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Truth of US-Russia Confrontation

Aggression was over the Moment those Two Missiles were Fired

Al Manar

A well informed diplomatic source told As-Safir newspaper that “the US war on Syria had started and ended the moment those two ballistic missiles were fired, leaving inconsistent information, as Israel denied and Russia confirmed, until an Israeli statement was issued indicating they were fired in the context of an Israeli-US joint drill and fell in the sea, and that they were not related to the Syrian crisis.”

The source further told the Lebanese daily that “the US forces fired these two rockets from a NATO base in Spain, and were instantly detected by the Russian radars and confronted by the Russian defense systems, so one of them exploded in the airspace and the second one diverted towards the sea.”

In this context, the source pointed out that “the statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry, which stated the detection of two ballistic missiles fired towards the Middle East, intended to neglect two points: the first was the location from which the two rockets were fired, and the second was their downing. Why? Because the moment the full military operation was launched, Head of the Russian Intelligence Service contacted the US intelligence and informed it that “hitting Damascus means hitting Moscow, and we have removed the term “downed the two missiles” from the statement to preserve the bilateral relations and to avoid escalation. Therefore, you must immediately reconsider your policies, approaches and intentions on the Syrian crisis, as you must be certain that you cannot eliminate our presence in the Mediterranean.”

“This unannounced direct confrontation between Moscow and Washington increased the Obama Administration’s confusion and certainty that the Russian side was ready to move until the end with the Syrian cause, and that the US did not have a way out of its impasse except through a Russian initiative which would save America’s face…” he added.

From this point, the diplomatic source clarified that “in order to avoid further US confusion, and after Israel denied knowing anything about the rocket firing in its first statement, which is the truth, Washington demanded Tel Aviv to adopt the rocket firing to save its face in front of the International Community, especially since these two rockets were the beginning of the US aggression on Syria and the announcement of the beginning of military operations, after which US President Barack Obama was supposed to go to the G20 Summit in Russia to negotiate the destiny of Syrian President Bashr Al-Assad. However, he went to find a way out of the impasse he’s in.”

The source further indicated that “after the US-Russia rocket confrontation, Moscow intended to increase its number of military experts in Russia, and added to its military units and destroyers to enhance its military presence in the Mediterranean. It also set a time for announcing about its initiative on stopping the aggression on Syria after the G20 Summit, after drawing a side scene on the sidelines of the summit which was followed by two successive visits for Iranian Foreign Minister, Hussein Amir Abdul Lahyan, and Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Al-Moallem, in which a way out was agreed on with the Russian side, and it included a Syrian announcement on approving the Russian initiative regarding putting Syrian chemical weapons under international supervision and preparing Syria for joining the non-proliferation treaty.

Finally, the source pointed out that “One of the first results of the US-Russian military confrontation was the British House of Commons’ rejection to participate in a war on Syria. This was followed by European stances, most significantly, the German stance announced by Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

 

Translated by Sara Taha Moughnieh

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Syria: Lavrov-Chance for Syria peace can’t be missed & Assad- We agreed at Russia’s request not US threats

VIDEOS: McCain Faces the Wrath of Americans Opposed to Syria War (click to read other videos)

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Lavrov: Chance for Syria Peace Can’t Be Missed

Al Manar

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday there is a chance of peace in Syria which cannot be missed, calling for for maximum efforts in order to get out of the “storm” in reference to the recent escalation on the Syrian crisis.

“I’m positive there is a chance for peace in Syria, and it cannot be missed. Tomorrow we’ll discuss this issue with Secretary of State John Kerry,” Lavrov said after meeting his Kazakh counterpart in Astana.

Echoing sentiments previously expressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said Russia’s active diplomatic efforts were intended “to prevent external military intervention in Syria, which would only lead to further destabilization in the country and throughout the entire region.”

Regarding the Russian initiative, which has “gathered widespread support,” Lavrov noted it was forwarded with “the understanding that it will waive the use of armed force against Syria.”

Lavrov further said a delegation of Russian and American chemical weapons experts who “have the necessary knowledge to identify relevant solutions to such issues” would be present in Geneva.

“It is necessary ensure Syria’s adherence to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which would entail a declaration of Syria’s chemical weapons storage sites and the disclosure of its chemical [weapons] program,” he said.

Lavrov also said that the Russian-US meeting in Geneva was not intended to “usurp” the preparatory process for resolving the Syrian question.

The top Russian minister is to meet with his US counterpart John Kerry in Geneva to hammer out the details of Russia’s initiative to put Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles under international control.

During the meeting, Kerry and Lavrov will attempt to reach a deal on a UN Security Council resolution that would require Syria to put its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control, allowing for their further destruction. Syria would also be expected to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Russia remains opposed to elements of the French-drafted UN resolution, which included a timetable and the threat of force to facilitate Syria’s acquiescence to the plan.

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Assad: We Agreed to Put ’Chemicals’ under Int’l Control at Russia’s Request

Al Manar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Thursday that Damascus agreed to hand over control of chemical weapons to the international supervision at the request of Russia, and not because of the U.S. threats.

During an interview with the channel “Russia 24”, the Syrian President made it clear that Damascus will send to the United Nations documents in order to prepare a convention on the matter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, has said in an article published by the New York Times daily that forces of the Syrian opposition – and not the Syrian army – had used chemical weapons to incite the U.S. intervention.

“No one doubts that poison gas was used, but there are all reasons to believe that poison gas was not used by the national military, but by the opposition forces in order to incite the intervention of foreign powers that support them,” Putin said.

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Russia’s ‘Carrier-Killer’ Moskva Enters Mediterranean

Al Manar

Russia’s Moskva missile cruiser, dubbed a “carrier-killer” by NATO, has passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and is now heading toward the eastern Mediterranean to assume command of the Russian naval force there.

The Russian Navy said in a statement that the Moskva cruiser passed through the Straits of Gibraltar on September 10.

Interfax news agency added that the Moskva cruiser, “commanded by Sergey Tronev, Captain 1st Rank of the Guards… has enough room for maneuver now.”

“The Black Sea flagship entered the Russian Navy’s area of responsibility in the Mediterranean at 11:00 pm Moscow time yesterday,” the agency reported a military source as saying.

The missile-carrying cruiser is expected to join its final destination in eastern Mediterranean on September 15 or 16.

Upon arrival, the command of the Russian Navy unit in the Mediterranean, currently stationed onboard the Admiral Panteleyev anti-submarine ship, will be relocated to the Moskva.

“The armaments and technical equipment of the missile cruiser are in working condition. The crew is ready to perform combat missions,” the source said.

Missile cruiser “Moskva” belonging to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet firing anti-aircraft missiles during joint drills with other fleets.

The missile cruiser, initially known to Western naval intelligence as “Slava” (Glory), was launched in 1979 and entered service in 1983. It was later renamed the “Moskva” in 1995. Designed to be carrier-killers, the cruisers of Class 1164 are equipped with 16 anti-ship launchers P-1000 Vulkan, or Volcano (SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship missiles, according to NATO classification).

Another two vessels, the landing ship Nikolay Filchenkov and the guard ship Smetlivy, will join the Russian naval unit later. They will be pass through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits by September 12-14 and will then head to the eastern Mediterranean.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has said the maneuvers are part of the “stage-by-stage rotation of warships and support ships of the standing naval force in the Mediterranean.”

The recent deployments are aimed at “complex monitoring” of the situation around Syria, military sources told Interfax earlier.

Russia’s standing naval force in the Mediterranean now involves landing craft carriers “Aleksandr Shabalin,” “Admiral Nevelskoy,” “Peresvet,” “Novocherkassk” and “Minsk” of Russia’s Black and Baltic Sea Fleets, as well as escort vessel “Neustrashimy,” and the anti-submarine ship “Admiral Panteleyev.”

“Admiral Panteleyev” anti-submarine ship returning to Vladivostok from Japanese port Hakodate (Hokkaido island).

Russian naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean come amid growing tension in the region, which sparked speculation that Russia was boosting its naval presence ahead of a possible US strike against Syria.

Previously, Russia’s defense officials cautioned against making connections between the relocation of warships and the Syrian crisis, saying the maneuvers do not depend on the situation and “will continue after it.”

Russia gives UNSC proof of chemical weapons use by militants

Press TV

Russia has passed proof of the use of chemical weapons by the militants inside Syria to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

“There are suspicions that the militants have used these [chemical] weapons repeatedly,” said the Head of Duma international affairs committee Alexei Pushkov on Wednesday, adding “Russia has just passed existing proof to the UN Security Council.”

He also said that the militants have used chemical weapons near Aleppo in March, adding that Carla Del Ponte, who is a leading United Nations investigator, has also acknowledged it.

On May 5, the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria said it could not find any evidence that the Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons against militants.

“This [evidence] was [regarding the] use [of the chemical weapons] on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” said Del Ponte.

Similarly, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Tuesday that Tehran has provided the UN with conclusive evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the militants in Syria.

“Iran is in possession of strong evidence regarding the militant chemical attack in Syria and has handed on the evidence to the United Nations,” he said, adding “Last December, for example, we received news that two Sarin gas containers were being transferred to Syria. The containers were sent from an Arab country to a neighboring country, where it triggered security and political reactions.”

The developments come after the US used the issue of chemical weapons use in the Arab country as a pretext to launch an attack on the country.

Russia working with Syria over chemical plan: Images of damascus victims fabricated

Al Ahed news

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that his country is currently in talks with Damascus to develop a “concrete plan” for the Syrian regime to set over its chemical weapons arsenal under the international control.

“We are currently working on preparing a workable, precise and concrete plan and for this there are literally right now, in these minutes, contacts with the Syrian side,” Lavrov said.

He further expected that “this plan will be present soon and we will be ready to work on it with the UN secretary general, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, with the participation of members of the UN Security Council.”

Meanwhile, Russia Today agency confirmed that “footage and photos of the alleged chemical attack in Syria, which the US cites as the reason for a planned military intervention, had been fabricated in advance.”

In this context, the agency quoted speakers in the UN human rights conference in Geneva.
“Members of the conference were presented accounts of international experts, Syrian public figures and Russian news reporters covering the Syrian conflict, which back Russia’s opposition to the US plans,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The speakers argued that the suspected sarin gas attack near Damascus on August 21 was likely a provocation of the rebel forces and that a military action against the President Bashar al-Assad government will likely result in civilian casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe affecting the entire region.

Evidence for the Russian case, including numerous eyewitness reports and results of investigations of the chemical weapon incident by activists, was handed over to a UN commission of experts probing the Syrian crisis, the ministry said.

Russia is convinced that the chemical incident was a provocation by rebel forces, which staged a false flag attack to drag the US into the conflict and capitalize on the damage that the Syrian army is likely to sustain in the American intervention.

An increasing number of reports is backing Russia’s position, with local witnesses, US and British former intelligence professionals and Europeans recently released from rebel captivity all speaking for a provocation scenario.

Meanwhile, RT learned that Syrian rebels might be planning a chemical weapons attack against the Zionist entity. The possible attack would be carried out from the territory supposedly controlled by the Syrian government and would trigger another round of escalation, leaving little hope of defusing the tension.

Syria: ‘No “irrefutable” evidence of use of chemical weapons, but a “strong common-sense test irrespective of the intelligence”‘???

Syria agrees to put chemical weapons under international control

Press TV

Syria has welcomed Russia’s initiative to put its chemical weapons stockpile under international control in a bid to avert US military intervention.

The offer was made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday during talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Moscow.

Muallem said he welcomed the proposal, which calls on Syria to hand over control of its chemical weapons to the international community and then have them destroyed.

“I state that the Syrian Arab Republic welcomes the Russian initiative, motivated by the Syrian leadership’s concern for the lives of our citizens and the security of our country, and also motivated by our confidence in the wisdom of the Russian leadership, which is attempting to prevent American aggression against our people,” Muallem said through an interpreter.

The Russian initiative came shortly after US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in London that the only way for Syria to avoid military action is to hand over its entire stockpile of chemical weapons within the next week.

But, US officials later said that Kerry was making a “rhetorical argument” rather than a serious offer.

Washington is struggling to secure support for military action against Syria over the accusation that the Syrian government was involved in a deadly chemical attack near Damascus on August 21.

The White House, however, has admitted it has no “irrefutable” evidence of Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons, but said a “strong common-sense test irrespective of the intelligence” suggested the Syrian army was responsible for the August poison gas attack.

The US Senate will vote on authorizing military intervention in Syria later this week.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned of massive retaliation if the United States launches a military strike against his country.

Assad told CBS Television on Monday that Washington should “expect everything” if US forces attack his country.

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Lavrov, Al-Moallem Urge Political Solution for Syria Crisis: US Strike to Outburst Terrorism in ME

Al Ahed news

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed Monday that “more states share Russia’s belief that military action in Syria will only enable terrorism.”

Speaking at a press conference along with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem, Lavrov highlighted that Moscow fully supports calls by the UN Security Council to bring chemical experts back to Syria to complete their mission.
“UN inspectors should return to Syria to investigate the alleged use of chemical arms,” he said, and pointed out that his country is keen on adhering to international agreements.

He further called for an investigation to be carried out over the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria in a professional and objective manner. “The findings of the investigation should then be referred to the UN Security Council.”

In parallel, Lavrov warned that “strikes on Syria would cause the outburst of terrorism in the region.”

“We are very concerned with the future of the Middle East,” the head of Moscow’s diplomacy mentioned , and emphasized that Damascus has reacted positively to Moscow’s urging for the opposition and the government to unite their efforts in expelling terrorists from Syria.

Moreover, the Russian FM added: “Both countries are certain that a political settlement is still possible, although the situation is very serious.”

Lavrov also stressed that “there is more than enough evidence to support the claim that the rebels are behind the chemical attack.”

“We plan to ask the Syrian opposition to agree clearly on “Geneva 2″ conference without preconditions,” he declared, as he urged the US to concentrate on the political solutions to Syria crisis instead of setting war scenarios
For his part, the Syrian FM questioned the real intentions behind the US strike on Syria: “We ask about the motivation of US to launch a strike against us.”

Meanwhile, he suspected that the US strike aims at attacking the Syrian army in favor of al-Qaeda and its extremists, particularly al-Nusra Front.

“There is testimony of a Mother Agnes – a mother Superior at a monastery in Syria, suggesting that the whole affair with the chemical weapons was a staged frame-up operation,” al-Moallem clarified.

However, he emphasized that “diplomatic efforts have not been exhausted.”
Al-Moallem expressed his admiration with a large portion of the American public for voicing their outright disagreement with the proposed strike.

“A president who seeks peace is more powerful than one who seeks war,” he said, wondering: “How will Obama justify empowering al-Qaeda, especially we are close to the anniversary of the September 11 attacks?”

On the Russian position, al-Moallem praised the Russian administration for doing everything in its power to “prevent an act of aggression.”

He added that the Syrian side “holds in high regard the unflinching position of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.”

He also stated that the impending foreign intervention will first and foremost affect the peaceful Syrian population. “As history shows, the first victims in any military conflict are women and children”, the FM said.

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Kerry: End to Syria War Must Be Political Not Military, Handover of Chemical arms to Prevent Attack

Al Ahed news

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the solution to the Syrian conflict must be political not military.

However, he claimed that air strikes were essential to stop “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime from killing its own people with chemical weapons.”

“Let me be clear, the United States, President Obama, myself, others are in full agreement that the end of the conflict in Syria requires a political solution. There is no military solution, we have no illusions about that,” he said after talks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

In parallel, he stated: “A resolution to this has to come about because the parties are prepared to come and negotiate that political solution.”

“A resolution will not be found on the battlefield, but at that negotiating table. But we have to get to that table,” Kerry said from London.

He further claimed that al-Assad could avoid a military strike by turning over all his chemical weapons within a week but immediately made clear he was sure that would never happen.

When asked by a reporter whether there was anything al-Assad’s government could do or offer to stop any attack, Kerry said:

“Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week – turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting (of it) but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”

“If you want to send Iran and Hizbullah and al-Assad a congratulatory message: ‘You guys can do what you want,’ you’d say: ‘Don’t do anything.’

“We believe that is dangerous and we will face this down the road in some more significant way if we’re not prepared to take … a stand now,” Kerry said.

He also stressed the relationship between Britain and the United States was as strong as ever despite the British parliament having decided not to join military action against Syria.

“The relationship between the United States and the UK has often been described as special, essential and it has been described thus because it is,” Kerry said. “The bond .. is bigger than one vote.”

Kerry said while in London he had held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which were “productive and information” but did not give any further details.

For his part, Hague said that Washington had the “full diplomatic support of the United Kingdom” even though it will not take part in military action.

“They have the full diplomatic support of the United Kingdom,” said Hague, and pointed out that “the United Kingdom will continue to play an active role in addressing the Syria crisis and working with our closest ally in the coming weeks and months.”

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Assad: US Will ’Pay the Price’ If It Attacks Syria

Al Manar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned Washington on AssadMonday to brace for retaliation if US forces attacked his country, as he categorically rejected accusing the army of using chemical weapons in Damascus.

“You’re going to pay the price if you’re not wise. There are going to be repercussions,” President Assad told CBS television.

“It’s an area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything.”

Assad also warned of the risks of possible chemical attacks by rebels or “terrorists” if there was outside intervention in Syria.

“You should expect everything. The government’s not the only player in this region. You have different parties, different factions, different ideologies. You have everything in this decision now,” President Assad said.

Assad denied the army carried out a deadly chemical weapons attack on August 21 on the outskirts of Damascus, as alleged by the United States and some of its allies.

“How can you talk about what happened if you don’t have evidence?” he asked in the interview, in which he spoke English.

“We’re not like the American administration, we’re not like the social media administration or government. We’re the government that deals with evidence.”
Assad noted that the Syrian army had themselves in fact been attacked by rebels using chemical arms.

“But in the area where they say the government used chemical weapons, we only have video and we only have pictures and allegations. We’re not there. Our forces, our police, our institutions don’t think this,” Assad said.

Asked whether the repercussions President Assad predicted could include the use of more chemical weapons, Assad replied: “That depends. If the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it, it could happen. I don’t know. I’m not a fortune teller to tell you what’s going to happen.”

Striking Russia through Syria

(Putin-Obama, file photo)

by Linh Dinh, source

We’re witnessing the last grotesque convulsions of a dying empire. As it threatens humanity with annihilation, it’s also nauseating the still sane among us with an unending farce, as in the hypocrite Kerry declaring, “this is not the time to be silent spectators to slaughter,” but John, you lying cynic, the world has been asked to be a mute audience to American mass murder for how long now? But Johnny wants more, much more.

Feigning outrage, the former anti-war darling and Democratic Presidential candidate was talking about the Syria chemical attack, which was likely the work of America itself, through its crazed terrorists, though Washington is trying hard to convince incredulous listeners that Assad somehow did this just so the US of A could have the excuse to destroy him, along with thousands of innocent Syrians. Putin called this explanation nonsense, and even branded Kerry a liar, and the UN has even concluded that an earlier chemical attack, also blamed on Assad, was committed by the American-backed “rebels.”

As in so many other wars, the US must save civilians by killing or maiming them, as well as poisoning their environments for centuries. Though the US routinely targets civilian infrastructures such as electrical stations and water treatment plants, and uses means of war that murder long after the last bullet is fired, as in cluster bombs and depleted uranium, for example, it is now acting livid over Assad’s alleged use of sarin.

But in his ketchup-bleeding heart, Kerry knows full well that America’s aggression against Syria is not over sarin but natural gas. First of, Syria’s biggest supporter, Russia, is the world’s leading exporter of this stuff, and supplies Europe with nearly 40% of its needs, so that’s a lot of leverage, Watson. If overly irked by America’s puppets in NATO, Russia can retaliate by turning off the gas, as has been done several times already.

To wiggle out of this dependence, another source of natural gas was needed, and Qatar proposed a pipeline to Europe by way of Syria, except Assad would not acquiesce. Russia is Assad’s main protector, after all, and Russian navy ships have docked in the Syrian port of Tartus since 1971. Rebuffed, the US, France, England, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others decided to back terrorists to unseat Assad. Aiming to destroy Syria, this charming group calls itself the Friends of Syria, naturally. A long time enemy of Syria, Israel also supports this hostility, though its escalation might just wipe a good chunk of this pariah state off the map.

Syria has agreed to a pipeline originating from Iran, however. A much less significant source of natural gas than Qatar, Iran will hardly dent Russia’s profits, and since it’s also a Russian ally, the gas flow to Europe will still be controlled by Moscow. So Russia has Europe by the balls, so to speak, especially in winter, when enough people freeze to death as is. Many countries are entirely dependent on Russian natural gas, while France only imports a manageable 14%, and the UK, none, so they can afford to kiss Uncle Sam’s withered ass a bit harder, though the Brits, interestingly this time, have opted out of the current madness.

A war on Syria, then, is an attack on Russia itself, and that’s why Russian warships are patrolling the Mediterranean. Countering the American menace, Russia will certainly be no silent spectator, and to show support for Russia and Syria, a Chinese warship has also shown up, with more coming. Though Washington talks of a “warning shot across the bow” or “tailored strike,” a quickie hit and run that won’t distract too much from the exhilarating start of football season, World War III might just erupt, for we haven’t been this close to universal calamity in half a century.

Two weeks ago, only 9% of Americans favored a military strike against Syria, but now, with such an onslaught of propaganda, up to 42% support it, but this figure might be exaggerated since it is reported by NBC News, a subsidiary of war profiteering General Electric.

Voices of dissent have surfaced even in the corporate media, however, for wiser heads can’t help but realize that a war against Syria and Russia will bring much grief and terror to us all, including those busy watching a missed tackle or punt return. The New York Times even showed on its front page a photo of Syrian “rebels” about to execute kneeling, shirtless prisoners, with their heads close to the ground. Much more damning images exist, and the Times has surely known about them, but it is choosing to feature this now, as if to put the kibosh on Obama and his war mongers. CNN televised war nut McCain being challenged by outraged citizens at a town meeting, though it did allow the old POW to have the last word in a live interview.

As America oscillates over its death wish, Obama is himself blinking, and we can only hope that Barack will just go on unleashing unnatural, gaseous nonsense, and not Tomahawk missiles towards Damascus. It’s hard to believe, but this man has turned out to be more preposterous than Bush, so if the trend holds, our next President will be a Mummer, some Lucha Libre guy or, why not, a real rodeo clown. In any case, it was quite a spectacle to see Obama fly to Russia to become Putin’s court jester, for he delivered one joke after another, most of them unintended.

En route to Saint Petersburg, Obama stopped in Sweden, and there, promised that he would bug Putin about Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who died in Soviet custody in 1945. The Nobel Peace laureate never wastes a chance to appear humanitarian and noble, and the Swedes had also done him a favor by prosecuting Assange over that CIA-staged threesome, but the real reason Obama dug up this man, one suspects, was to draw a parallel between Wallenberg’s protection of Jews in World War II with himself trying to “save” Syrians today. Brilliant! He’s evoking this famous saver of Jews to mass murder more Arabs. In the process, though, he will trigger the deaths of countless others, maybe even you.

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?

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.

Putin warned west over Syria: Did we forget about Iraq?

Putin Warned West over Syria: Did We Forget about Iraq?

Al Ahed news

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television, Putin said Moscow has provided some components of the S-300 air defense missile system to Syria but has frozen further shipments. He suggested that Russia may sell the potent missile systems elsewhere if Western nations attack Syria without UN Security Council backing.

The interview Tuesday night at Putin’s country residence outside the Russian capital was the only one he granted prior to the summit of G-20 nations in St. Petersburg, which opens Thursday. The summit was supposed to concentrate on the global economy but now looks likely to be dominated by the international crisis over Syria.

Putin said he felt sorry that President Barack Obama canceled a one-on-one meeting in Moscow that was supposed to have happened before the summit. But he expressed hope the two would have serious discussions about Syria and other issues in St. Petersburg.

“President Obama hasn’t been elected by the American people in order to be pleasant to Russia. And your humble servant hasn’t been elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to someone either,” he said of their relationship.

In parallel, Putin said: “We work, we argue about some issues. We are human. Sometimes one of us gets vexed. But I would like to repeat once again that global mutual interests form a good basis for finding a joint solution to our problems.”

Putin said it was “ludicrous” that the Syrian regime would use chemical weapons at a time when it was holding sway against the rebels.

“From our viewpoint, it seems absolutely absurd that the armed forces, the regular armed forces, which are on the offensive today and in some areas have encircled the so-called rebels and are finishing them off, that in these conditions they would start using forbidden chemical weapons while realizing quite well that it could serve as a pretext for applying sanctions against them, including the use of force,” he said.

“If there are data that the chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the UN Security Council,” added Putin, and conditioned : “It ought to be convincing. It shouldn’t be based on some rumors and information obtained by special services through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that.”

He noted that even in the US, “there are experts who believe that the evidence presented by the administration doesn’t look convincing, and they don’t exclude the possibility that the opposition conducted a premeditated provocative action trying to give their sponsors a pretext for military intervention.”

He compared the evidence presented by Washington to false data used by the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“All these arguments turned out to be untenable, but they were used to launch a military action, which many in the US called a mistake. Did we forget about that?” Putin said.

He said he “doesn’t exclude” backing the use of force against Syria at the United Nations if there is objective evidence proving that regime used chemical weapons against its people. But he strongly warned Washington against launching military action without UN approval, saying it would represent an aggression.

Putin reinforced his demand that before taking action, Obama needed approval from the UN Security Council. Russia can veto resolutions in the council and has protected Syria from punitive actions there before.

Asked what kind of evidence on chemical weapons use would convince Russia, Putin said “it should be a deep and specific probe containing evidence that would be obvious and prove beyond doubt who did it and what means were used.”
Putin said it was “too early” to talk about what Russia would do if the US attacked Syria.

“We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise,” he said. “We have our plans.”

Putin called the S-300 air defense missile system “a very efficient weapon” and said that Russia had a contract for its delivery of the S-300s to Syria. “We have supplied some of the components, but the delivery hasn’t been completed. We have suspended it for now,” he said.

“But if we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world,” he said.

On another level, Putin also accused US intelligence agencies of bungling efforts to apprehend Snowden, the National Security Agency leader, who is wanted in the US on espionage charges. He said the United States could have allowed Snowden to go to a country where his security would not be guaranteed or intercepted him along the way, but instead pressured other countries not to accept him or even to allow a plane carrying him to cross their airspace. Russia has granted him temporary asylum.

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Syria Says Will Not Give in ’Even If There Is WWIII’

Al Manar

Syria’s deputy foreign minister said Wednesday the state would miqdadnot give in to threats of a US-led military strike against the country, even if a third world war erupts.

Faisal Muqdad said the government had taken “every measure” to counter a potential intervention aimed at punishing Syria over a suspected deadly poison gas strike and was mobilizing its allies.

“The Syrian government will not change position even if there is World War III. No Syrian can sacrifice the independence of his country,” he said.

“Syria has taken every measure to retaliate against… an aggression,” he added, refusing to provide any clue as to what that might mean.

Muqdad said Syria was mobilizing its allies ahead of a possible strike, as US President Barack Obama lobbies Congress to back intervention and the French parliament debates the issue.

The Syrian official added two of America’s top allies in the region, Jordan and Turkey, should think twice before participating.

“Once the attack against Syria starts from Jordan and Turkey then they will both suffer,” said Mr. Mekdad.

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Russia sends missile cruiser to Eastern Mediterranean

Press TV

Russian military officials say Moscow is sending three more naval ships, including a missile cruiser, to the Eastern Mediterranean, as the United States is preparing for a possible strike on Syria.

The missile cruiser, Moskva, will take over the navy’s operations in the region, a move which Russia says is needed to protect its national interests, state agency Interfax quoted a military source as saying on Wednesday.

“The Cruiser Moskva is heading to the Strait of Gibraltar. In approximately 10 days it will enter the East Mediterranean, where it will take over as the flagship of the naval task force,” said the unnamed military source.

The missile cruiser is to be joined by two other vessels, a destroyer from Russia’s Baltic Fleet and a frigate from the Black Sea Fleet, which are to arrive in the region until Friday.

Russia has recently deployed other warships to the Eastern Mediterranean. On September 1, Moscow sent its Priazovye reconnaissance ship to the region tasked with collecting information in the tense region, which will be operating separately from the naval unit.

Last week, Russian Defense Ministry reported that additional warships, including the Moskva, were being sent to the Mediterranean on routine mission…

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US Polls: Public Opposes Syria Strike

Al Ahed news

Two new polls out Tuesday have found strong opposition to US military intervention in Syria among a war-weary American public.

A survey carried out by the Pew Research Center over the weekend found that 48 percent of Americans oppose “conducting military airstrikes” against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons compared to 29 percent who support such action.

A Washington Post-ABC news poll found a similar margin, with nearly six in 10 Americans opposed to missile strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The polls found opposition across the political spectrum.

The Pew poll found that just 29 percent of Democrats support US airstrikes compared to 48 percent who are opposed.

Republicans are slightly more supportive of military action, with 35 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed, the Pew poll said.

The Post-ABC poll, however, found a nearly identical level of opposition among Democrats and Republicans, and Independents even more opposed to military action, with just 30 percent in favor and 66 percent opposed.

The Pew poll found that 74 percent of Americans believe a US strike would likely spark a backlash against Washington and its allies in the region, and 61 percent think it would lead to a long-term US military commitment there.
The low levels of support for military action could complicate US President Barack Obama’s efforts to rally congressional support for punitive strikes against Syria.

Obama won support Tuesday from key Republican leaders in the House, but faces an uphill battle convincing critics on the left and right to endorse another military campaign in the Middle East after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pew poll was conducted August 29-September 1 among 1,000 respondents. The Post-ABC poll was carried out August 28-September 1 among 1,012 respondents and had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

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.

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.

Russia FM: Military strike on Syria without UNSC approval is act of aggression

Russia FM: Military Strike on Syria without UNSC Approval Is Act of Aggression

Al Manar

Moscow Informed Washington Saturday through diplomatic channels that any military operation against Syria, without the authorization of the UN Security Council, is an act of aggression and a violation of the principles of international law.

“The Russian side has confirmed that any use of force against Syria by the United States, without authorization of the UN Security Council, is an act of aggression and flagrant violation of the principles of international law,” a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry official website after the meeting between the deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul read.

It also indicated that “Michael McFaul presented all the arguments which the US administration relies upon in accusing the Syrian government of involvement of the use of chemical weapons on August 21, 2013 in East Ghota.”

According to all those arguments, Sergei Ryabkov called the American side to “refrain from attempts to use this incident in order to justify military pressure on Damascus, and to allow the full implementation of the agreement reached by the G8 summit in June.”

Ryabkov also stressed the need to submit the report of UN experts working in Syria to the UN Security Council for consideration.
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American Navy ships still ready to attack Syria

Press TV

The US military warships are reportedly staying in the eastern Mediterranean as President Barack Obama is waiting for a congressional approval to attack Syria.

A defense official told Politico that the five American guided-missile destroyers and one amphibious transport are going to continue to stay in place for now.

The USS Stout, USS Gravely, USS Mahan, USS Barry and USS Ramage are all in the region with dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The amphibious transport USS San Antonio, which is carrying about 700 troops from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is also there along with some of their aircraft and amphibious equipment.

On Saturday, the Obama White House asked Congress for authorization to conduct military strikes against Syria.

“The objective of the United States use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade the potential for future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction,” the White House said in a draft resolution.

Washington accuses Damascus of launching a chemical weapons attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus last week, an allegation denied by the Syrian government.

President Obama also said the US military “has positioned assets in the region.”

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey “has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. Moreover, the chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I’m prepared to give that order,” Obama said.

Reacting to US allegations, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it would have been “utter nonsense” for Syria to use chemical weapons.

“I would like to address Obama as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate: Before using force in Syria, it would be good to think about future casualties,” Putin said.

“Russia is urging you to think twice before making a decision on an operation in Syria,” he said.

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Obama bypassing UN, making Congress his world court: Venezuela

Press TV

Venezuela has condemned US President Barack Obama for bypassing the United Nations and asking US Congress to approve a military offensive against Syria, saying the move can lead to destruction of international institutions.

During a visit to the South American country of Guyana on Saturday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that the US president was shamelessly bypassing the UN and turning Congress into his personal world court.

“If multilateral bodies and the international system are disregarded like this, what lies ahead of us in this world is war, is destruction,” Maduro warned.

“It is a very serious thing indeed when President Obama tries to take the place of UN bodies, and that he has tried and convicted the Syrian government, and that he has decided to invade, to militarily attack the people of Syria, and that he has chosen the US Congress as a sort of high world court in place of the UN Security Council,” Maduro said after holding a meeting with his Guyanese counterpart Donald Ramotar.

Earlier in the day, Obama said he has decided that Washington must take military action against the Syrian government, which would mean a unilateral military strike without a UN mandate.

Obama said that despite having made up his mind, he will take the case to Congress. But he added that he is prepared to order military action against the Syrian government at any time.

Obama once again held the Syrian government responsible for the chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people in the suburbs of Damascus.

On Thursday, the second meeting of the UN Security Council’s permanent members ended without reaching an agreement on Syria.

Representatives from the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China met on Thursday afternoon at the UN headquarters in New York for the second time in two days, but the meeting broke up after less than an hour, with the ambassadors steadily walking out.

The Western members of the council have been pushing for a resolution on the use of force while Russia and China are strongly opposed to any attack on Syria.

The call for military action against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21.

Syria has strongly rejected the allegations and says terrorists carried out the deadly chemical weapons attack.

Putin: US claims over chemical weapons in Syria ’utter nonsense’

Putin: US Claims over Chemical Weapons in Syria ’Utter Nonsense’

Al Ahed news

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Saturday US claims that Syria’s regime used chemical weapons, describing them as “utter nonsense”.

Putin challenged Washington to present the evidence behind its claims to the United Nations Security Council.
“Claims that the proof exists, but is classified and cannot be presented to anybody are below criticism. This is plain disrespect for their partners,” he said.

In parallel, the Russian President said that his country denounced the use of chemical weapons and was ready for “consolidated participation in drafting measures to oppose such acts.”

He also denied discussing possible US military strikes on Syrian targets with his US counterpart Barack Obama on the phone.

“Regarding the position of our American colleagues, who affirm that government troops used… chemical weapons, and say that they have proof, well, let them show it to the United Nations inspectors and the Security Council,” he told journalists. “If they don’t show it, that means there is none.”

“If the United States begins unilateral military operations against Syria it will be extremely sad,” the Russian President confirmed.

Speaking to journalists in the Russian far-eastern city of Vladivostok, Putin urged Obama – as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate – to think about future victims in Syria before using force.

He said it was ridiculous to suggest the Syrian government was to blame for the 21 August attack.

“Syrian government troops are on the offensive and have surrounded the opposition in several regions,” he said, and pointed out that “in these conditions, to give a trump card to those who are calling for a military intervention is utter nonsense.”

Putin also said that next week’s G20 summit in St Petersburg could be a platform to discuss a resolution to the crisis.

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Putin: As Nobel Prize Winner, Obama Must Think of Victims before Attacking Syria

Al Manar

Russian President Vladimir Putin called his American counterpart Barack Obama on Saturday not to forget that he holds a Nobel Peace Prize.

“I would like to say to Obama as a Nobel Peace Prize winner: before you use force in Syria, you should think of the victims that will fall,” Putin said, pointing out that “Russia calls for deep thinking before making a decision of operation in Syria.”

“Common sense notes that with the advancement of the Syrian government forces .. giving the trump card to those who continuously call for military intervention is nonsense and does not correspond with any logic, especially on the day of the UN inspectors arrival,” the Russian President added.

“I’m sure it was just a provocation by those who seek to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict and want to gain support from the international parties, first and foremost, the United States of course,” he stated.

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Syria Rebuffs US Claims on Chemical Attack as “False”, “Full of Fabrication”

Al Manar

The Syrian government dismissed US allegations that Damascus was behind a recent chemical weapons attack, saying they are “based on old stories,” and “full of fabrication and lies.”

A source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry rebuffed earlier remarks made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, saying the Foreign Ministry was surprised at Washington’s efforts to “deceive its public opinion in such a naive manner.”

The source added that Kerry’s claims are “a desperate attempt to talk the world into accepting the upcoming US aggression.”

Earlier in the day, Kerry repeated Washington’s claims that the Syrian government is responsible for the chemical attack near the capital Damascus. “The American intelligence community has high confidence,” he said, adding, “This is common sense. This is evidence. These are facts.”

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.

Russia rejects US claims on Syria & Iran: US intervention will cause disaster

Russia Rejects US Claims on Syria: Situation Undermining Efforts

Al Manar

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Moscow rejects Washington’s claim the Syrian government was behind a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, the foreign ministry said.

Lavrov, KerryIn a phone call Tuesday, Lavrov also told Kerry of Moscow’s alarm the situation was undermining diplomatic efforts to end the crisis, as expectations grow of Western military action against Syria.

“John Kerry put forward judgments which he said were based on information from reliable sources and according to which the Syrian government is to blame for the incidents with the probable use of chemical weapons,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. “This argument was rejected by Sergei Lavrov, who put forward the corresponding position of the Russian side.”

Lavrov said Moscow wanted an objective and substantive exchange of information on the evidence of chemical attacks in Syria. “Moscow is, as before, particularly worried about the dangerous and already clear line towards a conscious undermining by a number of countries of the conditions for a political-diplomatic solution to the conflict,” the statement added.

Lavrov, BrahimiIn another telephone conversation with UN-Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Lavrov warned against a military solution to the Syria conflict, saying it would destabilize the country and the Middle East region.

Lavrov “emphasized the lack of alternative to a diplomatic solution and that attempts for a military solution will lead only to a further destabilization of the situation in the country and the region,” the ministry said.

It said both Brahimi and Lavrov agreed “that at this critical moment all sides — including external players — must act with the maximum responsibility and not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

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Imam Khamenei: US Intervention Will Cause Disaster for the Whole Region

Al Ahed news

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei has warned against any US military intervention in Syria, noting that the repercussions of such action would be unpredictable.

Imam Khamenei stressed that foreign intervention in Syria is nothing but warmongering.

Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei in a meeting with the Iranian president Sheikh Hassan Rouhani and cabinet members, pointing that the Middle East is like a gunpowder warehouse where nothing can be predicted stated: “Any intervention by the United States will cause a disaster for the whole region.”

He assured that any foreign meddling in Syria or any other country will only mean stirring the flames of war and conflict.

Imam Khamenei further warned that the US will reap losses in Syria like it did in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution went on to say “The region lives sensitive and critical moments, adding “Iran does not want to meddle with internal Egyptian affairs at all, but it vehemently condemns the assailants -whoever they are- for committing massacres and shooting unarmed civilians.”

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New poll: Syria intervention even less popular than Congress (click to read)