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Entries in Hezbollah (56)


Syria Snap Analysis: Regime Forces Take Qusayr --- What Next?

Footage from Al-Mayadeen TV of the regime capture of Qusayr

Qusayr did not resolve the Syrian conflict. It only highlighted that resolution is distant.

The regime is unlikely to alter this with victory in one town, achieved only with substantial help from Hezbollah. Whether the insurgency and the "West" can do so is the more intriguing scenario.

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Syria Today: Regime Claims Control of Qusayr

Reports Of Breadlines In Largely Kurdish Town Of Efrin Near Aleppo

A Kurdish activist group claims that Kurds in Efrin near Aleppo in northern Syria are suffering because of an ongoing siege by the Free Syrian Army.

Activists on Wednesday tweeted images purportedly of breadlines in the town.

There were sustained reports last month of clashes between the FSA and local Kurdish militia.

Claimed footage, from "Daraa City" activists, of insurgents evacuating women and children from Qusayr

See also Middle East Today: Turkey --- Deputy PM Apologises for "Excessive Violence"...But Will PM Erdogan?
Tuesday's Syria Today: More Than 100 Claimed Deaths on a "Quiet" Monday

Insurgent Withdrawal from Qusayr

Reuters, citing an "opposition group" from Qusayr, said more than 500 insurgents died in the three weeks of the regime assault, with a further 1,000 wounded, leaving just 400 outgunned men struggling to hold onto the town.

Survivors decided to escape in the night through a corridor that regime attackers said they had deliberately left open to encourage flight.

Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem said, “The Al-Qusayr accomplishment is a severe blow to the project of the American-Israeli-Takfiri [infidel] trio and a glowing point for the project of the resistance in Syria.

Qassem continued, “Today, it has been proven that betting on the fall of the resisting Syrian [regime] is an illusion....Building political stances on the accomplishments of the American-Israeli project is unsuccessful.”

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Syria Today: Deadly Clash Between Insurgents and Hezbollah in Lebanon

See also Middle East Today: Turkey --- Mass Protests and Clashes Move Beyond Istanbul
Sunday's Syria Today: The Civilians Trapped in Qusayr

Report: US Discussing Placement of Patriot Missiles in Jordan

A senior Pentagon official has said that the US and Jordan are discussing the possibility of sending American Patriot anti-aircraft missile batteries to the Kingdom, amid the Syrian conflict and the training and arming of insurgents from a base in Jordan.

The official emphasised that an agreement over the deployment has not been reached. However, he said the missile batteries could be flown to Jordan within days and used initially as part of a multinational military exercise in June.

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Syria Analysis: A 5-Point Guide to Assad Interview --- Is He Right To Declare Victory?

Ramped-up foreign intervention is likely to tip the military balance against the Assad regime. But it faces a political question: is the aim merely to pressure and contain the President or to topple him?

And that question in turn leads to others: is there an effective political group, given the tensions and fragementing within the opposition, that can replace Assad? Will the "extremists", rather than the "moderates", win? Will the fall of the regime send destabilising ripples across the Middle East?

Assad is betting that all these questions can be turned into doubts to block further intervention for the opposition. Last night's declarations were his chips to support that bet.

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Syria Video & Transcript: President Assad's Interview with Al-Manar TV

Al-Manar: Mr. President, we are in the heart of the People’s Palace, two and a half years into the Syrian crisis. At the time, the bet was that the president and his regime would be overthrown within weeks. How have you managed to foil the plots of your opponents and enemies? What is the secret behind this steadfastness?

President Assad: There are a number of factors are involved. One is the Syrian factor, which thwarted their intentions; the other factor is related to those who masterminded these scenarios and ended up defeating themselves because they do not know Syria or understand in detail the situation. They started with the calls of revolution, but a real revolution requires tangible elements; you cannot create a revolution simply by paying money.

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Syria Today: Europe Lifts Arms Embargo on Insurgents

Head of Free Syria Army Threatens Attacks on Hezbollah in Lebanon

The Free Syrian Army's Chief of Staff, General Salim Idriss, has warned, "If the attacks of Hezbollah against Syrian territory do not stop within 24 hours, we will take all measures to hunt Hezbollah, even in hell."

Idriss continued with the threat to intervene in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based, "I will no longer be bound by any commitments I made, if a decision to stop the not taken and implemented," said Idriss.

Idriss said, "We are being subjected to a genocide conducted by Hezbollah," and, without giving details of specific operations said he hoped "that everyone will excuse the Free [Syrian] Army" for retaliating.

The principle sticking point involves voting. Existing members of the coalition insist that the inclusion of new members must be based on balloting by existing members only. But this would change little in a monopoly that was made possible by interference from regional countries to begin with, rather than based on consensus among Syrian opposition. The existing members were not chosen by the people to decide whether certain opposition figures should be members or not.

The second issue is the "blocking third", or the veto power held by a third of the members. This idea was advanced by the coalition's secretary general, Mustafa Al Sabbagh, and was clearly meant to maintain the monopoly of the current core group within the coalition.

Hassan argues that this stalemate may cripple the group, and will only fuel the stalemate seen on Syria's battlefields.

On the other hand, The Atlantic's Shadi Hamid argues that the political stalemate can only be solved by progress on the battlefield, and that progress has not happened because the international community is waiting for a unified leadership that will likely never occur:

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Iran Today: The "Defending Shrines in Syria" Line

Saturday's Iran Today: "Supreme Leader is the Ultimate Decision-Maker"

Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front)

General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, the head of Iran's ground forces, has restated Tehran's line on assistance to the Syrian regime.

Pourdastan said the Islamic Republic i"would help train" the Syrian army if Damascus seeks such assistance, "but [we] won't have any active involvement in the operations".

The General repeated the comment of the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, from last autumn, "The Syrian army has accumulated experience during years of conflict with the Zionist regime (Israel) and is able to defend itself and doesn't need foreign assistance."

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Syria Today: Israel Airstrikes "Hit Military Research Centre"

See also Syria Snap Analysis: What Did Israel Bomb, and Why?
Middle East Today: Iraq --- Results from Provincial Elections Inconclusive
Saturday's Syria Today: Obama Maintains Cautious Line on US Intervention

1900 GMT: Erdogan Denounces "Butcher" Assad

Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has delivered his strongest denunciation of President Assad, "If God permits, we will see this butcher, this murderer receive his judgement in this world...and we will praise (God) for it."

Erdogan, speaking to lawmakers and party activists in a town near Ankara, addressed Assad, "You will pay a very, very heavy price for showing your courage to the babies in the cradle, the courage you cannot show others."

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Syria Today: "US Moving Towards Supply of Weapons to Insurgents"

Claimed footage of US "non-lethal" aid moving to insurgents inside Syria

See also Middle East Today: Palestine --- Assassination of "Bomb-Maker", Killing of Jewish Settler
Tuesday's Syria Today: A Chemical Weapons Attack in Idlib Province?

1920 GMT: Chemical Weapons

Local Turkish officials say they testing blood samples taken from Syrian casualties, brought over the border this week, to determine whether they were victims of a chemical weapons attack.

The samples were sent to Turkey's forensic medicine institute after several Syrians with breathing difficulties were brought from Syria's Idlib Province to the Turkish town of Reyhanli in Hatay Province along the border..

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Syria Today: The Debate Over Chemical Weapons (Continued)

Dead animals in Khan Assal in Aleppo Province after an alleged chemical weapons attack last month (Photo: George Ourfalian/Reuters)

See also Syria Feature: The Lesson of the Destruction of the Ummayad Mosque
Middle East Today: Killing Off an "Independent" Egyptian News Site
Saturday's Syria Today: A Chemical Weapons "Game-Changer"?

1515 GMT: Insurgent Leader on Chemical Weapons, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Prospect of Victory

In an interview, General Salem Idriss, the head of the insurgent Joiot Military Command, has claimed that regime forces used "the kind of chemical weapons" that are "not so very well known" in the cities of Aleppo, Raqqa, and Homs --- thus indicating that the insurgents have not been able to identify the nature of the chemicals allegedly used.

In the town of Khan al-Assal, allegedly attacked last month, Idriss said that the Syrian military had employed "some kinds of gases" and "phosphorus bombs" against civilians.

Idriss said the importance of the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra --- which has been elevated by much of the media because of the exaggerated claim that it is linked to Al Qa'eada --- has been exaggerated: "The fighters in Jabhat al-Nusra are not more than 5,000 in all the country. Compare 5,000 to that, they [have] very few fighters in Syria."

The commander added, "We don't coordinate with them, we don't have any plans to work with them in the future. They are a special group, and this group is not working under our command."

Idriss claimed, "I]f we have enough weapons and ammunition we can put an end to the fight in Syria, we can fall the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In not more than two months. We can do that."

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