theonion:

Syria Conflict Intensifies As Bears Enter War

Tags: Syria bears

"This has become not just a war within Syria. It has become a regional, sectarian civil war. Perhaps the best way to put it is to say that what was a war in Syria with regional spillover has now become a regional war with a Syrian focus."

Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group talks with Terry Gross about the expansion of the war in Syria. (via nprfreshair)’

shortformblog:

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, we’re revisiting this video, which we first posted several months ago — it’s NBC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent, Richard Engel, detailing to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow the horrifying tale of how he was abducted by pro-Assad forces within Syria, and how he came to be freed. Engel is one of the lucky ones (extremely lucky, considering the content of his story) — 23 professional journalists have been killed covering the civil war, the majority of them Syrian, on top of dozens more slain citizen journalists. 

theeconomist:

This week’s cover: as Syria disintegrates, it threatens the entire Middle East. The outside world needs to act before it is too late.

theeconomist:

This week’s cover: as Syria disintegrates, it threatens the entire Middle East. The outside world needs to act before it is too late.

shortformblog:

There was a media blackout on this story, but Gawker notably broke it. Fortunately, NBC News journalist Richard Engel and the rest of his team were able to escape harm after being kidnapped in Syria last week. They were freed after a firefight at a Syrian checkpoint. “It is good to be here. I’m very happy that we’re able to do this live shot this morning,” Engel said. Very glad to hear he’s OK; Engel is one of our best.

shortformblog:

There was a media blackout on this story, but Gawker notably broke it. Fortunately, NBC News journalist Richard Engel and the rest of his team were able to escape harm after being kidnapped in Syria last week. They were freed after a firefight at a Syrian checkpoint. “It is good to be here. I’m very happy that we’re able to do this live shot this morning,” Engel said. Very glad to hear he’s OK; Engel is one of our best.

Syrian tanks cross into Golan Heights DMZ

shortformblog:

  • 3 Syrian tanks crossed into the demilitarized zone in the Golan Heights today, the first such breach in 40 years. Israel’s immediate response was to register disapproval with the UN, which may indicate they don’t view this as a pressing or threatening issue just yet. No indication has been given as to Syria’s motivation for the incident. The effects of the Syrian civil war have been felt in Israel of late, as misfired shells have detonated within their borders. source

NYTimes:

Top Security Official Among the Dead in Beirut Blast

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A large bomb exploded in the heart of Beirut’s Christian section on Friday, killing a top Lebanese security official and at least seven others, wounding dozens and spreading panic in a city where memories of sectarian violence from Lebanon’s long civil war have been resurrected by the conflict in neighboring Syria.

The security official, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, was apparently the intended target of the explosion, which ripped into buildings, upended cars and shattered windows for blocks in the most serious bombing to hit Beirut in at least four years. He was declared dead a few hours after the blast in an announcement on Lebanese television.

The identities of the other victims were not immediately clear, and there was no word on who was behind the blast, which the authorities said had been caused either by a car bomb or a bomb hidden in the street or under a vehicle parked in the affluent Sassine area, about two blocks from a gleaming shopping center. It exploded midafternoon just as the school day was ending.

Suspicion quickly fell on groups aligned with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, the embattled leader who has long been an influential political force in Lebanon and is close with Hezbollah, the militant Shiite organization that is a powerful faction in Lebanon’s own complex web of politics. The offices of two Lebanese political groups that oppose Mr. Assad, the Christian Phalange Party and the March 14 alliance, are in the same area as the blast site.

“It is clear that the Syrian regime is responsible for such an explosion,” said Nadim Gemayel, a member of Parliament and senior member of the Phalange Party, whose father, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated in an explosion at party headquarters in 1982 just a few weeks after he had been elected president. “It is such a big explosion that only the Syrian regime could have planned it.”

A number of politicians reacted to the news by pleading that Lebanon not get dragged into tit-for-tat killings or a return to the sectarian conflict that convulsed this Mediterranean seaside city during the 1975-1991 civil war.

“We are all Lebanese,” said Mouen al-Mourabi, a member of Parliament who has accused Hezbollah of sending fighters into Syria to help Mr. Assad’s forces crush the 19-month-old uprising against him. Mr. Mourabi stopped short of accusing Hezbollah of complicity in the bombing, but said many Lebanese have long feared the Syrian conflict would spread to Lebanon. “There’s always a danger,” he said. “They’re trying to drag Lebanon toward this.”

Al-Hassan had led the investigation into former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri’s assassination seven years ago. That investigation implicated Hezbollah and Syria and led to the arrest of former minister Michael Samaha.

"The Syrian regime does not understand compromise. Its ethos is ‘rule or die.’ Therefore, Syria will continue its inexorable slide into full-scale civil war, especially since the chance for effective foreign intervention to stop the bloodletting is also zero."

— Middle East expert Augustus Richard Norton of Boston University • Referring to a planned ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebel forces, scheduled to begin on April 10, which is unlikely to ever become a reality. On Sunday, President Bashar al-Assad  demanded that opposition groups provide written guarantees that they would lay down arms first, a demand that was promptly rejected by rebels. In the final hours before the ceasefire was to begin, government forces began shelling cities and towns across the country, killing well over 100 people, and leaving little doubt that the fighting will continue. The fighting also spilled over into neighboring Turkey, where two refugees and a Turkish translator were wounded by stray gunfire.  source (viafollow)

nationalpost:

Matt Gurney: Syria accepts UN peace plan, promptly invades Lebanon
Here’s a shock. A six-point peace plan, issued by the President of the UN Security Council, has been accepted by Syria. The plan is pretty weakly worded. It basically gets Syria to agree to stop doing things it never should have been doing before, ’cause, you know, it’s illegal

nationalpost:

Matt Gurney: Syria accepts UN peace plan, promptly invades Lebanon

Here’s a shock. A six-point peace plan, issued by the President of the UN Security Council, has been accepted by Syria. The plan is pretty weakly worded. It basically gets Syria to agree to stop doing things it never should have been doing before, ’cause, you know, it’s illegal

verbalresistance:

Lebanon uncovers Syrian ‘plot’ to kill journalists

The Syrian city of Homs remained under fire for a 20th consecutive day on Thursday as Lebanese intelligence reports show the Assad regime is deliberately trying to kill Western journalists.

Officials in Lebanon said they intercepted calls in which Syrian army chiefs allegedly discussed how they would claim reporters had been killed in crossfire.

The reports said there were direct orders to attack a makeshift media centre in Homs in which two western journalists were killed and three others wounded.

Le Figaro’s Edith Bouvier was one of those injured. She has appealed to be evacuated from the city to Lebanon as she needs an operation on a broken leg.

Two photographers were also injured in the attack: Britain’s Paul Conroy and Paris-based William Daniels.

Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik died in the shelling on Wednesday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said their deaths amounted to “murder”.

The group of journalists had been based in the Sunni Muslim neighbourhood of Babr Amr where members of the rebel Free Syrian Army are entrenched. Their bodies are yet to be recovered.

An unverified amateur video posted on YouTube purports to show the place where the two corpses lie.

In the video, a man calls on the European Union to intervene in Syria. “Now the blood of Syrians runs alongside the blood of Europeans,” he said.

euronews

(via mohandasgandhi)

reuters:

This Reuters graphic shows there have been 6,519 men, 190 women and 465 children killed in violence in Syria as of Feb. 5, 2012. The most fatalities in a single day since April of last year happened on Feb. 4, 2012 with 400 deaths reported.
The latest on Syria | Follow Reuters on Tumblr
[Graphic: REUTERS | Sources: UNITAR-UNOSAT, Syria Violence Document Center, syrianshuhada.com, syriamap.wordpress.com, news reports]

reuters:

This Reuters graphic shows there have been 6,519 men, 190 women and 465 children killed in violence in Syria as of Feb. 5, 2012. The most fatalities in a single day since April of last year happened on Feb. 4, 2012 with 400 deaths reported.

The latest on Syria | Follow Reuters on Tumblr

[Graphic: REUTERS | Sources: UNITAR-UNOSAT, Syria Violence Document Center, syrianshuhada.com, syriamap.wordpress.com, news reports]

(via theatlantic)

shortformblog:

Not so “quiet”: As we mentioned yesterday, the leader of the group of monitors from the Arab League currently visiting Syria is a Sudanese general named Mohammed al-Dabi (whose record in that capacity has led human rights activists to denounce his role). Yesterday he insisted the violence stricken city of Homs was quiet, and that the monitors had not witnessed anything “frightening.” Today brought reports that, heading to the city hall in the capitol suburb of Douma, the monitors arrived as security forces opened fire on “tens of thousands.” source

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(Source: shortformblog)

"Among the gifts of new clothes and sweets for Eid al-Adha, the toy of choice for Syrian children this year has been the plastic gun. Boys carrying small black pistols and long brown rifles roamed across the streets of Damascus, doing battle."

Toy guns are always popular Eid gifts. But the sight of children pretending to shoot each other is an uncomfortable one in Syria. (via theeconomist)

More than a few times in Beirut, a week before the Syrian uprising began, I saw kids running around the streets with rather realistic looking guns. It’s disturbing no matter where or what the context is.

(via theeconomist)

Deir Ezzor Press: Syrian tanks and artillery bombed Osman bin Affan Mosque Bdiralzor 10/08/2011

(Source: youtube.com)

Tags: Syria news

Lebanon Charts a New Path

Foreign Policy:

This week, Beirut achieved an underwhelming milestone: after 140 days, Sunni billionaire Najib Mikati finally managed to form a government. This may not seem like much, compared to the paroxysms of political change which have toppled dictators and shaken the foundations of the Middle East’s most entrenched authoritarian regimes. Traditionally one of the region’s most politically turbulent countries, Lebanon has seemed positively serene by comparison to its neighbors. There has yet to be a replay of the seas of chanting protesters and billowing flags in the streets of Beirut which followed the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

[…] The direction of the new government could profoundly re-shape Lebanon’s relationship with America and the international community, just as it will play an important role in determining the fate of the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime.

[…]

The international media and many Lebanese politicians have rushed to portray the new cabinet as being dominated by Syria and Iran because of the preponderance of March 8 figures in key ministries. In response, Prime Minister Mikati has insisted that he has no intention of threatening Lebanon’s relationship with the West, and that he is not a fig leaf for a “Hezbollah government.” For the time being, the Obama administration has opted to wait and judge the government “by its actions,” but there have already been calls by a few U.S. lawmakers to cut Washington’s aid and adopt a hard-line stance toward the new government in Beirut.

The claim that Mikati’s government will actually be controlled by Hezbollah is an oversimplification, but there is no question that this new cabinet marks a watershed in Lebanese politics. As per its usual custom, Hezbollah only opted to accept two relatively insignificant portfolios out of a total of 30, while its allies (with whom it does not always see eye-to-eye) occupy the important ministries of defense, justice, telecommunications, labor, etc. It should be noted that the very fact that Mikati was chosen as prime minister rather than a more divisive “pro-Syrian” figure suggested from the very beginning that the March 8 coalition was wary of letting this government be painted as being “Made in Damascus and Tehran.” Mikati’s international stature, strong ties to Saudi Arabia, and his possession of a (rather tenuous) cabinet veto will likely be sufficient to calm fears that he can be steamrolled by the parliamentary majority, at least in the short term.

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