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Category Archives: Europe

Britain is accused of uprooting families in Ascension Island

Press TV

A newly leaked classified document has revealed the US military knew that foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government had sarin gas.

In a classified Secret/Noforn (not for foreign distribution) document obtained by WND, the US military has confirmed that militants from al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front in Syria had sarin gas.

According to the document, which came from the US intelligence community’s National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), al-Qaeda elements in Iraq produced a “bench-scale” form of sarin and transferred it to Turkey for use by foreign-backed militants in Syria.

The lethal gas was provided to militants in Syria through the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province with Turkey’s cooperation, reported WND.

The document also says that sarin gas was used by militants in an attack on civilians and Syrian government forces last March.

Yossef Bodansky, a former director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, has told WND that the US intelligence community’s describing the sarin gas in the hands of militants as “bench-scale” shows the alleged chemical attack of August 21 near capital Damascus was perpetrated by the militants to provoke a US military intervention in Syria.

Bodansky based his argument on a preliminary analysis of the sarin which showed it was of a “kitchen” variety and not military grade.

Washington has accused the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons in an attack near capital Damascus on August 21.

Damascus has categorically rejected the accusations. In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, the Syrian president rejected the allegations that he was behind the deadly chemical attack in August.

US President Barack Obama has sent Congress a draft resolution for strike on Syria over the accusations.

However, he asked Congress on Tuesday to delay a vote, originally set for Wednesday, on his call for the use of military force against Syria in order to give a Russian diplomatic proposal a chance to play out.

On Tuesday, the Syrian government said it would accept a proposal offered a day earlier by Russia to put its chemical weapons under international control.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the CIA has begun delivering weapons to US-backed militants in Syria.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that US lawmakers should keep “the threat” of attacking Syria “on the table.”

WMD double standards: CIA documents reveal Israeli stockpile of chemical weapons

by Saed Bannoura, source

A newly-discovered document of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency revealed Monday by Foreign Policy magazine shows that the U.S. agency had decisive evidence dating back to at least the 1980s that Israel had a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

The revelation comes in the midst of the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on August 21st.

The document revealed by Foreign Policy magazine on Monday shows that, in addition to building up a nuclear stockpile of an estimated three hundred nuclear weapons during the 1960s and 70s, the Israeli military also developed an extensive stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

The 1983 document stated that U.S. spy satellites had identified “a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve agent production facility and a storage facility… at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert. Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry.”

“While we cannot confirm whether the Israelis possess lethal chemical agents,” the document adds, “several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and nonpersistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents, marched with suitable delivery systems.”

The single page of a larger CIA report was discovered at the Ronald Reagan Library in California in its unredacted form – the report had been released several years ago to the National Archives, but was heavily censored.

According to the Foreign Policy report, “Israeli historian Avner Cohen, in his 1988 book Israel and the Bomb, wrote that Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion secretly ordered that a stockpile of chemical weapons be built at about the time of the 1956 war between Israel and Egypt. The CIA, on the other hand, believed that Israel did not begin work on chemical weapons until either the late 1960s or the early 1970s.

The article included the following assessment from the 1983 CIA report: “Israel, finding itself surrounded by frontline Arab states with budding CW [chemical weapons] capabilities, became increasingly conscious of its vulnerability to chemical attack. Its sensitivities were galvanized by the capture of large quantities of Soviet CW-related equipment during both the 1967 Arab-Israeli and the 1973 Yom Kippur wars. As a result, Israel undertook a program of chemical warfare preparations in both offensive and protective areas.”

The Israeli government has harshly criticized the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons three weeks ago, and has encouraged President Obama’s pledge to respond militarily.

Israel did sign the Convention to Ban Chemical Weapons, but the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) never ratified the treaty. Israel has never opened its nuclear facility or its chemical weapons stockpile to international inspections.

Syria: EU ministers call for “clear and firm” response & worldwide protests held against war

EU Ministers Call for “Clear and Firm” Response over Chemical Use in Syria

Al Manar

EU foreign ministers have called for a “clear and firm” response to the alleged Damascus chemical attack, the EU’s top diplomat Catherine Ashton said at a security policy meeting in Vilnius attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“It seems to indicate strong evidence that the Syrian regime is responsible for these attacks as it is the only one that possesses chemical weapons agents and means of their delivery in a sufficient quantity,” Ashton said in a statement on the EU website.

But that call came with an appeal from the EU to the United States not to commence military operations against the Syrian regime until the publication of a UN report into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the conflict, the Associated Press reported.

“We note the on-going UN investigation on the August 21 attack and further investigations on other chemical weapons attacks carried out in this conflict. It hopes a preliminary report of this first investigation can be released as soon as possible and welcomes [French] President Hollande‘s statement to wait for this report before any further action,” Ashton said.

The UN weapons inspectors’ report on chemical arms use in Syria is likely to be handed in at the end of next week, President Hollande said Saturday, Reuters reported.

“When the (US) Congress will have voted on Thursday or Friday and when we will have the inspectors’ report, likely at the end of the week, a decision will have to be made,” Hollande said.

Kerry expressed his gratitude to the EU ministers for their “strong position” on Syria, Reuters reported.

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Iran, Iraq Warn against Repercussions of Syria Strike

Al Manar

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif stressed that who will launch an aggression against Syria will not be able to set limits for it, noting that Obama was entrapped.

“Iran is worried about inflaming a regional war whose repercussions will reach the world,” Zarif said,” We call on the parties of the Syrian crisis to pursue the political track in order to reach a solution.”

Iran FM pointed out that Tehran will exert all possible efforts to prevent the US-led strike against Syria, adding that the role of Iraq and other states is basic to halt the war which harm the entire region.

“Iran and Iraq have the right to condemn the use of chemical weapons more than any other country as we were the victims of these weapons,” Zarif emphasized.

Iran FM had already met Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki ad Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi to view Iraq’s attitude towards the war against Syria.

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Latin American States Denounce Any Possible Aggression against Syria

Al Manar

The nine Latin American states (ALBA) condemned any possible aggression against Syria and announced dispatching humanitarian aids to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“The Bolivarian alliance council in American denounces any possible strike against Syria,” ALBA Secretary General said in a statement from Venezuela.

“ALBA asks the U.S. to refrain from launching a military aggression against the Syrian people and government,” he added, accusing the US administration of resorting to the same strategies that it used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt.

ALBA further decided to dispatch humanitarian aidss, including foodstuffs, to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

AlBA includes most of the Latin American states, like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia.

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Worldwide protests held against war on Syria

Press TV

People across the world have once again held anti-war demonstrations, protesting at possible US-led military intervention in Syria.

In the Lebanese capital, Beirut, hundreds of anti-war protesters gathered outside the US Embassy for the second consecutive day.

The demonstrators condemned Washington’s efforts to gain domestic and international approval for a strike on Syria.

In the Pakistani port city of Karachi, – Muslims demonstrated against threats of war on Damascus.

Similar protests were also held in the Philippines capital, Manila, where anti-war demonstrators took to the streets.

In Canada, protesters gathered in Toronto and Ottawa.

Anti-war rallies were also held across the United States including in the US states of California, Washington, New York, Louisiana, and Michigan.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis on Sunday slammed a possible war on Syria led by the US as a “commercial war to sell arms.”

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Pope Reiterates Rejection for Syria Strike

Al Manar

Pope Francis reiterated his opposition to the US-led strike against Syria and denounced the “trade war” phenomenon which has recently pervaded, calling on the leaders to pursue a political solution for the crisis.

“Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!” Francis addressed the Christians in St Peter’s Square.

“We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death!” said Francis.

Francis, who two days ago branded a military solution in Syria “a futile pursuit,” led a global day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world.

World powers deeply divided & other news about the situation in Syria

World Powers Deeply Divided on Syira, Fail to Heal Rift at G20 Dinner

Al Manar

World powers failed to bridge deep divisions on Syria at a G20 summit dinner in Russia as they squared off over the US push for military strikes against Syria.

As tensions over the Syrian crisis threatened to torpedo the working schedule of the G20 summit outside Saint Petersburg, host Vladimir Putin invited participants to air their views over dinner.

The leaders took turns over three hours to reiterate their positions on the issue in 10-minute speeches, a diplomatic source close to the talks said.

“The G20 has just now finished the dinner session at which the divisions about Syria were confirmed,” Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who attended the dinner, said on his official Twitter feed.

Russia has led opposition to any US-led military action against Syria over an August 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, which Washington alleges was perpetrated by Damascus.

“Let us remember: every day that we lose is a day when scores of innocent civilians die,” the UN quoted Ban as telling the G20 leaders at the dinner.
“Providing more arms to either side is not the answer. There is no military solution.”

A French diplomatic source said the closed-door dinner, hosted by Putin at the luxurious imperial palace of Peterhof outside Saint Petersburg, was not meant to secure a deal.

“The objective was an exchange between the top world leaders and not to come to an agreement” on the crisis, said the source.

Putin and US President Barack Obama put on a show of smiles for the cameras as they shook hands just before the summit got under way on the shores of the Gulf of Finland.

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Click links to read full article:

Senators who backed Syria resolution got 83 per cent more defense lobby money than those who voted against it, campaign finance numbers show

Pope calls on world leaders to abandon military options in Syria

Russia gave UN 100-page report in July blaming Syrian rebels for Aleppo sarin attack

Militants kill Syrian soldiers execution style: Video

Video: Syrian Rebel Admits Using Chemical Weapons

Saudi Arabia’s “Chemical Bandar” behind the Chemical Attacks in Syria?

Tony Blair attacks Islam as “fundamentally extremist” religion

(Bush-Blair, file photo)

Press TV

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has shamelessly attacked Islam as a “fundamentally extremist” religion, which could threaten future security of the UK.

In an interview with the BBC, Tony Blair lashed out at opposition Labour Party chief Ed Miliband for opposing the coalition government’s push for launching an invasion against Syria, moaning that the country “could become a potent source of extremists”.

The former head of the Labour party, who engineered the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq together with former U.S. president George W. Bush on the pretext of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), acknowledged that the true reason western warmongers are spearheading wars in the Middle East region was fighting Islam.

There is a “fundamental battle about religion and politics within Islam, which has vast consequences for our future security”, Tony Blair claimed.

“The truth is, the reason why Iraq makes us hesitant is because Iraq showed that when you intervene in the circumstances, where you have this radical Islamist issue, both on the Shia side and the Sunni side, you are going to face a very difficult, tough conflict”, the warmonger former premier added.

Blair and fellow invading countries in Iraq failed to find even a trace of WMDs in the country, but left the scene with hundreds of thousands of innocent people killed and millions more displaced as a result of expansionist policies of certain warmongers both in the UK and the U.S.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair conceded the fear western warmongers cannot sleep with whenever there is Iran and its anti-imperialistic ideology.

He called for a military intervention in Syria to topple the popular government of President Bashar al Assad, warning “without intervention there would be an Assad-dominated state, and that means in this instance an Iran-dominated state, probably around the borders of Lebanon and controlling most of the wealth of Syria.

“And then you’ll have a larger geographical hinterland to the east that will be controlled by various Sunni groups, most of whom are likely in these circumstances to be extreme, and you could have a breeding ground for extremism actually much worse and much more potent than Afghanistan.”

Blair went on to say that he was “disappointed” that the House of Commons killed a government motion that called for invading Syria militarily.

“This is something where I just have to disagree with the leadership of the party,” he said. “I know it’s a difficult position for political leaders to be put in when they have got to take decisions like this.”

Blair was forced to resign as premier in 2007 in the aftermath of the failed military invasion of Iraq, after 10 years in office.

Responding to Blair’s intervention, a Labour source told The Independent, “We have learnt the lessons of the Iraq War. That is why Ed was determined to stop David Cameron’s ill-judged and reckless rush to war.”

Russia: Homemade chemical ammunition used in March attack in Syria & related news

Homemade chemical ammunition used in March attack in Syria: Russia

Press TV

Russia says that home-made ammunition was used in a chemical attack carried out in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo in March, which killed over two dozen people.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, “The used round of ammunition was a homemade item on the basis of rockets made in Syria’s north by the so-called Bashair Al-Nasr brigade.”

Moscow made the statement based on conclusions reached by the Russian experts who carried out an investigation into the March 19 chemical attack, which reportedly left 26 Syrian civilians and soldiers dead and nearly 100 others affected.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the chemical weapons used in the attack were not made by the Syrian army.

The findings by the Russian experts come amid a rising threat of war against Syria over the unsubstantiated accusation that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons…

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Chemical weapons sent from Turkey to Syria: Former Turkish provincial official

Press TV

A former member of a city council in the Turkish province of Hatay says the chemical weapons used in last month’s attack in Syria were transported from Turkey, Press TV reports.

“Four months ago, Turkish security forces found a two-kilogram cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the al-Qaeda and al-Nusra. They are using our borders to take the gas into Syria,” Mohamad Gunes said.

“The Syrian president has no reason to kill his own people,” he added.

People in the southern province, which borders Syria, said the weapons were used by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front militants and not the Syrian government.

“America and Israel had al-Qaeda use chemical weapons in order to push us into war; none of us wants war here. In the history of Hatay, we all lived peacefully side by side, now there is Mossad, CIA and al-Qaeda all over the place. We are worried that they might use chemical weapons against us,” said Farid Mainy, a Hatay resident and an activist.

The residents believe the Turkish government is allowing the transfer of weapons because Ankara is trying to create a pretext in order to wage war on its neighbor.

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Russian Ships ’Able to React’ in Case of Syria Escalation

Al Manar

Russian naval vessels in the Mediterranean are capable of reacting to an escalation in the Syria conflict, a military source said Wednesday, as Moscow fine tunes its maritime presence ahead of possible US military action.

“Today we consider our presence in the eastern Mediterranean to be sufficient to solve the tasks. If necessary, together with submarine forces, they (the ships) are capable even today of influencing a military situation,” a general staff source told the Interfax news agency.

“We are ready to solve sudden task. For that, the naval group is being corrected for the corresponding variants of the outcome of events,” the source added, without giving further details.

According to Interfax, the Russian destroyer Smetlivy will soon join the group in the Mediterranean as well as the destroyer Nastoichivy.

The anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev has already entered its zone of operation as the flagship of the current rotation of the naval grouping in the Mediterranean, a military source told the agency.

The missile cruiser Moskva, from the Black Sea fleet, has now left its assignment in the northern Atlantic and is now on its way to the eastern Mediterranean.

On arrival it will assume the role as the Russian flagship, Interfax said.

Already in place in the eastern Mediterranean are the frigate Neustrashimy, as well as the landing ships Alexander Shabalin, the Admiral Nevelsky and the Peresvet.

They will be joined by the large landing ships Novocherkassk and Minsk on September 5-6, Interfax said. As previously reported, the reconnaissance ship Priazovye is also on its way to join the group.

The US already has a strong naval presence in the region and the possible US military action launched against Syria is widely expected to be launched from the sea.

Russia has kept a constant presence in the eastern Mediterranean during the Syrian crisis, rotating its group every few months.

Russia also has a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus.

According to Russian media reports, Russian naval personnel have largely now been withdrawn from the base, a modest but hugely strategic facility which Moscow calls a “point of military-technical supply of the Russian Navy.”

Moscow vehemently opposes US-led plans for military action against Syria in response to an alleged chemical attack outside Damascus, warning it risks destabilizing the entire region.

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Al-Nusra Attacks Ma’loula in Damascus, Destroys Aramaic Church and Institute

Al Manar

Violent clashes took place between the Syrian Army units and opposition gunmen in the historic town of Ma’loula in Rural Damascus on Thursday, after hundreds of militants attacked the Christian-majority town.

Local and international media outlets reported that that al-Nusra Front militiamen destroyed the Aramaic church and institute in the town and stole their contents.

Militants began their attack on Wednesday detonating a booby-trapped car at an army checkpoint near the town in the northern countryside of Damascus.

The so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’ claimed responsibility for the bombing , which aided the gunmen to enter Ma’loula and seize control over its main square where snipers deployed over a number of buildings.

Journalists and reporters said that access to the town is not possible due to the fierce clashes between the two sides, indicating that militants have slaughtered some Syrian soldiers.

From her part, Mother Bagela said that two shells landed on the monastery of Mar Takla leaving material damage.

Media correspondents also stated the army’s military operations are cautious because of the presence of civilians, in addition to that al-Nusra’s gunmen deployed over Ma’loula building are delaying the qualitative military conduct to restore the town.

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US will definitely pay price of attack on Syria: Leader

Press TV

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has warned the US against attacking Syria, saying Washington will certainly pay the price for such a venture.

“We believe that the Americans are committing a folly and mistake in Syria and will accordingly take the blow and definitely suffer,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in address to members of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on Thursday.

The Leader said the main objective of the global arrogance is to dominate the Middle East, with Israel in the saddle, controlling everything.

“The goal of the recent issues regarding Syria, which started under the pretext of chemical weapons, is also the same, but the Americans are trying through rhetoric and word-manipulation to pretend that they are entering this issue for a humane goal.”

Ayatollah Khamenei, however, stressed that that US politicians do not care about humanitarian concerns at all.

“Americans are making humanitarian claims at the time that their track records include [the atrocities at] Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, silence over Saddam’s use of chemical weapons in Halabja and Iranian cities, as well as the massacre of innocent people of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.”

Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out that what is going on in the region “is indeed the reaction of the global arrogance, led by the US, to the Islamic Awakening.”

“The presence of the global arrogance in the region is [based on] aggression, bullying and avarice, and is aimed at crushing any resistance against this presence. The arrogance front, however, has not been and will not be able to eliminate this resistance [front],” the Leader added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Leader referred to the ongoing turmoil in Egypt, noting that if Egypt had stood up against Israel and had not fallen for US promises, the deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak would not have been freed from prison and those elected by the Egyptian people put behind the bars and tried.

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Swedes protest US plans for war on Syria amid Obama visit

Press TV

Thousands of protesters have held a demonstration in Sweden’s capital to protest against the US’s warmongering policies vis-à-vis Syria as US President Barack Obama arrived in the European country.

Angry demonstrators took to the streets of Stockholm on Wednesday to express opposition to calls by the Obama administration for a military strike on Syria.

The protesters carried banners that read, “No to Big Brother Obama,” “No to war on Syria,” and “Hands off Snowden,” in a reference to American whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked two top secret spying programs run by the US government.

“Send Obama away. We don’t want Obama to come to Sweden because we see him as a war criminal,” a protester said.

The US president traveled to Sweden to discuss issues related to economy, employment, free trade, climate and energy.

However, the demonstrators in Stockholm said Obama is trying to convince the Swedish government to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and support the US attack on Syria.

“No negotiation about Sweden being a member of NATO, because I think that’s on the agenda today, that Obama wants Sweden to be [a] NATO member and we’re opposing all of that,” another protester said.

Syria Countdown

Breathing Easier, For Now…

by FRANKLIN LAMB, source

Damascus

The morning following President Obama’s announcement he would not bomb Syria immediately, the streets of Damascus were packed with shoppers and employees heading to their jobs. Several reasons for this were mentioned by my friend, Eyman. Some Damascenes who had fled their homes last week had returned, and a palpable sense of at least temporary relief pervades much of this capital city. It is also the first of the month. In Syria, government and other employees have just received their monthly paychecks and need to stock up on food, particularly now, upon entering this most uncertain month.

Adding to the uncertainty are people’s plans for the immediate future. Many of those who fled and returned following Obama’s deferral to Congress, are planning to leave again before next weekend’s possible attack. Others, due to conditions for refugees they discovered in Lebanon, have decided to stay, essentially playing a game of Russian roulette with death as they await their fates in their beloved Syria.

At any rate, in Damascus this morning citizens can be seen scurrying to workplaces, feeling safe enough, at least for now, to go grocery shopping and do errands. Even the gunmen who man electronic ‘frisking” equipment just outside my hotel, and who search all wishing to enter, seem genuinely relieved, happy and unusually friendly, as do the army troops on downtown Damascus streets. Friends in Damascus, both in government and private citizens, talk of an “uncertain relief” since last Sunday night, though it is a relief combined with an awareness that a terrible event of some sort may be on the way. Still others, aware of what seems to be increasing opposition to military action amongst the American public, think the attack may be delayed again.

Perhaps most surprisingly, local news outlets are reporting this morning on the results of a new poll showing that 60 percent of the Syrian people think the US will not attack at all. As for the Syrian government, it has been nearly mute internationally, not wanting to provoke the White House, while at the same time assuring the public here that Syria can face all challenges and that history and God are with its people.
The weather here has changed since my visit last month. While the days will stay oppressively hot for another month, the early mornings have turned cool with refreshing soft breezes. Doves and pigeons in the park opposite the National Museum on Beirut Street coo and enjoy the large green space next to the Four Seasons Hotel, the same hotel which the UN CW investigators just vacated as they prepare their report for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Given that an American attack, should one occur, may well open the gates of hell, this observer is constantly amazed by the mundane, everyday things one is still able to observe around here. For example, last Friday afternoon I watched transfixed from a park bench as two public works employees weeded a few errant dandelions and weeds that had dared invade a beautiful manicured garden-park in downtown Damascus. This struck me as a bit bizarre, given the then widely-held belief that a US missile blitz might light up Damascus that very evening. On the scale of things these days, I doubted that a few weeds sprouting in a city park were of great import. Or were they? Perhaps carrying out one’s individual duty and work assignment these days is a wholly interconnected part of the nation’s overall resistance to foreign invasions, and is congruent somehow to what seems to be a pervading attitude—of people wanting to carry on with, or at least simulate, their pre-crisis lives and routines, their accustomed simple pleasures. And so maybe weeding gardens in Damascus makes perfect sense these days.

A Palestinian family from Latakia refugee camp up north who had fled their homes last December, joining thousands who have come to Damascus seeking safety, were visiting with me this morning. When I asked how their beautiful three and five year old children were adjusting to the crisis atmosphere in their new surroundings, the mother replied, “When the bombing started over a year ago the children could not sleep well because they were frightened by the loud noise. But over time they got used to it and slept fine. But last night they could not sleep because there was no shelling and it was too quiet for them. So what are we to do”? And she laughed.

It is true that there was no shelling and bombing here in Damascus during the night of Sunday, September 1, which the lady was referring to. And this fact is significant. Informed sources report to this observer that the government decision not to bomb the suburbs including East Ghouta, which normally occurs nightly, was taken at the highest level in order to send a reply message from Syria to America and personally to President Obama. The latter’s speech, just hours earlier in Washington, contained several messages for the leadership in Damascus. What the Syrian government was signaling, some claim, was its willingness to join Tehran, Moscow and Washington in finding a peaceful solution to Syria’s crisis, starting with Geneva II.

Meanwhile, the ever-rising cost of living for Syria’s population, due in large measure to the US-led economic sanctions, continues to devastate many families here. Those sanctions are designed by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC), and they intentionally target Syria’s civilian population in an effort to get the population to break with its government, thereby facilitating the US goal of regime change in Syria and Iran. This observer, with two student friends, yesterday visited a government owned supermarket called “Marazaa Government Supermarket”—one of approximately one hundred government-operated grocery stores in central Damascus. We compared prices by also visiting the privately owned “Supermarket Day by Day” in the Sabah Bahar neighborhood, also in central Damascus, and found that government-owned grocery stores average 5-15 percent lower prices, depending upon the item. The private grocery chains tend to be frequented by those with more money and who might seek European products and a wider product selection. Government stores, on the other hand, sell only Syrian products.

Bread was being rationed last week in government bakeries. At least one such bakery exists in every neighborhood, and a citizen is currently allowed to purchase one plastic bag with 22 loaves per day. The government plastic bag weighs three kilos (roughly 6.5 pounds) and sells for 50 Syrian lire or a bit less than USD 25 cents. This quantity, I am advised by a super market store manager, normally feeds a family of at least three for one day given that the average bread staple consumption in Syria is three loaves per person per day. Normally, even during this 30 month crisis, a citizen could purchase as much as they desired from government stores, but the American attack threat has caused yet more market complications in Syria for the average citizens.

In private bakeries, severe inflation has hit, and just seven loaves of bread, which would feed two persons for one day, now costs 150 lire or approximately 75 cents. Despite the wide price differential (the government shops have not raised their prices since the regime of Hafez al-Assad), many people are shopping at the private shops because it can take five or more hours waiting in line at the government bread shops.
Before the onset of the conflict now raging in Syria, the price of eggs was 125 lira (about 25 cents) for 24 in a carton. Prior to the most recent crisis, the price was 500 lira (one us dollar) for two dozen eggs, and this morning in Damascus it is 700 lira.

In seeking to end this crisis, Syria is fortunate to have tough and resolute allies including Russia and Iran and, perhaps equally important, a skilled diplomatic corps and group of officials who have exhibited remarkable acumen and insight as well as nerves of steel—both during the crisis as a whole and especially over the past several days of brinkmanship. This observer has had the honor to meet with a few of them personally. These include Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and his Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, Information Minister Omran Zoubi and his able staff, Presidential Adviser Dr. Bouthania Shaaban, and her dedicated office colleagues, and Parliament Speaker Mohammad Jihad al-Laham.

In this observer’s view, many Syrians, perhaps a majority, do not believe that President Obama, Defense Secretary Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, or a growing number of members of Congress, and most importantly the American public, want war. Some here are thinking, wishfully perhaps, that without a strong Congressional vote in favor of the Obama request, the president will not order a criminal attack Syria’s civilian population, for if there is a US attack, that is assuredly what it will be.

Surprisingly perhaps, Obama is being praised by some for his courage in not caving to the neocons and Zionist lobby by ordering the US military to begin bombing promptly. As one Syrian journalist told this observer just hours ago, “Obama still has the opportunity to earn that Nobel Prize, which he received a few years back for I have no idea why, and secure his legacy as one of American’s great Presidents—if he has the courage and vision of the late Dr. Martin Luther King.”

Before ending a very long day with sleep, this observer invited the Palestinian family to dinner near my hotel as it was not apparent that they had been eating much recently. We talked about prospects for the Syrian Arab Republic, and Palestinian refugees, so many of whom have been internally and externally displaced as result of this maelstrom, and as I interacted with the wonderful children, I could not help becoming wistful as I contemplated the certainty that it is these children, and Syria’s poor, who are condemned, unless the American people prevent it, to suffer the brunt of this latest US adventure—condemned as their country becomes more divided, and a new batch of terrorist groups springs up like mushrooms after a summer rain.

Washington’s ill-considered criminal attack will aid and abet these largely Gulf financed militia and provide justification, in their minds for literally hundreds of often competing jihadist groups to spread carnage across Syria. The innocent in the USA and the West will also eventually suffer a severe pay back price as was the case on 9/11/2001 and a decade later on 9/11/2011. And on and on it goes.

This observer is frequently asked these days, as the bombs and rockets hit ever nearer, if the American people have the political and moral will to take to the streets, and to the offices of their Congressional representatives whose salaries they pay, and make history—a history that will revitalize our county and its claimed democracy. Each American, and all people of good will, have the power to do this service to humanity.
And they can do it in the coming days. If they fail, who do we blame but ourselves? Because when it comes down to it, it’s our country; it doesn’t belong to the politicians or the corporations or to those who pledge fealty to a foreign occupying power half a world away. It is our constitution, and if each of us doesn’t protect it we cede it to others to sully and use as they will.

Expert: Firing rockets message for military, Congress, Syria and allies & related news

Lebanese Expert: Firing Rockets Message for Military, Congress, Syria and Allies

Al Manar

The Lebanese military expert and strategist retired Brigadier General Amin Hoteit said Tuesday that the joint Israel-American military force that has been formed on the sidelines of the NATO Navy forces.

A Zionist navy piece was attached to these forces without being the so-called ‘Israel’ a member of NATO,” Hotiet told Al-Manar website.

“This new attached force has tested today the rocket systems (Tomahawk and cruise missiles, as well as interceptors platform for missiles),” he added.

As for the regional and international messages behind firing the rockets, Hoteit believed that the operation holds a certain message to the military force that it is mobilized for a serious and imminent war.

“There is also a message to the U.S. Congress that the forces are ready and wait for the war approval.”

“Another message to Syria and its allies in the framework of intimidation and psychological warfare to say that the war is coming, the threat is serious and that there is no retreat from aggression,” he added.

In the final evaluation, the Lebanese expert said the rockets will not change the landscape and the balance of power, but if the United States wants to attack, it must prepare with its agents in the region for an open war.

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Israeli Army Launched Med Missiles as Part of Joint US-Israeli Drill

Al Manar

Missiles that Russia reported were launched in the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday were part of a joint American-Israeli military exercise, Israeli media said.

A missile launch early Tuesday in the Mediterranean Sea was part of joint American-Israeli military exercises, Israel’s defence ministry said.

“The Israeli defence ministry and the American MDA (Missile Defence Agency) Tuesday morning at 9:15 (0615 GMT) successfully launched an Ankor-type radar missile,” it said in a statement.

The Zionist army said it was “not familiar” with any missiles being fired in the Mediterranean. It said it didn’t detected signs missiles were launched into Syria or had exploded in Damascus.

Russia on Tuesday announced that its missile early warning system had detected the launch of two missiles from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea fired towards the Sea’s eastern coastline.

The launches took place at 10:16 am Moscow time (0616 GMT) and were detected by the early warning system in Armavir in southern Russia, the defense ministry said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

It said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had already reported to President Vladimir Putin about the event, which comes amid growing expectations of Western military action in Syria.

“The launch was detected by the early warning radar in Armavir,” the Interfax news agency quoted the defense ministry as saying. “The trajectory of the targets in question was from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea towards the eastern part of the Mediterranean coastline,” it added.

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Miqdad to al-Manar: Saudi Arabia Wants to Eliminate Syria by Every Means

Al Manar

Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Miqdad stressed on Monday his country’s readiness to confront any aggression waged against it, underlying that any attack on Syria will set the whole region ablaze.

“We all know that the West cannot be trusted, because of this we are ready for confrontation and for anything that might happen,” Miqdad said.

“Any attack on Syria will set this region ablaze. When the first rocket got fired, no one can predict the resulted repercussions,” he added.

During an exclusive interview with Al-Manar TV, the Syrian deputy FM criticized Riyadh position of Syria, and pointed out that the Saudi regime wants to end Syria by every means, to serve the American and Zionist interests.

“The Saudi regime is fallen since long in its people’s eye, as well as in the Arab nation’s eye. They are facing now the battle of challenge and last downfall.”

Fielding a question about the Saudi hastening to attack Syria, Miqdad justified it as spite, hatred:
“This is the attitude of the salve who seeks to pacify his master and to present more services which have not been requested.”

Addressing the Lebanese file, the Syrian politician expressed beliefs that Lebanon is strong due to its will and diplomats.

“Lebanon is strong because it has the will and the foreign ministers who are able to be united and defend the Lebanese interest,” Miqdad stressed.

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Lawmakers Blast Obama’s Syria War Draft

Al Manar

American lawmakers have criticized the draft of President Barack Obama’s authorization for military action in Syria, saying it could open the door to attacks on other countries.US

Obama and other White House officials pressed lawmakers on Monday to approve military force against Syria.

However, there is deep disagreement on how to proceed, with some lawmakers saying the draft authorization is too broad in scope and duration.

The lawmakers are worried that the draft could let Obama attack other countries as well. They say although the authorization’s focus is on the use of chemicals in Syria, it has not set a time limit on military action, and has not confined it only to Syria.

The proposal authorizes the president to use the armed forces “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria,” Reuters reported.

The proposal also explicitly allows military action to deter or prevent the transfer of those weapons into or out of Syria.

Congressional hesitancy reflects the overall weariness of war among Americans who oppose getting involved in Syria.

“People have become, it’s more than just war-weary, they’ve become skeptical of the effectiveness of these military involvements,” said Rep. James McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

“The resolution that they are presenting right now is so open-ended, I think even people who are sympathetic to the administration might have trouble supporting it,” he added.

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Human Shields Campaign: To Protect Syria from Potential Attack

by Ali Abdallah, Syria, Al Ahed news

A group of Syrians from all walks of life, including young artists and athletes, participated in the campaign called “Over our Dead Bodies” on Monday, to help protect the country from potential foreign military action.

The participants are shielding key facilities in the capital, Damascus, pledging to stand their ground until the US military threats are stopped or they are killed. The organizers of the campaign said they have received calls from all over the world asking for permission to join the movement. The campaign comes as amid threats of foreign military intervention in Syria.

The campaign was launched at Damascus’s Sheraton hotel through a press conference, in which Syrian artist Laura abu Asaad, Journalist Ogarit Dandash, and Swimmer Firas Maala took part. The campaign was welcomed by a vast audience, and the number of volunteers increased after a facebook page was established for the campaign.

Ghassan Najjar, the media coordinator of the campaign said “The goal of this campaign is to deliver a message to the world that says: The Syrians will not stand still before the US possible attack to be launched against their country. They will rather stand in face [of this attack] to protect Syria and its facilities with their bare bodies.”

In a statement to al-Ahed news, Najjar stated “The initiative started in Qasyoun Mount in Damascus, as it stands symbol to the capital Damascus and to all Syria. Tens of young men, women, and even children gathered in the tents that were set up for the campaign, while more volunteers arrive day after day.”

For her part, well-known Lebanese journalist Ogarit Dandash accentuated “Syrian expatriates, also some Arabs [Egyptians, Jordanians, Morrocan] and Westerners from Germany and the US have a strong desire to participate in the campaign, therefore they contact the organizers and ask about how they can support the movement, and what to do to contribute in prevent a military strike.”

According to the organizers, some young Syrians who do not belong to any party or political side have already started to execute the idea of human shields in other Syrian provinces. Also, striking it is that the campaign is not funded by any group or party.

The idea of human shields, according to Dandash, is not a similar to protests and rallies. Being a human shield means presenting oneself as armor to protect the civil and military facilities, and risk their safety.
On August 21, terrorist militants and the foreign-backed opposition in Syria claimed that 1,300 people had been killed in a chemical attack the Syrian government launched on militant strongholds in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.

A number of Western countries, including the US, France, and the UK, were quick to adopt the rhetoric of war against Syria despite the fact that Damascus categorically rejected having had any role in the chemical attack.

The Syrian government announced later that the chemical attack had actually been carried out by the militants themselves as a false flag operation.

On August 29, the British parliament voted against participation by Britain, the United States’ closest ally, in any potential military intervention in Syria. While the British government had primarily sought a second vote in the parliament as well, it ruled out any such vote on September 2, saying that the parliament “has spoken,” and that the government “has absolutely no plans to go back to parliament.”

On Friday, August 30, NATO also distanced itself from participating in any military intervention in Syria, with the chief of the Western military coalition, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, saying he did not “foresee any NATO role” in a war on Syria.

Syrian armed groups in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

In a report published on Friday, the armed groups revealed that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by militants mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the deadly gas attack,” wrote Gavlak.

Despite warnings from the UN, as well as Iran, Russia, and China against war, Washington has remained defiant, saying that it is willing to go ahead with its plans for a strike on Syria without the approval of the United Nations or even the support of its allies. However, US President Barack Obama said on Saturday, August 31 that his administration will first seek authorization from the Congress.

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Vatican renews calls against Syria strike

Source

A top Vatican official on Monday warned the war in Syria could escalate into a global conflict, a day after Pope Francis made an impassioned call for peace.

“The Syria conflict has all the ingredients to explode into a war of global dimensions,” Monsignor Mario Toso, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told Vatican radio.

“The solution to Syria’s problems is not in armed intervention. Violence will not decrease and there is a risk of a conflagration that extends to other countries,” he said…

Francis called for a day of fasting and prayer on Saturday for peace in Syria, calling on Christians, believers of other religions and non-believers to take part.

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Two Thirds of British People Oppose Strikes on Syria

Al Ahed news

A poll published by The Independent British daily showed that “the Iraq War has turned the British public against any military intervention in the Middle East.”

According to a ComRes survey for the daily, “By a margin of two-to-one, the British people oppose President Barack Obama’s plan for military strikes against Syria and say that the UK should keep out of all conflicts in the region for the foreseeable future.”

The ComRes survey suggests that MPs were right, at least according to public opinion, to veto air strikes by Britain last Thursday.

It found that only 29 per cent of people agree that the US, without Britain, should launch air strikes against the Syrian regime, while 57 per cent disagree.

Four out of five people believe that any military strikes against Syria should first be sanctioned by the United Nations, while 15 per cent disagree with this statement.

Asked whether the experience of the 2003 Iraq war means that Britain should keep out of military conflicts in the Middle East for the foreseeable future, 62 per cent agree and 31 per cent disagree.

A majority of supporters of every party agree with this statement, with Labor and UK Independence Party voters more likely to believe Britain should “keep out” than Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters.

After his Commons rebuff, a majority of people 54 per cent agree that David Cameron showed he is “out of touch with Britain” in his handling of the Syria crisis, while 34 per cent disagree. Worryingly for the Prime Minister, a third of current Tory supporters (33 per cent) and almost half of voters overall (42 per cent) believe Cameron showed he is out of touch, as do 76 per cent of Ukip supporters.

Andrew Mitchell, the Tory former International Development Secretary, said: “It may be, after lengthy and careful consideration, [the US] Congress affirms its support for the President’s plans and, in the light of that, our Parliament may want to consider this matter further.”

But Cameron’s spokesman said: “Parliament has spoken and that is why the Government has absolutely no plans to go back to Parliament.”

Downing Street indicated that Britain does not expect its military bases – such as RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus, less than 200 miles from Syria – to be used in any air strikes.

Britain sold nerve chemicals to Syrian groups 10 months after crisis began

Al Manar

The UK Daily Record website revealed Sunday that the United Kingdom had allowed firms to sell nerve gas chemicals to parties in Syria in January 2012, i.e. 10 months after the Syrian conflict began.

The website noted that those chemicals, just like the sarin, are capable of being used to make chemical weapons.

The chemical export licenses were granted by Business Secretary Vince Cable’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, but were only revoked six months later, when the European Union imposed tough sanctions on the Arab country.

On Saturday, politicians and anti-arms trade campaigners urged Prime Minister David Cameron to explain why the licenses were granted.

The SNP’s leader at Westminster, MP Angus Robertson, said he will be raising the issue in Parliament as soon as possible to find out what examination the UK Government made of where these chemicals were going and what they were to be used for.

“Approving the sale of chemicals which can be converted into lethal weapons during a civil war is a very serious issue,” he stated.

“We need to know who these chemicals were sold to, why they were sold, and whether the UK Government were aware that the chemicals could potentially be used for chemical weapons,” the British MP added.

Daily Record noted that the UK government have refused to identify the license holders or say whether the licenses were issued to one or two companies.

The Syrian government has denied blame for the nerve gas attack, saying the accusations are “full of lies,” pointing the finger at militant opposition groups.

UN weapons inspectors investigating the atrocity left Damascus on Saturday after gathering evidence for four days. It could take up to two weeks for the results of tests on samples taken from victims of the attack, as well as from water, soil and shrapnel, to be revealed.

Syria still on alert & calls on UN to stop US strike

Syria Still on Alert Even If Strike Threat Has Receded

Al Manar

Syria’s army is still on alert, a security official said Monday, even if the threat of an imminent US-led strike has receded after US President Barack Obama decided to ask Congress for approval.

“American aggression against Syria, if it happens, is a form of support to terrorism. The army is on alert and will remain so until terrorism is completely eradicated,” the official stated.

The Syrian army has continued its military operations against the terrorist groups across Syria, according to the Syrian News Agency (SANA).

“The Syrian troops has killed a large number of fighters, including Libyans, Saudis as well as Jordanians and destroyed their weapons in Damascus countryside and in the city of al-Zabadani,” SANA mentioned.

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Syria Calls on UN to Stop US Strike, “Prevent Absurd Use of Force”

Al Manar

Syria asked the UN to prevent “any aggression” against Syria following a call over the weekend by US President Barack Obama for punitive strikes against the Syrian military for last month’s chemical weapons attack.

SyriaUS military action will be put to a vote in Congress, which ends its summer recess on September 9.

In a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and President of the Security Council Maria Cristina Perceval, Syrian UN envoy Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari called on “the UN Secretary General to shoulder his responsibilities for preventing any aggression on Syria and pushing forward reaching a political solution to the crisis in Syria”, state news agency SANA said on Monday.

He called on the Security Council to “maintain its role as a safety valve to prevent the absurd use of force out of the frame of international legitimacy”.

Ja’afari said the United States should “play its role, as a peace sponsor and as a partner to Russia in the preparation for the international conference on Syria and not as a state that uses force against whoever opposes its policies”.

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Putin Approves Duma Decision to Send Envoy to US for Syria Talks

Al Manar

Russian President Vladimir Putin supported Monday the Russian parliament’s special initiative to send a Russian parliamentary delegation to the U.S. Congress to discuss the Syrian crisis.

Head of the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin, and head of Russian Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, submitted a request to President Putin to use the links between the two countries in order to encourage dialogue with Washington over Syria.

Putin stressed that he is ready to support the parliamentary initiative, stating that there is no better way of direct dialogue along with presenting positions in public.

“Such a dialogue will contribute greatly to the development of Russian-American relations in general,” he said.

Matvienko noted that members of the two parliamentary boards are concerned about the development of the situation in Syria and consider military intervention without UN Security Council authorization is not acceptable.

Matviyenko expressed the hope to establish a dialogue with the U.S. Congress, urging it to adopt a more balanced stance.

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Warmongers want Syria war ploy back on table in UK

Press TV

Certain British warmongers are seeking to revive a bill killed by lawmakers last week that called for military invasion of Syria in a joint attempt by the U.S. military apparatus.

The attempt was put to vote by Prime Minister David Cameron, who together with U.S. President Barack Obama were readying their militaries to launch yet another military adventurism based on certain intelligence reports provided by Zionist and CIA spies in the wake of chemical weapons use in Syria.

However, British lawmakers, who had a bitter lesson learnt from the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, unanimously rejected another war ploy which was in the making by super spies in the MI6. The rejection inflicted a strong blow on the Conservative-led coalition government, and on David Cameron and other fellow warmongers, in particular.

After the parliamentary defeat in London, Barack Obama, who was left alone in yet another military adventurism, took the initiative to put it to Congress and attribute the defeat to the U.S. lawmakers.

Back in London, chief Conservative warmongers, who see their political longevity in plotting wars anywhere in the world, began putting pressure on David Cameron to put the Syria invasion ploy back on the table.

The chief conspirers who called for reconsideration included Tory leader Lord Howard of Lympne, London Mayor Boris Johnson, former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, and former Tory foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

“The Opposition in Parliament last week got itself into something of a muddle,” said Lord Howard, adding that he hoped the question to parliamentary approval would be reopened.

Lord Ashdown said that Ed Miliband (head of the opposition Labour Party) should hold a debate on the US evidence available since last Thursday’s parliamentary vote.

“Of course the government cannot ask Parliament (for which, read, in effect Mr Miliband) to think again. There’s nothing to stop Parliament deciding to do so in light of new developments,” he was quoted as saying.

In an article in the Daily Telegraph, London Mayor Boris Johnson suggested that a new motion could be put before parliament “if there is new and better evidence that inculpates Assad [the president of Syria].”

Jim Murphy, the Shadow Defence Secretary said that if there were “really significant developments in Syria” or al-Qaeda obtained chemical weapons, “then of course the Prime Minister has the right to bring that back to Parliament.”

This is while that the popular government of President Bashar al Assad has categorically dismissed U.S.-led allegations of using chemical weapons against their own people as “blatant lies”.

This happened when UN arms inspectors were present in the country, trying to collect evidence of who used those weapons on innocent people, including women and children. The inspectors have said they need at least three weeks to submit their findings to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

‘Syria ready to decisively respond to any aggression’ & Italy warns strikes could turn conflict global

Defense Minister: Syria Ready to Decisively Respond to Any Aggression

Al Manar

Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jasem al-Freij said the Syrian army and people are ready to confront any form of military aggression on the country by Western powers, promising to decisively respond to any attack.Al-Freij

During a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hussein Dehghan, al-Freij stressed that criminal terrorists have deliberately used chemical weapons, killing women and innocent children to get more support from the West in order to blackout their defeat, thus misleading the public opinion to justify their continued crimes.

For his part, the Iranian defense Minister said that the main loser in any war in the region is the side which launches it.

“Iran is seriously following the security developments in the region and the crisis in the friendly country of Syria,” Dehghan said, affirming the need for making use of political and peaceful means to solve the crisis.

He underlined that the use of force and violence will only lead to escalating the crisis.

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Italy Warns Syria Strikes Could Turn Conflict Global

Al Manar

Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said on Friday that military strikes being planned against Syria risked escalating into “a global conflagration.”

“From a dramatic and terrible conflict, we run the risk of even a global conflagration,” she said in an interview with news channel SkyTG24.

“This is how it always begins. Limited strikes without a UN mandate. Syria will obviously react,” said Bonino, a former European aid commissioner.

“Even though it seems slower, tougher and sometimes looks like it won’t succeed, keeping up diplomatic and political pressure is the only solution,” she said.

Bonino has ruled out any Italian participation in strikes against Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons.

Italy played a pivotal role as a launch pad for air strikes on Libya but government sources quoted in Italian media said it would likely not allow third countries to use its bases if asked to do so now.

Earlier this week she warned: “Even the option of a limited intervention risks becoming unlimited.”

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Demonstrations In Several Countries: Hands OFF Syria!

Al Ahed news

Demonstrations have been held in several countries, including the United States, against potential Western-led military action against Syria.

Anti-war protests were held in several cities across the US on Thursday, including Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago. In New York City, supporters of the Syrian government gathered at Times Square chanting slogans against the US warmongering policies.

The demonstrators said the White House had failed to provide any proof that supported claims of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government.

“Where is the chemical weapons? Until now we didn’t find it. US soldiers will die for nothing. Where is the evidence?” said a protester holding a sign that read, “Syria=Iraq. Same Lies.

“I do not want this nation to become involved in yet another war. People always lose, no matter what side. Enough is enough. We should just stay the hell out,” said another anti-war demonstrator in New York City.

Meanwhile, thousands of people in Greece marched on the US Embassy building in Athens to voice opposition to any Western military action on Syria.

In Turkey, protesters gathered outside the US consulate in the city of Adana to denounce Washington’s aggressive threats regarding Syria.

Similar demonstrations were also staged in Venezuela.

The Western calls for military action against Syria intensified after the militants operating inside Syria and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition claimed on August 21 that hundreds had been killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds in some suburbs of the capital, Damascus.

On Thursday, a meeting of the UN Security Council over the Syrian issue ended inconclusively.

Representatives from the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China met afternoon at the UN headquarters in New York for the second time in two days
.
The previous meeting on Wednesday also abruptly ended with the Security Council deeply divided over a British-proposed draft resolution to authorize military action against Syria.

The UK parliament on Thursday voted against a motion by British Prime Minister David Cameron to authorize military action against Syria.

The Western members of the Security Council have been pushing for a resolution on the use of force against Syria, but Russia and China are strongly opposed to any authorization of that kind.

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Cameron Loses Parliamentary Vote on Syrian Strike, Swift Newspapers Reactions

Al Ahed news

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to launch an offensive against the Syrian government have been defeated in the Commons vote.

Cameron lost a government motion, backing a military intervention in the Arab country “if necessary”, by 272 votes to 285, after dozens of Tory MPs joined forces with the opposition Labour party.

“The House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly,” the British premier said on Thursday.

American officials said the US government is ready for unilateral military action, after British lawmakers rejected the motion in support of an assault against Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons near Damascus.
The British Prime Minister had played a leading role in persuading US President Barack Obama to start a military intervention in the Arab country.

British newspapers were swift to react to the commons vote, changing late print editions to run new splashes and comment.

The front page headlines make uncomfortable reading for prime minister David “I get that” Cameron. Every title refers to him being humiliated and that his authority has been diminished.

“The humbling of Cameron”, said the Daily Mail. “No to war, blow to Cameron”, said the Daily Telegraph. “CAM DOWN: PM humiliated as MPs say NO to military strikes”, said The Sun. Also, the headline of The Times underscored the same message: “Cameron humiliated as MPs veto missile strikes on Syria”.

“Shock commons defeat”, said the Daily Express in a page 1 blurb pointing to a piece inside headlined: “Cameron rocked as MPs say no to air strikes against Syria.” The paper also carried the result of an online opinion poll recording that a majority of the public were against military action.

A similar message was delivered by the non-Tory press: “We don’t want your war”, said the Daily Mirror. “MPs force Cameron to rule out British assault on Syria”, said The Guardian. The Financial Times’s splash heading said: “US ready to act alone as MPs reject Syria strike: Embarrassing vote defeat for Cameron”.

The Telegraph’s leader, “A nation haunted by mistakes of the past”, said it was the Iraq war that poisoned Cameron’s authority. Memories of being taken to war on a false prospectus, mentioned by the PM during his speech, played an overriding part in the rejection of his call for military action.

It concluded: “The resulting vote leaves both British policy on Syria, and Mr Cameron’s own leadership, mired in the deepest uncertainty.”

The Telegraph also carried a piece by Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, “David Cameron failed the test of trust, and paid the price”, in which he wrote:

“British prime ministers are just not supposed to lose votes on issues as fundamental as war and peace. This represents not just an extraordinary defeat, but a catastrophic political misjudgment.”

It spoke of Cameron as “the principal loser” who, despite act “a polished performance” lost control of a key issue of foreign policy and therefore suffered “an almost unprecedented failure.”

Britain tabled a draft resolution to authorize military action against Syria, but the meeting of the UN Security Council’s permanent members on Thursday ended without reaching an agreement to resolve the Syrian crisis.

The British government’s legal advice had indicated earlier that a military action against Syria is legal even without the United Nations approval.

Where is Hezbollah from Syria attack?

by Ibrahim Al-Amin (Al-Akhbar Newspaper), source

What is cute about the Americans and the Europeans is that when they get ready to commit a crime, they hurry to ask the victim about its reaction. In the past few days, they were active on the level of gaining information concerning Iran’s, Syria’s, and Hezbollah’s reactions towards any attack against Syria.

Hezbollah, AssadThose simpleminded sides want the victim to stand under the open sky, giving way to say: I am ready to be killed! But the attacker is even ill at ease when witnessing this reaction. He wants the victim’s family to catch up with him, cheer and thank him for having the chance of being one among its victims.

Then, someone appears within the decision-making circles in the west to say that the public opinion in Syria, the Arab World, and the west doesn’t accept our silence about a crime committed in Syria. And that any attempt to examination won’t enjoy any sort of media coverage. We mustn’t know that all opinion polls in the United States, Britain and France show that the majority opposes the attack. They also don’t want us to hear that the parliaments in most of those countries do not agree upon the decision of war, in addition to that some well-known experts and officials in the armies’ leaderships and intelligence apparatuses are warning from the risks of such an attack.

They only want us to listen to the voices of the great leaders, who, in a moment, decided, without any evidence or testimony, and without any need to examine, that there is a condemned criminal who must be punished, even without trial. Therefore, the side that issued the sentence is the same side that chooses the type of punishment. However, the side that wants to object must either write a statement of condemnation or deal with it if it wants.

Up till now, all the indicators of the decision making zone indicate an imminent military attack against Syria. But what was leaked from this zone, as well as the supposed sides to apply the decision, indicates the presence of confusion. It might just be an extra time-buying process to coordinate the strike. However, it might be at the same time an opportunity to revise a sort of different messages that were sent hastily to those who are concerned about it. The messages contain that every attack will witness a reaction. But in case the reaction was immediate, wide, and limited, there was no clear response in this regard. Among the confusing questions in various western milieus, there is a central question about Hezbollah’s reaction towards any strike against Syria, as well as the questions concerning Israel’s direct security on one level, in addition to the security of international forces in the region, and the political and military security of the western countries on another.

Hezbollah is completely silent. It is not obliged at the moment to announce a significant position. It is that any statement issued by it will condemn the strike in advance and warn against the dangerous repercussions of this attack on the region. Some words between the lines might imply the party’s readiness to support Syria in defending itself against any foreign attack. As for those who are waiting Hezbollah’s decision, let them wait, but there are some main points that are good to be clarified for those who are concerned:

Firstly: In a case similar to what we are facing today, it is good to pay attention that Hezbollah is a part of a huge alliance led by Iran. Besides the special relationship, the non-secret one, between Hezbollah and Iran, it is better to those who are concerned to well-read Khamenei’s expressions that warn from a “catastrophe that will hit the region” in case a strike was launched against Syria. This position was also represented by distinguished army leaders and armed forces commanders noting that Iran will not accept its Syrian ally being attacked without intervening.

Secondly: Hezbollah is totally involved in the Syrian crisis, particularly in the confrontation between the western-backed or Takfiri armed groups. The party sacrificed dozens of martyrs thereat. It is playing a major role and considers itself concerned with what is going on in relation with a whole vision indicating that the most significant goal of the war is attacking the axis of resistance and reaching it. The party also doesn’t need to know the reasons of any foreign intervention, Israeli, American or European. It has rather been waiting this since a long period of time. Consequently, to those who think that Hezbollah, when it decided to intervene, had studied the issue from all sides and will not retreat now; it is totally opposite because any western strike against Syria will represent an additional motive to the party not only to stand more strongly by the side of its ally President Bashar Assad, but also to be in the heart of the battle to defend Syria against this strike. As for its behavior, it is a question whose answer is still hidden within the party.

Report translated by: Zeinab Abdallah

Assad: We were waiting for US attack & ‘no smoking gun linking Syria to gas attack’

by Martin Rowson

Assad: We were Waiting for US Attack, We’ll Emerge Victorious

Al Manar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the Syrians were waiting for such an intervention by the US, promising to get out from this war victorious.

During his latest meeting with Syrian military leaders after speculations grew on a US military strike on allegations of chemical attack on Damascus, Assad said that “since the beginning of the crisis, and we were sure that the moment will come when our real enemy knocks his head into our country intervening,” adding that he knows well that the Syrian leaders’ morals are high and “you are on full readiness to face any aggression and protect the homeland.”

But he ordered them to convey these high morals to their inferiors and to the Syrian citizens, according to Al-Akhbar newspaper.

“This is a historic confrontation that we will come out of victorious,” he ended up saying.

President Assad told a visiting delegation of Yemeni politicians also on Thursday that Syria will defend itself against any attack. “Syria will defend itself in the face of any aggression, and threats will only increase its commitment to its principles and its independence,” he said, according to Syria’s state television.

“Syria, with its resistant people and valiant army, is determined to wipe out terrorism which is being backed by Israel and Western nations to serve their own purposes of sowing division in the region, fragmenting its people and forcing them into submission,” the president added. “The people are the guarantors of victory and that is what is happening in Syria.”

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Russia Sending Warships to the Mediterranean

Al Ahed news

The Russian Interfax news agency reported Thursday that Moscow “over the next few days” will be sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean as the West prepares for possible strikes against Syria.

“The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterranean called for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces,” a source in the Russian General Staff told Interfax.

It further mentioned that “a large anti-submarine ship of the Northern Fleet will join them [the existing naval forces] over the next few days.”

“Later it will be joined by the Moskva, a rocket cruiser of the Black Sea Fleet which is now wrapping up its tasks in the northern Atlantic and will soon begin a Transatlantic voyage towards the Strait of Gibraltar,” the agency stated.

In addition, a rocket cruiser of the Pacific Fleet, the Varyag, will join the Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean this autumn by replacing a large anti-submarine ship.
However, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited a high-ranking representative of the naval command who said the changes to the country’s forces in the region were not linked to the current tensions over Syria and called them “a planned rotation.”

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Cameron Faces Mounting Opposition over Syria: Up to 70 Tory MPs Not Convinced by Case for Strike

Al Ahed news

The Guardian British daily reported Thursday that PM David Cameron is facing bigger opposition than expected over an attack on Syria, with up to 70 Tory MPs yet to be persuaded by the coalition’s case for military action.

The scale of hostility before Thursday’s initial vote in the Commons on intervention underscores why the prime minister felt it necessary to promise MPs a second vote before British forces have any direct military engagement in Syria.

He made the concession as a growing number of Conservatives publicly expressed their reservations about the case for action, including three of Cameron’s former ministers – Cheryl Gillan, Peter Luff and Sir Gerald Howarth.

Several ministerial aides, including David Burrowes and Daniel Kawczynski, have also spoken of their reluctance to back military intervention, raising the prospect of their resignations if they fail to be persuaded by the government motion.

Backbencher support will be crucial for Cameron as Labor leader Ed Miliband has said he will not back the coalition’s motion for action against Syria.

Instead, Miliband is planning to put forward a more cautious amendment favoring action only if certain conditions have been met in a move that could win round Labor opponents of strikes such as Diane Abbott.

The caveats include seeing the results of UN weapons inspections, compelling evidence that the Syrian regime was responsible for the use of chemical weapons, and clear legal advice that any strike is within international law.
Cameron and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, have a majority of 77 in the House of Commons, so they will need to win round skeptics in the debate, which starts at 2.30 and could run for eight hours.

However, the threatened rebellion may not materialize on Thursday, as Conservatives MPs may be mollified by the text of the motion promising a second vote.

But one Tory MP said it showed the prime minister’s weakness. Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, suggested the motion offering a second vote in future was a climbdown for Cameron in the face of major opposition. “What to do when you cannot command a majority in Commons for Syria strikes? Table a motion about something else,” he wrote on Twitter.

So far about 30 Tories have publicly come out as skeptics about military strikes, putting Cameron under pressure to set out a robust legal basis and strategy in Thursday’s debate. But there are thought to be more doubters in private.
One Tory MP said he believed at least 70 of his colleagues harbored reservations about handing the coalition a broad mandate for a strike on Syria without more details and a firm timetable being spelled out to parliament.

Gillan, a senior Tory backbencher, said on Wednesday that she and many colleagues had “great doubts”, and warned that intervention could lead to “absolute disaster”. She told the Guardian she did not know how she would vote, but felt “very strongly that we must have a clear objective and thought through the ramifications”.

“I’m very cautious,” she said. ” I sat in the House of Commons listening to Tony Blair and I really believed he was telling me there was no choice. We haven’t had the Chilcot Inquiry yet but I feel we were sold a pup. This is also too important to get wrong. I need to know they have thought this through.”

Peter Luff, one of Cameron’s defense ministers until last year, also told the Guardian he remained to be persuaded in favor of an attack on Syria. “I am yet to hear a compelling case that military action would be for the best,” he said.

Another former defense minister, Sir Gerald Howarth, said he was concerned that Britain was at risk of “getting our hand caught in the mangle” of a civil war between Syrian factions.

Howarth told the BBC Radio 4′s The World at One that he was still open-minded about the vote but skeptical about the benefits of military action as Britain had to “be realistic about what it is we can achieve”.

Davis, a former shadow home secretary, told the Times he could not see a “clear outcome” and was yet to be convinced about military action, but would make up his mind during the debate.

Kawczynski, a parliamentary private secretary to the Wales secretary, said: “People are very torn about the prospect of Britain being involved again in an overseas conflict.” Asked whether he would vote against the motion and give up his government role, Kawczynski said: “The wording will be crucial. It has to refer to the UN.”

David Burrowes, an aide to the environment secretary, wrote on his website that he was “very reluctant to approve the use of British weapons or military in Syria and would need an extremely compelling case to be made to change my mind”.

While many Tory MPs said they were waiting for the debate to make up their minds, some appeared ready to vote against.

One prominent Tory backbencher, Sarah Wollaston, the MP for Totnes, said she would vote against a military strike and called the lack of a free vote an abuse of power by her leadership. After reading the motion, she said it seemed like an “entrapment” to bury an endorsement for military action inside an “over-long and blindingly obvious essay”.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said she was “extremely reluctant to support British interference”, and would be voting against any attack “as things stand”.

Among the Lib Dems, one senior politician said there was deep unease in the 55-strong parliamentary party, which was the only major one to vote against the Iraq war. There are believed to be several Syria sceptics in the party, but it was not possible to get a more precise estimate of numbers.

Lord Oakeshott, a Lib Dem peer, called on the coalition to release its legal advice about the basis for intervening before asking parliament to approve a campaign in Syria.

“This touches a very raw nerve for Liberal Democrats,” he said. “Now we’re in government there’s a very large responsibility to ensure the full legal advice on which any British act of war is based must published in full before any British button is pressed.”

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China: No Excuse for West to Strike Syria

Al Ahed news

Chinese state media warned the West against strikes on Syria Thursday as momentum mounted for attacking Syria.

In an editorial headed “No excuse for strikes”, the state-run China Daily said the US and its Western allies were “acting as judge, jury and executioner”.

“Any military intervention into Syria would have dire consequences for regional security and violate the norms governing international relations,” it said, adding such a move “will only exacerbate the crisis and could have unforeseen and unwelcome consequences”.

Making a comparison with the war in Iraq, it said the international community should not allow “itself to be led by the nose by US intelligence, which after all was responsible for claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction”.

China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council.

In an unsigned commentary, the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, added that Washington lacked “a clear political end goal”.

“Citing ‘moral obscenity’ as an excuse to gear up for military action seems rash and hasty,” it said.

If strikes do take place, it added that “it is necessary for Russia and Iran to consider providing direct military aid” to al-Assad’s government.

In parallel, Beijing called for a “cautious” approach to the crisis, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi backing a UN investigation to “find out the truth as soon as possible”.

All parties “should avoid interfering in the investigation work or prejudging the results of the probes”, he told the official Xinhua news agency Wednesday.

Beijing says it opposes intervention in other countries’ internal affairs and has previously attempted to block moves leading to military action in overseas conflict.

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NYT: No Smoking Gun Linking Al-Assad to Gas Attack

Al Ahed news

American officials said Wednesday there was no “smoking gun” that directly links Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to last week’s alleged chemical attack near Damascus, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

They said Thursday’s public intelligence presentation will not contain specific electronic intercepts of communications between Syrian commanders or detailed reporting from spies and sources on the ground.

According to the daily, “the White House faces steep hurdles as it prepares to make the most important public intelligence presentation since February 2003, when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made a dramatic and detailed case for war to the United Nations Security Council using intelligence – later discredited – about Iraq’s weapons programs.”

“With the botched intelligence about Iraq still casting a long shadow over decisions about waging war in the Middle East, the White House faces an American public deeply skeptical about being drawn into the Syrian conflict and a growing chorus of lawmakers from both parties angry about the prospect of an American president once again going to war without Congressional consultation or approval,” it added.

The bellicose talk coming from the administration is unnerving some lawmakers from Obama’s party, who are angry that the White House seems to have no inclination to seek Congress’s approval before launching a strike in Syria.

“I am still waiting to see what specifically the administration and other involved partners have to say about a potential military strike, but I am concerned about how effective such an action could be,” said Representative Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I am worried that such action could drag the United States into a broader direct involvement in the conflict.”

Meanwhile, US Speaker John A. Boehner wrote a letter on Wednesday to Obama asking the president to provide a “clear, unambiguous explanation of how military action – which is a means, not a policy – will secure US objectives and how it fits into your overall policy.”

The discussion has even brought in former officials intimately involved in making the hurried public case for the Iraq war. In an interview with Fox Business Network, Donald Rumsfeld, who was War secretary at the time, said Wednesday that “there really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation.”

Americans over all have been skeptical about the United States getting involved in Syria’s war.

A poll published by Quinnipiac University last month found that 61 percent of people said it was not in the national interest to intervene in Syria, while 27 percent said it was. By a similar split, 59 percent opposed providing weapons to rebel forces, while 27 percent were in favor.

In rush to strike Syria, U.S. tried to derail U.N. probe

by Gareth Porter, source

WASHINGTON, August 27, 2013 (IPS) – After initially insisting that Syria give United Nations investigators unimpeded access to the site of an alleged nerve gas attack, the administration of President Barack Obama reversed its position on Sunday and tried unsuccessfully to get the U.N. to call off its investigation.

The administration’s reversal, which came within hours of the deal reached between Syria and the U.N., was reported by the Wall Street Journal Monday and effectively confirmed by a State Department spokesperson later that day.

In his press appearance Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry, who intervened with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to call off the investigation, dismissed the U.N. investigation as coming too late to obtain valid evidence on the attack that Syrian opposition sources claimed killed as many 1,300 people.

The sudden reversal and overt hostility toward the U.N. investigation, which coincides with indications that the administration is planning a major military strike against Syria in the coming days, suggests that the administration sees the U.N. as hindering its plans for an attack.

Kerry asserted Monday that he had warned Syrian Foreign Minister Moallem last Thursday that Syria had to give the U.N. team immediate access to the site and stop the shelling there, which he said was “systematically destroying evidence”. He called the Syria-U.N. deal to allow investigators unrestricted access “too late to be credible”.

After the deal was announced on Sunday, however, Kerry pushed Ban in a phone call to call off the investigation completely.

The Wall Street Journal reported the pressure on Ban without mentioning Kerry by name. It said unnamed “U.S. officials” had told the secretary-general that it was “no longer safe for the inspectors to remain in Syria and that their mission was pointless.”

But Ban, who has generally been regarded as a pliable instrument of U.S. policy, refused to withdraw the U.N. team and instead “stood firm on principle”, the Journal reported. He was said to have ordered the U.N. inspectors to “continue their work”.

The Journal said “U.S. officials” also told the secretary-general that the United States “didn’t think the inspectors would be able to collect viable evidence due to the passage of time and damage from subsequent shelling.”

The State Department spokesperson, Marie Harf, confirmed to reporters that Kerry had spoken with Ban over the weekend. She also confirmed the gist of the U.S. position on the investigation. “We believe that it’s been too long and there’s been too much destruction of the area for the investigation to be credible,” she said.

That claim echoed a statement by an unnamed “senior official” to the Washington Post Sunday that the evidence had been “significantly corrupted” by the regime’s shelling of the area.

“[W]e don’t at this point have confidence that the U.N. can conduct a credible inquiry into what happened,” said Harf, “We are concerned that the Syrian regime will use this as a delay tactic to continue shelling and destroying evidence in the area.”

Harf did not explain, however, how the Syrian agreement to a ceasefire and unimpeded access to the area of the alleged chemical weapons attack could represent a continuation in “shelling and destroying evidence”.

Despite the U.S. effort to portray the Syrian government policy as one of “delay”, the formal request from the United Nations for access to the site did not go to the Syrian government until Angela Kane, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, arrived in Damascus on Saturday, as Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, conceded in a briefing in New York Tuesday.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said in a press conference Tuesday that Syria had not been asked by the United Nations for access to the East Ghouta area until Kane presented it on Saturday. Syria agreed to provide access and to a ceasefire the following day.

Haq sharply disagreed with the argument made by Kerry and the State Department that it was too late to obtain evidence of the nature of the Aug. 21 incident.

“Sarin can be detected for up to months after its use,” he said.

Specialists on chemical weapons also suggested in interviews with IPS that the U.N. investigating team, under a highly regarded Swedish specialist Ake Sellstom and including several experts borrowed from the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, should be able to either confirm or disprove the charge of an attack with nerve or another chemical weapon within a matter of days.

Ralph Trapp, a consultant on proliferation of chemical and biological weapons, said he was “reasonably confident” that the U.N. team could clarify what had happened.

“They can definitely answer the question [of] whether there was a chemical attack, and they can tell which chemical was used,” he said, by collecting samples from blood, urine and hair of victims. There was even “some chance” of finding chemical residue from ammunition pieces or craters where they landed.

Trapp said it would take “several days” to complete an analysis.

Steve Johnson, who runs a programme in chemical, biological and radiological weapons forensics at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom, said that by the end of the week the U.N. might be able to answer whether “people died of a nerve agent.”

Johnson said the team, if pushed, could produce “some kind of view” on that issue within 24 to 48 hours.

Dan Kastesza, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps and a former adviser to the White House on chemical and biological weapons proliferation, told IPS the team will not be looking for traces of the nerve gas sarin in blood samples but rather chemicals produced when sarin degrades.

But Kastesza said that once samples arrive at laboratories, specialists could make a determination “in a day or two” about whether a nerve agent or other chemical weapons had been used.

The real reason for the Obama administration’s hostility toward the U.N. investigation appears to be the fear that the Syrian government’s decision to allow the team access to the area indicates that it knows that U.N. investigators will not find evidence of a nerve gas attack.

The administration’s effort to discredit the investigation recalls the George W. Bush administration’s rejection of the position of U.N. inspectors in 2002 and 2003 after they found no evidence of any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the administration’s refusal to give inspectors more time to fully rule out the existence of an active Iraqi WMD programme.

In both cases, the administration had made up its mind to go to war and wanted no information that could contradict that policy to arise.

Descending into chaos: Syria at stake

by Dr. Ismail Salami, source

The West is apparently gearing up for an imminent invasion of Syria, an act which can ignite World War III.

Washington hawks have already warned of a strike as early as Thursday. Senior US officials told NBC News on Tuesday that Washington could “hit Syria with three days of missile strikes, perhaps beginning Thursday, in an attack meant more to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than to topple him or cripple his military.”

The idea of attacking Syria was initiated and augmented by the US State Department when it announced that it was already “crystal clear” that Assad’s government was responsible for using “chemical weapons against rebels Aug. 21 near Damascus.”

While the US-friendly intelligence community has not yet confirmed the veracity of such a claim and despite the fact that there is no concrete evidence to substantiate this idea, the US and the UK have unanimously voiced their readiness to launch their military strike against the Middle Eastern country.

Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad said on Wednesday that the United States, Britain and France helped militants in Syria to use chemical weapons, warning that the same the same groups would soon use chemical weapons against Europe.

“We repeat that the terrorist groups are the ones that used (chemical weapons) with the help of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, and this has to stop,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

“This means these chemical weapons will soon be used by the same groups against the people of Europe,” he added.

He also said he had presented UN chemical weapons inspectors with evidence proving that “armed terrorist groups” were behind deadly chemical attacks near Damascus last week.

Further to that, the claim that Syria used chemical weapons runs counter to what UN diplomat Carla del Ponte said earlier regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria in April. She announced that the recent chemical weapons attack in April was conducted by Syrian rebels and not the regime, as it had been widely assumed. Speaking to a Swiss television channel, del Ponte said that there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels had carried out the attack. Also, she stated that UN investigators had no evidence that the Syrian army might have used chemical weapons, but that further investigation was needed.

The vociferous cry for war comes from the US and the UK which are already responsible for the myriad deaths that resulted in the ravaging wars they waged in Afghanistan and Iraq under similar pretexts. Besides, it is quite farcical to hear claims to humanitarian concerns from those who themselves thrive on evil and contribute financially and militarily to the emergence of chaos in the Middle East and North Africa and the rest of the world.

US Vice President Joe Biden has openly and blatantly lied to an American Legion audience in Houston: “Chemical weapons have been used.”

“No one doubts that innocent men, women and children have been the victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, and there’s no doubt who’s responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: the Syrian regime,” Biden said.

With a firm resolve, the US has decided to punish the Syrian government for a crime it has not committed, that is, gassing his own civilians while at the same time, the selfsame government paradoxically extended a generous hand to Saddam Hussein in using chemical weapons against Iranian combatants and civilians during the Iran-Iraq war. Apart from facilitating the supplies of chemical weapons to a despotic regime, the US government tacitly approved the use of such lethal weapons against the Iranian population.

A recent Foreign Policy article suggests that in 1988, Washington learned through “satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. US intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.”

Quite naturally, US officials chose to stay in a state of denial during all these years, condescending to hear a word of complaint from Iran which they have always looked upon as a source of their agony in the region, insisting that Saddam Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.

“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.

According to reports, the use of chemical weapons by Iraq has incurred over 100,000 casualties on the Iranian side, with many others dying as a result of the chemicals on a daily basis. Around 20,000 soldiers were killed instantly by nerve gas.

Is there a volte-face in Washington’s behavior towards others?

Paradox after paradox.

Paradoxes abound in US foreign policy and the hypocrisy the US officials exhibit in tackling every issue in a manner most pleasing to them leaves no room for doubt that their call for action is a far cry from humanitarian concerns for Syria or the Syrian people. The agenda they follow in the Middle East is clear and one suffices to bear in mind that their plan to strike Syria is yet another part of their grand-scale modus operandi in the region.

Indeed it is extremely excruciating to have to see that the West does not seem to have learnt from the past and that it still views the Muslim world as a non-western ‘Other’ in need of political tutelage and parental protection.

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