Iran, Russia to Intensify Diplomatic Efforts to Find Political Solution to crisis in Syria

Several Russian officials will visit Tehran in the next few days to discuss bilateral ties and also work out joint diplomatic efforts to encourage a political solution to the crisis in Syria, senior parliamentary sources revealed on Saturday.

Hossein Sheikholeslam, a top advisor of the Iranian parliament speaker for international affairs, said Deputy Head of the Russian Federation Council Ilyas Umakhanov is scheduled to arrive in Tehran at the head of a parliamentary delegation on Sunday,according to FNA.

He added that Mikhail Bogdanov, the Special Representative of the Russian President for the Middle-East, is also due to join the first delegation on Wednesday to discuss further expansion of parliamentary and bilateral relations and explore avenues for a negotiated end to the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Sheikholeslam stressed the two countries' close positions on the developments in the region, especially on Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, and said, "The visit (by the Russian officials) will provide a good opportunity for Iran and Russia, as two countries which are calling for and insisting on the cessation of violence in Syria, to exchange views and possibly work out joint political and diplomatic efforts for a political solution to the crisis in Syria."

Sheikholeslam further reiterated regional solutions to the crisis in Syria, and said China and Russia should play an active role in working out such solutions, adding that partnership of all the relevant parties in a political trend to end the crisis is amongst the duties of Iran's diplomatic apparatus.

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

Thousands of people have been killed since terrorist and armed groups turned protest rallies into armed clashes.

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

R.S

"Arab Spring" Aims to Fragment the Arab Region- Baqradouni

BEIRUT,(ST)_ Former Lebanese Minister and MP Karim  Baqradouni  stressed that the so-called Arab Spring is Western storms hit the Arab region to fragment it into small states in the service of Israel and that  the Western war being waged against Syria falls within this framework.

In an interview for the Syrian TV on Friday evening  Baqradouni said : Lebanon 's interest lies in  solving the crisis in Syria peacefully as soon as possible  , adding that Syria was able to protect the unity of Lebanon explaining that there is no self- distancing regarding  what is happening in Syria because   what is happening in Syria is practically, and historically  of a direct impact on Lebanon.

He indicated the great volume of  weapon and armed men  sent to Lebanon and then to Syria, funded and ordered by Gulf  countries, pointing to the need  of controlling Lebanese-Syrian border to prevent the entry of militants and weapons into Syrian territory.

He continued that  the Arab League never solved any  Arab problem in its history, and Lebanon suffered from it for fifteen years.

"Israel achieved its objectives without human or material losses, and it is  the main  beneficiary of what is happening in certain Arab countries, without making any war," he added

He went on that  the solution is Syrian and that the Syrians are able to overcome their problems, stressing that the Syrian army foiled all conspiratorial schemes against their country  and surprised everyone by its steadfastness, solidarity and ability to maintain Syria 's unity.

T. Fateh

Jordanian Security Prevented Displaced Syrians Back Home

AMMAN,(ST)_Several Syrians were wounded when Jordanian security forces fired tear gas on displaced  Syrians on Friday in al-Zaatari refugee camp in the northern Transjordan

The Jordanian (Tell me)  on line said Jordanian security forces prevented by force  a Syrian family from escaping from the camp, and riots and violence  widespread during which the  displaced threw stones at the security personnel who responded by firing tear gas canisters.

Five  displaced Syrians, and ten Jordanian security men fainted from inhaling tear gas while a number of Syrians in the camp were arrested , as reinforcements were sent to the security forces from different parts of the camp, which is located near Mafraq city .

Syrians who were displaced by the armed terrorist groups backed by Western countries and the Gulf to the Zaatari camp suffer  difficult humanitarian conditions and are  prevented  from returning back to Syria .

T. Fateh

Mortar attack kills seven in Iraq

At least seven people have been killed in a mortar attack in northern Iraq, police say.

Dozens more were hurt in the strike as worshippers were leaving the building in Khales after Friday prayers.

It comes a day after at least 27 people were killed in a bomb attack on a cafe in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

There has been an escalation in violence across the country ahead of provincial elections, the first since 2010, due to be held on Saturday.

The attack on the mosque left part of the building destroyed, the Associated Press news agency reported.

There has been a spate of attacks in Iraq this week in the run up to the polls, despite heightened security.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the cafe in west Baghdad, police said. No group has said it carried out the attack.

On Monday, a series of co-ordinated car bomb attacks across the country claimed at least 31 lives and injured more than 200 people.

Fourteen candidates who were standing in the elections have been assassinated, an two of Iraq's 18 provinces will not participate in the polls because of the level of insecurity there.

M.D

Bahrain opposition to rally as F1 practices kick-off

 

Bahrain's opposition plans huge protests today to coincide with practice sessions in the run-up to Sunday's Grand Prix in the Gulf kingdom in a bid to seize world attention for pro-reform demands,according to Voice of Russia, AFP

On Thursday night, thousands demonstrated in several areas across Bahrain in yet another day of protests, witnesses said.

"No Formula on Bahrain's occupied land," chanted the protesters. "No, no blood Formula."

The radical February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition, a clandestine cyber-group, said on Twitter that its supporters had burned tyres and blocked major roads.

Supporters of the more moderate opposition group Al-Wefaq gathered in the village of Karzakan, three kilometres (1.3 miles) away from Sakhir circuit where  the race will take place, but no clashes were reported.

Security forces are on high alert to prevent possible clashes from marring the race. The event is seen as a booster to the image and economy of the tiny Gulf monarchy .

Checkpoints were set up at major intersections, particularly on roads leading to the Sakhir circuit, south of Manama.

The February 14 Coalition has called for Friday to be a "Day of Rage," urging demonstrators to take to the streets against the "blood Formula."

Al-Wefaq called for "massive" afternoon protests on the Budaya highway, four kilometres west of Manama, which links a string of  villages with the capital.

Al-Wefaq members have repeatedly said they do not oppose the event but want their protests to be heard internationally and to press for solidarity from participating teams.

Protesters have intensified their movement over the past week, prompting near-daily clashes with security forces.

Government spokeswoman Samira Rajab said: "Bahrain is ready to host the F1 and there are no security issues," dismissing the protests as "childish movements implementing Iranian agendas... that will not affect the race."

Police have been rounding up pro-democracy activists in an attempt to head off protests.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch accused Formula One of "ignoring rights abuses". Security forces in Bahrain had "increased their repressive actions in the lead up to the 2013 race," the group added.

Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani said he hoped to fill the grandstands and to have a crowd of more than 25,000 at the race day Sunday, insisting it was safe to go ahead with the race.

The event was cancelled in 2011 but went ahead last year.

Human rights groups say a total of 80 people have been killed in the unrest in Bahrain since February 2011.

R.S