US Rethinks Arming Syria "Rebels", says Chuck Hagel

WASHINGTON (ST) _ US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has acknowledged his government is no longer ruling out arming Syrian what he considered "rebels" fighting in Syria .

Speaking in Washington Hagel confirmed the US was reconsidering its opposition to providing weapons to , what he called  Syrian "rebels," but stressed that no decision had been made yet. "Arming the "rebels" - that's an option," he told reporters.

"You look at and rethink all options. It doesn't mean you do or you will. These are options that must be considered with the international community: what is possible, what can help accomplish [our] objectives."

Reuters reported Hagel made the comments at a joint news conference with British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond.

Hammond said the UK had so far been unable to provide weapons because of an EU ban on arming terrorist groups fighting in Syria

But "we will look at the situation when that ban expires in a few weeks' time," he added.

Hagel and his British counterpart indicated that existing evidence of alleged chemical weapon was not sufficient to trigger an international response in Syria .

Hammond said the public still remembered that claims of weapons of mass destruction, which led to the Iraq invasion in 2003, turned out to be incorrect.

"There is a very strong view that we have to have very clear, very high-quality evidence before we make plans and act on that evidence," he said.

Media reports revealed the involvement of Washington in providing terrorist groups in Syria, with weapons ,  used in shedding the blood of the Syrian people, including weapons transported from  Zagreb  and Libya to terrorists in Syria and  training terrorists fighting in Syria  in camps in Jordan , as acknowledged  by U.S. Senate Rand Paul last February.


T. Fateh

Moscow insists Syria’s inquiry be satisfied to probe use of chemical weapons

BUDAPEST,(ST)_Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that all Syrian parties must respect the Geneva Communiqué adopted on June 30.

In a news conference held in Budapest after concluding his talks with his Hungarian counterpart, Lavrov added that all sides of conflict in Syria must start dialogue without pre-conditions.

As for the UN response to investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal area in Aleppo, the Russian Itar Tass quoted Lavrov as saying:“We insist Syria’s concrete inquiry be satisfied to investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in March near Aleppo.”

 “Chemical weapons or chemical substances may be used in March near Aleppo. The Syrian government addressed the U.N. to investigate this case. The U.N. Secretary General said such investigation was possible. But two days later he said Syria should get access to all facilities and to all persons,” the Russian minister said.

“This is wrong and reminds us of the U.N. resolution on Iraq,” he stressed.

On the other hand, Lavrov said: "We’re preparing a response to a message to President Vladimir Putin from his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama.”

In this respect the meetings with the U.S. Secretary of State will be useful, the Russian minister said.

Syrian issue is to be discussed in the meeting.

Kerry will make a visit to Russia on May 7-8.


Poll: Americans Opposed to Attacking Syria

A new New York Times/CBS poll has  released showing broad opposition among American voters to the idea of invading either Syria or North Korea, with past data showing that despite the rhetoric, Americans are no more on board with either potential war than they have been.

Rather, the poll showed Americans more focused on domestic concerns, and believing that there was no “responsibility” to attack Syria to settle the ongoing civil war, and no need to attack North Korea at all.

The New York Times, predictably, presented this result as showing “broad isolationism” among Americans, though of course none of the questions focused on Americans having any interests abroad and simply jumped straight to whether the US ought to attack specific places.

So far officials have not addressed the unpopularity of starting such wars, though President Obama has reiterated that military options remain open in Syria. How “open” those options can be with an overwhelming majority of Americans on the other side, however, remains unclear.


Russia totally opposes any foreign aggression against Syria ,says Zasypkin

BEIRUT, (ST) - "Russia absolutely  rejects the current plots  against Syria under the pretext of using chemical weapons,"said Russia's Ambassador in Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin.

Zasypkin's remark was made during  an interview with the Lebanese al-Manar TV.

"just "accusations " ,no evidences concerning the use of chemical weapons. So, talking about this matter aims only to create pretexts to intervene in Syria and exactly to repeat the same scenario in Iraq, "underscored Zasypkin.

" because of the Russian and the Chinese vetoes at the Security Council ,the US cannot intervene in Syria. However, that intervention from outside the Security Council "would put the US in front of a great responsibility it might not be able to afford its consequences, "added Zasypkin.

In this regard,the Russian diplomat  called for respecting the international legitimacy, adding that the international community should work on solving the crisis not complicating it.

"Providing terrorists with weapons and money hinder any political solution to the crisis in Syria…If support to terrorism continues, the threat would escalate soon and reach all."So,I call upon all sides in Syria to put an end to violence as soon as possible,"affirmed Zasypkin.

"Russia totally opposes  any foreign aggression against Syria ,"he concluded.


Moscow Never Hides Its Legitimate Arms Sales to Syria - Lavrov

 MOSCOW- Russian Foreign Minister Sergi Lavrov has announced that Moscow has never tried to hide its arms sales to Syria, because it is implementing the contracts which have been signed time ago. He stressed that any country has the legitimate right to have defense capabilities which are not prohibited by any international treaty.

Russia Today quoted Lavrov as saying to the British "Foreign Policy" Magazine that "those contracts are mostly about providing the Syrian government with anti-aircraft defensive weapons, and it is absolutely clear that Syria needs legitimately defensive capabilities because the threats are not invented, but they are quite real."

He added "any country has the legitimate right to have defense capabilities which are not prohibited by any international treaty, and we are not violating any."

He called for focusing on the other side and to take into consideration reports about the opposition being armed by offensive weapons, and by the weapons which have been also infiltrated from Libya.

"I believe that it is much more important to take a better look at the other side of the drama because the opposition is being armed by offensive weapons, by the weapons which have been also infiltrated from Libya, including MANPADs, which is a very dangerous weapon. And we have to take this information into account against the background of the leaders of the (Free Syrian Army) making public statements that airplanes, including civilian airplanes, and airports, including civilian airports, will be legitimate targets. This is very dangerous," Lavrov said.

The Russian Foreign Minister renewed Russia's call for halting violence in Syria and launching dialogue without any preconditions, referring to "some positive changes" which occurred on the part of those who have been denying any possibility for dialogue.

He added that this positive change occurred not only in the stances of Washington, Paris and other European capitals, but also in the stances of the Arab countries which are now saying things they did not say before, namely that there must be beginning of a dialogue."

H. Mustafa

World Peace Council Renews Solidarity with Syria

ISTANBUL,(ST)_ The World Peace Council (WPC) reiterated full solidarity with the Syrian people in the face of the terrorist war , and  rejection of all forms of foreign interference in Syria's internal affairs.

The WPC , which includes 140 organizations from  more than 80 countries stressed  ,at a meeting held  in Istanbul,  under the title "for peace in Syria," rejection of the policies of aggression against Syria and the foreign interference in its  internal affairs under several pretexts , including chemical weapons.

The participants in the meeting  condemned the unilateral economic embargo on the Syrian people and blamed Western countries for the humanitarian crisis  in Syria of resulted from  terrorists destruction of  Food and medicines  factories in  Syria.

Representative of the  American Peace Council  Katie Goodman noted the  external intervention in the affairs of the Syrian people, stressing that  the only way to help  the Syrians is to stop this intervention  and that people of the countries that finance terrorist organizations in Syria should  put pressure on their governments to stop that and let  the Syrian people determine their own destiny.


T. Fateh

UN Secretary General , Lebanese FM, Condemned Mezze Explosion

CAPITALS,(ST)_ UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the terrorist bombing in Mezze ,  Damascus on Monday ,  which targeted the procession  of Prime Minister Dr. Wael al-Halqi and described it  as a "terrorist attack".

Reuters quoted  the press office of the UN Secretary-General as saying in a statement that "the Secretary-General condemns the terrorist attack, which occurred  Monday early morning against  the procession  of Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi  in Damascus, causing deaths and injuries."

The statement read "the UN Secretary-General condemns constantly all acts of terrorism , and that  targeting of civilians and civilian areas  by anyone is unacceptable."

For his part, the Lebanese foreign minister Adnan Mansour condemned Damascus terrorist bombing.

In a statement on Monday, Mansour said  that such a criminal act does not lead to stability, security and development, Syria  aspires for , rather constitutes a prohibitive barrier for  national dialogue as the only means conducive to  political solution that can spare destruction .

Other Syrian and Arab figures and parties deplored Mazze  area explosion  and stressed that the

the policy of bombing and intimidation by shedding blood of the  Syrian is the  only card  so far remained in the hands of the enemies of the Syrian people against achieving  a political solution and dialogue  to eliminate the crisis .

They expressed  deepest condolences to the families of the martyrs and wished speedy recovery to the wounded and injured. They also  expressed confidence in the Syrian people's ability to proceed  for substantive choices to renounce violence and get out of the crisis through national dialogue.

T. Fateh

Germany: there is no evidence over use of chemical weapons in Syria

Despite repetitious claims made by the US and British officials who alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle announced that there is no evidence over use of such weapons in that country.

According to ISNA, talking to reporters in Ghana, he said that “We don’t have information or evidence over the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.”

Germany has asked the US administration to share information proving the Syrian government used chemical weapons against opposition rebels.

The German foreign minister said: “We urge the bodies who say they have information that the Syrian government used chemical weapons to share these information with all partners in the international community.”


Source: the guardian