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Syria warns West against intervention

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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sun 20 Nov - 4:42







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Bashar Assad Vows To Fight And Die For Syria









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3:54am UK, Sunday November 20, 2011



Gamal Fahnbulleh, Sky News reporter






Syria's President Bashar Assad has vowed to defend and die in his country if necessary, as anti-government protests continue.


Speaking to the Sunday Times in his first Western media interview
since the uprising began, Mr Assad promised to crackdown on all
opponents despite alienation from the international community.


He told the newspaper of a promise to personally fight and die to resist foreign forces.


"You have to ask who killed 800 officers, soldiers and policemen on
the streets, so we are not talking about peaceful demonstrators, we are
talking about militants," President Assad said.


His comments come as at least 14 people died in clashes between
government troops and protesters. But President Assad remains defiant.


The interview comes just days before Foreign Secretary William Hague is due to meet with Syrian rebel leaders in London.


"Whenever you have militants you have killings so the role of the
government is to fight the militants in order to restore stability and
to protect the civilians," Mr Assad said.


"Not by leaving them to do what they want to do. This is our job and that's what we are doing."


Mr Assad has also accused the 22-member Arab League, which suspended
Syria last week, of meddling in his country's affairs and creating a
pretext for western intervention into Syria.


But he also accepts mistakes have been made but by individuals and
not the state, and is adamant external forces are to blame for Syria's
problems.










The Syrian regime is fighting to maintain control over many ethnic groups





"We have to prevent militants from killing civilians and doing
massacres in different places around Syria. We have to stop smuggling of
armaments from outside Syria through the border of neighbouring
countries," he said.


"We have to stop the money coming in to support the militants - again across the borders. That's what we have to do."


Mr Assad was speaking after the Free Syrian Army, which includes
defectors from his own military, attacked an air force base in Damascus
and killed 34 soldiers in an ambush in the south of the country.


As evidence mounts that Syria is sliding into full scale civil war,
President Assad continued to defend his actions of trying to unify the
country.


"I'm here to server the country, my country is not here to serve me.
It's not about me it's about Syria. The problem is not about the
President it's about the stability of Syria and how we can keep Syria
unified," he said.


If the President is a factor in unifying the country he has to stay.
If he's a factor of dividing the country he has to leave. This is the
principle."


Mr Assad came to power at the age of 34 after his father's death in 2000.

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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sun 20 Nov - 17:19

November 2011 Last updated at 15:20
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Arab League rejects Syrian demand to change peace
plan


Sunday saw a new large rally in
Damascus in support of President Assad
Continue
reading the main story

Syria
Crisis






The Arab League has rejected a demand
by Syria to alter its plan for ending the country's conflict, which has
reportedly left at least 3,500 dead.

It dismissed Syria's demand to amend its proposal for a 500-strong observer
mission to be sent to the country.

The Arab League's deadline for Syria to end its crackdown passed overnight
with no sign of violence abating.

President Bashar al-Assad has said his country will not bow to "pressure" and
predicted the conflict would continue.

Speaking to the UK's Sunday Times, he said the unity and stability of Syria
were at stake.
Continue reading the main story
Analysis


Jim Muir BBC News





Despite accusing the Arab League of bias and of acting as a stalking horse
for the Western powers, the Syrian foreign minister did not close the door on
the Arab initiative.

He said Damascus would reply with a list of queries before deciding whether
to sign a protocol allowing the pan-Arab body to deploy observers in the
country.

In its statement a few hours earlier, the league ruled out proposed Syrian
changes, which it said would radically alter the nature of the mission. But it
reiterated its own commitment to resolving the Syrian crisis within an Arab
framework. So in theory a last-minute deal cannot be ruled out.

But time is running short. The League announced that an emergency meeting of
Arab foreign ministers would be held in Cairo on Thursday to follow up on Syria.


If Damascus cannot find a way of complying seriously with the Arab initiative
by then, it could face tougher sanctions from the League - and renewed pressure
for hostile moves at the UN Security Council.


The Arab League plan, seen by the world as the best hope
for resolving the conflict peacefully, seems to have crashed in flames, the
BBC's Jim Muir reports.

On Sunday, there were reports of a grenade attack on a building of the ruling
party in the capital Damascus.

If confirmed, it would be the first such attack reported inside the capital
since the uprising began in March. It was claimed by the Free Syrian Army, a
group of military defectors.

At least 27 people were killed on Saturday, according to opposition
activists, including four government intelligence agents whose car was ambushed
in Hama by gunmen believed to be army defectors.

Foreign journalists are unable to move around Syria freely, making it
difficult to verify reports.

League 'tool'

The Arab League's plan has been the focus of efforts to find a diplomatic
solution and comes as key international players such as Russia and the US warned
of the danger of civil war in Syria.

In a statement on Sunday, the Arab League said: "It was agreed that the
amendments and appendices proposed by the Syrian side affect the core of the
document and would radically change the nature of the mission which is to
oversee the implementation of the Arab plan to end the crisis in Syria and
protect Syrian civilians."



Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem: "We behaved in a
positive manner"


Reacting to the statement, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem
reiterated that Damascus has accepted the Arab League plan - with what he stated
were minor amendments designed to safeguard Syrian sovereignty.

Speaking to reporters in Damascus, Mr Muallem said "slow and steady"
discussions were needed and warned against "haste and overreaction".

He also criticised the league, saying "parts of the Arab world" were using
the organisation as a "tool" to involve UN Security Council in the crisis.

A Western-backed draft resolution condemning Syria's crackdown has been
vetoed in the Security Council by China and Russia.

Tensions between the Arab League and Syria have increased as violence has
escalated in the country.
Continue reading the main story
Arab League proposals




  • End to violence and killing
  • Allow foreign journalists to work freely
  • Release prisoners recently detained
  • Withdraw all military equipment from Syrian cities
  • Government-opposition dialogue within two weeks



Last weekend the league suspended Syria's membership
after it failed to honour the terms of its peace plan.

Syria said it had agreed to the plan in principle, but was seeking
amendments. Reports said it wanted to reduce the number of observers from 500 to
40. Critics accused Damascus of stalling for time.

Mr Assad told the Sunday Times: "The conflict will continue and the pressure
to subjugate Syria will continue."

"However, I assure you that Syria will not bow down and that it will continue
to resist the pressure being imposed on it."

Mr Assad appeared to dismiss the Arab League plan, the BBC's Jim Muir reports
from Beirut.

The Syrian president said it was designed to show that the Arabs were
divided, and to prepare the way for outside military intervention which, he
repeated, would have dire consequences for the whole region.

Mr Assad's supporters took to the streets of Damascus again on Sunday,
carrying a giant portrait of Mr Assad.

Arab League foreign ministers are to meet again on Thursday to discuss
Syria.

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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sat 3 Dec - 8:54

Activist: Blood can run, but Syrian people won't back down



By Ashley Fantz, CNN
December 3, 2011 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)






A Syrian boy holds a photo illustrating violence by security forces against children during a July protest in Sarajevo, Bosnia.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • Syrian protester's father was political prisoner when she was a girl
  • She was arrested during uprising, detained in same jail where he was held
  • Catherine al-Talli: Bloodshed won't deter protesters demanding regime's end
  • UN: Death toll has exceeded 4,000, including hundreds of children





(CNN) -- When Catherine al-Talli was 13 years old, a group of strangers came knocking at her family's home in Syria. It was 1992.

Her mother let them in, and feverishly they explained that earlier
that day they saw Syrian security forces surround al-Talli's father, a
democracy activist, at a bus station.

"They told us that 10 of them, the forces, had their guns out and
they were all around my father. They kidnapped him and pushed him into a
car," she recalled. Though they were just children, she and her
siblings knew exactly what had happened.

They knew their father risked his life as an activist who opposed the
Syrian regime. He was paying for that, and now too would their family.

It's hard for al-Talli to talk about her father. Shortly after the
regime changed hands in 2000 from father to son, he was released from
prison. But al-Talli's father had been tortured, forever scarred and
changed.

"This is difficult to talk about," said al-Talli who became a human
rights attorney and activist, inspired by her father's work. "It's
really hard to find your dad kidnapped because of his doing good."

Until a few months ago, father and daughter were living in Syria. But
their activism had made them both targets, and they're now temporarily
living in the United States. They watch the horror of their country on
the nightly news.

On Thursday, the United Nations announced
that the number of people killed since protests began this year against
the regime of Bashar al-Assad had surpassed 4,000. More than 300
children have lost their lives, and the U.N. reports that children have
been specifically targeted, and some tortured to death.

According to a September U.N. report, the human suffering behind those numbers looks like this:




Pro-Assad Damascus demo after sanctions





Syria's cyber warfare





Syria's 'graphic' video misleading





Losing stability in the Middle East?


Security forces opening fire on a funeral procession in Dar'aa, a
city near the border with Jordan; security force snipers on rooftops
picking off demonstrators in Damascus; the bodies of those missing,
including children, being returned to their families with their bodies
torn apart by torture.

Water tanks, food supplies, electricity -- everything needed to
survive has been targeted by Syrian army and security forces, according
to the report.

Thousands of people have been arrested. More than 14,000 are reported
to be in detention as a result of al-Assad's crackdown on the
opposition, Pillay said, and at least 12,400 people have fled their
homes to neighboring countries.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay cited a report
released Monday by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry
which concluded that security and military forces "committed crimes
against humanity" against civilians. Syria officially denied access to
commission investigators but they still managed to interview 223 victims
and witnesses, including military and security forces who had defected.

Foreign journalists have been blocked from entering Syria. Al-Assad told a British paper that Syria "will not bow down" and that any potential foreign military action against his country would lead to "very dire" consequences.

But the bloodshed and the blocking of journalists and rights workers will not discourage protesters, al-Talli said.

"The Syrian people have known what the price of freedom would be," she said. "They knew it would be very high.

"We know that the rest of the world understands that. They believe that the international community will not let the al-Assad regime commit more crimes."

Al-Talli has participated in demonstrations against al-Assad,
including the March 16 rally in Marjeh Square in Damascus when 150
protesters held pictures of their imprisoned relatives. While
demonstrating in mid-May, she was detained by security forces who took
her cell phone and her professional attorney identification, she told
CNN.com.

"I don't them, 'You cannot arrest me without [reason], I'm a lawyer.' They didn't listen."

Al-Talli said she was held in a cell in Damascus for 48 hours in the
same government building where he father had spent time behind bars. She
believes that because she was a well-known activist and attorney, her
case was pushed to a judge and she was released within a week.

From May to September, al-Talli went into hiding, sleeping in different places constantly. She felt that the government was constantly watching her
and monitoring her cell phone conversations, a tactic that the al-Assad
regime is reportedly using to track and thwart opposition strategy.

She chose to leave Syria in September and relocated in the United
States. She continues to talk with her friends in Syria, all of varying
religious and tribal backgrounds.

She insisted that it's a falsehood spread by al-Assad's regime that the fighting in Syria is between tribes and religions.

"I have stood next to people of all religions," she said. "I am
Christian. I have stood beside Muslims, Christians, Alawis, Druze and
Sunnis. This is not about our differences."

Andrew Tabler,
an American journalist, scholar and Syria expert, has lived in the
country and experienced firsthand the growth of discontent against
al-Assad, who become president in 2000 when his father, Hafez al-Assad,
died after ruling for 29 years.

Tabler's new book, "In the Lion's Den," is an in-depth look at the Assads, as well as a deep-dive analysis of Washington's long fraught relationship with Syria.

Bashar al-Assad and his British wife, Asma al-Assad, were perceived
for years as reformers, by and large. They touted social-service
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and spoke about reliance on civil
society. The NGOs were efforts to stem what the regime understood as a
huge threat -- frustration and restlessness among Syria's young
population and the lack of jobs and opportunities in the country, Tabler
said.

"Determination has been growing for some time. Now, did we expect
[the protesting] to go on this long? No. I don't think anyone did," he
said.

Tabler said he believes sanctions imposed recently on Syria will
weaken the Assad regime. The European Union stepped up sanctions against
the nation's oil industry by blacklisting state-owned firms that
oversee exploration and trade.

The U.S. Treasury on Thursday sanctioned two government-controlled
entities and two high-ranking Syrians, including Mohammad Makhlouf,
al-Assad's uncle and father of long-serving financial adviser Rami
Makhlouf. Rami Makhlouf is already under U.S. sanctions. Another was Aus
Aslan, a Syrian general. Turkey has also imposed sanctions against
regime insiders.

"In terms of Syria running out of money, they'll have an impact,"
Tabler said. "These are comprehensive [sanctions] and they will have a
tremendous impact. Will the regime be over tomorrow? Not at all. That's
going to take some work and time. But the death toll for November is the
highest it has been so far so that means it's getting worse, not
better."

During her exile, al-Talli has met with British Foreign Secretary
William Hague and Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt to stress that
the protests will continue until al-Assad's regime ends. In October she
joined the Syrian National Council, an opposition coalition created
during the 2011 uprising. The Council was formed in Istanbul last month
and encompasses representatives of local committees inside Syria and
exiled personalities, as well as Islamist and secular representatives.

Al-Talli wants to continue speaking out. One day she'll return to Syria.

"We called our revolution the Syrian Dignity Revolution," she said.
"We decided as Syrian people to go into the street and get our human
dignity back. We will not go back to our homes without it."

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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Sun 4 Dec - 2:11

Sanctions For Syria As Violence Continues









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Footage of what is claimed to be a Syrian tank on fire was placed online





1:17am UK, Sunday December 04, 2011





The Arab League has confirmed it will be implementing
sanctions on Syria following continued violence against anti-government
protesters.



The measures include a travel ban and the freezing of assets for 19
of the country's senior officials and associates of President Bashar
Assad.


There will also be a ban on the supply of weapons to Syria.


Syria's membership of the Arab League was suspended by the group last month.


Qatar's foreign minister says Damascus must sign an agreement today
to end the violence and allow monitors into the country to ensure a
guarantee is met.


The Arab League is following the European Union and the United States in announcing sanctions against Syria.


It comes as Syrian opposition groups claimed at least 25 people were killed in clashes between army defectors and regime forces.


Amateur video appeared to show government tanks on fire following an attack by the Free Syrian Army in the city of Homs.










The violence in Syria is thought to have claimed more than 4,500 lives





The number of people killed in the uprising is close to 4,600 according to activists.


Syrian authorities say they are fighting foreign-backed terrorist groups, intent on causing a civil war.


That message was reinforced by the state news agency SANA which said
security forces were involved in clashes with "terrorists" and had
caught several people suspected of smuggling weapons and armed men into
the country from Lebanon.

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Assad denies ordering deadly crackdown

Post  Panda on Wed 7 Dec - 17:18

Syria's Assad denies ordering deadly crackdown



By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY
Associated Press













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BEIRUT (AP) -- Syria's president denied he ordered the deadly
crackdown on a nearly 9-month-old uprising in his country, claiming he
is not in charge of the troops behind the assault.
Speaking
to ABC's Barbara Walters in a rare interview that aired Wednesday,
President Bashar Assad maintained he did not give any commands "to kill
or be brutal."
"They're not my forces," Assad
responded when asked if Syrian troops had cracked down too hard on
protesters. "They are military forces (who) belong to the government. I
don't own them. I'm president. I don't own the country."
He said some Syrian troops may have behaved badly, but they faced punishment.
In his role as president, Assad is the commander of Syria's armed forces.
The
U.N. estimates more than 4,000 people have been killed in Syria since
the uprising began in March, many of them civilians and unarmed
protesters demanding Assad's ouster.
"Who said
the United Nations is a credible institution?" Assad said, when Walters
asked him about allegations of widespread violence and torture.
"We
don't kill our people," said Assad, a 46-year-old, British-trained eye
doctor. "No government in the world (kills) its people unless it is led
by a crazy person."
Since the uprising began
nearly nine months ago, Assad and his closest advisers have sealed off
the country to outsiders while clinging to the allegation that foreign
extremists are behind the uprising, not true reform-seekers aiming to
open the authoritarian political system.
But
the United Nations and others dismiss the government's claims, and blame
the regime for widespread killings, rape and torture. Witnesses and
activists inside Syria describe brutal repression, with government
forces firing on unarmed protesters and terrifying, house-to-house raids
in which families are dragged from their homes in the night.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Assad was trying to shirk responsibility.
"I
find it ludicrous that he is attempting to hide behind some sort of
shell game but also some sort of claim that he doesn't exercise
authority in his own country," Toner said.
Murhaf
Jouejati, a Syria expert at George Washington University, said Assad's
stonewalling is part of a long tradition for dictators who refuse to
accept responsibility.
He pointed to Assad's
uncle, Rifaat, believed to be a driving force behind the 1982 massacre
of thousands in the city of Hama, one of the darkest moments in the
modern Middle East.
"Bashar Assad said he is
not responsible, and we heard his uncle Rifaat Assad say he was not
responsible for Hama. So after 41 years the Assad family is not
responsible for anything," Jouejati said. "If he is not responsible then
we don't know what he is doing in the presidency."
In
the early days of the uprising, Assad offered some promises of reform -
but at the same time he unleashed the military to crush the protests
with tanks and snipers.
The relentless
bloodshed has pushed many once-peaceful protesters to take up arms. Army
dissidents who sided with the protests have also grown bolder, fighting
back against regime forces and even attacking military bases and
raising fears of a civil war.
Still, Assad
insisted he still had the support of Syrians, and said he was not afraid
of meeting the fate of other leaders deposed during the Arab Spring.
"The only thing that you could be afraid of as president (is) to lose the support of your people," he said.
"If
you don't have the support of the people you cannot be in this
position," he said. "Syria is not easy ... it is a very difficult
country to govern if you don't have the public support."
Assad laughed slightly when asked if he felt guilty about the bloodshed.
"I
did my best to protect the people," he said. "You cannot feel guilty
when you do your best ... you do not feel guilty when you don't kill
people. You feel sorry for the lives that have been lost but you don't
feel guilty."
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Syrian protests triggeer new deadly clashes.

Post  Panda on Fri 9 Dec - 17:31

9 December 2011
Last updated at 16:25











Syrian protests trigger new deadly clashes











Activists posted videos of protests across Syria, including in Dail, near Deraa


Continue reading the main story













Syria Crisis
















At least 14 people have been killed in renewed anti-government protests across Syria, activists says.

Nine of those killed were in the flashpoint city of Homs and
two in Deraa, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Another activist group, the Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC), put the death toll at more than 30.

The UN estimates more than 4,000 people have died in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad since March.

A number of pro-government demonstrations have also been reported across the country, including in the capital Damascus.

Demonstrators regularly take to the streets following Friday prayers.

The Syrian observatory said nine civilians were killed in or
around Homs, two in Deraa and one each in Idlib, Hama and Douma near
Damascus.

It said two of those killed in Homs were boys, aged 10 and twelve. Homs has emerged as the epicentre of the uprising.

The LCC said 18 had died in Homs, five in Idlib, four in Hama, two in Deraa and three in the suburbs of Damascus.

Activists in Deraa said telephone and internet lines had been cut.




Supporters of Syrian President Assad have also taken to the streets


Syria severely restricts access to foreign media so reports of unrest cannot be verified.

Pipeline attacked
The violence comes a day after a major oil pipeline serving the Homs region was blown up.

Activists accused Mr Assad's government of deliberately
destroying the pipeline, while state-run media blamed "an armed
terrorist group".

Opposition groups accuse the government of stoking up fears of religious extremism and terrorism to rally support
behind Mr Assad.

In a rare interview on Wednesday, Mr Assad told ABC News he
had never ordered the brutal suppression of anti-government protesters.

However, he faces growing international pressure to curb the
bloodshed, with Turkey, the Arab League and the EU imposing sanctions on
Syria.

The Arab League is pressing for Syria to allow in foreign observers or face more sanctions.











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Massacre feared brewing in Syrian city

Post  Panda on Sat 10 Dec - 7:13

Massacre' feared brewing in Syrian city



By Joe Sterling, CNN
December 10, 2011 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)






Pro-regime supporters hold up flag showing President al-Assad at a rally
in Damascus, while opposition leaders warn of a brutal crackdown by the
military.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • The Syrian National Council warns a government operation appears imminent in Homs
  • At least 46 people died in Syria on Friday, 17 of them in Homs, activists say
  • The council says the regime is working to stoke sectarian strife
  • The United States and Britain express concern about Homs





(CNN) -- Syria's leading opposition movement warned
Friday of an impending government "massacre" designed to crush activists
in the city of Homs, which has emerged as a center of anti-regime
unrest.

The Syrian National Council said military troops and vehicles had
surrounded the western city and thousands of troops were manning more
than 60 checkpoints just inside the city.

"These are all signs of a security crackdown operation that may reach
the level of a total invasion of the city," the council said in a news
release. It said that a "massive number of casualties" could occur.

"Evidence received from reports, videos and information obtained by
activists on the ground in Homs indicate that the regime is paving the
way to commit a massacre in order to extinguish the revolution in Homs
and to discipline, by example, other Syrian cities that have joined the
revolution," the council said.

At least 17 people were killed Friday in Homs and at least 29 were
killed elsewhere across Syria, according to the Local Coordination
Committees of Syria, an opposition group. It said women, children and
dissident soldiers were among the dead.




Syrian exile: Bashar al-Assad in denial





Violence continues to engulf Syria





Activist: Video refutes Assad





Syria's Assad denies death orders


The United Nations said last week that more than 4,000 people have
died in Syria since a government crackdown against protesters erupted in
mid-March. The regime's actions have outraged world powers and sparked
sanctions by the Arab League, Turkey, the United States and the European
Union.

The council said the Bashar al-Assad regime is "driving violent
sectarian incidents to justify this potential murder." More than 30
corpses -- all thought to be victims of sectarian violence -- were found
Monday in Homs.

The city of Homs is in a province of the same name. The Local
Coordination Committees of Syria says it is the "amalgamation of the
national Syria identity combined: urban, country, and Bedouin."

It says "Muslims in Homs are Sunni, Alawite, Ismaelis and Druze.
Christian in Homs are Orthodox and Catholic." The city also includes
Kurds, Armenians and Turkmens, the LCC says.

Sunnis make up the majority of the country and Alawites hold sway in the military and government.

"The regime has tried hard to ignite the sectarian conflict using
many dirty methods, which have included bombing and burning mosques,
torturing and killing young men, and kidnapping women and children," the
Syrian National Council said in its news release. "The regime also took
a significant step today ... in burning oil pipelines in the
neighborhood of Baba Amr to blame what the regime calls 'armed gangs' in
an attempt to crush the peaceful uprising on the pretext of a war on
terrorism." A strike on a pipeline was reported on Thursday.

The council likens what the regime may be planning to the 1982
government assault on the city of Hama, an operation that left thousands
dead. Syria was led at the time by then-president Hafez al-Assad,
Bashar's father.

"We hold accountable the regime, and behind it the Arab League and
the international community, (for) what could happen to innocent
civilians in the next few hours or days, and the implications for the
region as a whole in the near future," the council said.

The LCC says Homs has been suffering "from a suffocating siege and
heavy, continuous security campaigns that are resulting with tens of
casualties and wounded every day. This is why it deserves to be declared
as a crisis zone."

The LCC said the regime is trying to foment sectarian feuds. It said
the anti-government Free Syrian Army, made up of army defectors, has
been standing up to the regime's army and pro-regime shabiha, whom they
call "thugs."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed concern about developments Friday.

"It is extremely concerning that in places like Homs we have a huge
number of reports that they are preparing something large scale," she
told reporters. "It's a perfect example for them to prove that they are
not the propagators of this violence. And obviously they've chosen not
to do so. And they are not going to be able to hide who's responsible if
there is a major assault on the weekend."

She added that U.S. officials hold al-Assad responsible for the
violence. "We think he needs to go; that that is how peace is going to
come to Syria."

British minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said his
government "is deeply concerned by reports of a build-up of Syrian
security forces and armored vehicles in the besieged city of Homs," also
the "scene of disturbing crackdowns in recent months."

Human Rights Watch last month issued a report detailing "the
systematic nature of abuses against civilians in Homs by Syrian
government forces."

The International Crisis Group issued a report on Syria in July,
saying "Homs had become a miniature Syria, a microcosm of its numerous
problems."

"Its economic dynamism benefited only a narrow circle of people," the
report said. The swelling number of migrants who lived on the city's
outskirts suffered from declining services and living standards, it
said. The security services, predominantly controlled by and staffed
with Alawites, earned a particularly bad reputation.

"If the picture appeared reasonably positive to one who visited the
center of the city, for most of its underprivileged residents it was
appalling," the report said.
---------------------

Assad says this is nothing to do with him, he knows nothing about these massacres of innocent people.!!!!

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Syria "suicide Bomb attacks" kills dozens

Post  Panda on Fri 23 Dec - 17:34

Syria: 'Suicide Bomb Attacks' Kill Dozens




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4:52pm UK, Friday December 23, 2011


At least 40 people have been killed and 150 injured after two car bombs
ripped through security bases in Damascus, Syrian authorities have said.



The explosions happened in the Kfar Sousa district of the capital, close to a
complex housing security and intelligence services.

State television said several soldiers and many civilians had been killed. It
showed pictures of a huge crater at one of the sites and pools of blood on
surrounding pavements.


A damaged car is seen at the site of a car bomb attack in
Damascus



Members of an Arab League delegation, who are in the country to begin the
implementation of a peace plan
following months of deadly
violence, were later taken to the scene of the explosions.

"We said it from the beginning, this is terrorism. They are killing the army
and civilians," deputy foreign minister Faysal Mekdad told reporters outside the
headquarters of the General Intelligence Agency, where bodies still littered the
ground.

Syrian officials said the attacks were suicide
bombs, the work of al Qaeda-linked militants - a claim dismissed by groups
opposed to President Bashar al Assad'sregime.

The government has previously said anti-government protests, which began in
March, were the work of terrorists rather than a popular uprising.

The country's deputy foreign minister, Faysal Mekdad, told reporters: "We
said it from the beginning, this is terrorism. They are killing the army and
civilians."

A government spokesman added that Lebanon had warned Damascus two days ago of
an infiltration by al Qaeda into Syria.

But Omar Idilbi, a member of the Turkey-based opposition group, the Syrian
National Council, expressed doubt about the regime's explanation of the
attacks.

"The presence of the Arab League advance team of observers pushed the regime
to give this story in order to scare the committee from moving around Syria," he
said.

"(This is) an attempt to make the Arab League and international public
opinion believe that Syria is being subjected to acts of terrorism by members of
al Qaeda."


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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Badboy on Fri 23 Dec - 17:47

on TUESDAY THERE WAS A BIG DEFECTION OF SOLDIERS IN IDLIB,THERE WAS A LOT OF KILLING.

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Mass protests in Syrian City monitors arrive

Post  Panda on Wed 28 Dec - 6:08

Dec 27, 9:13 PM
EST


Mass protests in Syrian city as
monitors arrive

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Associated Press









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AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo reports
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BEIRUT (AP) -- Tens of thousands of defiant Syrian
protesters thronged the streets of Homs Tuesday, calling for the execution of
President Bashar Assad shortly after his army pulled its tanks back and allowed
Arab League monitors in for the first time to the city at the heart of the
anti-government uprising.

The pullback was the first sign the regime was complying
with the League's plan to end the 9-month-old crackdown on mostly unarmed and
peaceful protesters.

Yet amateur video released by activists showed forces firing
on protesters even while the monitors were inside the city. One of the observers
walked with an elderly man who pointed with his cane to a fresh pool of blood on
the street that he said had been shed by his son, killed a day earlier.

The man, wearing a red-and-white checkered headdress, then
called for the monitor to walk ahead to "see the blood of my second son" also
killed in the onslaught.

"Where is justice? Where are the Arabs?" the old man shouted
in pain.

Syrian tanks had been heavily shelling Homs for days,
residents and activists said, killing dozens even after Assad signed on early
last week to the Arab League plan, which demands the government remove its
security forces and heavy weapons from city streets, start talks with opposition
leaders and allow human rights workers and journalists into the country.

But a few hours before the arrival of the monitors, who
began work Tuesday to ensure Syria complies with the League's plan, the army
stopped the bombardment and pulled some of its tanks back.

The British-based activist group Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights confirmed that government forces fired on protesters while the
monitors were inside Homs and said at two people were killed from the fire.

About 60 monitors arrived in Syria Monday night - the first
foreign observers Syria has allowed in since March, when the uprising against
Assad's authoritarian rule began. The League said a team of 12 visited Homs.

After agreeing to the League's pullback plan on Dec. 19, the
regime intensified its crackdown on dissent; government troops killed hundreds
in the past week and Syria was condemned internationally for flouting the spirit
of the agreement.

On Monday alone, security forces killed at least 42 people,
most of them in Homs. Activists said security forces killed at least 16 people
Tuesday, including six in Homs.

One group put Tuesday's toll at 30, including 13 in Homs
province. Different groups often give varying tolls. With foreign journalists
and human rights groups barred from the country, they are virtually impossible
to verify.

Amateur videos show residents of Homs pleading with the
visiting monitors for protection.

"We are unarmed people who are dying," one resident shouts
to one observer. Seconds later, shooting is heard from a distance as someone
else screams: "We are being slaughtered here."

Given the intensified crackdown over the past week, the
opposition has viewed Syria's agreement to the Arab League plan as a farce. Some
even accuse the organization of 22 states of complicity in the killings.
Activists say the regime is trying to buy time and forestall more international
condemnation and sanctions.

"The Syrian government will cooperate symbolically enough in
order not to completely alienate the Arab League," said Bilal Saab, a Middle
East expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California.
"But make no mistake about it, its survival strategy is to keep kicking the can
down the road, until domestic and international circumstances change in its
favor."

Opponents of Assad doubt the Arab League can budge the
autocratic leader at the head of one of the Middle East's most repressive
regimes. Syria's top opposition leader, Burhan Ghalioun, called Sunday for the
League to bring the U.N. Security Council into the effort. The U.N. says more
than 5,000 people have been killed since March in the political violence.

Shortly after the tanks pulled back and stopped shelling,
the videos showed tens of thousands flooding into the streets and marching
defiantly in a funeral. They carried the open casket overhead with the exposed
face of an 80-year-old man with a white beard.

"Listen Bashar: If you fire bullets, grenades or shells at
us, we will not be scared," one person shouted to the crowd through
loudspeakers. Many were waving Syria's independence flag, which predates the
1963 ascendancy of Assad's Baath party to power.

"The people want to execute Bashar," chanted a group as they
walked side-by-side with monitors through one of Homs' streets. "Long live the
Free Syrian Army," they chanted, referring to the force of army defectors
fighting Assad's troops.

The amateur video also showed a man picking up the remains
of a mortar round and showing it to the observers.

In another exchange, a resident tells a monitor: "You should
say what you just told the head of the mission. You said you cannot cross to the
other side of the street because of sniper fire."

The monitor points to the head of the team and says: "He
will make a statement." The resident then repeats his demand, and the monitor,
smoking a cigarette, nods in approval.

The Observatory for Human Rights said as the monitors
visited Homs, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in some neighborhoods to
"reveal the crimes committed by the regime."

Later, the Observatory said some 70,000 protesters tried to
enter the tightly secured Clock Square but were pushed back by security forces
that fired tear gas and later live bullets, killing at least two, to prevent
them from reaching the city's largest square. The Local Coordination Committees,
another activist group, said security forces were shooting at protesters trying
to reach the central square.

Homs, Syria's third-largest city, has a population of
800,000 and is at the epicenter of the revolt against Assad. It is about 100
miles (160 kilometers) north of the capital, Damascus. Many Syrians refer to it
as the "Capital of the Revolution."

Opposition activist Mohammed Saleh said four days of heavy
bombardment in Homs stopped in the morning on Tuesday and tanks were seen
pulling out. Another Homs activist said he saw armored vehicles leaving early on
a highway leading to the eastern city of Palmyra. He asked that his name not be
made public for fear of retribution.

"Today is calm, unlike previous days," Saleh said. "The
shelling went on for days, but yesterday was terrible."

The Observatory said some army vehicles pulled out of Homs
while other relocated in government compounds "where (they) can deploy again
within five minutes."

A local official in Homs told The Associated Press the team
of monitors, headed by Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, met with
Ghassan Abdul-Aal, the governor of Homs province. After the meeting, the
monitors headed to several tense districts including Baba Amr and Inshaat, sites
of the most intense crackdowns since Friday.

The official later said that most members of the Arab team
headed back to Damascus, while three will spend the night in Homs. The official
refused to give details about where the observers will stay for security
reasons.

In addition to the deaths reported by activist groups
Tuesday, Syrian state-run news agency SANA said two roadside bombs targeted a
bus carrying employees of a state company in Idlib, killing six and wounding
four.

Also Tuesday, a Lebanese-based al-Qaida-linked group,
Abdullah Azzam Brigades, claimed that two suicide attacks against Damascus
security offices that killed at least 66 Friday were the work of the Syrian
regime, and not al-Qaida as Syrian authorities said.

And in Lebanon, security officials said Syrian troops opened
fire at a car that crossed illegally into northern Lebanon, killing three
Lebanese men. Some Syrians have fled to Lebanon to escape the fighting, and
Syria has complained that weapons are smuggled across its borders. It was not
immediately clear if the shooting was related to the uprising in Syria.

---

Associated Press writer Albert Aji contributed to this
report from Damascus, Syria.

---


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Re: Syria warns West against intervention

Post  Panda on Thu 29 Dec - 13:51

Cairo (CNN) -- Syrian security forces opened fire on
protesters in a Damascus suburb Thursday as Arab League monitors
arrived, an opposition activist group said.

More than 20 demonstrators were injured in the Grand Mosque area of
Douma as the observers arrived at the city's municipal building, the
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, another opposition
activist network, said two people in Douma were among 10 killed in Syria
on Thursday. It is not clear how and where those deaths occurred.

The incident comes as Arab League monitors worked in the opposition
epicenter of Homs, arrived in the restive cities of Daraa, Idlib, and
Hama, and visited the Damascus area. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil
el-Araby met in Cairo with Burhan Ghalioun, head of Syrian National
Council opposition movement. They discussed the purpose of the
monitoring mission and its execution, the league said.




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Fact-finders are monitoring an Arab League initiative that calls for
President Bashar al-Assad's security forces to withdraw from cities,
release detainees and end violence.

Many Syrians have been supportive of the mission, but others have derided the effort as pointless.

Opposition activists have criticized the selection of a Sudanese
military commander, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi as the head
of the monitoring group. The activists said he had a key position in the
government as atrocities occurred in Sudan's embattled Darfur region.

Khaled Abo Saleh, an opposition activist who said he met with al-Dabi
and others from the mission in Homs on Wednesday, said Syrians want the
observers "to reveal the truth to the world. To show what is happening
here accurately and completely and to protect civilians."

"The people of Homs and the youth activists have no faith in the Arab
League mission. It is clear now they are just another ploy by the
Syrian regime to buy time. They are ineffective and have no resources to
change the situation.

"But we are doing our part showing them what is happening in Homs,
submitting evidence of killing and arbitrary arrest, and showing them
what is happening," he said.

Saleh said killings have decreased but have not stopped in Syria
since the observers arrived. More than 5,000 people have been killed
since mid-March, the United Nations said. Activist groups count more
than 6,000 deaths.

"Generally we have 25 to 30 killed in Homs every day, now maybe the
death toll is 9 to 10. But the martyrs cannot be counted in numbers they
must be counted in the loss to their family and the devastation to
their people," Saleh said.

"I told al-Dabi that 15 people were killed in a protest the day the
mission arrived in Homs. I showed him the body of a toddler killed by
Syrian security forces. I took him to see the destroyed neighborhoods
and the parts of Homs completely cut off from food, water, and
electricity," Saleh said.

CNN cannot independently verify opposition accounts of violence or
reports of deaths and injuries in Syria. Al-Assad's government has
restricted access by international journalists.

An Arab League official told CNN that 75 monitors were in Syria with
more expected to arrive in coming days. A permanent team will remain in
Homs, which had been under a military siege for days, said the official,
who asked not to be named.

Ibrahim Zafarani, a founding member of the Arab Doctors Association,
pulled out of the Arab League fact-finding mission after being selected
as a monitor, saying he disagreed with the mission's methods.

On Thursday, he added his voice to the growing criticism of al-Dabi,
saying, "All I see now is the head of the mission barely announcing any
information, while dozens have died in the first two days of the
mission."

"I would not have allowed people dying under the umbrella of the
monitors mission and face the guilt on my consciousness or under the
responsibility of our association," he said.

In Syria, the unrest began in March when the government brutally
cracked down on peaceful demonstrators calling for political reforms and
criticizing security force actions. The movement quickly spiraled into a
call for the ouster of al-Assad.


CNN's Joe Sterling, Salma Abdelaziz and journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report

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Foreign monitors energize Syrian protests

Post  Panda on Fri 30 Dec - 2:22

Foreign monitors energize Syrian protests



By ALBERT AJI and ZEINA KARAM
Associated Press













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HOMS, Syria (AP) -- The presence of Arab League monitors in
Syria has re-energized the anti-government protest movement, with tens
of thousands turning out over the past three days in cities and
neighborhoods where the observers are expected to visit. The huge
rallies have been met by lethal gunfire from security forces apparently
worried about multiple mass sit-ins modeled after Cairo's Tahrir Square.
On
Thursday, security forces opened fire on tens of thousands protesting
outside a mosque in a Damascus suburb and killed at least four. The
crowd had gathered at the mosque near to a municipal building where cars
of the monitors had been spotted outside.
Troops
fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse large protests in
several areas of the country, including central Damascus, killing at
least 26 people nationwide, activists said. A key activist network, the
Local Coordination Committees, said it has documented the names of 130
people, including six children, who died since the Arab League monitors
arrived in Syria Monday night.
The ongoing
violence, and new questions about the human rights record of the head of
the Arab League monitors, are reinforcing the opposition's view that
Syria's limited cooperation with the observers is nothing more than a
farce for President Bashar Assad's regime to buy time and forestall more
international condemnation and sanctions.
Still,
the presence of outside monitors has invigorated frustrated protesters
and motivated them to take to the streets again in large numbers after
months of demonstrations met by bullets had dashed their hopes of
peaceful change.
"We know the observers won't
do anything to help us," said Yahya Abdel-Bari, an activist in the
Damascus suburb of Douma. "But still, we want to show them our numbers,
to let them know what is really happening here," he said.
The
60 Arab League monitors, who began work Tuesday, are the first Syria
has allowed in during the nine-month anti-government uprising. They are
supposed to ensure the regime complies with terms of the Arab League
plan to end Assad's crackdown on dissent. The U.N. says more than 5,000
people have died in the uprising since March.
The
plan, which Syria agreed to on Dec. 19, demands that the government
remove its security forces and heavy weapons from cities, start talks
with the opposition and allow human rights workers and journalists into
the country. It also calls for the release of all political prisoners.
As
word spread Thursday morning that the observers would be visiting Douma
- which saw an intense government crackdown in the early days of the
uprising - thousands of people began gathering outside the Grand Mosque,
calling for Assad's downfall and for international protection for
civilians.
Amateur videos posted on the
Internet showed protesters in Douma facing off with Syrian soldiers,
shouting "Freedom, Freedom!" Troops then opened fire to disperse the
protesters, whose numbers had swelled to around 20,000.
"It came like rain, they used heavy machine guns, Kalashnikovs, everything," said Abdel-Bari.
Four people were killed and scores others wounded, said Abdel-Bari and various activist groups.
Rami
Abdul-Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights, said cars belonging to the Arab League monitors were seen in
front of a municipal building close to the mosque around the same time.
But
after the killings, Abdul-Rahman and Abdel-Bari said the monitors were
barred by security officials from entering Douma and the situation
quickly deteriorated. A witness said angry citizens closed off streets
with rocks and garbage containers and thousands of people returned to
the area around the Grand Mosque to stage a sit-in.
Troops
also surrounded a mosque in Damascus' central neighborhood of Midan and
tossed tear gas canisters at hundreds of people calling for the
downfall of the regime.
In the northern Idlib
province, some 150,000 protesters took to the streets - more than on any
other day recently, the Observatory said.
"The
presence of monitors is a source of comfort to the Syrian street and
breaks the barrier of fear for those who were hesitant about
protesting," said Abdul-Rahman.
Although the
violence against protesters has not stopped, he said the death toll
would have probably been double what it is had there been no monitors on
the ground.
Much of the bloodshed of the past
few days appeared to be a desperate attempt by authorities to keep
protesters from gaining ground for multiple mass sit-ins where they can
recreate the model of Cairo's Tahrir Square. The two-week sit-in at
Tahrir brought down longtime authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak in
February and inspired other uprisings across the Arab world.
On
Tuesday, as monitors visited the flashpoint city of Homs in central
Syria, troops shot at thousands of protesters trying to reach the city's
central Clock Square. On Wednesday, the scene was repeated in nearby
Hama, where protesters were shot trying to reach Assi Square and
activists said at least six people were killed.
"This is the regime's biggest fear, to have hundreds of thousands of people gathered in one place," said one Homs resident.
Syria
has allowed the monitors in, released about 800 prisoners and pulled
some of its tanks from the city of Homs. But it has continued to shoot
and kill unarmed protesters and has not lived up to any other terms of
the agreement.
Syria's top opposition leader,
Burhan Ghalioun, told reporters in Cairo after meeting Arab League Chief
Nabil Elaraby that the aim of the mission is not only to observe, but
to make sure that the Syrian government is "stopping the killing and
shooting." He added that the Syrian government is holding more than
100,000 detainees, "some of them held in military barracks and aboard
ships off the Syrian coast." He added: "There is real danger that the
regime might kill them to say there are no prisoners."
State-run
TV said monitors also visited the Damascus suburb of Harasta, the
central city of Hama and the southern province of Daraa, where the
uprising against Assad began in March.
The
Observatory said a total of 26 people have been shot by security forces
and killed on Thursday, most of them in several suburbs of Damascus. The
Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, said 35 people
were killed. The differing death tolls could not be immediately
reconciled as Syria bans most foreign journalists and keeps tight
restrictions on the local media.
The Syrian
government organized a tour to the restive central city of Homs, where
one team of monitors has been working for the last three days.
At
the entrance to the city, which witnessed much of the violence in the
past months, two checkpoints were stopping cars and asking for people's
identity cards. Inside, most shops were closed and streets had few
people and cars as sporadic gunfire rang out. Most main streets were
clean, but side streets were lined with piles of garbage bags.
At
the military hospital, one of the largest in the city, a large number
of civilians and members of the military were receiving treatment. One
of them was a soldier who was shot in the stomach while in a Homs street
Thursday morning. He was undergoing an operation, his mother said.
"My
son did not harm anyone. He is a soldier to protect the country," said
his mother, Zeinab Jaroud, as she stood holding back here tears outside
the operating room.
---
Karam reported from Beirut.
© 2011 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 Fri 30 Dec - 21:10

Large Protests Held in Syria to Prove Discontent to Monitors

By KAREEM FAHIM and HWAIDA SAAD

Published: December 30, 2011






BEIRUT, Lebanon — Despite a continuing government crackdown, tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of several Syrian cities on Friday, as protesters seemed intent on showing visiting Arab League monitors the extent of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.






Activists said that soldiers opened fire on several of the demonstrations, killing or injuring protesters in Hama and the Damascus suburb of Douma. Al Jazeera television showed live footage of what appeared to be tens of thousands of protesters in Homs, where activists said observers were visiting several neighborhoods.
The crowd estimates were provided by activists and appeared to be corroborated not only by the Al Jazeera broadcast, but other footage posted on the Internet. While such large crowds are not unprecedented, the numbers underscored the resilience of the protest movement.
A protester in Dara’a, who reported huge demonstrations, said, “We want to show the Arabs and the world that we are peaceful protesters, not criminals or armed gangs,” he said. “The coming days and weeks will prove our statements, not the regime’s story.”
Although peaceful protests continue in cities across the country, the opposition has been joined in recent months by increasing numbers of armed men — including army defectors — who have attacked government installations and soldiers.
On Friday, the rebel Free Syrian Army, a militia of defectors, said that it had halted its offensive against government targets for the monthlong mission by the Arab League monitors. The leader of the rebel group, Col. Riad al- al-As’aad, told Reuters that the group had halted attacks since the observers arrived last week.
His claim seemed to be contradicted by a video posted on the Internet on Wednesday that showed armed gunmen firing on a government convoy. One of the men in the video held up a sign saying the men belonged to the Free Syrian Army. Activists later said that four soldiers were killed in the attack.
The show of popular strength on Friday came despite mounting misgivings about the much-anticipated observer mission.
On Thursday, a prominent Syrian dissident, Haytham Manna, who has supported the observers, called for the delegation’s leader to be replaced or have his powers reduced. The leader, Lt. Gen. Muhammed al-Dabi of Sudan, has become a lightning rod for complaints about the team. Human rights activists say his credentials — including time as the chief of a military intelligence branch in Sudan that has been accused of atrocities — make him a poor choice for the job.
In a statement, Mr. Manna said he was “surprised” by the choice of Mr. Dabi for the Arab League mission, though he did not refer to him by name. “We know his history and his shallow experience in this area,” Mr. Manna said. “I call for the Secretariat of the Arab League to work quickly to save the observers’ mission.”
The observers are supposed to monitor promises by the government to withdraw its forces from populated areas and release political prisoners.
A surge of violence in recent days has almost completely eclipsed the observers’ work. Activists have complained that government attacks have accelerated and that security forces have tried to mislead the observers by dressing soldiers in police uniforms and using other subterfuges.
“We were almost sure the regime wouldn’t change with the presence of the observers,” said Omar Idlibi, a spokesman for the Local Coordinating Committees, which guide the antigovernment demonstrations. But, he added: “We are cooperating. Closing the door is wrong.”


















    • Sandy Reiburn
    • Brooklyn, NY


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As Americans, dallying in our Republican primary sideshow, we must stop and understand how precious the right to individual liberties and fairness from government is...these Syrians, as the Libyans, as the Egyptians and indeed,even as the Russians... are willing to sacrifice their lives for justice and to rid themselves of corrupt dictatorships.

We need to stop treating the ever entertaining pack of Republican candidates and their enablers, much of the hype seeking press, as though it's a sports event. We must not disparage the Occupy Wall Street heroes who are inconveniencing themselves and at times putting their own safety in harm's way, by changing the subject to their alleged "smells" and long hair. They believe, as do these bloodied demonstrators, that "inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights" must not be suppressed by tyrants, oligarchs and thieves.

Let's look at the games Gaddafi played...at the supposed Peoples' Egyptian Military...at the Arab League monitors-headed by a brutal Sudanese chief in a play-acting scheme which everyone knew would go nowhere. These authoritarian representatives must be our warning of ceding power to those with their own selfish interests....sound familiar?


  • Dec. 30, 2011 at 7:59 p.m.
  • Recommended5




    • RWNorman
    • Silver Spring, MD

















    Well, at least the protestors timed it right. There's no use in protesting if no one is watching. And we haven't been watching at all, which is good.

    The Arab League are exactly the right people to observe the problems and place it upon themselves to become the leadership that hasn't yet been present in the Middle East.

    The question is whether the Arab League desires to gnaw on this serious bone of contention, or whether they are toothless in the power to do so.

    Personally I'm really glad for the Arab Spring, and I'm hoping to see more that brings about a one time event of becoming part of the modern world for all.

    I don't care where you look, within your view will be both of beauty and hideousness, and we are seeing the pendulum move back away of the negative extreme. But only if the people of the Middle East absolutely refuse to bend to coercion, illegal acts, and abuses of what has for twenty years been the code of human rights throughout the modern world

    Look, we fight for resources that are depleted by our fighting for them. Our best resources are the people of the world, but to get everyone on the same playing field we pretty much have to fess up to not always being moral players.

    We have to be moral players if we want sit at the table of humanity.

    And so do the Arabs.

    Roger W. Norman




    • c holland














    assad's situation reminds me of the two guys fighting in a prison yard: neither one can stop fighting, because then the other would kill him, but if they keep fighting, the guards will kill them.




      • RockinRod
      • Washington, DC


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    Was that supposed to be profound? Or simply irrelevant? No mention of their heroism, their lives given in the name of tyranny from a dictator, just a demeaning comparison to "two guys fighting in a prison yard."
    I think the entire Arab Spring has been a wonder, but then I believe in humanity's right to assemble and protest. You sound more like a Republican!






    • Jack
    • Illinois
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    As an American, I cannot fathom the courage and bravery of the Syrian people. I could not wake up in the morning to plan to go protest knowing that I may die that day. As a freedom loving American I wish for the Syrian people all the help in the world, both human and Godly. Please understand that many Americans wish the best possible luck to the people of Syria. May the new year bring to the people of Syria a new beginning.





    • JudyW
    • Cumberland, MD
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    Syria is a huge country and the monitors cannot be everywhere at once. So while they may see peace in one place - it is a shooting war somewhere else where they are not. I am not sure these Observers will turn out to be useful - events in Syria will have to play out on their own and the US and Hillary CLinton need to shut up and not stick their nose in. They already made a mess in Libya - we don't need them to make a mess in Syria


    • Recommended1

    • Dec. 30, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.





      • Ralph H.
      • Cortland


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    We made a mess in Libya?? If getting rid of a brutal dictator in concert with NATO and then leaving without committing troops is making a mess, I can't wait until we make more!!




    • Franklin Schenk
    • Fort Worth, Texas
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    Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. I agree with the other people who responded to your post. It is a very partisan and foolish post.






    • HAIDER ALI
    • NEW YORK
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    Arab League is itself a bunch of crooks and thugs, most of its members are on the payroll of CIA. It was the Arab League which had asked United Nation to intervene in Libya, which culminated in the cold blooded murder of Colonel Qadaffi, his sons and grandsons. And now what the hell Arab League is doing, why its eyes are closed on the massacre of Yemnis and Egyptians. Do not they receive the briefs every morning from The State Department?
    Each of Arab League members should be prosecuted for lying to the people and for the obstruction of justice and receiveing bribes.




    • Lawrence Marsh
    • Kansas City, Missouri
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    I am not convinced that Assad has the complete control of his own government as most commentators assume. Allowing in the Arab League observers, but continuing to attack protesters seems to strong a contradiction to reflect a united government. It seems like the military leaders want to continue the crackdown while Assad and/or others in top government posts was to reconcile with the protesters to some extent but may be blocked by the military high command. There may be an opportunity here to play one side off against the other and split the Syrian leadership.





      • Mike
      • California


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    Your analysis makes sense. Otherwise, why would the army fire on protesters with the Arab League monitors watching? That undercuts the narrative that the Assad regime has been telling the world, that the army is not firing on protesters, only combating armed gangs.

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    Syrian opposition group ...more than 5,800 died in 2011

    Post  Panda on Sun 1 Jan - 9:00

    Syrian opposition group: More than 5,800 died in 2011



    By the CNN Wire Staff
    January 1, 2012 -- Updated 0003 GMT (0803 HKT)






    Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carry his image through Damascus during a demonstration in October 2011.


    STORY HIGHLIGHTS






    (CNN) -- More than 5,800 people, including 395
    children, died in 2011 during the crackdown on protests in Syria,
    according to an opposition activist group.

    The grim tally of "martyrs" from the Local Coordination Committees of
    Syria totaled 5,862, including 287 prisoners it said were tortured to
    death. The LCC said 19 doctors and 146 women were among those killed.

    The first death in 2012 was an individual who died due to the lack of blood plasma platelets at a hospital, the group said.

    The LCC has a network of contacts across Syria.

    President Bashar al-Assad in mid-March began the crackdown on
    anti-government protesters calling for his ouster. The Syrian government
    blames "armed terrorist groups" for violence during the uprising.

    CNN cannot independently verify opposition accounts of violence or
    reports of deaths and injuries in Syria. Al-Assad's government has
    restricted access by international journalists.

    Two major Syrian opposition groups, meanwhile, have forged a deal
    that charts a course for democracy if President al-Assad's regime
    crumbles.

    Representatives of the Syrian National Council and the National
    Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria signed an agreement
    late Friday in Cairo for a transition in a post-Assad era, the NCB said
    on its Facebook page.

    Protesters turned out on Saturday for anti-regime rallies in restive
    cities, including Homs, Idlib, and Hama, activists said. They occurred
    as an Arab League fact-finding mission continued its work to determine
    whether the Syrian government is abiding by a peace agreement to end a
    brutal crackdown on protesters.

    The LCC said at least 13 people died Saturday amid gunfire, a
    bolstered police presence and massive demonstrations. Seven were killed
    in Homs. One each was killed in Hama in the west, Banias and Idlib in
    the northwest, Abu Kamal in the east, Kafar Soseh in Damascus province,
    and Daraa in the south.

    In Douma, outside Damascus, security forces and shabiha, opposition
    activists' term for people they say are pro-government "thugs," attacked
    mourners, raided the town's main square and made many arrests, the LCC
    said.

    Security forces in Aleppo province arrested Moussa Al-Moussa, a
    senior municipal official in the town of Marea. He was charged with
    protesting and inciting others to protest, the group said.

    Several shabiha dressed like the Arab League delegates in Latakia
    Friday, the LCC said. When a 14-year-old boy approached them to tell
    them what is happening in the city, he was "brutally beaten."

    The opposition groups hope to end such violence, the al-Assad
    regime's push against demonstrators and the still well-entrenched
    government's tenacious efforts to maintain its power across the country.

    The NCB is a coalition of 15 functioning parties operating in Syria
    and in exile dominated by pro-democracy liberal, Marxist and Kurdish
    parties. The SNC has broad support, with a strong Sunni Muslim component
    and is backed by the Turkish government. Syria is nearly 75 percent
    Sunni Muslim. Alawites, who dominate in the al-Assad government, number
    at least 10 percent, according to estimates.

    Their efforts to shape Syria's future signals a maturation and a strengthening of the anti-regime forces.

    "This is a key step on a road to building an effective opposition
    that can not only win the support of foreign governments but build a
    unified military machine that's going to be able to take on a major
    power," said Joshua Landis, an associate professor and director of the
    Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

    "What we are watching today is nation building. Major factions within
    the Syrian political community coming together and agreeing on
    strategy."

    A Syrian National Council official said the deal still has to be signed off by its board.

    "This is a political agreement for the transitional phase that ends
    with true democratic process and ultimately with elections," said
    council executive board member Walid Buni. "The preliminary points have
    been agreed upon but it will be presented to the board of the SNC
    tonight or tomorrow for final approval. An SNC committee will then
    present it to the Arab League."

    The NCB says the agreement is final.

    In a statement on its Facebook page, the NCB said the "agreed text
    sets out the political and democratic rules for the transitional period,
    and determines the important parameters for Syria's future which aspire
    to ensure that the homeland and every citizen's rights are treated with
    dignity, and for the foundation of a civil democratic state,"

    The talks between the two groups lasted more than a month. The
    agreement will be "deposited as an official document" with the Arab
    League on Sunday in the presence of league Secretary-General Nabil
    el-Araby, the NCB said.

    Khalaf Dahowd, a senior NCB member based in the United Kingdom, said
    the agreement was signed by the SNC's Burhan Ghalioun and the NCB's
    Haytham Manna in the presence of people from both groups.

    "The reason the SNC has not called it final yet may have to do with internal politics. But the agreement is final," he said.

    Dahowd said the agreement serves to unify ranks and create a post-Assad political framework.

    He said the agreement calls for the refusal of any non-Arab foreign
    intervention, an important issue because some Syrians want international
    intervention to overthrow the al-Assad regime. At present, the Free
    Syrian Army, a rebel force composed of military defectors who've taken
    some actions against regime targets, is on the scene.

    The deal calls for "protection of civilians with all legitimate means
    within international law for human rights" and "honors all soldiers who
    refused to act on orders to kill civilians," Dahowd said.

    The agreement also recognizes the suffering, language and history of
    the country's Kurdish minority and paves the way for a "democratic,
    parliamentary, pluralistic and power-sharing system."

    "It is also a message to friends of the regime, the Russians and the
    Chinese who have been raising fears that once the Syrian regime falls
    there will be a civil war and chaos. So in the agreement we say do not
    have any of these fears. This will also make it easy to gain political
    (international) recognition," Dahowd said.

    Ahmed Hamoudi, general coordinator of a small Egypt-based opposition
    group called the Syrian Revolution Coordination, said there are "certain
    reservations" from some opposition people about the agreement's failure
    to mention putting al-Assad on trial and forbidding military
    intervention "while the Syrians on the ground are calling for a no-fly
    zone."

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based opposition
    activist network, said it supports and encourages "any agreement or
    decision" that would forge unity, promote democracy and end the
    bloodshed and suffering.

    The Arab League, the United States, the European Union and Turkey
    have deplored the al-Assad regime's crackdown and initiated sanctions.
    But Russia and China have stood in the way of a strong U.N. Security
    Council resolution toward the Syrian government.

    Earlier this month, al-Assad agreed to a peace initiative with the
    Arab League that calls for security forces to withdraw from cities,
    release detainees and end violence. Part of the agreement calls for Arab
    League observers to monitor whether the government abides by the
    initiative.


    Journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and CNN's Salma Abdelaziz, Amir Ahmed and Joe Sterling contributed to this report.











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    Advisory group head calls for withdrawal of observers from Syria

    Post  Panda on Mon 2 Jan - 0:21

    Advisory group head calls for withdrawal of observers from Syria



    By the CNN Wire Staff
    January 1, 2012 -- Updated 2024 GMT (0424 HKT)






    A protester in the flahspoint Syrian city of Homs throws a tear gas bomb back to security forces on December 27, 2011.


    STORY HIGHLIGHTS


    • NEW: At least 10 people are killed on Sunday, an activist group says
    • The Arab League says the fact-finding mission is going "according to plan"
    • Observers provide a "cover" for the Syria regime, the head of an advisory group says
    • State media reports that 21 troops killed "by armed terrorist groups" are laid to rest





    (CNN) -- The head of an advisory board to the Arab
    League called Sunday for the withdrawal of observers from Syria,
    claiming the mission has allowed Syrian officials to continue a brutal
    crackdown on protesters.

    "What is happening allows the Syrian regime a cover for the exercise
    of its inhumane practices under the Arab League's watch," Ali Salem
    al-Deqbasi said in a statement, according to Egypt's state-run MENA news
    agency. Al-Deqbasi heads the Arab Parliament, an advisory board to the
    Cairo-based Arab League.

    The statement said abuse and killing of civilians have continued as
    Arab League monitors visit Syria, and requested a meeting of Arab League
    foreign ministers to address the issue.

    An Arab League official said in a statement Sunday that the
    observers' field work was going "according to plan," noting that only
    the organization's official governing council has the authority to stop
    the fact-finding mission.

    Additional observers are scheduled to head to Syria this week to join
    efforts to determine whether the Syrian government is abiding by an
    agreement to end its crackdown on demonstrators, said Adnan al-Khodeir,
    head of the Arab League's operations team in charge of the observers'
    mission.

    As the fact-finding mission continued Sunday, at least 10 people were
    killed in Syria, according to an opposition activist group.

    Three people died in Hama, four were killed in Homs, two were killed
    in the Damascus suburb of Daraya and one was killed in Idlib, the Local
    Coordination Committees of Syria said. The organization said a child was
    among its tally of "martyrs," but did not provide additional
    information.

    Since Arab League monitors entered Syria, the LCC said Sunday that it
    had documented the deaths of 315 people, including 24 children.

    Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Arab News agency said Sunday that the
    bodies of 21 troops "killed in the line of duty by armed terrorist
    groups" were taken from military hospitals to their final resting
    places.

    CNN cannot independently verify accounts of violence or reports of
    deaths and injuries in Syria. President Bashar al-Assad's government has
    restricted access by international journalists.




    Protesters carry on in Syria





    Suffering in Syria





    Videos show monitors talking to Syrians





    Homs in grief after 'eye of truth' dies


    In mid-March, al-Assad began a crackdown on anti-government
    protesters calling for his ouster. The Syrian government has repeatedly
    blamed "armed terrorist groups" for violence during the uprising.

    The LCC, which has a network of contacts across Syria, said that more
    than 5,800 people were killed in 2011 during the crackdown on
    opposition protests.

    A number of amateur videos posted online have surfaced purporting to
    show Arab League observers since the group arrived in Syria last week.
    One video posted Friday purported to show residents of the southwestern
    city of Daraa telling a monitor about a man who they said had been a
    victim of torture. Another video purported to show that same monitor
    saying he had witnessed snipers firing in the city, which has been a
    flashpoint for clashes between anti-government protesters and security
    forces.

    On Sunday, the head of the Arab League monitors' mission said observers had not seen sniper attacks.

    "We are monitoring the alleged presence of snipers on buildings, but
    (there is) no evidence of that yet," said Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa
    al-Dabi.

    Protesters turned out Saturday for anti-regime rallies in restive cities, including Homs, Idlib and Hama, activists said.

    On Friday, two major Syrian opposition groups forged a deal that
    charts a course for democracy if al-Assad's regime crumbles -- a move
    which analysts said signals maturation and strengthening of the
    anti-regime forces.

    After talks that lasted for more than a month, representatives of the
    Syrian National Council and the National Coordination Body for
    Democratic Change in Syria signed an agreement late Friday in Cairo for a
    transition in a post-Assad era, the NCB said on its Facebook page.

    The agreement was scheduled to be filed with the Arab League on Sunday, the NCB said.

    Opposition groups hope to end the al-Assad regime's push against
    demonstrators and its efforts to maintain power across the country.

    The Arab League, the United States, the European Union and Turkey
    have condemned the government crackdown and initiated sanctions. But
    Russia and China have stood in the way of a strong U.N. Security Council
    resolution toward the Syrian government.

    Earlier this month, al-Assad agreed to a peace initiative with the
    Arab League that calls for security forces to withdraw from cities,
    release detainees and end violence. Part of the agreement calls for Arab
    League observers to monitor whether the government abides by the
    initiative.


    CNN's Amir Ahmed and Mohammed Jamjoom and journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report.

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    Arab League to strengthen Syria mission official says.

    Post  Panda on Mon 2 Jan - 13:33

    Arab League to strengthen Syria mission, official says



    From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN
    January 2, 2012 -- Updated 1108 GMT (1908 HKT)






    STORY HIGHLIGHTS


    • The Arab body has no plan to act on a call to pull its observers out of Syria, an official says
    • Monitors went in last month after the U.N. estimated more than 5,000 people have died
    • The advance team is preparing a report on the situation in Syria
    • Bashar al-Assad says his forces are cracking down on armed terrorists





    (CNN) -- Arab League monitors remain in Syria, and
    more are on the way, a top official with the Arab body said, despite a
    call by an Arab League advisor to pull the observers out.

    An advance team of monitors returned to Cairo on Sunday after 10 days
    in the violence-wracked country, but the main body of observers remains
    in Syria, said the official, who asked not to be named discussing
    diplomatic business.

    The team that has returned is preparing a report which should be released soon, said the official, speaking late on Sunday.

    Arab League observers went into Syria in December after the United
    Nations estimated that 5,000 people had been killed since March in an
    uprising against the government.




    Syria: New Year's protests





    Protesters carry on in Syria





    Syria man records his own death





    Suffering in Syria


    President Bashar al-Assad's government says it is cracking down on armed terrorists.

    The head of an advisory board to the Arab League called Sunday for
    the withdrawal of observers from Syria, claiming the mission has allowed
    Syrian officials to continue a brutal crackdown on protesters.

    "What is happening allows the Syrian regime a cover for the exercise
    of its inhumane practices under the Arab League's watch," Ali Salem
    al-Deqbasi said in a statement, according to Egypt's state-run MENA news
    agency.

    Al-Deqbasi heads the Arab Parliament, an advisory board to the Cairo-based Arab League.

    The Arab League has not scheduled a meeting to discuss al-Deqbasi's statement, the Arab League source said.

    As the fact-finding mission continued Sunday, at least 10 people were
    killed in Syria, according to an opposition activist group.

    Three people died in Hama, four were killed in Homs, two were killed
    in the Damascus suburb of Daraya and one was killed in Idlib, the Local
    Coordination Committees of Syria said. The organization said a child was
    among its tally of "martyrs," but did not provide additional
    information.

    Since Arab League monitors entered Syria, the LCC said Sunday that it
    had documented the deaths of 315 people, including 24 children.

    Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Arab News agency said Sunday that the
    bodies of 21 troops "killed in the line of duty by armed terrorist
    groups" were taken from military hospitals to their final resting
    places.

    CNN cannot independently verify accounts of violence or reports of
    deaths and injuries in Syria because al-Assad's government has
    restricted journalists from working freely in the country.

    In mid-March, al-Assad began a crackdown on anti-government
    protesters calling for his ouster. The Syrian government has repeatedly
    blamed "armed terrorist groups" for violence during the uprising.

    The LCC, which has a network of contacts across Syria, said that more
    than 5,800 people were killed in 2011 during the crackdown on
    opposition protests.

    A number of amateur videos posted online have surfaced purporting to
    show Arab League observers since the group arrived in Syria last week.

    One video posted Friday purported to show residents of the
    southwestern city of Daraa telling a monitor about a man who they said
    had been a victim of torture.

    Another video purported to show that same monitor saying he had
    witnessed snipers firing in the city, which has been a flashpoint for
    clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces.

    On Sunday, the head of the Arab League monitors' mission said observers had not seen sniper attacks.

    "We are monitoring the alleged presence of snipers on buildings, but
    (there is) no evidence of that yet," said Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa
    al-Dabi.

    The Arab League, the United States, the European Union and Turkey
    have condemned the government crackdown and initiated sanctions. But
    Russia and China have stood in the way of a strong U.N. Security Council
    resolution toward the Syrian government.

    Last month, al-Assad agreed to a peace initiative with the Arab
    League that calls for security forces to withdraw from cities, release
    detainees and end violence. Part of the agreement calls for Arab League
    observers to monitor whether the government abides by the initiative.


    CNN's Amir Ahmed and Mohammed Jamjoom contributed to this report.

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    Syrian state media says explosion hits pipeline

    Post  Panda on Tue 3 Jan - 9:49

    Jan 3, 4:30 AM EST


    Syrian state media says explosion hits pipeline



    By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY
    Associated Press













    AP Photo/Anonymous











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    BEIRUT (AP) -- An explosion struck a gas pipeline Tuesday in
    central Syria in an attack the government blamed on terrorists, the
    state-run news agency said. There were no casualties.
    The blast happened near the town Rastan in the restive Homs province, SANA reported.
    There
    have been several pipeline attacks since the Syrian uprising began in
    mid-March, but it is not clear who is behind them at a time when
    violence across the country is spiraling out control, unearthing
    long-standing grievances and resentments.
    The government blames saboteurs and terrorists for the blasts.
    But
    the opposition accuses the regime of playing on fears of religious
    extremism and terrorism to rally support behind President Bashar Assad,
    who has portrayed himself as the only force that can stabilize the
    country.
    Syria has banned most foreign
    journalists from the country and prevented independent reporting, making
    it difficult to confirm claims from either side.
    On
    Monday, the head of the Arab League said Syrian security forces are
    still killing anti-government protesters despite the presence of foreign
    monitors in the country.
    But he insisted the
    observer mission has yielded important concessions from the Damascus
    regime, such as the withdrawal of heavy weapons from cities.
    Opposition groups have been deeply critical of the mission, saying it is simply giving Assad cover for his crackdown.
    "The
    Arab League has fallen victim to the regime's typical traps, in which
    observers have no choice but to witness regime-staged events, and move
    about the country only with the full knowledge of the regime," said a
    statement by the Local Coordinating Committees, an umbrella group of
    activists.
    "This has rendered the observers unable to work or move independently or in a neutral manner," the group said.
    The
    U.N. estimates more than 5,000 people have been killed since the revolt
    erupted in mid-March. Activists say that in the week since the
    observers started their work in Syria on Dec. 27, hundreds have been
    slain. The LCC put the death toll at more than 390 people since Dec. 21.
    "Yes,
    there is still shooting and yes there are still snipers," Arab League
    Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby told a news conference in Cairo on
    Monday. "Yes, killings continue. The objective is for us to wake up in
    the morning and hear that no one is killed. The mission's philosophy is
    to protect civilians, so if one is killed, then our mission is
    incomplete."
    "There must be a complete cease-fire," Elaraby said.
    Elaraby
    stressed the achievements of the Arab League mission, saying Syria's
    government has pulled tanks and artillery from cities and residential
    neighborhoods and freed some 3,500 prisoners. He said food supplies have
    reached residents and the bodies of dead protesters have been
    recovered.
    The monitors are supposed to verify
    Syria's compliance with an Arab League plan to stop the crackdown on
    dissent - a plan Syria agreed to on Dec. 19. The plan requires Assad's
    regime to remove security forces and heavy weapons from city streets,
    start talks with opposition leaders and free political prisoners.
    The
    ongoing violence is reinforcing the opposition's view that Syria's
    limited cooperation with the observers is nothing more than a ploy by
    Assad's regime to buy time and forestall more international condemnation
    and sanctions.
    In its statement, the LCC said
    the regime has been disguising soldiers and army officers in police
    uniforms and hiding their army vehicles to make it appear they have
    pulled out in accordance with the Arab League plan.
    While
    most of the violence reported early in the uprising involved Syrian
    forces firing on unarmed protesters, there are now more frequent armed
    clashes between military defectors and security forces. The increasing
    militarization of the conflict has raised fears the country is sliding
    toward civil war.
    The LCC said 20 people were
    killed across the country Monday, including 11 in restive Homs province
    in central Syria and three in Idlib province, which borders Turkey.
    © 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 Fri 6 Jan - 18:11

    Jan 6, 10:31 AM EST


    Syria says up to 25 killed in Damascus blast



    By ALBERT AJI and BASSEM MROUE
    Associated Press













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    AP AUDIO
    A
    bomb blast in Damascus has killed up to 25 people and wounded dozens.
    More from AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo.










    AP AUDIO
    AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo reports up to 25 people are dead and dozens wounded in a bombing in Damascus.










    AP AUDIO
    AP
    Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo reports a bloody bombing
    attack in Damascus has killed up to 25 people and wounded dozens.












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    Arabs put credibility on line with Syria mission















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    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- An explosion ripped through a busy
    intersection in the Syrian capital Friday, hitting a bus carrying police
    and killing up to 25 people in what Syrian authorities said was the
    second suicide attack in as many weeks.
    The
    bus was left riddled with shrapnel, blood splattered on its seats and
    pooled on the asphalt of the street after the blast, which came exactly
    two weeks after twin bombings targeting intelligence agencies in the
    capital killed 44 people. The bombings mark a dramatic escalation of
    bloodshed as Arab League observers tour the country to investigate
    President Bashar Assad's bloody crackdown on a 10-month-old popular
    revolt.
    Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar said a suicide bomber "detonated himself with the aim of killing the largest number of people."
    Syrian
    television showed residents and paramedics carrying human remains,
    holding them up for the camera. The explosion damaged a nearby police
    station, shattering its glass, and left blood and flesh in the streets,
    according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. Police cordoned
    off the area with yellow police tape.
    Syria's
    state media, SANA, said the initial death toll is 25 people. The figure
    includes 10 people confirmed dead and the remains of an estimated 15
    others, whose bodies had yet to be identified. SANA said many of the
    dead are civilians.
    In a sign of just how
    polarized Syria has become, the opposition has questioned the
    government's allegations that terrorists are behind the attacks -
    suggesting the regime itself could have been behind the violence to try
    to erode support for the uprising and show the observer team that it is a
    victim in the country's upheaval.
    The
    government has long contended that the turmoil in Syria this year is not
    an uprising but the work of terrorists and foreign-backed armed gangs.
    The
    opposition has produced no evidence backing its accusations, and no one
    but Syrian authorities have access to investigate the blasts. A
    spokesman for the Syrian National Council opposition umbrella group
    called for an independent probe.
    "It is a
    continuation of the regime's dirty game as it tries to divert attention
    from massive protests," Omar Idilbi said. "We call upon for an
    independent international committee to investigate these crimes that we
    believe that the regime planned and carried out."
    Also
    Friday, SANA said terrorists blew up a pipeline that carries diesel
    from the central province of Homs to nearby Hama. There have been
    several pipeline blasts in recent months, but it is unclear who is
    behind them.
    The Arab League observers started
    work Dec. 27 on a mission to monitor Syria's compliance with a
    League-drafted peace deal. Under the deal, Assad's regime is supposed to
    pull its military off the streets of cities and stop its crackdown on
    the protesters calling for the president's ouster.
    Despite
    the observers' presence, violence has spiked, with Syrian activists
    saying up to 400 people have been killed since Dec. 21. The U.N. says
    the overall toll since the revolt began is more than 5,000.
    Arab
    League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed bin Helli condemned the attack,
    saying that "when there are explosions of this nature, this is a
    dangerous development."
    "This is our fear now,
    that the situation slips out of control, and that the country heads
    toward threats to peace or sectarian strife or civil war," he told The
    Associated Press in Cairo, where the League is based.
    Friday's
    blast went off at an intersection in the central Damascus neighborhood
    of Midan on Friday, the start of the weekend in Syria and much of the
    Arab world. Midan is one of several Damascus neighborhoods that has seen
    frequent anti-Assad protests on Fridays since the uprising began in
    March.
    "I heard the explosion at about 11:15
    and came running here. I found bodies on the ground including one of a
    man who was carrying two boxes of yogurt," Midan resident Anis Hassan
    Tinawi, 55, told The Associated Press.
    The
    bus, which was carrying policemen at the time, appeared to be the target
    of the bomber, said a Syrian official, speaking on condition of
    anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly to the media.
    The
    official also said that a smaller bomb exploded Friday in the Damascus
    suburb of Tal, killing a girl. Security experts dismantled another bomb
    in the same area, he said.
    Compared to many
    parts of the country which have been convulsed by the 10-month old
    uprising, Damascus has been relatively quiet under the tight control of
    ruthless security agencies loyal to Assad.
    But
    violence in the capital has been on the rise over the last two months.
    On Dec. 23, according to the Syrian authorities, two car bombers blew
    themselves up outside the heavily guarded compounds of the country's
    intelligence agencies, killing at least 44 people and wounding 166.
    If
    the official account is correct, they would be the first suicide
    bombings during the uprising. State-run TV said the al-Qaida terrorist
    network was possibly to blame for previous attack, and blamed
    "terrorists" for the latest one, without giving specifics.
    Adding
    to the bloodshed in recent months, dissident soldiers who broke from
    the military to side with peaceful protesters have launched attacks on
    government sites, raising fears of civil war.
    Air
    force Col. Riad al-Asaad, leader of the main armed group fighting the
    regime, denied responsibility for Friday's bus bombing in an interview
    with pan-Arab Al-Jazeera TV.
    He said his
    organization, the Free Syrian Army, "doesn't have the experience to
    carry out such explosions" and said the regime "is the plotter for this
    attack." He spoke from Turkey, where the group is based.
    ---
    Mroue reported from Beirut. Sarah El Deeb contributed from Cairo.
    © 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 Sun 8 Jan - 20:51

    League meeting



    By the CNN Wire Staff
    January 8, 2012 -- Updated 1940 GMT (0340 HKT)















    Arab League to discuss Syria








    STORY HIGHLIGHTS


    • NEW: A foreign ministry spokesman says Syria has hidden nothing from monitors
    • Attacks Sunday kill at least 21, an opposition activist network says
    • The Arab League will recommend adding to the current 165 observers
    • Arab League officials consult with the United Nations about Syria





    (CNN) -- Arab League officials met in Cairo on
    Sunday to discuss their Syria mission amid escalating tension and a
    growing international outcry over the unrest that has killed thousands.

    "The option of suspending the monitors' mission is not on the table
    and the mission will continue as more Arab nations are sending experts
    to join the mission," the organization said.

    The head of the group will recommend beefing up the mission, which
    currently has 165 observers, said Ali Erfan, a senior adviser to the
    Arab League chief.

    Arab League officials have consulted with the United Nations about the situation in Syria, he said.

    While the mission does not have a mandate for peacekeeping or to stop
    the conflict, it is tasked with verifying Syria complies with the four
    points of the Arab League's action plan.

    Those points are: release detainees, allow access for media and other
    observers, halt the violence and pull heavy equipment off the streets.

    A spokesman for Syria's Foreign Ministry said Sunday that the
    nation's government had not hidden anything from the Arab League's
    monitors.

    "We let them move freely anywhere. We have provided all the things they need," spokesman Jihad Makdissi said.

    Human Rights Watch noted that League Secretary General Nabil el-Araby
    said, "Syria has already taken some steps under the terms of the
    agreement, withdrawing heavy weapons from Syrian cities, and releasing
    about 3,500 prisoners."

    But it cites examples of Syria failing to abide by the League
    initiative, including security forces' attacks on peaceful demonstrators
    since the mission began.

    Early Sunday morning, clashes between government security forces and
    army defectors killed at least 11 in the village of Basr al-Harir in
    Daraa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a
    London-based opposition human rights group with contacts throughout the
    country.

    Later Sunday, opposition activists from the Local Coordination
    Committees of Syria said at least 21 people were killed in attacks
    throughout the country. The LCC's tally listed 14 deaths in Homs, five
    deaths in Damascus suburbs, one death in Deir Ezzor and one death in
    Daraa.

    CNN cannot independently confirm events inside Syria because the
    government has restricted activities by international journalists.




    26 die in Damascus suicide bombing





    Syrian defector's horrific revelations





    Arab League accused of failing Syrians


    The brutal Syrian government crackdown began in mid-March in Daraa.
    Last week, human rights groups asked the Arab League to initiate action
    against President Bashar al-Assad's regime. They accused Syria of
    failing to comply with efforts to end the 10-month-long crackdown.

    The Arab League fact-finding mission under way in the nation is part
    of a larger initiative to end security forces' attacks on peaceful
    protesters. Death estimates range between 5,000 to 6,000.

    Residents say attacks have continued during visits by Arab League officials, but at later times.

    Most shelling occurs after officials have gone back to their hotels, a resident in the besieged city of Homs said.

    "They take the leaguers where they want," he said Saturday. "These
    are massacres. We have tens dying daily. Stores are closed ... civilian
    life is at a halt."

    Relatives of victims of a suicide bombing in the capital and lethal
    clashes elsewhere buried their dead Saturday as crowds flocked to a
    central square in Damascus to condemn the blasts, the Syrian Arab News
    Agency reported.

    At least 26 people died and at least 63 people were injured in the
    Friday blast, SANA said, with most of the casualties being civilians
    along with some law enforcement personnel.

    The Interior Ministry has vowed to "strike with an iron fist" anyone
    who threatened the nation's security after the second such bombing in
    the capital in two weeks.

    The government has blamed the suicide attack on terrorists while the opposition pointed fingers at the regime.


    CNN's Nic Robertson, Ben Wedeman and Joe Sterling contributed to this report.

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    Al-Assad blames "external conspiracy for Syria violence

    Post  Panda on Tue 10 Jan - 9:32

    Al-Assad blames 'external conspiracy' for Syria violence



    By the CNN Wire Staff
    January 10, 2012 -- Updated 0924 GMT (1724 HKT)
















    Protests, tensions rise in Syria








    STORY HIGHLIGHTS


    • NEW: Al-Assad blames an "external conspiracy" for Syria's violence
    • Amnesty International has called for the U.N. Security Council to act on Syria
    • 24 people are dead after violence in Syria on Monday, an opposition group says
    • Funerals on Monday yield both pro- and anti-Assad activists





    Damascus, Syria (CNN) -- In a rare speech Tuesday,
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed the unabated violence in his
    country on an "external conspiracy."

    "The mask has fallen off these faces," he said, without elaborating whom he was referring to.

    Throughout his speech, al-Assad referred to a conspiracy, but never
    coming out and explicitly saying who was behind it. He would only say it
    was both "Arabian" and "Western."

    "No wise person denies these international conspiracies that is being
    done in order to spread fear inside," he said. "But this time, it was
    done with people from inside."

    Al-Assad's speech came the same day that the U.N. Security Council is
    expected to meet for the first time this year to discuss the brutal and
    sustained government crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

    The Security Council itself has been under pressure to act on the
    violence. Amnesty International, which wants human rights groups to be
    granted access to the country, has urged the Security Council to refer
    Syria to the International Criminal Court, "impose a comprehensive arms
    embargo" and "freeze the assets of President al-Assad and others
    involved in human rights violations."

    Reports of bloodshed in Syrian cities escalate virtually every day.

    On Monday, 24 people were killed across the country, according to the
    Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition
    activists. The deaths included 13 in Homs, eight in Idlib, one in a
    Damascus suburb, one in Deir Ezzor and one in Hama, the group said.

    CNN has not been given permission to travel to Homs, where an
    onslaught of violence has been reported for months. A CNN crew was
    allowed into the capital, Damascus, after a long period of the Syrian
    regime refusing the entry of international journalists.

    But the crew's equipment for live broadcasting was confiscated on
    arrival. And a government minder is assigned to the team, though he has
    not accompanied the team at every turn.

    Since Arab Spring demonstrations swept the region early last year,
    protesters in Syria have demanded a country free of the Assad regime and
    true democratic elections. Assad has been in power since 2000; his
    father, Hafez, ruled Syria for three decades.

    Thousands have been reported killed by security forces throughout the
    uprising. Death estimates range from 5,000 to more than 6,000. But the
    Syrian government has consistently blamed the violence on "terrorists."

    Many Syrians mourn the dead while simultaneously denouncing al-Assad.

    On Monday, tens of thousands of people turned out to a funeral procession and rally against the president.

    At one funeral, crowds chanted, "Overthrow Assad! Overthrow the regime!" They blamed the man's death on government forces.

    But at a separate funeral in Damascus, another crowd mourned a man,
    this time chanting slogans supporting al-Assad and blaming that death on
    opposition forces.

    SANA reported that seven "martyrs" from the army and security forces
    were buried Monday. It also said a citizen was killed by "an armed
    terrorist group" in Hama.

    Arab League officials are scrambling to end the bloodshed and has pledged to add to its 165 observers already in the country.

    The Arab League fact-finding mission in Syria is part of a larger
    initiative to end security forces' attacks on peaceful protesters.

    But the group's mission has been met with skepticism from both
    pro-Assad supporters, who view the monitors as stooges for regime
    change, and anti-government activists, who see the observers as weak and
    ineffective.


    CNN's Nic Robertson contributed to this repor

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    Re: Syria warns West against intervention

    Post  Panda on Sun 15 Jan - 8:30

    Qatari Leader: Send Arab Troops Into Syria



















    Hundreds of protesters have been killed in the 10-month uprising





    7:07pm UK, Saturday January 14, 2012





    The leader of Qatar has said Arab troops should be sent to Syria to stop the regime's violent crackdown on protesters.


    Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani's comments, made to CBS, are
    the first by an Arab leader calling for the deployment of troops inside
    Syria.










    Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani





    They come amid growing claims that a team of Arab League observers
    dispatched to the country to curb the bloodshed has failed in its
    mission.


    Qatar, which once had close relations with Damascus, has been a harsh critic of the 10-month crackdown by President Bashar al Assad's government.


    The wealthy and influential Gulf state withdrew its ambassador to Syria in the summer to protest against the killings.


    The leading Qatar-based al Jazeera television has also been a strong
    supporter of the Arab uprisings, although some say the station remained
    largely silent during anti-government protests in the Gulf state of
    Bahrain.









    'Does
    anyone speak English?' I shouted as a group of Syrian prisoners were
    paraded before us. Several men said yes, one said 'come and talk to me'.



    Read Tim Marshall's blog from Damascus











    Qatar and Bahrain are part of the Saudi-led six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.


    Arab League observers began work in Syria on December 27, to verify whether the government is abiding by its agreement to end the military crackdown on dissent.


    Meanwhile, the US has accused Iran of supplying Syria with weapons to reinforce its crackdown on protesters.


    Officials in Washington claim the head of the Iranian Revolutionary
    Guards visited Damascus this month, a sign - they say - that Iranian aid
    to Syria includes military hardware.












    "We are confident that he was received at the highest levels of the
    Syrian government, including by President Assad," an official said on
    condition of anonymity.


    "We think this relates to Iranian support for the Syrian government's attempts to suppress its people.


    "The US government believes Iran has supplied Syria with munitions for use in the military crackdown," he said.


    The US has long suspected that Iran has been aiding Syria's purge
    against protesters as President Assad tries to cling to power and avoid
    the fate of other Arab dictators felled by the Arab Spring uprisings.


    At least 5,000 people are believed to have been killed in the violence.

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    Re: Syria warns West against intervention

    Post  Panda on Sun 15 Jan - 11:25

    15 January 2012
    Last updated at 10:15











    Syria crisis: Assad 'gives amnesty for uprising crimes'






    Comments (3)






    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is under growing pressure from the international community


    Continue reading the main story













    Syria Crisis








    • Deepening crisis in Damascus

    • Arab mission test

    • Civil war fears

    • Q&A: Syria sanctions











    Syria's
    President Bashar al-Assad has granted a general amnesty for all crimes
    committed during the 10-month uprising, state-run media reports.

    It would apply to army deserters who turned themselves in
    before the end of January, peaceful protesters and those who handed in
    unlicensed weapons, Sana state news agency is quoted as saying.

    The UN says more than 14,000 people are in detention.

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Mr Assad to end the violence.

    "Stop the violence. Stop killing your people. The path of
    repression is a dead end," Mr Ban said in a speech at a conference on
    Arab world democracy in Beirut.

    President Assad has issued several prisoner amnesties since
    the start of the uprising in March, but thousands of people are believed
    to remain in prison.

    The BBC's Jonathan Head in neighbouring Turkey says the
    latest amnesty offer still does not address the issue of how the
    conflict may be brought to an end.


    Continue reading the main story Syria deaths







    • More than 5,000 civilians have been killed, says the UN
    • More than 400 killed since start of Arab League mission on 26 December
    • UN denied access to Syria
    • Information gathered from NGOs, sources in Syria and Syrians who have fled
    • Vast majority of casualties were unarmed, but the figure may include armed defectors
    • Tally does not include serving members of the security forces
    Source: UN's OHCHR




    Tens of thousands of people
    across Syria continue to take to the streets calling for an end to the
    Assad regime - defying a crackdown that, the UN says, has killed 5,000
    people.

    In a rare public address last week, President Assad again
    accused international powers of trying to destabilise Syria, and vowed
    to crush "terrorists" with an "iron fist".

    On Saturday, the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al
    Thani, said Arab countries should send troops into Syria to end the
    bloodshed.

    "For such a situation to stop the killing... some troops
    should go to stop the killing," he told US television channel CBS for a
    programme to be aired on Sunday.

    It is the first time an Arab leader has publicly called for military intervention in Syria.

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    Re: Syria warns West against intervention

    Post  Panda on Sat 21 Jan - 14:02

    Jan 21, 8:05 AM EST


    Ambush of police truck in Syria kills 14



    By ZEINA KARAM
    Associated Press













    AP Photo/STR











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    BEIRUT (AP) -- At least 14 people were killed when multiple
    explosive devices struck a police truck transporting prisoners in a
    tense area of northwestern Syria on Saturday, the country's state-run
    news agency and an opposition group said.
    SANA
    news agency blamed the attack on "terrorists" and said it occurred on
    the Idlib-Ariha highway, an area near the Turkish border that has
    witnessed intense fighting with army defectors recently.
    Four
    bombs that went off in "two phases" hit the truck, and then attackers
    targeted an ambulance that arrived to assist the wounded, SANA reported.
    Six policemen who were accompanying the prisoners were also wounded, some of them in critical condition, it said.
    The
    British-based opposition activist group, the Syrian Observatory for
    Human Rights, confirmed the incident Saturday and put the toll at 15
    dead prisoners.
    Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of
    the group, said the truck was hit by several roadside bombs, but it was
    not clear who was behind the attack.
    There
    was no immediate claim of responsibility, but members of the so-called
    Free Syrian Army are known to be active in the area.
    A
    Syria-based activist said the area has several army encampments and is
    full of roadside bombs planted to target army tanks passing by, adding
    that the truck carrying prisoners may not have been the intended target.
    The activist spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
    Abdul-Rahman
    and other activists in the country's northern Idlib province also
    reported heavy clashes between Syrian troops and defectors in the Jabal
    al-Zawiya region, along the Turkish border.
    He said "dozens" of people from both sides were wounded in the fighting, some of them in serious condition.
    The
    10-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad has turned
    increasingly militarized and chaotic as more frustrated regime opponents
    and army defectors arm themselves and fight back against government
    forces.
    The conflict in Syria has marked the
    most serious challenge to Assad, who took over from his father in 2000.
    The U.N. estimates some 5,400 have been killed since March, when the
    uprising began.
    The capital has seen three suicide bombings since late December which the government blamed on terrorist extremists.
    Security
    officials in Lebanon meanwhile said the Syrian navy arrested three
    Lebanese fishermen and confiscated their boat Saturday in Lebanese
    waters off the northern town of Arida.
    The two
    brothers and their nephew were taken after Syria soldiers aboard a
    naval vessel fired in the direction of the boat, the officials said.
    They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
    After the incident, angry residents of Arida blocked the highway linking Lebanon and Syria for hours with burning tires.
    © 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 Sun 22 Jan - 21:43

    Arab League proposes unity government in Syria



    From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, For CNN
    January 22, 2012 -- Updated 2117 GMT (0517 HKT)






    Syrian anti-regime demonstrators wave flags in the Khalidiya neighbourhood of the flashpoint city of Homs on January 20, 2012.


    STORY HIGHLIGHTS


    • NEW: The Arab League demands the Syrian government start dialogue with the opposition
    • NEW: It wants al-Assad to hand over powers to his VP after the formation of the new government
    • Arab League chief: Syria is not complying with parts of a league agreement
    • An Arab League committee requests a one-month extension of observers in Syria





    Are you there? Send your images, video to iReport.

    Cairo (CNN) -- The Arab League demanded Sunday that
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hand over powers to his vice president
    following the formation of a national unity government.

    It called for the Syrian government to start a national dialogue with
    the opposition within two weeks, and for the new government to be
    formed within two months.

    Earlier, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby said the group
    will request an extension of its monitoring mission in Syria and an
    increase in the number of observers there.

    The mission was scheduled to end last Thursday. It was not clear whether Syrian officials would accept the offer.

    The secretary-general said the Syrian government has not complied
    with some parts of an Arab League agreement aimed at ending a violent
    crackdown on protesters. Syrian officials are treating the crisis as a
    security problem, he said, noting that armed opposition factions
    controlling some areas made it difficult for observers to do their jobs.

    But Arab League monitors have seen some aspects of the situation improve, he said.

    "The presence of the Arab monitors provided security to opposition
    parties, which held an increase in number of peaceful protests...in the
    areas where the monitors were present," el-Araby said.

    Before el-Araby's statement, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said his
    nation planned to withdraw its members of the observer team, according
    to an Arab League official. Prince Saud al-Faisal told Arab League
    foreign ministers that "Syria did not comply with the Arab resolution
    plan," according to the Arab League official, who asked to remain
    anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

    Earlier Sunday, a five-nation committee led by Qatar requested a
    one-month extension of the mission from the foreign ministers of the
    league's 22 member states.

    The committee made its request after reviewing a report submitted by
    Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mohammad Ahmad al-Dabi, head of the league's
    monitoring mission in Syria.

    Before leaving Damascus for the meeting in Cairo, al-Dabi said the
    mission of the monitoring group is "not to stop the killing and violence
    in Syria but to investigate the Syrian government's execution of the
    article of the Arab plan aimed at solving the Syrian crisis."

    The Arab League has called on President al-Assad'sregime
    to stop violence against civilians, free political detainees, remove
    tanks and weapons from cities and allow outsiders, including the
    international news media, to travel freely in Syria.

    Senior Arab League diplomats said the Syrian government has not accepted or rejected the possibility of a one-month extension.

    Some worry the observers haven't been allowed to see the full situation in Syria.

    Members of the opposition Syrian National Council met Saturday with
    Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby. The council has demanded
    that the mission document "the atrocities committed by the Syrian regime
    against civilians in all cities and towns," the group said in a
    statement.

    "We requested (el-Araby) to raise the Syria file to the U.N. Security
    Council as soon as possible to protect the lives and dignity of the
    Syrian people," SNC senior official Walid Buni said Saturday. "We will
    have to wait until the final Arab (League) monitor's report is discussed
    (Sunday), but we already know what it contains and do not think it
    reflects the situation on the ground."

    Arab League official Ali Jaroush said the mission has gained momentum
    and that there is "a general inclination" to extend it for another
    month, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

    But the presence of Arab League monitors in the country hasn't quelled daily reports of deadly violence.

    At least 59 people were found dead across Syria on Saturday,
    according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition
    activist group.

    They include 30 unidentified corpses found at the National Hospital
    in Idlib and at least 16 dead from a bus explosion in Idlib province, in
    northwestern Syria..

    CNN cannot confirm the claims by opposition groups of violence and
    deaths, as Syria's government has limited access by foreign journalists.

    For more than 10 months, Syria has been engulfed by an
    anti-government public uprising and a brutal security crackdown against
    protesters. The United Nations last month estimated well over 5,000
    deaths since mid-March. Opposition groups estimate more than 6,000
    people have died.

    While activists blame the violence on al-Assad's regime, the government says terrorists have been responsible for the bloodshed.

    Both sides reported the deadly bus bombing Saturday.

    The LCC said the bus went over a mine, killing at least 16 people and
    wounding many more. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported that
    "an armed terrorist group" was responsible for the attack, killing 14
    people and wounding 26 others.

    Mohamed Hamado, a Free Syrian Army lieutenant colonel, said civilians
    moving toward the Turkish-Syrian border were ambushed by Syrian
    security forces using tanks and armed personal carriers near the town of
    Kherbeit Al Joz.

    The Free Syrian Army, which includes defected regime soldiers, fought
    with the Syrian army and injured and killed about 24 soldiers, Hamado
    said. "We then retreated to safer positions."


    CNN's Salma Abdelaziz, Joe Sterling and Samira Said contributed to this report.

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    Re: Syria warns West against intervention

    Post  Panda on Fri 27 Jan - 16:39

    Activists: Civilians Massacred In Syrian City









    • 1 Comments










    Children protest in the city of Homs after the alleged killings





    3:28pm UK, Friday January 27, 2012





    Forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad have killed more
    than 30 civilians - including children - in the city of Homs, according
    to anti-regime activists.



    Residents told AP the city had been rocked by sectarian killings, gunfire and explosions.


    "There has been a terrifying massacre," said Rami Abdul-Rahman,
    director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. He
    called for an independent investigation into the killings.


    The latest violence came as the UN Security Council prepared to meet to discuss the situation in Syria before a possible vote next week on a draft resolution aimed at ending the conflict.


    The head of the Arab League monitoring mission in the country has
    said that over the last three days the violence has risen "in a
    significant way".









    It's racial cleansing. They are killing people because of their sect.


    A resident of Homs











    Videos and footage posted online showed a group of children, apparently dead, wrapped in orange plastic.


    Another video featured the bodies of women and children, several with severe head wounds and bloodied clothes, in a house.


    It is impossible to verify whether the claims are real as the Syrian
    government only allows journalists to enter the country on escorted
    trips.


    The Observatory and the Local Co-ordination Committees, an umbrella
    group of activists, said the death toll in the area was at least 35.


    The majority of the deaths occured when a building in the religiously
    mixed Karm el-Zaytoun neighbourhood came under heavy mortar and machine
    gun fire on Thursday, leaving at least 29 people, including eight
    children dead.


    Residents also said armed Assad loyalists had stormed the district, killing residents in an apartment, including children.












    "It's racial cleansing," one resident said on condition of anonymity
    for fear of reprisal. "They are killing people because of their sect."


    The Assad regime is dominated by the Alawite minority, an offshoot of
    Shia Islam, but the country is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim.


    Hamza, an activist in Homs, told Reuters that the militiamen were
    taking revenge for deaths inflicted on their ranks by army defectors
    loosely grouped in the rebel Free Syrian Army.


    In a separate development, members of the Free Syrian Army released a
    video that they claimed proved Iran had been supporting the Assad
    regime. The video shows alleged members of Iran's revolutionary guards,
    said to have been captured in Homs.


    In the video, travel documents of seven captives, some of whom appear to be speaking Farsi, are shown.


    "I am Sajjad Amirian, a member the Revolutionary Guards of the Iranian armed forces.


    "I am a member of the team in charge of cracking down on protesters
    in Syria and we receive our orders directly from the security division
    of the Syrian air force in Homs," one of the captives says.


    Al Arabiya reported the seven men were being held by a Syrian rebel
    group, which called itself the "al-Farouq brigade of the Free Syrian
    Army".


    Meanwhile, Iran's official IRNA news agency said rebels in Syria have
    kidnapped 11 Iranian pilgrims travelling by road from Turkey to
    Damascus.

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