Archive for the ‘Assad’ Category

Syria Welcomes New Relationship with Obama; Won’t Distance Itself From Iran

January 17, 2009

Syria’s President Bashar Assad has signaled his readiness to cooperate with the new U.S. administration, but also indicated that his country won’t give up good relations with Iran, a German magazine reported Saturday.

Barack Obama’s election has raised hopes for better ties between Syria and the U.S. after years of strained ties under outgoing President George W. Bush. Damascus has close ties with Iran, which the West suspects of seeking a nuclear bomb.

“We would gladly contribute to stabilizing the region,” Assad was quoted as saying in an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel, in response to a suggestion that Obama might seek Syria’s help in curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “But we must be included and not, as up to now, isolated.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad attends the emergency Arab leaders ... 
Syrian President Bashar Assad attends the emergency Arab leaders summit on Gaza in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. Pro-U.S. Arab countries boycotted the gathering, fearing it will boost the Palestinian militant group. The Qatar summit underlined the deep divisions in the Middle East over the Gaza violence. Egypt and Saudi Arabia reportedly sought to dissuade other Arab countries from joining the gathering, raising accusations that they were trying to thwart a united Arab stance on Gaza.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Associated Press

“We are ready for any form of cooperation that is also helpful for America’s relations with other countries,” he said, according to the report.

“However, we are independent – no one can dictate to us what we have to do; our actions are determined by our interests alone, Assad was quoted as saying. Good relations with Washington must not mean bad relations with Tehran.”

Assad said he did not believe Iran was seeking a nuclear bomb. And looking back at the Bush administration, he argued that the world situation has worsened in every way in the last eight years.

“We are talking of hopes, not expectations,” he said, according to Der Spiegel. “There must be a withdrawal by the Americans in Iraq; the new U.S. government must become seriously engaged in the peace process. We must help it in that, together with the Europeans.”

Syria has for years maintained close ties with Hamas, one of several anti-Israel militant groups that Damascus supports to gain leverage in any future peace negotiations with Israel.

Read the rest:

Israel, Hamas Wage “Urban War” in Gaza City, Day 20

January 15, 2009

Thousands of Gazans are fleeting their homes as the Israeli Army works to root out Hamas militants in Gaza City.

The military action set the United Nations office structure ablaze today in Gaza City

Fighting is now in the city’s residential neighborhoods on Day 20, Thurswday, January 15, 2009.

In Gaza, the dead now number over 1,000.

Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Gaza as ... 
Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Gaza as Israeli tanks are seen near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Thursday Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli tanks shelled downtown Gaza City on Thursday and ground troops thrust deep into a crowded neighborhood for the first time, sending terrified residents fleeing for cover and ratcheting up the pressure on Gaza’s Hamas rulers to accept a proposed cease-fire to end a devastating Israeli offensive.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Israel Air Force planes struck some 70 targets overnight, including weapons positions, rocket squads and a mosque in southern Gaza that it said served as an arsenal, the military said.

President Assad of Syria asked both sides to agree immediately to a cease fire and then work out their cross border smuggling issues later.

Israel insist on a regime to prohibit the re-arming of Hamas through the Gazan borders.

But Syria is not trusted in Israel where it is often seen as an aid to Iran and militant anti-Israeli forces like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Yesterday, Hamas seemed on the verge of agreement of an international 10 day cease fire brokered in Cairo, Egypt.

Israel was to again consider the cease fire idea today.

In Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is known to favor a cease fire while Prime Minister Olmert is resisting.

Haaretz reported that the disagreement is causing trouble in the Israeli war cabinet.
Following press reports Wednesday that Barak wanted to see a humanitarian cease-fire, sources close to Olmert were quoted as saying that Hamas saw and heard what was going on in Israel and “draws encouragement” from this, concluding that Israel was searching for a way out of the military operation.

“The irresponsibility of ministers – regardless of how senior they are – in leading private initiatives is unfortunate,” one of these officials said.

The official said that the publication of these plans “gives encouragement to Hamas, gives a shot in the arm to their backers, and has an immediate effect of the fate of a million Israelis in the South and thousands of IDF soldiers carrying out operations inside Gaza.”

But Arab nations trying to assist in the cease fire process were in disagreement how how and when to hold an Arab summit.

 Hamas spokesman Mohammed Nizal said Wednesday, “Is it possible to get into the third week of this Zionist aggression against Gaza and the Arabs can’t hold a summit for Gaza and to stop this aggression?

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Smoke billows from Gaza on Thursday as fighting continued to rage.

Smoke billows from Gaza on Thursday as fighting continued to rage.


Jerusalem Post:


The Associated Press reported:

Witnesses say Israeli ground troops are advancing into crowded residential areas of Gaza City and thousands of terrified residents are fleeing their homes.

Israeli troops backed by helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy guns thrust deeper into the city than ever before Thursday to seek Hamas fighters, they said.

It wasn’t clear whether this would be a brief foray or signal a new phase in Israel‘s devastating offensive against Gaza’s Islamic Hamas rulers.

Israel has balked at launching all-out urban warfare in Gaza City, where Hamas militants are more familiar with the lay of the land and Israeli casualties would be liable to spiral.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 to stop militant rocket fire on southern Israel from Gaza.

Gaza: Israel Accused of Attacking Schools, “War Crimes,” “Atrocities”

January 6, 2009

Palestinian medical officials say the death toll from an Israeli airstrike outside a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip has risen to 30.

The attack occurred about 10 yards (meters) outside the school in northern Gaza. It was the second deadly Israeli attack to strike a UN school in the past few hours.

Hospital director Bassam Abu Warda confirmed the 30 deaths from the second airstrike.

In both cases, the schools had been used as shelters for people displaced by Israel’s offensive against Hamas militants. More than 500 people have been killed in the 11-day operation, including many civilians.

A top U.N. humanitarian official has condemned the violence and demanded an investigation.

Israel isn’t commenting. But it accuses Hamas of using schools, mosques and residential areas for cover.

From the Associated Press:


In Damascus, Syria, Bashar Assad told French President  Sarkozy the Israeli assault on the coastal strip of Gaza was a “war crime” and an “aggression” that Israel must halt.

Gaza Cease-Fire Efforts: Bridging A Chasm