BREAKING: #UN votes to condemn #Assad Regime as Reuters posts false story on #Syria

was "BREAKING: Syria: FSA suffers defeat in Aleppo as UN votes to condemn Assad Regime"

BREAKING 12:33pm pst - The Reuters story that I suspected was a phony turns out to be exactly that.
Reuters was hacked!!!!!

This just in NY Magazine:

Reuters Hacked, Phony Stories Posted on Syrian Conflict
By Adam Pasick
Today at 2:10 PM

Reuters' website got hacked. Attackers published two phony blog posts that claimed to report on major defeats and setbacks for the rebel Free Syrian Army that is fighting a bloody conflict with the Syrian government.

Several Twitter users and the blog Moon of Alabama noticed at about 10:40 ET that was featuring two blog posts, one stating that "Syrian rebels fighting the forces of Assad have fallen in key districts of their stronghold Salah Al Deen in Aleppo," and a separate interview with the Free Syrian Army's Riad Al-Asaad saying rebels would "withdraw from all Syrian cities due to the huge losses caused upon the soldiers, as well, the betrayals made by rebels, due to in-fighting amongst them, for money and positions."

Reuters blogs, a subset of the company's website that includes writers like Felix Salmon, were taken offline shortly after noon when the company discovered the problem, and remain inaccessible as of 2 p.m. Reuters said in a series of tweets shortly after 1 p.m.: was a target of a hack on Friday. Our blogging platform was compromised and fabricated blog posts were falsely attributed to several Reuters journalists. We are working to address the problem.

A false blog posting, purporting to carry an interview with the head of the Free Syrian Army Riad al-Asaad was illegally posted on a Reuters journalist's blog page on on Friday. Reuters did not carry out such an interview and the posting has been deleted.

Did I call that one right or what? Clearly the Assad propaganda mill knows no limits and has no integrity. Welcome to journalism in the age of Cyberspace.

The United Nations General Assembly has just voted overwhelmingly to condemn the Syrian government and demanded a political transition in Syria. The 193 member General Assembly approved a resolution sponsored by Saudi Arabia with 133 voles in favor, 12 against and 31 abstentions.
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Riad Al Asaad, the top leader of the Free Syrian Army allegedly told Reuters blogger Jeffrey Goldfarb by phone that the Syrian Arab Army of Bashar al Assad has killed 1000 soldiers of the FSA and captured another 1500 in Aleppo. Raid al Assad said the FSA was making what he called a tactical withdrawal from

Aleppo province and would be withdrawing from all Syrian cities due to the heavy losses they were incurring. [I now have reason to question this report - see below.]

While the opposition had been able to expand their hold on Aleppo in the past week from about 40% of the city to about 60%, it has become clear in the past few days that the Assad regime was gearing up for a massive new attempt to retake the city. Yesterday Reuters reported:

Update at 12:46pm pst - This news item, which I did not suspect, also turns out to be a phony story planted by the hacker.

Rebel resistance collapses in key suburbs
By Frederick Kempe

The Syrian rebels fighting the forces of Assad have fallen in key districts of their stronghold Salah Al Deen in Aleppo. This comes hours after the army has announced that it has destroyed the communication network provided by Turkey. Earlier the rebel forces have complained that they are running low on ammunition as the city has been completely surrounded by government forces, coupled with lack of communications, has left the rebels in disarray. Several trucks with mounted heavy machine guns have been destroyed, leading to the deaths of 20 rebels.

According to footage on the ground, the rebel forces in Aleppo have failed to take Aleppo Citadel, contrary to earlier reported news. A journalist on the ground, Hussein Murtada, has reported that an attempt to damage the ancient Citadel’s walls by rebel missiles was repelled by security forces, resulting in the death of General Mustafa Al Sheikh and Abdul Jabar Aqede, field Marshals of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo.

Columns of Syrian tanks were seen entering the city earlier in the day, suggesting that the army was ready to route out all resistance in the western districts which have presence of rebel forces who have evicted residents from the area.

The Israeli news source Haaretz also noted the build up, as well as Assad's latest massacre in Hama:

Syria amasses troops in Aleppo
Assad’s forces prepare for onslaught in Aleppo; earlier, opposition reported 62 dead in massacre in Hama.
By DPA | Aug.03, 2012 | 4:49 PM

Syria on Friday amassed troops in the northern city of Aleppo in preparation for an onslaught on rebel-held areas and the opposition reported a massacre in the central city of Hama.

Opposition activists said more than 62 people, including women and children, were killed in a massacre committed by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad in Hama. The claim by the Local Coordination Committees could not be independently verified.

In Aleppo, Syria's main commercial center, the Syrian army sent more troops and tanks to break a stalemate in fighting with rebels holding out for six days in opposition areas mainly in the east and southwest of the city near the border with Turkey.

"Dozens of trucks loaded with troops and backed by more than 100 tanks are being positioned around Aleppo," Abu Omar al-Halabi, a commander in the rebel Free Syrian Army, told dpa by phone. ...More

As these developments take place the Christian Science Monitor reports many opposition fighters and ordinary Syrians alike are developing a new anti-Americanism because they have concluded that the United States, with its pro-Israeli interests and CIA anti-terrorism relationships, wants to see Assad hang on to power:

Syria's rebels have a new villain: the United States
The US has stepped up its rhetoric against President Assad and is providing covert support to rebels. But for many fighting the Assad regime, it is not enough.
By Scott Peterson, Staff writer / August 2, 2012

For those challenging the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the list of villains has always included the regime's closest allies: Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

But as the death toll rises and Syria marks 17 months and counting of revolt, many in the embattled city of Aleppo say they have added another, perhaps surprising, villain: the United States.

The US is an arch-foe of the Syrian regime. US officials have stated plainly and repeatedly that Assad "must" go. And President Barack Obama earlier this year signed a secret order authorizing clandestine aid to rebel forces, it was reported today.

But in the rebel-held enclave of Salaheddin, guerrilla gunmen and ordinary Syrians alike wonder why the US has not acted to stop the killing by at least ending the Syrian Army's artillery bombardment and imposing a no-fly zone on the helicopters and planes that menace them from the skies.

"We all believe the US and all Western countries want Assad to stay in power," says the coordinator for the Revolutionary Council in Aleppo, who gave his name as Abu Thaier.

"I believe that Syrian intelligence up to this moment is cooperating with the CIA," the wizened revolutionary told the Monitor. "The Westerners are afraid of the destiny of Israel; this is what stops them. Assad takes advantage of that, and says, 'These terrorists [rebels] will go to Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan and we must crush them.'... Western countries gave up on the Syrian people because they believe most demonstrators are Islamists," he says. More...

This popular view of the situation and just which side Israel is on runs complete counter to what FSA leader Riad al-Assad is suppose to have told Reuters blogger Jeffrey Goldfarb. He made some very explosive charges:

In his first “unusual” statement, Riad Al-Asaad said that the Syrian Free Army will withdraw from all Syrian cities due to the huge losses caused upon the soldiers, as well, the betrayals made by rebels, due to in-fighting amongst them, for money and positions. They are expected to re-coordinate in Turkish territory where they have set up secret bases under the close supervision with the Turkish government and the Israeli intelligence service.

Riad Al-Asaad accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of betraying him, dealing secretly with the Syrian regime.

He revealed that Riyadh and Doha has made a secret deal with Damascus to eliminate the Syrian Free Army for investments and privileges in Syria post conflict. Information about all the leaders of the FSA has been passed on according to Riad Al-Assad, who previous promised to pray in Umayyad mosque on the 15th of Ramadan, or August 3rd in the Georgian Calendar.

These rapid developments have all occurred 24 hours and are related to the resignation of UN envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, who has been accused of participating in a “plot already set against the FSA”, Al-Asaad concluded to Reuters via private channels.

Okay, frankly I am starting to get suspicious of these revelations via Jeffrey Goldfarb, the more I look into them even though I have found Reuters to be a very reliable source. First Jeffrey Goldfarb's blog comes with this disclaimer "The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own." Second, this is how they describe him "Jeffrey Goldfarb writes about investment banking and the financial sector. Jeff joined from Reuters in London, where he oversaw European corporate finance coverage. Before that, he led Reuters' reportage on the European media sector, and previously wrote about M&A in New York." His column yesterday in Reuters was about Manchester United and its investors, and today he snags a very provocative breaking news interview with the commander of the FSA. There's something wrong with this picture.

The withdrawal from all of Aleppo province seems extreme. I have expected a withdrawal from Aleppo city as soon as too much of Assad's fire power were brought to bear, but they have had a very firm control in the countryside up to the Turkish border and it would make no sense to give that up unless they were giving up entirely. Also there is this revelation that they are receiving help from Israeli intelligence. Even if it is true, I can hardly see the FSA leadership volunteering that information in an interview as it plays right into the Assad regimes latest propaganda that it is really Israel that is ramrodding the Islamic extremist armed terrorist gangs and would be a scandal for the FSA among the Syrian people.

Not over yet in Aleppo!

In any case, it is clear that the battle for Aleppo is far from over based on the tweets I am seeing at this hour, and Al Jazeera English is standing by their view that the opposition is winning the battle of Aleppo in their latest posting:

Syria rebels 'strengthen hold' on Aleppo
Free Syrian Army claims control of roughly half of country's largest city amid fears of major battle with regime forces.
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2012 14:19

Rebels say they have taken control of more than "50 per cent" of Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial hub where opposition strongholds have been under attack for more than 10 days.

Despite Free Syrian Army (FSA) claims of a strengthening hold on the city, government forces continued on Friday to shell rebel-held areas and bomb them with advanced fighter jets, destroying many residential buildings.

The FSA claims to have consolidated most of its control in the city's east, while also maintaining a grip on central neighbourhoods including Salaheddin and Bab al-Hadid.

When a government security source was questioned about the lack of a ground offensive by the army in Aleppo, he said: "The regime is testing the rebels' defences in order to uncover their hiding places before annihilating them in a major surgical operation."

Meanwhile, a top UN official said on Thursday that the "main battle" for Aleppo is about to start.

Herve Ladsous, UN peacekeeping chief, said after briefing the UN Security Council on the Syrian conflict that UN observers had not yet seen opposition rebels using the tanks and other heavy weapons that they now have.

"The spiral of violence is still increasing," Ladsous told reporters.

"The focus two weeks ago was on Damascus. The focus is now on Aleppo where there has been a considerable build-up of military means and where we have reason to believe that the main battle is about to start," he added. More...

This morning we also have this report from LBC International of new fighting in Damascus:

Syrian troops stormed Damascus's southern district of Tadamon with dozens of tanks, armored vehicles and soldiers, on Friday, in an attempt to win back control of the last rebel stronghold in the capital, a witness and activists said.

Activists said most of the district was under the control of government forces by early evening.

Earlier on Friday, mortars rained down on a crowded marketplace in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital, killing 21 people as regime forces and rebels clashed on the southern outskirts of Damascus, activists said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported the deaths, said the shells hit Yarmouk camp Thursday as shoppers were buying food for the evening meal. The activists would not speculate on who was firing.

The state news agency blamed the bombardment on "terrorist mercenaries" a term the government uses for rebel fighters and said they had been chased away by security forces.

Meanwhile, tens of civilians were killed alongside Syrian opposition fighters in the Arbeen neighborhood, Hama in a military operation of a clandestine nature.

On another note, clashes erupted in the Tadamon neighborhood in Damascus while Aleppo’s Salaheddine neighborhood was subject to shelling. More...

Meanwhile, far from the battlefield, all is confusion at the United Nations as they begin the search for Kofi Annan's replacement and prepare to vote on a new Syria resolution this morning. All this week, Saudi Arabia has been circulation a new General Assembly resolution on Syria. Even though a GA resolution is only advisory and does not carry the weight of the Security Council, some countries objected to the call for Bashar Assad to step down and for sanctions. To secure their votes, Saudi Arabia took those provisions out of the draft resolution which is to be voted upon today. Then late last night, according to Inner City Press, the UN Journal posted a version of the draft resolution that included sanctions and the call for Assad to step down. This version was also emailed out at 8am est by the UN's Department of Public Information, which was relayed to the world by the French Mission. Then, at 9:40am est, less than two hours before the 11am est scheduled vote, the UN sends out this email:

From: Nihal Saad [at]
Date: Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 9:40 AM|
Subject: Press request regard UN Journal link to Syria resolution with sanctions & "Assad-step-down"
To: matthew.lee [at]

Dear Matthew, Obviously it is the wrong version of the draft resolution. The Documentation Control Unit acknowledged their mistake. The right version of the text will be distributed at the GA Hall.

This hardly seems to fix the problem because member states generally make their final decisions based on what is published by the UN the night before, not what is distributed at the assembly.

As usual, more later...

Today from EAWorldView we have this report on Syria:

Syria Live Coverage: Annan Quits, The Mass Killings Do Not
Friday, August 3, 2012 at 12:51 | James Miller

Claimed footage of the aftermath of regime attacks on the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, which killed at least 20 people on Thursday (Warning: Graphic)

1620 GMT: Syria. BBC reporter Ian Pannell is holding a question and answer session on Twitter. So far, here is his most interesting response:

Want to get involved? The BBC has directions here:

1544 GMT: Syria. On Tuesday we posted a report on the capture of leading members of the al-Berri clan, and the execution of their leader, Zaino Berri. Now, we have an ugly video - the "trial" of Zaino Berri. We'll see if we can find a translation at some point.

1530 GMT: Syria/Jordan/Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are sending a convoy of 43 trucks to Jordan to help with Syrian refugees. According to the Saudi officials, the supplies on the trucks are food and medical supplies.

Just a week and a half ago the Saudis announced the creation of a campaign to supply the refugees fleeing Syria, and already the campaign appears to be taking off.

The campaign raised nearly $125 million for the people of Syria. In addition, large quantities of in-kind donations, including foodstuffs, medicines, medical appliances, clothes, tents and blankets have been collected.

1412 GMT: Syria. 90 people have already been killed by Assad forces today, according to the Local Coordinating Committees:

66 martyrs in Hama most of them were killed in the Arbaeen Neighborhood massacre, 10 martyrs in Idlib, 9 martyrs in Damascus and its suburbs, 3 martyrs in Deir Ezzor, 1 martyrs in Homs and 1 martyr in Daraa.

Hama is, obviously, the key location so far, but things are escalating quickly and dramatically in Damascus. Tadamon has been heavily shelled, and the shelling has reportedly escalated since the last report we posted (map). The Jobar district (map) has also been shelled, and the LCC reports "wareplanes" being used, though these are likely rockets fired from a helicopter (this is a linguistic quirk). The really interesting reports, however, are just breaking and are still unconfirmed, accompanied by few details. Several videos were posted in the last few minutes showing smoke rising from Kafer Souseh (map), reportedly the result of the regime's "bombing," though that is not a particularly specific phrase.

1330 GMT: Syria.The Guardian has interviewed a fighter with the Free Syrian Army stationed in Hama. He describes the fighting that has been ongoing for the last two days:

Many soldiers who were guarding checkpoints in Arbaeen, Barazil and Friyia districts defected yesterday. These soldiers had no place to hide after their defection but went to the people living in these neighbourhoods to give them a shelter.

People are in full support of these soldiers and they can't deny them access, so the Syrian army besieged Arbaeen and started to shoot against people. It was like a punishment for people hosting these defected soldiers and FSA men.

The Syrian army used tanks and mortars to attack the neighbourhood and snipers were deployed to control movement on the main streets. They want streets to be empty.

Then they launched a raid on Barazil district and they took most of the men there, suspecting them of being members of FSA. They just knock at the door and as soon as a man shows up they snatch him.

So far, we have 62 martyrs, 45 of them are from Arbaeen...

Arbaeen is in the northernmost tip of Hama city (map), and has long been a hotspot for clashes between the FSA and the regime, and long before that mass protests. Areas north of Hama are contested, and battles and clashes are often reported in the suburbs between Hama and Idlid. Though the regime "controls" Hama, in the sense that the Free Syrian Army is kept in check, popular support in most areas of the city is strongly with the opposition, and the Free Syrian Army appears to be growing increasingly brazen in their resistance in the city and its suburbs.

But the report of mass defection is interesting. Because of the show of force, large-scale defection has not been as frequent in Hama province as it has in Idlib province - yet another trend to watch in the coming days.

James Miller takes over today's coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas and team for taking us to the afternoon.

1219 GMT: Syria. Today's demonstration in Kafarsita in Hama Province:

Maree in Aleppo Province:

1203 GMT: Syria. Shells have been falling fairly regularly in the al Tadamon district of Damascus (map). Various Twitter reports describe the shelling as extremely heavy, and the Local Coordinating Committees report that at least 6 have been killed and 40 injured so far today, all from falling shells and mortars.

The Tadamon district is between the capital and the Yarmouk Palestinian camps that were so heavily shelled yesterday. It's also worth noting that while the more prestigious Midan district is basically under the control of regime forces, the Free Syrian Army has not been dislodged completely from these neighborhoods, and on several occasions raids into the Tadamon/Yarmouk areas have met fairly significant resistance from the FSA.

After yesterday's strikingly high death toll in and around the capital, things don't look significantly better for the residents of Damascus and its suburbs today.

1152 GMT: Syria. The Free Syrian Army has condemned Tuesday's executions of members of the pro-Assad Berri clan in Aleppo.

"We strongly condemn this kind of irresponsible behavior and call on all revolutionary forces and the fighters on the ground to condemn such acts," the FSA's joint command said in a joint statement. It insisted the killings were "unacceptable, isolated and illegal":

These reprehensible acts do not conform with the ethics of the FSA or the Syrian revolution. We respect international laws and conventions, notably the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners.

Earlier in the week, the head of the FSA's military council and a spokesman for the Unification Brigade in Aleppo had justified the executions, saying the Berri clan had broken a truce and killed insurgents.

1138 GMT: Syria. Local activist Mahmoud Nasar has spoken to The Guardian about the regime shelling of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, killing at least 20 people:

This is the worst accident I’ve seen since the start of this revolution. It was a bloody day. There was blood in the street mixing with the water. Women and children were running on the street afraid.

Nasar denied that the Free Syrian Army had attacked the camp, which hosts Palestinian refugees, or that insurgents were in the area.

1102 GMT: Syria. Austin Tice of McClatchy posts interviews with insurgents who attacked Damascus last month:

Rebel fighters who planned and participated in intense fighting in the Syrian capital two weeks ago say they never intended to capture and hold portions of the city. They view the skirmishing, widely seen as a victory for the government, as just the opposite.

“It was an excellent victory,” said Abu Abdullah, a commander in the unit that exercises rebel tactical control over the western half of Damascus. “We accomplished our objectives, gained experience, and had very low casualties. The Free Army is stronger as a result, and the regime is weaker.”

1048 GMT: Syria. A Turkish official said about 1,000 Syrians, including a defecting brigadier general, have fled to Turkey in the past 24 hours.

The official said there are now 45,500 Syrian refugees in Turkey.

1018 GMT: Syria. Kim Sengupta of The Independent writes from Aleppo about regime supporters fearing reprisals by insurgents:

Sitting in a room in his flat darkened by drawn curtains, Abdul Fawaz al-Jais flinched every time he heard shots. He almost jumped when there was loud and prolonged shouting outside. At the sound of a helicopter, however, he raised his head with a look of almost relief.

The reaction was hardly the normal one in "Free Aleppo", where residents have been subjected to attacks from the air from the Syrian regime while at the same time facing regular salvoes of tank and artillery fire on the ground./p>

But Mr al-Jais, unlike his neighbours, was not looking forward to the triumph of the revolution; 20 hours earlier his brother, Ahmed, and cousin, Jassem, had been dragged away and executed by the revolutionaries.

The family are part of the Al-Barre tribe whose militia had entered the fray pledging their loyalty to President Bashar al-Assad. Their first act was an attack on opposition positions near the airport in which 15 revolutionaries were killed, some, it is claimed, shot with their hands tied behind their backs.

The reaction was an assault in the Sher Osman neighbourhood where part of the clan are based, with about a dozen killed and 20 arrested.

1000 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees claim the deaths of 67 people at the hands of security forces so far today, including 62 in the early-morning mass killing in the Arabeen neighbourhood in Hama.

0850 GMT: Syria. Scott Peterson, back from Aleppo, reports on the insurgents who --- despite the evidence of US covert efforts to aid their fight --- see Washington as a backer of the regime:

"We all believe the US and all Western countries want Assad to stay in power," says the coordinator for the Revolutionary Council in Aleppo, who gave his name as Abu Thaier.

"I believe that Syrian intelligence up to this moment is cooperating with the CIA," the wizened revolutionary told the Monitor. "The Westerners are afraid of the destiny of Israel; this is what stops them. Assad takes advantage of that, and says, 'These terrorists [rebels] will go to Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan and we must crush them.'... Western countries gave up on the Syrian people because they believe most demonstrators are Islamists," he says.

0659 GMT: Syria. Rania Abouzeid, who has been posting a series of hard-hitting articles from insurgent-held Saraqeb in Idlib Province, opens her latest piece, "The Cadence of War":

The three little girls crouched in their starting positions, each placing one leg in front of the other, ready to pounce on the count of three: “One, two, three!” their aunt said as the sisters, all under 10, raced some 20 meters to the top of their narrow lane, giggling, before turning around and sprinting back toward their aunt, seated outside their front door. It was a stiflingly warm night, near pitch black. The electricity was out and the family had moved outside, the pleasant breeze providing a little respite from the heat.

Two nights earlier, another family — the Breks — had done the same thing. They lived in another neighborhood in this town of some 40,000 in central Idlib province. The young children were playing outside. Their mother Sakina had just finished boiling tea and was bringing it outside when the rocket landed in their street. She was killed along with three other women from their family. Her young son, no more than eight or nine, was already dead when he reached the Hassan Hospital. His bright red t-shirt was stained a deeper shade by his blood. His baby sister Suheila, dressed in a blue t-shirt and white shorts, her pudgy toddler legs covered in patches of blood, no longer had a face. Her head was an indiscernible mashed up pink blob of flesh and blood.

The Brek family tragedy wasn’t lost on the aunt as she watched her young nieces playing, but faith and fatalism were like soothing balms. “They were sitting here just like us,” she said. “It’s frightening what we have gotten used to. Death will find us if it wants to, if God wills it, but we are changing, becoming harder as human beings.”

0631 GMT: Syria and Turkey. On Thursday, we featured Ali Yenidunya's analysis, "Ankara Looks to Iraq's Barzani Amid the "Kurdish Spring". The Kurdish site Rudaw follows up with news backing Yenidunya's assessment, "Turkey will have 'no red lines' about a settlement, provided the plans dealt with the position of the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD), the Syrian branch of the outlawed Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)":

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Kurdish president Massoud Barzani during a meeting yesterday evening that his government does not oppose Kurdish unity and rights in Syria but warned about the presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria....

Davutoglu who met with Barzani in Kurdistan’s capital city, Erbil, said the Democratic Union Party [PYD], a Syrian Kurdish party, is exploiting the weakening and expected collapse of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for its goals.

Iraq's central government was not impressed. The Foreign Ministry said Davutoglu's visit to Kirkuk was "not appropriate" and an "interference in the internal affairs of Iraq", warning Turkey would "bear the consequences".

0515 GMT: Syria. The headlines in the world's press this morning will be of the resignation of United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan after six months of efforts for a political resolution. Annan's mandate was not due to expire until 31 August but he said that he was leaving now amid difficulties such as "finger-pointing and name-calling" in the UN Security Council.

Our argument, however --- put forward in an audio feature to be posted this morning --- is that Annan's decision is no more than a sideshow. His high-profile six-point plan for a transition and end to violence, set out in April, never had a hope of succeeding. The UN quarrelling was only a secondary reason; instead, the initial barrier --- never lowered --- was the refusal of the Assad regime to pull back forces and cease attacks in Syrian cities.

Meanwhile, Thursday's real headline story was the continuing mass killings. The day started with news of two assaults in Damascus suburbs, Jdeidat Artouz and Yalda, which activists said killed at least 85 people; it ended with claims of more than 50 deaths in the Arbaeen neighbourhood of Hama. The Local Coordination Committees asserted, "Rocket launchers were erected near the roundabout, snipers were deployed atop the surrounding buildings, and...the international road Aleppo-Hama [was] sealed off by tanks."

And medical sources say at least 20 people were killed and 65 wounded on Thursday when Syrian security forces fired three mortar rounds at the Yarmouk camp, home to Palestinian refugees, in Damascus.

Witnesses said the mortars hit a busy street as people were preparing an Iftar meal to break the Ramadan fast.

"I saw it all, I was going to my house when the first round hit the street, people ran to check the damage when the second one hit the same area," a resident said. "Many people were killed immediately."

Yarmouk camp is home to more than 100,000 people.

4:08 PM PT: Corpses in Deir Ez zor are unable to be removed because of Assad regime snipers | 3 August 2012
with English subtitles

Damascus neighborhood Jobar after two bombs from a plane | 3 August 2012

FSA captures brigadier general Husam Haidar, head of Political Security Branch | 3 August 2012

The Telegraph has this article on the Palestinian camp:

Syria: carnage as mortar shells hit Palestinian camp in Damascus
1:23PM BST 03 Aug 2012

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that mortar shells hit the camp on the southern outskirts of Damascus on Friday as President Bashar al-Assad's regime attempts to crush an uprising that erupted almost 17 months ago.

At least 20 people were reported killed after mortars hit a busy street as people were preparing a Ramadan meal at the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in Damascus.

Yarmouk camp is the largest Palestinian refugee community and is home to more than 100,000 people. It is not clear what prompted the shelling.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the Observatory's director, said the shelling occurred as fighting flared between government troops and rebel fighters in the nearby neighbourhood of Tadamun.

5:08 PM PT: Chirldren lead the protest in Aleppo | 4 August 2012

10:05 PM PT: The NY Times has weigh in with its report on the Reuters hack:

Reading the Fake Reuters Reports on Syria
August 3, 2012, 8:19 pm

As my colleague Christine Haughney reports on Media Decoder, Reuters temporarily suspended the operation of its blogging platform on Friday after the news agency said its Web site was hacked and false reports of setbacks for Syrian rebels were posted online.

In a statement, Reuters said, “Our blogging platform was compromised and fabricated blog posts were falsely attributed to several Reuters journalists.” The company said it had no idea who was behind the hacking, but archived copies of two items posted on the news site suggest that they were not written by native English speakers.

One of the fake reports, posted on a blog written by Jeffrey Goldfarb, a commentator on investment banking, appeared under the headline “Riad Al-Asaad: Syrian Free Army Pulls Back Tactically From Aleppo.” According to a copy of the post found in Google’s cache by The Atlantic Wire, the report claimed that the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army had “confirmed on a phone call to Reuters that the regular army killed 1000 soldiers of Free Syrian Army and arrest around 1500.”
Mr. Kempe’s impostor also embedded a YouTube video said to show Syrian government tanks on the move, set to martial music, and made note of a report from a “journalist on the ground, Hussein Mortada.” Mr. Mortada, who is not usually cited by Western news organizations as a credible source of information, is a Lebanese supporter of the Syrian government who runs the Damascus bureau of Iran’s state television channels. He was in the news in April, when a trove of hacked e-mails obtained by The Guardian included what appeared to be a message from Mr. Mortada to a Syrian government media adviser, suggesting a change in strategy. More...

Here are my related diaries on Syria:
BREAKING: Kofi Annan resigns as envoy to Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian diplomat to Armenia defects
BREAKING: Big Explosion hits #Damascus #Syria
UPDATED: Syria's Charge D'Affaires Quits London Post
BREAKING: Ground assault on Aleppo begins!
BREAKING: Protests across Syria in spite of Assad regime violence
ALEPPO: Step outside the Matrix and witness the Horror
UPDATED: US fears massacre in #Aleppo, #Syria
BREAKING: Reports of clashes between Jordan Army & Assad's Syrian army
BRAKING: Obama stops Putin from re-arming Assad in Syria
Syria: Foreign meddling increases as crisis builds
BREAKING: Aleppo, Syria bombed with fighter jets
BREAKING: Syria issues a correction, it has no WMD to use
BREAKING: Arab League asks Assad to step down!
Bashar al-Assad: New images released as slaughter continues in Syria
no blood for oil
BREAKING: Activists report toxic gas attack in Deir ez-Zor, Syria
Glenn Greenwald sees Islamist Terrorism as main issue in Syria
Will Syria's Assad make a chemical attack in Damascus on Saturday?
BREAKING: I know where Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is!
BREAKING: Massive Fire near #Assad's Presidential Palace in #Damascus, #Syria
BREAKING: Is Syria's Bashar al-Assad dead or dying?
BREAKING: Damascus explosion kills Defense Minister, other key figures
The battle for Damascus is coming
BREAKING: General Strike in Damascus
BREAKING: Intense fighting reported in Damascus now!
BREAKING: Syrian defector spills beans as important new defection reported.
Does Syria's Assad have something on Kofi Annan?
Tremseh Massacre in Syria: What we know
BREAKING: ~227 reported massacred by Assad's forces in Tremseh, Syria today!
Syria: Is Assad regime on the verge of collapse?
BREAKING: Russian Warships reported in Syria
BREAKING: #Russia changing on #Assad but not as fast as conditions in #Syria
UN Observers say violence in Syria is ‘Unprecedented’
BREAKING: Defection of major Assad insider reported in Syria
BREAKING: WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million #Syria emails
When did "Never Again" become "Whenever?" | #Douma
BREAKING: Incredible mass rally in Aleppo, Syria today!
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on Syria
My response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout