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Posts Tagged ‘Syria Violence’

SYRIAN DEFENSE MINISTER KILLED IN SUICIDE ATTACK

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 18, 2012

AP  |  By  Share on Google+

Dawoud Rajha

By BASSEM MROUE and ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY, Associated Press

BEIRUT — A suicide bomber struck the National Security building in the Syrian capital Wednesday, killing the defense minister and wounding the interior minister in a brazen attack on the seat of government power, state-run TV said.

Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, 65, a former army general, is the most senior government official to be killed in the Syrian civil war as rebels battle to oust President Bashar Assad. Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar was in stable condition, state-run TV said.

Although it was unclear who was behind the attack, the high-level assassination could signal a turning point in the 16-month conflict as the violence becomes increasingly chaotic.

The capital also has seen four straight days of clashes pitting government troops against rebels – an unprecedented challenge to government rule in the tightly controlled capital.

Rajha was the most senior Christian government official in Syria. Assad appointed him to the post last year. His death will resonate with Syria’s minority Christian population, who make up about 10 percent of Syria’s population and have generally stood by the regime.

Christians say they are particularly vulnerable to the violence sweeping the country of 22 million people, and they are fearful that Syria will become another Iraq, with Christians caught in the crossfire between rival Muslim groups.

Wednesday’s attack struck the National Security building in Damascus during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and senior security officials. State-run TV said some of the officials were seriously wounded. Read the rest of this entry »

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Annan: Russia, West agree on transition government for Syria

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 1, 2012

The Syrian crisis is to be resolved by a transition government consisting of the current authorities and opposition leaders. The proposal was announced by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan after talks in Geneva.

The unity government should be formed on the basis of “mutual consent” said Annan. The Syrian-led transition should take place within a fixed period of time and the envoy hopes this may happen by the end of the year.

Annan, announcing the official communiqué of the international meeting in Geneva, called on the Syrian regime and opposition groups to re-commit to a ceasefire and to start implementing his six-point peace plan immediately, without waiting for the other side.

The plan urges the sides in the Syrian conflict to cooperate with UN observers, allow humanitarian aid delivery, release detainees and grant journalists access to the country. The right to peaceful demonstrations must also be respected, stressed Annan.

Prior to the conference, Annan had proposed a plan for a unity government in Syria excluding political figures that would compromise the country’s stability and effectively calling for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow refused to back such a condition and also made sure the plan brokered in Geneva would not require Assad to step down.

Kofi Annan also said that foreign ministers who took part in the conference in Geneva would make up a regular working group on the Syrian crisis. A new round of Syria talks may take place in Moscow, suggest diplomatic sources.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gestures during a news conference after the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, June 30, 2012 (Reuters/Valentin Flauraud)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gestures during a news conference after the meeting of the Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, June 30, 2012 (Reuters/Valentin Flauraud) Read the rest of this entry »

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Syria Massacre Captured By Satellite Cameras (PHOTOS)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 1, 2012

By Andrea Stone

Syria Massacre

WASHINGTON — New satellite images of the besieged Syrian region of Houla provide stark evidence of last week’s massacre of more than 100 civilians, many of themchildren, believed killed by government forces loyal to President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The before and after photos were taken last Friday and Saturday by DigitalGlobe, a commercial satellite company that provided them exclusively to The Huffington Post. They appear to confirm on-the-ground reports of mass casualties from execution-style killings and shelling of civilians by government troops.

The photos, in the slideshow below, show the village of Taldou, two miles southeast of central Houla.

In one set of images, the city center is seen on the morning of May 25, before the violence began. No unusual activity is obvious.

A second image taken the next day, Saturday, shows what the company said are large crowds massed around the local mosque near the town square. “That was the first tip-off,” said Amy Opperman, a manager in the DigitalGlobe Analysis Center, noting that such crowds are more typical of Friday, the Muslim day of prayer.

The people stand near a line of long, light-colored trenches that are believed to be themass burials photographed by a Reuters photographer on the scene. Analysts compared a clock tower, power lines and other features seen in the photo to confirm the satellite image was a match. Read the rest of this entry »

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Asma Assad: Syria Dictator’s Wife A ‘Rose In The Desert’ Crushed By Uprising Violence

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 22, 2012


She is what she is. We should not cry, we should not laugh, we should not shout. This makes us fool not her:

By Maria Golovnina

LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) – She was supposed to be the gentler face of a would-be reformist regime. Now Asma al-Assad has become a hate figure for many.

Syria’s London-born first lady, once breathlessly described as a “rose in the desert”, is ensconced at the heart of the shadowy inner circle of President Bashar al-Assad.

As Syria slides towards civil war and foreign powers watch for cracks within the ruling clan, understanding Asma could prove vital to understanding the Assads and the future of the Syrian crisis.

A British-educated former investment banker, Asma cultivated the image of a glamorous yet serious-minded woman with strong Western-inspired values who was meant to humanise the increasingly secretive and isolated Assad family.

That image crumbled when her husband responded to an anti-government rebellion with extreme violence a year ago. Asma had clearly decided to stand by her man despite international revulsion at his actions. Assad himself says he is fighting an insurrection, involving foreign-backed “terrorists”. Read the rest of this entry »

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John McCain Calls For U.S.-Led Airstrikes On Syria

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 5, 2012

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday knocked the Obama administration for being too passive in its response to Syrian violence and called for U.S.-led airstrikes on President Bashar al-Assad’s military forces.

“The time has come for a new policy,” McCain said during remarks on the Senate floor. “The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces. To be clear: This will require the United States to suppress enemy air defenses in at least part of the country.”

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the goal of airstrikes should be to create safe havens in the country for opposition forces to plan their own political and military attacks against Assad. The benefit of the United States leading the military effort, he said, is that it would allow the U.S. to better empower Syrian groups that support U.S. interests to move toward a democratic transition.

“If we stand on the sidelines, others will try to pick winners, and this will not always be to our liking or in our interest,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Syria Conflict Tension Rises As Iran Ships Dock And China Warns Of Civil War

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 20, 2012


By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Angus MacSwan

AMMAN/BEIRUT, Feb 20 (Reuters) – China accused Western countries of stirring civil war in Syria and two Iranian warships docked at a Syrian naval base, underscoring rising international tensions over the near year-long crisis.

Despite pursuing a sustained military crackdown on the opposition in cities across the country, President Bashar al-Assad forged ahead with plans to hold a referendum at the end of the week.

Activists in the western city of Hama said troops, police and militias had set up dozens of roadblocks, isolating neighbourhoods from each other.

“Hama is cut off from the outside world. There are no landlines, no mobile phone network and no internet. House to house arrests take place daily and sometimes repeatedly in the same neighbourhoods,” an opposition statement said.

Government troops extended their control on Hama after an offensive last week that concentrated on northern neighbourhoods on the edge of farmland that have provided shelter for Free Syrian Army rebels.

The rebel fighters have been attacking militiamen, known as shabbiha, while avoiding open confrontations with armoured forces that had amassed around Hama.

Government forces also maintained their siege of pro-opposition neighbourhoods of Homs, south of Hama on the Damascus-Aleppo highway. Opposition activists reported sporadic morning shelling of Baba Amro district. Read the rest of this entry »

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Syria Crisis: Arab Nations Reportedly Consider Arming Opposition

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 14, 2012

By Erika Solomon and Angus MacSwan

BEIRUT Feb 14 (Reuters) – Government forces and opponents of President Bashar al-Assad clashed in cities and countryside across Syria on Tuesday and Arab officials confirmed that regional governments would be ready to arm the resistance if the bloodshed did not cease.

The western city of Homs, heart of the uprising against Assad’s 11-year-rule, suffered a bombardment of pro-opposition neighbourhoods for the 11th day running.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 20 people killed across Syria on Tuesday, including opposition supporters, civilians, and five government soldiers shot in clashes with rebel fighters in Qalaat al-Madyaq town in restive Hama area.

With Assad seemingly oblivious to international condemnation of his campaign to crush the revolt, Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia prepared for a new resolution at the United Nations in the next few days which would support a peace plan forged at a meeting in Cairo on Sunday.

But Arab League diplomats said that arming the opposition forces was now officially an option.

A resolution passed at the meeting urged Arabs to “provide all kinds of political and material support” to the opposition.

This would allow arms transfers, they confirmed to Reuters. Read the rest of this entry »

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Syria Forces Attack Homs, UN Condemns ‘Appalling Brutality’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 9, 2012

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Angus MacSwan

AMMAN/BEIRUT, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Syrian forces bombarded opposition-held neighbourhoods of the city of Homs with rocket and mortar fire on Thursday, activists said, as divided world powers struggled to find a way to end the violence.

The United Nations chief condemned the ferocity of the government assault on Homs, heart of a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad that broke out nearly a year ago and is getting bloodier by the day.

“I fear that the appalling brutality we are witnessing in Homs, with heavy weapons firing into civilian neighbourhoods, is a grim harbinger of things to come,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters after briefing the Security Council.

Activists and residents report hundreds of people killed over the last week as Assad’s forces try stamp out opposition in Homs, and as dawn broke on Thursday, rocket and mortar fire rained down again on Baba Amro, Khalidiya and other districts. Armoured reinforcements also poured into the eastern city.

Concern was growing over the plight of civilians and the United States said it was considering ways to get food and medicine to them – a move that would deepen international involvement in a conflict which has wide geopolitical dimensions and has caused division between foreign powers.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said before flying to Washington for talks on Syria that Turkey, which once saw Assad as an ally but now wants him out, could no longer stand by and watch. Turkey wanted to host an international meeting to agree ways to end the killing and provide aid, he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Asma Assad, Wife Of Bashar Assad, Speaks Out

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 7, 2012

In a rare public statement, Bashar Assad’s wife has sent an email to the Times for publication. Her message is clear; the Syrian first lady stands firmly beside her husband as the country teeters toward the brink of civil war.

“The President is the President of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the First Lady supports him in that role,” the email stated, according to AFP.

Asma Assad largely has remained quiet since the start of the protests in Syria in March 2011. Thestatement sent from her office reportedly said that“the First Lady’s very busy agenda is still focused on supporting the various charities she has long been involved with and rural development as well as supporting the President as needed.”

Asma Assad grew up in Acton, West London, theDaily Mail reports. She graduated from King’s College London and worked for Deutsche Bank as an analyst in hedge-fund management before marrying Bashar Assad in 2000.

Asma Assad’s family are Sunni Muslims from Homs, the city that has been heavily targeted by security forces in the past months.

Nesrine Malik, a commentator for The Guardian who calls Asma Assad “one of a breed of educated westernised Arab first wives” who “default unquestioningly to their fathers and husbands,” noted the poor timing of the first lady’s comments. Read the rest of this entry »

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Syria UN Resolution: Russia, China Veto UN Resolution

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 5, 2012


VETO system itself not good as it is making powerful countries unnecessar­ily more powerful like dictator:

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Russia and China joined forces in a double veto on Saturday to knock down a Western-Arab U.N. Security Council resolution backing an Arab League plan for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.

The other 13 council members voted in favor of the resolution, which would have said that the council “fully supports” the Arab League plan aimed at ending 11 months of bloodshed as Syria has sought to crush an anti-Assad uprising.

Mohammed Loulichki, the U.N. ambassador of Morocco, the sole Arab member of the 15-nation council, voiced his “great regret and disappointment” that Moscow and Beijing struck down the resolution.

Dropping the usual diplomatic courtesies, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said she was “disgusted” by the Russian and Chinese veto, adding that “any further bloodshed that flows will be on their (Russia’s and China’s) hands.”

French Ambassador Gerard Araud told the council, “It is a sad day for this council, a sad day for all Syrians, and a sad day for democracy.” He said Moscow and Beijing were now “complicit in the policy of repression” of Damascus. Read the rest of this entry »

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Syria Crisis: Russia Will Not Stop Arms Sales To Assad Regime

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 2, 2012

BEIRUT (AP) – Russia will not stop selling arms to Syria, a top defense official said Thursday, as Moscow stands by its longtime ally despite mounting international condemnation over the Syrian regime’s bloody crackdown on a 10-month-old uprising.

Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said his country is not violating any international obligations by selling weapons to Damascus.

“As of today there are no restrictions on our delivery of weapons,” he told journalists in Russia, according to the country’s state news agencies. “We must fulfill our obligations and this is what we are doing.”

Moscow has been one of Syria’s most powerful allies -€” along with Iran – as Syria tries to crush the revolt against President Bashar Assad. The U.N. estimates that more than 5,400 people have been killed in the government crackdown.

Moscow’s stance is motivated in part by its strategic and defense ties, including weapons sales, with Syria. But Russia also rejects what it sees as a a world order dominated by the U.S. Last month, Russia reportedly signed a $550-million deal to sell combat jets to Syria.

U.N. ambassadors this week are trying to overcome Russia’s opposition to a draft resolution at the Security Council calling for Assad to surrender power. Moscow says it would veto the draft because it believes it opens the way for eventual international military action.

Wiam Wahhab, a pro-Syrian Lebanese politician, met Tuesday with Assad in Damascus. Read the rest of this entry »

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Syria Activists: ‘Terrifying Massacre’ In Homs

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 27, 2012

BEIRUT — Two days of bloody turmoil in Syria killed at least 74 people, including small children, as forces loyal to President Bashar Assad shelled residential buildings and fired on crowds in a dramatic escalation of violence, activists said Friday.

Video posted online showed the bodies of five small children, five women and a man, all bloodied and piled on beds in what appeared to be an apartment after a building was hit in the city of Homs. A narrator said an entire family had been “slaughtered.”

Much of the violence was focused in Homs, where heavy gunfire hammered the city Friday in a second day of chaos. A day earlier, the city saw a flare-up of sectarian kidnappings and killings between its Sunni and Alawite communities, and pro-regime forces blasted residential buildings with mortars and gunfire, according to activists.

At least 384 children have been killed, as of Jan. 7, in the crackdown on Syria’s uprising since it began nearly 11 months ago, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said Friday. The count, based on reports from human rights groups, included children under age 18.

Most of the deaths took place in Homs and most of the victims were boys, UNICEF said. It said 380 children have been detained, including some under age 14. The United Nations estimates that more than 5,400 people have died in the turmoil. Read the rest of this entry »

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Riad Al Asaad, Syria Rebel Army Chief, Calls For International Intervention As Bloodshed Continues

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 17, 2012


By Erika Solomon

BEIRUT, Jan 17 (Reuters) – A Syrian rebel army chief urged the world on Tuesday to protect civilians in Syria, saying Arab peace monitors had failed to curb President Bashar al-Assad’s violent response to a 10-month-old revolt against his rule.

Big powers have also proved unable to stop the bloodshed in Syria, where U.N. officials say more than 5,000 people have been killed and Damascus says its security forces have lost 2,000 dead.

Riad al-Asaad, Turkish-based commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, called for international intervention to replace the Arab observer mission, which has just days to run.

“The Arab League and their monitors failed in their mission and though we respect and appreciate our Arab brothers for their efforts, we think they are incapable of improving conditions in Syria or resisting this regime,” he told Reuters by telephone.

“For that reason we call on them to turn the issue over to the U.N. Security Council and we ask that the international community intervene because they are more capable of protecting Syrians at this stage than our Arab brothers,” Asaad said.

Iran condemned what it called foreign interference in the affairs of its closest Arab ally, Syria, and praised reforms President Assad has promised as “problem-solving”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Syria Uprising: Arab League Chief Warns Of Civil War

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 14, 2012

BEIRUT — The head of the Arab League warned Friday that Syria may be sliding toward civil war, as security forces fired on thousands of people who poured into the streets in support of army defectors who switched sides to try to topple President Bashar Assad. At least 10 people were killed, activists said.

Also Friday, an activist group said two foreign journalists and a translator were briefly detained near the Syrian capital, Damascus. The group, the Local Coordination Committees, had no further details. Canada’s CBC broadcaster later said one of its reporters was briefly detained at a checkpoint, but has since been released.

The government has barred access to the country by most foreign media, except on a limited number of escorted trips.

Over the course of the 10-month-old uprising, much of the bloodshed has been from security forces firing on unarmed protesters. But in recent months breakaway soldiers have been attacking the Syrian military, and some opposition members have taken up arms against the regime, adding to the violence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Russia, China Veto Syria Sanctions

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 5, 2011


Veto sometimes good and sometimes not
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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