January 9, 2013 |
BEIRUT -- Syrian rebel fighters released 48 Iranians captured last August in what could become the largest prisoner exchange of Syria's civil war, Iranian and Turkish state media reported. A Turkish Islamic relief group supervised the release that is supposed to lead to the freeing of at least 2,130 detainees held by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency. Anadolu credited Turkey and Qatar with mediating the deal. The exchange, if fully implemented, would mark a rare break from the brutality of the nearly 22-month-old civil war that has seen Assad order airstrikes and shell cities as rebels carry out bombings and assassinations.
July 24, 2006
Re "It's time to let the Israelis take off the gloves," Opinion, July 19 How dare Max Boot speak with such heartlessness about the killing of human beings? He writes: "Israel needs to hit the Assad regime. Hard." How does one "hit" a regime? Oh, he must mean drop bombs on Damascus. But we all know Syrian President Bashar Assad and his high-level cronies won't suffer, and neither, of course, will Boot, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or President Bush. Women and children will die. Soldiers who joined up out of economic desperation will die. Pets and livestock will die. Apartments and businesses will be destroyed.
June 15, 2012 |
During his presidency, George W. Bush said plenty of goofy things inadvertently, but the dumbest thing he ever said on purpose was his claim to have looked into the soul of Vladimir Putin. If he had truly gotten a glimpse into that dark, grim place, he would have not come away content and smiling. Putin is letting his Russian soul show through quite openly these days, particularly with his support of Syrian President Bashar Assad's brutal crackdown on opponents of his regime. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complained this week that the Russians were sending helicopter gunships to Syria, a step that would "escalate the conflict quite dramatically.
November 9, 2011 |
Protesters across Syria marched Tuesday in solidarity with the besieged city of Homs, opposition activists said, as the United Nations reported that the death toll in almost eight months of conflict had reached at least 3,500. Behind the bloodshed is "the brutal government crackdown on dissent," Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said from Geneva. Syrian President Bashar Assad blames says militants, allegedly armed and funded from abroad, are responsible for the violence.
October 23, 2011 |
Alaa Basatneh's illusion of safety shattered when the 19-year-old anti-Syrian protester near Chicago opened a Facebook message in August. "These words are directed at you, you agent, you traitor. Your messages have come to us. There is nothing that can be hidden from us, 'Chicago girl,' " read the message, which was sent through the account of a friend who had recently been detained in Syria. She kept the message secret for a week, thinking there was nothing U.S. law enforcement could do to the Syrian intelligence agent who sent the message from thousands of miles away.
January 4, 2004
Re "Banned Arms Flowed Into Iraq Through Syrian Firm," Dec. 30: Kudos to reporters Jeffrey Fleishman and Bob Drogin for their incredible expose of the Syrian arms suppliers to Iraq. Perhaps their digging around and pressing Syrian officials in recent months can explain Syrian President Bashar Assad's sudden and surprising call last month to renew peace talks with Israel. Faced with a public relations disaster, did Assad jump to preempt? Lenny Ben-David Washington Re "The U.S. Winked at Hussein's Evil," Commentary, Dec. 30: The U.S. was no more cynical allying itself with Saddam Hussein against the Iranians than when we allied ourselves with Josef Stalin against the Nazis during World War II. Stalin was Hussein's role model, so why hasn't Robert Scheer impugned Franklin Roosevelt's reputation by attributing cynicism or hypocrisy to the Democratic architects of a foreign policy that gave us 45 years of "blowback" during the Cold War?
July 3, 2012
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is putting a positive spin on a new peace plan for Syria agreed to over the weekend in Geneva by the Syria Action Group, which comprises the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council as well as Turkey and Arab representatives. We hope her optimism is justified, but Russia continues to send maddeningly mixed signals about whether it recognizes that the time has come for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. Already a humanitarian tragedy, the civil war in Syria now threatens to spill into international conflict.
April 1, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - U.S. intelligence agencies don't see signs that Syrian President Bashar Assad is losing his grip on power, said the chairman of the House intelligence committee during a television interview Sunday. “We don't see Assad's inner circle crumbling,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley. In fact, the Syrian leadership believes they are “winning” against the armed rebels trying to topple the government, said Rogers, citing U.S. intelligence reports.
January 8, 2013 |
TEHRAN - Iranian officials again threw their support to Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday, backing the peace plans the embattled Assad laid out in a rare televised speech. While European leaders dismissed the speech as nothing new and the U.S. State Department panned the Sunday address as “detached from reality," Iranian officials and some pundits said just the opposite. The ideas raised by Assad are “based on the realities in the Arab state,” Hossein Naqavi-Hosseini, spokesman for an Iranian parliamentary committee on foreign policy, was quoted as telling the official Islamic Republic News Agency on Tuesday. Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi also praised the plan laid out by Assad to end Syria's 21-month-old civil war, saying it “rejects violence and terrorism and any foreign interference in the country and outlines a future for the country ... through a comprehensive political process," state media reported Monday.
February 14, 2012 |
A request by Arab foreign ministers that a joint Arab-U.N. peacekeeping team be dispatched to Syria met little international enthusiasm Monday as the death toll mounted in the battleground city of Homs and elsewhere. In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that the continued violence in Syria rendered the idea of a peacekeeping mission somewhat premature, but that his nation was studying the Arab League proposal. Such missions "need first to have a peace to support," Lavrov told reporters at a news conference in the Russian capital.