CNN inside Syria: A bloody mess could get messier
CNN's Ivan Watson reports from a battle-scarred Syrian town where the civilian population has fled.
July 27th, 2012
10:04 AM ET

CNN inside Syria: A bloody mess could get messier

As the months-long violence in Syria engulfs two key cities, Damascus and Aleppo, CNN's Ivan Watson has been traveling through villages in the area. He and the crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Check out more from CNN inside Syria.

Below is an edited Q&A about what Watson has seen and heard in rebel-controlled towns near Aleppo:

CNN: We're hearing that one community in Syria - the ethnic Kurds - are beginning to take matters into their own hands. They're breaking with the regime. What are you seeing? What are the signs that this could impact the entire conflict?

WATSON: It could definitely complicate matters. The Kurds make up about 10 percent of the population, long-oppressed, even denied citizenship by the al-Assad regime. But they've largely sat out this uprising for about the past 16, 17 months. In the last week, we've seen one of the strongest of the Kurdish political factions, which is closely affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, claiming control over a number of Kurdish communities.

Today, we drove through one of those Kurdish villages and went through a Kurdish/PKK checkpoint. They're armed guys with shotguns. They had the PKK flag. The trouble is, the PKK is the sworn enemy of Syria's neighbor to the north, Turkey. And Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, issued a threat. He said that if what he considers a terrorist organization sets up mini-statelets along the Turkish border with Syria, then that could give cause for Turkey to intervene militarily into Syria and vastly complicate what is already a great big bloody mess.

More: Faces of the Free Syrian Army

CNN: From the rebels you're with and talked to, do they think this is going to be a long, drawn-out war, or do they see indications that there's been a tipping point and that the handwriting is on the wall, that it might take weeks, might take months, but for all practical purposes, they think they're going to win?

WATSON: It certainly already has been a long, and drawn-out struggle, 17 months, the deaths of at least 15,000, 16,000 people.

Depending on who you talk to, some are very optimistic, particularly after a big bomb went off in Damascus last week and killed four top security chiefs. But the inroads that the rebels made into the capital, Damascus, last week have kind of faded as a result of the very strong Syrian military counterattack.

And now I think the rebels see that Aleppo, the second city, the commercial city, is the linchpin. That's why they're throwing apparently all their manpower in the north of the country into the struggle for control of that city.

More: Syria's 'Street of Death'

CNN: What have you seen in the villages around Aleppo?

WATSON: One town we've been in was utterly devoid of the civilian population. They've all fled. That town is totally battle-scarred. We saw at one point a helicopter circling overhead coming from the direction of Aleppo and definitely making fighters nervous as it circled overhead.

They don't really have the weaponry to battle Syrian government aircraft, though we were shown a surprising amount of heavy weaponry that the rebels have captured. Vehicles with mounted mortars that can shoot 120-millimeter rounds that also have anti-aircraft guns. One fighter claimed he'd shot down a helicopter a couple weeks ago, even captured armored personnel carriers.

These are not the rebels I saw four months ago. These guys now have much heavier weaponry. But unlike Libya, these guys don't go running around shooting their guns off in the air to show off. They don't have enough bullets to do it. They're saving it for the real battle.

With the rebels: Guns, mortars - and mansions

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Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria • World
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. bobcat (in a hat)©

    @ chrissy

    I don't know where that all came from. Did you see what he wrote about me on one of those Syria blogs ? He was talking to saywhat and called me a class clown (which I take as a compliment) and said I needed to wear a dunce cap. So I left him a little message in return. Maybe he'll get the hint that we don't care. I've got no room in my life for haters.

    July 27, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      Correction, it was on the first page of this blog.

      July 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat (in a hat)©

    @ dazzle ©

    Well I'm glad to hear you are going to get some rest now. I'm going to let my them take the wheel for this weekend and I'll jump back in next week.
    Give my 'daughter' a big hug for me when she gets home.

    July 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      You mean 'our' daughter, don't you, Rawr? Lol...

      July 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      @bobcat (in a hat)© and @banasy, she will get a gigantic hug from me for you. Since she is on the outs with her Dad, you better watch out. You too @banasy! Having my mini me back home could be catastrophic if you get my drift.

      July 27, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      Pardon me. Yes I meant our daughter.

      July 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Bciah, we get to share the pain equally, darlin'!

      July 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Free Syria now

      Free Syria.. and Tibet.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    @ Bobcat, i sure did. Thats what i meant, hes jealous cuz youre funny and hes NOT, people really like you where as people really dislike him! I wouldnt sweat the small stuff if it were me. 😉

    July 27, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      Ok @bobcat(iah) and @banasy, I just got a call from your daughter and she is just 2 hours away. She decided to drive home a day early. There goes my plans for tonight.

      July 28, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      @ dazzle ©

      It never fails does it ? The best laid plans always seem to get stepped on. But I know you can't wait.

      July 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    Wow, this must be a good sign, there is the biggest brightest rainbow outside my window.

    July 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      @ chrissy

      Just don't go flying over that rainbow. lol Oh, and if you look at the bottom, you'll see the response I left for he who shall not be named. They obviously removed his post.

      July 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Foiled again, lol....

      July 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    lol bobcat, i saw it and i absolutely loved it! YOU ROCK! Lmfao. And dude i can barely walk so i doubt ill be flying anytime soon!!

    July 27, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Southern mom


    July 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hope

    JUST read the rebels have the stronghold,
    if help doesn't come there will be blood
    on our hands... Waaaaay too much blood.

    Where are you, that he can't see you?


    July 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hope


      Let it be now!

      The man who would be king...

      His Generals are circling!

      Turn, Turn, Turn....

      Allepo, let us be Allepo.


      Also read Annon just made a blunder, today...
      Made himself look a lot like a dictator, himself!
      Is there any hope for them?

      July 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hEy

    hEy! How about if Uncle Sam arms Syria's Kurds! Wait. Uncy tried that in Iraq. Iraq's army trounced the Kurds. What to do, what to do.

    July 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hope

      You provide them with air cover...
      like we promised.

      July 28, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trace

      Glad you got that memo, hEy.

      July 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hope

    Talking to a MOOSE?

    Thanks, but, no...


    July 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hope


      If you cancel the post of a talking moose, please, cancel my reply... please?

      July 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hope

    There is (was) or will be a tremendous ROAR

    July 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. the 1 prophet

    people wake up the CIA is in the back stage !!!!!

    July 28, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    @ Dazzle, give TORI my best.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mick

    WATSON: It certainly already has been a long, and drawn-out struggle, 17 months, the deaths of at least 15,000, 16,000 people.

    That's what you get when an incompetent coward is in the white house. The sheeple still believe propaganda telling them the US isn't involved. Oh, the US is involved alright, but in an ineffective and cowardly way due to Obama's priorities:

    1)Get re-elected
    2)Get re-elected
    3)Get re-elected
    4)Liquidate all borders into New World Order.
    5)Become famous again, to soothe bruised ego.

    The US has never had a bigger weasel in the white house, nor a bigger liar, and considering Bush was before him, that's saying something.

    July 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. urdumb

    So the comment section is the new catch up with old friends section? Time to move out of mamas basement losers..

    July 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Um, yeah

      Um, yeah, so? What do you have to say that's so very important?

      July 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
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