Hezbollah denounced on Thursday the Israeli strike which targeted a scientific research center in Syria a day earlier, saying the raid aimed to negate Damascus’ role in the path of resistance.
In a statement released by Hezbollah Media Relations, the party considered the strike as a “savage attack that carries out the Zionist entity’s policy which aims at preventing any Arab and Muslim state from developing its technological and military capabilities.”
“As Hezbollah firmly condemns the new Zionist attack against Syria, it sees that the assault blatantly uncovers the reality of what’s coming on in Syria since two years ago.”
The party noted that the strike “discloses the criminal attempts aimed at negating Syria’s role in the resistance path, in a bid to pass the chapters of the conspiracy against Damascus and our Arab and Muslim people.”
Hezbollah urged the international community along the Arab and Muslim countries to condemn the attack, but said “we were used to the silence of this community,” in front of such attacks, “especially when the Zionist entity is the attacker.”
“As Hezbollah voices solidarity with Syria, its leadership, army and people, it stresses the importance of realizing the gravity that Syria is being targeted,” the statement said.
The party also considered the raid “an opportunity for some sides to review their stances and adopt the dialogue as the only solution to stop the bloodshed” in Syria.
… Dr. Ali Mohamad, editor-in-chief of the Syria Tribune news website, believes the fears of chemical weapons was a pretext to destroy Syria’s military research centers and ensure that Damascus is unable to produce arms for its military or regional allies.
Syrians know that “this is not at all about chemical weapons,” Dr. Mohamad told RT. “It’s about stopping the Syrian scientists’ military research projects.”
“It finally makes sense because the rebels or as they like to call themselves the revolutionaries, they have been attacking air defense bases near Damascus for the past seven months,” Dr. Mohamad said. “They’ve managed to attack the S-200 base and over four other surface-to-air missile bases. Now this followed by an airstrike from Israel. So it all adds up, it makes sense. It only shows that Israel has a great interest in the instability in Syria and that it is being helped by groups of armed rebels in Syria.”
“Military research centers are responsible for developing weapons, in particular land-to-land long range missiles,” and Israel wants to stop this research process, Dr. Mohamed explained. “Of course Israel will claim that this is connected to a chemical weapons arsenal, but this is of course not true because nobody stores chemical weapons in a research center.”
“Let’s remember that the Syrian official who was responsible for all military research projects has been assassinated in Damascus by the rebels,” he said. “Let’s also remember that the person who orchestrated the Syrian long-range missile project colonel Dawoud Rajiha was also assassinated in Damascus. This is about stopping the Syrian scientific military research projects and is about breaking the link that will help [Israel] overcome the Lebanese resistance and the Palestinian resistance.”
Syria will likely retaliate, but not in the form of a direct attack on Israel. Instead, Damascus will seek to arm Hezbollah, the Lebanese resistance, Dr. Mohamed said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has dismissed Israeli and Western media reports claiming there had been an explosion at the Fordo uranium enrichment facility and stated that it had seen no sign of such an event at the Iranian nuclear site.
On Tuesday, IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor told The Associated Press that Iran’s denial of “an incident” at the Fordo plant is “consistent with our observations.”
On Monday, Iran categorically rejected the reports about an explosion at the Fordow nuclear facility.
MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who is the chairman of the Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, described the news stories as Western propaganda designed to influence the upcoming round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 group (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, and Germany).
Forty-eight Iranians held hostage by armed groups in Syria since August, were released on Wednesday.48 Iranian abductees
State television reported on Wednesday that the Iranians, who were threatened with execution, were released, but without saying further details.
Iran has appealed to Turkey and Qatar, both with close relations with Syria militants, for help in securing the release of the pilgrims who were visiting the Sayyida Zeinab shrine, a holy site in the southeastern suburbs of Damascus.
- 48 Iranians released in first prisoner swap by Syrian rebels (thehimalayantimes.com)
Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran has not yet crossed the red line Tel Aviv set on its nuclear program.
“Iran remains the number one threat,” Netanyahu said Thursday at the last session of the annual year-end meeting in the Foreign Ministry for the Israeli ambassadors serving abroad.
“There is a chance for positive change in the region if that country was prevented from getting a nuclear weapon,” he said referring to the Islamic Republic.
The prime minister added that in the short term he expected regional tribulations to continue.
During a speech at the UN in September, Netanyahu drew a red line on a picture of a bomb signifying when Tehran would be 90% on the way to development of a bomb. He said Iran would not likely pass that line until the spring or summer.
“And this will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether,” Netanyahu added on Thursday.
The Israeli PM also addressed the Palestinian issue, saying Hamas could take control of the Palestinian Authority “any day,” and therefore “concrete security arrangements” must be included in any peace agreement, as well as recognition of the Zionist entity as the “state of the Jewish nation,” an end to the “right of return” and a sincere declaration on the end of the conflict.
- Netanyahu was wrong about Iraq having nuclear weapons
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- Context of ‘July 8-10, 1996: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Tells Congress US Must Join Israel in ‘Democratizing’ Middle East’
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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the European Union and its member states to designate Hezbollah a ‘terrorist group’.
The resolution, approved on Wednesday, urges the European Union member states to also impose sanctions on Hezbollah, the Times of Israel news website reported.
Based on the resolution, which was co-sponsored by 85 House representatives, Hezbollah would be prevented from employing the territories belonging to the European Union for fundraising, recruitment and training.
On July 24, 2012, the European Union flatly rejected an Israeli call to blacklist Hezbollah as a “terrorist group”, because it regards Hezbollah as an active political party in Lebanon and there is not enough evidence to warrant listing the Lebanese group a ‘terror group’ as the United States does.
European countries argue that their relations with Lebanon, where Hezbollah provides extensive social services and its political wing holds government power, would be damaged by the designation. Among the 27 European Union member states, only the UK and the Netherlands are in favor of the designation, which would freeze the group’s Europe-held financial assets.
Ankara has allowed a Syrian passenger plane to leave, hours after forcing it to land, saying it had suspected the plane might be carrying “non-civilian cargo.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish F16 fighter jets intercepted the Airbus A-320 airliner as it passed through Turkish airspace while flying from Moscow to Damascus with 35 passengers and two crew-members on board.
Turkish fighter jets forced the plane to land at the Esenboga airport in Ankara for security checks.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey seized “objectionable cargo” from the plane. Anatolia news agency quoted officials as saying they suspected the aircraft was carrying arms.
“There is illegal cargo on the plane that should have been reported” in line with civil aviation regulations, Davutoglu was quoted as saying by Anatolia.
“There are elements on board that can be considered objectionable,” he said, adding that Turkey would hold on to the cargo for further investigation but declining to elaborate on the contents.
MOSCOW SAYS PLANE DID NOT CONTAIN ARMS
Meanwhile, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday, citing an arms exporting source, that the passenger plane did not contain any arms or military equipment on board.
“Neither weapons nor any systems or assembly parts for military equipment were or could have been on board the passenger plane,” the unidentified high-ranking source from one of Russia’s arms exporting agencies told Interfax.
“If there were a need to deliver military equipment or armaments to Syria, it would be done in a routine way rather than illegally, let alone by using a passenger plane,” the source was quoted as saying.
- NATO mortar ‘gift’ from Turkey to Syrian rebels – Turkish newspaper (alethonews.wordpress.com)
An independent UN panel confirmed on Monday that an increasing number of foreign elements including what it calls “jihadists” are now operating in Syria.
In its first report to say that outside terrorists have joined the fight in Syria, the investigative panel appointed by the Human Rights Council says some of these forces are joining armed anti-government groups while others are operating on their own.
“Such elements tend to push anti-government fighters towards more radical positions.” the head of the panel, Brazilian diplomat and professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, told diplomats.
He referred to the foreigners as terrorists, though the word did not appear in the written report.
The panel accused government forces along with armed groups of war crimes including murder, extrajudicial execution and torture.
Pinheiro said that the human rights situation has “deteriorated to such a degree that it is difficult to describe justly in such a few words. Gross violations of human rights have grown in number, in pace and in scale.”
He said the frequency of these “egregious violations” were so enormous that his panel could no longer investigate them all.
“Civilians, many of them children, are bearing the brunt of the spiraling violence,” he said.
For his part, the Syrian U.N. Ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui contested the report’s overall accuracy and objectivity. But he appeared to agree with Pinheiro on the presence of outside elements, telling the council that “many international parties are working on increasing the crisis in Syria.”
- Syria FM Moallem: US Major Player in Syria Crisis, Other Countries Instruments (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Syria accuses Turkey of allowing al-Qaida transit (dailystar.com.lb)
- UK to give Syria rebels extra £5m (bbc.co.uk)
The 80 cast and crew members involved in the making of the movie that has roiled much of the Islamic world said Wednesday they were “grossly misled” about its intent and expressed sorrow over the resulting violence.
“The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer,” they said in a statement to CNN about the movie, “Innocence of Muslims.”
“We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose,” continued the statement, which was sent to CNN by a member of the production staff who asked not to be identified for security reasons. “We are shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred.”
Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed Tuesday in Libya amid a regional furor over the film, which mocks Islam’s prophet.
A casting call published in July 2011 in Backstage magazine and in other publications for actors identifies the working title of the movie as “Desert Warrior” and describes it as an “historical Arabian Desert adventure film.”
An actress in the film who asked not to be identified said the original script did not include a Prophet Muhammed character. She added that she and other actors complained that their lines had been changed.
The actress said she spoke Wednesday with the producer, who is identified in the advertisement as Sam Bassiel. “He said he wrote the script because he wants the Muslims to quit killing,” she said. “I had no idea he was doing all this.”
“I would never be involved in a film to ever hurt or bring harm to anybody,” she told CNN. “This makes me sick to my stomach to think that I was involved in that movie that brought death to somebody else.”
The actress said the character of Muhammed in the movie was identified as George when it was shot, and that she returned afterward and read other lines that may have been dubbed into the piece.
A member of the production staff who worked directly on the film and has a copy of the original script corroborated the actor’s account, adding that it mentions neither Muhammed nor Islam.
Russia criticized unilateral US and European Union sanctions against Damascus, as it voiced skepticism about forming buffer zones in Syria.
Saying they worsen the plight of the Syrian people, Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, called for exerting efforts in a bid to improve the humanitarian situation for the Syrians.
Churkin said he agreed with UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres, who warned the Security Council against the so-called “safe zones.”
“He (Guterres) made it very clear he thought that history showed that they cannot be relied on as an effective tool for protecting civilians – that we must work together in order to help alleviate and improve the humanitarian situation for the entire population of Syria,” Churkin told the council.
As he urged the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) members to stand against the sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi stressed that the foreign interference in the events taking place in our region was unacceptable.
“The NAM… should seriously confront unilateral sanctions of certain nations against some members of the NAM,” Salehi said in a speech opening days of preparatory meetings for the summit on Thursday and Friday.
“So far, the NAM has condemned these measures,” he noted, adding: “we take this opportunity to thank the NAM for its support to the legitimate rights” to nuclear activities.
“Regarding our peaceful nuclear program… we have always said that we are only seeking our legitimate rights” to nuclear energy as permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Salehi said.
The Iranian FM called for the active role of the NAM in annihilation of the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), saying that the Zionist entity should be forced to respect the non-proliferation of WMDs.
“Israel’s refusal to sign Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a hurdle to the globalization of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,” he added.
Talking about the regional events, and especially the Arab revolutions, Salehi said the foreign interference was unacceptable.
“We have learned from the events which our region has witnessed that any forces cannot ignore the legitimate demands of people.”
“The popular uprisings and the regional events that follow it, affect the consecutive developments on the International level,” Salehi added.
“The participation of the real independent political powers in a comprehensive dialogue needs a political operation based on the internal views of a country,” the Iranian FM stressed, noting that this operation should not be away from the foreign interference.
Salehi also said that the Palestinian issue, as the most important problem in the region, should be taken seriously during the ongoing NAM meeting and the “criminal measures of Israeli regime, as the biggest threat to the region” must be taken into consideration.
Free Patriotic movement leader, Michel Aoun addressed Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, saying his party was with the resistance on the same path.
In an interview with al-Manar TV, General Aoun said his party would not abandon resistance, saying it has been part of the movement’s being.
“We can’t stand against a part of our people who have been sacrificing and dying for the sake of our country, land and people.”
Asked whether the General rued his position in regard to Hezbollah, Aoun told the al-Manar correspondent: “Never… you should not ask me such a question.”
Asked for his position toward resistance in case of an Israeli attack on Lebanon, Aoun stressed that the FPM would support the resistance.
“We will take the same position and behavior. We will be as eager as we were in July War in 2006 in supporting the resistance because it’s part of our being.
Addressing Sayyed Nasrallah, Aoun affirmed that the FPM and Hezbollah were in the same path.
“To Sayyed Nasrallah I say we are in the same path until securing victory at the end.”
Concerning the equation of people-army-resistance, the FPM leader said there were attempts to dismantle this equation, stressing that any occupied land, however small it was, had dignity.
“The attempt to dismantle the equation of people-army-resistance is an offensive one, which aims at subjecting our country to an International political equation, in a bid to threaten its entity in the future,” Aoun told al-Manar correspondent during the interview.
Qatar’s ambassador in Mauritania allegedly offered his Syrian counterpart an advance payment of US$1 million and a monthly salary of $20,000 over 20 years, trying to convince the diplomat to defect and voice support for the opposition.
Hamad Seed Albni was also offered a permanent residence in the Qatari capital Doha, but refused the proposition, claims Lebanese-based Al-Manar TV. The diplomat reportedly called the offer a “blatant interference” in Syria’s affairs and warned not to come up with such initiatives anymore.
Bashar al-Assad’s government has endured a number of high-profile defections recently. Diplomats representing Syria in the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, Abdel Latif al-Dabbagh and Nawaf al-Fares, abandoned their positions and so did the country’s Prime Minister Riyad Hijab. The officials explained their defections, saying they could not work for a regime oppressing its own people
Damascus says Qatar uses its financial resources to promote defections among the ranks of Syrian officials. Doha reportedly allocated $300 million for the purpose, Iran’s Fars news agency claimed.