Tag Archives: Syria

Russian troops join combat in Syria


http://s1.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20150909&t=2&i=1078102328&w=&fh=&fw=&ll=644&pl=429&sq=&r=LYNXNPEB880U0
Russian forces have begun participating in military operations in Syria in support of government troops, three Lebanese sources familiar with the political and military situation there said on Wednesday.

The sources, speaking to Reuters on condition they not be identified, gave the most forthright account yet from the region of what the United States fears is a deepening Russian military role in Syria’s civil war, though one of the Lebanese sources said the number of Russians involved so far was small.

U.S. officials said Russia sent two tank landing ships and additional cargo aircraft to Syria in the past day or so and deployed a small number of naval infantry forces.

The U.S. officials, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the intent of Russia’s military moves in Syria was unclear. One suggested the focus may be on preparing an airfield near the port city of Latakia, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

U.S. officials have not ruled out the possibility that Russia may want to use the airfield for air combat missions.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his Russian counterpart for the second time in four days to express concern over reports of Russian military activities in Syria, warning that it could fan more violence.

The White House said it was closely monitoring the situation.

Russia says the Syrian government must be incorporated into a shared global fight against Islamic State, the Islamist group that has taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq. The United States and Assad’s regional foes see him as part of the problem.

“We would welcome constructive Russian contributions to the counter-ISIL effort, but we’ve been clear that it would be unconscionable for any party, including the Russians, to provide any support to the Assad regime,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

SYRIAN TROOPS PULLING BACK

Assad’s forces have faced big setbacks on the battlefield in a four-year-old multi-sided civil war that has killed 250,000 people and driven half of Syria’s 23 million people from their homes.

Syrian troops pulled out of a major air base last Wednesday, and a monitoring group said this meant government soldiers were no longer present at all in Idlib province, most of which slipped from government control earlier this year.

Moscow confirmed it had “experts” on the ground in Syria, its long-time ally in the Middle East.
But Russia has declined to comment on the scale and scope of its military presence. Damascus denied Russians were involved in combat, but a Syrian official said the presence of experts had increased in the past year.

Reflecting Western concern, Germany’s foreign minister warned Russia against increased military intervention, saying the Iran nuclear deal and new U.N. initiatives offered a starting point for a political solution to the conflict.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said reports of growing Russian military activity in Syria were a cause for concern, while France said it made finding a political solution to the crisis more complicated.

Two of the Lebanese sources said the Russians were establishing two bases in Syria, one near the coast and one further inland which would be an operations base.

“The Russians are no longer just advisors,” one of the sources said. “The Russians have decided to join the war against terrorism.”

RUSSIAN NAVAL BASE

Moscow’s only naval base in the Mediterranean is at Tartous on the Syrian coast in territory held by Assad, and keeping it secure would be an important strategic objective for the Kremlin.

Another of the Lebanese sources said that so far any Russian combat role was still small: “They have started in small numbers, but the bigger force did not yet take part … There are numbers of Russians taking part in Syria but they did not yet join the fight against terrorism strongly.”

The Syrian official said: “Russian experts are always present but in the last year they have been present to a greater degree.”

Officials in the United States, which is fighting an air war against the Islamist militant group Islamic State in Syria and also opposes Assad’s government, have said in recent days that they suspect Russia is reinforcing to aid Assad.

Washington has put pressure on countries nearby to deny their air space to Russian flights, a move Moscow denounced on Wednesday as “international boorishness”.

Russia has set out the case for supporting Assad in the most forthright terms yet in the past few days, likening the Western approach to Syria to failures in Iraq and Libya.

Part of the diplomatic quarrel has centred around use of air space for flights, which Moscow says bring humanitarian aid but U.S. officials say may be bringing military supplies.
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Wednesday that multiple Russian flights have passed over the airspace of Iran and Iraq to reach Syria.

RUSSIAN OVERFLIGHTS

The State Department said Russian use of Iranian airspace would not be surprising, given Tehran’s past support for Assad.

Spokesman John Kirby said the United States had advised “partners and our friends to ask the Russians tough questions about” overflight requests. He did not elaborate, saying only: “I’m not gonna detail diplomatic conversations.”

To avoid flying over Turkey, one of Assad’s main enemies, Russia has sought to fly planes over Balkan states, but Washington has urged them to deny Moscow permission.

On Tuesday, Bulgaria refused a Russian request to use its airspace citing doubts about the cargo on board. It said on Wednesday it would allow Russian supply flights to Syria to use its airspace only if Moscow agreed to checks of their cargo at a Bulgarian airport.

Turkey has not officially confirmed a ban on Russian flights to Syria but says it considers any requests to fly over its air space to Syria on a case by case basis.

Thus far in the war, Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah have been Assad’s main sources of military support. The momentum turned against Assad earlier this year.

In the latest setback, state television reported government troops had surrendered an air base in northwestern Syria to a rebel alliance after nearly two years under siege.

This meant the last government troops had withdrawn from central Idlib province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the conflict.

Young Canadians head to Syria to join IS


At least six young Canadian men and women from Montreal and its suburbs travelled overseas last month to join the Islamic State group, local media reported Thursday.

Some of them, including two young women, were students at Montreal CEGEP College de Maisonneuve.

They flew to Turkey on January 16 with the aim of crossing its border into Syria, the Montreal daily La Presse said.

It is unclear if they reached their final destination.

The father of one of the young men, fearing his son’s downward spiral since taking up religious and Arabic studies, seized his passport. But his son reported it lost and obtained a replacement from authorities.

The six are aged 18 to 19 and of Mideast and North African descent.

A spokeswoman for Montreal CEGEP College de Maisonneuve confirmed that three of them had attended the high school last semester, but did not know if they knew each other.

Their departure follows the alleged radicalization of a 23-year-old Alberta woman who left her family mid-2014 to join the Islamic State group in Syria.

Western governments are increasingly concerned about a rising number of foreign fighters travelling to Syria through Turkey to join extremist groups.

US intelligence officials warned earlier this month that more than 20,000 volunteers from around the world had gone to Syria to link up with extremists.

The Un-United Nation


We have acknowledge that after WW2, there was some kind of Laws which was some form of stability which needed to be reinforce throughout the world and in such case a group of so called superpower countries joined together to call themselves the United Nations.

This United Nations also has a so called Security Council which is meant to protected the Citizens of the world which is build up of large and small parcels of land surrounded or separated by a body of water, which is then Governed by most insane, power  grabbing men.

Over the pass weeks we have come to witness how Un-United this Nation Security Council has been in order of rather securing the Resource of the land than Protecting the Lives of the People whom they should be protecting.

Russia, China and Germany have so far given the green light to places like Syria and other part of the world to Gas and Poison their Citizens or Neighbours without fear, why are these country blocking action against such regimes, well now we know where Syria’s stockpile of Weapons and Poison Gas Suppliers are.         

West rebukes Putin over Syria at G8 summit


Welcoming ceremony. With President of Syria Ba...
Welcoming ceremony. With President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria . ...
English: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria . Original background removed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Português do Brasil: O presidente Lula recebe ...
Português do Brasil: O presidente Lula recebe o presidente da República Árabe Síria, Bashar al-Assad, no Itamaraty. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: US President Barack Obama and British...
English: US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron trade bottles of beer to settle a bet they made on the U.S. vs. England World Cup Soccer game (which ended in a tie), during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Western leaders rebuked Russian President Vladimir Putin for supporting Syria’s Bashar al-Assad‘s attempt to crush a two-year-old uprising, setting the stage for a tense G8 summit of the world’s most powerful nations.

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to use his first face-to-face meeting with Putin in a year to try to persuade the Kremlin chief to bring Assad to the negotiating table to end a conflict in which at least 93,000 people have been killed.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is chairing the G8 summit in a remote golf resort in Northern Ireland, conceded there was “a big difference” between the positions of Russia and the West on how to resolve the war.

In some of his most colourful remarks on Syria, Putin described anti-Assad rebels as cannibals who ate human flesh and warned Obama of the dangers of giving guns to such people. Moscow also said it would not permit no-fly zones over to Syria.

For their part, Western leaders have criticised Russia, Syria’s most powerful ally, for sending weapons to Assad forces and considering deliveries of a sophisticated missile system.

“How can we allow that Russia continues to deliver arms to the Bashar al-Assad regime when the opposition receives very few and is being massacred?” French President Francois Hollande said.

Stung by recent victories for Assad’s forces and their support from Hezbollah guerrillas, the United States said last week it would step up military aid to the rebels including automatic weapons, light mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

In an apparent response to this development, Assad said Europe would “pay the price” if it delivered arms to rebel forces, saying that would result in the export of terrorism to Europe.

“Terrorists will gain experience in combat and return with extremist ideologies,” he said in an advance extract of an interview due to be published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Tuesday.

Divisions over Syria dominated the atmosphere as global leaders streamed into the heavily guarded resort in Northern Ireland, a place once rocked by decades of violence but which Cameron now wants to showcase as a model of conflict resolution.

Despite the disagreements over Syria, Putin and his Western counterparts appeared cordial in their public appearances. The Kremlin chief cracked a grin as he shook Cameron’s hand outside the venue, as police helicopters surveyed the site overhead.

Moscow and Washington both agree that the bloodshed in Syria should stop and say they are genuinely trying to overcome mistrust between them. They had earlier agreed to set up a Syrian peace conference in Geneva but progress has been slow.

The European Union has dropped its arms embargo on Syria, allowing France and Britain to arm the rebels, though Cameron expressed concern about some of Assad’s foes.

“Let’s be clear – I am as worried as anybody else about elements of the Syrian opposition, who are extremists, who support terrorism and who are a great danger to our world,” Cameron said.

Syria aside, Cameron wants to focus on the formal agenda on tax, trade and transparency, dubbed “The Three Ts”, topics expected to dominate discussions on Tuesday.

As the summit kicked off on Monday afternoon, the United States and the EU opened negotiations for the world’s most ambitious free-trade deal, promising thousands of new jobs and accelerated growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

OBAMA-PUTIN TALKS

The spotlight was on Obama and Putin who were due to meet at about 6:30 p.m. at the Lough Erne golf resort about 10 km (7 miles) outside the Northern Irish town of Enniskillen, scene of an IRA bomb attack in 1987 that killed 11 people.

Security was tight and the venue was surrounded by a 15-ft high steel fence. Unlike previous summits which have seen often turbulent anti-capitalist protests, the meeting failed to attract any crowds, possibly due to its remote location.

In a speech in Belfast, Obama urged young people in Northern Ireland to finish making “permanent peace” and set an example to other areas of the world stricken by conflict.

Cameron could also face some awkward questions at the G8 table after a Guardian newspaper report that Britain spied on officials taking part in two Group of 20 meetings in 2009.

In a report published just hours before the G8 summit, the daily said some delegates from countries in the Group of 20 – which comprises top economies around the world – used Internet cafes that had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their emails.

“If these allegations prove to be true, it will be condemned in the strongest fashion and the necessary action taken,” said Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, who the Guardian said had his calls intercepted by Britain.

The leaders of the United States, Japan, Canada, Russia, Germany, France, Britain and Italy – representing just over half of the $71.7 trillion (45.67 trillion pounds) global economy – will also discuss global economy and trade.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders are likely to say they are not content with progress so far in fixing their economies in the wake of the global financial crisis, according to a draft communiqué seen by Reuters.

Abe will use the opportunity to explain his blend of fiscal and monetary stimuli known as ‘Abenomics’ to the leaders as investors try to absorb the implications of a signal by the U.S. Federal Reserve it may start to slow its money-printing.

Russian S-300 missiles a pawn in diplomatic game,


Iran Elections
Iran Elections (Photo credit: bi0xid)
Welcoming ceremony. With President of Syria Ba...
Welcoming ceremony. With President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Iran Twitter Flag
Iran Twitter Flag (Photo credit: People’s Open Graphics)
Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...
Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Asma al-Assad, wife of the President ...
English: Asma al-Assad, wife of the President Bashar al-Assad of Syria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: SOCHI. With President of Syria Bashar...
English: SOCHI. With President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. Русский: СОЧИ, БОЧАРОВ РУЧЕЙ. С Президентом Сирии Башаром Асадом. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Russia‘s pledge to deliver anti-aircraft missiles to Damascus at a time when world powers are trying to end Syria‘s civil war is consistent with a pattern of using the weapons system as a bargaining chip in its power struggle with the West.

Russia has said it is committed to sell the S-300 surface-to-air missiles as a deterrent against foreign military intervention, under a contract struck in 2010 with President Bashar al-Assad.

But Western powers who are trying, along with Russia, to organise an international conference to end the 26-month-old conflict say such a delivery would be hugely counter-productive.

“No one knows if this conference will become a success, but it is the wrong message which has been sent by Russia to the world and to the region by delivering S-300 or other weapons,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Friday.

Secret WikiLeaks cables show that Russia has played this game before, in particular with the long-range S-300 that Israel, for one, sees as a “red line” threat to its airspace.

Russia’s determination to supply Syria mirrors an earlier commitment to Iran, though it long assured diplomats it had no intention of sending S-300s to either country, the cables show.

Russia was well aware of the “destabilising” effect of supplying weapons like the S-300 to the Middle East, one September 2008 cable quoted Viktor Simakov, Counselor for Israel and Palestine in Russia’s Foreign Ministry, as saying.

“Simakov reiterated that Russia understood very well Israel’s concern about either Syria or Iran obtaining the Iskander or S-300 missile systems,” the cable said.

Syria had upset Russia by allowing an earlier delivery of anti-tank missiles to fall into the hands of militant Islamist group Hezbollah, and Russia promised tighter “end user controls” in future.

Syria tried to obtain missiles in 2008 by offering to host Russia’s own missile defences on its territory, matching U.S. missile defences in Europe that Russia objects to. Although Russia did sign a contract in 2010, it did not then agree; Israel’s promise not to sell arms to Georgia during the Georgia-Russia war that August may have outweighed Syria’s offer.

Speculation was mounting in late 2008 that Russia was planning to honour its 2005 contract to supply S-300s to Iran. But Russian officials assured the U.S. charge d’affaires in Moscow that the transfer would not be completed until Iran complied with its nuclear obligations, according to one cable.

But by early 2009, the sale looked like it was going to take place, and Washington asked six allied Middle Eastern countries to raise the issue immediately with Russia.

The move appeared to pay off, although then-U.S. Ambassador to Moscow John Beyrle expected Russia to keep pressing the issue, for financial, political and foreign policy reasons.

The Iran sale was merely “frozen”, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told U.S. Senator Carl Levin in 2009, and hinted that Russia did not want to be challenged again.

“The less we hear from Washington about this, the better,” an April 2009 cable quoted Ryabkov as saying.

Russian officials told Amos Gilad, at that time head of the political-military bureau in Israel’s Ministry of Defence, that the missiles to Iran would not be delivered for political reasons.

“However, Gilad said the Russians would reassess this political calculation should the United States continue to pursue missile defense plans in Poland and the Czech Republic,” said a cable dated July 30, 2009.

In the end, Russia scrapped the sale in 2010, and in what may have been a quid pro quo, the Israelis agreed to sell Russia surveillance drones that would narrow its technological military gap with Georgia.

“For better or for worse, the delivery of S-300’s have become a barometer of our bilateral relations,” Ambassador Beyrle wrote in 2009.

Woolwich Proves That Savagery and Bestiality Is No Respector of Borders


English: Saudi Arabia
English: Saudi Arabia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Supplicating Pilgrim at Masjid Al Har...
English: Supplicating Pilgrim at Masjid Al Haram. Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Français : Pélerin en prière dans Masjid Al Haram, la mosquée interdite, à La Mecque (Arabie Saoudite). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Hamid Mir interviewing Osama bin Lade...
English: Hamid Mir interviewing Osama bin Laden for Daily Pakistan in 1997 behind them on the wall is an AKS-74U carbine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cold blooded murder and mutilation of a young man in Woolwich – a serving British soldier – saw Al Qaeda-type savagery and bestiality explode in our midst for the first time since 7/7. It is the kind of savagery and bestiality that is no respector of borders, race, religion, or creed. It is the same savagery we saw last week in the film of the so-called freedom fighter in Syria cutting out the heart and lungs of a dead Syrian soldier, holding them up to the camera before starting to eat them.

What should never be forgotten is that the vast majority of victims of the disgusting fundamentalist ideology which fuels this savagery are Muslims, whether in Iraq, Libya, Somalia, or Syria. The reason it is crucial to highlight this point is that such heinous acts and those responsible are as unrepresentative of Islam and Muslims as the mass murderer Anders Brevik is of Christianity and Christians.

The word connecting both is extremism. It links the beasts responsible for what took place in Woolwich and groups such as the EDL, who immediately sought to capitalise on it in order to foment the same kind of sectarian war that Muslims and Arabs around the war have suffered for the past decade and more. Surely now, witnessing the racist ingrates of the EDL at work in the immediate aftermath of this brutal murder, it is time for society to come together and drive these racist thugs off our streets.

The overriding priority of all right thinking people – a categorisation that unfortunately at this point does not extend to our political leaders – is to understand where this sick ideology comes from, what feeds it, and the most effective way of combating it. Clearly the tools employed up to now have been wanting. Fighting fire with fire only produces more fire; and fire is what we have been spreading unabated throughout the Muslim world since way before 9/11. Surely now, after more than a decade of piling up bodies in the name of democracy we can no longer afford the luxury of fooling ourselves that killing innocent people over ‘there’ – directly or by proxy – will not result in the killing of innocent people here.

The Muslim community in this country has nothing to apologise for. It does not deserve to be put in the dock for the actions of a few crazed killers who seek to justify bestiality with a distorted and twisted ideology. What does deserve to be put in the dock is a foreign policy that on the one hand fuels and courts extremism and extremists, while on the other wages war on it with the blunt instrument of drone strikes, missile strikes, and wars of occupation.

Britain’s participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been a disaster – both for the Afghan and Iraqi people, yes, but also for society here at home. While the hatred these wars have resulted in towards the West is no justification for the brutal murder in Woolwich, they cannot be abstracted from the equation either. In an age of electronic communications, social media, and YouTube, the ability of a hate-filled ideology to spread and feed a twisted understanding of the world in response to the West’s immersion in these wars is self evident.

Hypocrisy is never far from any British prime minister’s lips at times like this. How can any British government proclaim its revulsion of Islamic extremism when it continues to enjoy close and friendly relations with the Saudis, a government that legitimates the very same? In case anyone has forgotten, in Saudi Arabia people are beheaded in public, women are treated as no better than chattel, and human rights do not exist. The most barbaric cultural and religious practices are embraced in Saudi Arabia under the rubric of Wahhabism and yet we sell its government of clapped-out potentates billions of pounds in weapons and military hardware every year.

The point is that Islamic extremism is something our leaders have used when its suits them, doing so in order to pursue certain geopolitical objectives. The beast who mutilated the body of the dead soldier in Syria last week is no different from the beasts who butchered a British soldier in Woolwich. Yet Britain along with France is currently seeking to overturn a EU ban on supplying weapons to non state actors in order to arm various rebel factions operating in Syria, many if not most of which are adherents of Sunni extremism and the ideology of Al Qaeda.

It is utter madness.

In response to Woolwich the Muslim community, via its various organisations, has been united in its condemnation and revulsion. This is no time for Britain’s Muslim community to be forced to its knees, as if they are somehow complicit in this butchery. Victims and opponents of extremism must stand together – which means Muslims, non-Muslims, white, Asian, black, everyone who understands that those responsible for butchering innocent people come in all guises. They come dressed in jeans and trainers armed with knives and meat cleavers, and they come dressed in tailored suits armed with smiles and the imprimatur of government.

Syrian forces kill American, British citizen accused of fighting alongside rebels.


Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...
Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
CNN Center- Atlanta, GA
CNN Center- Atlanta, GA (Photo credit: hpstyles)
English: Former president Hafez al-Assad was o...
English: Former president Hafez al-Assad was on display everywhere, Maaloula – Syria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Author - Ammar Abd Rabbo Source - http://flick...
Author – Ammar Abd Rabbo Source – http://flickr.com/photos/21499556@N04/2085667933/ License – Some rights reserved CC-BY-SA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text ...
Billboard with portrait of Assad and the text God protects Syria on the old city wall of Damascus 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Syrian state-run television reported Thursday that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed three Westerners, including an American woman and a British citizen, who they claim were fighting with the rebels and were found with weapons.
Syrian TV identified the woman, releasing what it claimed were images of her Michigan driver’s license and U.S. passport. It also released what is said was the name and passport of a British citizen. It did not identify a third person who it claimed was a Westerner.
The report said the three were ambushed in their car in the flashpoint province of Idlib in northwestern Syria, where government forces have been battling rebels for control.
TV footage showed a bullet-riddled car and three bodies laid out. It also showed weapons, a computer, a hand-drawn map of a government military facility and a flag belonging to the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front.
The United States is aware of the claim that an American woman was killed and is working through the Czech Republic mission in Syria to obtain more information, a State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN.
Citing privacy concerns, “we are unable to comment further,” the official said.
A family member of the American woman told CNN on Thursday she was informed by the FBI about the death. The family member said the FBI did not provide any details about how the woman died.
CNN is not identifying the family member, who lives in Michigan, until next of kin notifications have been completed.
British officials in London did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.
Al-Nusra Front
If the Syrian state TV report is true, it will not be the first time an American has been accused of fighting with rebel groups to overthrow al-Assad.
In March, a former U.S. soldier was arrested and charged by the U.S. government with illegally using a weapon on behalf of the al-Nusra Front.
Eric Harroun, 30, of Phoenix, was arrested by the FBI after returning to the United States from Syria, where authorities allege he fought with the militant group. He was charged with the alleged use of a rocket-propelled grenade.
The organization he allegedly fought with, al-Nusra Front, is one of several aliases used by al Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for more than 600 attacks in Syria, the Justice Department said.
An FBI affidavit says Harroun crossed into Syria in January 2013 and fought against al-Assad’s forces. He posted photos and videos of himself on the Internet handling RPGs and other weapons, it said.
Harroun served with the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2003.
Troubled talks
The report by Syrian state TV came on the same day that a leader of Syria’s main rebel coalition said the group may not participate in a conference aimed at brokering an end to the civil war.
“It is difficult to continue when Syrians are constantly being hammered by the Assad regime with the help of outside forces,” said George Sabra, acting chairman of the National Coalition, in a statement.
He cited the siege of Qusayr and attacks on Eastern Gouta, a suburb of Damascus, as well as what he said was an “invasion” by Iranian militia members in support of al-Assad.
Russia, which supports Damascus, expressed its own reservations. Conditions on the peace talks demanded by the National Coalition are too restrictive, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters, state news agency ITAR-Tass reported.
“One has the impression that the National Coalition and its regional sponsors are doing their utmost in a bid to prevent the beginning of a political process and resort to all means, including brainwashing in the West, to induce military intervention,” Lavrov is quoted as saying. “We regard such approaches as impermissible.”
In addition, the coalition “is not the sole representative of the Syrian people,” Lavrov said. “The coalition has no constructive platform.”
The National Coalition has demanded that al-Assad step aside as a condition for its participation in the talks, which were originally scheduled to be held this month in Geneva, Switzerland, but have been delayed.
The Syrian government has insisted that any talks be held without preconditions and has said that al-Assad will finish his term and must be qualified to run again in the 2014 elections.
Fighting rages on
Some 3,000 to 4,000 Lebanese Hezbollah fighters have been deployed to Syria, where they are fighting alongside government forces, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the Foreign Affairs Committee of France’s National Assembly.
The Lebanese fighters have been involved in a battle for Qusayr, a town of about 20,000 that sits astride one route to the Syrian coast and another to the Lebanese border.
For the rebels, holding Qusayr represents a way of limiting the regime’s ability to sustain itself.
On Thursday, the media office of the Syrian Coalition in Istanbul, Turkey, said in an appeal for help that the number of wounded citizens in Qusayr had exceeded 1,000.
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said the fighting was part of its mission “to pursue terrorists in Qusayr and its countryside.”
‘One axis’
In an interview broadcast Thursday night by the Hezbollah television station Al-Manar, al-Assad was quoted by Lebanese media as saying, “Syria and Hezbollah are one axis.”
Hezbollah forces “are in Lebanon and Syria, on the border area,” al-Assad said.
According to the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper, he said, “There are groups of (Hezbollah) party fighters in the border areas with Lebanon. But the Syrian army is the one fighting and running battles against the armed groups, and will continue in this battle in order to eliminate” what he described as “terrorists.”
The president expressed skepticism that the talks proposed for Geneva would prove fruitful, the newspaper reported.
Al-Assad is further quoted as saying that “Syria received the first batch of the Russian S-300 missiles, antiaircraft systems” and that “the rest of the shipment will arrive soon.”
“The contracts are not related to the conflict,” he said. “We negotiate with them for various kinds of weapons for years. And Russia is fulfilling these contracts.”
Russia has been criticized by the West for reported sales of six S-300 air defense systems to Syria under a 2010 contract.
Moscow, however, has said such deliveries would conform with international law and has denied supplying Syria with weapons that can be used against civilians.

International parties have hidden agenda to destroy Syria – Hamas leader


Syria
Syria (Photo credit: Zachary Baumgartner)
syria
syria (Photo credit: ewixx)
English: Brasilia - The president of the Syria...
English: Brasilia – The president of the Syrian Arab Republic, Bashar Al-Assad during a visit to Congress Português do Brasil: Brasília – O presidente da República Árabe Síria, Bashar Al-Assad, em visita ao Congresso Nacional (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Asma al-Assad, wife of the President ...
English: Asma al-Assad, wife of the President Bashar al-Assad of Syria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A flag, with the Shahadah, frequently used by ...
A flag, with the Shahadah, frequently used by Hamas supporters Proportions: 9:16Citation needed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Bashar al-Assad under pressure
English: Bashar al-Assad under pressure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hamas
Hamas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: SOCHI. With President of Syria Bashar...
English: SOCHI. With President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. Русский: СОЧИ, БОЧАРОВ РУЧЕЙ. С Президентом Сирии Башаром Асадом. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Khaled Meshaal in a meeting with span...
English: Khaled Meshaal in a meeting with spanish journalists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First came confirmation that the interview was on. We flew to the Qatari city of Doha.

And waited…And waited…Then we were given a day, then two hours notice – a location.

That is an area of the city and a time. No address – just initial directions to the general area.

We proceeded junction to junction; roundabout to roundabout, stopping to receive new directions at each way point.

A Mossad injection 15 years ago very nearly killed the man we were going to see. Three years ago another top Hamas official was assassinated in a Dubai hotel room by a group of Mossad agents dressed up as tennis-playing tourists on faked passports – including British ones.

So the Palestinian group Hamas, do not take chances. Elected to power in Gaza over, yet deemed “a terrorist organisation” by the US and the EU, Hamas remains committed to denying Israel’s right to exist and resisting Israel by force of arms.
We arrived at a villa after several calls for the next stage of directions. “So who owns this place then?”

“It is owned by a man,” came the reply from the genial man in charge of welcoming us to this safe house.

Several times the producer would ask the question, several times, exactly the same smiling reply. We hand in our mobile phones. We walk through an airport-style scanner. The film equipment is carefully, intimately, searched. Then tea, cakes, sweets and we wait.

Finally, the courtyard doors open again and Khaled Meshaal emerges from a 4×4 with guards. The boss of Hamas is with us.

Neatly trimmed beard, soft-spoken with a ready smile, careful to greet all our team and both cameramen with handshakes. Scrupulous not to neglect or ignore anybody in the room. The guards take up postions by the door and outside. Open- necked shirt, neat, dark jacket: the technocrat, fixer, pragmatist, very much intended look.

I start with Syria.
Hamas left Damascus in January last year, for Doha. Goodbye to his longtime friend and ally President Bashar al-Assad: “The military approach is wrong. It makes the crisis worse. It doesn’t solve anything,” he explains, “it only makes it more complicated. What we are witnessing today proves our advice was right.”

So advice to Assad to seek a political solution when it looked feasible. And now Hamas denies the accusations that it is supporting rebel Syrian groups like the Free Syrian Army.

“We do not interfere in Syrian internal affairs nor do we interfere in the Syrian Crisis and this is our policy towards the Arab Spring and all other Arab and non-Arab countries in the world,” he said.

“So when the British government wants to arm Syrian rebels they’re making a mistake?” I ask.

“Hamas policy is against any foreign intervention in our countries.This is our general principle. But at the same time we support the rights of people to freedom, democracy and reform and we are against the use of force and violence, massacres, and military options against them. We support people to win their rights, but we are against foreign intervention.

“The international community has been talking about this for months and I think there is a kind of deception going on, and that there is a hidden agenda from many international parties to prolong the Syrian crisis and destroy Syria. These parties do not want to see recovery for Syria…they use positive slogans but in reality their attitude identifies with the Israeli agenda of destroying Syria, more death, and prolonging the Syrian crisis.”
I ask: “In moving to Doha you are sending a clear message to Assad that he should go?”

“No no, this is not what we meant. We, as the leadership of Hamas, had to leave Damascus the moment we felt that our efforts to convince the Syrian leadership to choose a solution other than the military one failed. On the other hand, the Syrian leadership was not happy with Hamas’ political stance and also, I felt they wanted to put pressure or demand on us to stand by the official Syrian position and support the leadership in their military solution to the Syrian issue … this is why we did not feel then I could stay, so we left – circumstances forced itself on us, but if Assad goes or stays, that’s up to the Syrian people not to us,” is the reply.

“But you moved to Qatar,” I say, “which more than any other supports the rebels in Syria. You’ve betrayed a great friend in Bashar al-Assad and betrayed Iran.”

“I explained to you why we left and this not a betrayal of any one We did not mean to anger any party by our political position, we just stuck to our principles.”

But it’s clear the move has been difficult. Relations with Syria are strained to put it mildly. Qatar has long been the key sponsor of the uprising in Syria. The Emir recently visited Gaza, and as we speak Qatari money is rebuilding the ruins of Israeli bombing back in Gaza.

And then Israel itself.

Bizarrely Hamas and Israel may even find themselves close to being on the same side over Syria. Israel bombs, Hamas leaves Damascus and seeks refuge in the coutry supporting the rebels. How deep is the rift with Assad? If profound, then on the basis that my enemy’s enemy is my friend Hamas could be uncomfortably close to The Zionist Entity as they would have it:

“If you use this kind of description,” says Mr Meshal, “how can you explain the Israeli assault against us in Gaza months ago?

“The aggression that killed our great leader Ahmad Al-Jaabary after we left Syria. Israel looks after its own interest and has its own policy of assault no matter which country it’s assaulting, if it’s Lebanon or Syria or any other country in the World. Israel is our enemy.”

So does Hamas continue with its position of stating that Israel clearly exists de facto but has no legitimacy to exist in law?

“I am surprised that the world keeps concentrating on the recognition of Israel and its right to exist, while it is an existing state on the ground, occupying the land and expelling its people while practising all manner of killings, aggression and terror. In all civil and religious laws in the world, there is no legitimacy to any one who establishes themselves by means of violation and the seizure of land and the rights of others. Does the international community accept this equation?”

“So yes or no? Does Israel have the right to exist Mr Meshal?”

“You ask your question your way, so let me answer you in my way. I’m telling you, we are the real owners of the land. We have the right to live freely without occupation, settlements, aggression, prisons and Jewishisation of the land.The law I believe in and I think it’s the same for every human being in the world, not only the Arabs and all Muslims is that there is no legitimacy or future for occupation or aggression.”

I wondered if there were any circumstances in which he could conceive of shaking hands with the Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu?

“Although the question is legitimate, how can I have peace with a killer like Netanyahu. Think logically. I am the Palestinian victim, my land is occupied, and my people are displaced. Netanyahu is waging war against my own people, and denies my rights, so why would the world expect me to shake his hand in the future? There was a historical handshake between Rabin and Arafat, God bless his soul, in the White House Garden when they signed Camp David Agreement, but what was the result? This hand, Arafat’s, the hand that shook Rabin’s hand was poisoned and killed by Rabin’s followers after that.”

He accuses Israel of somehow relishing concessions from Arabs in the Middle East for their own sake and here the historical self-image of Hamas is tellingly revealed.

“It’s a kind of sadism because it enjoys and relishes the Arab concessions. This is why the only answer to this situation is to take a rigid stance.

“You are in Britain and you are a respectable TV station. Why are the British proud of Churchill when he was dealing with Nazism when they occupied France and bombed Britain? Why did De Gaulle call for resistance to the German occupation of France from London? Why did he become a hero instead being criticised because of his lack of flexibility?”

With that, he takes his leave in a leisurely fashion. There are more talks with others in side the house before the guard shepherd him into the 4×4 and he leaves the house “owned by a man” and we can now retrieve our mobile phones and, after a suitable time has elapsed, leave the villa as well.

The price will be high, but the key to Syria lies in Putin’s Moscow.


Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...
Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Rifa'at and Hafez al-Assad.
Rifa’at and Hafez al-Assad. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bashar and Asma al-Assad, President and first-...
Bashar and Asma al-Assad, President and first-wife of Syria. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Talk about a tough neighbourhood. The unfolding tragedy in Syria has claimed more than 75,000 lives and created more than two million refugees; the Assad regime has used nerve agents against its own people; and Syrian rebel groups have videotaped executions and even engaged in cannibalism in the name of God. Lives have been lost and red lines have been crossed. Yet there seems to be no end in sight.
Besides the human cost to the people of Syria, the failure to address the crisis carries three main risks to all who have an interest in preserving peace and stability in the Middle East. First, the fires of tribal and sectarian
blood-feuds are not easily doused in our region. The longer this conflict goes on, the greater the chances that a post-Assad Syria will end up a Somalia – a failed state of constantly warring factions.
Second, the more often chemical weapons are used, even on a small scale, the greater the chances that they will be employed en masse. So too, with each passing day, the prospects grow that these weapons will fall into terrorist hands. Israel is acutely aware of this danger and is committed to doing whatever is necessary to prevent Hizbollah from obtaining Syria’s lethal arsenal.
Third, the Syrian crisis, dangerous as it is, detracts leaders from effectively tackling a problem whose risks are far more acute – a nuclear-armed Iran.
Admittedly, there are no easy answers for dealing with Syria. True, Assad’s armed forces are weak and debilitated by infighting. His air force and air defence systems could be destroyed in a relatively short time by powers both inside and outside the region. But that won’t necessarily end the fighting or secure the chemical weapons.
The other alternatives – a US, Nato or Turkish imposed “no fly zone”, the establishment of a safe corridor for refugees, and US or Israeli strikes against the chemical weapons facilities – are also not without significant risks.
While all these must remain on the table, right now the best chance for a successful resolution of the Syrian crisis is a diplomatic initiative led by Russia.
The Kremlin has at its disposal the necessary leverage to convince Assad to leave, or at least to stop the fighting. The Russians, for whom the naval bases in Tartous and Latakia have strategic importance, have invested a lot of political capital, financial resources and prestige in the Assad dynasty over the past four decades. They trained and equipped the Syrian army; they provided it with intelligence gathering capabilities. And they are on first-name terms with the Syrian generals who command the chemical weapons units.
Russian military support for Syria is not a thing of the past. Their readiness to provide Assad with improved radars for the Yakhont surface-to-sea missile systems is deeply concerning. Even more worrying is their intention to supply the Syrians with the S300 anti-aircraft system, which could alter the delicate balance of weapon systems in the region.
But despite this support, the Russian leadership, shrewd as ever, well understands that the Assad regime is ultimately doomed, even if the Kremlin prefers not to say so publicly. Nor does Russia want to see Islamic fundamentalists ruling Syria or endless civil war in a failed state. Russia has every reason to be a leading partner in a post-Assad Syria and to protect its strategic interests there.
That is why, in a mirror-image of what happened in Libya, where Russia was asked to support a European-led effort backed by the US, here Russia must be convinced to lead the international effort in Syria.
The Russians, like all of us, are far from perfect. But they are an important world power with special relevance to Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and the Middle East. Their interests and perspectives have to be seriously taken into account.
There will definitely be a price to be paid for Russia’s readiness to lead. Missile defence in Europe could be raised, as well as issues related to the “near abroad” (Ukraine, Belarus and the likes), the Caucasus power balance, possibly even some energy and trade concerns. But all these should not deter us from entering into this dialogue. They are all legitimate interests of Russia. The international diplomatic arena, though, is a Gestalt where everything is dependent on everything else. And the cards held by the US, Europe and other players make the West’s hand as strong, if not stronger, than the Russian one.
The Russians, however cool they play it, fully understand the urgency of the Syrian issue and the risks. They will surely drive a hard bargain. But President Putin operated in a very responsible manner when it came to the supply of advanced air defence systems to Iran. We still have several months before the S300s in Syria could turn operational. And however modern and effective the system is, it is not invincible or indestructible.
I believe that with the right approach, President Putin will act responsibly again, and I believe that a successful Russian-led effort in Syria could help transform its attitude towards constructive cooperation in other sour international theatres.
There is no reason why a mutually agreed special role for Russia in post-Assad Syria, to include recognising its naval interests, could not be found. While US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent diplomatic efforts have not yet borne fruit, he and his administration should be applauded for trying sincerely to tackle it.
Given the high costs of allowing the carnage in Syria to continue and the high risks entailed in alternative courses of action, we should not abandon the effort. The key to Syria still lies in Moscow, and there is no time to wait.