscow baulk at what they claim would be interference with another nation’s sovereignty, especially when talk turns to military intervention.

The absent Friends were in everyone’s mind, nonetheless: addressing today’s meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded that Russia and China “get off the sidelines” and agree to a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Syria’s government.

One unexpected addition to the guest list, however, is Syrian Brigadier General Manaf Tlas: the senior officer and long-time ally (friend?) of Assad reportedly fled Syria last night, and is said to be on his way to France.

Want to know:
George Zimmerman’s defense team is scrambling to raise the thousands of dollars they need to secure his release, after a judge yesterday set his bail at $1 million.

His family doesn’t have “anywhere near” that sum, according to Zimmerman’s lawyer. His legal fund contains $211,000 for his entire defense, and donations to it have been slowing, the attorney said.

The man who shot Trayvon Martin has been in jail since last month, when the same judge revoked his bail after prosecutors said that Zimmerman and his wife lied to the court about their finances. 

“By any definition, the defendant has flouted the system,” Judge Kenneth Lester ruled. “But for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people’s money.”

Dull but important:
Libyans vote tomorrow
 to elect a national assembly, their first free ballot in more than 40 years. 

The 200-member congress they elect will appoint an interim goverment and select a committee to write a constitution, which will then be submitted to voters in a referendum.

It’s the first, crucial step toward political stability in Libya – political stability that will, in turn, bring back foreign investment to the country’s most valuable natural resource, its oil. GlobalPost surveysthe prospects for the oil industry in a new Libya.

Just because:
Two former Argentinian dictators have been sentenced to jail for stealing babies.

Jorge Rafael Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, who presided in turn over Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship, were found guilty of overseeing the systematic theft of children born to political prisoners. At least 400 babies are thought to have been taken from their parents and adopted by members of the regime, in an attempt to stamp out the opposition movement.

Bignone and Videla were sentenced to 15 and 50 years, respectively. The sentence all but guarantees they will die in prison: the two men, both in their 80s, are already serving lengthy jail terms for other crimes committed under their rule.

Strange but true:
Did A Farewell to Arms leave you vaguely unsatisfied? Would you have prefered it if they’d all – spoiler alert – lived happily ever after in their Alpine cabin?

Well, it turns out Ernest Hemingway wasn’t entirely sure about the ending either. So not-entirely-sure, in fact, that he wrote it 47 times. Those 47 “what ifs” will be included in a new edition of the novel, to be published next week.

From what we can tell, they’re all pretty much variations on the “we’re all going to die” theme. But fingers crossed, there might be at least one version in which we do so in a full-scale alien invasion.