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Posts Tagged ‘Conflict’

Syrian govt claims victory in Damascus as Aleppo battle rages — RT

Posted by satyrikon στο Ιουλίου 29, 2012

 A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on July 25, 2012, shows forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fighting in the al-Qadam district of Damascus. The Syrian army and rebels on July 25, sent reinforcements to Aleppo to join the intensifying battle for the country's second city, as UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged the world "to stop the slaughter." (AFP Photo / Sana)

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on July 25, 2012, shows forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fighting in the al-Qadam district of Damascus. The Syrian army and rebels on July 25, sent reinforcements to Aleppo to join the intensifying battle for the country’s second city, as UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged the world «to stop the slaughter.» (AFP Photo / Sana)

The Syrian government has declared victory in Damascus while the fierce struggle for control of Aleppo continues. Meanwhile, the country’s Foreign Minister is in Iran, seeking support from the Islamic state.

According to Reuters, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said, «Today I tell you, Syria is stronger… In less than a week they were defeated (in Damascus) and the battle failed. So they moved on to Aleppo and I assure you, their plots will fail.»

The comment was made during his visit to Tehran, where he met with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi.

Fighting between rebel and government forces escalated in Aleppo on Sunday, just as Salehi expressed doubts that a managed Syrian power transition would ever work. According to Reuters, he called the very idea an “illusion.”

“Thinking naively and wrongly that if there is a power vacuum perhaps in Syria and if there is a transition of power in Syria, simply another government will come to power, that I think is just a dream,» Salehi said.

According to reports from Al Arabiya, Muallem said, “We believe that all the anti-Syrian forces have gathered in Aleppo to fight the government…and they will definitely be defeated.”

Intense fighting continued in Aleppo on Sunday, as government troops aimed to regain control in the southwestern neighborhoods of Salaheddine and parts of Saif al-Dawla, which were seized by rebels last week.

Aleppo is Syria’s commercial hub, and is seen as a critical city for both the regime and the opposition.

Rebels are believed to control between a third and half of the neighborhoods in Aleppo.

Armed rebels stand on top of a destroyed tank in Aleppo. (AP video shot)
Armed rebels stand on top of a destroyed tank in Aleppo. (AP video shot)

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported heavy fighting and explosions there, including fighting in the Bab al-Hadeed, al-Zahraa and al-Arqoub neighborhoods.

Sarkis Kassargian, a local reporter for Al-Khabar TV, told RT, “The rebels were controlling the area of Salaheddine. They’ve moved out of the area, and the Syrian army is in control of the region now.”

Aleppo-based opposition activist Mohammed Saeed told AP that around 200 fighters entered the city early Sunday to join the 1,000 fighters who poured into the city over the past few days.

Saeed also said rebels have received “a new batch of weapons and ammunition,” but declined to say from where.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has called on regional powers to stop supporting the Syrian opposition, arguing that the power vacuum which would open up should the government in Damascus fall would result in dire consequences for the whole region.

A local Aleppo mosque stands amongst rubble after being heavily damaged. (AP video shot)
A local Aleppo mosque stands amongst rubble after being heavily damaged. (AP video shot)

But while the Iranian government calls on other countries to stop supporting the rebels, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council is sending a different message.

According to AFP, Abdulbaset Sayda urged “Arab brothers and friends to support the Free Syrian Army.”

«We want weapons that would stop tanks and jet fighters. That is what we want,» Sayda said in a news conference.

But according to author and journalist Afshin Rattansi, supplying rebels with weapons comes with serious consequences.

“The blow back for Turkey aiding fighters on its own border is astounding. Parts of northern Syria are already under the control of Kurds. And as for the US, the last time they armed jihadists, we saw the 9/11 attacks,” Rattansi told RT.

During his visit, Muallem said that Syria was committed to Kofi Annan’s six-point plan to end 16 months of violence in the country.

The plan calls for a ceasefire – something that has been widely ignored by both sides – as the first stage in the transition to ending the violence.

It also calls for access to aid, the release of detained people, freedom of movement for journalists, and the freedom to protest peacefully.

A child stands in front of a destroyed tank and mosque in Aleppo. (AP video shot)
A child stands in front of a destroyed tank and mosque in Aleppo. (AP video shot)

μέσω Syrian govt claims victory in Damascus as Aleppo battle rages — RT.

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Replacing government 101: Syrian rebels learn democracy in Germany — RT

Posted by satyrikon στο Ιουλίου 28, 2012

Ready for democracy? Syrian rebels. (AFP photo / Bulent Kilic)

Ready for democracy? Syrian rebels. (AFP photo / Bulent Kilic)

A group of top Syrian opposition figures took courses in governing a country in Berlin. The training, partially sponsored by the US State Department, is meant to come in handy after the Bashar al-Assad regime falls.­The group consisted of over 40 individuals, including Syrian defector generals and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. They learned economics, law, security practices and other areas of governance, which would be needed in the transition period.

“We created a framework that basically made it possible for Syrian participants to focus on the kinds of challenges that would emerge in the course of a transition in each of those issue areas,” Senior adviser at the US Institute of Peace, Steven Heydemann told ABC explaining the program.

Part of the training involved a visit to the German authority responsible for the files of Stasi, according to a Haareеtz report. The Soviet-era secret police was dismantled and several of its officials prosecuted after the reunification of the country. The experience may be useful for the Syrian rebels, should they be required to decide how to deal with the numerous secret service organizations currently existing in Syria.

Neither the American nor the German government was directly involved in the secret program called “The Day Thereafter: support for a democratic transition in Syria”. Germany, however, was being kept informed and provided logistical support, while the Americans partially funded the training via the State Department.

Other backers of the program are the US Institute of Peace, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, as well as the Swiss Foreign Ministry and Dutch and Norwegian non-governmental organizations.

Organizers stressed that their effort is not aimed at overthrowing the Assad government, but rather is a contingency for a scenario in which it happens.

Earlier a number of American and European government officials said President Bashar al-Assad has no future in Syria and must step down.

μέσω Replacing government 101: Syrian rebels learn democracy in Germany — RT.

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Turkey sets up secret anti-Assad rebel base with Saudi Arabia and Qatar – reports — RT

Posted by satyrikon στο Ιουλίου 27, 2012

Syrian rebels attack the municipal building in the city center of Selehattin, near Aleppo, on July 23, 2012. Were these weapons supplied by Turkey? (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

Syrian rebels attack the municipal building in the city center of Selehattin, near Aleppo, on July 23, 2012. Were these weapons supplied by Turkey? (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

Turkey is directing the rebel fight against Bashar Assad, after setting up a secret base on its border with Syria, with help from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It devises tactics and supplies weapons for the uprising, according to Reuters sources.

It is unclear how long the base, described as the “nerve center” of the anti-Assad campaign has existed, and its location is given only as Adana, a city 60 miles from the border. Adana is home to Incirlik, a huge air base run jointly by Turkey and the United States, though it is not clear whether it was used for this operation.

«Three governments are supplying weapons: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia,» said the source, reportedly based in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

The source claims the base was set up at the request of Saudi deputy foreign minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud during his visit to Turkey, which was open to the idea. Turkey then took control of operations once the base was established.

“It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom.»

Disunited and badly trained when the uprising against President Assad began 18 months ago, recently Syrian rebels have had a string of successes against the supposedly better-trained and better-equipped regular soldiers. They have held down large parts of the country and advanced on the capital Damascus earlier in July. An audacious suicide attack last week took out four of the most senior security officials in the Assad circle.

These successes may have been made possible by the steady flow of arms from the Adana location, most of which appear to have been purchased illegally to cover the sponsors’ trails.

«All weaponry is Russian. The obvious reason is that the Syrian rebels are trained to use Russian weapons, also because the Americans don’t want their hands on it. All weapons are from the black market,” claims the source, which says arms are also obtained by looting loyalist weapons stores.

Ankara has enjoyed a difficult diplomatic relationship with Assad, whose family has been in charge in Syria for 40 years, and so immediately backed the uprising. At the same time, Ankara has staunchly denied arming the rebels. It has also condemned the suicide attack on ministers as an act of terrorism.

Meanwhile, the small but wealthy state of Qatar has already played a key part in helping topple the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya last year, and was widely suspected of being involved in the Syrian civil war.

Although the three countries involved have long been accused of arming the rebels, this is the first time specific information has emerged about a concrete center of operations.

America looks on

The Adana operation is notable not only for who is involved, but also for who isn’t.

«The Americans are very hands-off on this,” alleges the source, “US intelligence are working through middlemen.”

The source claims Turkey has been “begging” for high-tech surveillance equipment, such as drones, but their pleas have gone unheard in Washington.

The United States has backed the rebels throughout the conflict. It has used utmost diplomatic pressure through the UN and conferences with allies to force Assad to leave his position, something the Syrian president says he will not do without negotiation. It has also provided money and expertise for the opposition.

However, government insiders have repeatedly expressed reservations about the fractious union of Assad enemies, many of whom are radical Islamists likely to be as opposed to Washington as Assad ever was. It has used utmost diplomatic pressure through the UN and conferences with allies to force the Syrian President to leave his position as an unconditional part of any peace settlement, something Assad says he will not do. Similarly, Syria has an impressive stockpile of chemical weapons that could pose a deadly terrorist threat in the wrong hands.

Dennis Ross, who advises Obama on Middle East policy, has summed US policy as «adopting the least bad option.»

Yet US involvement may now grow significantly, after Reuters reported that a recently adopted presidential directive will allow US foreign agencies to directly assist the rebels, perhaps even at Adana, although there are no plans to supply them with weapons, despite repeated requests.

«I have to say that we are also increasing our efforts to assist the opposition,» Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed publicly on Tuesday.

μέσω Turkey sets up secret anti-Assad rebel base with Saudi Arabia and Qatar – reports — RT.

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‘World being readied for aggression against Syria’ — RT

Posted by satyrikon στο Ιουλίου 25, 2012

An image released by Higher Committee of the Syrian Revolution allegedly shows shelling by government forces of the Bab Drib neighbourhoods in the flashpoint central Syrian city of Homs.(AFP Photo / Higher Committee of The Syrian  Revolution)

An image released by Higher Committee of the Syrian Revolution allegedly shows shelling by government forces of the Bab Drib neighbourhoods in the flashpoint central Syrian city of Homs.(AFP Photo / Higher Committee of The Syrian Revolution)

World opinion is being orchestrated towards a military operation against the Syrian regime, researcher and author F. William Engdahl told RT. Still, any decisive action against Assad will be postponed until after the US presidential election.

­The international forces supporting regime change in Syria are continuing to mount pressure on the Assad regime, whipping up the fact that the country possesses chemical weapons. Despite the Syrian government’s firm assurance these weapons will never be used in the internal conflict, countries supporting Syrian opposition are openly discussing plans to take Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles under their control.

Since control could be established only by physical presence of some sort of military force at the sites where the weapons are kept, foreign intervention into the country would be necessary.

Syria’s ex-ambassador to Iraq, who defected to the opposition, has claimed the Assad regime may have already used chemical weapons.

F. William Engdahl, the author of «Myths, Lies and Oil Wars» says all allegations the chemical weapons in Syria have already been used – or will be in the future – serve the single purpose of paving the way for intervention.

Chemical weapons are not precise and could not be used in residential quarters where most of the fighting in Syria is going on. They are “for huge battle field conditions,” insists Engdahl, because “you’ll [poison] your supporters as well as Al-Qaeda mercenaries,” he explains.

Actually, the situation with chemical weapons in Syria is a déjà vu of the hysteria over the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a decade ago, believes the researcher.

“I smell a re-run of the old Pentagon scenario that Dick Cheney and friends ran to justify the war in Iraq,” Engdahl states. “And now they’re trying to do that with the chemical warfare weapons of mass destruction in Syria, to create a climate that this is the most pressing thing on the face of the Earth. And this is simply not the case.”

The historian wonders how many times it will take for people to wise up to the fact that the WMD hysteria was scripted in the RAND Corporation (American think tank) for Pentagon which put it into its “how-to” manuals.

“They are just toppling one regime after another to create their ‘grand design’. This is not the way toward democracy. This is a way toward a one superpower tyranny,” slams Engdahl.

The efforts to expose the Assad regime as a brutal one are going along the same lines as the media smear campaign against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya a year ago. Just like in Libya, the Syrian regime is now being accused of using fighter jets against rebels, without any evidence whatsoever being produced. In Libya the alleged use of its air force led to a UN-sanctioned no-fly zone over the country and ultimately the direct military interference of Western democracies into the internal conflict of a sovereign state.

“We’re just watching the orchestration of images being played on to the world opinion,” acknowledged Engdahl. “This is exactly what happened in Libya –‘we must do something’ and ‘humanitarian intervention’ and so forth,” he explained. “Frankly, I don’t think that that is a reality.”

Engdahl believes that “establishing a no-fly zone over Syria now is not feasible given the massive and effective aircraft defenses that Syria has.”

The Syrian conflict will be kept “on a hot burn” until after the presidential elections in the US, he shared.

“Whether Israel, for reasons of its own, in wanting to tip the US elections toward Mitt Romney and away from Obama – whom [Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu despises personally and politically – that I can’t say. I’m not privileged to have inside information on Israeli intent, if they are going to try to hot up this chemical weapons scenario to create the rush toward war,” said Engdahl.

“I think we’re going to see a huge escalation of all of this after the November elections and January oath of office of the next US president,” he concluded. “Obama doesn’t want this breaking into an open war before the election. The last thing American voters want to see is another Iraq or Afghanistan on their doorstep.”

μέσω ‘World being readied for aggression against Syria’ — RT.

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SYRIA-Clashes at Republican Guards HQ near Damascus, reports of British forces in Syria — RT

Posted by satyrikon στο Ιουνίου 26, 2012

AFP Photo / HO / SANA

AFP Photo / HO / SANA

Syrian government forces and the armed opposition are fighting in two Damascus suburbs, while there were also reports of overnight shelling in the capital.

The clashes have been happening in the suburbs of Qudsaya and Hammah, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports.

AP also says that fighting raged near the housing compounds and bases of the Republican Guard.

«Artillery fire can be heard regularly in the capital, but it’s the first time that there’s been the sound of such heavy shelling. There was no sound of aircraft however,» says RT’s Maria Finoshina, who is currently in Damascus.

She added that the shelling also appears to be coming from one of the presidential compounds of Bashar al-Assad, and that many ambulances have been rushing injured people to hospital.

The intensified clashes may indicate that a coordinated offensive may be taking place in Syria, reports Israel’s Debkafile website. The attacks are apparently targeting the presidential palace and the compound of the presidential guard, the site reports.

The site says there are unconfirmed reports that British commando forces crossed from Turkey into Syria on Tuesday, according to Gulf military sources. The force may be involved in securing a safe heaven for rebel forces along the border.

There were similar reports in February about the alleged presence of British troops operating in Syria. At the time the British government denied carrying out a clandestine operation in the country.

Clashes at Republican Guards HQ near Damascus, reports of British forces in Syria — RT.

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‘End of the world as we know it’: Kaspersky warns of cyber-terror apocalypse — RT

Posted by satyrikon στο Ιουνίου 8, 2012

After his eponymously-named lab discovered Flame, «the most sophisticated cyber weapon yet unleashed,» Eugene Kaspersky believes that the evolving threat of “cyber terrorism” could spell the end of life on Earth as we know it.

­Doomsday scenarios are a common occurrence in 2012, but coming from a steely-eyed realist like Eugene Kaspersky, his calls for a global effort to halt emerging cyber threats should raise alarm bells.

A global Internet blackout and crippling attacks against key infrastructure are among two possible cyber-pandemics he outlined.

«It’s not cyber war, it’s cyber terrorism, and I’m afraid the game is just beginning. Very soon, many countries around the world will know it beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Kaspersky told reporters at a Tel Aviv University cyber security conference.

“I’m afraid it will be the end of the world as we know it,» he warned. «I’m scared, believe me.»

His stark warning came soon after researchers at Kaspersky Lab unearthed Flame, possibly the most complex cyber threat ever. While the espionage toolkit infected systems across the Middle East, Iran appears to have been its primary target.

via ‘End of the world as we know it’: Kaspersky warns of cyber-terror apocalypse — RT.

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