As tanks fired in Homs and rebels fired rockets in Damascus Tuesday, a Syrian rebel army chief urged the world to protect civilians, saying Arab peace monitors had failed to curb President Bashar Assad's violent response to a 10-month-old revolt against his rule.Riad al-Asaad, a Turkish-based leader of the rebel Free Syrian Army, called for international intervention to replace the Arab observer mission, which has only days to run."The Arab League and their monitors failed in their mission and though we respect and appreciate our Arab brothers for their efforts, we think they are incapable of improving conditions in Syria or resisting this regime," he told Reuters by telephone.
"For that reason we call on them to turn the issue over to the UN Security Council and we ask that the international community intervene because they are more capable of protecting Syrians at this stage than our Arab brothers," Asaad said.The League could ask the U.N. Security Council to act, but until now opposition from Russia and China has prevented the world body from even criticising Syria, an old ally of Moscow.
Iran condemned what it called foreign interference in the affairs of its closest Arab ally, Syria, on Tuesday and praised reforms Syrian President Bashar Assad has pledged to undertake as "problem-solving."
"We are fundamentally against interfering in the affairs of other countries. We think it does not solve the problems but will only make them more complicated," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a weekly news conference.Iran has backed "Arab Spring" uprisings that toppled several Western-allied dictators in predominantly Sunni Muslim North Africa, while maintaining support for Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
To help deter foreign intervention in Syria, Iran has used various regional cards, including fears that it could unleash militant proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas against Israeli and US interests in the Middle East.
The Mossad worked for months to stage the assassination of its latest Iranian nuclear scientist target last Wednesday, The London Timesreported Sunday.Quoting unnamed Israeli sources, the newspaper said that well-trained team of agents working in Iran set up the bomb attack on Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan, a scientist at the Natanz nuclear facility. He also was involved in missile development.
Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces are holding a series of exercises to practice putting road-mobile missile systems on high alert, SMF spokesman Col. Vadim Koval said.
The exercises involve Topol (SS-25 Sikle), Topol-M (SS-27 Sickle B) and Yars (RS-24) mobile systems stationed in central Russia and Siberia.
“SMF units armed with Topol, Topol-M and Yars road-mobile missile systems will practice patrolling, camouflaging and launch preparation procedures during high alert drills from January 16 to February 3,” Koval told reporters on Monday.
The SMF are planning to hold over 100 tactical drills in the first half of 2012.
As of January 2012, the SMF operated at least 162 mobile Topol systems, 18 mobile Topol-M and 15 mobile Yars systems.
The IDF General Staff has ordered the Southern Command to prepare for a possible large Gaza operation that could occur within the next few months, The Jerusalem Posthas learned.
Preparations include finalizing operational plans and distributing them between the various units that would be deployed inside Gaza.During Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s anti-Hamas ground incursion launched in late 2008, the IDF established brigade-level units that combined armor, infantry and combat engineer forces.
A similar model would likely be applied in a future operation in Gaza as well.
The Gaza Division, under the command of Brig.-Gen. Yossi Bachar, is spearheading the preparations for such an operation, which senior officials said could be significantly larger than Cast Lead.
Twenty-five volcanoes in Indonesia are now showing abnormal activity or have been put on alert or watch status, presidential special aide Andi Arief said here on Saturday.
“According to official data, 25 volcanoes are now under alert or watch status and they must be given priority with regard to disaster mitigation planning at district or city levels,” he said at a workshop on journalists’ role in disaster management.
The US’ largest Marxist organization Democratic Socialists of America is moving to infiltrate and direct theOccupy Wall Street Movement into a more organized and socialist focused protest movement. DSA is working hard to sustain ‘Occupy’ over the winter in readiness for a major “spring offensive” largely directed at Republican controlled state capitols as they struggle to address massive budget problems.
DEBKAfile's sources disclose exclusively that, contrary to recent reports published in Washington, Jerusalem - and this site too - it was Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, not the Obama administration, who decided to call off the biggest ever joint US-Israeli military exercise Austere Challenge 12 scheduled for April 2012.It was perceived as a mark of Israel's disapproval for the administration's apparent hesitancy in going through with the only tough sanctions with any chance of working against Iran's nuclear weapon program: penalizing its central bank and blocking payments for its petroleum exports.This was the first time Israel had ever postponed a joint military exercise; it generated a seismic moment in relations between the US and Israel at a time when Iran has never been so close to producing a nuclear weapon.This week, Netanyahu further orchestrated a series of uncharacteristically critical statements by senior ministers: Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon called the Obama administration "hesitant" (Jan. 15), after which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged the Americans to "move from words to deeds" (Jan 16).Netanyahu decided on this extreme course after careful consideration when he judged the Obama administration's resolve to preempt a nuclear Iran to be flagging, as indicated by four omissions:1. Washington has taken no action against Iran's capture of the RQ-170 stealth drone on Dec. 4 more than a month after the event, and not even pressed President Obama's demand of Dec. 12 for the drone's return.2. Silence from Washington also greeted the start of 20-percent grade uranium enrichment at the underground Fordo facility near Qom when it was announced Jan. 9. Last November, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned in two US TV interviews (Nov. 17 and 22) that as soon as the Fordo facility went on stream, Iran would start whisking the rest of its nuclear facilities into underground bunkers, out of reach and sight of US and Israeli surveillance.3. Exactly three weeks ago, on Jan. 3 Lt. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, Iran's Army chief, announced that the aircraft carrier USS Stennis and other "enemy ships" would henceforth be barred from entering the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz . Yet since then, no US carrier has put this threat to the test by attempting a crossing. Tehran has been left to crow.4. Even after approving sanctions on Iran's central bank and energy industry, the White House announced they would be introduced in stages in the course of the year. According to Israeli's calculus, another six months free of stiff penalties will give Iran respite for bringing its nuclear weapon program to a dangerous and irreversible level.The underlying message was that the Israeli government felt free to attack Iran's nuclear sites on its own if necessary and at a time of its choosing.