Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Published November 15, 2013

FoxNews.com
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    FILE: Dec. 29, 2012: Free Syrian Army fighters fire at enemy positions during heavy clashes with government forces, in the Salaheddine district in Aleppo, Syria. (AP)

Syrian rebel fighters linked with Al Qaeda have asked for “understanding and forgiveness” after mistakenly beheading one of their allies and putting the head on display.

In a video posted online, members of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham were shown holding up the head of what they thought was a supporter of President Bashar Assad before a crowd in Aleppo, The Telegraph reported.

After the video was posted, the head was recognized as belonging to Mohammed Fares, a member of Ahrar al-Sham, a well-established rebel group that regularly fights alongside the Islamic State of Iraq, according to the report.

Omar al-Qahtani, a spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq, said Fares thought he had been captured by pro-Assad Shia fighters and asked them to kill him. Explaining the error, al-Qahtani said Allah would forgive a man who unknowingly killed a fellow believer.

Earlier in the day, state-run Syrian television channel Al-Ikhbariya said two bombs exploded near a famous Damascus bazaar, killing at least one person and wounding seven.

Bomb and mortar attacks are not uncommon in the Syrian capital.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Assad and Russian leader Vladimir Putin discussed a proposed peace conference to end Syria’s nearly three-year civil war and Damascus’ efforts to put its chemical weapons under international supervision.

The United States and Russia have been trying to convene a peace conference in Geneva since May to broker a political solution to the Syrian conflict that activists say has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced millions more.

Speaking to Assad by telephone, Russian leader Vladimir Putin “emphasized efforts taken by Russia together with its partners to prepare a Geneva-2 international conference and gave a positive assessment of Bashar Assad’s readiness to send a Syrian government delegation there,” the Kremlin said.

The Syrian government has said it will take part in the peace talks, although officials have said they will not talk to armed rebels or members of the main Syrian opposition group in exile. Its avowed willingness to attend the Geneva conference coincides with a military offensive that has seen Assad’s forces seize ground near Damascus and in the northern province of Aleppo.

The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said in a statement Monday it would only attend the Geneva talks if humanitarian aid is allowed to reach besieged areas and the government releases political prisoners. The group itself wants any future transitional government to exclude Assad and his close allies, a demand the Syrian government has rejected.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sorpTOyJXf8

Obama: “I want to make sure that the norm against [the] use of chemical weapons is maintained”

US President Barack Obama has said he will put plans for a US military strike against Syria on hold if the country agrees to place its chemical weapons stockpile under international control.

But he said he was sceptical the Syrian government would follow through.

As the US Congress debates authorising an attack, Russia on Monday proposed Syria relinquish its chemical weapons.

The US accuses Damascus of war crimes including use of chemical weapons, allegations denied by the regime.

The US president on Monday gave a series of television interviews aimed at building support among a US Congress and public wary of new military action in the Middle East.

The president maintains a limited strike is needed to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for the use of chemical weapons and to deter it from using them again.

“I want to make sure that norm against use of chemical weapons is maintained,” Mr Obama told ABC News.

“That’s in our national security interest. If we can do that without a military strike, that is overwhelmingly my preference.”

Asked by Diane Sawyer of ABC News if he would put plans for an attack on pause should Mr Assad yield control of his chemical weapons, Mr Obama answered: “Absolutely, if in fact that happened.”

Mr Obama said he would continue to press the US Congress to back a resolution authorising him to take military action against Syria, but he implied the timeline for action had shifted.

“The stakes are high, but they are long term,” he said, adding that he did not “foresee a succession of votes this week, or any time in the immediate future”.

FSA fighters

On the ground, the Syrian conflict is still raging

But he added: “I don’t think that we would have gotten to this point unless we had maintained a credible possibility of a military strike, and I don’t think now is the time for us to let up on that.”

US senators had been expected to take a first vote on the issue on Wednesday, but the test vote on the legislation was postponed on Monday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who cited “international discussions” as a reason for the delay.

Many US politicians and members of the public remain concerned that military action could draw the nation into a prolonged war and spark broader hostilities in the region.

Support in Congress for a measure authorising attacks on Syria has remained relatively low, with more than 230 of the 433 members in the House of Representatives reportedly either opposed to or likely to oppose strikes as of Friday.

In addition, opinion polls suggest Americans remain wary of a strike against Syria, with only one in five believing that a failure to respond to chemical weapons attacks would embolden other governments, according to an Associated Press poll concluded on Monday.

Meanwhile, a new report by US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), said evidence “strongly suggests” Syrian government forces were behind the deadly 21 August chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb that killed hundreds of people.

HRW concludes that the nerve agent used in the incident was “most likely sarin”.

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Source:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24026619