Panetta and Dempsey Publicly Admit Support to Plan to Arm Syrian Opposition
WASHINGTON, (SANA)- After many attempts to cover Washington’s role in sabotaging the peaceful solution in Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, and Chairman of the U.S. Military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, admitted publicly that they support arming what they called the opposition in Syria.
During a Congress hearing session Thursday, Panetta and Dempsey said they were in favor of a recommendation advocated last year by the State Department and the CIA to arm “the Syrian opposition”.
Senator John McCain pressed the Pentagon leaders about whether they backed the recommendation, to which they said yes.
“Did you support the recommendation by then Secretary of State Clinton and then head of CIA General Petraeus that we provide weapons to the resistance in Syria? Did you support that?” McCain (R-AZ) asked Panetta and Dempsey.
“We did,” Dempsey responded.
Panetta however added that the plan was rejected by the White House.
The New York Times reported on February 2 about the plan developed last summer by Clinton and Petraeus, who have since left their jobs.
Panetta and Dempesy’s public acknowledgment followed statements by Republican Senator Rand Paul Thursday in which the latter revealed confirmed information about weapon shipment from Libya to Syria under US supervision.
Paul told the CNN channel that in answer to a question he recently raised to Clinton on whether we coordinate to send weapons from Libya to Turkey, then to the gunmen in Syria, she answered no, but before one week of the assassination of US Ambassador in Libya, a ship loaded with weapons left Libya with the recognition of the Americans.
The ship captain talked about weapons which were sent to the gunmen in Syria who fight each other on who got weapons and who didn’t, Paul added.
Barack Obama administration claims it provides only “non-lethal aid” to the Syrian opposition, without clarifying how this aid is non-lethal in its perspective.
Information on the US involvement in supporting the terrorist groups in Syria is plenty as the Washington Post recently revealed the role of the CIA in exchanging information with Saudi Arabia and Qatar who are supplying the gunmen with weapons.
The newspaper report noted that CIA agents are deployed along the Turkish-Syrian border and coordinating the passing of equipment and medical supplies to the gunmen in Syria and providing communications training.
Al-Halqi Stresses Serious Efforts to Launch National Dialogue
DAMASCUS, (SANA) – Prime Minister, Dr. Wael al-Halqi, stressed the government’s keenness on taking the necessary preparatory procedures to launch the national dialogue.
The Premier was speaking during the meeting of the ministerial committee tasked with following up the implementation of the political program to solve the crisis in Syria with head of the Third Way Movement, Mazen Mughrabiya, and the political bureau members.
Premier al-Halqi noted that the government is communicating with all political forces in Syria and the opposition forces abroad which believe in national solution and supporting the people’s choices on the national bases and principles.
He reviewed the government’s juridical and security guarantees to those who want to return and participate in the national dialogue and other procedures to provide the necessities of life to the returning citizens.
He pointed out to the efforts exerted to settle the cases of detainees, kidnapped citizens and gunmen.
Al-Halqi called for encouraging all forces to participate in the political process to come out of the current crisis and contribute to building the future of democratic Syria.
In turn, Mughrabiya voiced agreement on the principle of unconditioned dialogue, peaceful and political solution, and rejection of violence and foreign intervention in political affairs.
In statements to journalists following the meeting, Mughrabiah said ”I believe the government is serious about making dialogue a success,” calling for speeding up the launching of dialogue and allowing opposition figures to return and get engaged in political work from inside Syria.
R. Raslan/ M. Ismael
Terrorists Gatherings Targeted, Many Killed, Their Machinegun-equipped Vehicles Destoyed
HOMS/ IDLEB, (SANA) - A unit of the Armed Forces on Friday targeted gatherings of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in several areas in the countryside of Homs province.
A military source told SANA reporter that many terrorist were killed while others were injured in al-Za’afaraneh, Aqrab and Deir Fool areas.
Terrorists Killed, Their Vehicles Destroyed in Idleb
A unit of the Armed Forces targeted terrorists in Salqin in the countryside of Idleb, killing and injuring many of them and destroying their vehicles.
An official source told SANA reporter that terrorists Abu Obeida, leader of the so called “Ahrar al-Sham Brigade”, Jamal al-Haj Obeid and Ibrahim Istanboli were identified among the dead.
The source added that a number of the injured terrorists were transported to Turkey, including terrorist Abu Omar al-Libi.
Another army unit destroyed a convoy of vehicles equipped with heavy machineguns and anti-aircraft guns, in addition to six cars transporting terrorists, killing all the terrorists inside near al-Hamidiyeh in Maaret al-Numa’an.
The source said that a unit of the Armed Forces eliminated large numbers of terrorists in al-Majas area to the north of Abu Dhohour in the countryside of the province.
The Armed Forces targeted a gathering of terrorists in Kafer Roma, killing and injuring many of them, in addition to destroying a number of their vehicles, among them armored vehicles and others equipped with machineguns.
R. Raslan/ H. Said
Official Source: Syrian Government Condemns Assassination of Shukri Belaid
DAMASCUS, (SANA)-An official source on Thursday announced that the Syrian government condemns, in the strongest terms, the hideous crime that claimed the life of Tunisian struggler Chokri Belaid.
The source added that the Syrian government offers warm condolences to the family, relatives and colleagues of Belaid and all the honest strugglers in Tunisia.
Belaid was assassinated on Wednesday in front of his home in Tunis.
Thousands of Tunisians protested the assassination.
Al-Kayed and al-Dneifat Families Renounce Connection to Crimes of Family Members in Daraa
DARAA, (SANA) - Al-Kayed and al-Dneifat families renounced any connection to the crimes of abduction and murder committed by Alaa al-Kayed and Hadi Ahmad al-Dneiyfat along with their brothers and uncles.
The two families denounced in a statement the abduction and killing of martyr Fayez al-Ghazali, brother of Maj. Gen. Rustom al-Gazali, and Fayez’ son Hussam at the hands of Alaa and Hadi and other members of al-Kayed and al-Dneifat families who are now on the run.
The criminals also kidnapped Fayez’ another son Jalal, in Qarfa village in Daraa, who was later released.
“We disavow them as they belong to our families in the name only,” the statement said.
The two families called upon parents and sons in Hawran and all the Syrians to renounce all acts of killing, kidnapping and sabotage and to support the unity of the Syrian land and people under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad.
The statement added that the two families will spare no effort to help in “bringing the criminals to justice”.
R. Raslan/H. Said
Two Malaysians Charged with Inciting Terrorism in Syria
KUALA LUMPUR, (SANA)- Prosecution in Malaysia charged an al-Qaeda-linked former army captain and a woman with inciting terrorist acts in Syria.
“Yazid Sufaat encouraged terrorist activities,” said a ruling at the Magistrate Court in Malaysia, quoted by the Associated Press.
Sufaat was reported to have been doing so at a house in a suburb outside Kuala Lumpur sometime between early August and late October, while Halimah Hussein was charged for abetting him.
Police arrested Sufaat, Hussein and another man Thursday, saying they were the masterminds of an effort to recruit militants.
Prosecution documents offered scant details except that their actions could have threatened public safety in Syria.
Yazid Sufaat, and Halimah Hussein face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
The Malaysian national news agency, Bernama, late Thursday quoted unidentified sources as saying that the suspects tried to recruit young people to be trained for missions that included suicide bombings.
Sufaat was detained in 2001 upon return from Afghanistan where he was suspected of working on a biological and chemical weapons program for al-Qaeda.
Moscow Welcomes the Syrian Opposition’s Willingness for Dialogue
MOSCOW, (SANA)_The Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, said his country welcomes the Syrian opposition’s willingness to start dialogue with the government.
In a press conference in Moscow on Thursday, Lukashevich said that ”Russia calls for dialogue as the only way for solving the crisis,” adding that ”this available possibility must seized to the maximum.”
He added that Russia will continue its intensive communications with the Syrian authorities and the opposition forces which will contribute to finding points of convergence to help the country get out of a chronic bloody conflict.
Lukashevich stressed that his country will continue on the principled path to political settlement to the crisis through an internal Syrian dialogue that is based on the UNSC resolutions and Geneva statement, indicating that Russia sees no other rational alternative.
He considered the radical change in the stance of the western countries towards the crisis in Syria will lead to great relief among all parties, adding that Geneva statement has been agreed upon by all sides, including the US, and Russia suggested that document within the framework of the UN Security Council resolution but it received no response.
Lukashevich noted that more international powers admit that violence and bloodshed will not achieve a settlement to the crisis in Syria, adding that there is cautious optimism for reaching a solution. He pointed out that there are some indications that the situation could change.
”The Russian Foreign Ministry welcomes and backs the efforts of the UN Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi,” Lukashevich said, pointing to real support offered through Brahimi’s shuttle diplomacy.
He reiterated Russia’s support to Brahimi, taking into account that his ideas are not unanimously agreed upon.
R. Raslan/ M. Ismael