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Syrian President Bashar Assad

February 18, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
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.
November 9, 2011 | By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times
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.
March 3, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times
BEIRUT - Syrian rebels must give up their weapons before the government will agree to hold peace talks with them, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a newspaper interview published Sunday. "We are willing to negotiate with anyone, including militants who surrender their arms," Assad told Britain's Sunday Times in a rare interview with a Western publication. "We can engage in dialogue with the opposition, but we cannot engage in dialogue with terrorists. We fight terrorism. " Assad's government routinely refers to the Syrian rebels as terrorists.
January 9, 2013 | By Ramin Mostaghim and Ned Parker
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 | By David Horsey
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.
March 24, 2013 | By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times
BAGHDAD - Secretary of State John Kerry began an unannounced trip to Iraq on Sunday to urge the government to halt the Iranian supply of arms and fighters through its airspace to Syria, and to implore it to share more power with its alienated Sunni population. Kerry, in the first trip as top diplomat to the Arab state, met with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and Parliament Speaker Osama Nujayfyi, and was scheduled to speak by telephone to Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government.
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.
March 14, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT -- Any government considering arming Syrian rebels should conduct  a “rigorous human-rights risk assessment” before  proceeding with weapons transfers, Amnesty International said Thursday. The group released a pair of  studies detailing abuses by both sides in the Syrian conflict. Amnesty's caveat about arms transfers comes as at least two Western governments, Britain and France, are said to be contemplating providing weapons to rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.
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?
August 22, 2008 | Ashraf Khalil, Times Staff Writer
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.
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