Egypt unrest: Death sentences over football riots spark violence

All 21 defendants sentenced to death on Saturday were fans of Port Said club al-Masry. When the verdicts were announced by a judge in the Cairo court, relatives of victims cheered.

However, the ruling caused supporters of the defendants to go on a rampage in Port Said. Two police officers were shot dead outside the city's prison.

At least another 24 people were killed and about 300 were wounded in further clashes, officials said.

Two footballers were among those killed in Saturday's clashes, state news agency Mena reported. They are former al-Masry goalkeeper Tamir al-Fahlah and Muhammad al-Dadhawi, a player for a lower-division Port Said club.

The violence continued despite the deployment of army units on the city's streets.

Last year's football riots led to the suspension of the league.

They began minutes after the game, when al-Masry fans invaded the pitch, hurling stones and fireworks at visiting supporters from Cairo club al-Ahly.

A section of al-Ahly supporters, known as the "ultras", played a prominent role in the protests against ex-President Mubarak.

Some accused supporters of the toppled leader of instigating the Port Said violence. They also accused police of doing little to prevent the violence.

Seventy-three people, including nine policemen, were tried over the stadium clashes. None are al-Ahly fans.

The judge said he would announce verdicts for the remaining defendants on 9 March.

Friday saw a big anti-government rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square, with opposition supporters clashing with police.

There was also unrest in 12 out of 27 of Egypt's provinces. At least six of the deaths occurred in Suez.

In Ismailia, protesters set fire to the headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party d. The city's governorate headquarters was later also stormed.


Facilities to Display Syrian Products in Iranian Markets


TEHRAN, (ST) - Iranian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mehdi Ghazanfari, and Syrian ambassador to Tehran, Adnan Mahmoud, discussed here today following up the implementation of economic and trade agreements and ensuring the needs of commodities, products and basic materials for the markets in the two countries.

The two sides stressed the need to invest the decisions and facilities taken by the governments of both countries before the commodity exchange and the flow of goods, which would contribute to expand the areas of trade cooperation and strengthen elements of steadfastness of the two brotherly peoples in the face of economic war and Western unfair sanctions that affect the lives of citizens in both countries.

For his part, Ghazanfari affirmed that his ministry puts all potentials in the Iranian governorates to facilitate displaying the Syrian products and sell them in the Iranian market.

Sh. KH

Velayati: an Attack on Syria is attack on Iran Itself

 "Syria has a very basic and key role in the region for promoting firm policies of resistance, and t for this reason an attack on Syria would be regarded   an attack on Iran and Iran's allies," Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, told Mehr news agency on Saturday.

 Velayati further said that Syria plays a “very fundamental and key” role in promoting resistance in the region.

He emphasized that Western countries and reactionary regional states, which oppose resistance against the Zionists, attacked the “golden resistance chain” by waging an war on Syria.

“If Syria had not provided logistical support for Hezbollah , it would have failed to achieve victory against Israeli invaders during the 33-Day war in 2006 when Tel Aviv was compelled to withdraw its troops without having achieved any of its objectives.

Velayati denied that he held talks with the Americans neither in Oman nor any other country.
"This rumor is basically nothing but a lie," he added, reiterating that "no talks have been held so far with the US on a legal basis and with the Leader's permission."
In parallel, the Iranian official emphasized that the US should "definitely make a revision in its policies" and said, "The nuclear issue is our strategic issue. The Islamic Republic of Iran will never give up its right to peaceful nuclear energy."

He stressed the need the US officials should reconsider their offensive policies towards Iran.

Velayati further added that there is consensus on Iran's nuclear energy program "which is a national issue" and warned that if the US and its allies seek to monopolize nuclear energy, they will use it as a tool to exploit Third World countries.

T. Fateh

Number of Displaced Syrians Returning from Lebanon Increased

BEIRUT,(ST)_ Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim said the number of displaced Syrians, as a result of  terrorism,   returning back to  Syria is  increasing, pointing out that Syria's  government and embassies are working to ensure the return of all displaced Syrians   to their homes.

 "I expressed to Minister Mansour thanks for the efforts made to follow up the issue of displaced persons and assured him that the number of returning Syrians  increases,"  added the ambassador  following his meeting with the Lebanese  Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Adnan Mansour on Friday  in Beirut.

He explained that the  formation of the ministerial committee in charge of implementing the political program to resolve the crisis in Syria , is an element of attraction for large number  of displaced Syrians to return to their homeland , noting that these steps indicate  growing denominators among  the Syrians as a prelude to an inter-Syrian dialogue.

"The International reading and the policy  of foreign countries, especially the U.S. administration showed that many  bets were placed  on the wrong direction, thanks to the solidarity between  the  Syrian social fabric, the Syrian army and institutions.", the ambassador emphasized.

T. Fateh

Iraq troops kill five protesters during Fallujah clash

The clashes erupted after the soldiers prevented people joining an anti-government demonstration in the mainly Sunni city after Friday prayers.

It is the first such confrontation with the army since huge protests against the government began five weeks ago in Baghdad and western Iraq.

They called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

Friday's violence in Fallujah broke out after army units in the west of the city blocked off protesters who were heading towards the main demonstration.

The protesters retaliated by throwing bottles of water and stones at the troops, who then opened fire.

It was not immediately clear whether the soldiers fired directly into the crowd or into the air, the BBC's correspondent  reports from Baghdad.

The demonstration in Fallujah was one of several held in other parts of the province of Anbar after Friday prayers.

The anti-government protests began in mid-December shortly after the arrest of several bodyguards of the Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi.

But the campaign against Mr Maliki has since broadened.

The prime minister has urged both the security forces and demonstrators to show restraint, warning of "foreign agendas" seeking to push Iraq towards conflict.