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Syria warns West against intervention

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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sat 3 Mar - 6:10



9:32pm UK, Friday March 02, 2012

Emma Hurd, Middle East correspondent

The Syrian government has blocked the Red Cross from entering the stricken Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amr amid reports of revenge killings by government forces.
A convoy of seven trucks loaded with emergency medical aid, blankets and food has been attempting to reach the area since early on Friday.

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was "unacceptable" that the relief operation had been halted by the Syrian authorities which had originally pledged to allow access.


In years to come, we're going to sit and we're going to go, 'How did we let this happen under our nose?'.

Wounded Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy on Homs
The organisation said it would be staying in Homs overnight and hoped to enter Bab Amr soon.

Local activists claimed government troops have been going from house to house inside the district, arresting young men.

There are unconfirmed reports of mass executions, with claims that 10 people were killed today and 17 on Thursday.

The regime's forces shelled the neighbourhood for 27 days, killing and wounding hundreds of civilians, before the rebel fighters of the Free Syrian Army retreated and the area fell to the government's control.



The Red Cross said many of the residents have fled from Baba Amr and it was trying to offer them assistance.

It was also aiming to rescue some of the most badly injured from inside the neighbourhood and address the shortage of water and food.

Videos posted online showed violence continuing elsewhere in Syria with activists reporting scores dead.

In Rastan, to the north of Homs, children were among at least 12 people who were reported killed when government forces fired mortars at an anti-government demonstration.



A satellite image of Homs' Baba Amr district

A video shows a few hundred people – all unarmed civilians - chanting for the downfall of President Bashar al Assad when a huge explosion shakes the camera.

The bodies of several people are seen lying on the ground as people flee in terror.

Meanwhile, magistrates in Paris have opened a murder probe into an attack on a makeshift media centre in Homs last week, in which Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed.

Their bodies have now been released to the Red Cross. Ms Colvin's colleague, photographer Paul Conroy, is back in the UK and has spoken to Sky News about the desperate situation in Homs.

The international community is continuing to round on the government of Mr Assad, with the UN Security Council calling on Syria to allow "immediate" humanitarian access to protest cities.

The call was supported by Russia and China, which have previously vetoed two resolutions on the conflict that has claimed thousands of lives in nearly a year.

Speaking at a news conference at the close of a European Union summit, David Cameron described the situation in Homs as "a scene of medieval barbarity", with residents under constant shelling and lacking water, food and medicine.


cameron: day of reckoning to come for syrian regime
He called on Syrians who were "butchering" Syrians to turn their backs on the "criminal" Damascus regime as the EU issued a strong new call for the perpetrators of the violence to be brought to book.

Referring to the war crimes trial of late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, the Prime Minister said: "We will make sure, as we did in Serbia, that there is a day of reckoning for those who are responsible.

"So I have a clear message for those in authority in Syria: turn your back on this criminal regime or face justice for the blood that is on your hands."

However, Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin criticised the West for backing Syrian opposition fighters against the government, saying it has fuelled the conflict.


:: Inside Syria: More stories and videos on our dedicated topic page





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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sat 3 Mar - 12:19



Mar 3, 6:45 AM EST


Shelling in Syria as Red Cross appeals for access

By ZEINA KARAM
Associated Press


AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

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BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian forces renewed their bombardment Saturday of rebellious areas of Homs, activists said, as the Red Cross vowed to try again to reach thousands of people stranded in a district overrun by regime troops after a monthlong siege.

Conditions in the western neighborhood of Baba Amr have been described as catastrophic, with extended power outages, shortages of food and water, and no medical care for the sick and wounded.

Syrian government forces took control of the neighborhood Thursday after rebels fled the district under constant bombardment that activists said killed hundreds of people since early February.

The Syrian regime has said it was fighting "armed gangs" in Baba Amr, and has vowed to "cleanse" the neighborhood.

The Red Cross said it had received permission from President Bashar Assad's government to enter Baba Amr. A convoy of seven trucks with 15 tons of humanitarian aid including food, medical supplies and blankets left Damascus on Friday, taking several hours in heavy snowfall to reach Homs.

But once they neared Baba Amr, the government prevented them from entering.

"We are still in negotiations to enter Baba Amr," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said Saturday in Geneva.

The Syrians said they were not letting the Red Cross into Baba Amr because of safety concerns, including land mines, Hassan said, adding the organization had not been able to verify the danger. The government has not offered its explanation for revoking the permission.

"It's important that we get in today," Hassan said. "We are not about to give up."

Other areas in Homs, Syria's third-largest city with about 1 million people, came under heavy shelling Saturday. The Local Coordination Committees activist network said mortars slammed into the districts of Khaldiyeh, Bab Sbaa and Khader.

Abu Hassan al-Homsi, a doctor at a makeshift clinic in Khaldiyeh district of Homs, said he treated a dozen people who were wounded, most lightly.

"This has become routine, the mortars start falling early in the morning," he said. Several homes were damaged from the morning shelling, which he described as steady but intermittent.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Syria to give humanitarian workers immediate access to people who desperately need aid.

"The images which we have seen in Syria are atrocious," said Ban. "It's totally unacceptable, intolerable. How, as a human being, can you bear this situation?"

In other violence Saturday, a suicide car bomb exploded in Daraa, killing at least two people and wounding 20, activists said. The state-run news agency said the blast occurred at a roundabout in an area known as Daraa al-Balad and said there were casualties including civilians and security forces.

Daraa is the birthplace of the nearly year-old uprising against Assad. The revolt has killed more than 7,500 people, according to the most recent U.N. estimate.

Syria has seen a string of suicide bombings, the last on Feb. 10, when twin blasts struck security compounds in the government stronghold city of Aleppo, killing 28 people and bringing significant violence for the first time to the city.

The capital Damascus, another Assad stronghold, has seen three suicide bombings in the past two months.

The regime has touted the attacks as proof that it is being targeted by "terrorists." The opposition accuses forces loyal to the government of being behind the bombings to tarnish the uprising.

Saturday's bombing in Daraa marked the first time a suicide bombing struck an opposition stronghold.

---

Associated Press writers Frank Jordans in Geneva and Elizabeth A. Kennedy in Beirut contributed to this report.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

"



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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sat 3 Mar - 19:50



Syrian government claims landmines preventing Red Cross from reaching Homs

The Red Cross has been prevented from reaching the trapped civilians of Homs by landmines, the Syrian government have said.







An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube shows smoke billowing from the Baba Amr neighbourhood in the flashpoint city of Homs Photo: AFP








1:19PM GMT 03 Mar 2012





Conditions in the western neighbourhood of Baba Amr have been described as catastrophic, with extended power outages, shortages of food and water, and no medical care for the sick and wounded.


Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlick were killed in the district. On Saturday morning their bodies were finally handed over to diplomats in Damascus.


Syrian government forces took control of the neighbourhood on Thursday after rebels fled the district under constant bombardment. Human Rights Watch said 700 people had been killed in Homs since early February, with shells sometimes falling at the rate of 100 an hour.


The Syrian regime has said it was fighting "armed gangs" in Baba Amr, and has vowed to "cleanse" the neighbourhood.


The Red Cross said it had received permission from President Bashar Assad's government to enter Baba Amr, and a convoy of seven trucks with 15 tons of humanitarian aid left Damascus on Friday, taking several hours in heavy snowfall to reach Homs.



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But once they neared Baba Amr the government prevented the trucks, with supplies of food, medical supplies and blankets, from entering.

"We are still in negotiations to enter Baba Amr," said Hicham Hassan, ICRC spokesman.

The Syrians said they were not letting the Red Cross into Baba Amr because of safety concerns, including landmines, Mr Hassan said. He added that the organisation had not been able to verify the danger themselves. The government has not offered its explanation for revoking the permission.

"It's important that we get in today," Mr Hassan said. "We are not about to give up."

Other areas in Homs, Syria's third-largest city with about a million people, came under heavy shelling on Saturday. The Local Coordination Committees activist network said mortars slammed into the districts of Khaldiyeh, Bab Sbaa and Khader.

Abu Hassan al-Homsi, a doctor at a makeshift clinic in Khaldiyeh district of Homs, said he treated a dozen people who were wounded, most lightly.

"This has become routine, the mortars start falling early in the morning," he said. Several homes were damaged from the morning shelling, which he described as steady but intermittent.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Syria to give humanitarian workers immediate access to people who desperately need aid.

"The images which we have seen in Syria are atrocious," said Mr Ban. "It's totally unacceptable, intolerable. How, as a human being, can you bear this situation?"

In other violence on Saturday, a suicide car bomb exploded in Daraa, killing at least two people and wounding 20, activists said.

The state-run news agency said the blast occurred at a roundabout in an area known as Daraa al-Balad and said there were casualties including civilians and security forces.

Daraa is the birthplace of the nearly year-old uprising against Assad. The revolt has killed more than 7,500 people, according to the most recent UN estimate.

The regime has touted the attacks as proof that it is being targeted by "terrorists." The opposition accuses forces loyal to the government of being behind the bombings to tarnish the uprising.

Saturday's bombing in Daraa marked the first time a suicide bombing struck an opposition stronghold.

























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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sun 4 Mar - 4:24



Syrian crisisBy the CNN Wire Staff
March 4, 2012 -- Updated 0144 GMT (0944 HKT)
Graffitti reading "Thank you, Russia" and "Thank you, China" on the wall of the Russian Embassy in Damascus, February 15.STORY HIGHLIGHTS
China is against armed interference or pushing for regime change
Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution last month
China says it welcomes the joint special envoy appointment
It backs U.N. leadership in relief efforts
Beijing (CNN) -- China is calling on the Syrian government and others involved to "immediately" stop violence, particularly against innocent civilians, and pursue a political solution to the Middle East nation's grim and bloody yearlong crisis.

The position is one part of a six-point framework "for realizing a political solution" issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry early Sunday.

"It is deeply worrying that the situation in Syria remains grave," the statement said. "China follows closely the developments of the situation in Syria, firmly maintains that the current crisis should be resolved through political dialogue in a peaceful and appropriate manner, and has made unremitting efforts to this end."

China has not been in lockstep with the West and Arab nations on how to stop the deadly Syrian crackdown on protesters and the fighting. Government security forces and a range of opposition fighters, including the Free Syrian Army, are among those that have been battling.

China and Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution last month that called for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.



Explosion hits Homs protest

Struggling to survive in town near Homs

Pillay: Getting aid to Syria is critical China has been opposed to pushing through a regime change and disagrees with the use and threat of sanctions against Syria. The United States, the European Union, Turkey and the Arab League have planned and initiated such sanctions.

Because of the veto, world powers formed an initiative to tackle the crisis through a group called the Friends of Syria, which met recently in Tunisia.

Here are the other points in China's statement:

-- China said it welcomes the appointment of a joint special envoy to the United Nations and the Arab League to pursue a political resolution. Kofi Annan, the former U.N. secretary-general, has been named to the post. China also backed Arab League and Arab world efforts to pursue a political solution.

-- The Beijing government said an immediate and "inclusive political dialogue" should be launched among all the parties "with no preconditions attached or outcome predetermined." The joint special envoy to the United Nations and the Arab League should be "impartial" mediators and the sides should agree on a "detailed road map and timetable for reform."

-- China expressed support for the United Nations' "leading role" in the coordination of relief efforts. It said the United Nations or another impartial entity should assess the humanitarian situation "under the precondition of respecting Syria's sovereignty." China said it opposes interference in Syrian internal affairs under a humanitarian pretext.

-- The international community should respect Syria's "independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity" and "provide necessary and constructive assistance for the various political factions of Syria to launch dialogue, and respect the outcome of dialogue."

"China does not approve of armed interference or pushing for 'regime change' in Syria, and believes that use or threat of sanctions does not help to resolve this issue appropriately," the statement said.

-- The U.N. Security Council should "strictly abide by the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter and the basic norms governing international relations," it said.

" As a permanent member of the Security Council, China is ready to earnestly fulfill its responsibilities, engage in equal-footed, patient and full consultation with other parties on the political solution to the Syrian crisis in an effort to safeguard the unity of the Security Council," the statement said.



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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sun 4 Mar - 5:16


Are you there? Send us your images or video.

(CNN) -- Syria smoldered on Saturday as soldiers executed dozens of defectors in Idlib province and shelling persisted in the besieged city of Homs, activists told CNN.

More than 40 soldiers trying to defect from an army unit in Idlib province were executed by government troops, according to activists from the town of Binnish, the opposition Syrian Network for Human Rights, and the Local Coordination Committees of Syria.

The incident occurred at the Abu Athuhoor Military Airport when 50 soldiers attempted to defect, the network said.

A captain loyal to the regime got wind of the plan and thwarted it, telling soldiers he would join them, but then informing a brigadier general about the attempt, the network said.


Anti-government protestors gather on Friday, March 2, in Binnish, Syria, in handout photos provided by the Binnish Coordination Committee. Binnish has conducted this weekly ritual of defiance for months in this opposition enclave. Anti-government protestors gather on Friday, March 2, in Binnish, Syria, in handout photos provided by the Binnish Coordination Committee. Binnish has conducted this weekly ritual of defiance for months in this opposition enclave. Anti-government protestors gather on Friday, March 2, in Binnish, Syria, in handout photos provided by the Binnish Coordination Committee. Binnish has conducted this weekly ritual of defiance for months in this opposition enclave. Anti-government protestors gather on Friday, March 2, in Binnish, Syria, in handout photos provided by the Binnish Coordination Committee. Binnish has conducted this weekly ritual of defiance for months in this opposition enclave. Anti-government protestors gather on Friday, March 2, in Binnish, Syria, in handout photos provided by the Binnish Coordination Committee. Binnish has conducted this weekly ritual of defiance for months in this opposition enclave.
Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish HIDE CAPTION
<<< 1 2 3 4 5 >>> Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish

Reporters' bodies given to diplomats

Red Cross denied access in Syria

Activist: Assad will have to kill us all

Homs resident: 'Trying to stay alive' The group said 44 were executed; their bodies were dumped in a lake. Six escaped, the network said.

"The Syrian Network for Human Rights places the responsibility of such criminal action on the commander in chief of army and armed forces (Syrian President) Bashar Al-Assad, the captain and the brigadier general.

"The SNHR demands an immediate international investigation for this massacre," it said.

The LCC and the Binnish group said 47 soldiers were killed. There was no immediate comment from the government.

Military defectors pose a threat to the Syrian regime. Many have left the army because they have refused to heed orders to fire on civilians. Last summer, the Free Syrian Army, a resistance force composed of defectors, emerged. The group has said soldiers are regularly switching sides for the FSA.

As for Homs, the shelling and miserable conditions continued, opposition activists said.

And in the Damascus suburbs, more than 100 people were arrested, the LCC said.

The bodies of two journalists killed last week in Syrian shelling on the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs were delivered to Western diplomats in Syria, Red Cross officials said.

Reporter Marie Colvin's body was handed over to Polish diplomats representing U.S. interests in Syria. Photographer Remi Ochlik's body was transferred to the French.

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said the Syrian Arab Red Crescent delivered the bodies to the diplomats at al-Assad University Hospital in Damascus. Doctors there identified the bodies.

Poland said it is engaged in efforts to transport Colvin's remains to the United States. France says it doesn't know when Ochlik's body can be taken to France.

Their deaths and the ongoing Syrian military crackdown underscore the hardships and dangers civilians face across the country.

"Where is the free world?" asked opposition activist Sami Ibrahim, describing a dire humanitarian crisis in the city of Homs and crying for international help. "The situation is very bad."

Dima Moussa, spokeswoman for the opposition Revolutionary Council of Homs, called the government's relentless push to pacify Homs a "suffocating siege."

She said there was shelling in the neighborhoods of Bab Tadmur and Jib al-Jandali, and mortars were targeting Ashira.

Food is hard to get and electricity has been cut off, she said. There was no water in most areas and civilians were using melted snow and rain water for drinking. Snipers were blanketing the city and corridors in and out "are nearly closed off completely," she said.

"The medical situation continues to deteriorate and is catastrophic, and all kinds of medicine have run out from field hospitals," Moussa said.

The Syrian government has been seeking to shut down anti-government protests for nearly a year. It has directed its firepower lately on Homs, where many neighborhoods are bastions of the opposition.

Much recent attention has focused on Baba Amr, a neighborhood of five square miles (eight square kilometers) that endured nearly a month of shelling before rebel forces announced a "tactical retreat" on Thursday.



CNN spends '72 Hours in Hell' in Syria

The way forward in Syria debated

Journalist escapes from Syria

Opposition leaves Baba Amr in Syria The International Committee of the Red Cross has been trying to enter the devastated neighborhood for days.

On Thursday, Syrian authorities granted teams from the Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society permission to enter; but on Friday, the ambulances and aid workers carrying food and medical supplies were turned away.

SANA reported Saturday that authorities had "restored security and safety" to Baba Amr after ousting "armed terrorist groups who ran amok in it and committed murder and vandalism, turning the locals' life into a living hell."

State TV quoted a resident saying "terrorists" used rocket-propelled grenades and mortars and many of them were foreigners.

"There were Saudis, Qataris, Emiratis, Libyans and others. There were all kinds of nationalities, they didn't have mustaches, just long beards. They were masked. They blocked the streets, stopped us at checkpoints. It was true terror by all means. They had snipers all over. They destroyed the houses. The terrorists forced us to go out and joined their demos or they told us we will be shot if we don't," he said.

But activists and independent observers reported callous government actions.

British journalist Paul Conroy, who was wounded in his stomach and leg and then smuggled to Lebanon in a six-day journey from Baba Amr, called the government siege "a medieval siege and slaughter."

"I would say quite categorically that's the most ferocious, vicious, and unnecessary that I've seen," he said. "And there are actually no military targets within Baba Amr. All of the intense shelling is directed at the civilian population."

The United Nations estimates more than 7,500 people have died since then, while the LCC says more than 9,000 people have died during the conflict. The Syrian government says more than 2,000 security personnel have been killed in the violence.

Including the defector deaths, the LCC said at least 80 people had been killed Saturday nationwide.

In Daraa, the southern city where the anti-government uprising began last year, at least three civilians were killed and 20 civilians and security personnel were wounded, SANA said.

SANA said a "terrorist suicide bomber" blew up a car he was driving at al-Masri roundabout in Daraa's al-Balad area. The opposition Free Syrian Army said state security forces staged the bombing themselves.

Car and suicide bombings, common militant tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been rare in the Syrian uprising. There have been a handful of suicide bombings in Damascus and Aleppo, the country's two largest cities.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another opposition group, said at least six Syrian soldiers were killed in clashes with defectors after forces loyal to President al-Assad stormed the city of Hirak northeast of Daraa.

CNN cannot independently confirm reports across Syria because the government has severely restricted the access of international journalists.

Protests began last March, when townspeople in and around Daraa protested the arrest of school children for painting anti-government graffiti. The government's fierce crackdown on the protesters and the tenacity of the demonstrators emboldened protests in other cities.

CNN's Saad Abedine, Salma Abdelaziz, Holly Yan, Nic Robertson, Kareem Khadder and Joe Sterling




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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sun 4 Mar - 9:56



(CNN) -- New videos posted from the Syrian flashpoint city of Homs suggest a fresh wave of killings by the Syrian military after the fall of the neighborhood of Baba Amr.

Activists have provided CNN with footage purportedly showing the bodies of 17 civilians that were discovered February 29 in villages near Baba Amr following an all-out assault on the Homs neighborhood that had held off a government assault for weeks.

Much of the video is too graphic to show on air, but analysis of the video showed at least 12 bodies.

In one, bodies are piled up in the back of a truck bed covered in blankets. Snow falls on the bodies as people in the background wail, some shouting, "There is no God but God!" One man off camera says, "These are the victims of the massacre by the Shabiha (a government militia), entire families slaughtered by the forces of Assad" -- a reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Several of the victims appeared to have been shot in the head, with some showing signs of deep cuts to the face and other body parts. At least one victim appeared to have had his arms tied up using red strips of cloth.

Activist group Avaaz listed 17 names of the victims that it said it had confirmed, and claimed at least six of the men came from one family, named Sabouh.



Explosion hits Homs protest

Journalist: 'Medieval siege' in Syria

Struggling to survive in town near Homs

Reporters' bodies given to diplomats

CNN team discuss risks of covering Syria In another video, the camera pans down a line of five bodies wrapped in shrouds as someone off camera reads off their names.

A third video shows a woman wailing, "Bring an end to Bashar" as people try to console her before she falls to the ground, shaking. The activist who provided the video said that the woman was the mother of one victim, Mahmoud al-Zoubi, and that she had just seen his body for the first time since his death.

It was not clear how the activists managed to film the bodies. One opposition source has said that it is increasingly difficult to get videos and information out of the besieged city.

Residents tell harrowing stories of food, fuel and electricity shortages during the biting winter cold and a neighborhood besieged with raining shells and snipers firing from rooftops.

One Syrian activist contacted by CNN offered further details about the killings.

The activist said the Sabouh family were local Shiite farmers in the area known as Aysoon, where many of the armed forces were stationed and where artillery and rocket launchers were deployed.

The activist cited eyewitnesses as claiming that Shabiha and armed forces rushed through the area opening fire on residents. Six men of the Sabouh family were killed, and when other neighbors came to help they were killed as well, the activist said.

The incident occurred as many of the rebel Free Syrian Army forces were abandoning the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs and as residents were trying to flee the city.

CNN cannot independently confirm the details of the killings because the government has severely restricted the access of international journalists.

The United Nations estimates more than 7,500 people have died since then, while the LCC says more than 9,000 people have died during the conflict. The Syrian government says more than 2,000 security personnel have been killed in the violence.


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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Mon 5 Mar - 6:59



(CNN) -- Opposition fighters attacked a Syrian air force intelligence building outside Damascus on Sunday and tried to fend off an intense assault on the town of Rastan, said a leader in the Free Syrian Army.

Three people died and dozens more -- most of them children -- were hurt as government forces hit Rastan with 15 rockets in as many minutes Sunday, opposition activists said. Graphic video posted on YouTube shows three girls, one of them a 1-year-old, suffering from severe injuries purportedly sustained in that attack.

By early Monday morning, opposition forces claimed to have driven out the army while at the same ceding that most of their own fighters had "retreated for ... tactical reasons," said Malek Al Kurdi, deputy head of the Free Syrian Army.

He added that his armed opposition group, made up largely of Syrian military defectors, now only has a small unit inside Rastan, which is between the Middle Eastern country's third and fourth largest cities, respectively, of Homs and Hama.

A team of Free Syrian Army fighters used machine guns Sunday night to attack the air force intelligence building in Harasta, which is near Damascus, according to Al Kurdi.

The opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said 18 people were killed Sunday in Hama and 17 in Homs, out of at least 62 slain nationwide.

Homs, especially, has been a hotbed of violence and devastation for weeks. Opposition activists fear the nightmare there will only get worse after government forces stormed the embattled neighborhood of Baba Amr, where six people were reportedly executed Sunday.



Explosion hits Homs protest The neighborhood, which is five square miles (eight square kilometers), had endured nearly a month of shelling before rebel forces announced a "tactical retreat" Thursday.


Anti-government protestors gather on Friday, March 2, in Binnish, Syria, in handout photos provided by the Binnish Coordination Committee. Binnish has conducted this weekly ritual of defiance for months in this opposition enclave. Anti-government protestors gather on Friday, March 2, in Binnish, Syria, in handout photos provided by the Binnish Coordination Committee. Binnish has conducted this weekly ritual of defiance for months in this opposition enclave. Anti-government protestors gather on Friday, March 2, in Binnish, Syria, in handout photos provided by the Binnish Coordination Committee. Binnish has conducted this weekly ritual of defiance for months in this opposition enclave. Anti-government protestors gather on Friday, March 2, in Binnish, Syria, in handout photos provided by the Binnish Coordination Committee. Binnish has conducted this weekly ritual of defiance for months in this opposition enclave. Anti-government protestors gather on Friday, March 2, in Binnish, Syria, in handout photos provided by the Binnish Coordination Committee. Binnish has conducted this weekly ritual of defiance for months in this opposition enclave.
Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish HIDE CAPTION
<<< 1 2 3 4 5 >>> Syria: Anti-government protest in Binnish "The news coming from the families who fled after the entry of the Assad military forces is that there are more horrors, more killings and surely more massacres," said Rania Kisar, a Chicago-based member of the Syrian Revolution General Commission.



Reporters' bodies given to diplomats Osamah, a Syrian-based media director for the group who didn't want to use his last name for safety reasons, reported arrests, rape and torture in Baba Amr by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.



Red Cross denied access in Syria The International Committee of the Red Cross has repeatedly been denied entry to Baba Amr, even after seemingly getting permission from Syrian authorities at one point.

On Sunday, aid workers from the ICRC and Syrian Red Crescent did begin distributing food and supplies in Abel, a village three kilometers from Homs, an ICRC spokeswoman said.

"The plan is to continue to the Inshaat and al-Tawzee neighborhoods, both in Homs, to the displaced families and people who fled Baba Amr," Carla Haddad Mardini said. "We hope to enter Baba Amr today, but nothing is confirmed."



Activist: Assad will have to kill us all New videos that have surfaced from Homs suggest a fresh wave of killings by the Syrian military after the fall of Baba Amr.



Homs resident: 'Trying to stay alive' Opposition activists provided CNN with the videos, purportedly showing 17 civilians' bodies that were discovered Wednesday in villages near Baba Amr after a government assault.

Read more about the new Syrian videos



CNN spends '72 Hours in Hell' in Syria Much of the footage is too graphic to broadcast, but an analysis of the videos showed at least 12 bodies.



The way forward in Syria debated In one video, the mother of victim Mahmoud al-Zoubi reacts to seeing her son's body for the first time since his death, said the activist who provided the footage.

"Bring an end to Bashar!" she wails before falling to the ground, shaking, as others try to console her.

The violence in Homs has also claimed the lives of several journalists, including reporter Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik, who both died February 22.

Read UK journalist Paul Conroy's account of his escape

William Colvin said the remains of his sister, Marie, are in Paris and the family expects the editor of the Sunday Times to bring them to the United States on a New York-bound flight Tuesday. Her and Ochlik's bodies arrived in Paris from Damascus on Sunday, the French foreign ministry said.

Al Kurdi, from the Free Syrian Army, further alleged government forces landed Saturday night in the rugged mountains of Jabal Al-Akhdar "in order to conduct random arrests of civilians."

Since unrest began about a year ago, Syria's government has routinely blamed violence in the country on "armed terrorist groups" and portrayed its forces as trying to protect the public interest and security.

State-run news agency SANA said 16 "army and law enforcement martyrs" killed by such groups were buried Sunday.

Also, the news agency reported that a bomb planted by a "terrorist group" killed a child and injured five others in the same family.

CNN cannot independently confirm reports across Syria because the government has severely restricted the access of international journalists.

The international debate over the situation in Syria continued to rage, most pointedly in Lebanon where groups for and against President Bashir al-Assad's regime staged dueling protests.

At the opposition rally, pop singer Fadel Shakir sang, "For the great people of Syria, our brothers and sisters in Homs, your new dawn will come and freedom will come, the tyranny will end."

The crowd chanted, "The people want the execution of the butcher" and "Freedom, freedom, no matter what."

"All of our brothers and people in the Arab and Muslim world, our people are being slaughtered, our mosques are being demolished. What will you do? When will you mobilize your people for their rescue?" said Salafi Sheikh Ahmed Al-Asir, who organized the rally.

Demonstrators elsewhere waved Syrian flags and held pictures of al-Assad, to show their support for the government.

Meanwhile, Israel -- which has fought Syria in four wars since Israel's statehood in 1948 -- offered humanitarian assistance to the nation's citizens Sunday.

"The state of the Jewish nation cannot sit still while horrors are taking place and people are losing their world in a neighboring country. It is our moral duty to provide aid and awake the world to stop the manslaughter," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

Israeli President Shimon Peres had a message for the Syrian people Sunday as well.

"The Middle East is undergoing its greatest storm in history, with horrible bloodshed in Syria, where a tyrant is killing his people, killing his children. I admire the courage of the Syrian people. And I wish them peace and freedom from the depths of all of our hearts," Peres said at a speech in Washington to the pro-Israel lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The United Nations estimates more than 7,500 people have died since the beginning of the Syrian conflict almost a year ago, while the LCC says more than 9,000 people have been killed. The Syrian government says more than 2,000 security personnel have been killed in the violence.

Despite incessant fears of the government onslaught, protesters took to the streets of Hama on Sunday to make sure their voices were heard.

"May God humiliate you, Bashar," they chanted. "May God protect the Free Syrian Army."

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz, Brian Walker, Holly Yan, Kareem Khadder, Lonzo Cook and Josh Levs, as well as journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, contributed to this report.





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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Mon 5 Mar - 16:17



My son's throat was cut. He was 12", one woman told Paul Wood
Continue reading the main story
Syria CrisisEscape from Homs
Guide to opposition
Civil war?
Syrians flee

People fleeing the central Syrian city of Homs have told the BBC that security forces are committing atrocities there.

One woman told the BBC's Paul Wood on the outskirts of Homs that soldiers had slit the throat of her 12-year-old son on Friday - a day after rebel fighters withdrew from the Baba Amr district.

She said 35 other men and boys from her area had also been detained and killed.

The government has denied the Red Cross access to Baba Amr for four consecutive days, citing security concerns.

Activists have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Electricity, water and communications have been cut off, and in recent days temperatures have plummeted and snow has fallen. Food supplies are said to be dangerously low, and many people are too scared to leave.

'Screams'

On Thursday, government troops backed by tanks entered Baba Amr after the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced a "tactical withdrawal".

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote
We were told in this operation: 'You shoot anything that moves. Civilian or military - you shot at it”
End Quote
Syrian army defector

Eyewitness: 'Slaughtered like sheep' in Homs
Why BBC journalists risked visiting Homs

Although the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and its Syrian Red Crescent partners have since been told they cannot enter the district because of the risk of booby-traps and mines, state TV reported it had been "sanitised" of "armed terrorist groups".

Opposition and human rights activists have said security forces and pro-government militia have been rounding up men and boys over the age of 14 who are still in Baba Amr, and then torturing and killing them.

The claims could not be substantiated, but people fleeing Homs also told our correspondent that security forces had been committing atrocities, including summary executions and cutting the throats of prisoners.

One woman, who had walked for three days to escape, said that on Friday troops had taken 36 men and boys from one area and killed them.

"My son's throat was cut," she said. "He was 12."

Her husband said he was hiding about 50m away and saw one soldier hold down their son's head with his boot while another killed him.

"I could hear their screams," he added.

Another woman said: "They took our husbands. They took them at a checkpoint. They will slaughter them like sheep."

Several men who said they had defected from an elite army unit last week told our correspondent that civilians were being targeted by security forces and prisoners were being killed.

Activists have said those remaining in Baba Amr face a humanitarian catastrophe
"A lieutenant gave us the order," he said. "We were told in this operation: 'You shoot anything that moves. Civilian or military - you shot at it.'

Our correspondent says the people of Baba Amr defied the government and now they are scattered, their uprising crushed.

An independent commission of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council said in February that Syrian security forces had "committed widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations, amounting to crimes against humanity, with the apparent knowledge and consent of the highest levels of the state".

It also found anti-government groups had committed abuses, but not "comparable in scale and organisation to those carried out by the state".

The EU has said it will document alleged war crimes to set the stage for a "day of reckoning" for Syria's leaders. But Russia and China have vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions critical of the government.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said on Monday that Syria had approved her visit to the country and she planned to travel there on Wednesday.

She said her aim was to urge all parties to allow unhindered access for humanitarian aid.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is also due to visit Syria at the weekend as joint special envoy for the UN and the Arab League.

'Extremely difficult'

The director-general of the ICRC, Yves Daccord, earlier spoke of his concern about the humanitarian situation in Baba Amr.

"The situation is extremely difficult, the weather conditions are tragic," he told Swiss Radio and Television (RTS).

Russia is a key Syrian ally and the largest supplier of arms to the Assad regime
"It is very cold, there is fighting and people don't have access to food or water, and above all there is a big problem of evacuating the wounded."

Mr Daccord added: "We hope to get in to Baba Amr today. We have to be firm and not give up. The negotiations are being led on site in Homs with military commanders and also in Damascus."

A second ICRC convoy carrying food for "several thousand people" and other relief supplies also arrived in Homs from Damascus on Monday.

On Sunday, the ICRC and Red Crescent distributed food, baby milk, blankets and hygiene products in neighbouring districts and villages where people have sought refuge, including Inshaat, Tawzi and Abil.

The ICRC said the needs in the three areas were "considerable".

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) meanwhile said between 1,000 and 2,000 Syrians from Homs were trying to reach the border with Lebanon.

Diplomatic pressure appeared to be growing on Russia on Monday to drop its support for President Bashar al-Assad.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he hoped Moscow would "see that it stands on the wrong side of history" in regard to Syria.

Meanwhile, the body of US journalist Marie Colvin is due to be flown back to New York on Tuesday morning.

Colvin, who worked for the Sunday Times, died in a rocket attack in Baba Amr on 22 February.

Her remains, and those of French photographer Remi Ochlik who died in the same attack, arrived in Paris on Sunday after being flown from Damascus

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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Mon 5 Mar - 16:24



Mar 5, 11:06 AM EST


Syrian refugees flee to Lebanon

By HUSSEIN MALLA and BEN HUBBARD
Associated Press











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Latest Syria News
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QAA, Lebanon (AP) -- More than a thousand Syrian refugees have poured across the border into Lebanon, among them families with small children carrying only plastic bags filled with their belongings as they fled a regime hunting down its opponents.

The U.N. refugee agency said Monday that as many as 2,000 Syrians had crossed into Lebanon in the last two days. Associated Press reporters in one border village saw families crossing with only a few possessions.

"We fled the shelling and the strikes," said Hassana Abu Firas in Qaa in northeast Lebanon. She came with two families who had fled government shelling of their town al-Qusair, about 14 miles (22 kilometers) away on the other side of the Syrian border.

The town is in Homs province, an opposition stronghold where the government has been waging a brutal offensive for the past month. The province borders Lebanon.

"What are we supposed to do? People are sitting in their homes and they are hitting us with tanks. Those who can flee do. Those who can't will die sitting down," she said.

Homs, the provincial capital and Syria's third-largest city with one million residents, has emerged as a central battleground in the year-old uprising to oust authoritarian President Bashar Assad.

Activists say hundreds have been killed in the month-long Homs offensive and the U.N. recently put the death toll for a year of violence in Syria at 7,500. However, activists group say the toll has already surpassed 8,000.




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Iran, Syria, Hezbollah threaten military attack

Post  AnnaEsse on Mon 5 Mar - 16:55

http://www.wnd.com/2012/03/iran-syria-hezbollah-threaten-military-attack/

If Syria is attacked by outside forces as it cracks down on its own people, Iran, Syria and the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon will attack Israeli and American targets with missiles, sources within all three reveal.

According to Mashregh News, an Iranian media outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards, sources in Syria report that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last Thursday issued a secret directive that should the country be attacked by America, its military will counterattack.

This directive includes an immediate response to fire a barrage of missiles from the three allies not only toward Israel but also at American assets in the region.

The sources indicate that despite some international claims that a military action will not take place against Syria, military commanders in Syria are preparing for this confrontation.

They emphasize that the Syrian armed forces have prepared a joint war room that includes officers from Syria, Iran and Hezbollah for a coordinated military response to an attack against Syria.

Mashregh News also reported Iran’s armed forces have formed a separate joint war room with the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Mashregh said this shows that any aggression against Syria will be met with a heavy missile response from three fronts: Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.

As revealed recently, the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered Iran’s Quds Forces to help stabilize Assad’s regime. The Quds commander, Qassem Soleimani, and 15,000 of his fighters have entered Syria with the mission of assisting in the suppression of the Syrian protesters.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post is reporting that Tehran had increased supplies of arms and other aid for Assad as he is trying to crush resistance in the key city of Homs.

“They’ve supplied equipment, weapons and technical assistance – even monitoring tools – to help suppress unrest,” The Post quoted the official as saying of Iranians. “Iranian security officials also traveled to Damascus to help deliver this assistance.”

On Sunday in Beirut, Seyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, addressed a forum called a “Declaration of Al Quds (Jerusalem) as the Capital of Palestine, Arabs and Muslims” in which he said “the regional developments are happening in a way that makes us feel that the liberation of Quds is close to us more than ever.”

Two Iranian grand ayatollahs also recently claimed that the world would soon be under the feet of Muslims, as promised by the Quran.

“The Quran is very clear that the inheritors of the Earth will be those of the righteous who represent the force of the truth against the force of the false,” Grand Ayatollah Jafar Sobhani said. “The Quran is the proof that the world will be controlled and managed by the forces of truth and that there will be one government ruling everyone throughout the world.”

As revealed last year, an Iranian secret documentary, “The Coming Is Upon Us,” clearly indicates that the radicals ruling Iran believe that worldwide war and the destruction of Israel will trigger the coming of the last Islamic Messiah. That event, they believe, will usher in Muslim dominance of the world.


_________________________________________________________________________________________________
"You can run on for a long time, Run on for a long time, Run on for a long time, Sooner or later God'll cut you down." (Johnny Cash)

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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Tue 6 Mar - 8:49


One woman told Paul Wood how two of her brothers were detained, and one was killed
Continue reading the main story
Syria CrisisEscape from Homs
Guide to opposition
Civil war?
Syrians flee

Thousands of Syrians have recently crossed into Lebanon, the UN says, amid reports security forces are committing atrocities in the city of Homs.

The UN refugee agency said as many as 2,000 people fled in the past two days.

A resident of the Baba Amr district of Homs told the BBC that soldiers had slit the throat of her 12-year-old son.

Meanwhile, UN's humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said she had been given permission to visit Syria and wanted unhindered access for humanitarian aid.

Valerie Amos said she planned to go to Syria on Wednesday.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is also due to visit Syria at the weekend as joint special envoy for the UN and the Arab League. On Wednesday, he will hold talks with league officials in Cairo.

'Screams'

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Monday that many Syrian refugees - including women and children - had only a few belongings as they arrived into Lebanon.

Continue reading the main story
Eyewitness

Paul Wood

BBC News, outside Homs, Syria

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A terrible fear has seized people here about what the government forces are doing now that they are back in control.

In a house, we sat with six women and their 17 children. They had arrived that day. There were no men.

"We were walking out altogether until we reached the checkpoint," said one of the women, Um Abdo.

"Then they separated us from the men. They put hoods on their heads and took them away."

Where do you think they are now, I asked? The women replied all at once: "They will be slaughtered."

Read Paul's report in full

Residents of the northern Lebanese town of Arsal said that up 150 Syrian families arrived there on Sunday alone.

"What are we supposed to do? People are sitting in their homes and they are hitting us with tanks," Hassana Abu Firas, from Syria's border town of al-Qusair, told the Associated Press.

"Those who can flee, do. Those who can't will die sitting down," she added.

The UN estimates that 70,000 people have been displaced since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March, and that more than 20,000 have fled to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Nearly 7,000 people are registered with the UNHCR in northern Lebanon.

People fleeing the city of Homs, 15km (nine miles) from al-Qusair, have told the BBC that security forces are committing atrocities there.

One woman told the BBC's Paul Wood on the outskirts of Homs that soldiers had killed her son on Friday - a day after rebel fighters withdrew from the Baba Amr district.

"My son's throat was cut," she said. "He was 12."

Her husband said he was hiding about 50m (160ft) away and saw one soldier hold down their son's head with his boot while another killed him.

"I could hear their screams," he added.

The woman said 35 other men and boys from her area had also been detained and killed.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote
We were told in this operation: 'You shoot anything that moves. Civilian or military - you shoot at it”
End Quote
Syrian army defector

Why BBC journalists risked visiting Homs

Opposition and human rights activists have said security forces and pro-government militia have been rounding up men and boys over the age of 14 who are still in Baba Amr, and then torturing and killing them.

The claims cannot be independently verified.

The Syrian government has denied the Red Cross access to Baba Amr district for four consecutive days, citing security concerns.

Activists have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe.

'Hospital torture'

Several men who said they had defected from an elite army unit last week told our correspondent that civilians were being targeted by security forces and prisoners were being killed.

"A lieutenant gave us the order," he said. "We were told in this operation: 'You shoot anything that moves. Civilian or military - you shoot at it.'"

Our correspondent says the people of Baba Amr defied the government and now they are scattered, their uprising crushed.

The UK's Channel 4 News broadcast secretly shot footage on Monday that it said shows hospital patients in Homs being tortured by medical staff.

US Senator John McCain has called for America to lead an international force to protect key population centres in Syria through air strikes
Pictures showed wards full of wounded men, shackled to their beds and blindfolded and some showing the marks of severe beatings.

The authorities have not commented and the video cannot be independently verified.

The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told Channel 4 that the images accorded with other evidence gathered by a UN-backed commission of inquiry of torture in Syrian hospitals, particularly military hospitals.

An independent commission of inquiry set up by the UN said in February that Syrian security forces had "committed widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations, amounting to crimes against humanity, with the apparent knowledge and consent of the highest levels of the state".

The EU has said it will document alleged war crimes to set the stage for a "day of reckoning" for Syria's leaders. But Russia and China have vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions critical of the government.

Meanwhile, the body of US journalist Marie Colvin is due to be flown back to New York on Tuesday morning.

Colvin, who worked for the Sunday Times, died in a rocket attack in Baba Amr on 22 February with French photographer Remi Ochlik.


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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Tue 6 Mar - 14:24


Mar 6, 5:07 AM EST


General warns of Syrian bioweapons, Iran threat

By LOLITA C. BALDOR
Associated Press


















WASHINGTON (AP) -- The top U.S. commander in the Middle East will warn Congress on Tuesday against efforts to scale back the Navy's presence in the embattled region, saying threats from Iran and elsewhere will require more ships and maritime missile defense capabilities.

Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, also said Syria has a "substantial" chemical and biological weapons capability and thousands of shoulder-launched missiles. Until now, the U.S. military has largely declined to describe the expanse of weapons that President Bashar Assad's regime has at its disposal.

Mattis laid out his concerns in testimony prepared for Senate and House Armed Services Committee hearings this week. He and Navy Adm. William McRaven, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, are testifying before the Senate panel Tuesday. The testimony was obtained by The Associated Press.

Mattis' comments come as the Obama administration meets with Israeli leaders this week to discuss the escalating Iranian threat and the possibility of a pre-emptive strike by Israel.

Against a backdrop of roughly $500 billion in Pentagon budget cuts over the next decade, Mattis said the U.S. must use its Navy and special operations forces to maintain a smaller but still strong military presence in the Middle East as the wars in Iran and Afghanistan end.

"The stacked Iranian threats ... of ballistic missiles, long-range rockets, mines, small boats, cruise missiles and submarines demand stronger naval presence and capability to protect vital sea lines of communication," Mattis said.

At the same time, he described a deteriorating situation in Syria, fueled in part by Iran. The prospects of a civil war are rising in Syria, he said, but the "options available to address the situation are extremely challenging."

Some members of Congress have called for U.S. and international military action against the Assad regime to stem a brutal offensive against the Syrian people. But the Obama administration and other international leaders have opposed military intervention and instead have pushed instead for increased sanctions.

U.S. officials argue that unlike the military campaign in Libya last year that ousted Moammar Gadhafi, a military campaign in Syria would be far more difficult, would not get the backing of the U.N. Security Council and would be hampered by a less coordinated opposition force.

---



© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.





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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Tue 6 Mar - 14:38





(CNN) -- At least 14 people were killed in Syria Tuesday as government forces took aim at citizens across the country, opposition activists said.

The deaths include five people in Hama and three in the opposition stronghold of Homs, said the opposition Syrian Network for Human Rights.

Also in Homs, the Syrian military targeted a bridge on the Orontes River near the Lebanese border used as a crossing by wounded Syrian civilians, dissidents and refugees fleeing to Lebanon, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another opposition activist group.

As many as 2,000 Syrians have crossed into Lebanon since Sunday, according to Dana Suleiman, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Beirut, Lebanon. She said the refugees came from Homs province.



Injured journalist tells of Syria horror

Homs resident: 'Trying to stay alive'

CNN spends '72 Hours in Hell' in Syria

Red Cross denied access in Syria Meanwhile, almost two weeks after she was killed by a rocket attack in the city of Homs, the body of American journalist Marie Colvin is expected to arrive in the United States Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Paris said.

As the death toll soars from the almost year-long government onslaught, U.S. Sen. John McCain called for the United States to lead an international effort to protect the Syrian population via piloted airstrikes on regime forces.

"Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives," the Arizona Republican told the Senate Monday. "The only realistic way to do so is with foreign air power."

He said the goal should be to establish and defend safe havens, primarily in northern Syria, where opposition forces could organize their efforts.

"These safe havens could also help the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups in Syria to train and organize themselves into more cohesive and effective military forces, likely with the assistance of foreign partners," he said.

McCain, a Vietnam War veteran, said that any such effort would require taking out Syria's air-defense systems. "We're the only ones who can do that," he said.

But he said any effort must include other nations. "We should seek the active involvement of key Arab partners," such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar "and willing allies" in the European Union, NATO and Turkey, he said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was noncommittal.

"The secretary is interested in exploring options that could help end the brutal violence in Syria, but he also recognizes that this is an extremely complex crisis," a senior Pentagon official said. "Intervention at this time could very well exacerbate problems inside the country."

To complicate matters, several officials in U.S. President Barack Obama's administration have said the United States sees increasing military aid from Iran to the Syrian government in the attacks against the opposition.

They say they believe Iran wants to do whatever it can to ensure the survival of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, one of Tehran's closest allies.



Activist: Assad will have to kill us all

The way forward in Syria debated

Reporters' bodies given to diplomats "The aid from Iran is absolutely on the rise and is of very real concern," a U.S. official told CNN. "Tehran has supplied equipment, weapons and technical assistance -- notably computer monitoring tools -- to help suppress unrest." The official did not want to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the intelligence information.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Tuesday for the immediate opening of a humanitarian aid corridor to Syria during his televised weekly party parliamentary group meeting.

Erdogan also called for the implementation of an Arab League plan for al-Assad to step down and demanding an immediate end to human rights violations and attacks against civilians. The U.N. General Assembly passed a nonbinding resolution last month endorsing the plan.

The Syrian people, Erdogan said, will not be abandoned.

While officials in the West and elsewhere discussed the crisis from afar, more carnage mounted across Syria.

At least 26 people died Monday from violence such as shellings, sniper fire or indiscriminate gunfire, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Syrian regime has consistently blamed the violence on "armed terrorist groups" and portrayed its forces as trying to protect the public interest and security. The Syrian government says more than 2,000 security personnel have been killed in the violence, including 12 "martyrs" it said were buried Monday.

CNN cannot independently confirm reports across Syria because the government has severely restricted the access of international journalists. But the vast majority of reports out of Syria indicate al-Assad's forces are slaughtering civilians in opposition hotbeds in an attempt to wipe out dissidents.

The United Nations says at least 7,500 people have died in the crackdown, while opposition activists put the toll at more than 9,000.

For months, diplomatic efforts from around the world have failed to stop the bloodshed.

Members of the U.N. Security Council have tried to pass a resolution condemning al-Assad's regime, but were blocked by vetoes from Russia and China.

On Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov posted a message on his Twitter page saying the latest version of a draft resolution doesn't pass his muster.

"New US draft of the UNSC resolution on Syria is a slightly modified version of the last vetoed document. It should be substantially balanced," the message said.

But international leaders haven't given up on diplomacy.

Valerie Amos, U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, will arrive Wednesday in Damascus, she said. Syria agreed to allow a two-day, planned visit.

"As requested by the secretary-general (Ban Ki-moon), my aim is to urge all parties to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so that they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies," Amos said in a statement.

Amos will meet with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and "will pay visits to some areas in Syria," the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

Amos was denied access last week by the government, which said it was not a "suitable time" to visit, Syrian state-run TV reported.

And Kofi Annan, the former U.N. secretary-general who is now special joint envoy to Syria for the United Nations and the Arab League, will fly Saturday to Damascus, an Arab League official said.

He will be accompanied by his deputy, former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa. Their goal will be to persuade al-Assad to stop the killing, the official said.

SANA reported that Syria "welcomes the visit of Kofi Annan, envoy of the U.N. secretary-general."

But McCain, the U.S. senator, said military aid is necessary to stop further carnage.

McCain acknowledged that his proposal is a risky one, that the opposition lacks cohesion and that the American public has wearied of war, but said that should not dissuade U.S. officials from moving forward.

"The Syrian people deserve to succeed. Shame on us if we fail to help them."

CNN's Saad Abedine, Ted Barrett, Barbara Starr, Jill Dougherty, Hamdi Alkhshali and Salma Abdelaziz contributed to this report.


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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Wed 7 Mar - 7:35



Syria: Bashar al-Assad vows to crush 'foreign-backed terrorism' as army targets new cities

President Bashar al-Assad vowed to crush "foreign-backed terrorism" as Syria's army turned on new targets after subduing the city of Homs.









Image 1 of 2

President Bashar al-Assad vowed to crush "foreign-backed terrorism" as Syria's army turned on new targets after subduing the city of Homs Photo: REUTERS
























By Alex Spillius, David Blair

7:11PM GMT 06 Mar 2012

40 Comments





The regime's forces pounded rebel-held towns and struck a bridge used by refugees to escape to neighbouring Lebanon, killing at least six people. Soldiers also launched a major assault on Herak, a town in the southern province of Dera'a, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based group.


Two international envoys are about to visit Mr Assad – Baroness Amos, the United Nations under-secretary for humanitarian affairs, who is due in Damascus on Wednesday, and Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, who is expected this weekend as a representative of the Arab League.


Nonetheless, the president persisted with the belligerent rhetoric that he has displayed throughout the one-year uprising that has claimed perhaps 7,000 lives.


Insisting that his security forces were fighting outsiders and not home-grown rebels, Mr Assad said: "The Syrian people have again proven their capacity to defend the nation and to build a new Syria through their determination to pursue reforms along with the fight against foreign-backed terrorism."


He added: "Any country draws its strength from the backing of its people."



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John McCain 'to say US should bomb Syria'
05 Mar 2012


For a fifth consecutive day, aid workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were kept out of Baba Amr, the formerly rebel-held area of Homs that was captured by government troops last week. This broke an earlier assurance given by the regime and placed Syria in violation of a statement agreed unanimously by the Security Council calling for free access for aid workers.

"Despite a green light given to us last Thursday by the authorities, and repeated daily assurances, it remains the case that we have not been allowed into Baba Amr," said Sean Maguire, spokesman for the ICRC. "Security reasons were again given for the refusal of access."

The ICRC has also asked for a daily two-hour ceasefire across the country to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid. Again, the regime had indicated that it was willing to accept this suggestion, but no such pauses have taken place.

By keeping the ICRC out of Baba Amr, Mr Assad is risking greater diplomatic isolation and the possible disapproval of his two most powerful allies, Russia and China.

At the UN, the United States, Britain and France sought to win the agreement of Russia and China yesterday to a new draft resolution. This would demand unfettered access for aid agencies to the worst affected areas of Syria.

President Barack Obama called the bloodshed in Syria "heartbreaking and outrageous" yesterday, adding that Mr Assad had "lost legitimacy" and his downfall was a question of "when not if".

Having previously protected Mr Assad in the Security Council, Russia and China have shown signs of a more flexible attitude, at least as far as humanitarian access is concerned.

Any new resolution would have to be diluted heavily from earlier failed versions to exclude any mention of a "transition" from Mr Assad to a new government.

Gennady Gatilov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, said the new draft was "a slightly modified version of the last vetoed document", adding: "It should be substantially balanced."

But Western diplomats take the view that passing a watered down resolution would still send a powerful signal to Mr Assad that his isolation was increasing. "We'll see what happens, but it is hard to see how Russia and China can object to something that focuses on humanitarian access. They would find themselves in a very difficult situation if they said blocked it," said one official.

However, David Cameron spoke to Vladimir Putin by telephone on Monday and told parliament that he "didn't sense any sign of a shift" in the Russian leader's approach towards Syria. But the Prime Minister hoped to secure agreement "that it is absolutely essential that, at the very least, there is humanitarian access".































Open warfare on streets of Homs















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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Wed 7 Mar - 17:17


Senior U.N. Official Due in Syria as Forces Scramble to Scrub Signs of Assault

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

Published: March 7, 2012








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BEIRUT, Lebanon — With the Syrian military’s wholesale assault on the central city of Homs over, government forces were reported on Wednesday to have bombarded parts of the city overnight, while opponents and supporters of President Bashar al-Assad traded barbed remarks about ending the violence.



Related

More Violence in Syria as Forces Scramble to Scrub Signs of Assault on Homs (March 7, 2012)


Syria Permits U.N. Visits, but Escalates Its Attacks (March 6, 2012)


Lebanon Expects Influx of Refugees From Syria (March 5, 2012)


Syria’s Government Blocks Aid Convoy, Tightening Its Hold on a Devastated Area (March 4, 2012)






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At the United Nations, the five permanent members of the Security Council and its Arab member, Morocco, began consultations on a new resolution on Syria as Valerie Amos, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator, was scheduled to arrive in Damascus on Wednesday.

Mr. Assad’s government seemed determined to scrub as many signs of its monthlong assault as possible from Homs before showing it to the world. Reports of violent mopping-up operations continued to filter out from the city, especially widespread arrests and periodic executions, mostly of young men. Reuters reported tank fire overnight, aimed at areas of Homs where until late last week armed rebels and army defectors held out against a four-week government siege.

In a sign of faltering confidence, China said on Wednesday that it was withdrawing workers from Syria, apparently seeking to forestall a repeat of the chaotic exodus of some 36,000 Chinese laborers from Libya in the fighting that led to the fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi last year.

Only about 100 Chinese workers will be left behind to guard work camps and equipment, Commerce Minister Chen Deming said, without giving figures for the total number of Chinese citizens or projects in Syria, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. “The Chinese government and ministries must seriously undertake the protection of Chinese firms’ production and projects overseas, and the protection of the lives of Chinese citizens overseas, especially engineering teams,” Mr. Chen told reporters.

“From Libya, we learned the importance of national stability and safety,” Mr. Chen said.

The Chinese move offered a sharp contrast to the government’s efforts to enforce its writ.

“The government has control over Homs again,” said a 50-year-old Homs resident who had managed to flee to safety in Beirut. “They are arresting many people.”

Empty buses were seen moving into neighborhoods, then leaving filled with young men and boys, she said. A grainy, shaky video of soldiers walloping young men as they pushed them onto what appeared to be a green military bus was shown on Al Jazeera, the Arabic satellite channel, but it was not clear where or when the footage had been taken.

The mopping-up operations also seemed aimed at clearing up pockets of resistance; the Homs resident said helicopters had been seen flying low over the city, followed by explosions.

The government and the opposition accused each other over a massacre whose 18 victims were shown on Addounia, a Syrian satellite television station, with gruesome details of the fatal gunshot wounds. On the wall behind the men a message in pale script, purportedly signed by the Free Syrian Army, an anti-Assad resistance force, said that the deaths were the fate of all collaborators.

But the opposition said the victims, named in a press release from the Syrian Network for Human Rights, had been killed by the government and were all members of at least three families in the Sabuh clan.

A convoy bearing aid from the International Committee of the Red Cross was blocked from entering the embattled Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs for a fifth day, while Syrian state television boasted about the immense cleanup operation.

Bulldozers were shown pushing aside piles of rubble from heavily pockmarked buildings while residents were filmed sweeping the streets. “Thank God the Syrian Army came so we can return to our homes,” crowed one woman, while most of the interviews that were shown featured people making disparaging remarks about the “armed terrorist gangs” that they said held them hostage during the siege.

Residents who fled in recent days spoke of the smell of death and piles of garbage drifting like snowbanks, casting a pall over the city. “When we fled there were still dead bodies on the floor,” said a 62-year-old great-grandmother who fled Homs for Tripoli, Lebanon. “We had to leave them all,” she added. “It smelled of blood, destroyed houses and ruins. There were dead people under the ruins of buildings.”

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An employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Beirut, Michael Schwirtz from Moscow, Edward Wong from Beijing and Alan Cowell from London.



















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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Thu 8 Mar - 8:36

6:50am UK, Thursday March 08, 2012

Syria's deputy oil minister has quit his post, saying he is joining the revolt against President Bashar al Assad's regime, according to reports.
Abdo Hussameddin made the announcement in a video posted by activists on YouTube.

He is the highest ranking civilian to desert Mr Assad since the uprising began a year ago

"I, the engineer Abdo Hussameddin, the deputy oil minister... announce my defection from the regime and my resignation," he said in the video.



Thousands are said to have been killed in the government crackdown

"I am joining the revolution of the people who reject injustice and the brutal campaign of the regime, which is seeking to crush the people's demand for freedom and dignity."

Hussameddin denounced Russia and China for backing the regime, saying they were not "friends of the Syrian people but partners in the killing of the Syrian people".

He said he had served in the Syrian government for 33 years and did not wish to end his life "serving a criminal regime".

"That is why I have joined the right path knowing that this regime will burn down my house, hunt down my family and fabricate lies," he said.

He urged his colleagues to abandon "this sinking ship".



Baroness Amos with Syrian foreign minister Walid al Moualem

According to the United Nations, more than 7,500 people - many of them women and children - have died in the brutal government crackdown on the rebels.

The news of Mr Hussameddin's resignation came just hours after US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Washington may supply the activists with 'non-lethal' aid.

Earlier UN humanitarian chief Baroness Valerie Amos and a Syrian Red Crescent team of aid workers were allowed into the devastated Baba Amr district of Homs.

Baroness Amos went to the district as part of a three-day mission to try to persuade Syrian authorities to grant full access to aid workers into the towns and cities affected by fighting so they can deliver life-saving assistance to civilians.



The International Red Cross said most Baba Amr residents had left for areas such as Abel that have already been visited by the organisation.

Their teams provided assistance to 450 families, about 2,700 people, in Abel during the day.

Baroness Amos has also held talks with foreign minister Walid Moualem in the capital Damascus.

He said she could go anywhere in Syria, according to her spokeswoman, who added Ms Amos and her team had heard gunfire while they were in Baba Amr.



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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Thu 8 Mar - 12:00


Top Pentagon Officials Stress Risks in Syria


Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press

Relatives at a hospital in Idlib, Syria, mourned a man who died Wednesday after being shot by a Syrian Army sniper. Some fear Syrian forces will target Idlib next.

By ELISABETH BUMILLER and RICK GLADSTONE

Published: March 7, 2012







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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s top two officials said Wednesday that President Obama had asked for preliminary military options to respond to the increasingly violent Syria conflict, but they emphasized the risks and said that the administration still believed that diplomatic and economic pressure was the best way to protect Syrians from the Assad government’s repression.






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The appraisal by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, in Senate testimony, reflected increased concern about the year-old uprising in Syria, in which more than 7,500 people have been killed, according to United Nations estimates. Their comments also reflected the politicization of the Syria conflict in the United States during a presidential election year. Mr. Obama, who ended the war in Iraq and is moving to do the same in Afghanistan, has expressed reluctance to enter a new military conflict and characterized statements by his Republican adversaries as hawkish.

General Dempsey and Mr. Panetta spoke two days after Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who lost to Mr. Obama in 2008, became the first senator to call for American airstrikes on Syria as “the only realistic way” to stop what he called a slaughter there. Both General Dempsey and Mr. Panetta faced sharp questions during their testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee from Mr. McCain, who is the panel’s ranking Republican.

Their exchanges came as the conflict in Syria took some striking new turns. The United Nations’ top relief official, Valerie Amos, visited the ravaged Syrian city of Homs — the first inspection there by an independent outside observer since President Bashar al-Assad ordered a military assault of the city’s armed resistance more than a month ago. Syrian activist groups reported ominous signs on Wednesday that Mr. Assad’s forces would now direct their campaign northward to Idlib Province, where the Free Syrian Army, a group composed mostly of army defectors, is challenging his authority.

General Dempsey told senators that the options under review included humanitarian airlifts, naval monitoring, aerial surveillance of the Syrian military and the establishment of a no-fly zone. Specifically, he said that “the president of the United States, through the national security staff, has asked us to begin the commander’s estimate,” a term for an initial assessment of a situation and potential courses of military action.

Mr. Panetta, who spoke alongside General Dempsey, told the committee that military review was in the earliest stages. “We have not done the detailed planning because we are waiting for the direction of the president to do that,” he said. Modern commanders in chief have routinely asked for military options during foreign crises, and the Pentagon as part of its daily business draws up contingency plans for a wide range of potential conflicts.

Mr. Panetta and General Dempsey spent much time explaining the difficulties of military action. Mr. Panetta said intervention could expedite a civil war in the country and make an explosive situation worse. He said bluntly that the Obama administration recognized “that there are limitations of military force, especially with U.S. boots on the ground.” He added that “it doesn’t make sense” for the United States to act alone, without a coalition of allies, as was the case in Libya.

Ms. Amos, the United Nations under secretary general and emergency relief coordinator, arrived in Syria for a two-day visit to assess the country’s relief needs. She accompanied a team from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent into the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, which had suffered enormous destruction and where activists have reported hundreds of civilian deaths.

She made no statement about what she observed, but a spokeswoman at the United Nations, Amanda Pitt, said that Ms. Amos had told her via telephone that the neighborhood was “pretty devastated,” largely devoid of people and punctuated by occasional gunfire.

“She wanted to go to Homs and Baba Amr to try and get a sense for herself of the impact of the fighting — and of the lack of humanitarian access — and to get there as soon as possible,” Ms. Pitt said in an e-mail. She said Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem of Syria, her host, had told Ms. Amos that she “would be able to go wherever she wanted.”

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency made no mention of Ms. Amos’s visit to Homs, but reported her arrival in Syria earlier on Wednesday and quoted Mr. Moallem as saying that the government was trying to respond to emergency civilian needs “despite the burdens it faces because of the unfair sanctions imposed by some Arab and Western countries on Syria.”

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Elisabeth Bumiller reported from Washington, and Rick Gladstone from New York. Reporting was contributed by Neil MacFarquhar, Hwaida Saad and an employee of The New York Times from Beirut, Lebanon, Edward Wong from Beijing, and Alan Cowell from London.








A version of this article appeared in print on March 8, 2012, on page A5 of the New York edition with the headline: Top Pentagon Officials Stress Risks in Syria.
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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Thu 8 Mar - 17:58


CNN) -- At least 62 people were killed in Syria on Thursday as former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan cautioned against outside military intervention, saying it could worsen an already precarious situation.

But, Annan told the Arab League summit in Cairo, "the violence and killings must stop immediately."

Annan, the special joint envoy to Syria for the United Nations and the Arab League, began a visit to the region in Cairo on Wednesday. The U.N. said he will visit Damascus on Saturday "to seek an urgent end to all violence and human rights violations and to initiate efforts to promote a peaceful solution."

"I hope that no one is thinking very seriously of using force in this situation," Annan said Thursday. "I believe any further militarization would make the situation worse. We have to be careful not to introduce a medicine worse than the disease."



Torture allegations in Syrian hospitals

Homs attacks continue despite U.N. visit

Military resists intervening in Syria

Activists: Syria escape route targeted Meanwhile, shelling and explosions rocked several Syrian cities early Thursday, and there were reports of violence in several locations as the Syrian regime continued assaults against opposition strongholds.

Thursday's death toll included members of a whole family, according to the Local Coordination Committees, a Syria-based opposition activist network. Fifty-two people died in the city of Homs, the LCC said; 44 of them were executed in a field.

Security forces attacked a funeral procession in the Damascus neighborhood of Mazzeh and targeted the car carrying the body, the network said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another opposition group, said those arrested numbered in the dozens.

Violent clashes were reported in Idlib province, and more than 50 young men were arrested in a "detention campaign" in Hama, the LCC said.

Two blasts rocked the town of Izaz near the Syrian-Turkish border Thursday morning, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The blasts were followed by fierce clashes between government soldiers and soldiers that had defected.

Shelling and rocket attacks were also reported in the Homs neighborhoods of Bab Tadmur and Jib al-Jandali Thursday, the fifth day in a row of government attacks there, the group said.

Syria, which blames the violence on "terrorists," has said it is trying its best to get aid to hard-hit areas.

CNN cannot independently confirm reports across Syria because the government has severely restricted the access of international journalists. But the vast majority of reports out of Syria indicate that as part of a nearly yearlong crackdown, President Bashar al-Assad's forces are slaughtering civilians in opposition hotbeds in an attempt to wipe out dissidents seeking his ouster.

Tunisia, which was beset by unrest itself during the past year, is "ready to participate in an Arab Peace Force in Syria after the fall of the regime ... to restore security and stability for the Syrian people," interim President Mohammed al Monsif Al Marzouki said after a meeting Thursday with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, according to Tunisie Afrique Presse, the country's state news agency.

Refugees continue to flee Syria for Lebanon, officials have said.

"The ICRC, along with the Lebanese Red Cross, have been making sure that those Syrian wounded who are able to cross into Lebanese territory are being evacuated and getting into hospitals, accessing the medical care they need," Samar el Kadi, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Lebanon, told China Central Television on Thursday.



Doctor compares Syria horror to Chechnya

Syrian activist answers accusations

Injured journalist tells of Syria horror

CNN spends '72 Hours in Hell' in Syria "I mean, when we get them, the first concern is to bring them to the hospitals for any kind of injury, or even if they are sick," she said. "You have people who are crossing, and they are ill and need immediate medical assistance."

However, cold weather poses a threat to the refugees, particularly families with small children, she said.

On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby announced the appointment of longtime Palestinian diplomat Nasser Al Kidwa as Annan's deputy special envoy to Syria.

Also in the country was China's envoy to Syria, Li Huaxin. The diplomat met with Syrian government officials and opposition members during a two-day visit, China's Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.

The diplomat called for both sides to end the violence.

Russian diplomat Mikhail Bogdanov told the Syrian ambassador to Russia, Riyad Haddad, that the country backed the missions of Annan and U.N. relief official Valerie Amos, who visited Homs on Wednesday.

Russia is urging all parties to stop the violence and "create conditions for the real and inclusive political dialogue between Syrians without outside interference." Haddad "confirmed the readiness of the Syrian government for a constructive dialogue with the opposition," the news outlet said.

In New York, at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin said Syrian rebels were being trained at a camp inside Libya.

"We have expressed concerns about the noncontrol of Libyan arms in the region. However, it is not just weapons that are going abroad," Churkin said. "We have received information that in Libya, with the support of the authority, there is a special training center for the Syrian revolutionaries, and people are sent to Syria to attack the legal government. This is completely unacceptable."

Such activity, he said, "is undermining stability in the Middle East."

Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib denied that to reporters Thursday during a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"I believe we were the first country to recognize the Syrian Transitional Council, and we did it because we felt that the Syrian cause is a good cause," El-Keib said. "It's people voicing their voice, raising their voice, asking for freedom.

"As far as training camps, unless this is something that is done without government permission, which I doubt, I'm not aware of any," he said.

Russia -- a Soviet-era ally and arms dealer to Syria -- and China previously vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government.

Asked whether Russia and China have blood on their hands, Simon Collis, British ambassador to Syria, told CNN on Thursday, "We don't think that supplying weapons to this regime is a right or defensible course of action. We don't think that defending this regime from being held to account for its actions is helpful, and we don't think that it helps find a political solution to the crisis, which is the key issue."


A man identifying himself as Syria's deputy oil minister, Abdo Hussam el Din, said in a YouTube video he was defecting.A high-ranking member of the Syrian regime -- who identified himself as Abdo Hussam el Din, the country's deputy oil minister -- announced in a video posted on YouTube on Wednesday that he was defecting from the al-Assad regime.

"I am joining the revolution of this noble people who will not accept injustice," the man said in Arabic. "I've been part of this government for 33 years, and I have acquired many titles, and I do not want to retire serving the crimes of this regime."

The man, who appeared to be the same one pictured on the government's oil website, said, "I decided to join the voice of the righteous despite the notion that this regime will burn my house and harass my family and will invent many lies."

Also Wednesday, the United Nations emergency relief chief met in Syria with top government officials and visited an area ravaged by weeks of government attacks.

Amos surveyed the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs on Wednesday for only 45 minutes while gunfire was heard from other areas of the city, officials said.

"Valerie told me on the phone from Damascus this afternoon that the areas of Baba Amr that she saw were devastated," said spokeswoman Amanda Pitt of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Meanwhile, videos recently posted on the Internet show evidence of torture in a government-controlled hospital in Homs. One video shows wounded hospital patients chained to their beds, their bodies showing marks of beatings or electric shocks. At one point, the camera pans to a hospital room to show that there was a set of jumper cables in a room with a group of chained hospital patients.

"The regular people from the population do not trust the government hospitals anymore," said Jacques Beres, co-founder of the humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

He said he spent two weeks in Homs helping patients.

"There are confirmed stories of amputations for no reason, removal, kidnapping, executions, torture," Beres said.

On Wednesday, 40 people were killed, including seven children, one woman and two military recruits, according to the LCC. The death toll included 26 people in Homs, the group said. State media said 14 "army and law enforcement martyrs" were buried Wednesday.

The United Nations has said at least 7,500 people have died in the crackdown, while opposition activists put the toll at more than 9,000.

The Syrian government says that more than 2,000 security personnel have been killed.

CNN's Elizabeth Joseph, Paula Hancocks, Mitra Mobasherat, Amir Ahmed and journalist Ian Lee contributed to this report.





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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sat 10 Mar - 1:08















































The GuardianUK and World newsUser commentsWeb






UN envoy due in Syria amid signs of more cracks in Assad regime

Kofi Annan to meet Bashar al-Assad over latest initiative to halt bloodshed as more defectors follow lead of deputy oil minister

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Julian Borger and agencies

guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 March 2012 17.31 GMT
Article history



Kofi Annan said he was bringing 'realistic' proposals to Damascus to halt the killing, but Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun said talks with President Assad were pointless. Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters


Kofi Annan is due to arrive in Damascus on Saturday to launch the latest initiative to stop the bloodshed in Syria, but opposition leaders said that any deal with President Bashar al-Assad was unthinkable while civilians were being killed by government forces.

Opposition activists said that at least 26 people were killed across Syria on Friday, but there were also signs of more cracks in the Assad regime. A Turkish official said that two Syrian generals, a colonel and two sergeants had defected to Turkey on Thursday, soon after Syria's deputy oil minister, Abdo Hussameldin, and a brigadier general announced their desertion of the regime on YouTube videos.

Western diplomats speculated on Friday that the public nature of their renunciation of the Assad government had encouraged other high-ranking officers to follow their example.

The new defectors were among 234 Syrians who have crossed into Turkey since Thursday. The defections were welcomed by EU foreign ministers meeting in Copenhagen, where they were portrayed as a sign that sanctions against the Damascus government were working.

"It is very good news that clearly high-ranking state and military officials are increasingly turning away from the Assad regime," said Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, said, speaking in Berlin before his departure for the Danish capital. "The process of disintegration of the Assad regime has begun; the signs of erosion will continue. No country can be led in the long term with cruelty and repression."

Annan, a former UN secretary general who has been appointed joint UN-Arab League envoy, is due to meet Assad during his visit to Damascus. He said he was taking "realistic" proposals to halt the killing, but did not go into details.

Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, said that any talks with Assad were pointless as long as the regime continued to massacre its own people. "It feels like we are watching the same movie being repeated over and over again," Ghalioun told the Associated Press in an interview from Paris. "My fear is that, like other international envoys before him, the aim is to waste a month or two of pointless mediation efforts."

The UN humanitarian co-ordinator, Lady Amos, said on Friday that Syria had agreed to a joint mission to assess the country's emergency relief needs, but added that the regime had to do more.

"While this is a necessary first step, it remains essential that a robust and regular arrangement be put in place, which allows humanitarian organisations unhindered access to evacuate the wounded and deliver desperately needed supplies," Amos told journalists in Ankara after touring Syrian refugee camps along the Turkish border.

In Beijing, China announced on Friday that it is sending its own envoy to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France to explain its proposal for a Syrian ceasefire. The foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Weimin, said that the assistant foreign affairs minister, Zhang Ming, would meet Arab League leaders during the seven-day trip, which begins on Sunday.







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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sat 10 Mar - 8:20


10 March 2012 Last updated at 07:57 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page


UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has arrived in Syria for talks with President Bashar al-Assad, in a fresh diplomatic bid to end the violence.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Mr Annan would call for an immediate ceasefire by the army and the opposition.

Activists said government forces killed 77 people across Syria on Friday.

Earlier, UN aid chief Valerie Amos said "limited progress" had been made on taking aid to the worst-hit areas in Syria, but much more was needed.

Baroness Amos said she had requested full access to the worst-hit areas, but the government had asked for more time.

Calls for reform that began with pro-democracy protests a year ago have degenerated into violence that has brought Syria to the brink of civil war.

The UN says more than 7,500 people have died as a result of the violence.

'All violence must stop'

Mr Annan arrived at Damascus airport on Saturday and was met by Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, before being taken to a hotel in the capital ahead of the talks with the president.

Mr Annan's meeting with President Assad was earlier announced in New York by Mr Ban, the UN secretary-general.

Mr Ban said he had held a conference call with Mr Annan and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi.

Witnesses report troops and tanks massing near Idlib, where anti-government protests continue
"All three of us share the same concerns, same priorities and same approaches," he said.

"Our priority is, first of all, all violence must stop, whether by government forces [or] opposition forces.

"I have very strongly urged Kofi Annan to ensure that there must be an immediate ceasefire."

He said that if a ceasefire could not be agreed simultaneously, then government troops should stop first, followed by the opposition.

Mr Ban said Mr Annan - a former UN secretary-general - would also meet Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in Damascus and then hold talks with opposition leaders after leaving the country on Sunday.

The UN has called for "dialogue" to end the crisis, although opposition groups have already rejected the idea of talks with President Assad.

Mr Ban also echoed Baroness Amos's calls for Syria to allow aid agencies access to areas badly hit by the violence.

He said that what she had seen in the devastated Baba Amr district of Homs showed there was a "quite serious, alarming situation in terms of humanitarian assistance and human rights".

On Friday, Baroness Amos said the government had indicated that an initial humanitarian assessment could be made within the next week, and that a UN team in Damascus was ready to get to work.

"They have agreed to a limited preliminary assessment to try to find out where people are and what they need, but I would like something much more comprehensive," she told the BBC.

Baroness Amos says an initial humanitarian assessment could be made within the next week
Baroness Amos also toured camps on the Turkish-Syrian border where about 11,000 Syrians have taken refuge.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people were again reported to be protesting on the streets across Syria on Friday.

Activists from the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were major demonstrations in Deraa, Latakia, Homs, Hama, Deir Ezzor and Aleppo.

Another opposition group, the Local Co-ordination Committees, said 77 people had been killed across Syria on Friday, including 26 in Homs, 28 in Idlib, six in Deraa, four in Hama, nine in and around Damascus, two in Latakia and one each in Bokamal and Aleppo.

The death toll in Idlib, near the Turkish border, includes a reported massacre in the village of Ain Larouz, in which up to 20 civilians were killed when troops opened fire, the group said.

Activists and the Observatory said troops backed by tanks were massing in Idlib to target the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the country's main rebel military force.

Some activists fear Idlib could suffer the same fate as bombed-out Baba Amr.

As the government crackdown continues, several senior Syrian military officers have defected and fled to Turkey.

The Turkish government confirmed media reports that two generals, a colonel and one other officer were among 230 Syrians who crossed the border on Thursday.
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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sat 10 Mar - 16:24



10 March 2012 Last updated at 14:23 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page

Syrians flee

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told visiting UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan that no political dialogue can succeed in his country while "armed terrorist groups" are operating.

Mr Assad said Syria would back "any honest effort to find a solution".

The UN said Mr Annan's task was to call for an immediate ceasefire by the army and the opposition.

As Mr Annan arrived, there were reports of fresh army shelling of the north-western city of Idlib.

Earlier, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said "limited progress" had been made on aid but much more was needed.

Calls for reform that began with pro-democracy protests a year ago have degenerated into violence that has brought Syria to the brink of civil war.

The UN says more than 7,500 people have died as a result of the violence.

'All violence must stop'

Mr Annan's talks with Mr Assad lasted for more than two hours, before Mr Annan met Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem over lunch.

Syrian state television said the meetings were held in a "positive" atmosphere.

The Sana news agency quoted Mr Assad as saying: "Syria is ready to make a success of any honest effort to find a solution for the events it is witnessing.

"No political dialogue or political activity can succeed while there are armed terrorist groups operating and spreading chaos and instability."

The BBC's Lina Sinjab in Damascus says this is a clear message that the military operation, and violence, will continue.

As the talks took place, opposition groups said army attacks were continuing on the city of Idlib, near the Turkish border.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the shelling was the heaviest since army reinforcements arrived earlier in the week and was an apparent prelude to a ground assault, as had happened in the city of Homs.

One activist in Idlib told Reuters by telephone that government tanks were entering the city.

Associated Press reported families fleeing the violence with their belongings.

Bitter divisions

Mr Ban, the UN secretary-general, earlier spelled out Mr Annan's task.

"Our priority is, first of all, all violence must stop, whether by government forces [or] opposition forces," Mr Ban said.

Continue reading the main story
In pictures: Clashes in Idlib

"I have very strongly urged Kofi Annan to ensure that there must be an immediate ceasefire."

He said that if a ceasefire could not be agreed simultaneously, then government troops should stop first, followed by the opposition.

Mr Annan will reportedly meet the opposition National Coordination Committee early on Saturday evening.

Mr Ban said Mr Annan would hold talks with other opposition leaders after leaving the country on Sunday.

Coinciding with Mr Annan's arrival, a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers has been taking place in Cairo, attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says the meeting has revealed bitter divisions between the League and Moscow, with Russia finding out just how little support its policy on Syria has.

Mr Lavrov warned against "crude interference" in Syria's internal affairs, insisting that Russia was not "protecting any regimes.

But Russia's stance on the issue was criticised and the Qatari delegation said it was time to send Arab and international forces in to Syria, as there was a "moral and humanitarian obligation to stop the daily systematic killing there".

Nevertheless the meeting concluded with all sides calling for an end to violence in Syria "whatever its source". A joint statement also set out several points of agreement, which included a rejection of foreign intervention in the conflict-stricken country.

Ministers also agreed on the need for a mechanism to objectively monitor the situation and the need to deliver humanitarian aid.

The UN has pressed for "dialogue" to end the crisis, although Syrian opposition groups have already rejected the idea of talks with President Assad.

Mr Ban also echoed Baroness Amos's calls for Syria to allow aid agencies access to areas badly hit by the violence.

He said that what she had seen in the devastated Baba Amr district of Homs showed there was a "quite serious, alarming situation in terms of humanitarian assistance and human rights".

On Friday, Baroness Amos said the government had indicated that an initial humanitarian assessment could be made within the next week, and that a UN team in Damascus was ready to get to work.

Violence continued on Friday across Syria. The Local Co-ordination Committees said 77 people had been killed, including 26 in Homs, 28 in Idlib, six in Deraa, four in Hama, nine in and around Damascus, two in Latakia and one each in Bokamal and Aleppo.
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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sun 11 Mar - 8:46





(CNN) -- After laying out plans aimed at halting the bloodshed in Syria, Kofi Annan, the special U.N. envoy to the country, will meet again with President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday in hopes of getting answers to his proposals.

In what he described as a candid and comprehensive discussion, Annan met with al-Assad on Saturday about a cease-fire, the release of detainees and allowing unfettered access to agencies like the Red Cross to deliver much needed aid, a U.N. statement said.

Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general, also proposed a start to an inclusive political dialogue that would "address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the people."

But while Annan waited for answers in Damascus, fresh violence erupted once again in cities across the country.

Clashes broke out between the Syrian army and rebel fighters in the Damascus suburbs and Aleppo, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists.

And in a phone call with a Binish town elder, a major general in al-Assad's military demanded the people of Binish hand over weapons used by defected soldiers and the rebel Free Syrian Army within 24 hours -- or the town will be bombed and stormed early Monday morning, according to the Binish Coordination Committee, part of the LCC.

The reports come after 63 people were killed across Syria on Saturday, the LCC said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another opposition group, said 98 people died, including 39 military defectors, 39 civilians and 20 government troops, including a brigadier general.



What does Washington know about Syria? Saturday's meeting between al-Assad and Annan was the first time in Syria's year-long crisis that al-Assad met with such a high-level diplomat. But the Syrian president quashed the possibility of negotiating with the opposition anytime soon.



A witness to Syria's killing fields Syrian state-run media said al-Assad told Annan that he was ready to find a solution, but that such an effort would first require a look at reality on the ground and not rely on what "is promoted by some regional and international countries to distort the facts and give a picture contrary to what Syria is undergoing."



Syrian crisis impact remains to be seen He also reiterated that "political dialogue or action cannot take place or succeed if there are terrorist armed gangs on the ground that are working on spreading chaos and target the stability of the homeland," the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said.



Torture allegations in Syrian hospitals The Syrian regime has insisted it is not slaughtering dissidents; rather, it says, armed thugs are responsible for killing thousands.

But opposition activists and residents tell a very different story.

Abdel Aziz said Idlib was suffering the kind of heavy shelling the world had seen in the besieged city of Homs. He estimated shelling every two minutes and said many residences and buildings had been damaged or destroyed.



Military resists intervening in Syria He also reported that security forces were searching house to house to arrest activists.



CNN spends '72 Hours in Hell' in Syria "The number of tanks is much greater than defectors," Aziz said. "This scenario is very similar to what happened in Homs."



UK amb to Syria: No future with Assad And in the Daraa village of Jezah, "the regime's army is indiscriminately bombing the city with anti-aircraft missiles. The village is under siege in all directions," the LCC said.

Amid the fighting, Annan's visit presented "a small sign of hope, yet so dim," said Abdel Aziz al-Khair, a member of the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change.

"There is no way that we can have any dialogue with the regime until the security campaign ends," he said. "They keep playing the victim role, (saying) that they are defending the innocent civilians while they slaughter them and blame the bloodshed on others," he said.

Annan distanced himself from military intervention as did opposition members, agreeing that an armed conflict would only worsen the predicament of civilians, said al-Khair, who met with Annan Saturday.

Both Annan and opposition members agreed that plans for a resolution cannot be implemented as long as the bloodshed continues.

"It is too early to apply a plan to resolve the crisis, " al-Khair said. "The situation on the ground ... is catastrophic.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Annan was trying to "broker a swift transition in which ultimately Assad steps aside and the people of Syria are able to choose an interim government that's representative and leads to elections."

Rice said she wants the situation to be resolved peacefully, "to the extent that that remains still a viable outcome."

But Arab leaders called for intervention given the situation within Syria and held firm to their position that al-Assad must step down.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said the Arab League supported Annan's mission but it was also time to send in Arab and other international troops into Syria.

The United Nations says more than 7,500 have died in the past year, and at least one activist group says more than 9,000 people have been killed.

CNN cannot independently confirm opposition or government reports of casualties or attacks from across Syria because the government has severely restricted the access of international journalists. But the vast majority of reports from inside Syria indicate the regime is killing civilians en masse in an attempt to wipe out dissidents seeking al-Assad's ouster.

Haytham Manna, of the opposition Coordinating Committee of Democratic Transition in Syria, said time is running out for a diplomatic solution.

"We are getting to the point of no return," said Manna, a Paris-based dissident. "The regime is pushing the country as a whole toward a full scale armed struggle between the very well organized military institution and our people."

CNN's Saad Abedine, Kareem Khadder, Salma Abdelaziz, Hamdi Alkhshali and Ian Lee and journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report.



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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Mon 12 Mar - 5:57



CNN) -- At least 45 women and children were killed in the Syrian city of Homs late Sunday, opposition activists said, hours after the U.N. special envoy to Syria met with the country's president in an effort to reach a diplomatic solution to end the violence.

The killings occurred in the Homs neighborhood of Karm al Zaytoun, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist network.

Hadi Abdallah, a spokesman for the Syrian Revolution General Council, told CNN there were 47 victims -- all stabbed to death and burned after "Syrian forces and thugs" stormed their homes.

Life and death under Syria's military onslaught

The LCC described the killings as a "massacre orchestrated by the regime" of President Bashar al-Assad.

CNN cannot independently confirm reports of casualties or attacks in Syria because the government has severely restricted the access of international journalists.

The claims of fresh violence occurred the same day Kofi Annan, the U.N. special envoy to Syria, departed the country after two days of talks with al-Assad.



Annan talks Syria peace amid violence

Russia defends Syria stance to Arab League

What does Washington know about Syria?

No end in sight to Homs violence On Saturday, Annan proposed a cease-fire, the release of detainees and allowing unfettered access to agencies such as the Red Cross to deliver much needed aid, a U.N. statement said.

"It's going to be tough, it's going to be difficult, but we have to have hope," Annan said Sunday after meeting with al-Assad for a second day.

Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general, also proposed a start to an inclusive political dialogue that would "address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the people."

It was unclear whether al-Assad offered any assurances that he would agree to the proposals laid out by Annan. When asked whether he received promises of a cease-fire or the acceptance of humanitarian assistance, Annan responded, "(those are) some issues we're discussing with the president."

The reported deaths of women and children in Karm al Zaytoun brought the total number of deaths across the country Sunday to 78, according to activist groups.

CNN's Hala Gorani: Witness to killing fields

A livestream from a neighboring town purported to show some of the bodies from the massacre.

Syrian state TV said the bodies shown were killed by "armed terrorist groups," a consistent phrase the government has used to explain the carnage. But the vast majority of reports from inside Syria indicate the regime is killing civilians en masse in an attempt to wipe out dissidents seeking al-Assad's ouster.

Earlier Sunday, opposition groups reported violent clashes between Syrian government forces and defectors and said government forces were randomly shelling civilian areas.

In the Idlib province village of Aljanoudeyah, the LCC said shelling by government forces destroyed three buildings. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 19 people were killed in Idlib.

The London-based Observatory also said Syrian forces also shelled a bridge over the Assi River west of Rastan. The bridge had been used by residents trying to flee the city, according to the group.

The attack destroyed the bridge, the group said.

In addition to his meeting with al-Assad, Annan also met with members of the opposition as well as business and religious leaders.

"The transformational winds blowing today cannot be long-resisted," Annan said. "I have urged the president to heed the old African proverb: 'You cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail.' The realistic response is to embrace change and reform."

At least 33 people died Sunday in places such as Idlib, Aleppo, Latakia, Homs, Daraa, Hama and the countryside around the capital of Damascus, opposition activists said.

Meanwhile, in a phone call with a Binish town elder, a major general in al-Assad's military demanded the people of Binish hand over weapons used by defected soldiers and the rebel Free Syrian Army within 24 hours or the town will be bombed and stormed early Monday morning, according to the Binish Coordination Committee, part of the LCC.

SANA reported that what it called terrorist groups killed a boxing champion in Aleppo and two special forces troops in the province of Hama. The news agency also said an official of the Baath Arab Socialist Party was kidnapped in the al-Ghouta area of Homs.

The meetings Saturday and Sunday between al-Assad and Annan were the first time in Syria's yearlong crisis that al-Assad met with such a high-level diplomat. But the Syrian president quashed the possibility of negotiating with the opposition anytime soon.

Syrian state-run media said al-Assad told Annan that he was ready to find a solution, but that such an effort would first require a look at reality on the ground and not rely on what "is promoted by some regional and international countries to distort the facts and give a picture contrary to what Syria is undergoing."

He also reiterated that "political dialogue or action cannot take place or succeed if there are terrorist armed gangs on the ground that are working on spreading chaos and target the stability of the homeland," the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said.

Both Annan and opposition members agreed that plans for a resolution cannot be implemented as long as the bloodshed continues.

"It is too early to apply a plan to resolve the crisis," said Abdel Aziz al-Khair, a member of the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change. "The situation on the ground ... is catastrophic.

The United Nations says more than 7,500 have died in the past year, and at least one activist group says more than 9,000 people have been killed.

CNN's Saad Abedine, Kareem Khadder, Salma Abdelaziz, Hamdi Alkhshali, Ian Lee and Kamal Ghattas contributed to this report.


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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Mon 12 Mar - 23:16



Mar 12, 6:45 PM EDT


Reporter killed in Syria recalled as truth seeker







OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (AP) -- Marie Colvin was remembered Monday as a fearless seeker of truth by mourners from media mogul Rupert Murdoch to the immigrants who counted on her dispatches from their strife-ridden homelands to make a difference in global policy.

A huge American flag was suspended over Main Street in Oyster Bay, N.Y., the quiet oceanside town where the 56-year-old New York native grew up and decided to become a reporter.

And when her casket emerged from at St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church after her funeral Mass, a group of Sri Lankan immigrants held a placard dubbing her the "uncrowned queen of intrepid journalists."

Colvin worked for the Sunday Times of London, which is owned by Murdoch's News Corp. She was killed on Feb. 22 when the building that served as a makeshift media center in the city of Homs was struck by a Syrian army mortar.

"She was looking for beauty and truth, and she was telling the world about the vicious crimes," said Malek Jandali a Syrian-American musician who came from Atlanta to attend the funeral.

"Her last moments were steps from my family's house in Homs," said Jandali, adding that anti-government sympathizers hoped to have a street or a square there named after Colvin.

Seetharam Sivam, an immigrant from Sri Lanka, said he wanted to pay his respects because Colvin's writing a decade ago had brought attention to violence involving the Tamil ethnic group. Colvin lost an eye while covering the civil conflict in Sri Lanka in 2001 and wore an eye patch after that.

"She took the risks and went into war zones. She brought the truth of the Tamil plight to the world," said Sivam, an electrical engineer from Holbrook, Long Island, who lost his father in the conflict Colvin covered. "It's one reason the United States and other countries had the information, and could act on it."

Colvin died hours after her last report on the government crackdown in Syria, where thousands of civilians have been killed since a popular uprising began a year ago.

Days after her death, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Syria was led by a "criminal regime." He vowed that his country will continue to investigate "the crimes that are taking place" - including the scene where Colvin appeared in her last dispatch - "so that one day those responsible for them will have to answer for their actions."

In her final live broadcast with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Colvin told him the Syrians were shelling "a city of cold, starving civilians." She spoke as a baby boy lay dying near her.

"It's a complete and utter lie that they are only going after terrorists," she added. "There are no military targets here."

It was a challenge to get Colvin's body out of Syria through territory controlled by the government. A Polish diplomat received her remains from the Syrian Red Crescent, flying them home to New York via Paris.

After the funeral, Sunday Times editor John Witherow said the effort included contacts with Russia, considered Syria's strongest ally.

Now, "she'll be inspirational to journalists all over the world because she was always there to help people," said Witherow, adding that he's received sympathy messages written by oppressed people worldwide whose stories Colvin had told, from the Tamils to residents of Kosovo.

To do that, she took huge risks as a journalist.

"She was extraordinarily brave, because she thought she could make a difference," Witherow said. "She said, `They did terrible things, and I must tell the world.'"

During the service, hundreds of mourners in the church sang the hymn "Be Not Afraid."

While many praised her daring and empathy, her best friend from Yale University shared another side of the war reporter - the "pandemonium" and "mirth," as Katrina Heron called the lighter moments of Colvin's visits to the United States. Speeding along a Long Island highway, she ran out of gas because she mistook the temperature gauge for the fuel gauge, said Heron, who called Colvin "full of passion, full of belief" - and fun.

When the correspondent was back in Iraq several years ago, she emailed her friend, "I'm in Baghdad. You'd love it here. It's just like New York, except without cars, restaurants, shops, telephones, electricity or taxis."

And wherever she went, she carried her reporter's notebooks - and her pearl necklace, Heron said.

As the funeral ended, Colvin's mother, Rosemarie Colvin, stood in front of her daughter's casket with tear-filled eyes. She reached out to touch it with her right hand before putting a hand-held cross and a white rose atop the casket.

Colvin is survived by two brothers, two sisters and her mother.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Tue 13 Mar - 14:39


Tuesday 13 March 2012


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Telegraph.co.uk






















Syria 'laying landmines along border'

Syrian troops have planted landmines along routes used by people fleeing the country's violence and trying to reach neighbouring Turkey, an international human rights group has said.







Children who fled Idlib in Syria outside the refugees camp near the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern city of Yayladagi Photo: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra








9:24AM GMT 13 Mar 2012





The New York-based Human Rights Watch says the mines were planted in the past few weeks.


HRW says its report, released on Tuesday, is based on accounts from witnesses and also Syrian de-miners. It cites witnesses as saying the landmines have already caused civilian casualties.


A Syrian official and witnesses told The Associated Press in November that Syria planted landmines along parts of its border with Lebanon. The official at the time said the mines aim to prevent arms smuggling.


Thousands of Syrians have fled to Turkey and Lebanon since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began a year ago.


Meanwhile, a rebel attack before dawn on Tuesday on a military checkpoint in the northwestern town of Maaret al-Numan killed at least 10 Syrian soldiers, monitors said.



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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a group of army deserters had carried out the attack in Maaret al-Numan, located in Syria's Idlib province.

The army has since March 9 carried out an offensive in the mountainous region near the Turkish border, in a bid to seize control of the city of Idlib and other towns of the province where rebels are based.

Dozens of people have been killed since last week in on-off army shelling of the city, which is now partly controlled by the regime, and in violence across the province.

On Monday, the army bombed the Dbeit and Ath-Thawra districts of Idlib, blasting several buildings, an anti-regime activist at the scene, Yasser, told AFP.

A top UN official said on Monday that more than 8,000 people have died in the Syrian government's crackdown on protests.

Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, the president of the UN General Assembly, also said that the 193-member assembly was ready to act on Syria if the UN Security Council remains deadlocked on taking action on the crisis.

"The conditions in Syria are appalling," Nasser said in a speech to the European parliament in Strasbourg.

"Over 8,000 people have been killed so far, including many women and children. Violations of human rights are widespread and systematic," the Qatari official added in the speech, whose text was released by his New York office.

The UN leadership had so far indicated that well over 7,500 people have been killed in Syria in the past year. Rights monitors say there have been more than 8,500 fatalities.

Russia and China have twice used their power as permanent members of the UN Security Council to veto council resolutions on Syria. Because of the divide, Arab nations had a resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad passed at the UN General Assembly in February.

"Should the Security Council remain deadlocked, I can assure you that the General Assembly stands ready to take further action," said Nasser, who will be the assembly president until September.























































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