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Thread: Syria

  1. #301
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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/afp/a...umanity/524370

    Amnesty accuses Syria of crimes against humanity
    June 14, 2012

    Amnesty International on Thursday accused Syria of committing crimes against humanity to punish communities supporting rebels, as monitors reported a spate of car bombs and clashes which killed dozens more people.

    The London-based rights group called for an international response after claiming it had fresh evidence that victims, including children, had been dragged from their homes and shot dead by soldiers, who in some cases then set the remains on fire.

    "This disturbing new evidence of an organised pattern of grave abuses highlights the pressing need for decisive international action," said Amnesty's Donatella Rovera on the release of the 70-page report entitled Deadly Reprisals.

    The advocacy group interviewed people in 23 towns and villages across Syria and concluded that government forces and militias were guilty of "grave human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes."

    The allegations came as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more than 14,400 people have been killed in Syria in the 15-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, including 2,302 in the past month alone.

    "There have been 14,476 people killed since March 2011, among them 10,117 civilians, 3,552 soldiers and 807 army defectors," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Observatory, told AFP.

    Early Thursday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed vehicle in a Damascus suburb, wounding 14 people and damaging one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines, state media and witnesses reported.

    The official news agency SANA reported that the bomb exploded in a garage some 50 metres (yards) from the Sayyida Zeinab shrine and that "the terrorist who carried out the operation was killed."

    An AFP photographer at the site said the shrine's windows were shattered by the force of the blast, while parts of the mosaics on the shrine's two minarets broke off.

    The Sayyida Zeinab mausoleum houses the tomb of the prophet Mohammed's granddaughter and the site is extremely popular with Shiite pilgrims, especially from Iran, a staunch ally of the regime in Damascus.

    Also early Thursday, car bomb in Idlib city in northwestern Syria targeted a military checkpoint, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that a number of soldiers were killed or wounded in the blast.

    No further details were immediately available.

    The Observatory said meanwhile that clashes between regime troops and rebels erupted early morning in the central city of Homs, where four people were killed before dawn, including three civilians and a rebel fighter.

    Ahmed Bahbouh, the head of the rebel military office in Rastan and a leading dissident figure, was killed in violent clashes with government forces in Homs province, the watchdog added.

    And a civilian was killed in crossfire as rebel fighters and government troops clashed at the entrances of the rebel-held town, which the regime has been trying to overrun for months.

    In the southern city of Daraa, five people were killed before dawn, including four in the neighbourhood of Tareek al-Sad which was heavily shelled by regime troops, the Observatory said.

    On the diplomatic front, a mistranslation Wednesday of remarks made in Tehran by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov threatened to further heat a diplomatic row between Russia and the United States.

    Lavrov was quoted in Iranian media as accusing the US of supplying weapons to rebels who are battling the regime.

    Russia's foreign ministry later insisted that Lavrov had been speaking about US weapons supplies "in the region."

    Washington and Moscow are already at swords drawn after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday she had information that Russia was sending attack helicopters to Syria, "which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."

    Lavrov responded to her comments during a brief visit to Iran by saying that Russia was supplying "anti-air defence systems" to Damascus in a deal that "in no way violates international laws."

    Clinton later Wednesday stood firm on her call for an end to arms shipments, at a news conference in Washington.

    "I was very clear yesterday about our concerns regarding the continuing military relationship between Moscow and the Assad regime," Clinton said.

    "We have repeatedly urged the Russian government to cut these military ties completely and to suspend all further support and deliveries," she added.

    China meanwhile said on Thursday it disapproved of "one-sided" sanctions and pressure on Syria after France raised the prospect of a new raft of punitive measures against Assad's regime.
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  2. #302
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    Default Re: Syria

    First Published: 2012-06-14


    Arming Syria: Russia's Lavrov ‘lost in translation’


    Washington, Moscow trade accusations over arming rivals in Syrian conflict.


    Middle East Online

    'We do not supply -- neither to Syria nor anywhere else -- things used to fight peaceful civilians'

    DAMASCUS - Washington and Moscow traded accusations on Wednesday over arming the rivals in the Syrian conflict, as Damascus said it had "cleansed terrorists" from Al-Haffe, a Sunni enclave feared to be the target of a new massacre.

    On the ground, meanwhile, at least 50 people were killed as troops and rebels clashed across the country, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    Due to what Moscow said was a mistake in translation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared at first to accuse the United States of supplying weapons to rebels who are battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday she had information that Russia was sending attack helicopters to Syria, "which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."

    But Lavrov told a news conference during a brief visit to Iran that Russia was supplying "anti-air defence systems" to Damascus in a deal that "in no way violates international laws."

    "That contrasts with what the United States is doing with the opposition, which is providing arms to the Syrian opposition which are being used against the Syrian government," he said, in remarks translated from Russian into Farsi by an official interpreter.

    Other media, including Iran's official IRNA news agency, published the same accusation, in what appeared to be the first time Moscow had directly pointed the finger at Washington.

    But in Moscow, the foreign ministry said Lavrov's statement was mistranslated and that the minister had only said Washington was supplying arms "in the region."

    The White House, meanwhile, denied arming Syria's opposition.

    "We do not and have not supplied weapons to the Syrian opposition," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

    Russian news agencies offered a different version of Lavrov's comments.

    "We do not supply -- neither to Syria nor anywhere else -- things used to fight peaceful civilians, unlike the United States, which regularly supplies such special equipment to this region," Lavrov was quoted as saying.

    "Just recently, one such shipment was made to one of the Persian Gulf nations. But for some reason, the Americans treat this as par for the course," Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.

    For her part, Clinton stuck by the concerns she had expressed on Tuesday about the "continuing military relationship between Moscow and the Assad regime," adding that "we have repeatedly urged the Russian government to cut these military ties completely and to suspend all further support and deliveries."

    "We believe that the situation is spiraling towards civil war and it's now time for everyone in the international community -- including Russia and all Security Council members -- to speak to Assad with a unified voice and insist that the violence stop," Clinton said.

    For its part, France called for a "complete halt" of arms exports to Syria, in a veiled charge against Russia, which last year sold almost $1 billion of weapons to Syria, according to campaign group Avaaz.

    "We are calling for a complete halt to arms exports to the Syrian regime as asked by joint United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan before the Security Council last week," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

    Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: "Our intelligence, direct and indirect, shows that there are deliveries."

    Meanwhile, the rebel Free Syrian Army said its fighters pulled out of Al-Haffe in a tactical move to spare civilians of the beleaguered northwestern town after an eight-day regime bombardment.

    As the conflict spiralled to vicious new heights, Turkey reported that 2,500 Syrians had fled across its border in 48 hours, saying numbers had increased amid attacks even targeting UN observers.

    State media said government forces overran Al-Haffe, a day after UN observers came under fire trying to reach the town after the UN and opposition activists expressed fears a massacre could be in the offing.

    "Security and calm were restored in the area of Al-Haffe which was cleansed after armed terrorist groups assaulted citizens and vandalised and burned a number of public and private properties," SANA said.

    Expressing surprise at an assessment by the UN peacekeeping chief that a sharp escalation in violence had changed the nature of the 15-month conflict, Syria said UN officials should remain "neutral, objective and precise".

    "Talk of civil war in Syria is not consistent with reality ... What is happening in Syria is a war against armed terrorist groups," the foreign ministry said.

    It urged regional and international powers to "stop any military or financial support for terrorist groups" operating in Syria, and urged the UN to take a "decisive stand against the crimes committed by armed groups."

    Asked on Tuesday whether he believed Syria was in a civil war, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said: "Yes I think we can say that. I think there is a massive increase in the level of violence, so massive indeed that in a way it indicates some change of nature."

    The Syrian government, which is dominated by Assad's Alawite offshoot of Shiite Islam, has refused to acknowledge an uprising that erupted in March 2011 inspired by the Arab Spring.

    It consistently refers to the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups as "terrorists" and has accused Washington and its regional allies of complicity in their operations.

    Stepping up the pressure on the Assad regime, France's Fabius said he would contact allies to draw up tougher sanctions against his top brass.

    He added that France plans to ask the UN Security Council to make Annan's peace plan "obligatory" under the UN Charter's Chapter VII, which allows measures to be imposed on countries under penalty of sanctions or the use of force.
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  3. #303
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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.theindependent.com/news/n...4fe3ff721.html

    US accuses Russia but needs its help in Syria

    Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 3:47 pm | Updated: 10:44 pm, Wed Jun 13, 2012.

    Associated Press | 0 comments

    Tensions between the U.S. and Russia flared Wednesday as the former Cold War foes traded blame for the violence in Syria just days before a planned meeting between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held to her explosive accusation that the "latest information" in U.S. hands is that Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime at the risk of fomenting a dangerous civil war. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov fired back by alleging that the U.S. has sent military support to the region with the same result.

    The public U.S.-Russian rift is occurring at a time that Obama administration had hoped to court Moscow's support for a transition plan to end the Assad regime. If nothing else, the dispute underlines the American government's continued difficulty in finding a strategy to pacify Syria after 15 months of brutal government crackdowns and armed rebellion.

    A day after blasting Moscow for purportedly sending new helicopter gunships to Syria, Clinton lamented on Wednesday that repeated U.S. requests to the Russian government to suspend its military ties with Damascus had fallen on deaf ears.

    "We have repeatedly urged the Russian government to cut these military ties completely and to suspend all further support and deliveries," Clinton told reporters. "We know, because they confirm, that they continue to deliver and we believe that the situation is spiraling toward civil war. It is now time for everyone in the international community, including Russia ... to speak to Assad in unified voice and insist that the violence stop."

    Clinton questioned Russia's insistence that "it wants peace and stability restored" and that it is not wedded to Assad's remaining in power. "It also claims to have vital interests in the region and relationships that it wants to continue to keep," she said. "They put all of that at risk if they do not move more constructively right now."

    In Tehran, Lavrov rejected the helicopter charge and blamed Washington for fueling the conflict. He said his government was completing earlier weapons contracts with Syria exclusively for air defense systems, which generally refers to surface-to-air missiles, radar and other such materiel. He didn't speak specifically about helicopters but insisted that nothing being delivered could be used against peaceful demonstrators.

    Lavrov was widely quoted as accusing the U.S. of providing Syrian dissidents with weapons, but he only said the U.S. was supplying "special means" to the region, not the rebels.

    "We are not supplying to Syria or anywhere else things that are used in fighting with peaceful demonstrators, in contrast to the United States, which is regularly sending such special means to countries in the region," he said. "For some reason, the Americans consider this to be in order. We are not delivering such means and are delivering only that which Syria requires in the event of an armed attack on it from outside."

    Nevertheless, Clinton said Wednesday: "The United States has provided no military support to the opposition. None."

    The U.S. has helped other countries vet potential recipients of military aid in the hope that none of the weapons heading into the region end up with al-Qaida or other terrorist groups.

    Responding to Lavrov's dismissal of the U.S. helicopter claims, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: "I would encourage him to check with his own authorities."

    "Russian and Soviet-made helicopters form the base of the Syrian helicopter fleet," Nuland told reporters. "We are seeing these helicopters used all over Syria now against civilians. We are seeing gun mounts on these being used to fire on populations in Homs, in Hama, in Lattakia, in Idlib. We have seen the Russians resupply weapons they have sold to the Syrians as recently as January."

    In making the initial charge on Tuesday, Clinton cited what she called the "latest information" the U.S. had about helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria. The remark appeared to catch many in the Obama administration unprepared, but two U.S. officials said that Clinton was repeating information contained in a classified intelligence briefing circulated Tuesday morning.

    The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified material. Another official said the Syrians use both Mi-8/17 HIP and Mi-24/25 HIND helicopters. The HIP is a multi-purpose helicopter used primarily for transport but can be modified to carry hull-mounted weapons for air-to-ground strike missions. The HIND is an attack helicopter specifically designed for air-to-ground strikes using missiles, rockets and heavy machine guns.

    At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney softened Clinton's accusation against Russia, calling it one element of a larger argument the U.S. is making that Russia should do more to spur political change in Syria. He would not say whether Obama and Putin would discuss arms sales on the sidelines of the meeting of the Group of 20 industrial and emerging market nations in Mexico next week.

    "Our argument has been, to the Russians and others who have supported that regime in the past, that that it is the wrong thing to do to continue that support," Carney said.

    Despite their disagreement, diplomatic hopes rest with Washington and Moscow agreeing on a transition plan that might end the four-decade Assad regime. Russia, along with China, has twice blocked the U.N. Security Council from setting world sanctions on Assad's regime, and Moscow has consistently rejected the use of outside forces to end the conflict or any international plan to force regime change in Damascus.

    More than 13,000 people have died since March 2011, according to opposition groups, and the view of many in the international community is that the conflict could get worse still. Hoping for a plan that wins international unity and avoids the need for another U.S. military intervention in the Muslim world, the Obama administration has been trying to get Russia to join a widened diplomatic strategy for a structured end to the four-decade Assad dynasty.

    One concession to Moscow is that Assad would be allowed to remain in power for the start of the transition. But Russia has up to now steadfastly backed its closest Middle East partner. Moscow and Damascus maintain long-standing military relations and the Arab country hosts Russia's only naval base in the Mediterranean Sea.

    Nevertheless, U.N. mediator Kofi Annan is also banking on a Russian-American understanding on Syria, inviting both powers to a conference aimed at mapping out a transition planned for later this month in Geneva.

    Carney expressed the administration's frustration.

    "The window of opportunity to bring about a transition to a democratic future for Syria is closing and will close," he said. "And if it does, the chance for a broader and sectarian civil war will be enhanced greatly."

    ___

    Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Anne Gearan in Washington, James Heintz in Moscow and Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran contributed to this report.
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  4. #304
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    Default Re: Syria

    Companion Threads:


    Syrian Islamist opposition casts out Christians

    Published: 14 June, 2012, 09:49


    Syrian Christians light candles during a service at the al-Zaytoun Church in Bab Touma Square in Damascus, on December 13 , 2011 in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad and in memory of those killed in the ongoing unrest in the country (AFP Photo/Louai Beshara)

    The Christian minority in Syria is facing a growing threat and thousands are being forced to flee their homes as they face harassment and discrimination from radial Islamist factions of the opposition.

    At least 9,000 Christians from the western Syrian city of Qusayr were forced to seek refuge after an ultimatum from a local military chief of the armed opposition, Abdel Salam Harba, Fides news agency reports.

    In the latest outburst of violence a Christian man was shot dead by a sniper in Qusayr, which neighbors the restive city of Homs.

    There have been reports last week that some mosques in the city have announced from the minarets: "Christians must leave Qusayr within six days, which expires this Friday."

    Two Catholic priests who fled Qusayr confirmed to the news agency that they heard the ultimatum "with their own ears" repeated from the minarets.

    "The situation is unsustainable in the area and exposed to total lawlessness," Fides sources on the ground say. They also fear that the fate of Christians in Qusayr could soon affect the 10,000 believers who live in other villages in the area.

    The areas controlled by the opposition are witnessing the rise of radical forms of Sunni Islam with the extremists not willing to live in peace with the Christians. Many of these gangs and armed groups operate independently of the Free Syrian Army, which rejects such kinds of discrimination against minorities.

    Apart from religious rifts, the violence against the Christian community may also be fueled by the fact that they have openly expressed support to the regime. Bashar Assad, as well as his late father, Hafez Assad, guaranteed secular rule in Syria, protecting Christians from discrimination and guaranteeing their rights.

    On Wednesday, an armed group broke into and desecrated the Greek-catholic church of St. Elias in Qusayr.

    "It is the first time in the ongoing conflict that such an episode has occurred in which sacred symbols are deliberately hit," a local source told Fides.

    Christians make up about 10 per cent of the country’s population with most belonging to the denomination of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.

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    Default Re: Syria

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Donaldson View Post
    Holy crap. The lights just came on.

    NO WONDER RUSSIA DOESN'T WANT US THERE!

    All of Saddam's WMD are there, there are nukes hidden there, there are chemical weapons hidden there, and RUSSIAN'S NAME IS ALL OVER THAT STUFF!!!!!!!!!!
    Very good point...

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    Default Re: Syria

    Sorry, guess I had an epiphany this morning....
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    Default Re: Syria

    Quote Originally Posted by vector7 View Post
    Companion Threads:




    Flashback: What has changed between the U.S. and Russia?


    Russia tied to Iraq's missing arms

    by bill gertz
    the washington times
    october 28, 2004

    Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the march 2003 u.s. Military operation, the Washington times has learned.

    John a. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the al-qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.

    "the Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units," mr. Shaw said. "their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the iraqis. The others were transportation units."

    Mr. Shaw, who was in charge of cataloging the tons of conventional arms provided to Iraq by foreign suppliers, said he recently obtained reliable information on the arms-dispersal program from two European intelligence services that have detailed knowledge of the Russian-iraqi weapons collaboration.

    Most of Saddam's most powerful arms were systematically separated from other arms like mortars, bombs and rockets, and sent to Syria and Lebanon, and possibly to Iran, he said.

    The Russian involvement in helping disperse Saddam's weapons, including some 380 tons of RDX and HMX, is still being investigated, Mr. Shaw said.

    The RDX and HMX, which are used to manufacture high-explosive and nuclear weapons, are probably of Russian origin, he said.

    Pentagon spokesman Larry Dirita could not be reached for comment.

    The disappearance of the material was reported in a letter October 10 from the Iraqi government to the international atomic energy agency.

    Disclosure of the missing explosives Monday in a new york times story was used by the democratic presidential campaign of sen. John Kerry, who accused the bush administration of failing to secure the material.

    Al-qaqaa, a known Iraqi weapons site, was monitored closely, Mr. Shaw said.

    "that was such a pivotal location, number 1, that the mere fact of [special explosives] disappearing was impossible," Mr. Shaw said. "and number 2, if the stuff disappeared, it had to have gone before we got there."

    the pentagon disclosed yesterday that the al-qaqaa facility was defended by Fedayeen Saddam, special republican guard and other Iraqi military units during the conflict. U.s. Forces defeated the defenders around April 3 and found the gates to the facility open, the pentagon said in a statement yesterday.

    A military unit in charge of searching for weapons, the army's 75th exploitation task force, then inspected al-qaqaa on may 8, may 11 and may 27, 2003, and found no high explosives that had been monitored in the past by the idea.

    The pentagon said there was no evidence of large-scale movement of explosives from the facility after April 6.

    "the movement of 377 tons of heavy ordnance would have required dozens of heavy trucks and equipment moving along the same roadways as u.s. Combat divisions occupied continually for weeks prior to and subsequent to the 3rd infantry division's arrival at the facility," the statement said.

    The statement also said that the material may have been removed from the site by Saddam's regime.

    According to the pentagon, u.n. Arms inspectors sealed the explosives at al-qaqaa in January 2003 and revisited the site in march and noted that the seals were not broken.

    It is not known whether the inspectors saw the explosives in march. The u.n. Team left the country before the u.s.-led invasion began march 20, 2003.

    A second defense official said documents on the Russian support to Iraq reveal that Saddam's government paid the Kremlin for the special forces to provide security for Iraq's Russian arms and to conduct counterintelligence activities designed to prevent u.s. And western intelligence services from learning about the arms pipeline through Syria.

    The Russian arms-removal program was initiated after Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian intelligence chief, could not persuade Saddam to give in to u.s. And western demands, this official said.

    A small portion of Iraq's 650,000 tons to 1 million tons of conventional arms that were found after the war were looted after the u.s.-led invasion, Mr. Shaw said. Russia was Iraq's largest foreign supplier of weaponry, he said.

    However, the most important and useful arms and explosives appear to have been separated and moved out as part of carefully designed program. "the organized effort was done in advance of the conflict," Mr. Shaw said.

    the Russian forces were tasked with moving special arms out of the country.

    Mr. Shaw said foreign intelligence officials believe the Russians worked with Saddam's Mukhabarat intelligence service to separate out special weapons, including high explosives and other arms and related technology, from standard conventional arms spread out in some 200 arms depots.

    the Russian weapons were then sent out of the country to Syria, and possibly Lebanon in Russian trucks, Mr. Shaw said.

    Mr. Shaw said he believes that the withdrawal of Russian-made weapons and explosives from iraq was part of plan by Saddam to set up a "redoubt" in Syria that could be used as a base for launching pro-Saddam insurgency operations in Iraq.

    The Russian units were dispatched beginning in January 2003 and by march had destroyed hundreds of pages of documents on Russian arms supplies to Iraq while dispersing arms to Syria, the second official said.

    Besides their own weapons, the Russians were supplying Saddam with arms made in Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria and other eastern European nations, he said.

    "whatever was not buried was put on lorries and sent to the Syrian border," the defense official said.

    Documents reviewed by the official included itineraries of military units involved in the truck shipments to Syria. The materials outlined in the documents included missile components, mig jet parts, tank parts and chemicals used to make chemical weapons, the official said.

    The director of the iraqi government front company known as the al bashair trading co. Fled to syria, where he is in charge of monitoring arms holdings and funding Iraqi insurgent activities, the official said.

    Also, an Arabic-language report obtained by u.s. Intelligence disclosed the extent of Russian armaments.

    The 26-page report was written by Abdul tawab mullah Al huwaysh, Saddam's minister of military industrialization, who was captured by u.s. Forces may 2, 2003.

    the Russian "Spetsnaz" or special-operations forces were under the gru military intelligence service and organized large commercial truck convoys for the weapons removal, the official said.

    Regarding the explosives, the new Iraqi government reported that 194.7 metric tons of HMX, or high-melting-point explosive, and 141.2 metric tons of RDX, or rapid-detonation explosive, and 5.8 metric tons of petn, or pentaerythritol tetranitrate, were missing.

    The material is used in nuclear weapons and also in making military "plastic" high explosive.

    Defense officials said the Russians can provide information on what happened to the Iraqi weapons and explosives that were transported out of the country. Officials believe the Russians also can explain what happened to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.

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    Default Re: Syria

    Wow... .Somewhere along the way I apparently missed that!

    Ok, well, I just simply had this thought out of nowhere this morning and posted it as I thought it. I guess I was right. lol
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    Default Re: Syria

    UN Observers Enter Battered Syrian Town


    A UN observer photographs an ambulance that was destroyed after a car bomb exploded near the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, June 14, 2012.









    VOA News
    June 14, 2012




    United Nations observers arrived in the Syrian town of al-Haffeh Thursday after government forces overran the opposition enclave, while Syria's envoy to Moscow denied that Russia is supplying Syria with attack helicopters.

    The U.N. monitors had been trying to enter al-Haffeh after several days of intense clashes. They found the Sunni Muslim town nearly deserted, with state buildings burnt, shops abandoned and a corpse lying in the street.

    Syrian authorities on Wednesday said they had "cleansed" the area of armed terrorist groups. On Tuesday, a mob outside the town had attacked the U.N. observers' vehicles with rocks and metal rods, forcing them to turn back.

    Anti-government rebels pulled out of the town this week, and joined the United States in warning that some of the people remaining in al-Haffeh could be subject to reprisal killings.

    Violence continued elsewhere in Syria on Thursday. Reuters news agency reported Syrian forces fired heavy artillery on the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, killing at least 11 people and wounding about 200. Opposition sources said Free Syrian Army fighters have killed dozens of troops and destroyed several tanks and armored personnel carriers there in the past week.

    A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed van in a Damascus suburb, wounding 14 people and damaging one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines. Government troops continued to pound rebel-held areas in the central city of Homs and other areas.

    Meanwhile, the Syrian ambassador to Russia denied U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remark that Moscow is shipping attack helicopters to his country. Riyad Haddad said the arms deliveries are defensive weapons. He blamed Western countries for any failures of international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.

    Rafif Jouejati, a spokeswoman for the Local Coordination Committees, an activist group with members throughout Syria, said that helicopter strikes and other aerial attacks by government forces have been occurring for months across Syria.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Thursday his country does not approve of using sanctions to address the crisis in Syria.

    "Under the current circumstances, all the parties should continue to vigorously support U.N. envoy Kofi Annan's mediation efforts," said Liu. "We urge relevant parties in Syria to effectively implement relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and Annan's six-point proposals, actively cooperate with the U.N. monitors, end any form of violence, protect civilians, and ease the current tense situation as soon as possible.''

    Amnesty International says it has new evidence of widespread and systematic rights violations by government forces seeking to punish those supporting the opposition.

    The group says its workers witnessed Syrian security forces firing on peaceful demonstrators late last month in Aleppo, and that families described soldiers dragging away family members and killing them.

    Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis adviser, said the U.N. Security Council has failed, and called for "concrete action" to hold those responsible accountable.

    "We are now facing a situation which has deteriorated so much precisely because of the failure of the Security Council to act earlier on when the situation was, when it was more possible to avoid the kind of large scale killings and massacres that we're seeing today," said Rovera.

    The rights group said it has received reports of more than 10,000 people being killed since the crisis in Syria began in February 2011, and that the number could be much higher.
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    June 14, 2012 11:24 AM

    United Nations observers enter "cleansed" Syrian town of Haffa after days of trying to gain access




    This image made from amateur video released by Free Lattakia and accessed June 12, 2012, purports to show Syrians preventing U.N. observers from entering Haffa, Syria. (AP Photo/Free Lattakia via AP video)
    The Arab Spring




    (AP) DAMASCUS, Syria - A team of United Nations observers entered the Syrian town of Haffa Thursday after government troops overran the area near the Mediterranean coast, seizing the territory back from rebels after battles that raged for eight days.


    The visit came hours after a suicide bomber detonated his van packed with explosives in a Damascus suburb, wounding 14 people and damaging one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines, according to Syria's state-run news agency and witnesses.


    Sausan Ghosheh, a spokeswoman for the observers, confirmed monitors entered Haffa Thursday, and witnesses traveling with the team described scenes of heavy fighting and destruction, including burned-out state buildings and a corpse in a deserted street.

    The observers had been trying to get into the town in the coastal Latakia province for a week after fears were raised that a brutal assault by regime forces was under way there.


    The mountain enclave has been the site of intense clashes between government forces and hundreds of rebels holed up inside.


    On Tuesday, an angry crowd hurled rocks and sticks at the U.N. mission's vehicles near Haffa, forcing them to turn back.


    Authorities then said Wednesday they had "cleansed" the area of "armed terrorist groups" and urged U.N. observers to immediately head there "to check what the terrorist groups have done."


    The observers stopped by torched buildings belonging to the ruling Baath party's local branch as well as the burned courthouse, post office and other government institutions, according to the witnesses.


    U.N. observers have reported a steep rise in violence and a dangerous shift in tactics by both sides in Syria in recent weeks.


    Car bombs and suicide bombings have become increasingly common in Syria as the 15-month uprising against President Bashar Assad becomes increasingly militarized. Most have targeted security buildings and police buses, symbols of Assad's regime.
    It was not immediately clear whether Thursday's bomber in the Sayyida Zainab suburb of Damascus intended to target the Shiite shrine or a police station that was only 15 yards away.


    As the violence grows more chaotic, it is difficult to assign blame for much of the bloodshed. Western officials say there is little doubt that Islamist extremists, some associated with al Qaeda, have made inroads in Syria as instability has spread.


    Witnesses said the bomber detonated an explosives-packed van that he drove into a parking lot about 50 yards from the shrine despite efforts by guards to stop him. The blast shattered the shrine's windows, knocked down chandeliers and electric ceiling fans and cracked some of its mosaic walls.


    Parts from the car detonated by the suicide bomber were found inside the shrine's sprawling complex.


    Tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims from around the world converge on Sayyida Zainab suburb every year to visit the golden-domed complex with the same name, which is believed to house the remains of the granddaughter of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.


    It was the latest of Syria's religious, cultural and architectural treasures to suffer from the violence engulfing the country, including churches and mosques, citadels and architectural ruins.


    Sheik Sayyed Mojtaba al-Husseini, the representative of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Syria, accused "terrorists" of the bombing, echoing the government's line that the rebels are foreign agents. Iran is one of Syria's remaining allies.


    "They want to turn the people against the government. This is not a revolution, it is a fake reality imported by some Arab leaders who are agents of the West," al-Husseini said.


    The site is popular with Iranian and other Shiite pilgrims and tourists.


    SANA news agency said 14 people were wounded by the explosion. Six tourist buses and more than 30 cars and a small police bus also were damaged.


    "I worked for 10 years before I was able to buy this car," said Amin Daoud, a 35-year-old laborer at the scene of the explosion. "I parked it here last night and now it's totally destroyed."


    Walid Aeda, a worker who fled Syria's battered central Homs region and was staying in a hotel near the shrine, said the explosion shattered the glass in his room, wounding his wife who had to get 18 stitches in her head.


    "We fled the violence in Homs to come to Damascus and now this," he said.
    Troops continued to pound rebel-controlled areas in Homs Thursday, while rebels reportedly clashed with government forces in several other parts of the country.


    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three civilians were killed overnight in clashes at the entrances of the Jouret el-Shayyah neighborhood in Homs city. Another died in the rebel-held town of Rastan north of Homs, which has been under intense fire from regime forces for days.


    The Observatory said troops were using helicopters and mortars to shell Rastan, adding that many rebels were wounded Thursday.


    Activists say some 14,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011.
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    Bill Richardson: US Should Arm Syrian Rebels If Assad Gets Russian Helicopters

    By Andrew O'Reilly

    Published June 14, 2012

    Fox News Latino

    As Western nations lashed out at Russia for allegedly sending attack helicopters to war-torn Syria and the death toll in the Middle Eastern nation continues to rise, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson argues that the United States should supply weapons to Syrian rebels in an effort to protect civilians against government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

    In an interview with Fox News Latino’s Juan Williams, Richardson said that despite opposing military intervention in Syria, NATO nations should consider training and arming the rebels if Russia sent military supplies.

    “This is a humanitarian crisis going on in Syria,” Richardson said. “If the Russians get in there, and there’s evidence of that, I think that would be the defining step to move forward with arming the rebels.”

    Russia has denied sending weapons to Syria for use in the internal conflict, and instead argues that the government of Vladimir Putin is fulfilling existing contracts for supplies of air defense systems. Putin, who plans to meet U.S. President Barack Obama next week, denied that Russia is not providing Syria with weapons that could be used in a civil conflict.

    The Syrian ambassador to Moscow, Riad Haddad, also denied Thursday allegations by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this week that the U.S. had information that attack helicopters were on the way from Russia to Syria.

    "Russia is not delivering any helicopters to Syria," Haddad told the Reuters news agency.

    Speaking to a source close to Russia’s weapons export monopoly Rosoboronexport, Reuters reported that while there have been no recent contracts between Russia and Syria for new attack helicopters, at least nine Mi-25 attack helicopters were sent back to Russia in 2009 for repairs and that the shipment could be returning to Damascus now.

    If the Russians get in there, and there’s evidence of that, I think that would be the defining step to move forward with arming the rebels.

    - Bill Richardson

    Three Mi-25s and two multipurpose KA-28 helicopters, owned by Russia’s defense ministry are also believed to have been sent to Syria.

    Some critics believe that unlike in Libya, where the combatants and areas of control were more clearly defined, the situation in Syria is too fluid and the United States cannot be sure who they are arming.

    “You don’t know who you are arming,” said Judith Miller, a Fox News contributor and Manhattan Institute Scholar. “When you’re talking about arming the rebels, what are you talking about there.”

    The fractured structure of the resistance could mean that arming rebels could also arm terrorist groups hostile to the U.S. such as al-Qaeda, Miller added.

    Along with Clinton, British Foreign Minister William Hague joined in the criticism of both Russia and Iran, calling on the two nations to use their influence to quell the 15-month civil conflict.

    "We haven't at any stage detected Iran being a country that wants to solve the problem rather than exacerbating the problem," Hague said, according to AFP.

    Iran is a major supporter of the Assad regime with some experts speculating that the Islamic Republic’s support goes beyond humanitarian and diplomatic assistance and into covert military aid.

    In his interview, Richardson advocated for continued sanctions against Iran in an effort to force the country to negotiate about its nuclear policy.

    “Sanctions on Iran are working. I would continue the intensive pressure on Iran,” Richardson said. “I think the policy is working and we’re seeing for the first time Iran sending messages that they’re ready to negotiate. I don’t think they’re serious, but at least they’re showing weakness.”

    Richardson added that Iran is having a difficult time with its economic situation and, as the death toll in Syria creeps over 10,000 and the crisis rolls into its 15th month, the country’s main ally in the region is in major turmoil.

    “Iran is having a rough year with their economic troubles, their political troubles, there main supporter in the region Syria is hurting badly,” Richardson said. “I would continue this policy of intensive pressure and sanctions on Iran.”

    Follow Andrew O'Reilly on Twitter: @aoreilly84
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    Interesting. Russia denied they were selling NEW choppers. These are OLD, and refurbished choppers - that were repaired and being sent back to Syria....

    Well, you know, we didn't send them NEW stuff so you're unfairly pointing the finger at us.....

    I think little kids can die from old or new choppers.
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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politi...qcV_story.html


    US acknowledges Russian helicopters going to Syria are refurbished, not new, but still deadly

    By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, June 14, 12:07 PM


    WASHINGTON — The State Department is acknowledging that the Russian helicopters Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said represented an escalation in the Syrian conflict were actually returning to Syria after being refurbished and are not new tools against Syrian opposition groups.


    State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the U.S. is nevertheless concerned that the helicopters will be used by President Bashar Assad’s regime to kill civilians.



    She says three helicopters are on the way to Syria after being out of commission for at least six months. And she says that’s “three more that can be used to kill civilians.”


    Clinton accused Russia earlier of escalating the crisis by sending helicopters, but didn’t say they were refurbished.


    Nuland on Thursday declined to say why the State Department didn’t divulge that detail earlier.
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    http://www.trivalleycentral.com/arti...9316448656.txt

    Syria overruns rebellious village, violence spikes

    By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY
    Associated Press
    Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012 11:02 AM MST

    BEIRUT — Syrian forces overran a mountain enclave near the Mediterranean coast Wednesday, seizing the territory back from rebels as a serious escalation in violence signaled both sides are using more powerful weapons.

    With the bloodshed ramping up, France joined the U.N. peacekeeping chief in declaring Syria was in a state of civil war.
    “When many groups belonging to the same people tear each other apart and kill each other, if you can’t call it a civil war, then there are no words to describe it,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a news conference in Paris.

    The battle for Haffa, in the mountains of Latakia province, raged for eight days as regime forces shelled the village to drive out rebels. The operation apparently was part of a larger offensive to retake areas that had fallen into rebel hands.

    State television said regime forces had “cleansed” Haffa of “armed terrorist groups” and the Foreign Ministry urged U.N. observers to immediately head there “to check what the terrorist groups have done.”

    It wasn’t immediately clear whether the U.N. observers would be able to reach Haffa. On Tuesday, an angry crowd hurled rocks and sticks at the U.N. mission’s vehicles, forcing them to turn back. None of the observers was hurt.

    Sausan Ghosheh, a spokeswoman for the observers, said they have been trying to reach Haffa since June 7.

    Hundreds of rebel fighters believed to have been holed up in Haffa and nearby villages pulled out overnight, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing a network of activists on the ground.

    On another front, fireballs of orange flames exploded over the central city of Homs, where Syrian forces fired a continuous rain of shells that slammed into the rebel-held neighborhoods of Khaldiyeh, Jouret al-Shayyah and the old city.

    Recovering Haffa was particularly significant to the regime because the town is about 20 miles from President Bashar Assad’s hometown. Latakia province is the heartland of the Alawite minority to which Assad and the ruling elite belong.

    As the violence spiked, both sides in the conflict appeared to be using heavier weapons.

    U.N. observers reported Syrian helicopters were firing on Haffa and other restive areas, and amateur videos posted online by activists suggest the opposition is using powerful anti-tank missiles.

    “There are arms being delivered, and on both sides,” Fabius said.

    Although the Syrian rebels are outgunned by the well-armed Syrian army, weapons have been flowing across the country’s borders from neighboring Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. The rebels also say they buy weapons from Syrian soldiers looking to make a profit.

    Tensions over the issue flared Wednesday between the U.S. and Russia as they traded blame for the violence in Syria.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held to her explosive accusation that the “latest information” in U.S. hands is that Russia is sending attack helicopters to Assad’s regime. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov fired back by alleging the U.S. has sent military support to the region.

    “We have repeatedly urged the Russian government to cut these military ties completely and to suspend all further support and deliveries,” Clinton told reporters in Washington. “We know, because they confirm, that they continue to deliver and we believe that the situation is spiraling toward civil war. It is now time for everyone in the international community, including Russia ... to speak to Assad in unified voice and insist that the violence stop.”

    Lavrov rejected the charge, saying his government was completing earlier weapons contracts with Syria for air defense systems to be used exclusively for self defense against “an armed attack from the outside.”

    “We are not supplying either to Syria or anywhere else things that are used in fighting with peaceful demonstrators, in contrast to the United States, which regularly supplies such special means to countries in the region,” Lavrov said during a trip to Iran.

    Russia has emerged as Syria’s most important ally and protector, blocking strong action at the U.N. Security Council and speaking against any foreign military intervention.

    Moscow’s pro-Syria stance is motivated in part by its strategic and defense ties to Damascus, including weapons sales.

    British Foreign Secretary William Hague also said weapons were flowing to both sides and called on Russia to halt supplying arms to the Assad regime.

    “We have seen signs — rather anecdotal signs — of an increased availability of arms to the opposition,” he said during a trip to Afghanistan. “And so this is a deteriorated situation where Russia has an important responsibility due to its relationship with Syria and its position on the Security Council.”

    Russia’s stance is coming under deeper scrutiny now that the conflict is looking more like civil war every day. France’s statement that Syria was in a civil war echoed a similar statement by U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on Tuesday.

    Syria’s Foreign Ministry expressed “astonishment” over the claims Wednesday.

    “Syria is not witnessing a civil war but rather an armed conflict to uproot terrorism and confront killings, kidnappings, bombings ... and other brutal acts,” the ministry said.

    Syrian authorities characterize rebels as terrorists and armed gangsters, and the uprising as a foreign plot to destabilize the country.
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    Shaam News Network, In this citizen journalism image provided on Tuesday, an anti-Syrian regime protester holds up a banner against Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a protest in Zabadani, near Damascus, Syria. Syria’s foreign ministry says the remarks by a U.S. State Department spokeswoman warning that President Bashar Assad’s forces could commit massacres this week in Haffa coincided with stepped-up attacks by rebels in the area.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 06/14/2012 Obama’s Syrian paralysis explained

    By Jennifer Rubin

    The clown show that is Obama’s foreign policy has struck again. Maybe Secretary of State Hillary “I-made-myself-clear” Clinton got it wrong on the Russian helicopters.


    The New York Times headline blares: “Copters in Syria May Not Be New, U.S. Officials Say.” Oh swell. The Russians can get on their high horse about Clinton’s imprecise hectoring. It seems Clinton can’t even competently put Russia on defense.


    Now some think there is a method to the Keystone Kops routine. Aaron David Miller writes:
    “The American agenda on Syria completes the circle. Sure, the president is outraged by [Bashar al-] Assad’s brutality, and yes he’d like to do more. But bad options and electoral politics provide little incentive or leeway for heroics on Syria. The president is more focused on the perpetuation of the House of Obama than on the fall of the House of Assad. And rightly so. Americans are tired of costly military interventions, and the election is going to turn not on foreign policy but on the economy. And the Republicans can’t find a way to make political hay from an Obama foreign policy that on balance has been smart and competent.”
    Wow. Let’s get the last line out of the way first. This has been one of the least smart and least competent foreign policy crews in history. I’ll refer to my list of flubs, misjudgments and incoherent episodes.


    But it is, I suppose, refreshing to see the Obama administration’s reasoning so boldly stated. What are thousands of Syrians, the survival of Iran’s closest ally, and the humiliation of the United States in the face of Russian opportunism when Obama’s election is at stake?



    Leadership in the Obama administration is synonymous with self-preservation. If there are hard choices or, goodness gracious, the need to explain the stakes to the American people, then all the more reason to hide under the bed.


    I’m hoping Miller is being sarcastic (or channeling what he thinks the president and his advisers are telling themselves), but either way I think he has nicely encapsulated the attitude of a president who doesn’t give a fig about America’s standing in the world if it doesn’t inure to his benefit.



    And by the way, it is precisely for this reason that despite the fond hopes of the administration’s defenders, it is almost certain that Obama will never act militarily against Iran. The House of Obama or the nuclear-armed House of Khamenei? It’s not even close.



    By Jennifer Rubin | 11:45 AM ET, 06/14/2012
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    Syria

    Russian helicopter delivery denied by Syria



    Washington's claim that Russia is delivering attack helicopters to Syria has been denied by its ambassador to Moscow. Amnesty International in a report has accused the Syrian government of "crimes against humanity."



    Syrian Ambassador Riad Haddad, quoted by the news agency Reuters in Moscow, said that "Russia is not delivering any helicopters to Syria."


    On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said that Washington was concerned about "latest information" that attack helicopters were "on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."



    Helicopter delivery would escalate conflict: Clinton



    She urged Russia to cut what she called "these military ties" completely.



    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on a visit to Iran had said Russia was supplying "anti-air defense systems" to Damascus in a deal that "in no way violates international laws."


    Reuters quoted a Russian weapons export source as saying that there were no such recent exports and that Clinton may have been referring to five military helicopters that had been repaired in Russia.


    Meanwhile, China, which like Russia is a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, has signaled misgivings about a call by France for the UN to enforce the peace plan of international envoy Kofi Annan.


    In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said "China disapproves of the approach of leaning towards sanctions and pressure."



    Smoke rises over Homs, according to Ugarit News agency



    On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said a no-fly zone was under consideration over Syria for what he described as a civil war.


    Grave abuses," says Amnesty

    Amnesty International, in its 70-page report on Syria's conflict, said it had fresh evidence that some victims, including children, had been dragged from homes and shot dead by soldiers. In some cases remains had been set on fire.


    "This disturbing new evidence of an organized pattern of grave abuses highlights the pressing need for decisive international action," Amnesty said, adding that the actions of government forces and militias amounted to "crimes against humanity and war crimes."


    Amnesty said it had interviewed people in 23 towns and villages across Syria.


    Violence in Homs, Damascus

    In a continuation of violence on Thursday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four civilians had been killed before dawn as troops continued to shell rebel-controlled areas in Syria's central province of Homs.


    Three of them were killed in a suburb of Homs city. The fourth died in the rebel-held town of Rastan. It named him as Ahmed Bahbouh, a leading dissident figure and head of the rebel military bureau in Rastan.


    A car bomb had targeted a military checkpoint in Idlib city, killing or wounding a number of soldiers, the Observatory said. And, in Damascus, a car bomb had exploded near a Shiite shrine. Syria's state-run news agency said 10 people were wounded.




    Haffeh lies near Syria's Mediterranean coast



    The news agency AFP, quoting UN spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh, said a United Nation's observer convoy had entered the mountain enclave of Haffa near the Mediterranean coast after eight days of intense gunfire.



    Syrian forces seized back the territory from rebels on Wednesday.


    Ghosheh said the observers had been trying to enter Haffa since last week.


    Summarizing its toll for Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 77 people had been killed across the country, including 49 civilians, 21 soldiers and seven rebels.


    Severe restrictions imposed on journalists working in Syria make it impossible to independently confirm such reports.
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    Helicopters as instrument of geopolitics


    Ilya Kharlamov
    Jun 14, 2012 21:36 Moscow Time
    Victoria Nuland. Photo: AFP

    The USA is again accusing Russia of supplying combat helicopters to Syria. This time State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland acted as a newsmaker.


    She confirmed that a statement made by her chief Hillary Clinton earlier that Russian helicopters made up the backbone of the Syrian helicopter fleet and that Damascus was actively using them against civilians was true.


    New attempts to accuse Russia of offering military support to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in waging a “war” against his own people, as those in Washington say, resemble a well orchestrated information campaign. And the objective here is absolutely clear: to force Moscow to display more flexibility in the issue concerning the use of sanctions against the Syrian authorities. As is known, Russia is consistent in its demands for the peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis that provides for halting violence in the country regarding all parties involved in the conflict, while Washington has a different opinion, believing Bashar Al-Assad should step down. The position of Russia which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, as it appears, causes irritation in the USA. In an interview with the Voice of Russia, an expert on International Law, Oleg Khlestakov, said.


    "A huge propaganda apparatus is being used by the Western countries in order to slander Assad’s government and overshadow Russia’s stand, so that this country would not be able to hamper the military invasion of Syria."


    Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has already commented on the statements made by Hillary Clinton about the helicopters and that Russia will lose its influence in the Middle East if it remains committed to its stand on Syria. Lavrov said that Russia is acting in strict compliance with international standards while fulfilling the military contracts that were signed and paid forearlier. Lavrov stressed that the weapons that Russia are supplying to Syria are not used against protesters and are meant for repulsing exterior aggression. Meeting with the French President in Paris on June 1st, the Russian head of state said the same. However, this does not fit in the scheme for putting pressure on Russia chosen by the USA. Americans want Russia to follow their instructions. There will be nothing of the kind, and Mrs. Clinton should be more careful while listening to her analysts. In the morning she says that Russia supplies helicopters to Syria, and two hours later the State Department Spokesperson rejects this information.


    The version that the U.S. authorities have a plan for influencing Russia is confirmed by a scandal around the Russian helicopters meant for Afghanistan that is currently brewing. Some senators have again filed a demand to the Pentagon for breaking off a contract with Moscow for the supply of the MI-17 helicopters meant for the needs of the Afghan army. And the reason for this was again the military-technical cooperation between Russia and Syria, which, as the senators say, leads to the death of ordinary civilians. Meanwhile, the U.S. Defence Department continued buying military hardware, promising to carefully study the situation.


    The above-mentioned accusation against Russia – meaning the supplies of combat helicopters to Syria is not the only one. The USA accuses the Rosoboronexport Company of transferring certain technologies to Iran that, allegedly, could be used for the development of ballistic missiles. Besides, the U.S. authorities voiced their concern to China in view of the reports about the supplies of the Chinese military hardware to North Korea as help in the implementation of its missile programme.


    It seems that the State Department officials are absolutely sure that they can denounce all who do not share their views about the global security architecture. Don’t forget that the USA supplies weapons to some countries in the Middlle East which are not used only for defence purposes.
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    Special Reports
    Syria gunship use shows regime worried

    Published: June 14, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    BEIRUT, Lebanon, June 14 (UPI) -- The embattled Syrian regime's use of helicopter gunships to strafe rebel strongholds and slaughter civilians marks a deadly new phase in the 15-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad.

    It suggests that the regime, which mightily outguns the disparate rebel forces, has been unable to prevent its opponents from seizing and holding territory, as they now seem to be doing as their military forces become more organized.

    On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia, a key supporter of Assad's minority regime, of shipping attack helicopters to Syria as Assad and his generals step up their offensive against the lightly armed rebels.

    Clinton warned that would "escalate the conflict quite dramatically" -- a development that in fact has been under way for the last few weeks.

    The Syrian air force has 30 French-built SA-342 Gazelle helicopters and 33 Russian Mi-25 Hind D attack helicopters, the gunships that the Soviets used to pulverize the Islamic Mujahedin in Afghanistan during the 1979-89 war.

    But the Soviets' mastery of the skies was shattered when the Americans started delivering Stinger surface-to-air missiles to Muslim fighters, marking the beginning of the end of the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.

    The Hind is one of the most formidable attack helicopters made and Assad's air force has been using these airborne battlewagons against rebel bastions for several days.

    Gunships, backed by artillery, pounded the beleaguered city of Homs, the third largest in Syria, on Tuesday, along with the mountain town of Haffah on the Mediterranean coast in Latakia province.

    Homs has been one the epicenters of the uprising that began March 15, 2011, with street protests against the regime and, as Assad's forces gunned down unarmed protesters, swelled into what has become a civil war in all but name.

    Various reports out of Syria claim there are signs the regime has been massing forces, including gunships, around the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's financial center north of Damascus.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has offices in the United Kingdom, says the aerial assault has extended to the strategic river crossing of Rastan on the main highway linking Damascus to northern Syria.

    Rebels reportedly regrouped in Rastan following the heavy bombardment of Homs and have resisted heavy government attacks for months.

    Rami Abdul-Rahman of the observatory said the regime called in the gunships because the Free Syrian Army, the rebels' main military force made up largely of defectors from Assad's army, has been mounting increasingly effective attacks on government troops.

    It seems more than coincidence that the worst atrocities carried out by the regime, including the slaughter of more than 100 people May 24-25 in the town of Houla, have happened since Damascus unleashed the killer gunships.

    The 300-person team of U.N. observers in Syria to monitor a cease-fire negotiated by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in May has documented the use of gunships, along with artillery and tanks, against rebel strong points in recent days.

    "There's a massive increase in the level of violence, so massive indeed that in a way it indicates some change of nature," said French diplomat Herve Ladsous, head of the United Nations' peacekeeping operations.

    "This is becoming large scale because the opposition is resisting."

    Asked whether Syria was now locked in a full-blown civil war, between the regime dominated by the minority Alawite Muslim sect and the opposition made up largely of the majority Sunnis, Ladsous said: "Yes, I think we can say that.

    "Clearly what's happening is that the government of Syria has lost some large chunks of territory, several cities, to the opposition and wants to retake control."

    The rebels have apparently acquired quantities of anti-tank missiles in recent weeks, funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and smuggled in through Lebanon and Turkey.

    It would seem likely they may soon obtain surface to-air missiles. Ironically, these are most likely to be of Russian origin. Thousands of Russian SA-17 and SA-24 SAMs are missing from Libyan armories plundered during the 2011 civil war there and are presumably available on the black market.

    If the Syrian rebels acquire SAMs, the regime, armed by Iran and Russia, would have to escalate again.

    "The next step is the air force," German newsmagazine Der Spiegel observed in an analysis.

    Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/...#ixzz1xnOCmF6q
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    Belarus May Be Providing Syria With Deadly Military Technology

    By Yochi J. Dreazen
    Jun 14 2012, 9:27 AM ET1

    Western officials and outside analysts believe that the European dictatorship is aiding Bashar al-Assad's crackdown.



    U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad is receiving new military assistance from Belarus, a tiny nation which appears willing to flout the international effort to isolate the dictator and force him from power.


    Western officials and outside analysts say that Belarus is providing Damascus with technology that would improve the capabilities of Assad's surface-to-surface missiles, one of the Syrian military's primary weapons during its brutal ongoing crackdown on rebels throughout the country.

    The technology would increase the accuracy of the missiles, making it easier for Assad's forces to target and destroy even well-entrenched and well-hidden rebel positions.

    Scott Johnson, an analyst for IHS Jane's, which researches militaries around the world, said that Belarus's state-owned weapons-development company is suspected of working with its Syrian counterpart to build new "fiber-optic gyroscopes," small pieces of equipment that can make surface-to-surface missiles significantly more accurate.

    "It would increase the regime's ability to deliver destruction with even more deadly precision than with what is currently guiding their missiles," Johnson said.

    Western and U.S. officials say they share those concerns, though the three officials acknowledged that they don't have definitive evidence that Belarus is working to prop up Assad.

    Still, the suspected Belarussian assistance would significantly boost Assad's military capabilities. Johnson said that the technology would have a "singular" impact on Assad's existing missile inventory and help his forces better find and hit specific rebel positions.

    The growing concern about Belarus comes as senior American officials ratchet up criticism of Russia and Iran, Assad's primary international allies. The White House says that Moscow and Tehran are flouting the Western sanctions on Syria and continuing to sell Assad new weaponry and other armaments.

    On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued the Obama administration's fiercest condemnation of Russia to date, accusing Moscow of shipping Assad sophisticated attack helicopters. Clinton said the aircraft would "escalate the conflict quite dramatically."

    The administration's high-profile public criticism of Russia is part of a broader effort to get Moscow to drop its support for Assad on the United Nations Security Council. Russia has repeatedly vetoed resolutions authorizing hard-hitting sanctions on Syria or calling for regime change there.

    Washington and its allies have no such hope that Iran will drop its support for Assad. The U.S. believes that Iran remains Assad's primary supporter, sending him armaments, special-forces personnel, military trainers, and even bodyguards for the dictator and his family. Assad is Iran's only Arab ally, so Tehran stands to lose much of its regional influence if the strongman falls.

    The officials note that Belarus has long maintained close ties with both Iran and Syria and shown no willingness to join the international effort to isolate Assad and force him from power. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, like Russian President Vladimir Putin, believes that foreign nations shouldn't be allowed to intervene in the internal disputes of a sovereign nation.


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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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