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Thread: Syria

  1. #541
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    Default Re: Syria

    China shows no support for UN Security Council action on Syria but condemns deadly bombing

    (Andy Wong, Pool/ Associated Press ) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, July 18, 2012.








    By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, July 19, 7:37 AM

    BEIJING — China showed no clear support for new U.N. Security Council measures aimed at ending Syria’s civil war, while saying Thursday it condemned the bombing that killed top Syrian officials and wanted an immediate cease-fire.
    Russia already has indicated it would veto the proposed text, and fellow permanent Security Council member China has vetoed two past actions with Russia.





    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been visiting Beijing to convey to President Hu Jintao an urgent need for international action
    .
    The Chinese foreign ministry statement issued Thursday evening said China opposes all forms of terrorism and violence and that it “strongly” condemned the bombing Wednesday in Damascus that killed Syria’s defense minister and his deputy.
    “China is deeply worried about the rising tensions in Syria,” the statement said. “China once again called on all related parties in Syria to cease fire immediately.”


    The brief statement did not mention the Security Council vote but shows China has not changed its stance even as Syria’s violence has escalated and Western nations have urged tougher action against President Bashar Assad’s government.
    The new Syria resolution threatens non-military sanctions against Assad’s regime if he doesn’t withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas within 10 days. The text is tied to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict.


    Russia, a close Syrian ally, has said it will veto any Chapter 7 resolution.
    Unlike Russia, China does not have longstanding strategic ties to Assad’s government, but Beijing opposes setting precedents that could potentially be applied to its troubled western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. China feels burned by Western intervention in Libya, believing that the U.S. and European powers over-interpreted a U.N. resolution to attack the government of Moammar Gadhafi, not just protect Libyan civilians.


    The state-run Global Times newspaper’s Chinese edition said in an editorial Thursday that Beijing should continue to align itself with Russia in voting in the U.N. Security Council.


    The paper said that no matter how the situation unfolds in Syria, Beijing should maintain its position of opposing external military intervention.


    “The West only wants a result that benefits their interest, and does not care if the process is peaceful,” the newspaper said. “Yesterday’s bloodshed in Damascus has made the West very excited. We just want to say one thing here: no matter how the Syrian situation develops later, let the process be less painful for the Syrian people.”


    Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia envoy: Assad ready to quit power in "orderly way"




    By John Irish



    PARIS | Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:44am EDT




    (Reuters) - The Russian ambassador to France said on Friday he believed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had accepted he would have to leave power although only in an orderly fashion, but the Syrian government swiftly denied this.


    Ambassador Alexandre Orlov told French RFI radio that Assad, embattled by a rebellion against his rule, signaled readiness to step down when he accepted a recent international declaration which foresaw a transition towards a more democratic Syria.


    "At the Geneva conference, there was a final communique that foresees a transition towards a more democratic system," Orlov said. "This final communique was accepted by Assad. Assad nominated his representative to lead the negotiations with the opposition for this transition. That means he accepted to leave, but in an orderly way."


    The Syrian Information Ministry quickly denied this, saying Orlov's remarks were "completely devoid of truth".


    A spokesman for the Russian embassy in France later said Orlov's words were "taken out of context" and that he had no "exclusive information about Assad's readiness to step down", the Interfax news agency reported.


    "The meaning of the ambassador's remarks was that Assad could leave power or stay in his post, but this decision must be taken not by the (U.N.) Security Council or anyone else, but only by the president himself and the Syrian people," Interfax quoted embassy spokesman Sergei Barinov as saying.


    That was a repeat of Russia's standard line.


    Barinov said Orlov meant that Assad's acceptance of the Geneva declaration "in principle could mean that he does not rule out the possibility of ceding power in a civilized manner".


    Orlov had earlier told RFI his personal opinion was that Assad would not be able to remain in power. "I think it will be difficult for him to stay after everything that has happened. But essentially, he has accepted that he will have to leave."
    Moscow has also argued that Assad is ready to comply with demands he delegate authority by naming a representative to conduct a political dialogue with the opposition.


    RUSSIA PIVOTAL TO ASSAD'S FUTURE
    Any Russian pressure on Assad to go would be highly significant because Moscow has long been his biggest ally and has repeatedly foiled efforts to isolate and dislodge him from power by blocking sanctions resolutions at the United Nations.
    Moscow on Thursday vetoed a Western-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution that would have contained a threat to impose sanctions if Syria did not comply with U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.
    Moscow has repeatedly said any deal must follow the principles outlined at talks in Geneva on June 30 between Annan and veto-holding members of the Security Council, which Russia until now had said did not specifically require Assad's exit.
    "What Russia is defending is not Bashar al-Assad's regime, but international order that was created in 1945 around the United Nations," Orlov said. "For us it is a matter of principle that goes beyond what is happening in Syria."
    A senior Western diplomat recommended caution with respect to Orlov's comments. "We have not heard Assad say he is willing to step down before," the diplomat said. "But what does he mean? Does he mean now or in two years time. We have to be cautious."
    Asked about Orlov's comments, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Assad was part of the problem and not the solution.
    "We have been asking for a long time that he leaves the Syrian political landscape because for months he has committed too many massacres. Mr Assad is not part of the future for the Syrian people."
    Separately, Interfax quoted a "military-diplomatic source" as saying Russia would not send three repaired military helicopters and air defense equipment to Syria until the situation there returns to normal.
    Russia came under sharp Western criticism over what it acknowledged was a planned shipment of three repaired helicopters and air defense systems to Syria, and the cargo ship carrying the weapons last month turned back toward Russia when its London-based insurance company withdrew coverage.
    Citing a separate source, Interfax reported that the three helicopters had been removed from the vessel, the Alaed, in the Russia Baltic Sea port of Baltiisk recently.
    (Additional reporting by Khaled Yaboub Oweis in Amman, Dominic Evans in Beirut and Steve Gutterman in Moscow; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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  3. #543
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    Default Re: Syria

    Five reasons why Syria may be at a tipping point

    Since the start of the conflict in Syria, international observers have been watching the government of President Bashar al-Assad for signs that the once-feared regime might be vulnerable to overthrow. Despite Syrian efforts to crush the rebels and to stifle news out of the country, this past week has shown the strongest evidence yet that the end of the Assad regime may be near. Here are five signs that the Syrian conflict may finally be tipping in favor of the rebels.

    - Arthur Bright, Correspondent





    Enlarge
    Syrian soldiers are celebrating after their entry al-Midan neighbourhood in Damascus, on July 20, in this photo taken on a guided government tour. (Reuters)


    1. Assassination bombing

    The biggest sign, which Foreign Policy’s Mitch Prothero calls “the equivalent of blowing up the Death Star,” is clearly the July 18 assassination bombing in Damascus that killed several key members of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, including Defense Minister Daoud Rajha, Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani. The attack prompted “unrestrained glee” among Syria’s rebels, as it showed they had a much longer reach – into the heart of the Assad regime – than international observers had guessed.

    The most significant death, writes the Monitor’s Nick Blanford, is probably Mr. Shawkat’s. While Mr. Rajha, a Christian, headed the defense ministry, Shawkat was Assad’s brother-in-law, a member of the Alawite sect that controls Syria, and a key enforcer for the regime. His death “suggests that no one in the regime is immune from the potential reach of the armed opposition, a grim fact that must send a shudder up the collective spine of the Syrian leadership.”
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  4. #544
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia accuses US of justifying terrorism in Syria

    By REUTERS
    07/25/2012 13:48
    Lavrov slams comments made by US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland who said attacks on Assad's top officials are "not surprising"; Assad launches counter-assaults on Damascus, Aleppo.

    Photo: Denis Sinyakov / Reuters Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States on Wednesday of justifying terrorism against the Syrian government and berated Western nations he said had not condemned attacks that killed top members of Syrian President Bashar Assad's inner circle.
    Referring to what he said were comments by US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland indicating such attacks were not surprising given the Syrian government's conduct, Lavrov said, "This is a direct justification of terrorism."



    Meanwhile, the Syrian army turned its forces on Aleppo on Wednesday, ordering an armored column to advance on the country's second biggest city and pounding rebel fighters there with artillery and attack helicopters, opposition activists said.
    As hostilities intensified near the Turkish border, Turkey said it was closing its crossing posts, although the United Nations said refugees fleeing Syria would be allowed through.
    Two top Syrian diplomats, in the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus, have deserted their posts, becoming the latest officials to abandon the Damascus government, rebels said.

    The 16-month revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad has been transformed from an insurgency in remote provinces into a battle for control of the two main cities, Aleppo and the capital, Damascus, where fighting exploded last week.
    Assad's forces have launched massive counter assaults in both cities. They appear to have beaten rebels back from neighborhoods in the capital and are turning towards Aleppo, a commercial hub in the north.
    Syrian forces fired artillery and rockets on Wednesday at the northern Damascus suburb of al-Tel in an attempt to seize it from rebels, causing panic and forcing hundreds of families to flee, residents and opposition activists said.
    The 216th mechanized battalion headquartered near Tel started bombarding the town of about 100,000 people before dawn and initial reports indicated residential apartment blocks were being hit, they said.
    "Military helicopters are flying now over the town. People were awakened by the sound of explosions and are running away," Rafe Alam, one of the activists, said by phone from a hill overlooking Tel. "Electricity and telephones have been cut off."
    Opposition sources also reported helicopters and machine-guns were firing on the neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad. The slum lies on the southern outskirts of the capital and has been a haven for rebels sneaking into Damascus from the suburbs.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Ryan Mauro postulated this very thing way back at the start of the Iraq invasion. He wrote it in his book as well. He used news sources to back his assertion that just prior to the fall of Bagdad, Russia was helping Saddam move chem and other weapon out of Iraq and burying things like Migs. We had a release of images of the buried Migs a long ways back and the one visible assertion to chem to Syria was the truck caravan from Iraq to Syria caught on Sat photos. Add that the attempted attack on Jordan after Bagdads fall was Syrian and the chems weps were tagged as being Iraq in origin. The media did not run with any of this, but let these details gather dust.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Donaldson View Post
    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

    The Russians have been involved in making moves like this for a LONG time now.

    I'm betting dimes to doughnuts that the WMD is traceable back to Russia to BEGIN with. I don't think the Arabs had the wherewithal to develop chemical weapons in the first place. They sure as hell haven't had the ability to find nuclear material, produce reactors or do any of that shit on their own. I don't need news articles to back it up either.

    I have dealt with the Communists before. They are liars, cheaters and will do ANYTHING to screw up a perfectly normal and sane society. Egypt when I visited there wasn't radical. There were no nut cases in the late 70s. Or if there were they were well hidden or clammed up.

    The entire Middle East has gone to hell in a handbasket and you can bet your ass the Russians are behind MOST of it.
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  7. #547
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    Default Re: Syria

    Fighting Rages in Syria, Turkey Closes Key Crossings



    A Syrian rebel takes position as a helicopter hovers over the northern city of Aleppo, July 23, 2012.


    Henry Ridgwell
    July 25, 2012

    ONCUPINA, Turkey - Fierce fighting continued in Syria on Wednesday. Rebels sent reinforcements to the battered historic city of Aleppo as government forces stepped up attacks with helicopters and machine guns.
    Activists say rebels set fire to a police station near Aleppo. They also say clashes and heavy shelling have continued in regions including Homs, Hama, Deir el-Zour and the Damascus suburbs as President Bashar al-Assad tries to maintain his grip on power.

    The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 40 people have been killed across Syria on Wednesday.

    Turkey Closes Border

    Neighboring Turkey has closed key border crossings to commercial traffic from Syria but says they remain open for refugees.

    Ankara says it is taking the measure due to security concerns. Last week, Turkish drivers said their trucks were looted and burned as rebels captured the Syrian side of the Cilvegozu crossing from government forces.

    Analysts say the closures will affect Syria's economy by hitting cross-border trade.

    At the Kilis refugee camp near Oncupinar, Syrian refugee Abu Hasan expressed support for Turkey's policy. "I think this is an appropriate decision," he said. "Turkey is making the decision to protect its border as well as to protect us."

    The Killis camp houses more than 11,000 Syrians.

    Watch related video of violence in Aleppo
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    ​​Refugees Increasing
    The number of refugees is increasing, with most use clandestine smuggling routes over the border.

    Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay says more than 44,000 refugees are now sheltered in Turkey.

    "There is an expectation that more people may come in," he said. "Therefore, today we have decided to build new camps in several locations including Osmaniye, Kahramanmaras and Nizip."

    The Arab League has pledged $100 million to help the Syrian refugees.

    Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal says Turkey welcomes donations of equipment, but does not need personnel.

    "Some of this assistance has arrived, in the sense of material assistance, and we are ready to receive more of the selected items that we have announced," he said. "And our open door policy will continue."

    U.N. Mission Reducing

    Meanwhile, U.N. observers in Syria say their mission is dwindling.

    Herve Ladsous, the head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, said the Syrian operation continues on a "reduced basis."

    He told reporters in Damascus on Wednesday that the security situation in many parts of the country is "extremely delicate."

    On Friday, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution renewing the observer mission for up to 30 days. The resolution allows for a pullout if the violence does not stop.

    Earlier this week, the European Union decided to strengthen its arms embargo against the Syrian regime, blacklist nearly 30 government-associated people and companies, and ban the Syrian national airline from landing in EU countries.

    On Wednesday, Russia's foreign ministry expressed opposition to the EU sanctions, saying they could be seen as a "blockade" of the country.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russian, Western navies to face off near Syria

    Vladimir Radyuhin



    A Russian naval flotilla, which entered the Mediterranean earlier this week, may be there for a long haul, the Russian Navy said.


    “The inter-fleet flotilla will be on its mission to the Mediterranean as long as dictated by the operational situation in the region and combat training plans,” a source in the Russian Navy command told the Interfax-AVN military news agency on Friday.


    A joint group of 10 Russian warships and 10 escort vessels led by the Admiral Chabanenko anti-submarine destroyer and including landing ships with marines on board, entered the Meditarranean on Tuesday. It is currently stationed off the Southern Syrian coastline. Russia rents a naval supply basis at the Syrian port of Tartus, but naval commanders said the Russian warships will not enter the port.


    The powerful Russian task force has been deployed in the Mediterranean at a time when the Syrian conflict is escalating and the United States has vowed to “intensify” its efforts “outside the Security Council,” where Russia and China have blocked Western attempts to sanction outside interference in Syria.


    The British, French and U.S. navies are planning a far larger deployment of warships in Eastern Mediterranean in autumn for war games codenamed Exercise Cougar 12.


    The Russian Navy earlier denied that its deployment was linked to the current crisis in Syria, but said the Russian flotilla will remain in the Mediterranean at least till October.


    “The Mediterranean mission of the Russian flotilla is being overly politicised,” Interfax-AVN quoted the Russian Navy source as saying.


    “Those who do not like the presence of the Russian Navy in international waters, would better get used to idea that our warships will henceforth be deployed on a permanent basis in the Mediterranean and other seas,” the Russian naval official said.
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  9. #549
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    Default Re: Syria

    Obama authorizes secret U.S. support for Syrian rebels



    By Mark Hosenball

    WASHINGTON | Wed Aug 1, 2012 5:58pm EDT


    (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, U.S. sources familiar with the matter said.

    Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding," broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.

    This and other developments signal a shift toward growing, albeit still circumscribed, support for Assad's armed opponents - a shift that intensified following last month's failure of the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.

    The White House is for now apparently stopping short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some U.S. allies do just that.

    But U.S. and European officials have said that there have been noticeable improvements in the coherence and effectiveness of Syrian rebel groups in the past few weeks. That represents a significant change in assessments of the rebels by Western officials, who previously characterized Assad's opponents as a disorganized, almost chaotic, rabble.

    Precisely when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorization, an action not previously reported, could not be determined.

    The full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear.
    White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined comment.

    'NERVE CENTER'
    A U.S. government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the United States was collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.

    Last week, Reuters reported that, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had established a secret base near the Syrian border to help direct vital military and communications support to Assad's opponents.

    This "nerve center" is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.

    Turkey's moderate Islamist government has been demanding Assad's departure with growing vehemence. Turkish authorities are said by current and former U.S. government officials to be increasingly involved in providing Syrian rebels with training and possibly equipment.

    European government sources said wealthy families in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were providing significant financing to the rebels. Senior officials of the Saudi and Qatari governments have publicly called for Assad's departure.

    On Tuesday, NBC News reported that the Free Syrian Army had obtained nearly two dozen surface-to-air missiles, weapons that could be used against Assad's helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Syrian government armed forces have employed such air power more extensively in recent days.

    NBC said the shoulder-fired missiles, also known as MANPADs, had been delivered to the rebels via Turkey.

    On Wednesday, however, Bassam al-Dada, a political adviser to the Free Syrian Army, denied the NBC report, telling the Arabic-language TV network Al-Arabiya that the group had "not obtained any such weapons at all." U.S. government sources said they could not confirm the MANPADs deliveries, but could not rule them out either.

    Current and former U.S. and European officials previously said that weapons supplies, which were being organized and financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were largely limited to guns and a limited number of anti-tank weapons, such as bazookas.

    Indications are that U.S. agencies have not been involved in providing weapons to Assad's opponents. In order to do so, Obama would have to approve a supplement, known as a "memorandum of notification, to his initial broad intelligence finding.

    Further such memoranda would have to be signed by Obama to authorize other specific clandestine operations to support Syrian rebels.

    Reuters first reported last week that the White House had crafted a directive authorizing greater U.S. covert assistance to Syrian rebels. It was unclear at that time whether Obama had signed it.

    OVERT SUPPORT
    Separately from the president's secret order, the Obama administration has stated publicly that it is providing some backing for Assad's opponents.

    The State Department said on Wednesday the U.S. government had set aside a total of $25 million for "non-lethal" assistance to the Syrian opposition. A U.S. official said that was mostly for communications equipment, including encrypted radios.

    The State Department also says the United States has set aside $64 million in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people, including contributions to the World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other aid agencies.

    Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury confirmed it had granted authorization to the Syrian Support Group, Washington representative of one of the most active rebel factions, the Free Syrian Army, to conduct financial transactions on the rebel group's behalf. The authorization was first reported on Friday by Al-Monitor, a Middle East news and commentary website.

    Last year, when rebels began organizing themselves to challenge the rule of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Obama also signed an initial "finding" broadly authorizing secret U.S. backing for them. But the president moved cautiously in authorizing specific measures to support them.

    Some U.S. lawmakers, such as Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have criticized Obama for moving too slowly to assist the rebels and have suggested the U.S. government become directly involved in arming Assad's opponents.

    Other lawmakers have suggested caution, saying too little is known about the many rebel groups.

    Recent news reports from the region have suggested that the influence and numbers of Islamist militants, some of them connected to al Qaeda or its affiliates, have been growing among Assad's opponents.

    U.S. and European officials say that, so far, intelligence agencies do not believe the militants' role in the anti-Assad opposition is dominant.

    While U.S. and allied government experts believe that the Syrian rebels have been making some progress against Assad's forces lately, most believe the conflict is nowhere near resolution, and could go on for years.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
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    添ou Americans are so gullible.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Guess it ain't a secret now, is it?
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    Default Re: Syria

    Well those experts that were predicting 36-48 hours for Syria a few weeks back were wrong. lol

    However, this just out:

    Panetta: Syria no-fly zone not on front burner

    Published August 14, 2012
    Associated Press





    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says plans to set up a no-fly zone over parts of Syria are "not on the front burner," despite persistent calls from rebel forces there that they need the added protection from escalating regime airstrikes.


    In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Panetta said he is confident the U.S. could successfully enforce a no-fly zone over Syria, but doing so would require a "major, major policy decision" that has not yet been made.


    "We have planned for a number of contingencies that could take place and one of those possible contingencies is developing a no-fly zone. But we've also pointed out difficulties in being able to implement that," Panetta said. "It's not on the front burner as far as I know."


    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said recently that Washington and Turkey are discussing a range of steps, including a no-fly zone over some parts of Syria. Rebel leaders have expressed frustration that the United States has limited its assistance to non-lethal aid.


    The U.S. and its NATO allies successfully enforced a no-fly zone over Libya last year, as rebels there made gains and eventually ousted dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Syria, however, has relatively modern air defenses that are far more plentiful and sophisticated than those in Libya. Syria buys its arms from Russia and is backed in its efforts to tamp down the rebels by Iran.


    Syrian President Bashar Assad's military has significantly stepped up aerial attacks in recent weeks, using missile strikes to push back opposition forces in key fronts such as Aleppo. Civil war has spread across the country, and activists say more than 20,000 people have been killed since the revolt against Assad began in March 2011.


    Currently, Panetta said, the U.S. is focused on ensuring chemical and biological weapons there are secure and on providing humanitarian and non-lethal assistance to the rebels.


    Panetta, 74, spoke at length on a number of topics during the AP interview in his Pentagon office, with his golden retriever, Bravo, lying at his side and playing with a red stuffed lobster toy.


    Panetta revealed that Pakistan has told U.S. military officials that it plans to launch combat operations against Taliban militants soon in a tribal area near the Afghan border. The North Waziristan region serves as a haven for leaders of the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network.


    Pakistan's military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, discussed the planned operation with the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, Panetta said, adding that he understands that it will begin in the "near future."


    And while he welcomed the operation, he noted that the main target will be the Pakistani Taliban, rather than the Haqqani network.


    "They've talked about it for a long time. Frankly, I'd lost hope that they were going do anything about it. But it does appear that they in fact are going to take that step," Panetta said.


    The U.S. long has been frustrated by Islamabad's refusal to target Afghan Taliban militants and their allies using Pakistani territory to stage attacks against U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. Many analysts believe Pakistan is reluctant to target the groups because they have strong historical ties with them and could use them as allies after foreign forces leave Afghanistan.


    Panetta spoke optimistically about U.S. relations with Pakistan's military, saying they have improved "a great deal" lately, after a falling out over American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November. Pakistan subsequently closed border crossings to U.S. and coalition military shipments, but recently re-opened them.
    He said Allen and Kayani have "discussed concerns" about the Haqqanis, whose fighters move back and forth across the border to launch attacks in Afghanistan.


    "Gen. Kayani did indicate that they had developed plans to go into Waziristan," Panetta said. "Our understanding is that hopefully they're going to take that step in the near future. I can't tell you when. But the indication that we have is that they are prepared to conduct that operation soon."


    Pakistan has denied this, saying its forces are stretched too thin fighting Pakistani Taliban militants at war with the state. It also has criticized NATO and Afghan forces for not doing enough to stop Pakistani militants holed up in Afghanistan from launching attacks across the border into Pakistan.


    Touching on another major U.S. frustration in Afghanistan, Panetta said the accelerating pattern of attacks on American and coalition troops by Afghan army and police members is a sign that the Taliban is grasping for success. But he added that U.S. military commanders say such attacks still remain "sporadic" and not a long-term trend.


    He argued that the Afghan insider attacks, in which numerous Afghan troops have turned their guns on coalition forces, may reflect efforts by the Taliban to use unconventional tactics against a coalition force that it cannot defeat on the battlefield.


    In other comments, Panetta said the U.S. is providing additional military assistance to peacekeeping forces in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in order to strengthen security in the region. But he said that so far the Pentagon has not moved to send additional U.S. troops to the Sinai. A truck-mounted tracking system sent to the Sinai will allow troops to follow friendly forces.


    "We just want to make sure that we know how those forces are deployed in order to ensure that we can more effectively go after those terrorists that would try to create an incident or terrorist act," Panetta said.


    Currently the U.S. has about 800 troops in the Sinai as part of an international peacekeeping force. Panetta did not rule out sending more U.S. forces to the Sinai, but said America is working closely with Egyptian leaders "to determine what additional help they may need in order to ensure that that area is secured."


    Just over a week ago, masked militants killed 16 Egyptian soldiers at a checkpoint along the border with Gaza and Israel, then burst through a security fence into Israel. Israel detected the infiltration and launched an airstrike to stop the assault.
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    Default Re: Syria

    This page was made on Tuesday 21st August 2012 Obama warns Syria over weapons





    American President Barack Obama has warned Syria there will be big consequences if they try to use chemical weapons against their own people.


    Thousands of people have already died in fierce fighting between rebels who want the Syrian government to step down and army forces loyal to the country's president.


    But Obama says any plans for the army to use chemical weapons, like poison gas, could be disastrous.


    Obama told journalists that he is monitoring the situation in Syria very carefully.


    He's said that if chemical weapons were used in Syria it would make him think again about whether the USA would get involved in the conflict in the country.


    He said he had "at this point not ordered military engagement".


    But he added: "There would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons."

    Weapons

    Syria holds the world's fourth-largest stockpile of chemical weapons.
    Last month a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman said the weapons would never be used inside Syria.
    Conflict

    The situation in Syria has been described as civil war.


    The UN says more than 18,000 people have been killed in the conflict, 170,000 have fled Syria and 2.5 million need aid within the country.


    Kofi Annan has stepped down as the Unites Nation's advisor on the Syrian conflict because his peace plan has been ignored.


    The man who has taken over from him as UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, has said he is committed to finding a solution to the problems in Syria.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Basically it sounds as if we will NOT get involved in Syria in ANY way.

    unless chemicals or biologicals are used.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia warns West on Syria after Obama threats

    By Steve Gutterman

    MOSCOW | Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:38am EDT

    (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the West on Tuesday against any unilateral action on Syria after President Barack Obama said U.S. forces could act if the Syrian leader deployed chemical weapons against rebels trying to topple him.

    Lavrov met China's top diplomat and a Syrian government delegation in what appeared to be a push to keep diplomacy going at a time when fewer Western and Arab governments believe that a U.N.-backed peace plan can end the violence.

    Russia and China have opposed military intervention in Syria throughout 17 months of bloodshed and have vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions backed by Western and Arab states that would have raised pressure on Damascus to end violence.

    Lavrov spoke at a meeting with China's State Councillor Dai Bingguo one day after Obama, in some of his strongest language yet, said U.S. forces could move against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he resorted to chemical weapons against insurgents.

    Russia and China base their diplomatic cooperation on "the need to strictly adhere to the norms of international law and the principles contained in the U.N. Charter, and not to allow their violation", Lavrov said at the meeting with Dai.

    "I think this is the only correct path in today's conditions," Lavrov told Dai, who also met President Vladimir Putin and his top security adviser, Nikolai Patrushev, on Monday for consultations that went unannounced by the Kremlin.

    Lavrov's remarks also underscored Moscow's wish to keep international efforts to end Syria's crisis within the United Nations, where Russia and China wield clout as two of the five permanent Security Council members with veto power.

    Frustrated by the vetoes and by the refusal of Russia and China to join calls for Assad to leave power, the United States and other Western and Arab countries are seeking other ways to exert influence on the situation in Syria.

    OBAMA WARNING OVER CHEMICAL WEAPONS

    Obama said on Monday he had refrained "at this point" from ordering military engagement in Syria. But when asked whether he might deploy forces, for example to secure Syrian chemical and biological weapons, he said his view could change.

    Russia has also expressed concern about Syria chemical weapons, saying it had told Damascus that even the threat to use them was unacceptable.

    But Lavrov said on Monday that the Security Council alone could authorize the use of external force against Syria, warning against imposing "democracy by bombs".

    Western officials say that Russia's vetoes have abetted the Syrian violence by encouraging Assad to pursue an offensive with his Russian-supplied armed forces to crush the popular revolt.

    To help counter Assad's superior firepower, Western powers are giving non-lethal equipment to rebels and Saudi Arabia and Qatar are believed to have funded arms shipments to them. The West has also increased sanctions against Assad's government.

    After the talks with Dai, Lavrov met a Syrian government delegation led by Qadri Jamil, deputy premier for economic affairs, who was in Moscow for the second time this month.

    Lavrov said he was interested in hearing "plans for further actions to shift the situation into the channel of a political dialogue in order for Syrians themselves to decide their fate without external interference", Itar-Tass reported.

    Lavrov said the path to a solution in Syria lay in the halt to fighting by both the government and its foes and the implementation of an agreement reached by world powers in June on the need to establish a transitional government.

    Russia and the West have differed over what the agreement reached in Geneva meant for Assad, with Lavrov saying it did not imply he should step down and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying it sent a clear message that he must quit.

    Jamil told Lavrov that the Syrian government wants national reconciliation and all sides must make compromises but that "external interference ... is hindering efforts for Syrians themselves to resolve the problem," Interfax reported.

    Russian leaders have said they are determined to avoid a repeat of what occurred in 2011 in Libya, when Moscow let NATO military operations go ahead by abstaining from Security Council resolution that authorized air operations.

    Russian officials then accused the United States and its allies of overstepping their mandate and using it to help rebels overthrow longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. Putin, prime minister then but now back in official charge of foreign policy, likened the U.N. resolution to "medieval calls for crusades".

    Russia denies that it is propping up Assad and says it would accept his exit in a political transition decided by the Syrian people, but that his departure must not be a precondition and he must not be pushed out by external forces.

    China has issued similar warnings to the West.

    (Additional reporting by Nikolai Isayev; Editing by Gabriela Baczynska and Mark Heinrich)
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia is disengaging from Syria: Arms shipments stopped, warships exit Tartus

    DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 29, 2012, 4:44 PM (GMT+02:00) Tags: Russia Syria Tartus arms shipment Vladimir Putin Russian Navy in Tartus Russian naval vessels have unexpectedly departed the Syrian Mediterranean port of Tartus and Russian arms shipments to Syria have been suddenly discontinued. debkafile’s military sources reveal that those and other steps indicate that the Russians are rapidly drawing away from the Syrian arena to avoid getting caught up in the escalating hostilities expected to arise from military intervention by the US, Europe and a number of Arab states. Russian intelligence appears to have decided that this outside intervention is imminent and Moscow looks anxious to keep its distance for now.

    According to our military and Russian sources, these drastic steps must have been personally ordered by President Vladimir Putin. He is believed to have acted over the objections of some of his army and naval chiefs. This would explain the mixed statements issuing from Moscow in recent days about the disposition of Russian personnel at the naval base in Tartus and Russian military personnel in Syria.

    Wednesday, Aug. 22, Commander of the Russian Navy Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov said that if the fighting in Syria reached Tartus, Moscow may decide to evacuate the base. He stressed that this decision would have to be taken on the authority of President Putin. He was the first Russian official to suggest the possibility of an evacuation.

    A week later, Aug. 28, Russian chief of staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov denied anything had changed in the working procedures of Russian military personnel in Syria or that there were any plans to evacuate the Russian naval base in Tartus:

    "I think it's too early to draw conclusions [from the situation in Syria]," said the general. "No one is running away from there.”

    When a Russian journalist pressed the general and ventured to ask whether Moscow was terminating its military involvement in Syria, Marakov retorted, “Why are you so worried about Syria?"
    But he didn’t answer the question.

    debkafile's military sources disclose that the Russians have taken five significant military steps with regard to Syria in the last two weeks:

    1. They cancelled a large-scale naval exercise dubbed “Caucasus 2012” scheduled to start mid-August in the eastern Mediterranean opposite the Syrian coast;

    2. Warships from three fleets - the Northern, Baltic and Black Sea – concentrated opposite Syria have dispersed and returned to their bases;

    3. Syrian President Bashar Assad was notified that Moscow was halting military aid to his army - except for intelligence updates and advice on logistics from Russian military advisers;

    4. Moscow has not clearly announced a freeze on arms shipments, including replacement parts for Russian weapons, which make up the bulk of the Syrian army's weaponry. Officials have only said, “There are no large Russian weapons shipments planned in the near future to Syria."

    5. The only Russian naval ship left in Tartus - a floating Russian Navy PM-138 shipyard – is also under orders to depart Tartus and return to the Black Sea in September.

    A Russian source disclosed that all the remaining Russian personnel in Tartus have gathered on the floating shipyard, except for two officers on shore. This vessel and the remaining personnel are evidently packed up and ready to sail at any moment out of the Syrian port.

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    Default Re: Syria

    Last U.N. observers start leaving Syria

    By Albert Aji, Associated Press
    Updated 8/18/2012 4:47 AM

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) A United Nations spokeswoman says the last U.N. observers still in Syria have started to leave the country as their mission officially ends at midnight Sunday.

    Juliette Touma tells The Associated Press that the rest of the observers will leave within hours. There are about 100 observers left in Syria a third of the number at the peak of the mission earlier this year.

    Their departure comes after the Security Council agreed to end the U.N. mission and back a small new liaison office that will support any future peace efforts.

    The U.N.'s top body has acknowledged that international efforts to significantly reduce the violence and end the Syrian government's use of heavy weapons conditions set for the mission's possible extension have failed.

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    添ou Americans are so gullible.
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    Default Re: Syria

    UN monitors quit, saying Syrians choose "path of war"


    Related Topics




    Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:15am IST

    * U.N. monitors to have left Syria by Aug. 24
    * Annan quit in frustration at deadlock
    * Algerian Brahimi agrees to act as mediator
    * Powers to meet at U.N. on Friday

    By Dominic Evans and Hadeel Al Shalchi

    BEIRUT/ALEPPO, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Syria's government and rebels have "chosen the path of war", a U.N. peacekeeping chief said as the world body ended its doomed monitoring mission to Damascus and deadlock persists among world powers over how to contain the spreading conflict.

    Two weeks after former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan quit as mediator in frustration with the failure of a four-month-old truce, military observers have no peace on the ground to monitor and U.N. officials said on Thursday the last of the few dozen remaining team members would quit Damascus by Aug. 24.

    "It is clear that both sides have chosen the path of war, open conflict, and the space for political dialogue and cessation of hostilities and mediation is very, very reduced at this point," said deputy U.N. peacekeeping chief Edmond Mulet.

    At a time when fighting is raging around Syria's biggest city, Aleppo, and tit-for-tat sectarian kidnappings have spread the Syrian conflict into fragile neighbouring Lebanon, Western powers and Russia remain resolutely at odds in the Security Council over the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

    Syrian rebels, who launched offensives following a bombing on July 18 that killed key Assad lieutenants in Damascus, may have taken heart from Western and Gulf Arab sources saying on Thursday that the president's feared brother Maher, a senior military figure, had lost a leg in that bomb attack.

    However, a Lebanese politician with close ties to the Assad administration said he doubted Maher had been badly wounded. And Syria's foreign minister, while not addressing the report directly, scoffed at rebel hopes; Walid al-Moualem told state television that talk of defeating the army was "delusional".

    Moscow, which advocates a transitional peace in which Assad might play a role, criticised the United States, which says the Syrian president must step down immediately. Russia's diplomats said Washington had shown a lack of commitment to Annan's tattered April peace plan by its insistence that the monitoring mission, UNSMIS, should be wound up when its mandate expired.

    U.N. MEETING

    Diplomats from the major powers, along with key Arab governments and Turkey, will meet at the United Nations in New York on Friday to discuss what comes next.

    The international mediation effort, such as it is, at least seems likely to have a new figurehead; Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, a veteran of troubles in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, has agreed to take over as peacebroker on Syria but with an altered mandate, U.N. sources said.

    Envoys said he had demanded "strong support" from the Security Council and one source said that Brahimi would not continue with Annan's "failed approach".

    U.N. peacekeeping official Mulet said: "The situation on the ground is extremely difficult. But the fact that it's difficult doesn't mean that we should not face that challenge of trying to open those political spaces in the future."

    In the meantime, the price being paid by the Syrian people was underlined by the U.N. humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, who said during a visit to the country that as many of 2.5 million people, about one tenth of the population, were in need of aid.

    Across Syria's borders, the conflict is rippling out along the sectarian and ethnic faultlines of the Middle East.
    Long a rare Arab ally of Tehran, Assad depends increasingly for support on his Alawite minority, whose faith is an offshoot of the Shi'ite form of Islam practised in Iran. Against him are ranged insurgents largely drawn from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, who have backing, if largely rhetorical so far, from the West, as well as Sunni Arab leaders in the Gulf and Turkey.

    Gulf Arab states told their citizens to leave Lebanon after a local Shi'ite clan kidnapped more than 20 people in Beirut and initially threatened to seize more Arab nationals.

    The gunmen said a Turkish hostage would be the first to die if their kinsman held by Syrian rebels in Damascus were killed.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
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  18. #558
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    Default Re: Syria

    Wow... just like that?

    Note to Syria:

    DUCK!


    LOL
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  19. #559
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    Default Re: Syria

    Somethin ain't right about this. Russia's got far too much invested in Syria to just pull out and head back north.
    Stinky.

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    Default Re: Syria

    I think they are getting out because we stared them down or something.

    Or something far more sinister is in the works that I'm not seeing
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