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Entries in Asharq al-Awsat (2)


Iran Feature: Are Revolutionary Guards Among the 48 "Pilgrims" Freed in Syria?

Does this photograph show a Revolutionary Guard officer among 48 Iranian "pilgrims" freed in Syria?

This week the Revolutionary Guards story re-surfaced, as the 48 men were freed; at the same time, President Assad released 2130 civilian detainees in Syrian prisons. The site Digarban, notable for its criticism of the regime, listed seven Revolutionary Guards officers whom it claimed were among the men welcomed in Tehran's Mehrabad Airport.

The names given were Abedin Khorram, a Revolutionary Guards commander in Urmia in West Azerbaijan Province: Mohammad Taghi Safari, a commander in Bushehr in southern Iran; Sadegh Adibi,  a commander of the Jahrom al-Mahdi Brigade: Ali Javadian, Mohammad Elahi, and Amrollah Hemmati, also from the Jahrom brigade; and Hojatoleslam Karim Hosseinkhani, based in West Azerbaijan Province.

So is Digarban correct?

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Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu Seeks Cabinet Agreement to 2-Month Extension of Settlements Freeze

While Washington has denied that President Obama sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu giving assurances in return for an extension of the moratorium on settlement expansion in the West Bank, the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat quoted Israeli officials on Monday that Netanyahu has agreed to extend Israel's freeze for 60 days. 

According to rumours, Obama's offer included a continued Israel Defense Forces presence in the Jordan Valley, continued US political and military support with an annual increase of $3 billion, a commitment to veto any anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution in the next year, an agreement not to ask for any more extensions of the freeze, with that the fate of the settlements dealt with only as part of a final status agreement with the Palestinians, a series of guarantees to prevent the smuggling of weapons and missiles into a Palestinian state, and a comprehensive regional defense pact for protection from Iran. 

At a meeting of Likud ministers, Netanyahu hinted at a freeze extension, saying there were "a lot of reports on the subject, most of which are wrong, and we can't deny or correct everything".  He added: "Now there is interest in continuing the peace negotiations... Peace is a vital interest for the State of Israel."

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