Syria,Iran Main Supporters of Resistance:Lahoud

TEHRAN - Former Lebanese President Emile Lahoud lauded Iran for the constructive efforts it has made to help restore peace and tranquility in Syria.

Lahoud made the remarks in a meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Beirut Qazanfar Roknabadi in the Lebanese capital on Monday,according to FNA.

"Iran and Syria have played key roles in achieving victories and are considered as the main supporters of the resistance movement," the former Lebanese president said.

The Iranian ambassador to Beirut, for his part, underlined that holding national Syrian-Syrian dialogue is the best solution to the crisis in the country.

Roknabadi pointed to Iran's efforts to help settle the crisis in Syria, and said, "Tehran's six-point plan for resolving the Syrian crisis and subsequent hosting of national dialogue meetings on Syria in Tehran and Damascus are among the Islamic Republic's initiatives to resolve the ongoing crisis in Syria."

Iranian officials have repeatedly underlined that Tehran is in favor of negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition groups to create stability in the Middle Eastern country.

Last November, Iran hosted a meeting between the representatives of the Syrian government and opposition to encourage them to start talks to find a political solution to their problems. The National Dialogue Conference kicked off work in Tehran mid-November with the motto of 'No to Violence, Yes to Democracy".

The meeting brought together almost 200 representatives of various Syrian ethnicities, political groups, the opposition, and state officials.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.

Hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed, when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes.

The government blames outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups for the deaths, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.


Diplomat: Iran Part of Solution to Syrian Crisis

TEHRAN (ST)- Iranian Ambassador to Tunisia Peyman Jebeli welcomed the massive participation of different world states in the 'Friends of Syria' meeting in Tehran later this month, and said Iran is a part of any solution to the Syrian crisis.            

"The massive participation of countries in the meeting will show the international determination to support a political solution (to the problem in Syria) and proves that Iran is a part of the solution to the current crisis in Syria," FNA quoted  Jebeli as saying in an interview with al-Shorouq newspaper on Monday.

He said even those states which have helped the "rebel" groups in Syria with arms and financial supports have now failed in their plots and realized that the only solution to the crisis in the Muslim country is a political one.

"Since the very first day of the crisis, we have said that we believe and still believe that the only way to end the crisis is a peaceful and political solution based on dialogue between the two sides (the Syrian government and the opposition) and therefore, we support any plan which advocates a political and fair solution within the framework of Syrian-Syrian talks between the government and the dissidents," Jebeli underlined.

The Friends of Syria Conference is due to be held in Tehran on Wednesday to find a way to restore peace and stability in the region.

Iran has invited different regional and international actors to the 'Friends of Syria' conference due to be held in Tehran on Wednesday, the foreign ministry announced on Saturday.

"Representatives of Russia and China will be present in the meeting and Tehran has invited different states, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which hold different positions (from that of Iran on Syria) to attend the conference," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Sunday.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs and terrorists against Syrian forces and civilians being reported across the country.

The US daily, Washington Post, reported in May 2012 that the Syrian rebels and terrorist groups battling Assad's government have received significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, a crime paid for by the Persian Gulf Arab states and coordinated by the United States.

The newspaper, quoting opposition activists and US and foreign officials, reported that Obama administration officials emphasized the administration has expanded contacts with opposition military forces to provide the Persian Gulf nations with assessments of "rebel" credibility and command-and-control infrastructure.

Opposition activists who several months ago said the "rebels" were running out of ammunition said last May that the flow of weapons - most bought on the black market in neighboring countries or from elements of the Syrian military in the past - has significantly increased after a decision by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Persian Gulf states to provide millions of dollars in funding each month.


M. Wassouf

Severing Diplomatic Relations with Syria Fatal Mistake: Belkhodja

 TUNIS, (ST)_  Former Tunisian Minister of Interior Tahir Belkhodja  described severing diplomatic relations with Syria as a  fatal diplomatic mistake because embassies are existed to solve problems of countries, not to endorse or support a certain  leadership.

In an interview with the Tunisian daily "the Tunisian"  published Sunday, Belkhodja  said : " the Tunisian terrorists   who are sent to Syria , calling  themselves" jihadists " are mislead  , calling  on the Tunisian government  to drain the headwaters of this phenomenon and the networks that implicated young Tunisians  . 

The Belkhodja pointed out that Tunisia is  threatened  by terrorism that seeks to sweep all the region for more than ten years,  after al-Qaeda's decision to move its terrorism from Afghanistan to the Great Islamic Maghreb. 

He warned that Tunisia 's stability is  threatened for years to come if there is no will , balances, political decisions, national unity and urgent solutions to it , demanding preparations  to confront terrorism in the coming years and coordination with  countries concerned l, including  Algeria.

He pointed out that the assassination of the Tunisian militant  Shukri Belaïd  was a calamity befell in Tunis, stressing that Belaid was killed because he had strong convictions of great influence on people  , a bright  political future and  in order to intimidate politicians and people, alike. 

T. Fateh 

Jamil: Syrian Army Able to Repel Any Aggressive Move

TEHRAN - "The Syrian army is capable of repelling any type of threat and aggression against the country," Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, who is a renowned member of the opposition, said after the army traced and destroyed an Israeli vehicle in the Syrian territories,according to FNA.

"All international conventions entitled Syria to the legitimate right to destroy the Israeli military vehicle which had trespassed the Syrian territory since it meant defending our national sovereignty," Jamil told FNA on Sunday.

Stressing that the international situation will not allow a new confrontation in the region, he said, "The Syrian army can repel any aggression against the Syrian territory due to its capabilities."

Earlier this week, the Syrian army said that it found an Israeli military vehicle during its wide-scale attack in the central city of al-Qusseir.

According to the report, the vehicle was found along with tapping and jamming devices in al-Qusseir where the Syrian army has taken full control over the entire Eastern part of the strategic city near the borders with Lebanon.

The Syrian Arab News Agency and the state-TV ran footage of the vehicle, reiterating the government's accusation that the latest Israeli raid against Damascus aimed at weakening the abilities of the Syrian army and giving a hand to rebels in al-Qusseir and elsewhere in the country.

They said that the discovery proves that the "Free Army"and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front are "just titles for an entity that is being led by Israel, Turkey and Qatar".


Shark attacks fisherman off Gaza coast

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – A Gaza fisherman was  attacked last Thursday evening by a shark off the coast, leaving him with moderate injuries.

Locals told Ma’an that the fisherman, named as Hamed Salah, 30, was pulling in fish when the three-meter shark attacked him.

Hamed was taken to the emergency room at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Medics said he lost two fingers on his left hand.

Gaza fishermen in March snared a similarly large shark, prompting locals to crowd the shore taking pictures. The shark was brought onto land and sent to the Khan Younis fish market to be sold for 20 shekels ($5.41) a kilo.

The head of the Palestinian fishing union Mahfouth al-Kabariti told Ma’an that fishermen usually catch sharks around two meters in length, but rarely larger.