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Entries in Sergei Lavrov (57)


Syria Today: The Battle for Qusayr Continues

Insurgents fighting in Qusayr

Opposition Insists Assad Must Go

The opposition Syrian National Coalition has rejected Russian demands that, for an international conference, there should be no pre-condition of the departure of President Assad.

"We have been very clear that any transitional period must start with the departure of Assad and the heads of the security services," Khalid Saleh, the spokesman of the SNC, said Tuesday.

Saleh also said the Free Syrian Army must receive "major shipments of weapons" and "must be able to control more areas of Syria before we start thinking about the conference".

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Syria Today: The Fight Over the International "Peace" Conference

Insurgents Retake Suburb of Damascus

Insurgents have retaken the Damascus suburb of Otaiba, which was been a conduit for arms from Jordan to opposition forces near the capital before it was seized by regime forces last month.

Commanders said insurgent brigades, including the General Command and Islamist factions, had united to re-claim Otaiba, two miles northeast of Damascus International Airport.

The opposition forces adopted a white banner with the Muslim declaration of faith: "There is no god but God; Mohammad is God's prophet."

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Syria Today: US and Russia Manoeuvre Over Support for Assad

1930 GMT: Even Government Sources Admit Baniyas is Different.

The Baniyas massacre on Syria's coast may be a singular event that stands out as being dramatically different than all the other massacres. For starters, the scale of the massacre is at least among the worst of all of Syria's massacres, though some reports suggest that it may be magnitudes worse than any event that has taken place since the start of this crisis. Also, this incident had a clearly sectarian nature to it that is not disputed - Alawite militias loyal to President Assad targeted Sunnis, many of them children, and killed them en masse. In a thorough, nuanced, and eloquent description of the massacre, the New York Times' Anne Barnard and Hania Mourtada point out that the Assad government typically blames civilian deaths on "terrorists" even when their own forces and loyalists are implicated. This time, however, even the government admitted that its people were responsible for a mass killing, though they tell a different tale than Baniyas's residents:

Multiple video images that residents said they had recorded in Bayda and Ras al-Nabeh — of small children lying where they died, some embracing one another or their parents — were so searing that even some government supporters rejected Syrian television’s official version of events, that the army had “crushed a number of terrorists.”

One prominent pro-government writer, Bassam al-Qadi, took the unusual, risky step of publicly blaming loyalist gunmen for the killings and accusing the government of “turning a blind eye to criminals and murderers in the name of ‘defending the homeland.’ “

The article chronicles some of the evidence and eyewitness reports. It also argues that there were those who were trying to break with the sectarian nature of the killings even while the violence was ongoing. In the end, however, it's a must-read article on a story that has been under-reported.

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Syria Today: US and Russia Propose New Political Talks

1614 GMT: Al Nusra Behind "Chemical Weapons" Attacks?

There are two developments in the case of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Saraqib. Over the last several days, arms experts we've worked with have become aware that some of the devices found at the site of two chemical weapons sites resemble Indian riot control devices. NBC's Richard Engel reports:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The device in question, analyzed by EA here, appears to resemble a riot-controlled device developed by an Indian company, "Tear Smoke Unit." We contacted TSU before the Richard Engel report, but have yet to hear back.

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Syria Today: A Mass Killing on the Coast

See also Syria Special: Did Jabhat al-Nusra Pledge Allegiance to Al Qa'eda?
Syria Special: Translation of Abu Mohammed Al-Golani's Response to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Middle East Today: Iraq --- Highest Monthly Death Toll in 5 Years
Thursday's Syria Today: Assad Appears --- Does It Matter?

1925 GMT: Refugees

Russia and China have rejected United Nations Security Council plans to inspect Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, claiming this may be preparation for "foreign intervention" .

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) "is competent for [organising] visits to refugee camps that have been set by the UN, the Security Council has no competence for that," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Slovenia.

He added, "If there was an attempt to use the Syrian refugee situation to push forward some ideas about no-fly zones, then we and China might have seen in it an attempt to prepare a foreign intervention."

Jordanian officials warned this week that the more than 500,000 Syrian refugees was placing a "crushing weight" on the country.

The UNHCR has said the number of refugees in Jordan could reach 1.2 million by the end of the year --- equivalent to 1/5 of the Jordanian population.

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Syria Live Coverage: Iraqi Insurgents Claim Killing of 48 Regime Troops

2020 GMT: Rebels Take Series of Bases Southwest of Damascus. Since Friday, rebels have overwhelmed and captured several regime bases southwest of Damascus on the road to Daraa province. Confirming the specific locations has been hard to do, but we know that the bases are in the Kiswah area (map), and to the south of this suburb as well.

We've heard from some sources that some of the Surface-to-Air missiles sites in the area were decommissioned. However, videos from the base of the 137th regiment appear to show fully-functional missiles there (hat tip to Brown Moses for sending us this Youtube channel):

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Syria Live Coverage: Opposition Leaders Cancel Trip to Washington --- Why?

1950 GMT: Friday Protests. With UN kidnappings and Damascus on fire, it's easy to lose the fact that today is Friday, and every Friday for almost two whole years there have been widespread protests. Today's protest theme roughly translates to "Your sectarian state will not pass," but that's a literally translation. Essentially, it means "Assad's sectarian state will not happen," a reference to Assad's efforts to stoke sectarian tensions, and a reference to the world's tendency to classify this conflict in purely sectarian terms.

An impressive rally today in Yabroud, north of Damascus (map). This area is on the edge of both rebel-controlled territory and some of the most substantial military bases in the Middle East, and is often attacked by regime airpower:

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Syria Live Coverage: Insurgents Capture City of al-Raqqa

Residents of al-Raqqa topple statue of late President Hafez al-Assad on Monday

See also Yesterday's Syria Live Coverage: The Regime's Shelling of Homs
Syria Feature: The Young Men from Ireland Who Fight --- and Die --- with the Insurgency (Fitzgerald)
Today's Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Authorities Release Body of Man Killed by Police...After 12 Days

2216 GMT: Destroying Highways to Isolate Assad. There's now a pattern that has been well established over the last few days. With the rebels under the impression that Assad is on the run, but with Assad convoys trying to regain momentum, the rebels have destroyed highways and bridges near major Assad bases, and have conducted many IED attacks on the roads to disrupt Assad's reinforcements. Keeping that in mind, this report comes from the LCC (see here on the map):

FSA fighters destroy al-Ghasoula checkpoint on Damascus Int'l Airport highwayand kill many soldiers and destroy 3 tanks and number of cars.

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Syria Live Coverage: Insurgent Attacks in Damascus

2106 GMT: Hezbollah Convoy - continued. As many readers have pointed out, there is no strong evidence that the mine attack in the last video worked at all. We'll have to see if we get more videos or other news sources, but it's worth watching.

2049 GMT: Hezbollah Convoy Destroyed? Since this morning there have been rumors that a convoy of Hezbollah fighters was destroyed on a highway near Damascus. French media, citing Voice of Lebanon radio and an official in the Free Syrian Army, said that "senior Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah and Syrian officers" were targeted. An opposition Facebook page suggested that the officials were on a way to a security meeting and were destroyed by landmines placed on the road.

Now, Al Jazeera's Arabic channel has picked up the report, and has played video that they say shows the attack:

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Syria Live Coverage: Insurgents Capture Symbolic "Nuclear" Site

2319 GMT: More Fighting in Damascus. It's late, past 1 AM in in Syria, but there are still fresh reports of explosions and gunfire there tonight. This video was reportedly taken in Baramkeh, in west-central Damascus, not far from Tishreen and the heart of the Assad regime (map):

2303 GMT: Surface-to-Surface Missiles. Tonight there are reports that more "Scuds" have launched from the regime's 155th Brigade base in Quteifeh, northeast of Damascus (map). Last week, when there were similar reports, dozens died in Aleppo province when several missiles hit residential areas, crumbling buildings and trapping residents. Those rockets fell on areas just north of Aleppo's airport, an airport that was reportedly being overrun by rebels. Today the airport was once again under attack. No word yet what was targeted by these latest strikes, however.

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