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

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

Al Manar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran, Iraq Warn against Repercussions of Syria Strike

Al Manar

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

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

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

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

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

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Latin American States Denounce Any Possible Aggression against Syria

Al Manar

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

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

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

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

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

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Worldwide protests held against war on Syria

Press TV

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

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

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

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

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

In Canada, protesters gathered in Toronto and Ottawa.

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

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

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Pope Reiterates Rejection for Syria Strike

Al Manar

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

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

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

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

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.

Vatican irked by`blasphemous’ “Israel” TV show

A question: is talking about the holocaust by the Nazis the same as talking about Judaism itself? Doesn’t seem like a correct leap of thought from one to the other like this rude Israeli talk show host made.

Feb. 20, 2009

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said Friday it has formally complained to the Israeli government about a private Israeli TV show that ridiculed Jesus and Mary in an “offensive act of intolerance.”

In Israel, the television station assured the Israeli foreign ministry that the segment would not be shown again and that its host, well-known Israeli comedian Lior Shlein, had apologized.

In the program, Shlein sarcastically denied Christian traditions _ that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus walked on water _ saying he was doing so as a “lesson” to Christians who deny the Holocaust.

It was a reference to the Vatican’s recent lifting of the excommunication of a bishop who denied 6 million Jews were killed during World War II. The rehabilitation sparked outrage among Jews.

A statement from the Vatican press office said its representative in Israel complained to the government about the segment, which was broadcast recently on private Channel 10, one of Israel’s three main TV stations, during Shlein’s late-night comedy talk show.

In the clip, the Vatican said, Mary and Joseph were “ridiculed with blasphemous words and images” that amounted to a “vulgar and offensive act of intolerance toward the religious sentiments of the believers in Christ.”

In the show, Mary is said to have become pregnant at 15, thanks to a schoolmate. It said Jesus could never have walked on water because “he was so fat he was ashamed to leave the house, let alone go to the Sea of Galilee with a bathing suit.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the ministry approached Channel 10 based on the papal nuncio’s complaints, and was told the segment would not air again. Palmor said the station’s legal adviser had also already sent a letter of apology to an attorney who represents a Christian group who had been offended by the segment.

Palmor said Shlein apologized live on Wednesday, and said he didn’t mean to offend anyone. He said the station acted before the papal nuncio approached the foreign ministry.

The clip was a sarcastic response to the Vatican’s rehabilitation of Bishop Richard Williamson, who said in an interview broadcast on Swedish state TV that no Jews were gassed during the Holocaust and that only 200,000 or 300,000 Jews were killed.

The Vatican’s rehabilitation of Williamson sparked outrage that only abated after Pope Benedict XVI met with Jewish leaders at the Vatican last week. During his audience, the German-born pope issued a strong denunciation of anti-Semitism and said it was unacceptable for anyone _ particularly a clergyman _ to deny or minimize the Holocaust.
The Vatican has demanded that Williamson, a member of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, recant before he can be admitted as a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church. On Thursday, the government of Argentina, where Williamson had been living, ordered him expelled within 10 days. It cited an immigration problem but also said his comments about the Holocaust had profoundly insulted Argentina, Jews and all of humanity.

The British-born Williamson had already been removed as director of the society’s La Reja seminary. He has apologized for causing distress to the pope but has not recanted. He has said he would only correct himself if he is satisfied after a review of the evidence, but has said that would take time.

Source