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Thread: Syria

  1. #521
    Creepy Ass Cracka & Site Owner Ryan Ruck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Syria

    Last word I had heard on this was Syria claiming they were relocating them to prevent them from falling into rebel hands. Israel supposedly backed this up.

    Haven't had the time to verify any of that though.

  2. #522
    Senior Member samizdat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Syria

    It-s hard to tell the bad guys from the good guys these days. Plus religious impulse could be an inertial force.

    gettin the wmd out of @safe stock@ could be a "draw play" by the 7th mahdi types_ lookin to draw Israel into

    a "blitz" play (burying the wmd) w/usa bunker busters. "now that, BUSTER", will get a retort from united islam/africa etc. gang w/ sco backing for a freefor all. Damascus &Jerusalem willbe left desolate.

    It's possible that the russkies are turning on the heat, and ordered assad to get the junk out in publik and turn it over so they can "show the world" what solzhenitsyn claimed toward the end ofhis life....that the russkies are the pioneers & protectors of western Christianity and civilization(paraphrase).... 2 nuts from the same shell...cell?

    Yup... I hope so. I hope it's agit-prop//lookin good soviet bourgeois party power play.


    Hilary??///.... hilariously hysterically... too much. "the hourglass is running out". Now we know who the west witch is.


    bottom line is the russkies should have sent spets nazhdorovnies in long ago to skoop out and bury the dirty sheet.

    But.... that would have eliminated the lost opprtunity to save the day in a crisis. And buttress "Mother Russia's" image in the face book of world crisis.

    canto XXV Dante

    from purgatory, the lustful... "open your breast to the truth which follows and know that as soon as the articulations in the brain are perfected in the embryo, the first Mover turns to it, happy...."
    Shema Israel

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  3. #523
    Senior Member samizdat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Syria

    In tune w/ the beginning of this thread....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntLsElbW9Xo

    canto XXV Dante

    from purgatory, the lustful... "open your breast to the truth which follows and know that as soon as the articulations in the brain are perfected in the embryo, the first Mover turns to it, happy...."
    Shema Israel

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  4. #524
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia Accuses West of Blackmail on Syria Plans


    By JIM HEINTZ Associated Press
    MOSCOW July 16, 2012 (AP)

    Russia on Monday accused the West of effectively trying to use blackmail to secure a new U.N. Security Council resolution that could allow for the use of force in Syria.

    The Security Council is debating a new resolution on Syria as international envoy Kofi Annan's plan for halting the fighting appears dead and the violence in Syria escalates. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was meeting Annan later Monday, with his country facing intense criticism that it is standing in the way of an end to the conflict.

    Russia has adamantly opposed international military intervention in Syria. Such a step has been all but ruled out publicly by Western nations, but the text for a Western-backed resolution circulated by Britain that calls for sanctions would leave the possibility open for military enforcement under the U.N. Charter's Chapter 7. Russia has submitted a rival text.

    The debate comes as a mandate for a U.N. observer force expires on July 20, and Lavrov insisted that the West was using the deadline as a bargaining chip.

    "To our great regret, there are elements of blackmail," Lavrov said at a news conference. "We are being told that if you do not agree to passing the resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, then we shall refuse to extend the mandate of the monitoring mission."
    Sergey Lavrov
    AP
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks... View Full Caption

    "We consider it to be an absolutely counterproductive and dangerous approach, since it is unacceptable to use monitors as bargaining chips," he said.

    The British draft threatens non-military sanctions against President Bashar Assad's government if it doesn't withdraw troops and heavy weapons from population centers within 10 days.

    Throughout the 16-month Syrian crisis, in which activists say some 17,000 people have been killed in fighting between Assad's forces and opposition groupings, Russia has adamantly opposed international military intervention, fearing a repeat of the type of international action that helped drive Libya's Moammar Gadhafi out of power.

    Russia says it does not overtly support Assad, Russia's longtime ally, and by strongly backing Annan's plan. It maintains any change of power in Syria must be achieved through negotiation, but the Syrian opposition has repeatedly said no negotiations with the Assad regime are possible unless he first leaves power.

    Lavrov reiterated Moscow's position on Monday, saying it was unrealistic to try to persuade Assad to resign.

    "He won't leave, not because we are defending him, but simply because a very significant part of the population in Syria stands behind him," he said.

    Comments by Annan last week indicated he favors the British resolution draft and it was unclear if he would have any significant leverage to exert on Russia during his two-day trip to Moscow, which also includes a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

    Lavrov said he would not characterize the situation as a stalemate, but expressed dismay with the continuing fighting.

    "What is happening in Syria is horrible," he said.
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  5. #525
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia Warns It Will Not Back Britain on Syria Sanctions
    By ANDREW E. KRAMER
    Published: July 16, 2012

    MOSCOW — Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov made clear on Monday that the Kremlin has no intention of supporting a British proposal to enact United Nations sanctions as a solution to the Syrian crisis.

    Mr. Lavrov characterized Western foreign policy in Syria as naïve and dangerous and said it failed to take into account the vulnerability of Christian and Muslim religious minorities and the presence of terrorists among the armed opposition.

    Persuading Russia to take a harder line on Syria is "not the key" to finding peace, he said in comments to journalists at the Foreign Ministry before a meeting with Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League special envoy on Syria.

    The pressure on Russia from the West has "elements of blackmail" ahead of a vote in the Security Council later this week on extending the mission of U.N. observers, Mr. Lavrov said.

    A Western-backed British proposal would link the extension of this mission with an ultimatum to President Bashar al-Assad to withdraw heavy weapons from populated areas or face economic sanctions that could be enforced through military action.

    "To our great regret, there are elements of blackmail," Mr. Lavrov said. "We are being told: if you do not agree to the resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, then we shall refuse to extend the mandate of the monitoring mission in this country."

    "We consider it an absolutely counterproductive and dangerous approach since it is unacceptable to use observers as bargaining chips," he said.

    Mr. Lavrov’s statement suggested that there was little room for Russia to shift its position closer to the British-backed resolution. Russia has a competing proposal: to extend the military observer mission under a slightly broader mandate, allowing it some political role.

    The United Nations observers over the weekend investigated violence in a farming community, Tremseh, which Syrian opposition groups had characterized as a massacre. Mr. Lavrov, questioned about the incident, said the observers found signs both the military and the opposition were armed and fought in the village.

    In such conditions, Mr. Lavrov said, Russia is not the "key" to resolving the Syrian crisis. The Kremlin’s influence stops short of being able to persuade Mr. Assad to declare a cease-fire with no corresponding agreement by the opposition.

    Western nations have a role, too, Mr. Lavrov said, in exerting what influence they have on the Free Syrian Army to halt the fighting.

    "Any violence deserves condemnation. But condemnation alone will not suffice. Pressure should be put on the regime and on the opposition in order to end the violence there," he said.

    Mr. Annan will meet on Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. He is visiting Russia as the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, is on a mission to China to ask for support from Beijing on stronger action in Syria. The mandate for the U.N. observers expires on Friday.

    Mr. Lavrov’s comments made clear that Russia is unlikely to compromise. "If our partners decide to block our resolution at any cost, the U.N. mission will not have a mandate and will have to leave Syria," he said. "That would be lamentable."

    He also expressed concern for the fate of minorities, including Orthodox Christians, in Syria if a principally Sunni Muslim opposition comes to power. Orthodox churches in both countries maintain close ties.
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  6. #526
    Senior Member samizdat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Syria

    I saw this last night.
    Assad receives last warning to stop moving his WMD: Top generals defect
    DEBKAfile
    Exclusive Report
    July 15, 2012, 10:36 PM (GMT+02:00)

    Tags:
    Syrian uprising defections Bashar Assad chemical weapons Turkey


    Shabiha heavies. Their generals defected

    Several high-placed generals Sunday, July 17 bolted Bashar Assad’s inner circle to Turkey, including such key figures as two security services chiefs who were operations commanders of the Alawite Shabiha militia plus the former head of Syria’s chemical and biological administration who took six other generals with him, DEBKAfile reports exclusively. Another senior general was assassinated in Aleppo. Assad also received a last warning not to move his chemical weapons again or else they would be destroyed from the air.
    Read more

    canto XXV Dante

    from purgatory, the lustful... "open your breast to the truth which follows and know that as soon as the articulations in the brain are perfected in the embryo, the first Mover turns to it, happy...."
    Shema Israel

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  7. #527
    Senior Member samizdat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Syria

    The situation is notlookin too cute. (debka short flick)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMZY9aVwqhU&feature=player_embedded

    canto XXV Dante

    from purgatory, the lustful... "open your breast to the truth which follows and know that as soon as the articulations in the brain are perfected in the embryo, the first Mover turns to it, happy...."
    Shema Israel

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  8. #528
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    Default Re: Syria

    Bomb strikes at heart of Syrian security

    By Mona Alami, Special for USA TODAY

    Updated <1m ago

    BEIRUT – The bombing of the National Security headquarters in Damascus on Wednesday has shaken the core of the Syrian security apparatus, killing three of the regime's top — and most influential — members.

    • AP
      Smoke billows over Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday after a bomb ripped through a high-level security meeting.

    Enlarge



    AP
    Smoke billows over Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday after a bomb ripped through a high-level security meeting.

    The bomb blast killed Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Daoud Rajha, Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, who was also President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law, and former defense minister Hassan Turkmani during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and security officials, according to state-television SANA.

    The opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) said Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar and Hafez Makhlouf, Assad's cousin and head of the Investigation Department of the General Intelligence Services in Damascus, had been injured and were possibly dead.

    There were contradictory reports about the status of Maher Assad, brother of the Syrian president and head of the elite Republican Guards.

    "We still have not been able to establish for sure if Maher al-Assad had attended the meeting or not," said Col. Aref Hamoud of the FSA, speaking from Turkey.

    Mourad al-Chami, spokesman of the opposition's Damascus Local Coordination Committee, said the attack was carried out by members of a formerly little-known group, the Seif al-Islam Brigades.

    Rebel commander Riad al-Assad said it was his forces that planted the bomb in the meeting room and detonated it. He said none of his people were injured. Syrian television initially called the attack a suicide bombing.

    This operation is the first of its kind to strike such high-ranking members of the Syrian elite in the 17 months since the uprising against the Assad regime began in March. On Tuesday, an estimated 93 people were killed nationwide. More than 17,000 have been killed in the revolt, most by Syrian security forces and their allies, according to the coordination committee.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the bombing showed that the bloodshed in Syria was "rapidly spinning out of control," and it was time for the international community to bring "maximum pressure" on Assad to step down and permit a stable transfer of power, the Associated Press reported. The Obama administration also placed new financial sanctions on Assad's government.

    While not much is known about Shawkat, he was considered by Assad opponents to be one of the most ruthless members of the Assad clan and one of the men overseeing the 30-year Syrian military and intelligence presence in neighboring Lebanon.

    Rajha was the highest-ranking Christian in the mostly Alawite-Muslim Assad regime. An artillery specialist, he was deputy chief of staff of the Syrian army. He was appointed defense minister in 2011, at the beginning of the Syrian uprising.

    Former defense minister Turkmani headed the crisis unit responsible for managing the government's response to the uprising and was widely believed to be behind the orders to torture and liquefy opponents.

    "The death of these key regime figures is a severe blow to the Syrian regime since this particular crisis unit led the repressive operations against the rebellion," said Hamoud of the Free Syria Army. "It is the beginning of the end for the Assad regime and will encourage many more soldiers to defect."

    The bombing was followed by several other explosions in Damascus as members of the FSA fought skirmishes that involved heavy artillery and helicopters. A number of explosions also took place at the 4th Brigade Headquarters, which protects the presidential palace, said Syrian TV.

    Rebel forces announced earlier this week that the battle to liberate Damascus — a city that had escaped much of the fighting that has taken place between the rebels and the Syrian security forces in more rural areas — had begun. City sections such as Qaboon, Hay Phalastine and Barzeh were bombarded by Syrian army forces to clear out the rebels.

    According to both Hamoud and Chami, 300 soldiers defected today in the Syrian capital, 500 more in the restive city of Homs, and many more in the flashpoint region of Idleb.
    "The heads of the various LCCs are reporting massive defections in their respective areas," Chami said.

    Chami said most of the defectors were Sunni Muslims and not from the Shiite Alawite community from which the Assad family hails and draws its support.

    "Given rising sectarian tensions, we fear that there will be retaliatory operations in mixed (Sunni-Alawite) regions and especially in areas such as Homs, where large-scale massacres have already been committed by the regime," said Chami.

    Damascus-based activist Omar al-Dimashki said large numbers of troops and plainclothes police were deployed in the streets after the explosion. Snipers took positions on high buildings in different neighborhoods, he said.

    "More than 80% of shops in Damascus are closed. People are rushing home," he said.

    "It's so empty, it reminds me of when Hafez Assad died in 2000," said a resident of Damascus, who declined to be identified for fear of retribution. "Everyone is really scared of the coming days, especially tonight, with the possibility that the regime will take revenge."

    Syrian TV said the military was beating back the rebels but it was not immediately clear where Assad was. The Syrian president gave no immediate statements on the attacks.

    Hamoud said victory was in sight, which he said would encourage members of the Alawite community to join the uprising.

    "The fall of Damascus ends the battle regardless. If some loyalists choose to flee back to Alawite regions, I advise them not to link their fate to the Assad family," he said.
    Last edited by American Patriot; July 18th, 2012 at 18:57.
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  9. #529
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia accuses West of inciting Syrians

    2012-07-18 20:31





    AP




    Moscow - Russia on Wednesday accused the West of inciting the Syrian opposition after the defence minister and President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law were killed in a bomb attack, arguing that support for the rebels was a dead end that would lead to more bloodshed.


    Russia, a longtime Syria ally, is at odds with the US and its European allies ahead of a scheduled vote on Wednesday afternoon on a new resolution that would impose sanctions on Syria's government aimed at ending the country's 17-month civil war.


    "Instead of calming the opposition down, some of our partners are inciting it to go on," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday.


    Supporting the Syrian opposition "is a dead-end policy, because Assad is not leaving voluntarily", he said.


    The key stumbling block to an agreement on a Syria plan at the UN Security Council is the Western demand for a resolution threatening non-military sanctions and tied to Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict in Syria.


    Russia is adamantly opposed to any mention of sanctions or Chapter 7. Although Western nations appear to have little appetite for force, Russia fears a repeat of the Nato campaign in Libya and adamantly opposes any prospect of international intervention.


    A Western-backed resolution that would impose sanctions and allows for possible military intervention "would amount to direct support of the revolutionary movement", Lavrov said.


    Britain's Foreign Secretary insisted on Wednesday, however, that the bombing underscored the urgent need for a Chapter 7 resolution.


    "The situation in Syria is clearly deteriorating. All the members of the UN Security Council have a responsibility to put their weight behind the enforcement of... Annan's plan to end the violence," he said in a statement.


    Putin supports Assad


    In Paris, French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bernard Valéro said that the Syrian regime "is not in control of the situation," making continued chaos more likely.


    The pressure was rising on diplomats as Syria's rebel commander Riad al-Assad said his forces planted a bomb inside a room where senior government officials were meeting on Wednesday. The rebel leader denies government claims that it was a suicide attack, saying all those who carried out the operation are safe.


    There has been a lot of diplomatic scrambling to try to get council unity, which would send a much stronger signal to Syria, with international envoy Kofi Annan in Russia for two days of high-level meetings, including talks with President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.


    The Western draft resolution would impose non-military sanctions against Assad's regime if it fails to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas within 10 days - a key plank of the Annan plan.


    Moscow's rival proposed resolution calls for the "immediate implementation" of Annan's plan and guidelines for a political transition approved at a meeting in Geneva last month but makes no mention of sanctions.


    Russia and China have incurred international criticism by twice vetoing UN resolutions to increase pressure on Assad. In Beijing, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sat down for talks Wednesday morning with Chinese President Hu Jintao.


    After the meeting, Ban said the Chinese leaders shared his view that the situation in Syria is "very serious."


    "I sincerely hope the members of the Security Council will be able to discuss with a sense of urgency and take collective action, with a sense of unity," Ban said. "We cannot go on like this way. So many people have lost their lives during such a long time."


    A commentary that ran Tuesday in the official People's Daily newspaper strongly opposed using force against Syria - a sign that China may again block the Western-backed resolution. It said "a political solution is the only way out of the Syrian problem."


    In New York, Syria's main opposition group urged Russia on Tuesday to support the Western resolution, saying it was the last chance "to breathe life" into Annan's peace plan.


    Bassma Kodmani, a Syrian National Council spokesperson, told reporters that if the Security Council fails to act, Syria's opposition will consider other options - which she did not disclose - to protect the Syrian people.


    Kodmani noted that the Syrian people have been calling for a no-fly zone, safe zones for delivering humanitarian aid and the arming of the Free Syrian Army.


    She said she told Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin at a meeting earlier on Tuesday that a Russian veto of a resolution threatening sanctions would be a "blank check to continue the violence."
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  10. #530
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    Default Re: Syria

    Syrian regime 'spinning out of control', warns US

    Washington calls for 'maximum pressure' on Assad to quit and allow transition of power to stop descent into all-out civil war






    Syrian troops shoot at rebels in Damascus, according the news agency Sana, the day a suicide bombing killed at least three senior members of the military hierarchy. Photograph: AP

    The US has said President Bashar al-Assad was rapidly "losing control" of Syria and that the international community had to act swiftly to stop the country from descending into an all-out sectarian civil war.
    After a day of extraordinary drama on the streets of Damascus, and a bombing which killed at least three senior members of Syria's military hierarchy, Washington said the 16-month uprising against Assad was now entering a defining stage. "It's clear that the Assad regime is losing control of Syria. There is real momentum against Assad, with increasing defections, and a strengthened and more united opposition that is operating across the country," said a White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor.
    Vietor said the international community must work with Syria's opposition to craft a workable transition plan.
    "The sooner this transition happens, the greater the chance we have of averting a lengthy and bloody sectarian civil war and the better we'll be able to help Syrians manage a stable transition to democracy," he added.
    The US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, came to a similarly dark conclusion, describing the situation in Syria as "rapidly spinning out of control". Britain, France and Germany, meanwhile, backed the US's call for an urgent "political transition" in Damascus to a post-Assad government.
    Speaking at a Pentagon press conference, Panetta said on Wednesday the Syrian crisis had reached a moment of "real escalation … the violence there has only gotten worse, and the loss of lives has only increased, which tells us that this is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control."
    He said the international community should now bring "maximum pressure" on Assad to step down and allow a transfer of power.
    The US defence secretary, Phillip Hammond, speaking with Panetta, described the Syrian opposition as "emboldened" and with "access increasingly to weaponry". There was also "probably some fragmentation around the edges of the regime as well", he added.
    The foreign secretary, William Hague, described the situation in Syria as "clearly deteriorating" and repeated his calls for an urgent UN security council resolution – so far blocked by Russia and China.
    The security council had been due to vote on Wednesday on a resolution – backed by the UK, the US, France and Germany – to extend the UN observer mission in Syria for 45 days and to place Kofi Anna's peace plan under chapter 7 of the UN charter. Chapter 7 would allow the 15-member council to authorise sweeping diplomatic and economic sanctions as well as military options, something Moscow steadfastly opposes. Annan called for the resolution to be postponed given the rapidly changing events on the ground in Syria.
    Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said it was "high time to ratify the next UN resolution", while the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said it was now "urgent and necessary to find a political transition" that allowed the Syrian people to express its aspirations.
    The Kremlin, however, struck a different, and contrary, tone. Speaking to journalist in Moscow, the foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, conceded the fighting for control of Syria had reached a definitive moment: "A decisive battle is underway," he said. But Moscow unequivocally described Wednesday's deadly bombing as a "terrorist attack" and offered its condolences to "the Syrian people and government" as well as the families of those killed.
    Lavrov accused Russia's western partners of inciting a "further escalation" of the conflict, saying: "It is a dead end policy to support the opposition. Assad will not got on his own and our Western partners don't know what to do about that."
    The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, was in talks on Wednesday with China's president, Hu Jintao, in Beijing.
    Afterwards, Ban said the Chinese leaders agreed the situation in Syria is now "very serious".
    "I sincerely hope the members of the security council will be able to discuss with a sense of urgency and take collective action, with a sense of unity," he said. "We cannot go on like this way. So many people have lost their lives during such a long time."
    Gala Riani, a Middle East analyst at the Control Risks consultancy, said the suicide bombing was "in some ways the most successful direct attack on the regime we've had so far". She told the Associated Press: "I think the next few days are going to be crucial in signalling where the conflict goes from here.
    "At the very least, we can expect the situation to continue to deteriorate. But I think it will take more than this to take the Assad regime down."
    The attack at a meeting of high-ranking security officials and ministers in the heart of Damascus will send a message to the top of the Syrian government that it is vulnerable. "It sends a stark message that individual ministers are not safe and is likely to accelerate the erosion of the regime's support base," said Anthony Skinner, head of Middle East consultancy Maplecroft.
    The bombing, claimed by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and also by Islamist group Liwa al-Islam, does not alter the fact that the rebels remain hugely outgunned by Assad's forces, he suggested. "These are very significant developments, but I believe the offensive will be repelled," Skinner said. "Psychologically, though, this will likely give the FSA a significant boost and may also precipitate more defections at a senior level."
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    Default Re: Syria

    Syria will fall... soon.

    24 hours.
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    Default Re: Syria

    July 18, 2012 2:30 PM


    Syria peace mediator Kofi Annan, left, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in central Moscow July 17, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)
    The Arab Spring




    (CBS/AP) UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council delayed a vote on a new Syria resolution until Thursday in a last-minute effort to get key Western nations and Russia to agree on measures to end the dramatically escalating violence.
    International envoy Kofi Annan urged the deeply divided council to postpone Wednesday's scheduled vote after a bombing in the heart of Syria's capital killed three top regime members, including the powerful brother-in-law of President Bashar Assad and the defense minister.


    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was visiting China, urged the Security Council to "take collective action, with a sense of unity."


    Ambassadors from the five veto-wielding permanent council nations — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — met behind closed doors Wednesday morning to discuss Annan's request. Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters afterwards that the vote had been postponed by a day, CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk reports.


    The key stumbling block to an agreement on a Syria plan is the Western demand for a resolution threatening non-military sanctions. It is tied to Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict.


    Russia, a close Syria ally, is adamantly opposed to sanctions and any mention of Chapter 7. Although Western nations appear to have little appetite for force, Russia fears a repeat of the NATO campaign in Libya.


    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed to Wednesday's deadly bombing and accused the West of inciting the Syrian opposition, arguing that a proposed U.N. resolution amounted to support for the rebels and would lead to more bloodshed.
    Supporting the Syrian opposition "is a dead-end policy, because Assad is not leaving voluntarily," Lavrov was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday.


    U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Wednesday's closed-door meeting by the five veto-wielding permanent council nations yielded no new proposals from Russia. France's U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud expressed hope the Russians would come up with something new, but said he wasn't optimistic about Thursday's vote.


    The mandate of the 300-strong U.N. observer force in Syria expires on Friday, and the Security Council must decide by then whether to extend it.


    The U.S. and its European allies contend that the unarmed observers were authorized for 90 days to monitor a cease-fire and implementation of Annan's six-point peace plan — and with violence escalating dramatically, they insist that there must be consequences for non-compliance.


    Britain's foreign secretary insisted that the bombing in Damascus underscored the urgent need for a Chapter 7 resolution.
    "The situation in Syria is clearly deteriorating. All the members of the U.N. Security Council have a responsibility to put their weight behind the enforcement of ... Annan's plan to end the violence," William Hague said in a statement.


    White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said it's clear that Assad is losing control of his country.


    "There is real momentum against Assad, with increasing defections, and a strengthened and more united opposition that is operating across the country," Vietor said, adding, "With the Assad regime losing control, it's time for the Syrian people and the international community to focus on what comes next. We are working urgently with our international partners to push for a political transition in Syria."


    British Defense Minister Philip Hammond suggested that Russia and China hold the key to a peaceful solution because of their support for Assad.


    "If those powers are sending clear messages about the limits of their tolerance for the activities of the regime, that will be an effective constraint on the activities of the regime," Hammond said at a Pentagon press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.


    Panetta said "it is more essential than ever" that the U.S. and the international community work through the U.N. to bring pressure on Assad to step down.


    There has been a lot of diplomatic scrambling to try to get council unity, which would send a much stronger signal to Syria.


    A draft resolution supported by the Western powers would impose non-military sanctions against Assad's regime if it fails to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas within 10 days — a key demand of the Annan plan. Moscow's rival proposal calls for the "immediate implementation" of Annan's plan and guidelines for a political transition approved at a meeting in Geneva last month, but makes no mention of sanctions.


    Russia and China have incurred international criticism by twice vetoing U.N. resolutions to increase pressure on Assad.


    A commentary that ran Tuesday in the official People's Daily newspaper strongly opposed using force against Syria — a sign that China may again block the Western-backed resolution. It said "a political solution is the only way out of the Syrian problem."
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    Default Re: Syria

    Assad is missing.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russians are freaking out about now....
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    Default Re: Syria

    A look at the 3 Syrian officials killed in bombing

    Posted: Jul 18, 2012 9:26 AM MDT Updated: Jul 18, 2012 10:37 AM MDT
    By The Associated Press

    The blast that ripped through a high-level security meeting in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Wednesday killed three senior officials in President Bashar Assad's regime. Here's a brief look at those killed:


    - GEN. DAWOUD RAJHA
    Took over as defense minister last August after his predecessor stepped down because of reputed health problems. Before taking up the post, Rajah, who was in his mid-60s, served as army chief of staff. He was the most senior Christian official in the Syrian government and the highest-ranking official so far to be killed in the country's civil war.


    - GEN. ASSEF SHAWKAT
    The deputy defense minister, Shawkat became Bashar Assad's brother-in-law after marrying the president's older sister, Bushra, in the mid-1990s. He quickly moved up the ranks after the marriage, becoming a trusted aide to Assad and one of the most feared members of the regime's inner circle. In 2005, an inadvertently released passage of a U.N. investigative report cited a witness saying Assad's brother, Maher, and Shawkat, who was head of military intelligence at the time, were among those behind the assassination of then-prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon.


    - GEN. HASSAN TURKMANI
    A former defense minister, Turkmani until his death was serving as an assistant to the country's vice president. In his mid-70s, Turkmani was close to the regime and took part in the crackdown against the uprising. Shortly after the revolt began in March last year, Assad sent Turkmani to Turkey for talks with officials there.
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    Default Re: Syria

    U.S. Says Syria Will be "Held Accountable" for Chemical Arms Security



    July 18, 2012


    An image, released on July 17 by an independent source, purported to show a Syrian tank in Damascus. The Obama administration warned the Syrian government repeatedly this week it is responsible for protection of its chemical warfare materials (AP Photo/Shaam News Network).


    The Obama administration on Tuesday gave notice to the besieged Syrian regime that it must not let anything happen to its chemical weapons arsenal, Reuters reported (see GSN, July 17).


    The Syrian government, according to U.S. and Israeli government sources, has been moving some chemical warfare agents out of their storage depots. It is not yet evident whether this is being done to better protect the materials or as a prelude to a chemical attack on regime foes.


    Violence in the country has spread to Damascus -- the seat of power for the regime of President Bashar Assad. A suicide bombing in the Syrian capital on Wednesday was confirmed by state television to have killed Assad's defense minister and deputy defense minister.


    Damascus has never affirmed possession of chemical warfare materials though it is widely understood to hold hundreds of tons of blister and nerve agents as well as ballistic missiles and artillery rounds capable of delivering them in attacks.
    "There are certain responsibilities that go along with the handling and storage and security of those chemical weapons," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said to journalists on Air Force One. "We believe that the individuals who are responsible for living up to those challenges should do so and will be held accountable for doing so."


    Earnest declined to share concrete details on U.S. data on Syrian chemical arms. He said, though, that President Obama and other heads of state were worried about the general "inhumane brutality" of the Assad regime in its attacks against the Syrian populace.


    Certain experts believe Damascus could be relocating its chemical weapons to ensure they do not fall into the hands of rebels or extremist organizations, a scenario they say could provide justification for the United States and its allies to intervene in the country to prevent an international WMD proliferation crisis (Jeff Mason, Reuters I, July 17).


    "We've made very clear to them that they have a responsibility to safeguard their chemical sites and that we will hold them responsible should anything happen with regards to those sites," Reuters quoted U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as saying on Wednesday (see related GSN story, today). The Pentagon chief said Washington and allied governments were seeking collaboratively to address the matter.


    "Our diplomacy has to focus on getting those who have the greatest influence with the regime to ensure that it acts responsibly in relations to chemical weapons," British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said during a press appearance in Washington with Panetta. Hammond appeared to be addressing China and Russia, which have blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at punishing the Assad regime for its crackdown on opposition (Phil Stewart, Reuters II, July 18).


    The Jordanian government on Tuesday announced it had taken steps to limit the chances of the nation facing a Syrian chemical strike, the Associated Press reported.


    Washington and Amman have reportedly held talks in recent months on the situation and options for securing the Jordanian-Syrian border against feared weapons proliferation.


    "The matter is of grave concern to us, and we have taken all necessary measures to confront that," Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said without specifying what actions have been taken to guard against chemical attacks.


    "We will not allow anything to threaten the internal security of the kingdom," Judeh said to journalists.


    Assad's father, Hafez, in 1982 brutally put down an Islamist uprising in Hama. Unconfirmed reports indicate hydrogen cyanide gas might have been used in the military campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood.


    "History repeats itself, and there is a good chance that Assad may do something foolish if he felt cornered and that his days are numbered," former Jordanian army Col. Khalil Rawahneh said in an interview with AP.


    "We don't have the means to fend off a chemical attack, if Assad sent his missiles flying over densely populated areas," Rawahneh said.


    He speculated that Assad's allies, Iran and Hezbollah, could "try to attack us with chemicals to defend Assad and prolong his days in power."


    A Western envoy in Jordan said Amman has been "desperately shopping around" for missile defense technology that can be fielded close to its northern border, but that "no deal has been concluded yet" (Jamal Halaby, Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle, July 17).


    Syria is not a member state to the Chemical Weapons Convention and has never publicly declared possessing materials or munitions banned by the accord. That means the Hague, Netherlands-based body that oversees adherence to the pact has no authorization to conduct probes within the nation on possible chemical arms activities, according to an agency relesae issued on Wednesday.


    Still, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons "is unreservedly concerned about the existence of chemical weapons of any sort and anywhere in the world thus it will continue to follow developments in Syria," the release states.


    The organization noted that Damascus has ratified the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibits use of biological and chemical agents in military conflict. "Thus, Syria has formally renounced both first and retaliatory use of chemical or biological weapons against any state," the release says.


    Syria has never formally responded to OPCW inquiries in years past about joining the convention, the organization said. It added that "the OPCW remains available at all times to engage with the Syrian government and provide technical assistance for Syria to join the convention" (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons release, July 18).
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    Default Re: Syria

    'Decisive battle' taking place in Syria: Russia





    PTI

    Moscow, July 18, 2012
    First Published: 21:00 IST(18/7/2012)
    Last Updated: 21:02 IST(18/7/2012)






    Russia on Wednesday said a decisive battle was in progress in Syria and rejected a Western-backed UN resolution on the crisis as it would mean taking sides with a revolutionary movement.

    "A decisive battle is in progress in Syria. Adopting the resolution would mean outright




    support of a revolutionary movement," foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said in reference to the armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

    "And if we are talking about a revolution then the United Nations has nothing to do with it," Lavrov said on the sidelines of a Kremlin meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


    The UN Security Council is due to meet later on Wednesday to vote on a Western-backed resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter providing for sanctions against Damascus should it fail to withdraw military equipment from cities in 10 days.
    The United States says it would only seek economic measures but Russia fears the West could later use other clauses under Chapter 7 that include the use of force should Assad fail to comply.


    "We cannot accept Chapter 7 and the section about sanctions," Lavrov told reporters.


    Referring to the West he added: "Instead of trying to calm the opposition, some partners are pushing towards a further escalation."


    Asked by reporters if Syria was in civil war, Lavrov declined to use the term but said: "What do you think? There is an internal armed conflict, which means that well-armed citizens are fighting between themselves."


    "This policy focused on the opposition is going nowhere. Assad himself is not going and the Western partners do not know what to do with this and therefore there is this emotional reaction."
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    Default Re: Syria

    Looks like I missed this one:

    Russian Ship With Syrian Helicopters Embarks on Renewed Voyage

    By ANDREW E. KRAMER

    Published: July 12, 2012





    MOSCOW — A Russian cargo ship carrying military helicopters and air-defense equipment for the Syria government, forced to turn back last month after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized the shipment and a British company revoked the vessel’s insurance, is again on the move.








    The ship, the Alaed, which has emerged as something of a barometer of Russia’s intentions toward the government of President Bashar al-Assad, was reported heading south off Norway’s northern coast as of Thursday.


    That location put the vessel close to a flotilla of four Russian naval vessels bound for the eastern Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Syria, as part of a Russian naval buildup in the area announced earlier this week, ostensibly for training exercises.


    MarineTraffic.com, an Internet database that chronicles commercial shipping based on transponder signals required by the International Maritime Organization, registered the ship’s presence off the Norwegian coast on Thursday, though it had passed out of the range of the transponders in the North Atlantic by later in the day.


    The Alaed’s reappearance on the open seas was first reported Thursday by the Barents Observer, a periodical published from the town of Kirkenes, near the northernmost point in Norway. Ships from Russia round the Scandinavian Peninsula near there, before heading south.


    Embarrassingly last month for Russia, the Alaed, then Curaçao-flagged, was forced to scrub its voyage when its British insurer canceled coverage. That came a few days after Ms. Clinton announced the Russians were sending attack helicopters to Syria, despite assurances by authorities in Moscow that they sold no weapons to Mr. Assad that would be useful in his government’s repression of the uprising against him.


    Russia countered that the helicopters were not new but were refurbished models owned by Syria that had required servicing under a longstanding contract, so their return to Syria violated no United Nations sanctions. But Russia turned the ship around anyway.


    The vessel docked in Murmansk on June 24 and was reflagged as a Russian vessel, presumably bypassing the insurance problem.


    It was reported en route again weeks ago by Russian news agencies, though apparently incorrectly.


    The Barents Observer, citing an online link to the ship’s own transponder, reported the Alaed was sailing in a commercial shipping lane heading west and then south near Norway.


    The publication quoted a Norwegian maritime official saying the Alaed was heading in the same direction as the military vessels. Their positions are not reported to the civilian tracking system but were believed to be 50 to 100 nautical miles away from the Alaed.


    Earlier this week, Russian officials had hinted at a role for the naval flotilla in safeguarding ships, though the rebuff to Ms. Clinton’s efforts to halt the Alaed was unclear until its position near Norway, near the warships, became public.


    RIA Novosti, the Russian news agency, cited Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, the director of a military aide agency in the Russian government, as saying the fleet would “be sent on a task to guarantee the safety of our ships, to prevent anyone from interfering with them in the event of a blockade.”


    The owner of the Alaed, the Femco shipping company, issued a statement on Wednesday making clear that the helicopters and air defense weapons were still aboard. The company presented the statement in the context of an analysis of the legality of sending such weaponry on a commercial vessel.
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    Default Re: Syria

    From my point of view here, it appears Pannetta is fairly concerned about the chemical weapons located in Syria.

    I postulate part of the reason the Russians are so freaked out over this is that we will discover that the weapons there (WMD by the way) are from Sadam's regime and that originally they came from the Russians.

    Hate to say it, but this will wake a lot of people up if that is true.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Syria: Death in Damascus

    The simultaneous slaughter of three or perhaps four members of Assad's inner circle blows a hole in the heart of the government




    It is 16 months since the Syrian uprising began, and one day's loss of life merges inexorably into another. But Wednesday was different, for two reasons. Fighting continued into its third day in the heart of Damascus, proving that the Free Syrian Army can now hold ground against forces which are superior in every way to them. And, for the first time, the conflict came up close and personal to Bashar al-Assad.


    The attack that killed three or perhaps four members of his inner circle was not merely in the capital, it was within national security HQ – the stronghold within the stronghold. The death of any one of the assistant vice president, General Hassan Turkmani, the defence minister, General Dawoud Rajha, and the interior minister, Mohammad Shaar – whom some reports said was slain, and others injured – would have been a significant moment. Their simultaneous slaughter blows a hole in the heart of the government. Most significant of all, however, is the loss of Mr Rajha's deputy, Assef Shawkat. He is the architect of the crackdown, and – as the president's brother-in-law – he was woven into the Assad clan which has dominated Syria for four decades.


    Replacement appointments were rapidly announced, a reminder – if one were needed – that a regime that retains a monopoly on air power and serious artillery is in no mood to run up the white flag; the dreadful truth for the Syrian people is that there is very likely a good deal more bloodletting to come. But not even the most ruthless new face from the regime can do much about several inconvenient truths. Before this past week, there were streets in Damascus where talk of horrors in Homs seemed like dispatches from another country. But after the International Committee of the Red Cross decreed Syria to be in civil war at the weekend, tanks were called out in Damascus on Monday, and – on top of the security HQ attack – there has been serious skirmishing and an unexplained blaze in the barracks that guards the presidential palace. If the trump card of the regime had always been to retain order in its heartlands, it is a trump card that events are conspiring to snatch away.


    Even now, the regime retains some genuine support. Escalating sectarianism could see this harden among the Shia Alawite minority, from whom the Assads are drawn. Traditionally, however, they drew their strength from a broader coalition, taking in Kurds, Christians and indeed parts of the Sunni middle class. Recent defections have narrowed this base. Syria's Sunni ambassador to Baghdad, Nawaf al-Fares, jumped ship last week, just as Manaf Tlas – a general from the country's most powerful Sunni family – had the week before. Wednesday's killings narrow the ruling circle again: Gen Rajha was an orthodox Christian while Gen Turkmani was another in the rare breed of powerful Sunnis. As crowds openly cheered in Damascus, the regime's bloodcurdling threats of revenge only served to heighten the sense of a cornered clique.


    The world of diplomacy has moved at a glacial pace throughout this crisis, having been several paces behind the unfolding tragedy at every stage. Buton Wednesday there were at least signs of an awareness that things could be reaching a critical pass. A planned UN security council vote on a western-sponsored resolution threatening tougher sanctions was postponed following a request by the UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, whose wise peace plan is being overtaken by events. After spending time with Vladimir Putin in Russia, he senses, perhaps, that Syria's traditional ally might now be more amenable to withholding its expected veto. There was no sign of that in Moscow's full-throated demand for the "terrorists" who had hit the regime to be brought to justice, but with so many military and trading links to protect, the cold, pragmatic judgment could eventually point to Russia cutting Assad loose. No one knows whether a tipping point has been reached, but the final act of this terrible tragedy could be coming much sooner than we thought only a few days ago.
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