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.
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.
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.
February 18, 2013 |
BEIRUT - The situation in war-ravaged Syria “is deteriorating rapidly” and both sides have committed crimes against humanity in an “increasingly sectarian” conflict that threatens peace throughout the Middle East, a United Nations-commissioned inquiry said Monday. “The destructive dynamics of the civil war not only have an impact on the civilian population but are also tearing apart the country's complex social fabric, jeopardizing future generations and undermining peace and security in the entire region,” the report said.
September 5, 2012
Dismay over the continued violence in Syria is understandable and should impel the United States, other "friends of Syria" and the United Nations to support relief measures including, if necessary, the creation of safe havens for refugees. But the Obama administration is right to stop short of either arming Syrian rebels - who, according to U.S. intelligence officials, have been infiltrated by Islamic extremists from outside the country - or engaging in direct military intervention. Advocates of military involvement exaggerate the ease with which the U.S. could shape events in Syria and underestimate the dangers.
July 28, 2011 |
Senior State Department officials came under tough questioning from lawmakers Wednesday over the Obama administration's reluctance to call for Syrian President Bashar Assad's departure. Despite the Assad government's bloody crackdown on demonstrators, U.S. officials have shied away from calling directly for his ouster. They worry that the United States would end up looking weak if Assad managed to hang on in the face of popular pressure. And with American leverage limited in Syria, they also have been reluctant to raise expectations about what the administration might be prepared to do to unseat the regime.
October 19, 2011 |
A federal magistrate ordered the release on home detention Tuesday of a Syrian-born U.S. citizen the FBI says has been spying on Syrian dissidents in the United States with intentions of harming them, saying that the prosecution had not established that he had committed a crime. U.S. Magistrate Judge T. Rawles Jones Jr. said that the prosecution had proved only that Mohamad "Alex" Soueid had filmed protests and shared the films with Syrian government officials, which is not illegal, and that he did not seem to be a threat to flee.
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?
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.
August 22, 2008 |
Fears that Russia might sell advanced weaponry to Syria kicked up a mini-storm of concern in Israel on Thursday. Syrian President Bashar Assad, in Russia for talks with President Dmitry Medvedev, has been campaigning to acquire weapons systems that include long-range surface-to-surface missiles, according to Russian media reports. The news of Assad's reported ambitions prompted immediate hand-wringing among Israeli officials and analysts. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel was "analyzing the ramifications" of Assad's visit.