More than 1000 Syrians stage a protest in Latakia, calling for the execution of a Assad’s cousin, who has been accused of killing an army officer in a road rage incident. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 1,000 people gathered in the city holding up pictures of the victim. The demonstrators call for the execution of Assad’s cousin. They also chanted slogans in support of the president. Syria’s state media did not report the protest, the traffic incident or the reported killing.
A cousin of Syria’s president shoots dead a senior air force officer in a road rage incident according to a monitoring group. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the incident happened when the cousin followed the officer because he overtook him at a crossroads, then swerved the car around, got out and shot him dead. The cousin has not been arrested.
Obama authorizes using air power to defend a new U.S.-backed fighting force in Syria if it is attacked by Syrian government forces or other groups, raising the risk of the American military coming into direct conflict with the regime of Assad. Though the new rules allow Pentagon strikes to defend the U.S.-allied force against any regime attacks, U.S. military officials play down the chances of a direct confrontation. The newly trained force is committed to fighting Islamic State, not the Syrian regime, and won’t be fielded in areas the regime controls. U.S. officials say they believe the regime won’t challenge the new force.
Assad says the Syrian army has been forced to give up areas in order to hold onto more important ones in its fight with insurgents, and the scale of the war means the military faces a manpower shortage.
Sometimes, in some circumstances, we are forced to give up areas to move those forces to the areas that we want to hold onto. We must define the important regions that the armed forces hold onto so it doesn’t allow the collapse of the rest of the areas…Everything is available (for the army), but there is a shortfall in human capacity, Mr Assad said. Despite that, I am not presenting a dark picture.
Assad says increased support from states backing the rebels is the reason for recent setbacks and dismisses the view that Syria is heading towards partition into areas run separately by the Damascus government and armed groups fighting him. He says amnesty for men at home and abroad who have dodged military service will encourage thousands of conscripts who want to join the army but hold back because of penalties.
Syria’s two main opposition groups settle longstanding differences to agree that Assad must step down in any deal to end the country’s conflict. The issue has dogged efforts to get the exiled Syrian National Coalition and the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC), to agree a common platform. The two groups say in a statement after a meeting in Brussels that peace:
can be achieved through a political process undertaken by the Syrians themselves, under the auspices of the UN.
They say they now have:
a fundamental and comprehensive change of the current political regime, including the head of the regime and all its leaders, pillars and security agencies.
agreed a road map for the salvation of Syria, including the basic principles of a political settlement, to be adopted by their respective competent bodies.
Assad orders the release of a revised version of the Koran in order to correct distortion and misleading lessons, announcing the changes on television with the Minister of religious endowments (Awqaf), and members of the Ministry’s Permanent Committee for the Holy Koran Affairs. The new version will contain simplified letters standardised by official accredited standards set by Koranic scholars.
We truly need such acts at this critical stage of distortion and misleading,
Assad sends a personal letter of congratulations to Iranian Supreme Leader, celebrating the occasion of a nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 world powers. Assad calls the nuclear agreement a turning point for Iran. Assad says in a message to Iran;
We are confident that the Islamic Republic of Iran will support, with greater drive, just causes of nations and work for peace and stability in the region and the world…In the name of the Syrian people, I congratulate you and the people of Iran on this historic achievement, This deal provides clear recognition on the part of the world powers of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program
Syria’s U.N. special envoy Mistura says he has won a commitment from the Syrian government to stop shelling the city of Aleppo, before a planned offensive against the city, and that it is up to rebels to also agree to the proposed six-week freeze in fighting. No start date has been agreed. Mistura
The government of Syria has indicated to me its willingness to halt all types of aerial bombing and artillery shelling for a period of six weeks, all over the city of Aleppo.
The U.N. representative of the opposition Syrian National Coalition:
We await a detailed proposal from [Mr.] de Mistura. We’ll study any proposal he puts forward carefully and in detail. The Assad regime’s compliance with any such proposal will be judged by actions, not words. And thus far, his actions have been only brutality and terror.
Judges in the European Union uphold EU sanctions against Mohammad Makhlouf, an uncle of Assad, dismissing his request to be removed from a list of Syrian figures banned from entering the EU and whose assets in the bloc are frozen. The court dismisses an argument that the sanctions breached ‘s right to privacy on the grounds that it prevents him from maintaining his family’s standard of living.
The Council has succeeded in proving that Mr. Makhlouf is a member of the ruling economic class in Syria and it cannot be denied that he maintains links with the regime and has a decisive influence, as a principal adviser, over all the primary circle of rulers of the Syrian regime and, in particular, over his sons…The right to privacy is not intended to protect the individual against a loss of his purchasing power,
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says airstrikes by the Assad government have killed at least 232 civilians in the last two weeks. Among the weapons deployed, the regime has dropped least 401 barrel bombs on rebel-held areas in eight provinces. The regime says that it only uses the weapons against terrorists. A refugee camp in Idlib was hit. A man who says his house in Anadan has been destroyed by barrel bombs three times:
Barrel bombs kill those we love most, they destroy houses, dreams and memories, and leave us without any hope that the killing will ever stop.
The President of Syria takes advantage of the U.S. led coalition combating ISIS forces to advance a crushing force against rebel forces. Changing tactics, the Syrian government scales back in certain areas to focus on key areas, such as the two cities of Damascus and Aleppo. Harmer:
Whereas previously the Syrian regime had some interest or some level of obligation to take direct action against ISIS, to the extent that the American military is now doing this, the Syrians don’t have to do it. If ever there was a time when the Syrian regime had everything lined up for them to do so, this is it. It is in a very favorable position and it’s got the opportunity to execute major offensives around Damascus and Aleppo.
Officials in the House of Commons Library warn that airstrikes against ISIS in Syria may be difficult to justify under international law, despite Cameron’s view that the Assad regime is illegitimate and does not need to give permission for military operations. A briefing paper prepared for Members of Parliament:
Action in Syria will be difficult to justify legally without a request for assistance from the Assad government, and it is unlikely that the West could be seen to be responding to such a request. The British Government has said that any action in Syria will comply with international law, and the most likely way to achieve this would be to claim that military action is for humanitarian purposes, using the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. This remains controversial, however, without a United Nations Security Council resolution to authorise it.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest tells a weekly press briefing that there are protocols in place if potential U.S. airstrikes in Syria against ISIS meet with a response from the Assad government’s air defenses:
There are rules of engagement any time that our men and women in uniform are put into harm’s way. And so there will be rules of engagement that are related to any military orders that the President directs – military actions that the President directs. So I’d refer you to the Department of Defense for a detailed assessment of that. But it won’t surprise you to know that there are contingencies related to self-defense when it comes to these sorts of rules of engagement.
He says that media reporting of the secret Special Forces mission to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages – which ultimately failed – demonstrates President Obama is willing to put boots on the ground if necessary:
But I can say that while I think it is evident to anybody who is paying attention here that that is – indicates the President’s willingness to order the kind of military action that’s required to protect the lives of military – of American citizens, even if it means sending our military into Syria.
Gen. Petraeus says that Obama’s strategy to counter ISIS will likely be successful, although the battle against ISIS in Iraq and Syria take years. ISIS is not as great a threat as Al Qaeda was during the height of the Iraq War:
This is not the kind of Iraq on fire, complete desperation we had during the surge. [ISIS] has nowhere the roots and the structure of al-Qaida in Iraq.
The formation of a more inclusive government will address sectarian tensions:
It’s a new Iraqi government now. There’s new hope, there’s outreach.
This could be vital in ensuring the strategy is a success, as ISIS capitalized on sectarian divisions and chain-of-command vulnerabilities when routing the Iraqi military in the group’s initial offensives:
The third failing was the population was not happy with sectarian and loyalist leaders.
In Syria, opposition to ISIS is less cohesive and the Assad regime may have to be removed before a credible force can be assembled against ISIS:
This is going to be years, not months.
The Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons says it has ‘compelling confirmation’ that chlorine gas was used in fighting between regime forces and rebels in three rebel-held northern villages earlier this year. It says chlorine – a toxic gas that is not specifically classified as a chemical weapon – was used ‘systematically and repeatedly’ in fighting in the villages of Talmanes, Al Tamanah and Kafr Zeta. As chlorine is not strictly classified as a chemical weapon, the government is not required to report stockpiles of the gas. The Assad government and rebel groups have both accused each other of using chlorine in the villages.
Ban says Assad can participate in the international coalition being assembled to fight ISIS by seeking a political solution to the crisis in Syria:
He (Assad) can play a role through ending the crisis as soon as possible and engaging in political dialog.
He says that agreement is important on outside intervention in Syria, but stops short of saying that airstrikes against ISIS would need approval from Assad:
I know that some leading countries are trying to discuss the matter, and the position of the U.N. will be declared at the suitable time. But it is important that the international community is united and shows strong support for any action that has to be taken to root out this terrorism.
The head of the Syrian group considered the strongest opponent to ISIS and the Assad government is killed at its headquarters in the northwestern town of Ram Hamdan in Idlib province. A suicide bomber infiltrates a meeting of leaders of Ahrar al-Sham (The Islamic Movement of Free Men of the Levant), killing its commander Hassan Aboud, also known as Abu Abdullah al-Hamwi. A statement from the group says 11 other leaders were killed. The Assad regime doesn’t typically conduct suicide bombings, but they are a common tactic among extremist rebel groups such as ISIS and Al-Nusra Front. Tweet from Islamic Front, the coalition led by Ahrar al-Sham:
They were martyred … in an explosion inside their meeting headquarters
Airstrikes by the Syrian military targeting ISIS in its stronghold city of Raqa kill at least 53 people. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman:
We have documented the deaths of 31 civilians, among them five women and three children, in Raqa and its surroundings.
Another 15 militants are confirmed dead in a string of eight air strikes, as well as seven other unidentified people. Eight of the civilian victims are from one family.
Syrian air force helicopters are reported to drop barrel bombs on a taxi stand in the city of Aleppo, killing at least 12 civilians including a child. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:
Twelve civilians, among them a child, were killed, and five others seriously wounded after helicopters launched two explosive-laden barrels against the Haidariyeh district.
A resident of the area:
I saw the bodies. They were workers, people who were simply trying to find a way to put bread on the table… You can see the human remains.
A man who had volunteered to help rescue survivors:
Taxi drivers gather here to transport workers and goods… There were no rebels here.
Assad regime airstrikes on an ISIS-operated training camp and bakery in Raqqa kill 25 people. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says militants and civilians are among the casualties. ISIS operates a variety of assets in Raqqa – the capital of the self-styled Islamic State’s caliphate – including courts, a central bank and an administrative system.
A report compiled by the Syrian Network for Human Rights says the Assad regime has tortured 5,281 people to death since the start of the uprising in 2011. It says the tortured include 94 children and 32 women, who died as a result of being tortured in jail. In August alone, the regime tortured 243 people to death, it says.
The U.S. and UN remain concerned that the Assad regime still has stocks of chemical weapons. U.S. envoy to the UN Security Council Samantha Powers, after a briefing on U.S. ship Cape Ray’s completed destruction of Syria’s most dangerous declared chemicals and discussed plans to destroy the remaining chemical weapons production facilities:
I want to stress that much more work still needs to be done on Syria’s chemical-weapons program. We must ensure that the Syrian government destroys its remaining facilities for producing chemical weapons within the mandated time frames and without the repeated delays by the Assad regime that plagued earlier removal efforts.
Sigrid Kaag, UN special coordinator on the joint mission to eliminate Syria’s declared chemical-weapons program, says that all of the country’s primary chemical weapons have been destroyed but 12 weapons production facilities have yet to be decommissioned, and there are questions over the regime’s original declaration:
There are still some discrepancies or questions that are being asked. It’s a discussion that’s continuing in Damascus as well as the Hague.
Cameron says the UK could take action including launching airstrikes without approval from the Assad government as the regime has no legitimacy under international law:
President Assad is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Assad’s brutality gave credence to IS [Islamic State]
He says problems with governance in Iraq also led to the group’s rise there:
… There was an Iraqi government that was standing up for the Shias and not the Sunnis and the Kurds that again left a space for this poisonous organisation to fill
Asked whether a pragmatic deal with Assad is needed in the face of the greater ISIS threat:
In the past just simply saying ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ has led to all sorts of moral quagmires and difficulties. Assad has been part of the creation of Islamic State rather than being part of its answer.
Assad swears in the new government of Syria. He says security and reconstruction will be top priorities, urges ministers to tackle corruption, and says the new government must ‘provide a new vision’ and avoid the ‘negatives of the previous stage.’ The government includes 11 new ministers, with most of the changes in portfolios related to finance and the economy. Voting for the new cabinet took place only in districts under government control. While the security situation remains dire, he says this cannot stand in the way of national unity:
This issue is being addressed by the defence ministry and the army… At the same time, it is important to continue with national reconciliation.
Assad wins in presidential poll securing 88.7% of the vote. The victory gives Assad a third seven-year term in office. Parliament speaker:
I declare the victory of Dr Bashar Hafez al-Assad as president of the Syrian Arab Republic with an absolute majority of the votes cast in the election.
On a visit to Lebanon, Secretary of State Kerry declares the Syrian election meaningless and says it will have no impact on U.S. policy. Kerry says the United States continues to support a political solution to the Syrian crisis and announces a contribution of $290 million in humanitarian aid.
The elections are non-elections. A great big zero. Nothing has changed between the day before the election and after.
A cousin of Assad is killed fighting militants along the Turkish border. Hilal al-Assad founded the National Defence Army of pro-government civilians fighting alongside the Syrian army, and is the head of the group. Rebel faction Jaish al-Islam issues a statement claiming responsibility for the killing:
The first rocket was fired around 7:15pm, followed by another five minutes later. The rockets targeted a house where Hilal was holding a meeting with other members of the National Defence Army.
The UN’s human rights chief says an inquiry has produced evidence that war crimes are authorised in Syria at the highest level, including by President Assad. Commissioner Pillay says her office holds a list of others implicated by the inquiry. Pillay:
[The enquiry has produced] massive evidence… [of] very serious crimes, war crimes, crimes against humanity. The scale of viciousness of the abuses being perpetrated by elements on both sides almost defies belief. [The evidence indicates responsibility] at the highest level of government, including the head of state
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Mekdad is dismissive of Pillay’s remarks.
She has been talking nonsense for a long time and we don’t listen to her.
Assad pledges to continue fighting terrorist violence and urges foreign countries to end support for his enemies while also offering a national dialogue and a constitutional referendum to end Syria’s crisis. Assad uses an hour-long speech in Damascus to propose what he calls a comprehensive plan that includes an expanded government. He refers to plots against his country and the role of al-Qaida, long-portrayed as the leading element in the uprising.
We are now in a state of war in every sense of the word, This war targets Syria using a handful of Syrians and many foreigners. Thus, this is a war to defend the nation.
Assad also thanks Russia, China and Iran for supporting Syria in the face of hostility from the US, Britain and France.
Sources in the Persian Gulf tell Reuters that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have set up a secret ‘nerve centre’ near the Turkish border with Syria to direct military aid and communications to Syrian rebels fighting the government. Doha source:
It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom. The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes.
The centre is located in the southern Turkish city of Adana, about 100 km (60 miles) from the border, and was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it. The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations.
European Union states impose sanctions on Assad’s wife, Asma. Foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on also impose asset freezes and bans on travel to the EU on several other family members including Assad’s mother, and bans European companies from doing business with two additional Syrian entities. EU diplomat:
She is on the list. It’s the whole clan,
Because the Syrian first lady is a British national she cannot be prevented from entering the UK, but she cannot enter then other 26 EU states.
U.N. envoy Annan meets with Assad in Damascus during a mission trying to bring a halt to fighting and arrange talks between the two sides to end the country’s conflict. Assad tells Annan that any political dialogue is doomed to fail
as long as there are armed terrorist groups that work to spread anarchy and destabilize the country,
The regime blames terrorists acting out a foreign conspiracy for the uprising, not protesters seeking change. The opposition rejects dialogue, saying it is impossible to talk to Assad’s regime.
In an interview with Walters, Assad denies he is responsible for the violence engulfing his country and distances himself from the behavior of his armed forces.
They are not my forces. They are forces for the government. I don’t own them. I’m president. I don’t own the country. So they are not my forces…Every brute reaction was by an individual, not by an institution, that’s what you have to know, There is a difference between having a policy to crack down and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference. We don’t kill, It’s impossible for anyone in this state to give orders to kill. No government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person,
Turkey’s prime minister Ergodan calls on the Syrian president to step down.
For the welfare of your own people and the region, just leave that seat…If you want to see someone who has fought until death against his own people, just look at Nazi Germany, just look at Hitler, at Mussolini, at Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, If you cannot draw any lessons from these, then look at the Libyan leader who was killed just 32 days ago in manner none of us wished and who used the same expression you used.
King Abdullah becomes the first Arab leader to openly say President Assad should stand down, urging Assad to begin talks on an orderly transition of power and warning there will be more of the same if whoever replaces him does not change the status quo.
If Bashar has the interest of his country [at heart] he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life. That’s the only way I would see it work and I don’t think people are asking that question.
Assad issues a presidential decree ordering the establishment of diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon and announcing the opening of an embassy-level diplomatic mission in Beirut. Following the announcement, the Lebanese Foreign Minister says he will visit damascus to finalize the agreement
Tomorrow I will be in Damascus to meet with my colleague [Syrian Foreign] Minister Walid Moallem…to finalize the necessary measures to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries…My visit will be a crown to the excellent relations between the two countries,
Syrian President Bashar Al Assad warns that foreign intervention in his country’s violent uprising could trigger an earthquake that would burn the whole region.
Any action against Syria will have greater consequences [on those who carry it out], greater than they can tolerate. First, because of Syria’s geopolitical location and second [because of] Syrian capabilities. They know part of it but they do not know the other parts and they will not be able to afford the results.
Assad says calls for his resignation by US and EU are not even worthy of a response, adding that he is appointed by the Syrian people, not by the West.
President Obama says the regime’s actions against pro-democracy protesters have cost it all legitimacy.
The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing and slaughtering his own people, We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.
UK Prime Minister Cameron, French president Sarkozy and German chancellor Merkel, as well as the EU also demand Assad immediately resign.
Our three countries believe that President Assad, who is resorting to brutal military force against his own people and who is responsible for the situation, has lost all legitimacy and can no longer claim to lead the country. We call on him to face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people and to step aside in the best interests of Syria and the unity of its people.
Canada imposes sanctions on Syria in reaction to the ongoing government crackdown on pro-democracy activists. Foreign Affairs Minister Baird says four more senior officials of Assad’s regime are banned from travelling to Canada. In addition, the assets of the Commercial Bank of Syria and telecom company SyriaTel are frozen, and Canadians are prohibited from making transactions with these companies.
To isolate the Assad regime, Canada is taking measures to extend its existing sanctions against the regime and its backers. The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing Syrian men, women and children just to stay in power. This campaign of terror must stop.
Washington freezes the U.S. assets of Assad and six other senior officials for human rights abuses. The sanctions also bar American individuals and companies from dealing with the officials, which include the vice president, the prime minister, the interior minister, the defence minister, the head of military intelligence and the director of the political security directorate. US Treasury spokesperson:
The actions the administration has taken today send an unequivocal message to President Assad, the Syrian leadership, and regime insiders that they will be held accountable for the ongoing violence and repression in Syria…President al-Assad and his regime must immediately end the use of violence, answer the calls of the Syrian people for a more representative government, and embark upon the path of meaningful democratic reform,
Syria’s government passes a law to lift the country’s state of emergency as protests against the rule of Assad continue. The state security court is abolished while a law allowing peaceful protests is approved. The repeal of the emergency law is a key demand of protesters.
[The people should] refrain from taking part in all marches, demonstrations or sit-ins under any banner whatsoever. [If demonstrations are held] the laws in force in Syria will be applied in the interest of the safety of the people and the stability of the country.
During his official state visit to Tehran, Assad receives Iran’s highest national award in recognition of his support for the Palestinians, Lebanon, and his “rejection of global arrogance”. In a ceremony broadcast on Iranian state-run television, Ahmadinejad presents Assad with the Islamic Republic’s Medal of Honor. Ahmadinejad:
We are two governments and nations that are brothers. If it were not for Syria’s resistance against the Zionist regime [Israel] and its supporters, no country in our region would have remained safe from the Zionists’ aggression and there would be no sign of Palestinian resistance…Re-invigorating the front of resistance will not only persuade other countries and nations to join the front, but also pave the ground for the consolidation and stabilization of peace in the region…Syria is a benefactor to Muslims, Arabs and even to humanity.
Assad overwhelmingly wins another seven-year term of office, in a ballot in which he is the only candidate. Political opposition groups are banned unless they are attached the Baath Party. The interior ministry says he wins the backing of more than 97% of Syria’s 12 million voters. The ministry says the turnout is enormous, but gives no figures. Minister:
This great consensus shows the political maturity of Syria and the brilliance of our democracy.
Assad and Asma Akharas marry in a secret ceremony in Damascus. No pictures are taken.
The Syrian president al-Assad dies in Damascus of a heart attack. He is survived by four of his five children. His dynastic guidelines pass succession to his son, Bashar al-Assad.