Syria's army blasted rebel strongholds in Damascus with mortars on Sunday, sparking the “most intense” fighting in the capital since the revolt in the country erupted 16 months ago, a monitoring group told AFP.
The army's offensive, aimed at driving rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) out of Damascus, was launched soon after Syria's foreign ministry held a press conference to deny its troops had carried out a massacre in Tremseh village on the weekend.
“The regular army fired mortar rounds into several suburbs” where FSA rebels are entrenched, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.
He added that fighting was heaviest in the Tadamon, Kfar Sousa, Nahr Aisha and Sidi Qadad neighborhoods, adding, “(It has) never been this intense.”
“The security forces are attempting to take control of these neighborhoods but so far they have not succeeded,” said Abdel Rahman.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that she is outraged by the reports of the massacre in Syria, demanding that the UN Security Council take action to stop the violence in Syria.
Clinton said in a statement that Assad's regime is deliberately murdering innocent civilians as it tries to put down 16 months of unrest and that history will judge the Security Council if it fails to act.
Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabali said that military plans have been drawn up to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, but added Iranian forces won’t shut it down until they receive the go-ahead from Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei.Earlier this month, the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Iranian Parliament drafted a bill requiring the government to stop all oil tankers shipping to those countries that support sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union against Iran’s oil sales.Senior lawmaker Javad Karimi Qoddousi outlined some of the draft law’s provisions: “Based on the draft bill, the closure of the Strait of Hormuz will continue until the annulment of all the sanctions imposed against Iran, and the government will be allowed to open the strait only after meeting 14 conditions.”
“The armed forces have their own plans for every subject, but the decision to close the Strait of Hormuz lies on the Commander-in-Chief, Ayatollah Khameinei, who also receives consultations from the Supreme National Security Council.”
The U.S. Navy has assessed that Iran has the capability to block the strait, even temporarily, by sinking ships in the narrow transit channels, or by laying mines.
It also has a hard-to-detect “rocket mine” that’s set off by a distinctive magnetic or acoustic signature of a ship. Once a ship, such as a U.S. aircraft carrier, is detected, Iranian sources say, it then launches a propelled, 600-pound warhead at it.
Another is a Russian MDM6, which lies on the seabed and fires a torpedo-like warhead when it senses a vessel. It, too, is difficult to detect and can launch against multiple targets.
In addition, sources say, the Iranians intend to use “swarm” tactics of heavily armed hit-and-run speed boats, which can be equipped with torpedoes, such as the super-cavitating Russian Skhval, which can travel a reported 250 kilometers an hour. At present, there is no defense against it.
President Barack Obama's National Security Advisor Tom Donilon visited Israel secretly over the weekend in what one Israeli newspaper says was an attempt to convince Israel not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.He met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and National Security AdvisorGen. Yaakov Amidror.Maariv-NRG says Donilon's visit reflects heightened U.S. concern that Israel intends to attack Iran sometime during the summer or early autumn. That concern has been heightened by the recent failure of talks between western powers and Iran. The News site estimated that the visit was intended to convince Israel not to launch an attack anytime soon.
Israel would prefer the U.S. to lead an attack on Iran instead of facing it alone. An Israeli attack could have unforseen consequences on the volatile Middle East, and a U.S.-led strike is seen as something Arab regimes will accept slightly more easily. In any case, repercussions against Israel are expected.
Fifty members of a northern Nigerian church were burned to death in their pastor’s house.
The attack by armed gunmen was only the first in a 12-village spree of violence that left over 100 dead in northern Nigeria’s Plateau State, a region that had previously been outside Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram’s operational area and is the homeland of the largely Muslim Fulani tribesmen.
“Nigeria is truly becoming the new killing field for Christians. Hundreds of Christians have already been brutally murdered – including women and children – by the Boko Haram,” Dykstra said. “The Boko Haram earlier this week said that all Christians need to turn to Islam or ‘they would never know peace again.’ Their goal is make all of Nigeria a country run and dominated by Shariah law.”
Church of Christ of Nigeria officials report that all of their denomination’s church buildings were burned to the ground in the 12-town rampage.
A gang of about a dozen armed people stormed into a church youth camp-out near Mexico City and went on an hours-long rampage of beatings, robberies and rape, authorities said Saturday.
Seven girls were raped during the Friday attack and several campers were beaten, according to the state prosecutors office in Mexico State, which surrounds the Mexican capital.
About 90 youths sponsored by a church group known as the Chains of the Holy Trinity were camping at an eco-park on the eastern outskirts of Mexico City, in a hilly area that is close to the lower flanks of the Popocatepetl volcano. Prosecutors did not say what church the group is affiliated with, but the camp-out appeared to have been a sort of spiritual retreat.The office said that the attack lasted for hours, and that when the attackers left they stole two vehicles and other articles from the campers.
Words just fail when reading about the cruelty our brothers and sisters are enduring for His name sake.
I am humbled and shamed at their sacrifices when compared to my life and petty complaints.
So very true!! It won't be long before we look around and see these types of things as every day living. I pray we do not have to go through too much, but this will be a time to reach out passed ourselves and focus on others with the greatest compassion possible.
The signs are everywhere and closing in with wonderful opportunities to help as well as witness to the sick, lost, etc. May God give us all we need to go out today and make a wonderful difference in someone elses life. :)
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