[This is a lengthy article that is worth reading, below are just a few selected quotes]
Russia accused the US, Britain and France on Thursday of inventing several groundless allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria in order to complicate efforts to arrange a UN investigation, the latest salvo in the long-running battle over how the world body should handle the country’s civil war.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin made the accusation following an announcement that Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom and UN disarmament chief Angela Kane will accept a Syrian government invitation to visit Damascus for talks on the terms of a possible investigation
Churkin said Tuesday that experts from Russia, Syria’s closest ally, determined that Syrian rebels made sarin nerve gas and used it in a deadly chemical weapon attack on March 19 in the government-controlled Aleppo suburb of Khan al-Assal, which he said killed 26 people, including 16 military personnel, and injured 86 others.
Two US Navy ships patrolling in the Middle East moved closer to Egypt's Red Sea coast in recent days, the top Marine Corps general said on Thursday, in what appeared to be a precautionary move after the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.
The United States often sends Navy vessels close to countries in turmoil in case it needs to protect or evacuate US citizens or take part in humanitarian assistance. Their presence does not necessarily mean the United States is preparing to carry out military action.
"Egypt is (in) a crisis right now," Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. "When that happens, what we owe the senior leadership of our nation are some options," Amos said. He did not say what the options were.
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Israel Thursday July 11 approved a major Egyptian offensive for curbing the mounting aggression in Sinai of armed Salafis gangs, Muslim Brotherhood raiders and Hamas terrorists. A day earlier, Egypt’s Second Army commander, Maj.-Gen. Ahmad Wasfi, who is assigned to lead the offensive, escaped unhurt from an attempt on his life. Some of his bodyguards and soldiers were killed.
Maj.-Gen. Wasfi arrived in Sinai just four days ago to set up headquarters in the northern town of El Arish. He was targeted for the first attempt by radical Islamists to murder a high-ranking Egyptian general. As a close associate of Defense Minister Gen. Fattah El-Sisi, Wasfi took part in the military coup which ousted President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo on July 3.
As the cars drove past Sheikh Zuwayed, southwest of El Arish, they came under a hail of RPG anti-tank rockets and explosive devices. A minivan then drove the length of the convoy shooting heavy machine guns and armor-piercing bullets, trapping the Egyptian troops and officers in the blazing vehicles and gunning down those who tried to escape.
A fierce shootout ensued in which a number of attackers suffered losses, Egyptian military sources say. The minivan’s driver was captured and is under interrogation.
Tuesday, at the same location, two buses carrying Colombian peacemakers serving with the multinational force-MFO at the Sheikh Zuwayed base were also waylaid and shot up.
Of deep concern to the Egyptian and Israeli high commands is the Salafist assailants’ prior knowledge of the timing and route taken by Gen. Wasfi’s convoy in Sinai, because it means that Islamist terrorists have penetrated Egypt’s military apparatus in Sinai and gained an inside track on its activities.
A senior Egyptian official said Thursday that at least 150 Ezz a-Din al-Qassam operatives (members of the Gaza-based Hamas military wing) were seen heading into Sinai via the tunnels. Over the past few days, Egyptian security forces have killed and arrested around 200 militants in the Sinai Peninsula, killed 32 Hamas operatives and arrested another forty-five.
Hamas hopes to salvage something from its debacle in Cairo. An attack on Israel or even the threat of terrorist operations may be used as the Palestinian radicals’ bargaining chip with the Egyptian army for improving their position.
By joining up with fellow groups, Hamas hopes to salvage something from its debacle in Cairo. An attack on Israel - or even the threat of terrorist operations - may be used as the Palestinian radicals’ bargaining chip with the Egyptian army for improving their position.