Syndicated News from Syria
Sat, 07 Dec 2013 14:19:05 GMT
Al-Qaeda says it shot down Syria droneAljazeera.comPrint Article. Share article. Send Feedback. Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's local branch in Syria, has sent Al Jazeera exclusive footage of what it said was a drone it shot down while it was flying over Aleppo, saying it was the first operation of its ...and more »
Sat, 07 Dec 2013 13:34:17 GMT
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Sat, 07 Dec 2013 13:02:04 GMT
Activists: Syrian airstrikes kill 12Washington PostBEIRUT ? Syrian government aircraft on Saturday pounded a rebel-held city in the country's northeast, killing at least 12 people including five children, activists said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the air raids ? seven ...
Sat, 07 Dec 2013 07:38:26 GMT
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Results 1 - 10 of Headlines for Syria
Friday, March 28th, 2003
: RCN Administrator
The Syrian government may be shifting its heretofore passive
position concerning the war against Iraq, placing mounting
emphasis on anti-war rhetoric and even picking diplomatic spats
with other Arab states. Although Damascus' motivations are
unclear, given the heightened tensions in the region, the
consequences could be dear.
Syria has demonstrated strange behavior and an aggressively anti-
war stance in recent days -- with officials taking pot shots at
Egypt and allegedly allowing busloads of Syrians to head to Iraq
to fight against U.S. and British forces. On March 27, the
country's most senior mufti called for suicide strikes against
allied forces in Iraq, and Syrian President Bashar Assad said in
an interview with a Lebanese daily that the country would not
wait until it becomes the next U.S. target.
Stratfor has written extensively on the Syrian position regarding
the war in Iraq. Until recently, Damascus has shown passive
acceptance of military action there: Its United Nations delegate
voted in favor of Security Council Resolution 1441 and, more
important, Syria has maintained behind-the-scenes dialogue with
the United States despite rhetoric condemning U.S. war plans.
Now Damascus seems to be changing that position. Rather than
showing quiet acceptance and passivity, it is actively
encouraging anti-war activity and sentiment. The question is why.
The government's motivations remain unclear: They could be tied
to internal unrest, which Assad is trying to direct it outward.
However, if so, Damascus is taking a very real risk not just of
alienating Washington but of being labeled an Iraqi ally and
therefore a legitimate war target. The Bush administration so far
has kept silent on Syria's hostile rhetoric, but it will not be
able to remain so if Damascus takes more serious steps toward
The last thing Washington needs right now is a belligerent Syria
moving toward an alliance with Iraq. Syria, wedged between Turkey
and Iraq, is rightly fearful of a war outcome that leaves
Washington in control in Baghdad and Ankara in charge in the
Arab regimes around the region have permitted large-scale
protests as a way of giving people an outlet to vent their anger.
But employing this safety valve -- which is partly what Damascus
is doing -- doesn't explain all of the government's recent
actions. For instance, allowing the "Arab street" to let off
steam doesn't explain why Syria specificially encouraged
condemnations of the Egyptian government, nor why Assad is making
bald statements that Syria will take steps to resist U.S.
hegemony in the region.
Since the end of the Cold War, Syria's military capability has
deteriorated: Weapons systems have become dated, equipment has
fallen into disrepair, spare parts are hard to come by. Moscow
once provided billions in military assistance to Damascus, but
much of this aid began drying up in the late 1980s. The net
result is a Syrian military with severe limitations, facing at
least two and now possibly three hostile armies on three of its
This could be one of the reasons why Syria quietly opposes the
U.S. decision to support a "road map for peace" to resolve the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Syria does not want to see a
resolution to that conflict while it is still technically at war
with Israel. Egypt also is working closely with Palestinians and
Israelis, as well as with the United States, to advance peace
talks -- and the recent state-sanctioned protests in Damascus
against the Mubarak government suggest that Syria is unhappy with
how those talks are going. Still, peace between Israelis and
Palestinians is not on the horizon, and it seems unlikely that
Syria would risk war with the United States for such a distant
Another motivation for the recent behavior might be that Damascus
fears U.S. attacks against suspected Syrian weapons of mass
destruction (WMD) assets. "Stray" missiles have been hitting
southwestern Iran, and Syria might fear that it too could be a
target of "stray" coalition bombs. But suspected chemical weapons
plants are near Aleppo, Damascus and Homs, nowhere near the
Syria-Iraq border. Moreover, Iran and Saudi Arabia likely rank
higher than Syria on the U.S. hit list, given that both are tied
much more closely to al Qaeda and Tehran's nuclear program is
thought to be more advanced even than Iraq's.
It also is possible that Syrian leaders might believe that if
they are going to negotiate a strategy for regime preservation,
now is the time to do it. The behavior could be timed to catch
Washington at what Syria perceives to be a moment of weakness,
creating the strongest position possible for Damascus in talks
down the road -- particularly if officials think they will be
negotiating with a United States that has defeated Iraq.
Finally, Damascus realizes that if it enters the U.S.-Iraq war on
the side of Baghdad, Israel is likely to want to step in. Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon could not tolerate any chance of an
Iraqi-Syrian victory, however slim, and would be unwilling to sit
on the sidelines at that point.
There is no evidence to suggest that the Syrian military is about
to get involved in the fight in Iraq -- but the government in
Damascus is acting bizarrely, and that is bound to impact Syrian
military actions.Results Page:
Monday, September 2nd, 2002
: RCN Administrator
A recent statement by the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration directly links illicit drug trafficking in the United States to Middle Eastern militant groups. The U.S. administration could use the issue to put more diplomatic pressure on Middle Eastern governments such as Syria and Iran.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief Asa Hutchinson told CNN Sept. 2 that money from illicit drug sales in the United States is being used to fund Middle Eastern militant organizations, including Lebanon-based Hezbollah. More than 130 people, many of them of Middle Eastern origin, reportedly were arrested earlier this year when authorities busted a methamphetamine ring in the Midwest.
According to the CNN report, the DEA found that the alleged drug dealers had laundered millions of dollars in the United States and had wired the money to bank accounts connected to terrorist groups in Lebanon and Yemen. There are several possible motives behind Hutchinson’s linking of Middle Eastern militants to drug trafficking, but in any case it could reshape both U.S. domestic and foreign policy.
Hutchinson’s comments may be part of an attempt by the DEA to reinvigorate the U.S. war on drugs -- as well as get more funds for anti-drug efforts in Colombia -- by tying terrorism to narcotics trafficking. Congress will come back into session soon and will begin deciding budget allotments. Since Sept. 11, many agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, have focused less on drug interdiction efforts in places like the Gulf of Mexico and more on homeland defense issues like port security. The DEA would like to see this attention shift back more toward drugs.
Finally, Hutchinson’s remarks could indicate a new foreign policy initiative by the Bush administration, especially if the United States is having difficulty maintaining cooperation with Middle Eastern states on issues like intelligence sharing and the willingness of local authorities to arrest suspected al Qaeda members. Most governments in the region have taken a public stand against a U.S. war against Iraq, and their desire to help Washington with its anti-terrorism war may be waning as well.
For instance, U.S. Mideast envoy David Satterfield hinted during a press conference in Damascus Sept. 3 that Washington is concerned with Syria’s level of cooperation against al Qaeda. "I think it is very well known the very high priority we assign to maximum efforts, internationally and with our partners in the region, including Syria, to cooperate against the threat posed by this exceedingly lethal, exceedingly dangerous group," Satterfield said, quoted in Agence France-Presse.
Labeling Lebanon a receiver of illicit drug funds and linking groups like Hezbollah to a U.S.-based drug ring could give Washington another lever to pressure countries like Syria and Iran. Hezbollah is based in Lebanon, which is under de facto Syrian control, and is supported by Iran.
Though Washington’s relationship with Damascus is slightly better than its ties with Tehran, the U.S. State Department lists both countries as state sponsors of terrorism. The Bush administration could use the new drug trafficking issue to push for greater sanctions against Syria, as well as to undercut the improving relations between Europe -- which is concerned about drug trafficking in its own right -- and both Syria and Iran.
Syria and Iran are key transit points for drug traffickers. Seventy to 90 percent of the heroin found in European markets transits Iran, according to the U.N. Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention. Syria too remains an important transit state for hashish and heroin, according to the 1999 U.S. State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.
Saturday, August 31st, 2002
: RCN Administrator
As the fight for liberty, democracy, and our Judeo-Christian values continues in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians, there is yet another poignant and untold story right across the border. Christian Coalition of America President Roberta Combs said, “Lebanon is the only other biblical land on which our Lord Jesus Christ set foot during His Ministry. The Psalms contain numerous references to the snow-capped mountains of Lebanon and to the cedar forests that dot its peaks.”
Lebanon and its Christian people continue today to endure persecution by the rising Islamic tide of fundamentalism, but also abandonment by the West. Lebanon, its people, and its Western friends - including among many others, our 241 US Marines slaughtered in October 1983 by a Hezbollah homicide bomber - were indeed the first victims of radical Islamic terrorism from the late sixties through today.
Since its establishment as a State after World War I, and its full independence as the Republic of Lebanon in 1943, Lebanon remained a staunch friend of the West and a parliamentary democracy in an otherwise unstable and pro-Soviet Arab world. The Christians of Lebanon struggled very hard to maintain this tolerant and open character to their country, and managed for decades to secure the partnership of their fellow Lebanese Muslims.
Unfortunately, with the founding of the PLO in 1965 and its dedication to the destruction of Israel, and the anti-Western campaign in the Arab World at the time, Lebanon gradually fell into the hands of Syria - a country on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism - and a number of terrorist organizations (the PLO, Hezbollah) and other countries such as Iran. As the Lebanese Christians tried to fight off the Islamization and radicalization of their country, they appealed to the West for help, but were shrugged off as hardliners and right wing fanatics by a West more interested in securing the flow of oil than in helping a free country against the Arab-Islamic onslaught. The rest is history.
Even under the duress of the current Syrian occupation, the Lebanese people remain staunch friends of the US and must be helped to return to the Free World. That can only happen with the end of the Syrian occupation and the withdrawal of the Syrian troops and their proxy terrorist groups.
A bipartisan bill entitled "The Syria Accountability Act" (H.R. 4483 authored by Majority Leader Dick Armey and Representative Eliot L. Engel in the House; 150+ co-sponsors); and (S. 2215 authored by Senator Rick Santorum and Senator Barbara Boxer in the Senate; 35 co-sponsors) was introduced last April. Hearings are scheduled to begin on September 12. This legislation calls for an end of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, the cessation by Syria of all terrorist activities, the end of an oil-smuggling scheme by Syria to help Iraq, and the cessation by Syria of its development of weapons of mass destruction. Like Iraq, Syria is guilty of all these activities, but unlike Iraq, Syria has escaped sanctions and remains the only country branded as a terrorist state with whom the US has diplomatic relations.
"The Syria Accountability Act" calls for imposing economic sanctions on Syria if it does not comply with the requirements of the bill. The legislation intends to clear up this ambiguity in our relations with the terrorist dictatorship that is in Syria. As President Bush said "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists". Syria must make a decision, and the H.R.4483/S.2215 prompts it to do so now after 30 years of mayhem and duplicity.
Combs said, “The bill is good for Lebanon, but more importantly, it is good for America. How can we live with our conscience if we do not support our friends who have suffered for 3 decades what we have suffered for only a year? Perhaps if we can multiply our own pain by 30 years, we can begin to imagine their pain.”
Please call your Representatives and Senators if they are not listed on the list of cosponsors below and urge them to co-sponsor “The Syria Accountability Act” which has been introduced as H.R.4483 (in the House of Representatives) and S.2215 (in the Senate). Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or go to: http://la-cd.org/saa/ to write or email your elected official.
Cosponsors of “The Syria Accountability Act” in the U.S. House of Representatives:
AL Sonny Callahan, R-1st; Terry Everett, R-2nd; Bob Riley, R-3rd; Robert Aderholt, R-4th; Robert Cramer, D-5th; Spencer Bachus, R-6th. | AR Marion Berry, D-1st; Michael Ross, D-4th. | AZ John Shadegg, R-4th; J. D. Hayworth, R-6th. | CA Robert Matsui, D-5th; Lynn Woolsey, D-6th; Tom Lantos, D-12th; Sam Farr, D-17th; Brad Sherman, D-24th; Howard Berman, D-26th; Adam Schiff, D-27th; Henry Waxman, D-29th; Ken Calvert, R-43th; Mary Bono, R-44th; Loretta Sanchez, D-46th; Susan Davis, D-49th. | CO Diana DeGette, D-1st; Scott McInnis, R-3rd; Bob Schaffer, R-4th; Joel Hefley, R-5th; Thomas Tancredo, R-6th. | CT Robert Simmons, R-2nd; Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd; Christopher Shays, R-4th; James Maloney, D-5th. | FL Ric Keller, R-8th; Dave Weldon, R-15th; Mark Foley, R-16th; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-18th; Robert Wexler, D-19th; Peter Deutsch, D-20th; Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-21st; E. Clay Shaw, R-22nd; Alcee Hastings, D-23rd. | GA Jack Kingston, R-1st; Mac Collins, R-3rd; Saxby Chambliss, R-8th; Charlie Norwood, R-10th; John Linder, R-11th. | ID C. L. Otter, R-1st. | IL William Lipinski, D-3rd; Luis Gutierrez, D-4th; Rod Blagojevich, D-5th; Janice Schakowsky, D-9th; Jerry Weller, R-11th; Jerry Costello, D-12th; Lane Evans, D-17th; David Phelps, D-19th; John Shimkus, R-20th. | IN Mike Pence, R-2nd; Mark Souder, R-4th; Dan Burton, R-6th. | KS Dennis Moore, D-3rd. | KY Anne Northup, R-3rd; Kenneth Lucas, D-4th. | LA David Vitter, R-1st. | MA James McGovern, D-3rd; Barney Frank, D-4th; Edward Markey, D-7th. | MD Albert Wynn, D-4th; Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th; Constance Morella, R-8th. | MI Bart Stupak, D-1st; Fred Upton, R-6th; Joe Knollenberg, R-11th; Sander Levin, D-12th; Lynn Rivers, D-13th. | MN Mark Kennedy, R-2nd; Jim Ramstad, R-3rd; Betty McCollum, D-4th. | MO Samuel Graves, R-6th. | MS Charles Pickering, R-3rd; Ronnie Shows, D-4th. | NC Bob Etheridge, D-2nd; Howard Coble, R-6th; Robert Hayes, R-8th. | NE Lee Terry, R-2nd. | NJ Robert Andrews, D-1st; Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd; Jim Saxton, R-3rd; Christopher Smith, R-4th; Frank Pallone, D-6th; Michael Ferguson, R-7th; Steven Rothman, D-9th; Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-11th; Rush Holt, D-12th. | NV Shelley Berkley, D-1st; Jim Gibbons, R-2nd. | NY Felix Grucci, R-1st; Steve Israel, D-2nd; Peter King, R-3rd; Carolyn McCarthy, D-4th; Joseph Crowley, D-7th; Jerrold Nadler, D-8th; Anthony Weiner, D-9th; Edolphus Towns, D-10th; Major Owens, D-11th; Carolyn Maloney, D-14th; Eliot Engel, D-17th; Nita Lowey, D-18th; Sue Kelly, R-19th; Benjamin Gilman, R-20th; Michael McNulty, D-21st; John Sweeney, R-22nd. | OH Ted Strickland, D-6th; Patrick Tiberi, R-12th; Deborah Pryce, R-15th; Steven LaTourette, R-19th. | OK John Sullivan, R-1st; Brad Carson, D-2nd. | PA Robert Brady, D-1st; Melissa Hart, R-4th; Tim Holden, D-6th; Curt Weldon, R-7th; Joseph Hoeffel, D-13th; Joseph Pitts, R-16th; George Gekas, R-17th; Todd Platts, R-19th; Phil English, R-21st. | SC Henry Brown, R-1st; Joe Wilson, R-2nd. | TN Zach Wamp, R-3rd; Bob Clement, D-5th; Bart Gordon, D-6th; Ed Bryant, R-7th; Harold Ford, D-9th. | TX Sam Johnson, R-3rd; Pete Sessions, R-5th; Nick Lampson, D-9th; Chet Edwards, D-11th; Kay Granger, R-12th; Henry Bonilla, R-23rd; Martin Frost, D-24th; Richard Armey, R-26th; Ciro Rodriguez, D-28th. | VA Jo Ann Davis, R-1st; Edward Schrock, R-2nd; J. Randy Forbes, R-4th; Eric Cantor, R-7th. | WA Jay Inslee, D-1st; | WI Thomas Petri, R-6th; Mark Green, R-8th.
Cosponsors of “The Syria Accountability Act” in the U.S. Senate:
AL Jeff Sessions, R; | AR Tim Hutchinson, R; | AZ Jon Kyl, R; | CA Dianne Feinstein, D; Barbara Boxer, D; | CO Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R; Wayne Allard, R; | GA Joseph Cleland, D; Zell Miller, D; | IA Tom Harkin, D; | ID Michael Crapo, R; | IL Richard Durbin, D; | IN Evan Bayh, D; | KY Jim Bunning, R; | LA Mary Landrieu, D; | MD Barbara Mikulski, D; | ME Olympia Snowe, R; Susan Collins, R; | MI Carl Levin, D; Debbie Stabenow, D; | MO Jean Carnahan, D; | MT Max Baucus, D; Conrad Burns, R; | NC John Edwards, D; | ND Kent Conrad, D; | NH Bob Smith, R; | NJ Robert Torricelli, D; Jon Corzine, D; | NV John Ensign, R; | NY Charles Schumer, D; Hillary Clinton, D; | OK James Inhofe, R; | PA Rick Santorum, R; | SD Tim Johnson, D; | WI Russell Feingold, D; |
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Monday, July 22nd, 2002
: RCN Administrator
The Israeli government has threatened strikes on military targets in Syria in response to further cross-border attacks by the Hezbollah militant group. Israel is trying to make clear the internal risks Syrian President Bashar Assad will face if his country’s military capabilities are destroyed. This also would serve U.S. interests by helping to neutralize the Syrian threat before a possible campaign against Iraq.
Syria is coming under increased pressure over its policy toward Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah. A recent U.N. report on Syrian policy in Lebanon criticized the Lebanese government’s unwillingness to assert its authority over the southern part of the country, and by default permitting Hezbollah to continue cross-border attacks against Israel. Syria’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations criticized the report as "one-sided," London daily Al Hayat reported.
Syria exercises substantial control over the Lebanese government and apparently has decided to support Hezbollah operations in southern Lebanon. For example, the Sunday Times of London reported the weekend of July 20 that Syrian President Bashar Assad recently ordered his officers to use the military’s arsenal to supply Hezbollah directly. This announcement has put the Syrians on a collision course with the Israelis.
The Times also reported that Israel has now delivered three warnings to the Syrian government concerning Hezbollah’s operations. Two were transmitted through the United States, the other through Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The last warning was the most ominous. The Israeli government reportedly told the Syrians that if Hezbollah again attacks a target inside Israel, retaliation will be taken against military targets in Syria. Specifically, Israel would attack an armored brigade in southern Syria from the air, followed by artillery fire and perhaps an air-mobile assault. The goal would be the complete destruction of a Syrian brigade containing up to 100 tanks.
This threat is not trivial. Syria used to be able to rely on the Soviet Union for quick military re-supplies, but that is no longer possible. Therefore, the loss of a Syrian armored brigade would constitute a serious blow to the country’s military capability. And if Israel can destroy one armored brigade, it can destroy more.
Such a loss would not only pose a strategic challenge to Syria, it also could threaten young Assad’s government. His credibility as a leader still has not been fully tested, and there are those in the government who do not take him seriously. Since the military is the foundation of Syria’s state, if Assad puts the country into a situation where its military capability is seriously degraded, the consequences could be severe.
The Israelis clearly feel that Assad does not understand the risks he is running. That is why they have signaled to him so explicitly, virtually revealing the broad outlines of their operational plan. This serves a psychological purpose as well, emphasizing the imbalance between the military powers of the two countries. Israel is saying that it does not need the element of surprise to have its way with Syria’s army.
Israel wants Syria to stop Hezbollah’s attacks in order to avoid being drawn back into the endless and costly game it tried to give up when it withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. The implicit understanding between Israel and Syria regarding the Jewish state’s withdrawal was that Damascus, via the Lebanese government, would take responsibility for controlling Hezbollah.
In return Israel would recognize Lebanon as being in Syria’s sphere of influence. Israel does not want to open another military front in the north and it is genuinely hoping that Assad, after looking into the abyss, will assert himself.
However, possible future U.S. military operations against Iraq also must be factored into the situation. As it currently plays out, the United States has two geographical platforms from which to stage an operation against Baghdad. Turkey is the most important but also the most reluctant. Jordan is seemingly more willing, but this option poses logistical problems.
Both also have beef with Syria. At various points in history, the Syrians have moved against the Hashemite kingdom in Jordan. The Turks, charging Syrian meddling in the affairs of the Kurdish ethnic group, threatened war against Syria several years ago. Neither country is prepared to play Washington’s game unless the threat from Syria is neutralized.
For its part, the United States is engaged in an extensive post-Sept. 11 courtship of Syria. There are indications that Washington is still trying to lock down an assurance from Damascus in the event of a war on Iraq. The U.S. government also recently has sent several diplomatic envoys -- including U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell -- to the country.
In the event of a war with Baghdad, it is highly probable that the Syrians would not become engaged -- but the threat would remain. The United States would be operating with fairly light forces, and any troop buildup (in Jordan in particular) would be difficult to secure if the Syrians made a serious attempt at intervention.
Although such an outcome is unlikely, Washington’s military planners will not be able to rely solely on a verbal promise from Syria. They also will seek a means to keep Damascus out of the conflict entirely. Plan A -- the seduction of Syria by the United States -- continues. Plan B is the neutralization of Syria through fear.
The Israelis are threatening Syria with the destruction of a substantial part of its armed forces. Israel has its own reasons for making these threats, but the warnings also serve U.S. interests. The hope is that Assad, recognizing the imminence of disaster, will not only agree to rein in Hezbollah, but also will not interfere with Washington’s Iraq plans.
Israel is not bluffing. It has its hands full with the Palestinians, and the psychological pressure on the Israeli public is enormous. It cannot afford a protracted guerrilla war on its northern flank. Israel likely will strike at Syria and try to do so decisively. It would be a relief, in a sense, for Israel’s military leadership, as it would represent a return to the kind of conventional war for which the Israel Defense Force was trained and at which it excels.
From the American viewpoint, an Israeli attack on Syria would pose serious political problems among Arab governments. On the other hand, these governments are not being very helpful as it stands right now in dealing with a core American issue: Iraq. From this perspective, there is not much to lose.
The worst-case scenario would be a shift in Egypt’s position. It is therefore interesting that, first, Israel turned to Mubarak to deliver a message to Syria, second, that Mubarak agreed to deliver it and, third, the Israelis now have made it public that Mubarak was their messenger. They have done everything possible to keep Mubarak in place.
If Assad does not shift his policy, the United States will regard an Israeli operation against Syria as a necessary part of American strategy against Iraq. In a way, the U.S. position will be that the attack was made necessary by the unwillingness of the Arab governments -- Jordan excepted -- to cooperate in a war against Iraq. Therefore, the Israeli ultimatum to Syria, whether it causes the country to change its policies or lose its tanks, will serve U.S. strategic interests.