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Al-Zoubi: constitution & people red line

DAMASCUS, (ST)-"actually, since the onset of the aggression on Syria, a Syrian-led political solution among all the Syrians without exclusion any one has been our choice since," underscored Minister Omran al-Zou'bi .

The minister further underlined that  Syria has been backing the political track leading to a political solution that preserves Syria's sovereignty and independence, safeguards its unity, stops the bloodshed and opens doors for rebuilding.

Al-Zou'bi 's remarks were made during an interview with the Syrian TV on Thursday evening.

"undoubtedly, attempts to tarnish the image of Syria's position are desperate and failed," underlined the minister.

The Minister further affirmed  said that the state's sovereignty, independence, rejection of foreign interference and countering terrorism are the principles which can't be rejected by any nationalistic person, indicating that the coalition delegation to Geneva 2 called "opposition" refused these principles, the matter which affirms that it does not want any joint factors could be built upon.

Al-Zou'bi  made it clear that the Syrian state will remain with all ministries, foundations, factories, universities, hospitals and services.

" We have our understanding regarding interim governing body included in Geneva communiqué and this understanding comes through the Syrian Constitution, but we are open to debate if the other side wanted to be part in a multi-democratic political process and a participant in rebuilding and developing the state, "explained al-Zou'bi.

He underlined that the Constitution and the people's will are red lines which can't be crossed. 


Americans fighting with Al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria

 According to Los Angeles Times, more than 50 U.S. citizens have joined extremist groups that are fighting in Syria.

Counter-terrorism officials are increasingly concerned that Americans who have been trained by Al Qaeda-linked groups and gained battlefield experience in Syria ultimately will try to mount terrorist attacks back home.

"It's probably one of the most significant threats we're dealing with," said a senior intelligence official. At a House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday, CIA Director John Brennan said Al Qaeda-linked fighters are training Americans and Europeans at camps in Syria and Iraq.

"We are concerned about the use of Syrian territory by the Al Qaeda organization to recruit individuals … to use Syria as a launching pad" for attacks on the West, Brennan said in a hearing called to discuss global threats to national security.

James R. Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, said "7,500 or so" fighters from 50 countries are in Syria. Clapper last week cited a figure of 7,000 at a Senate hearing. He did not say how many Americans were involved or how many have returned.

Clapper said he was particularly worried about a small cadre of Al Qaeda operatives who have fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan and aspire to attack the United States.

"Not only are fighters being drawn to Syria, but so are technologies and techniques that pose particular problems to our defenses," he said.

Not all of the Americans in the war are Syrian Americans or are Muslims, the senior intelligence official said.

The FBI has scrutinized more than a dozen people who have returned from Syria, according to two senior U.S. intelligence officials who also declined to be named. Some of the returnees were ruled out as a threat, but some remain under surveillance, one senior official said.

Tracking Americans who fought in Syria has become an FBI priority, bureau Director James B. Comey has said.

Federal prosecutors last year charged U.S. Army veteran Eric Harroun, 31, a native of Phoenix, with crimes related to fighting alongside Al Nusra Front, a Syrian militant group linked to Al Qaeda. Harroun pleaded guilty in September to a lesser charge and was released.

Nicole Lynn Mansfield, 33, of Flint, Mich., a convert to Islam who was married to a Saudi, was killed in May with rebels in northwestern Syria.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, a research group based in Israel that has close ties to the Israeli military, estimated last month that as many as 2,100 Europeans and 70 Americans have fought in Syria.


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Homs governor, UN reach agreement on civilian evacuation from areas of Homs

HOMS, (ST)- Governor of Homs Talal al-Barazi and the UN Resident Representative in Syria Yacoub El-Hillo reached Thursday a deal  to allow innocent civilians to leave  the old city of Homs and bringing in humanitarian aid to the civilians who would choose to stay inside the city.

" Homs Governor and the UN Resident Representative reached an agreement that gives the innocent civilians besieged in the old city neighborhoods of Homs, including children, women, the injured and elderly people, the chance to leave the city very soon, "reads a statement released by the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry

Upon the agreement, the statement added, the Syrian authorities will provide the necessary humanitarian aid of shelter, food and medical treatment to the innocent civilians willing to leave the old city.

The Ministry further clarified that the agreement also stipulates for allowing in humanitarian assistance and supplies to the civilians who would choose to stay inside the city.


Russia has no doubt Syrian chemical weapons to be eliminated by July - FM

Russia does not doubt that the term for eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons will be observed, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a briefing in Moscow. He added that Syrian government forces have deterred attacks by "militants" against chemical arms depots, according to Voice of Russia.

"Despite the existing difficulties related to the withdrawal of toxic agents, there are no grounds for disputing the term - the end of June or the beginning of July 2014," the diplomat said.

Syrian government forces have deterred attacks by "militants" against chemical arms depots, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich added.

"The Syrian side reported that some of the chemical arms depots had been attacked. Fortunately, government forces managed to deter those attacks successfully," he told a press briefing in Moscow.

Moscow does not want to dramatize the somewhat slowing down of exportations of chemical weapons from Syria, Lukashevich said. He said he was confident that the deadlines could not have been met "for objective reasons."

"As known, the ground transportation of highly toxic chemicals continues amid the ongoing armed conflict in Syria and it is beset by many risks," the diplomat said.

Moscow against politicization of humanitarian problems in Syria

Attempts being made by some countries to politicize humanitarian problems have a negative impact on the dialogue between the conflicting parties in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

"The attempts being made by some countries to artificially politicize humanitarian issues, including through UN Security Council forums, are absolutely unacceptable and will have the most negative effect on a dialogue between the Syrian parties, the second round of which is planned for February 10 in Geneva," Lukashevich said.


Russia, China Cooperation on political and security issues

SOCHI, - The Russian president Vladimir Putin stressed growing cooperation between Russia and China's’ “security services and military, including those ensuring the removal of chemical weapons from Syria”., according to ITAR TASS.

 “Russia and China make a significant contribution to global development and security,” Putin said.

Russian and Chinese naval task forces participate in the international operation to dispose of Syria's chemical stockpiles for its further destruction. Russia’s missile cruiser The Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) along with a Chinese frigate, Yan Cheng, will escort other ships taking  chemical weapons out of Syria.

This kind of cooperation is the two countries’ first experience of military interaction not in the course of exercises, but in a real operation run by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that Moscow and Beijing largely contribute to assuring global development and security.

Putin said at a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday that “bilateral cooperation is expanding” and the two countries have almost reached the annual turnover target of $100 billion.

Putin recalled that the current volume of trade totaled $87 billion and “it is moving closer to the planned $100 billion.” There were plans earlier to achieve this figure by 2015 and by 2020, to make turnover reach $200 billion.

“Political contacts are expanding,” Putin said. “Five high-level meetings have been scheduled for this year.”