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Entries in William Hague (41)


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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Syria Live: G8 Foreign Ministers Say Little of Note After Two-Day Meeting

1842 GMT: Israel Fires Artillery into Syria. According to Al Jazeera English, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) exchanged fire with a target in Syria:

"No soldiers were injured and no damage was caused," the statement said.

"IDF soldiers responded with artillery fire towards the source of the shooting."

The statement said "a direct hit was identified" and that the army had informed UN authorities about the incident.

Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said after a previous incident of a Syrian mortal shell and small-arms fire on the Golan that his nation would respond to any attacks on its territory.

1615 GMT: Qamishli Under Attack. Months ago it appeared that a rebel coalition that included a strong representation of Jabhat al Nusra fighters was set to take Qamishli, a largely-Kurdish city in the northeastern corner of Syria (map). Qamishli city has had a strong presence of anti-Assad protests, but Assad still has outposts in the city, particularly in the south. Also, the Kurdish leadership, both the members of the PYD and others, have reached an agreement with the rebels to govern the city themselves. It's unclear if that agreement has broken down, or whether Kurdish groups have joined this attack. However, heavy clashes are reported near the airport to the south (map) which is reportedly being shelled by rebel fighters. The video below reportedly shows smoke rising over the city as a result of the fighting.

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Syria Live: A Car Bomb in Damascus

State TV footage of the aftermath of Monday's car bomb in central Damascus

See also UAE (and Beyond) Live: 10 Months in Prison for Tweeting About a Trial
Monday's Syria Live: The Back-and-Forth Battle in Aleppo

2142 GMT: Cyber-Attacks. The website of State news agency SANA has apparently been hacked tonight, with the entire service replaced by a generic "Site Under Construction" page.

1616 GMT: Massacre in Homs. In the last week of March we posted evidence of a massacre in Abil, outside of Homs (map). Between 13 and 18 burnt bodies were found in the town, and eyewitnesses said that "shabiha," pro-regime militia, were the culprits.

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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: Insurgent Brigade Kidnaps 21 UN Peacekeepers

2110 GMT: Idlib Town Bombed. Hish, a small town in southern Idlib province (map), is near where one of the aircraft below was reportedly shot down. Now, that town has been heavily bombed. According to this video, this shows the aftermath of a "barrel bomb," but whatever it is the devastation is readily apparent. As the video rolls, there is another large explosion off to the right:

2046 GMT: Assad Aircraft Shot Down. Many videos are floating around today that reportedly show two different jet fighters shot down over Idlib province. In one video, we see a large gun fire, though it is unclear if that is the road that supposedly hit the aircraft. What's interesting is that the black smoke trail is both blacker and wider than a typical contrail. There are other videos from other angles. We'd caution, however, that none of the videos shows the planes hit the ground, and none of them show any wreckage. Those videos may surface later:

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Syria Audio Feature: Britain Is "Economical with the Truth" About Aid to Insurgents --- Scott Lucas with the BBC

British Foreign Secretary William HagueI spoke with BBC WM last night about the statement by British Foreign William Hague, given in Parliament, about aid to the Syrian insurgency.

Listen to the interview from the 1:54.01 mark

The discussion noted Hague's declaration, following the US, of "non-lethal" assistance; however, it gets interesting when Paul Franks and I chatted about Hague's denial that Britain is providing any weapons.

I noted that Britain and the US have been co-operating and co-ordinating with those, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who have been provided advanced weapons in the last two months.

Pushed by Franks, I said, "Of course I am not saying that William Hague is lying."

I was just saying that, for political reasons, he is being "economical with the truth".


Syria Live Coverage: Fighting on the Iraq Border

Extract from President Assad's interview with Sunday Times of London (see 0800 GMT)

See also Palestine (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Minister of Finance Tries to Resign Amid Financial Crisis
Saturday's Syria Live Coverage: The Fighting Around Aleppo

2205 GMT: Casualties. Footage, with graphic images of the wounded, has been posted of the aftermath of regime shelling of the Damascus suburb of Douma.

1840 GMT: Elections in Insurgent-Held Areas. A vote has been held to elect 29 council members for insurgent-held areas in Aleppo Province.

"For the first time, Aleppo will have a freely elected provincial council. We hope the whole of Syria will have a free election soon," candidate Yehia Naanaa from Hreitan said.

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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 (and Beyond) Live Coverage: While US Warns About Chemical Weapons, 239 Die

As a motorcade apparently carrying Egyptian President Morsi exits the Presidential Palace, protesters chant "Leave!"

See also Monday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Death Toll Rises Again

2142 GMT: Kuwait. More protests, sparked by the Emir's changes to the electoral laws last month, and encounters with security forces tonight:

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Egypt, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Will Morsi Give Back His New Powers?

2356 GMT: Syria. Another video claims to show the downing of a helicopter - with an interesting twist. In the video, this vehicle opens fire on a helicopter, but the pilots have already jumped out and their parachutes appear to be visible:

We believe this is the same helicopter we documented earlier today, shot down west of Aleppo. We believe that it was hit by a SAM missile, and then it took time to crash, then the pilots jumped, and then nearby anti-aircraft guns opened fire.

It should be noted that in another video men driving a vehicle such as the one in this video take credit for the downing of the helicopter. This video explains why both claims that the FSA shot the helicopter down with a missile and claims that they shot it down with machineguns are consistent.

2340 GMT: Syria. Things have calmed a bit in Damascus - according to sources in the opposition, residents were on edge after unusually high volumes of violence, but the probability of anything dramatic happening tonight is dropping.

By morning we will know answers: Is the airport closed? Is the regime reinforcing the center of the city or the Presidential Palace? Is the FSA prepared to take the fight for Damascus into its final stage?

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