Saturday, July 13, 2013

U.S. Claims Israel Attacked Syrian Weapons Depot

This first story is of interest, as any potential escalation in the region particularly involving Israel is something to watch closely:

U.S. Sources Say Israel Attacked Syrian Weapons Depot

Three unidentified US officials told CNN on Saturday that Israel had carried out an attack on a Syrian weapons depot last week, seemingly confirming reports to that affect that were published in the Arab press.
The sources said that the series of explosions that took place at the Syrian port city of Latakia July 5 were the result of airstrikes by Israeli warplanes targeting advanced, Russian-made anti-ship missiles that were stored there. Several regime soldiers were reportedly killed in the attack.

Until now, the closest anybody has come to openly blaming Israel for the strike was the Free Syrian Army’s spokesman Qassem Saadeddine, who told Reuters on Tuesday that the rebel army’s intelligence network had identified newly supplied, Russian Yakhont missiles being stored at the Syrian naval base at Safira, and that the strike, which was not carried out by his men, was of a military scale.

“It was not the FSA that targeted this,” Saadeddine said. The attack, he elaborated, was carried out “either by air raid or long-range missiles fired from boats in the Mediterranean.”
Israel has declined to comment on the attack. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon brushed aside a reporter’s question about the attack in the port city with this statement: “There is an attack here, an explosion there, various versions; in any event, in the Middle East it is usually we who are blamed.”
It is, however, Israel’s stated policy that it will not allow advanced weapons from falling into the hands of Hezbollah and it has reportedly already carried out at least two airstrikes this year on convoys carrying sophisticated weapons from Syria to Lebanon, once in January and then again in May.
In both cases, Pentagon officials later said Israel was behind the attacks although no Israeli officials had confirmed it.

One Egyptian policeman was killed and another was badly wounded on Friday by militants who fired rocket-propelled grenades at security checkpoints in the lawless Sinai peninsula, near the border with Israel, security sources said.
Hardline Islamist groups based in North Sinai have intensified their attacks on police checkpoints over the past two years, exploiting the security and political vacuum following the 2011 uprising that ousted autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.

The violence has spiked since last week's overthrow of elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi by the army and the militants have attacked security checkpoints almost every day.

Earlier on Friday, a police station and two army checkpoints in the city also came under attack by militants firing rocket-propelled grenades, according to the security sources. No one was wounded in those attacks.
On July 10, two Egyptians were killed and six were wounded in a militant attack on security checkpoints in the remote village of Sadr El-Heytan, in the center of Sinai.
On Thursday, The Times of London reported that theEgyptian army was seeking to suspend the Camp David peace accord with Israel, which restricts Cairo's military presence in northern Sinai.

Thousands of supporters of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood have been demonstrating in Cairo's Nasr City district, waving pictures of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, as the anti-Morsi camp planned a mass evening gathering in Tahrir Square.
Crowds in Nasr City were chanting anti-military slogans, calling Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, the country's army chief, a traitor for removing of Morsi from office last week.
Thousands of people were bussed in from outside the capital to join the sit-in at Rabaa El Adaweiya Mosque on Friday.
Earlier in the day, the pro-Morsi camp announced a march to the presidential palace, but their path was blocked by the militray, so the march was diverted back to Rabaa.
Smaller rallies were also expected to take place in other governorates.

The military has announced a large scale deployment across the capital and other parts of the country to maintain security and to ensure the rival gatherings remain separate.
The army said it had deployed security personnel around vital installations in Cairo including the presidential palace, the Republican Guard barracks, the Defence Ministry as well as near vital bridges and thoroughfares.
The military was also blocking roads linking the presidential palace where the anti-Morsi crowd was expected to gather at sundown and at Rabaa mosque.

On Thursday, the Muslim Brotherhood vowed to keep protesting until Morsi was reinstated, despite the fact that much of the group's leadership has been detained by the army.

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