Reporter’s Death Puts Focus on Difficulties of Covering a Secretive Syria

By:Brian Stelter

The conflict in Syria has become, for journalists, one of the most difficult and dangerous assignments in many years, with at least five having died while covering the uprising that began there last March.

The refusal of the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, to let foreign journalists move freely around the country has spurred some to sneak in through Lebanon or Turkey at great personal risk. Among them was Anthony Shadid, a foreign correspondent of The New York Times, who had spent nearly a week reporting covertly inside Syria and was on his way back to Turkey when he collapsed and died on Thursday, apparently of an asthma attack. He was traveling with Tyler Hicks, a photographer for The Times.

Journalists from the BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, Al Jazeera English and a small number of other news organizations have managed to enter Syria without visas, like Mr. Shadid and Mr. Hicks did, and bear witness to the lopsided battles between the Assad government and opposition fighters and citizens. Along the way, journalists have confronted a unique combination of challenges, including tenuous cellphone and Internet connections, the absence of a clear front line and the constant threat of being caught by security forces loyal to the Syrian government. Continue reading

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Video: Defection of over 2,500 soldiers

This recently released video reportedly shows the defection of over 2,500 troops in Syria. The soldiers join the Free Syrian Army and pledge to protect and defend the people of Syria until the Assad regime falls.

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Syrian government blocks live video streaming site Bambuser

By: Ryan Devereaux

The Syrian government has blocked a premiere live stream website a day after one of its users broadcast images of a bombing believed to have been carried out by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

The blackout came after a Syrian citizen used Bambuser to stream video of the aftermath of a pipeline bombing in Homs

Bambuser – a mobile live stream service based in Sweden – has been in close contact with activists on the ground in Syria for over eight months. The dissidents use the service to broadcast streaming video of conditions in their country in real time. With foreign media blocked, online citizen journalism has become a crucial medium for telling stories from within Syria’s borders. Bambuser’s executive chairman, Hans Eriksson, says approximately 90-95% of the live video coming out of Syria is streamed through Bambuser.

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Video: Rain doesn’t Stop Protesters

Large crowds turned out after Friday prayers in familiar hotspots where anti-Syrian government sentiment runs high.

Source: CNN

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Momentum Builds for Syria Action Ahead of Tunis Conference

By: Rick Gladstone

Energized by an overwhelming vote of support at the United Nations General Assembly, backers of an Arab League peace plan for Syria said Friday that they were seeking new ways to aid opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to ensure that an international conference in Tunisia next week puts additional pressure on him to relinquish power.

Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja'fari speaks to the United Nations General Assembly after a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Nations General Assembly regarding Syria February 13, 2012 at the United Nations in New York

The diplomatic momentum, seen in high-level meetings in Washington and Paris, came as thousands of anti-Assad Syrians, perhaps also emboldened by news of the General Assembly vote on Thursday, were reported to have demonstrated in the cities of Daraa, Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and the suburbs of Damascus following Friday prayers.

The Local Coordination Committees, an activist group in Syria, reported that pro-Assad forces in those cities as well as the embattled central city of Homs fired on some demonstrators and killed at least 56 people around the country, including 12 military deserters. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another activist group, said 26 people were killed. Continue reading

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Video: Syria’s Civil War

As Syria’s army tears through several cities, the clashes keep spreading and hundreds are dead. NBC’s Bill Neely reports.

Source: MSNBC

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Syria Troops Target Restive Central City, Activists Say

By: Dale Gavlak and Zeina Karam

RAMTHA, Jordan — Syrian refugees fleeing to Jordan for their lives described a dramatic escalation in violence and a mounting toll of dead and wounded in the southern city of Daraa and the country’s battered central region.

This image from amateur video made available by Shaam News Network, purports to show black smoke rising in the air in Homs, Syria, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012.

Medical workers in neighboring Jordan prepared blood donations to send to Daraa, the city where the uprising against President Bashar Assad erupted nearly a year ago, as the regime struggled to extinguish major pockets of dissent with intensive shelling.

Activists said at least 26 civilians were killed Friday, many of them in the rebellious central city of Homs, where shells slammed into rebel-held residential areas. Continue reading

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Video: Walking Through a Deserted Homs


Source: CNN

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Top Obama aide heads to Israel for talks on Iran, Syria

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Barack Obama’s top security aide will visit Israel for two days of talks on regional issues including Syria and Iran, the White House said on Friday.

US National security adviser Tom Donilon

National security adviser Tom Donilon’s trip from Saturday through Monday comes amid tensions over Iran’s nuclear program,
which the West says is aimed at securing weapons capability, but Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes.

U.S. and European officials on Friday voiced cautious optimism over the latest signals from Tehran that it might be willing to resume talks with major powers on the nuclear issue, after the Iranians sent them a letter.

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Syria: All contradictions run through one road!

By: Ali Bluwi

During my participation in a seminar on regional relations, one of the participants asked me about my opinion with regard to the Chinese and Russian positions toward Syria.

Crisis talks: President Assad meets Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov

Two points on this issue. First, if I am for change and for granting the Syrian people their inalienable rights, then I must be against President Assad and his bloody regime. This will also place me in a situation where I should criticize the Russian and Chinese latest positions at the United Nations. Also I should support the Syrian opposition to realize its objectives even if this requires external military intervention. Second, if consider what is taking place in Syria is a matter of an American conspiracy, then I might be supporting the Russian and Chinese position.

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