DAY 333 - FEBRUARY 16, 2012
A major general in the Syrian army, Mustafa Ahmed Al Sheikh, defects to join the rebel cause, thereby bolstering FSA confidence. He says 20,000 soldiers from Assad's military, mostly Sunni Muslims, have defected to the opposition. Russian and China again veto a UN-backed plan for peace resolution, roadblocking all Western intervention possibilities. Anticipating an increase in violence, the United States and United Kingdom pull out their remaining diplomats in Syria, suspending diplomatic relations. Al Qaeda number one, Ayman Al Zawahiri, calls for all Muslims to help overthrow Syrian president Bashar Al Assad. In a related event, two suicide car bombs hit a military complex in Aleppo killing 28 people. Jabhat Al Nusra, a shadowy, Al Qaeda-supported, rebel faction claims responsibility.
Today you learn that Anthony Shadid, The New York Times Middle East correspondent, probably the best journalist in the region, has died. He was running with a group of horses in Syria, not far from where you are staying now, when he had a fatal asthma attack. He couldn't reach medical attention in time. Medical supplies are becoming increasingly scarce in Syria. The Falcons as well as many other brigades have been losing more and more men on account of this. You are in Aleppo at the moment, a city that is becoming more embattled by the day, especially on the outskirts. The provincial areas in the Aleppo Governorate are already locked in combat. You haven't seen Mousa in over a month and you fear he has fled to join a radical Islamist group. Groups like Jabhat Al Nusra, that have ties to Al Qaeda, are growing in popularity in Aleppo and along the eastern front with Iraq as fighter start to entrench themselves into the lifestyle of total war.