Syria Update, January 14-15, 2014. Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur

The violence continues in Syria unabated even when it has disappeared from most headlines…


Syria Update, January 14-15 2014.  (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies.  By Sherifa Zuhur)

Tuesday’s death toll:  183 killed including 40 civilians, and of those 7 were children.

UN aid teams abandoned delivery of aid to Yarmouk after the Syrian government insisted that it use a dangerous route to the southern entrance of Yarmouk.

At least 10 and perhaps as many as 26 people were killed Wednesday morning in a car bomb in Jarablous in Aleppo province  attributed to ISIS



Starvation as a weapon of war in Yarmouk (and elsewhere)


SANA reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad today (Wednesday) in Damascus Syria.  The two have been speaking about the United Nations conference scheduled for next week in Montreux, Switzerland.  In the meeting Assad slammed Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia.

John Kerry’s message to…

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A Tale of Two Syrian Daughters


Nada struggles to sleep amid the rapid and consistent blasts of artillery shelling and gunfire, a noise that has become commonplace in her Damascus neighborhood. She compares her life to Afaff’s, a friend who just called her a month after being smuggled into Holland.

“Why Holland?” Nada asks her friend. “Were you heading to Sweden?”

Afaff tells her it was easier to reach Holland. “The phone disconnected, reminding me that I was in Damascus where everything is inadequate,” Nada quips.

Her cell phone beeps again. There is a message from Afaff: “My trafficker advised that it would be better to change my destination to Holland where my family can join me easily.”

Holland may be an odd destination for a Syrian asylum-seeker, but for Afaff, the story is different. She found work with a Syrian-Dutch family that had migrated over four decades ago. Afaff feels at home with them and…

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Syria Update, November 25, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)


Syria Update November 25, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: 200 were killed on Friday (11/22/13) including 49 civilians

At least 160 opposition fighters were killed over two days (Saturday and Sunday) in an effort to break the regime siege on areas of southern Damascus. No estimates given on regime soldiers casualties, as yet.

11 deaths reported in Aleppo today.

Reaction from the opposition on the planned Geneva II talks

11,420 children have been killed in Syria:

The Free Syrian Athletes Union mourned the death of Mustafa Al-Nakdali, Syrian wrestling champion, killed while fighting alongside opposition forces against regular troops in the eastern Al-Ghouta, in Rif Dimashq on Sunday.

Iranian fighters are shown here in Syria (along with fingers of the cameraman). You can briefly hear them communicating in Farsi.

Sunday, An assassination attempt on Syria’s Reconciliation Minister, Ali…

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Syria Update, May 7, 2013 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)


Syria Update May 7, 2013. (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Monday’s death toll: 130 Syrians were killed yesterday including 37 civilians, 48 opposition fighters, and 29 regular soldiers

Internet connections in Syria were cut off today. Many websites were unreachable. It is thought that the government has initiated the shut-down.

Syria’s Children:

Anthony Cordesman of CSIS discusses Syria’s air defense capabilities in light of Israel’s recent attacks.

Video of the Israeli airstrikes on Syria

Here a commander speaks about the need to cleanse Baniyas of the Sunnis who support the revolution . Note the shaykh seated to his left.

Important report on religious freedom in Syria in light of the conflict.

Refugees and Relief:
The UN Humanitarian office said the number of internally-displaced Syrians has reached 4.25 million. The numbers doubled over last month.

Riots take place and there…

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On “Hearsay” vs. Casualties – Sherifa Zuhur


Yes, the Israeli airstrikes deserve some extended comment but they may not signal that further military intervention is forthcoming.
But first I want to address the issue of casualties and their accuracy.

Recently, an old friend commented on my feed that reports of Syrians killed were “hearsay.” I found that terribly insulting and misleading, as I’ve been following casualties by governorate on a daily basis since the SOHR and the LCCs and other news outlets began reporting them and issued daily reports from July of last year. I gave up issuing daily reports this spring (because not enough people read them, they’re time-consuming to write, & I have other responsibilities) and moved to weekly ones. I am careful to report “unconfirmed” or “conflicting” per casualties, but please, “old friends” let’s not confuse SANA or Press TV with accurate reports of deaths in Syria.

For ex. there are currently unconfirmed reports…

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Hidden Cities

In 1925 the French bombed Damascus from the air for 48 hours, killing nearly 1,500 people and leveling whole historic neighborhoods. It was twelve years before the Luftwaffe destroyed a town in northern Spain for Franco. Fifteenth century architecture was reduced to rubble – one contemporary photograph shows the ornate wall of a courtyard house teetering around ruins, its doorways opening up to a pile of stones.



Druze farmers in the Jebel Hauran south of Damascus had taken down a French surveillance plan in July and by the fall their rebellion ballooned to a widespread Syrian-Arab nationalist revolt against the French. The Druze had been “transferred”…

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A Wintry Day in Damascus: Syrian Stories available in NYC bookstores


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Dear Friends and Readers,

A Wintry Day in Damascus: Syrian Stories is now available for purchase at Book Culture books, located at 536 W 112th St, New York, NY 10025 (212) 865-1588. A limited number of signed editions of the book are available at a special discount price.

You may also find copies at Shakespeare & Co. 939 Lexington Avenue (at 69th Street), New York, NY 10065 (212) 570-0201, and at McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012 (212) 274-1160.

Support your local book stores! If you do not live in the NYC area, print and Kindle versions are available on

As ever, all proceeds from book sales will go toward humanitarian relief for Syrian refugees (outside of Syria for the moment, as there is some debate about the availability of funds for Syrians inside Syria donated by international not-for-profict agencies, many of which are required to operate under the authorization of the national government. It is kind of like asking the fox to grant you access to the hen house). So far the charities I have supported include the UNHCR, the ICRC, Handicap International, and a few direct humanitarian and medical initiatives in Syria itself. Every little bit of assistance can help.