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    Default Re: Syria

    Syria Accord Seen as Russia Victory; Lacks Call for Assad






    A United Nations-brokered peace plan for Syria is a victory for Russia because it lacks clear wording that bars Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from taking part in a transition of power, analysts in London and Washington said.



    World powers on June 30 backed a plan that doesn’t directly spell out the fate of Assad, who has been battling pro-democracy rebels for 16 months in a conflict resulted in as as many as 17,000 casualties, according to non-governmental organizations. Nations including the U.S. and the U.K. watered down a draft by special envoy Kofi Annan after Russia rejected language banning Assad and members of his inner circle from taking part in a transitional government.



    “The latest decision is a compromise by the West and a victory for Russia,” Lilit Gevorgyan, a London-based analyst at IHS Global Insight, said. “There has not been an explicit decision to push Assad out, something that Russia was keen on.”



    International efforts to mediate a peace deal have faltered over whether Assad must leave office before a shift in power can begin. The communique from foreign ministers in Geneva -- which declares a “firm timetable” for actions without any dates or deadlines -- may draw scrutiny over whether the U.S. and allies France and the U.K. yielded too much to get a transition road map accepted by Russia and China.



    The accord drew quick criticism from Syrian opposition groups yesterday, who called it ambiguous and vowed not to negotiate with Assad or members of his government, the Associated Press reported.
    Bloody Hands

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told journalists on June 30 in Geneva that even without explicit wording, “Assad will still have to go. What we have done here is to strip away the fiction that he and those with blood on their hands can stay in power.”



    Clinton said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio that the final version retained “strong language” and was a “significant step forward.”



    “There was every reason to believe that we would never get the Russians and the Chinese on board,” she said in the interview in Geneva. During more than six hours of contentious negotiations, she said she “didn’t know that we were going to be able to get anything.”



    Syrian forces killed at least 27 people in fighting yesterday as clashes with rebel forces persisted across the country, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mailed statement.
    Homs Shelling

    Syrian forces shelled the neighborhood of al-Khaldiyeh as they attempted to seize control of the area in the city of Homs, Clashes continued in the suburbs of Damascus and Deir al-Zour, the rights group said. Al-Jazeera television reported 42 deaths in yesterday’s fighting.



    “The residents of Douma are suffering from an extreme humanitarian crisis,” the U.K. rights group said. “The bombardment by regime forces is considered the most violent Douma has seen since the start of the uprising. They lack the basic necessities of existence, there is an acute shortage of bread, gas and medical equipment.”



    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the road map doesn’t require Assad’s ouster and pledged that his government would press the Syrian leader to comply with the peace plan.



    The accord is “only a half-victory for Russia as the next step, the hardest step, would be ensuring that the plan works,” IHS Global’s Gevorgyan said in an e-mailed reply to questions. “For it to succeed, the unity government would need to include the moderate forces ready for dialog.”
    Winning Agreement

    Jeff Laurenti, a UN analyst at the Century Foundation in New York, called the agreement a “win” in that it takes a step toward ending the Syria conflict.



    Still, it could be seen as a “loss for anyone seeking to annihilate the other side; for Assad, whose Russian backers have now formally committed themselves to a successor government whose leaders must be acceptable to all Syrian sides -- as he and his brother surely are not -- and for Islamists, ditto,” Laurenti said in an e-mailed response to questions.



    Before the Geneva meeting, Annan had crafted a proposal saying a new government “could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups, but would exclude from government those whose continued presence and participation would undermine the credibility of the transition and jeopardize stability and reconciliation.”



    The modified text suggests “Washington has made a major concession in that Assad could stay on,” though a clause on mutual consent means the opposition would have veto power over who could be in the transitional government, Andrew Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said in an e-mailed response to questions.



    “It’s unclear how Assad could be present and create the ‘neutral environment’ outlined in the agreement,” Tabler said.



    To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer M. Freedman in Geneva at jfreedman@bloomberg.net
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  2. #502
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    1 July 2012 Last updated at 12:49 ET Turkey scrambles F-16 jets on Syria border



    James Reynolds describes the scene at the Turkey-Syria border

    Syria Conflict





    Turkey has scrambled six F-16 fighter jets near its border with Syria after Syrian helicopters came close to the border, the country's army says.
    Six jets were sent to the area in response to three such incidents on Saturday, the statement said, adding that there was no violation of Turkish airspace.


    Last month, Syrian forces shot down a Turkish jet in the border area.
    The incident further strained already tense relations between former allies.
    Turkey's government has been outspoken in its condemnation of Syria's response to the 16-month anti-government uprising, which has seen more than 30,000 Syrian refugees enter Turkey.


    Analysis

    James Reynolds BBC News, Antakya, southern Turkey
    Turkey's military has more than 500 miles of border with Syria to defend. It has now decided to treat everything that happens on the Syrian side of the border with extreme suspicion.



    The scrambling of the jets is a sign of continuing tensions. A little over a week ago, Syria shot down a Turkish warplane. Syria says that the aircraft was flying inside Syrian airspace - a charge denied by Turkey.


    Following this incident, the Turkish government announced that it had revised its military rules of engagement towards Syria. From now on, every military element that approached the Turkish border from Syria would be considered as a threat. The military has now acted on its new rules.



    Turkey is keen to show that it's protecting its territory. The government allows its southern border region of Hatay to be used as a staging ground for Syrian opposition rebels. But it doesn't want this region to become an actual battleground.



    On Friday, Turkey said it had begun deploying rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns along the border in response to the downing of its F-4 Phantom jet on 22 June.


    The move came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Turkey had changed its rules of military engagement and would now treat any Syrian military approaching the border as a threat.


    Syria said the Turkish F-4 was shot down by air defence fire inside its airspace. Turkey insists it was downed by a missile after briefly entering and the leaving Syrian airspace.


    The plane crashed in the Mediterranean, off the coast of the southern province of Hatay. Its pilots are still missing.


    Mr Erdogan spoke of Turkey's "rage" at the incident and described Syria as a "clear and present threat".


    Nato condemned the attack and voiced strong support for Turkey, after Ankara invoked Article 4 of Nato's founding treaty, which entitles any member state to ask for consultations if it believes its security is threatened.


    Four of the six jets were scrambled on Saturday from the airbase of Incirlik in response to two occasions of Syrian helicopters flying close to Hatay province, Sunday's army statement said.



    Later, two more F-16s took off from a base near Batman, in southeastern Turkey, after Syrian helicopters were spotted close to the province of Mardin, it added.


    The military said the helicopters flew as close as 6.5km (4 miles) to the border, according to the AP news agency.


    Regional impact The border incident comes after the UN and Arab League envoy on Syria, Kofi Annan, warned of the danger of the Syria conflict spilling over into the wider region if the bloodshed is not stopped.


    He was addressing an international meeting of major international and regional powers in Geneva on Saturday, aimed at reviving the six-point peace plan for Syria brokered by Mr Annan.


    The countries present at the Geneva talks reached an agreement calling for a ceasefire and a transitional government in Syria.

    Continuing violence in Syria has prompted fears of a wider regional conflict
    Western demands to exclude President Bashar al-Assad and his allies from the interim administration reportedly foundered on opposition from Russia.


    Moscow sees Syria as its closest ally in the region, and rejects any attempt to impose a solution on Syria from the outside.


    The Paris-based opposition Syrian National Council rejected the Geneva deal as too ambiguous, according to the AP news agency.


    Violence has worsened in Syria recently despite the cease-fire mediated by Mr Annan as part of his six-point plan earlier this year.


    On Friday, government forces recaptured the Damascus suburb of Douma - an opposition stronghold - after 10 days of artillery bombardment. Activists described conditions in the town as "catastrophic".


    Activists estimate that as many as 15,800 have died since the uprising began early last year. Casualty figures are difficult to verify, as Syria does not allow foreign journalists to operate on its territory.


    The conflict is seen as becoming increasingly militarised, with both rebels and government forces thought to be receiving arms supplies from abroad.
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  3. #503
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    Default Re: Syria

    Turkey weighs options for dealing with Syria

    IHA/AFP/Getty Images - Turkish military trucks carry missile batteries through Hatay Province, Turkey, on June 28, 2012. Turkey is sending missile batteries and army vehicles to the border with Syria as a "security corridor", almost a week after the Syrian downing of a Turkish military jet.





    By Justin Vela, Sunday, July 1, 4:20 PM


    ISTANBUL — When Syrian forces shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet last month, Turkey vowed to take “necessary steps” and its prime minister declared Syria a “clear and present danger.”


    Turkey reinforced its 550-mile-long border with Syria and declared new rules of engagement at the frontier. News media began running images of tanks, long-range weapons and troops being sent to the border.




    A look at the Syrian uprising one year later. Thousands of Syrians have died and President Bashar al-Assad remains in power, despite numerous calls by the international community for him to step down.




    The incident underscored the deteriorating relationship between the two neighbors as Syria’s internal conflict threatens to spill over its borders. But while Turkey has made clear that it wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gone, analysts say that Ankara is still a long way from turning angry rhetoric into action.


    “There is little risk of a direct unilateral intervention,” said Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) think tank in Istanbul. “The risk is more of a cross-border conflict or individual incidents.”


    Turkey allows the Syrian opposition to operate on its territory. But when asked whether Turkey was creating a de facto buffer zone for the rebel Free Syrian Army, a Turkish official declined to “elaborate on the matter.” The Turkish military also refused to comment on specifics of the new rules of engagement.


    After days of accusations over the downed plane, Assad told Iranian state television last week that only an internal solution could resolve the conflict. “The policies of the Turkish officials lead to the killing and bloodshed of the Syrian people,” he said.


    On Saturday, Turkey scrambled six F-16 fighters after Syrian helicopters came near the border, according to an announcement on a Turkish military Web site.


    Syria would probably consider a buffer zone an act of war, and the Turkish government appeared careful with its words. However, in recent months Turkish officials have acknowledged that they have drawn up plans for such a zone but say they do not want to act without the support of the international community.


    Ulgen said the country was “aware of the limits imposed by the international context on Turkey’s actions” in Syria. But if faced with another incident, Turkish troops were likely to return fire or even cross the border for a short period of time to attack a target, he said.


    “Again, that’s in reaction to an aggression from Syria,” Ulgen said. “The crucial factor is to eliminate the threat to Turkey.”


    Turkey hosts about 33,000 Syrian refugees in camps along the border and it fears that a greater influx could be destabilizing. Along with the downing of the plane on June 22, there have been several other cross-border incidents in the past six months, including one in April in which Syrian military gunfire struck a refugee camp and injured three people.


    Some in Turkey are concerned that Syria could help rekindle Turkey’s 30-year conflict with separatist elements within its Kurdish minority.


    A Turkish official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of issue, said that intelligence reports suggested that the Assad government had allowed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a guerrilla organization fighting the Turkish state, to operate in northern Syria.


    Turkey’s war against the PKK has left an estimated 40,000 dead since 1984.
    Syria “shouldn’t dare to support the PKK. No country should support terrorism. Syria in particular should not dare to support it,” the official said.








    Yet while the Turkish government supports the Syrian opposition, many here consider the Syrian crisis a domestic issue. A recent EDAM poll found that about 56 percent of respondents opposed intervention in Syria.


    Safak Pavey, a parliamentarian from the opposition Republican People’s Party, said the policies of Turkey’s Sunni-led government toward Syria were ill-advised.
    “For me, this is sectarian antagonism and empty-shell Ottomanism, which has no base or common sense behind it,” she said.


    The Turkish government was acting in “solidarity” with the largely Sunni Syrian opposition, said Asli Aydintasbas, an influential columnist at the daily Milliyet. “There are no doubts that Turkey would benefit from regime change in Syria,” she said.


    Turks may be skeptical of the government’s policies toward Syria, but a “public-opinion campaign” has not yet begun, Aydintasbas said. She added that while the government wants Assad gone, increasing its efforts to oust him did not necessarily require troops stepping over the border. Providing more aid to the Syrian opposition is “a kind of intervention that the public can stomach,” she said.


    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has a huge sway over his own power base. He is really able to convince . . . voters in a way that very few can,” she said.


    But in a country with its own complex sectarian make-up, there are already warnings that the conflict in Syria could provoke tensions in Turkey.


    Suleyman Yildiz, 29, a bank employee in Istanbul who is a member of the same Alawite sect that dominates the Syrian regime, has family along the border with Syria. He said he was “scared” of the government and said it was pursuing a sectarian agenda in Syria that risked bringing violence to Turkey.


    “The government is just thinking about its international position, but they also have to think about people that live in this place,” he said.




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  4. #504
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    About 800 die in week, says Syrian opposition

    Turkey scrambles jets to challenge helicopters

    BEIRUT — Syria’s main opposition group said nearly 800 people have been killed in violence across the country in the past week, which brought some of the bloodiest violence in the 16-month uprising against President Bashar Assad.

    Opposition activists groups say more than 14,000 people have been killed in the 15-month-old uprising against the president’s authoritarian rule, or on average of about 900 a month. That would make last week’s toll alone, tallied by the Syrian National Council (SNC), almost as high as the monthly average.

    The conflict also is threatening to spill across borders in the aftermath of Syria shooting down a warplane from neighboring Turkey, which responded by setting up anti-aircraft guns along the frontier. Turkey said Sunday it scrambled fighter jets to its border after Syrian helicopters flew too close to the frontier.

    The cross-border tensions and the mounting death toll have added urgency to the diplomatic efforts at an international conference over the weekend aimed at stopping the bloodshed.

    The conference in Geneva on Saturday accepted a U.N.-brokered plan calling for creation of a transitional national unity government in Syria.

    But at Russia’s insistence, the compromise agreement left the door open to Mr. Assad being part of the interim administration. It could include members of Mr. Assad's government and the opposition and other groups. It would oversee the drafting of a new constitution and elections.
    The U.S. backed away from insisting that the plan should explicitly bar Mr. Assad from any role in a new government, hoping the concession would encourage Russia to put greater pressure on its longtime ally to end the violent crackdown on dissent.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton insisted Saturday that Mr. Assad would still have to give up power.

    It is now “incumbent on Russia and China to show Assad the writing on the wall” and help force his departure,” she said. “There is a credible alternative to the Assad regime,” she said. “What we have done here is to strip away the fiction that he and those with blood on their hands can stay in power.”

    Russia and China have shielded the Assad regime from U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning the crackdown.

    Syrian opposition groups rejected the U.N.-brokered plan.

    The SNC criticized the plan as too ambiguous, underlining the seemingly intractable nature of the conflict. The opposition called it a waste of time, and vowed as they always do not to negotiate with Mr. Assad or members of his “murderous” regime.

    “Every day I ask myself, do they not see how the Syrian people are being slaughtered?” veteran Syrian opposition figure Haitham Maleh asked. “It is a catastrophe. The country has been destroyed, and they want us then to sit with the killer?”

    There was no reaction from the regime to the plan, but Mr. Assad repeatedly has said his government has a responsibility to eliminate terrorists - his term for those fighting the regime - and will not accept any non-Syrian model of governance.

    Meanwhile, Turkey scrambled its jets days after saying it would treat any Syrian military unit approaching its border as a direct threat in response to the downing of a Turkish reconnaissance plane by Syrian forces on June 22.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia helped Syria shoot down Turkish plane, UK newspaper claims

    London’s Sunday Times reports that Russian technicians helped make split-second decision to fire at jet as a warning to NATO

    By Times of Israel staff July 1, 2012, 7:47 am


    An RF-4E recon plane. (CC-BY Torugatoru, Flickr)


    Russian technicians played a key part in the shooting down of a Turkish jet near the Syrian coast late last month, sources told a British newspaper in a story published Sunday.

    The Turkish RF-4E Phantom fighter jet was on a routine surveillance run when it was shot down by Syrian gunners near the coastal city of Latakia.

    The incident sparked a serious international incident, with Turkey sending tanks and anti-aircraft weapons to the Syrian border and Damascus responding with tanks of its own.

    Turkey, which admits that the plane strayed into Syrian airspace, has promised to shoot down any Syrian plane that enters its territory.

    According a Sunday Times of London report, the Russians and Syrians believed the plane was on a NATO mission to test Syria’s airspace and was shot down, in a split-second decision, to send a message to the organization.

    Analysts had suspected Russian involvement in the incident, which drew harsh condemnations, but no military action, from NATO. Russia has protected Syrian President Bashar Assad in the UN Security Council and recently sent a number of refurbished helicopters to Damascus.

    Russians supplies Syria with its anti-aircraft batteries and trained its soldiers on their use. Diplomats say the Russians are still on hand in Syria in an advisory role, the Sunday Times reported.

    The story quotes an Israeli air force source as suggesting Russia had a hand in the incident: “We would not be surprised if these Russian experts, if they didn’t push the button, at least were beside the Syrian officers who did it.”

    Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zubi said last week that Syrian soldiers who downed the plane may have thought it was an Israeli aircraft.

    “Turkish planes and Israeli planes look alike,” the minister told the Turkish news station A Haber.

    Al-Zubi also noted that the “Zionist country” was in the area, and that the Syrian military is on alert for Israeli aircraft.

    “If an Israeli plane enters Syria, it is welcomed by fire. [The Turkish plane] might have been believed to be an Israeli plane; we did not want to take down a Turkish plane,” he said.

    Syria has been embroiled in a nearly 18-month-long civil war as rebels attempt to oust Assad from power. Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, has harbored fleeing rebels and called for Assad to step down.

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    Default Re: Syria

    • Updated July 5, 2012, 3:23 p.m. ET

    Turkey Recovers Bodies of Pilots Downed by Syria

    By JOE PARKINSON

    ISTANBUL—The bodies of two pilots shot down by Syria during a contested flight were recovered Thursday from the seabed and will be buried in a military funeral on Friday, Turkey said, in a development that is likely to further fuel debate in the country about the rapid deterioration of ties with Damascus.
    The pilots' bodies—along with parts of the jet wreckage—were located Wednesday with the help of U.S. ocean explorer Robert Ballard, best known for discovering the wreck of the Titanic, Turkey's General Staff said in a statement published on its website. The statement said Mr. Ballard, aboard his deep-sea exploration vessel Nautilus, helped to find the jet wreckage 8.6 miles (about 14 kilometers) from the Syrian coast at a depth of approximately 1,260 meters after the Turkish navy had pinpointed the area.
    Enlarge Image





    Agence France-Presse/Getty Images This image from Turkish Army footage Thursday shows helmets and boots belonging to pilots of a Turkish fighter jet that downed by Syria last month, after Turkish rescue workers found the items in the Mediterranean sea.





    "Survey ship Nautilus conducted bottom searches with cameras on July 3-4 after Turkey's 'Cesme' boat directly identified the coordinates with a sonar search, reaching certain parts of the jet and the pilots' bodies," the statement said, adding that Mr. Ballard's ship was continuing to look for more wreckage.


    The army's statement was accompanied by 31 photos of what it identified as parts of the jet wreckage and the dead pilots' uniforms, including their helmets and boots.



    The bodies of the pilots—Capt. Gokhan Ertan and Lt. Hasan Huseyin Aksoy—were to be taken to the Eastern city of Malatya to be buried at a ceremony in a military base from which the downed plane had departed, the military said in its statement. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to attend the ceremony, officials from the governing Justice and Development Party said.


    The funeral will be a national event that could focus Turks' attention on how ties with Ankara's one-time ally Damascus had degenerated to a state of hostility, said some analysts, who stressed that Turkey was unlikely to immediately unveil new measures against Syria or change its posture.



    "The funeral will be televised across the country and the prime minister is likely to give a speech at some point later in the day. People will be watching to see if that speech indicates what Turkey's next move will be," said Sinan Ulgen, a Middle East analyst at the Carnegie Endowment in Brussels.



    Only a year ago, Mr. Assad was Exhibit A in Turkey's "zero-problems-with-neighbors" foreign policy. That approach boosted relations with neighboring Muslim regimes, while downgrading ties with former ally Israel.








    Turkish military via Associated Press

    A handout image from the Turkish military General Staff in Ankara shows what the government said was a piece of the wreckage of the Turkish jet.





    The Arab Spring, however, upended that as allies such as former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were pushed aside. In a major change, Turkey agreed last fall to host a North Atlantic Treaty Organization missile-defense system, designed by the U.S. to contain Iran.


    The finding of the jet and the pilots has renewed attention on where and how a Turkish RF4 surveillance jet was downed on June 22, an event that raised tensions along Turkey's 565-mile border with Syria.



    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said Syrian forces hit the plane over territorial waters with antiaircraft gunfire. Turkey's government angrily denied a recent Wall Street Journal article citing U.S. officials who said the plane was most likely downed with shore-based antiaircraft guns over Syrian waters.



    Turkey, by contrast, has said the plane was hit 13 miles off the Syrian coast, about a mile beyond the country's 12-mile boundary, before crashing 8.6 miles off Syria. Turkey says the wreckage of the plane was found in the same vicinity. Such a finding would bolster Turkey's claim that the jet was shot in international waters.
    "That the plane was found where we said it would be shows that it was struck in international airspace," a Turkish official said Wednesday.


    —Ayla Albayrak and Emre Peker contributed to this article.
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    Analyst: Polonium found on Arafat's clothing was planted

    By YAAKOV LAPPIN
    07/05/2012 22:03
    Senior counter-terrorism analyst tells 'Post' the high levels of radioactive poison polonium reportedly found on belongings of late Palestinian leader indicate toxin was planted on him much later.

    Photo: REUTERS The high levels of the radioactive poison polonium reportedly found on the belongings of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat indicate that the toxin was planted on them long after Arafat's death, a senior counter-terrorism analyst told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.
    Dr. Ely Karmon, of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center's Institute for Counter-Terrorism, is a specialist in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism.



    Responding to an Al Jazeera report published Wednesday, which said that specialists at the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, discovered abnormally high levels of polonium on Arafat's belongings, Karmon said that the half life of the substance would make it impossible for polonium to have been discovered at such high levels if it had been used to kill Arafat eight years ago.
    According to the Al-Jazeera report, polonium has a half-life of 138 days, "meaning that half of the substance decays roughly every four-and-a-half months."
    And yet, eight years after Arafat's death, the Swiss scientists reported finding polonium levels of 54mBq and 180mBq on his belonging, considered to be high levels.
    "If it had been used to for poisoning, minimal levels should be seen now. Yet much higher levels were found. Someone planted the polonium much later," Karmon said.
    "Because of the half life of the substance, the conclusion is that the polonium is much more fresh," he added.
    Karmon added that the Al-Jazeera report raised additional unanswered questions. Referring to the fact that Arafat's widow, Suha, provided the researchers with Arafat's belongings, Karmon asked, "If Suha Arafat safeguarded these contaminated materials, why, after seven years, was she not poisoned too? She touched these things and Arafat in hospital," he added.
    In 2006, ex-Russin spy turned dissident Alexander Litvinenko died after being poisoned with polonium, according to a British investigation. British authorities analyzed a a restaurant, a cab, and a hotel used by Litvinenko to trace the poison.
    "Did Al-Jazeera check the home of Suha Arafat in Paris and Malta where she kept the items for traces of polonium, as the British did in their investigation?" Karmon asked.
    Karmon also cited an article published on Wednesday by the French daily La Figaro which, he said, reported that the symptoms found in Arafat's French medical file do not fit a polonium poisoning.
    After Arafat's death, "why did neither Suha nor the PA agreed to release the French hospital's medical file?" he added.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Iraq warns al-Qaida flowing into Syria

    By ZEINA KARAM Associated Press
    Posted: 07/05/2012 02:25:48 AM PDT
    Updated: 07/05/2012 11:51:27 AM PDT

    Click photo to enlarge


    ... ((AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY



    BEIRUT—Iraq asserted Thursday that al-Qaida insurgents are streaming out of the country to carry out attacks in Syria, an ominous development as the Syrian conflict enflames an already hostile region.

    Extremists have been making inroads as the 16-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad grinds on, bringing a dangerous new element to the forces fighting to topple the regime.



    The militants are taking advantage of the chaos and the violence gripping Syria, which the head of the country's U.N. observer mission said Thursday had reached "unprecedented levels."



    Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said authorities are worried that extremists could gain another foothold in Syria, posing a new threat to the stability of the entire region.



    "We have solid information and intelligence that members of al-Qaida's terrorist network have gone to Syria," he told reporters in Baghdad.

    Zebari did not elaborate or provide details but said his main concern is "extremist, terrorist groups taking root in neighboring countries."



    It's a turnaround from the height of the Iraqi war six years ago, when weapons and fighters would cross from Syria to aid fellow Sunnis in Iraq. Zebari said Baghdad has for years warned Damascus about al-Qaida traffic between Iraq and Syria.



    In February, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri called on Muslims from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to join the Syrian uprising, which began in March 2011 with mass protests
    inspired by the Arab Spring, then grew into a bloody insurgency as the opposition took up arms to fight a fierce government crackdown.


    Rebel fighters have launched increasingly deadly attacks on regime targets, and several suicide bombings that bear the hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq indicate extremists are joining the fray.



    Activists say more than 14,000 people have been killed since the revolt began. Syria severely restricts the media in the country, making it difficult to gain a credible account of events on the ground.



    An al-Qaida-inspired group, the Al-Nusra front, has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks across Syria. On Tuesday, the SITE monitoring group, which tracks militant chatter on the Internet, said the Al-Nusra Front released statements on extremist websites in late June saying the string of attacks were to avenge the killings of Syrians by the government.



    Opposition activists and the rebel Free Syrian Army deny having any links to terrorism and say they do not have the desire or the capabilities to carry out massive suicide bombings and other al-Qaida-style attacks. But dozens of rebel groups are operating in Syria with little or no coordination between them.



    Military defections also have been on the rise.



    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other opposition websites said Thursday that Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass—a member of the elite Republican Guards and a son of a former defense minister—reportedly had defected and fled to Turkey. If confirmed, the defection would be a major blow to Assad.



    Tlass is a top Sunni general in a regime made up mostly of members of Assad's Alawite sect and was once a close confidant of the president's.
    The Observatory quoted "multiple sources" in Syria as saying that Tlass had left Syria and was expected to formally announce his defection. Turkey did not immediately confirm the reports.



    The violence already has drawn in Syria's neighbors.



    The bodies of two Turkish pilots were recovered from the seabed Thursday after U.S. ocean explorer Robert Ballard, best known for discovering the wreck of the Titanic, helped locate them nearly two weeks after their jet was shot down by Syria.



    A Turkish official said Ballard, aboard his deep-sea exploration vessel R/V Nautilus, found the bodies Wednesday nearly 10 miles (16 kilometers) off the Syrian coast after the Turkish navy had pinpointed the area. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. The June 22 incident fueled tensions between the two neighbors and Turkey quickly deployed anti-aircraft missiles on the border.



    The head of the country's U.N. observer mission said the violence in Syria has reached unprecedented levels, insisting a cease-fire is needed in order for his teams to resume their work.



    About 300 U.N. monitors were sent to Syria to provide an unbiased look at the violence as part of a peace plan put forward by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, but a truce has failed to take hold and the observers have been confined to their hotels since June 15 because of the bloodshed.



    "The escalation of violence, allow me to say, to an unprecedented level, obstructed our ability to observe, verify, report as well as assist in local dialogue," Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood told reporters in the Syrian capital Damascus.



    He urged both sides of the conflict to have the "moral courage to break out of the cycle of violence" and engage in dialogue.



    "The longer the violence goes on, with more civilians killed or trapped in the line of fire, the more difficult it will become to have a peaceful transition," he said.



    Activists reported at least 26 people killed across Syria Thursday in clashes between troops and rebels and government shelling on suburbs of the capital Damascus, the central Homs region and rebel-held areas in northern and southern Syria.



    More than 200,000 Syrians have so far fled the country overland, seeking refuge in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.



    The president of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias, said the island nation has drawn up contingency plans to receive a possible influx of evacuees from Syria if necessary.



    Cyprus is only 65 miles (105 kilometers) west of Syria.
    Russia, a main ally of the Syrian regime, said it was not considering offering asylum to Assad. The statement came after respected Russian daily newspaper Kommersant quoted diplomatic sources on Wednesday as saying that Western nations are pushing Moscow to do so.



    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia has no such plans, and he insisted such an invitation would not make sense because "Syrians themselves need to find common ground."



    Also Thursday, the secret-spilling group Wikileaks said it was in the process of publishing material from 2.4 million Syrian emails—many of which it said came from official government accounts.



    WikiLeaks' Sarah Harrison told journalists in London that the emails reveal interactions between the Syrian government and Western companies, although she declined to go into much further detail.



    Harrison quoted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as saying that "the material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria's external opponents."



    ———
    Associated Press writers Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad, John Heilprin in Geneva, Raphael Satter in London, Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara and Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.
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    Default Re: Syria

    6 July 2012 Last updated at 08:36 ET

    'Top Syrian defector' Manaf Tlas heads for Paris

    Manaf Tlas (r) trained at military academy with President Bashar al-Assad
    Continue reading the main story Syria conflict





    A Syrian general from a powerful family close to President Bashar al-Assad has defected and is on his way to Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said.


    Mr Fabius described it as a "hard blow for the regime" that showed Mr Assad's entourage was beginning to realise the regime was unsustainable.


    Brig Gen Manaf Tlas fled Syria via Turkey, his family confirmed.
    If confirmed, it would be the highest-level defection since the unrest began.



    Pro-government website Syriasteps said earlier Gen Tlas had made an "escape", adding the move was "insignificant".
    Earlier rumours about his possible defection in March proved to be false.
    'Good sign' Analysis

    Mohamed Yehia BBC Arabic


    If confirmed, this would be the highest level defection and the first from the inner circle around the Syrian president since the popular uprising against him started in March 2011.


    This would also be damaging and embarrassing for the Damascus government, as it would be explained as an indication that cracks are appearing at the top of the ruling establishment and could encourage other Sunni defections.


    The close relationship between Manaf Tlas and Bashar Assad goes back to the mid 90s when Bashar ended his medical career in the UK and was recalled to Syria to be groomed for succession following his older brother and heir apparent Basil's sudden death in a road accident in 1994.


    The Republican Guard, of which Manaf Tlas was a top leader, is the main force responsible for the security and protection of the Assad government and is commanded directly by the inner circle in the presidential palace.
    As such it is thought that he has a clear understanding and insight into how the Syrian government works at the top level and how the decision-making process worked since the start of the uprising.



    Speaking at a meeting of Friends of Syria in Paris, Mr Fabius said: "A senior official from the Syrian regime, a commander in the Republican Guard, has defected and is headed to Paris."


    "[Mr Assad's] close entourage is beginning to understand that the regime is unsustainable," he added.


    "Even those close to Assad have begun to understand that one cannot support a slaughterer like Bashar al-Assad."


    His father, former Defence Minister Mustafa Tlas, is reportedly living in France.


    Brig Gen Tlas's intentions may only become clear if and when he appears in public to outline his plans, the BBC's James Reynolds on the Turkish-Syrian border reports.


    Amer al-Sadeq, a member of a Damascus-based opposition group, described the latest development as "a good sign".


    "Defecting soldiers, we see many of them, defecting officers, the more they come the better it is to make the regime weaker," Mr Sadeq told the BBC.


    Brig Gen Tlas, believed to be in his mid-40s, is a commander of a unit of the elite Republican Guard. As a young man he attended military training with President Assad.


    Brig Gen Tlas has been under a form of home arrest since May 2011 because he opposed the security solution that the regime has been implementing, sources say.



    He also was the first government official to meet the opposition back last year to try to start a dialogue and find a political solution to the 16-month crisis.


    Unlike most of Syria's Alawite leaders, the son of former Defence Minister Mustafa Tlas is a Sunni Muslim.



    Syria's majority Sunni community has been at the forefront of the revolt against the president and has borne the brunt of the state's crackdown, which the UN estimates has left at least 10,000 people dead.


    For decades, the Tlas family has given support to the Assad family, helping to ensure Bashar al-Assad's succession to the presidency 12 years ago.




    Manaf Tlas's father, Mustafa, was Syria's defence minister


    If Manaf Tlas' permanent departure from Syria is confirmed, it would mark the first break of a member of President Assad's close circle, correspondents say.



    Observers believe that the move may encourage other Sunni officers to consider their allegiances.


    'Legitimate aspirations'

    Gen Tlas's departure comes as French President Francois Hollande is hosting a Paris Friends of Syria conference with representatives of more than 100 countries to try to find a way to end the violence in Syria.
    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the representatives to persuade Russia and China to end their support for the Syrian regime.
    Profile: Manaf Tlas


    • Brigadier in elite Republican Guard
    • Member of Syria's most powerful Sunni family
    • Son of former defence minister
    • Member of the ruling Baath Party's Central Committee
    • Close friend of Bashar al-Assad




    "I ask you to reach out to Russia and China and to not only urge but demand that they get off the sidelines and begin to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people," she said.


    "I don't think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all, nothing at all, for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime."


    She also called on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution imposing immediate sanctions on Syria, including under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, allowing for the possibility of military force.


    The Paris meeting follows similar events in Tunis and Istanbul which demanded tougher action against the Assad regime.


    Russia and China, which both hold vetoes in the Security Council, are not at the meeting.


    UN diplomats are working on a document calling for restrictions on commercial activity if Mr Assad fails to abide by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's ceasefire plan and roadmap for a political transition.


    The roadmap - announced last weekend by Annan after a meeting of world powers in Geneva - includes an interim government to enable the Syrian people to live ''independently and democratically''.


    The Western powers believe that Mr Assad should play no part in Syria's future, but the roadmap allows Mr Assad an effective veto over any interim candidate he opposes.


    Some 15,800 people have died in more than a year of violence in Syria, activists say.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Clinton: Russia and China will 'pay price' for supporting Assad

    Get short URL
    email story to a friend print version
    Published: 06 July, 2012, 13:22
    Edited: 06 July, 2012, 21:12

    US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listens during a meeting of the "Friends of the Syrian People" at the MFA Conference Center July 6, 2012 in Paris, France (AFP Photo Pool/Brendan Smialowski)


    TRENDS: Syria unrest
    TAGS: Arms, Military, Russia, Hillary Clinton, Politics, USA, Lavrov, Syria, Sanctions

    Russia rejects in the strongest possible terms allegations that it supports President Assad in the Syrian conflict. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Moscow and Beijing must 'pay a price' for backing Assad.

    “I do not believe that Russia and China are paying any price at all – nothing at all – for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime. The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price,” Clinton warned.*

    Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said the west is operating within a friend-or-foe framework that he called outmoded.

    “We categorically reject that such a question would even be posed regarding the current situation in Syria and Russia’s ‘backing’ of President Bashar Assad. This is not a question of supporting certain political figures or leaders. This is a question of managing a crisis situation in the country within a normal political framework,” Ryabkov said.

    “Unfortunately, we’re unable to get a basic understanding from our western partners. The west is still appealing to “friend-or-foe” terms. We considered such terminology to be a thing of the past,” Ryabkov explained.

    Russia and China once again opted not to attend the “Friends of Syria” meeting. Neither Moscow nor Beijing believe the meeting in the French capital will be helpful in uniting the Syrian opposition “on a constructive basis”.

    We have frankly laid out the reasons why we have restrained from joining the mechanism, the very name of which has a contradiction between the word and the deed,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier this week.

    The US Secretary of State further criticized Russia for the maintenance of Syria’s Soviet-made helicopters. Two weeks ago Hillary Clinton lashed out at Russia for repairing three Syrian helicopters, saying their presence “will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”

    The Russian Foreign Ministry swiftly refuted the allegations.

    “In 2008 there was a contract to repair them. They are still to be assembled after delivery'', Lavrov said. ''That entire process will take at least three months. So to speak about something we have just sold to Syria, which is then to be used in action, is not true at all,” he added.

    Meanwhile, Kofi Annan called on the West and Russia to lay aside their differences and work towards a sooner end to the Syrian bloodshed, which according to the UN latest estimates, has taken some 15,000 lives.

    "They [the West] accuse the Russians of arming the [Syrian] government. The Russians accuse them of arming the opposition and flooding the place with weapons. This is instead of coming together to see what can be done," Annan told the Guardian on Friday.

    US to seek another UN Security Council resolution

    *The Paris conference wrapped up with a six-point resolution, affirming that more definitive UN Security Council action is required to resolve the 16-month conflict in Syria.

    Hillary Clinton said the lack of compliance with Annan’s peace plan or obstruction to the transition should be punished with further sanctions.

    "We should go back and ask for a resolution in the Security Council that imposes real and immediate consequences for non-compliance, including sanctions," ranging from economic measures to military force, she said.

    Two previous UNSC resolutions have been vetoed by China and Russia.

    Friends of Syria’s meeting also concluded with an agreement that the Syrian opposition should receive broader support, while those “who carry out and support repression” must face tougher and wider sanctions.

    In the meeting, French President Francois Hollande demanded Assad step down. The Syrian opposition also called for humanitarian corridors and a no-fly zone to be implemented.

    The Friends of Syria gathering comes just a week after a UN-led summit in Geneva where the international community endeavored to reach a consensus on the conflict. They agreed to get behind UN envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for a transition government in Syria.

    However, Russia said that western powers were purposely distorting the terms of the agreement to push for the removal of Assad.

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that the agreement said Assad must leave office, whereas Moscow claims that the original accord made no allusion to the removal of the Syrian president.

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    Default Re: Syria

    And who listens to Clinton?

    “I do not believe that Russia and China are paying any price at all – nothing at all – for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime. The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price,” Clinton warned.*
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia sends warships to Syria

    Russia despatched a flotilla of warships to its naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus on Tuesday in an apparent show of support for President Bashar al-Assad.

    Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria, sought regional support for his faltering peace plan as he held talks with senior officials in both Iran and Iraq Photo: AFP








    By Tom Parfitt, Moscow and Adrian Blomfield

    5:31PM BST 10 Jul 2012


    Two destroyers and three amphibious landing vessels carrying marines set sail from Russian bases in the Arctic and the Black Sea, according to Russian military sources.

    Russia's defence ministry insisted that the mission was part of a previously scheduled exercise in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea and at least one of the vessels in the flotilla has patrolled waters off Syria earlier this year.

    But Western diplomats say the purpose of the mission is to show tangible support for Mr Assad, to warn the West against military intervention in Syria and to prepare for the possible evacuation of Russian nationals from the country.

    Russia renewed naval patrols in the Mediterranean in 2007 – after a 15-year hiatus – with a wider aim of expressing the country's military resurgence.

    It was unclear whether the ships were carrying weapons supplies or large numbers of marines.

    Related Articles





    Despite the demonstration of military strength, speculation has been mounting that Russia is subtly realigning its once unquestioned support for Mr Assad, although its public position is unlikely to change.
    This week, Moscow announced that it would halt the delivery of new weapons to the Syrian armed forces, while some of Mr Assad's leading opponents have been invited to the Kremlin for talks.
    Meanwhile, Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria, sought regional support for his faltering peace plan as he held talks with senior officials in both Iran and Iraq.
    Mr Annan, who said this week that he was working on a new proposal to end the fighting in Syria, said he believed that Iran could play a "positive role" in ending the crisis, despite its close relationship with the Assad regime.
    The United States has accused Iran of propping up Mr Assad, by giving him arms and logistical support.
    Mr Annan has said that he will brief the Syrian opposition on a new approach he has agreed with Mr Assad earlier this week. Although he would not be drawn on the specifics of the proposal, he said that his new plan involved ending the conflict on a step-by-step basis, beginning with districts that have suffered the worst violence.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia Sends Warships to Mediterranean


    Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian Ambassadors during their meeting in the Foreign Ministry, in Moscow, July 9, 2012.















    James Brooke
    July 10, 2012

    MOSCOW — For the last year, the Russian government has tried to project an image of neutrality in the increasingly bloody conflict in Syria.

    Now, it may be sending a signal of support to its longtime ally, President Bashar al-Assad, by sending warships to the area. Russia may also want to protect its forces at its Tartus naval base.

    A flotilla of Russian Navy ships set sail Tuesday for the Mediterranean, where Russia maintains a small base at Tartus, Syria.

    A destroyer and three landing ships left the Arctic port of Severomorsk. A second destroyer left Russia’s base at Sevastopol, Ukraine. And Interfax reported that more warships from the Baltic Fleet, based in St. Petersburg, are preparing to join the flotilla.

    The warships set sail the day after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin accused the West of “missile bomb democracy.”

    In a key policy speech to top Russian diplomats gathered in Moscow, he accused the West of using deception to gain political advantage.

    “This can be seen from the so-called humanitarian operations, from exports of the ‘missile-bomb’ democracy, and intervention in internal conflicts, including those bred by the ‘Arab spring’,” said the president.

    Putin’s hardline rhetoric came as Syrian opposition groups have come to Moscow to lobby the Kremlin to stop supporting Syria's President Assad.

    While briefing reporters, Basma Kodmani, a member of the executive bureau of the Syrian National Council, appealed to Russia to help Syrians turn the page and switch to a new democratic system.

    The Kremlin and Syria’s opposition share common ground - a fear of chaos, anarchy and religious radicalism, she said.

    During the Assad family’s 40-year rule of Syria, thousands of Syrians studied in Moscow and many married Russians.

    Munzer Mahos, a member of the Syrian National Committee, started to speak in Russian to reporters before switching to Arabic.

    “We consider Russia our friend, our historical ally. The former Soviet Union and now Russia have done a lot for us. We have maintained a long-time solid friendship, so this is not about pushing Russia aside,” he said.

    On Wednesday, the Syrian opposition members are to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The Syrians said they would not ask Russia to give asylum to President Assad and his family.

    One opposition member, Mahmoud al-Hamza, told reporters that the opposition National Council opposes granting asylum to the Syrian president. He charged that Assad “has stained his hands with the blood of the Syrian people.”

    Russian diplomats say the Syrian president has not asked for asylum. They say that Russia’s relations with Syria are not tied to the Assad family remaining in power.

    On Monday, another Syrian opposition group, the Democratic Forum, met with Foreign Minister Lavrov.

    Afterwards, one member of the group, Hazem Nahar, warned the Kremlin to stop sitting on the fence.

    “The more you wait, the greater the risk Islamists will come to power in Syria,” he said.

    Looking to a post-Assad future, he warned: “If Russia does not change its position, Syria will stop being its ally.”

    But, with Russian Navy ships from three Russian fleets now steaming toward Syria’s coast, the Kremlin seems to be sending a clear signal that it will stand by Assad.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russian Ships to Maneuver in Mediterranean and Black Seas



    Moscow, Jul 10 (Prensa Latina) Russian warships from the North, Baltic and Black Sea fleets will conduct maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding areas in the coming weeks, reported the press service for the Ministry of Defense (Mindef) today.

    As part of its planned summer preparation, the warships for the three fleets will practice coordination between commanders for maritime war operations, said the source.

    The grouping of the Northern Fleet, which started its journey from the port of Severodvinsk, includes the great anti-submarine ship "Admiral Chebanenko" and amphibious "Otrakovsky Alexander", "Georgi Pavedantosets" and "Kondopaga".

    In addition, support ships "Nikolai Chiker" and "Serguei Osipov" will complete the fleet.

    At sea, that group will be joined by the Baltic fleet, which includes the surveillance vessel "Yaraslav Mudri" and "Lena" tanker, said the Mindef press release.

    Upon reaching Mediterranean waters both groups will engage in naval war exercises, joining the large amphibious ships "Nikolai Filchenkov" and "Tsesar Kumikov" and the "Smatlivi" surveillance ship.

    The Mindef noted that between December 2011 and February 2012, the Russian naval force engaged in successful exercises in parts of the Atlantic and Mediterranean, with a fleet led by the heavy aircraft carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov".

    sc/sa/cgm/mgt/to
    Modificado el ( martes, 10 de julio de 2012 )
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia sends Black Sea warship to Syria -source






    SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine | Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:30am EDT



    (Reuters) - Russia dispatched a destroyer-class warship to Syria on Tuesday, a source in the Russian Navy told Reuters, and another military source was quoted as saying four more Russian ships were en route to the violence-torn country.


    Moscow has been the major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he battles an armed uprising, but the source quoted by Interfax news agency said the ships' mission had nothing to do with the conflict.


    Interfax quoted the military source as saying the ships were carrying marines on a training mission as well as food, water and fuel for Russia's naval maintenance and repair base in Syria's Mediterranean port of Tartous.


    It is Moscow's only naval base outside of the former Soviet Union and its navy regularly sends supplies there.


    The destroyer Smetlivy, which patrolled the waters off the coast of Syria in April and May, was seen leaving the Black Sea port of Sevastopol on Tuesday morning.


    "Smetlivy is leaving for Syria today... The vessel is expected to reach the Turkish straits tomorrow morning," the navy source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


    A Russian Black Sea Fleet spokesman said the ship had been dispatched, but declined to confirm its destination. "The vessel has gone to sea, I cannot tell you anything else," spokesman Vyacheslav Trukhachyov said.


    The military source told Interfax that three landing ships and an anti-submarine destroyer from Russia's Northern fleet had left the port of Severomorsk and were headed for Tartous.


    Russia, which has blocked Western-led attempts to have the U.N. Security Council impose harsh sanctions on Assad's government, has been a major arms supplier to Damascus. But a Russian official was reported on Monday as saying that Moscow was suspending arms deliveries while the conflict continued.


    Late last year, Russia sent a flotilla of warships to waters off Syria including flagship aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.
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    Default Re: Syria

    US currently unconcerned by Russian Syria flotilla
    (AFP) – 1 hour ago
    WASHINGTON — The United States is aware of a Russian naval flotilla headed for a Syrian port but does not yet see cause for concern, the White House said Tuesday.
    "We currently have no reason to believe this move is anything out of the ordinary but we refer you to the Russian government for more details," Erin Pelton, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told AFP.
    Russia has sent a naval flotilla of seven warships led by an anti-submarine destroyer to its naval base at the Syrian port of Tartus, the Interfax news agency reported Tuesday.
    Russia has been bitterly criticized by the West for failing to cut military ties with Syria despite the conflict between the regime and opposition rebels that has claimed thousands of lives.
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    Default Re: Syria

    The US is unconcerned about 11 Russian warships being sent near Syria for maneuvers?

    Obama brushed off the 30 strategic bombers because he invited them to RIMPAC and
    Red Flag
    , while training Russian Paratroopers to practice killing terrorists on US soil using special service weapons.


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    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
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    No, you won’t accept
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    Default Re: Syria

    Heard a bit on FNC eariler that Syria is reportedly taking chemical weapons out of storage!

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    Default Re: Syria

    let's hope the russkies are on there way to clean up their own mistake_ puttin, leaving them there in first place.

    Syria takes WMD out of storage: US: Situation incredibly dangerous

    DEBKAfile
    Special Report
    July 13, 2012, 10:36 AM (GMT+02:00)
    Tags:
    Syrian missiles chemical weapons Bashar Assad US-Syria Israel


    Syrian missile drill

    As part of its ongoing war maneuver, Syria Thursday, July 12, this week drilled the firing of advanced Scud D ballistic missiles capable of carrying chemical weapons and nerve gas – a clear message from Bashar Assad that weapons of mass destruction are now in play to save his regime.
    American officials, alarmed by the movement out of storage of parts of his vast arsenal of sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide, warned it could escalate the Syrian conflict and expand it to other parts of the region. "This could set the precedent of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] being used under our watch," one U.S. official said. "This is incredibly dangerous to our national security." The Obama administration has begun to hold classified briefings about the new intelligence.
    DEBKAfile’s military sources say that two developments drove the Syrian president Bashar Assad to this extreme threat:
    1. The rebels were discovered to have procured roadside bombs capable of crippling the T-72 tank units he has just tried injecting into the battle for the first time this week. Tanks sent in long convoys into Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus were blown up.
    2. The balance of war has reached the point that the government controls only those parts of the country where heavy military or security forces contingents with massive fire power are deployed; elsewhere, the rebels have the upper hand.
    In the course of its war exercise, the Syrians fired a selection of ground-to-ground missiles which they described as capable of “hitting targets deep within enemy territory.” Our military sources say all the Scuds, the M-600, Fateh-110 and Zelzal can reach any point in Israel. They also tested upgraded C-802 shore-to-ship rockets.
    American officials revealed Thursday in Washington that “Syria has begun moving parts of its vast arsenal of chemical weapons out of storage facilities.” They didn’t say to where they were moved.
    DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the missile warheads and shells containing poisonous weapons such as sarin, mustard gas and cyanide are being moved to specific Syrian units ahead of field operations.
    Some US officials are quoted by The Wall Street Journal as fearing “Damascus intends to use the weapons against the rebels or civilians, potentially as part of a targeted ethnic cleansing campaign.” Others hope it is a feint to inspire fear. Whatever the case, the alarmed US official said in Washington: This could set the precedent of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] being used under our watch" and is "incredibly dangerous to our national security."

    Last edited by samizdat; July 13th, 2012 at 20:26.

    canto XXV Dante

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  20. #520
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    Default Re: Syria

    Well if wmd is moving around there now then it won't be long before this is resolved one way or another.

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