Truth Frequency Radio


Mar 15, 2013

Russia warns UK against sending weapons to militants in Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and his British counterpart during a press conference in London on March 13, 2013

Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:39AM GMT
Russia says arming foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government is in violation of international law.

“Arming the opposition is in breach of international law,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a joint press conference with his British counterpart William Hague in London on Wednesday.

The conference was also attended by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his British counterpart Philip Hammond.

“International law does not allow, does not permit supplies of arms to non-governmental actors and in our point of view it is a violation of international law,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister reiterated that it is only up to Syrians to decide the future of their nation.

He also rejected any chance of Moscow pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into stepping down.

Lebanon needs Arab aid to help with Syria influx: PM

Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati talks during an interview with Reuters at the Grand Serail, the government headquarters in Beirut March 12, 2013. Mikati urged Arab states to help Lebanon cope with a flood of Syrian refugees who are stretching its scarce resources and will need at least $370 million in support this year. REUTERS-Jamal Saidi

By Michael Stott and Laila Bassam

BEIRUT | Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:55am EDT

(Reuters) – Prime Minister Najib Mikati urged Arab states to help Lebanon cope with a flood of Syrian refugees who are stretching its scarce resources and will need at least $370 million in support this year.

Mikati said hospitals were full of Syrians, the sick and wounded from the civil war next door, and doctors were struggling to prevent outbreaks of disease among 340,000 refugees crammed into host communities around the country.

Lebanon also faces rising crime – he said 700 Syrians were caught breaking the law in January, a high figure in a country of 4 million – and the influx of refugees into Lebanese homes had brought with it social problems including child marriage.

“We are coming to a very critical point,” Mikati told Reuters in an interview in his Ottoman-style government offices overlooking central Beirut.

“We need help. Lebanon is bearing the burden of the events in Syria,” he said. “We ask Arab countries to look supportively and sympathetically at Lebanon, because Lebanon needs these countries right now.”

International donors, including wealthy Gulf Arab states, have pledged $1.5 billion for refugees and displaced Syrians, but two Lebanese ministers – for social affairs and health – told Reuters on Tuesday they had not seen a penny of that money.

Lebanon’s request for $370 million for the refugees, divided between the state and international aid agencies, was based on estimates that it would be hosting 250,000 refugees this year – a figure which has already been well exceeded.

“There are no beds in Lebanese hospitals to admit Lebanese (patients) because most already have Syrians,” Mikati said.

Child marriage – involving girls as young as 10 – was also on the increase, driven by the pressures of several families being housed under one roof.

“We are seeing a few problems in this issue and we believe in the near future this problem will be bigger and bigger,” he added. Lebanon has no minimum age for marriage, Mikati said.

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Syria sees off crisis as militants gasp last breaths: Iran deputy FM

File photo shows Syrian troops

Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:40PM GMT
Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs says Syria has successfully weathered its security crisis, adding that foreign-backed militants in the Arab country are “taking their last breaths.”

“Syria has successfully crossed over the security crisis and the few terrorists remaining on the peripheries of some of regions are taking their last breaths,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said at a meeting with Algeria’s Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci in the Algerian capital city of Algiers.

Amir-Abdollahian underlined the need for regional and international cooperation to put an immediate end to the residual violence in Syria, noting, “Like Algeria, the Islamic Republic of Iran considers political solutions and comprehensive dialogue as the sole path to resolve the Syrian crisis.”

“Unfortunately, some of the parties involved in the Syrian crisis refuse any negotiations to resolve the existing issues and practically stoke violence; [furthermore,] they are being overtly supported by certain countries,” the Iranian diplomat said.

Unrest has gripped Syria since March 2011 with the government saying that the turmoil, which has killed many people, including large numbers of Syrian army and security personnel, is being orchestrated from outside the country.

Iran and Hezbollah ‘have built 50,000-strong force to help Syrian regime’

Israeli military intelligence chief says Iran hopes to prolong life of Assad regime and maintain influence after his fall

Syrian rebels Iran and Hezbollah have built a 50,000-strong parallel force in Syria to help prolong the life of the Assad regime and to maintain their influence after his fall, Israel‘s military intelligence chief has claimed.

Major General Aviv Kochavi said Iran intended to double the size of this Syrian “people’s army”, which he claimed was being trained by Hezbollah fighters and funded by Tehran, to bolster a depleted and demoralised Syrian army.

Kochavi, the director of military intelligence in the Israel defence forces (IDF), also said Assad’s troops had readied chemical weapons but so far had not been given the order for them to be used.

At the same time, he warned of the increasing sway of extremist groups in the opposition, particularly the al-Nusra Front, which he claimed was beginning to infiltrate Lebanon and was making connections with a Sinai-based militant organisation, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which is focused on attacks on Israel.

Israel opposes the western arming of Syrian rebels because of its fears that the weapons will end up in the hands of such groups.

Defence officials say they are focused on Assad’s sizeable arsenal of chemical weapons and missiles and they are prepared to carry out more air strikes to stop such arms being transferred to Hezbollah, even at the risk of what a senior official predicted would be an ugly new war in Lebanon.

Western and Israeli governments have long alleged that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are advising Assad’s generals, and that Hezbollah guerillas are fighting alongside Syrian government troops. Israeli officials say the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, has been in Damascus to oversee operations.

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Militants routinely kill captured Syrian soldiers, Amnesty says

Militants in Syria (file photo)

Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:59AM GMT
Amnesty International says the foreign-backed militant groups ‘routinely’ kill captured Syrian soldiers.

The rights organization said on Thursday that captured ‘Shia or Alawite Muslims’ are the main targets of militants in Syria.

Cilina Nasser of Amnesty said, “It’s time for the armed opposition groups to know that what they are doing is very wrong, and that some of the abuses they committed amount to war crimes.”

Amnesty also stated that it had investigated several videos purportedly showing militants killing captives, adding there had been reports of ‘summary executions’ by the armed groups.

Unrest has gripped Syria since March 2011 and the government says the turmoil, which has killed many people, including large numbers of Syrian army and security personnel, is being orchestrated from outside the country.

Syria crisis: rebel war crimes increasing says Amnesty

• Rebels resorting to kidnap, torture and summary killings
• Russia warns UK against arming Syrian rebels
• Netanyahu forms a government in Israel

Britain's foreign secretary William Hague and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov ahead of talks in London. Lavrov warned Britain against arming rebels in Syria.

Syria

Amnesty International has documented an increase in war crimes and other human rights abuses committed by rebel groups including hostage taking, torture and summary killings. Its Middle East and North Africa deputy director Ann Harrison said:

While the vast majority of war crimes and other gross violations continue to be committed by government forces, our research also points to an escalation in abuses by armed opposition groups. If left unaddressed such practices risk becoming more and more entrenched – it is imperative that all those concerned know they will be held accountable for their actions.

Russia has warned Britain that any moves to arm Syria’s rebels would breach international law. Speaking after talks with William Hague in London, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said: “International law doesn’t allow, doesn’t permit, the supplies of arms to non-governmental actors. It’s a violation of international law.” Britain’s defence secretary, Philip Hammond, who also took part in the talks, responded: “We can’t rule out anything in future. You can be sure that any action will be legal with a strong basis in international law.”

The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, continues to lobby for Europe to ditch a ban on supplying arms to Syria, saying stepping up help to the opposition was the only way to end the crisis. “We must go further and allow the Syrian people to defend themselves against this bloody regime. It’s our duty to help the Coalition, its leaders and the Free Syrian army by all means possible,” Fabius wrote in the daily Liberation newspaper.

Heavy fighting erupted in an area between Damascus and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Wednesday in what could be a new battlefront between Syrian troops and rebels, Reuters reports, citing opposition sources. Rebel fighters attacked an army barracks manned by elite Republican Guards and the Fourth Mechanised Division, headed by President Bashar al-Assad’s brother Maher, in Khan Sheih, four miles from the outskirts of Damascus, its sources said.

More than 100 British Muslims are believed to have gone to fight in Syria, according to the Independent’s Kim Sengupta.

The situation presents a unique problem for western security and intelligence services. In Syria, unlike Pakistan and Somalia, they have to keep track of jihadists who are being backed by Britain and its allies.

Security officials point out that the volatility of the strife in Syria, with khatibas (battalions) forming, merging and disbanding, makes it difficult to keep track of whether British jihadists have ended up fighting for so-called moderate groups or extremists.

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France, UK to arm Syria militants: Paris

File photo shows militants in the southern Idlib province in Syria.

Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:9AM GMT
France and the UK will send weapons to the militants in Syria despite an arms embargo which forbids the EU states from such an action, France says.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday that Paris and London are planning to ask for the date of the next EU meeting on the Syria arms embargo to be moved up, adding that they will arm the militants even if an agreement is not reached.

During an interview with France Info radio, Fabius said that Paris and London request “the Europeans now to lift the embargo so that the resistance fighters have the possibility of defending themselves.”

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned his British counterpart William Hague that arming the militants in Syria was in violation of international law.

“International law does not allow, does not permit supplies of arms to non-governmental actors and in our point of view it is a violation of international law,” Lavrov said.

Meanwhile, a recent report by UK-based Save the Children says that the militants in Syria are using children as “porters, runners and human shields.”

The report also said one monitoring group had documented the “deaths of at least 17 children associated with armed groups” since the start of the conflict in Syria two years ago.

‘If you were a man, we’d kill you’: Captive journalist tells RT how she escaped Syrian rebels

Published time: March 13, 2013 20:06
Edited time: March 13, 2013 22:36

RT

‘I couldn’t bear it any longer’, recalls Anhar Kochneva. The Ukrainian journalist who escaped Syrian rebels five months after she was kidnapped told RT about what she had to go through while in captivity and how she managed to run away.

Kochneva, a journalist and blogger who reported as a freelancer for Russian and Ukrainian news outlets, was captured at the beginning of October 2012 near the Syrian city of Homs.

The kidnappers – members of the Free Syrian Army – repeatedly threatened to kill her if the US $50 million ransom was not paid. The sum was later reduced to reportedly US$ 300,000. The rebels said they had planned to put Kochneva to death on December 16, but decided to “give her a second chance.”

Several world powers – including Russia, the US and France – as well as international human right organizations, urged the Syrian opposition to release the woman.

She escaped on Monday after spending more than 150 days in captivity, which damaged her health. The journalist walked for 15 kilometers in the mountainous area before she was lucky to meet people who helped her to get to the region controlled by the Syrian army.

Kochneva says it was only “thanks to God” that she is free again. In an interview with RT Arabic the journalist shared details of her escape.

Full Article

 

Saudi youth fighting against Assad regime in Syria

GlobalPost has learned that hundreds of young Saudis are flocking to Syria in a ‘holy war’ against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

March 13, 2013 06:00

Global Post
Syrian rebel fighters prayer 2013

Editor’s Note: This dispatch is part of a GlobalPost Special Report exploring the rift between Sunni and Shia Muslims, “In the Land of Cain & Abel,” marking 10 years since the US invasion of Iraq.  

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Following a circuitous route from here up through Turkey or Jordan and then crossing a lawless border, hundreds of young Saudis are secretly making their way into Syria to join extremist groups fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, GlobalPost has learned.

With the tacit approval from the House of Saud, and financial support from wealthy Saudi elites, the young men take up arms in what Saudi clerics have called a “jihad,” or “holy war” against the Assad regime.

Based on a month of reporting in the region and in Washington, over a dozen sources have confirmed that wealthy Saudis, as well as the government, are arming some Syrian rebel groups. Saudi and Syrian sources confirm that hundreds of Saudis are joining the rebels, but the government denies any sponsoring role.

The Saudis are part of an inflow of Sunni fighters from Libya, Tunisia, and Jordan, according to Aaron Zelin, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute.

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Russia warns UK against arming Syrian rebels

Any attempt by British government to arm Syrian opposition would breach international law, claims Russian foreign minister

British Foreign Secretary William HagueThe UK and Russia remain at odds over the supply of arms to Syria‘s opposition, with Moscow suggesting that any move by the British government to give the rebels military equipment would breach international law.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, held talks in London with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a meeting also attended by defence ministers Philip Hammond and Sergei Shoigu.

Last week Hague announced that Britain was stepping up its support for Syria’s opposition National Coalition and would be providing non-lethal equipment to rebel fighters. The government is inching towards arming the rebels, with David Cameron indicating on Wednesday that the UK might be prepared to bypass an EU arms embargo as events on the ground unfold.

Speaking after talks with Hague, however, Lavrov said the supply of lethal weapons to the rebels would be illegal. “International law doesn’t allow, doesn’t permit, the supplies of arms to non-governmental actors. It’s a violation of international law,” he claimed. Lavrov also raised the spectre of western arms falling into the hands of radical Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, placed on a terrorist list by the US.

Hammond responded: “We can’t rule out anything in future. You can be sure that any action will be legal with a strong basis in international law.”

Syrian rebelsSyrian rebels gather in an alley in Idlib. Photograph: APThe differences between Moscow and the west over Syria are well known. The Kremlin has supplied large amounts of heavy weaponry to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, including attack helicopters. The UK and other EU states have backed moderate democratic forces within the Syrian opposition. Hague has promised it “increased support”. Russia and the UK were interested in a “political transition” in Syria, he said, though they disagree how to get there.

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Al Qaeda’s Nusra fights to seize Syrian Golan in time for Obama visit

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 13, 2013, 10:16 PM (GMT+02:00)

 

Al Qaeda’s Syrian wing, Jabhat al-Nusra, led a Syrian rebel operation Wednesday, March 13, to occupy Golan and cleanse it of every last Syrian troop loyal to Bashar Assad. The Islamists had two more objectives:

1. To be in position for cross-border attacks on Israel and Jordan – possibly in the course of US President Barack Obama’s March 20-22 visits to those countries.
2.  To use the “liberated” Syrian Golan as launching pads for a war of attrition against Israel and Jordan – like Taliban’s campaign against NATO forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their deadline for achieving this objective is March 15.
Jabhat al-Nusra kicked off its Golan operation Wednesday, debkafile’s military sources report, by murdering Gen. Nour e-Din Habib, commander of the Syrian Army’s 90th Brigade, parts of which remain on the Golan. He was struck down from a well-planned ambush against his convoy. Also killed in the attack was Col. Radouan Rifai, the brigade’s senior liaison officer with the Syrian 3rd Extended Division.
The purpose of the attack was to disable the brigade by wiping out its top command.
Our military sources add that, in the course of the fighting Wednesday, the Nusra front uncovered a secret network of large tunnels running from different points on the Golan up to the Israeli border. They are big enough for the passage of entire Syrian units with their tanks and heavy trucks, allowing them to pop up without warning against Israeli border units and use their surprise to mow them down and advance into the Israeli sector.
debkafile reported earlier Wednesday:

US President  Barack Obama’s first engagement upon landing in Israel on March 20 will be a quick tour of the Iron Dome missile interceptor stationed at Ben Gurion international airport. After a round of handshakes, the officers and men operating the system will explain how it works.

The innovative counter-missile weapon is to be deployed there, not just as a spectacle to honor the US president for his contribution to its development, but out of necessity for his safety. Air Force One might be seen as fair game for the ground-to-ground missiles wielded by Al Qaeda units fighting Assad in Syria and its affiliates in the Sinai Peninsula at the very moment that the US President steps down to the strains of the IDF welcoming band.
In normal circumstances, personal security arrangements for a US presidential foreign visit are kept under close wraps and rarely visible to the public.

This time, debkafile’s counterterrorism sources report, the visit’s planners made an exception. They decided there was no option but to visibly install an Iron Dome battery inside the airport, because the first battery plus a Patriot interceptor stationed for more than two months north and south of Tel Aviv were not sufficient guarantee of security against rocket attack for President Obama’s arrival.

This decision set up two precedents:

1. Air Force One will land on the Ben Gurion airport runway on March 20 enclosed by two defensive rings of US and Israeli missile interceptors in the densest formation ever to guard an American president’s arrival in Israel.

2. The Iron Dome battery will stay in place for the three days of Obama’s visits to Israel and Jordan. It will defend Jerusalem’s air space against rocket attack for the duration of his stay.
Still fresh in Israeli memories are Hamas attempts just five months ago to hit the airport and Jerusalem with rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on the orders of the Iranian general Gen. Hassan Shateri aka Hossam Khosh-Nevis. This Iranian officer was killed in January in Syria in unknown circumstances.

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Militants blow up Muslim shrine in Syria’s Raqqa

Members of the terrorist Free Syrian Army (File Photo)

Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:51PM GMT
Militant groups fighting against the Syrian government have destroyed a holy Muslim shrine in the northern city of Raqqa.

Videos posted online show foreign-backed militants blew up the tomb of Ammar ibn Yasir, who was one of the companions of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), on Sunday.

Anti-government militants have attacked and destroyed several holy sites, including Shia mosques, since the beginning of unrest in Syria.

Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front was blamed for the sacrilegious act. The terrorist group has links with Saudi intelligence and it is believed that it being indirectly supported by the Israeli regime.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

In a key speech on January 6, Assad called for an end to the terrorist operations inside Syria and urged “concerned states and parties” to stop funding, arming and harboring militants.

He also said that his government is always ready to hold talks with the opposition and would call for a “comprehensive national dialog” after foreign parties end their support for the militants and the terrorist activities cease in the country.

U.N. warns Syria: Civil war could cost you a generation

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 7:05 EDT

Syrian refugee children via AFP

A whole generation of Syrian children risks being lost amid the spiralling civil war in the country, the UN children’s agency cautioned Tuesday, saying it was in urgent need of funds to address the crisis.

“Millions of children inside Syria and across the region are witnessing their past and their futures disappear amidst the rubble and destruction of this prolonged conflict,” UNICEF chief Anthony Lake said in a report published two years to the day after the Syrian conflict began.

The Geneva-based agency pointed out that nearly half of the four million in dire need of aid inside Syria are under the age of 18, and 536,000 of them are children under the age of five.

Some 800,000 children under the age of 14 have meanwhile been internally displaced by the conflict, while more than half a million children are refugees in neighbouring countries, it said.

“In short, the crisis is reaching a point of no return, with long-term consequences for Syria and the region as a whole, including the risk of a lost generation of Syrian children,” UNICEF said in its report.

The agency stressed that it was severely underfunded to help all the children in need, warning that it will have to “halt a number of key life-saving interventions by the end of March 2013″ if it does not receive more funds.

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Syrian forces kill 30 deserters in ambush: opposition

A member of the Free Syrian Army walks with his weapon in one of the streets in the city of Homs March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Yazan Homsy

AMMAN | Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:04am EDT

(Reuters) – Loyalist Syrian forces killed at least 30 army deserters in an ambush on the Damascus Airport road on Tuesday as opposition fighters were guiding them on foot to a rebel-held district, opposition sources said.

“They were crossing the highway to Eastern Ghouta when they were ambushed,” a rebel commander in the region said on condition of anonymity. He was referring to a part of the eastern outskirts of Damascus that is held by the opposition.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

 

Is U.S. Training Syrian Rebels in Jordan? State Dept. Won’t Say

March 12, 2013
syria rebels(CNSNews.com) – The State Department on Monday declined to confirm or deny reports that the United States is involved in training Syrian anti-regime rebels in Jordan, a development that — if true — would signal a deepening involvement in an increasingly messy conflict.Two leading European publications -– Germany’s Der Spiegel and the British Guardian –- reported in recent days that U.S. personnel are training some Syrians in the neighboring country.

Citing Jordanian security sources, organizers and participants in the program, the reports said the focus was on training non-radical elements – senior army officers who had defected, according to Friday’s Guardian account.

Sunday’s report in the German news magazine also tied the program to an effort to counter radical Islamists in the opposition, and said the aim was to build up units comprising a total of around 10,000 fighters.

A Mideast analyst warned Monday that the policy runs risks.

“It has been suggested that these are only Syrian army defectors who are thus likely not to be from radical Islamist groups including the [Muslim] Brotherhood,” Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Israel, said in an analysis.


The Syria “Gun-Running Program”: US and Britain Channel Large Shipments of Weapons to Al Qaeda Terrorists

US and British-Backed Weapons Airlift From Croatia

Global Research, March 11, 2013

syriaflagIt’s well known by now that NATO and the Gulf States initial plans to overturn the sovereign state of Syria has been running behind schedule since their operation was launched two years ago. They had hoped for the sort of slam dunk which they enjoyed in overturning the country of Libya in late 2011.

This same formula could not be applied again however, so Plan B, a ground war using proxies has meant a longer drawn out conflict. It hasn’t been working fast enough in Syria, and western backed terrorist groups still sustaining heavy losses in their fight to topple the Assad government on behalf of the NATO and its Gulf allies.

The main obstacle with Plan B is that the very idea of directly arming terrorists in Syria is not one which can be sold openly in either the US or Britain.

From the NATO Allied corner, something drastic needed to be done…

Whilst politicians in the West, namely those in Washington DC, London and parts of Europe, have been publicly denying that they were helping to organise running arms into Syria and issuing very public pleads for ‘humanitarian aid’ for those they identify as the Syrian Opposition, activity back stage has been furious. The debate in government and the media has been mere window dressing for the real operation being quietly carried out.

Captive Ukrainian journalist escapes Syrian rebels

Published time: March 11, 2013 15:02
Edited time: March 11, 2013 18:36

RT

Anhar Kochneva (Photo from facebook.com/anhar.kochneva)

After five months of captivity in fear of execution, Ukrainian journalist Anhar Kochneva has safely escaped from Syrian rebels, Kochneva’s ex-husband told RT.

Relatives and friends of the journalist said Kochneva managed to escape the building she was kept in, and hid from the pursuers in the mountains. She then had to walk about 15km before reaching Syrian army forces, and is now travelling to Damascus in safety.

Kochneva ironically wrote she’s “back from the Wonderland” in a short LiveJournal post, promising some further details later.

She also confirmed the details of her escape in two brief media interviews, saying the captors mistreated her, and she decided to run away for the fear that they would kill her and blame government forces for another death. Kochneva said she had to live in a cold room with a broken window, leaving her health in a terrible state.

Despite this, the journalist vowed to remain in Syria and continue to highlight the ongoing conflict.

“The world is just blind… I will definitely do everything for the people to discover, what is really going on here,” Kochneva told Business FM, saying Syria is “a friend in need”.

Anhar Kochneva, who had reported critically about the Syrian rebels for Russian and Ukrainian news outlets, was captured in the beginning of October 2012 near the city of Homs. The city, seen as the cradle of the Syrian revolution, has recently been going through frequent fighting outbursts, which Kochneva was following at the time of her capture.

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US, UK and France training Syrian rebels in Jordan – reports

Published time: March 11, 2013 09:09
Edited time: March 12, 2013 05:55

RT

Free Syrian Army fighters  (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman)

Foreign instructors are training Syrian rebels in modern warfare in Jordan, suggest media reports from Europe. Sources claim the trainees will be the security force if Assad goes, while the combat skills they are being taught distort the picture.

In the past three months some 200 men have already received training in two camps in the east and the south of Jordan, Der Spiegel reports. The military training focuses on the use of anti-tank weaponry, the news magazine reported, citing what it said were participants and organizers. It adds that there are plans to provide training for a total of 1,200 fighters from the Free Syrian Army – the opposition force battling the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The report said that some of the Americans wore army uniforms, but it did not specify whether they worked for private firms or represented the US military.

Last October the Pentagon confirmed that a small group of US special forces and military advisers had spent the summer in Jordan training the country’s military to act in case Syria used its chemical weapons. Reportedly, select groups of Syrian rebels were trained, too.

As Britain’s The Guardian reported on Friday, the US is not alone in their efforts. UK and French instructors are also in Jordan training the Syria rebels.

Though the American, British and French Defense Ministries have not commented so far on the information about the FSA being trained in Jordan, this move does not contradict either the US plans for non-lethal directaid to Syrian opposition or British understanding of the EU arms embargo enforced on Syria.

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French nationals fighting alongside Islamists in major conflict zones

Published time: March 11, 2013 03:23

RT

AFP Photo / Zac Baillie

France’s Interior Ministry has disclosed that some French citizens are taking part in jihadist activities alongside rebels in a number of hot spots – including Syria and Mali.

A statement was given by the Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, who spoke to the French channel BFM TV on the difficulties of ascertaining the exact whereabouts of French citizens and the networks used to transport them between training camps and conflict areas. He said that “it is well known that there are cells and underground networks – there could be whole chains, when it comes to the transportation of mujahedeen newcomers who yesterday could well have been in Afghanistan or Pakistan.”

According to France, Syria currently harbors around several dozen of their citizens who have joined the jihadist cause, that is a good deal more than is estimated for other conflict zones, which also include Somalia, Yemen and countries in the Sahel. “This is obviously still a great cause for concern for us”, the minister added.

The news comes after two French nationals were detained last week in Mali. They had joined the Islamist rebels to fight the French troops stationed there, France’s Defense Ministry reported on Friday. There has always been a worry that disaffected French youths could be traveling to Mali and returning home with the skills to stage terrorist attacks in Europe. Preventing this was one of the key objectives of France’s Operation Serval, which has been on-going since January 2013.

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