Home » Be Informed About Syria: Reference List (2)

Be Informed About Syria: Reference List (2)

24 March 2013

To understand events in Syria, it is necessary to assess information from many different sources; thus, on these pages there are references to articles in the mainstream media as well as to articles, interviews or videos presented on the internet or on media sources viewers may not normally access.


The assassination of Sheikh Ramadan al-Buti on Friday 22 March 2013 in Damascus will inevitably be distorted by the western mainstream media.  Instead of giving respective attention to the Sheikh and his scholarship as well as his support for peaceful reform, there will be rhetoric presented (‘pro-regime’ Sheik) to diminish him and to lessen the impact such a terrorist bomb should have in the imaginations of peace-loving people.  It is ironic that he was a ‘moderate’ Sunni cleric killed by people motivated by the fatwas of extremist clerics; few in the West will realize this so won’t understand the implications.  At least 41 devout Sunni men were also killed by the bomb in the mosque. (For a better understanding of how a fellow Sunni can perpetrate such a crime in a mosque, check “The Islamist” on this blog.)


This video from Channel 4 (see link below) includes an interview with Bishop Luca al-Khory, from the Catholic Church in Syria, who spoke at the  funeral of Sheik Ramadan al-Buti. A more accurate and fairer heading for the report might be: “The funeral of Sheik al-Buti, 84-year-old imam of Omayyad Mosque in Damascus who was highly regarded for his scholarship, for the courageous stand he took for peace and reconciliation, and for his unwavering opposition to terrorism and fanaticism, attracts a huge crowd”.Alex Thomson Channel 4 Chief Correspondent

Assad supports gather for al-Buti’s funeral in Syria



Syria: suicide bomber kills top Sunni preacher in Damascus mosque

The Guardian 21 March 2013

Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti and at least 41 others were killed in an explosion during evening prayers

A suicide bombing has torn through a mosque in Damascus killing a top Sunni Muslim preacher and longtime supporter of Bashar al-Assad along with at least 41 others.


Imam of Omayyad Mosque, Sheik Ramadan al-Buti

Imam of Omayyad Mosque, Sheik Ramadan al-Buti

Sheik al-Buti, Damascus

Sheik al-Buti, Damascus

Sheikh Muhammed Saeed Ramadhan al-Bouti On Terrorism and Islam

February 2012, Friday sermon at the Umayyad Mosque, Damascus


I remind you, O servants of Allah, the Constitution of Islam is the book of God Almighty, which was revealed to the Final Messenger, and our model in the implementation of this Constitution is the beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The practical application of the Constitution in the daily life is called Sharia. Consider these multiple sources. The Constitution of Islam, the Quran, which I never saw in it but warning against fanaticism, extremism, and criminal terrorism.  It raised the prophet in the light of mercy and forgiveness.

The Book of Allah Almighty told His Messenger: (It is by the God’s grace that you were gentle with them – for if you had been harsh and hard-hearted, they would surely have deserted you – so bear with them, pray for forgiveness for them and take counsel with them in the conduct of affairs [Al-Imran, 159].

This direction to His Messenger is not specific to Muslims, but to all he has been sent to. Is it not the Book of Allah Almighty that laid down the scales of justice free from racial, prejudicial or religious partialities?

(Let not the hatred of others turn you away from justice; Deal justly; that is closer to piety) [Maa-ida 8]

The book of God Almighty did defend a Jewish person with ten verses when he was accused of a theft charge while he was innocent and the thief was a Muslim?!

Those verses started with the following: (We have sent the Book down to you with the truth so you may judge among mankind by means of what God has shown you. And do not be an advocate for the treacherous.) [Al-Nisaa 105].  This is the Constitution speaking.

If anyone fights against extremism and terrorism, you cannot find in the whole world and in the history of all times such as the Book of Allah Almighty fights against extremism and terrorism. And Muhammad the Lord raised him in the light of mercy and forgiveness.

Examine his life career from beginning to end, you can find just the opposite to what the Book of Almighty is being accused. Didn’t that polytheist Bedouin challenge the Messenger seizing the opportunity in the valley full of trees on returning from a battle.  Kicking foot, he wakes him up, and says: Who would save you from me, O Muhammad?  The Prophet replied quietly: “Allah”. The sword fell from the hands of the Bedouin and he sat scared and shaken. What did the Messenger do? Pardoned and calmed him down. The Bedouin returned to his people and said: “I have come to you from the best of mankind”.

Muhammad is the messenger of God, who was brought up by the Almighty in the light of mercy, forgiveness, moderation.


Full Disclosure: Al Qaeda in Syria, the Story You Haven’t Heard?

Ben Scott from “Full Disclosure”  interviews a young Syrian man in Damascus


Syria Teeters on Obama’s ‘Red Line’

By Nile Bowie

March 21, 2013 “Information Clearing House  The pages of history tell us that beautiful civilizations emerged and prospered in the ancient cities of Damascus and Aleppo, some of the oldest continually inhabited cities on earth.

The harrowing circus of brutality that is the Syrian conflict, now in its third year, will soil and blacken those pages indefinitely. No matter the political outcome of this horrible war, a once tolerant and diverse state has been shattered and terror itself has eaten into the destiny of Syria’s people, inexorably changing the courses of their lives forever. Children have been orphaned; parents have faced the loss of their children – and by uncompromising means. Infants have been beheaded, the fates of innocent men and women have been sealed through summary executions, and families have been torn apart or destroyed all together.

Recent developments in Syria are alarming.

Spokesmen of the Assad government recently accused foreign-backed militants of launching scud missiles containing chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo, killing dozens. Witnesses claim to have seen powder emanate from the rocket, causing those who inhaled the substance to suffocate or require immediate medical attention. An unnamed chemical weapons expert cited by Al-Jazeera claimed that the causalities were not consistent with Syria’s reputed stockpile of chemical agents, stating, “If it’s a chemical warfare agent, it’s not working very well.” Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, called on the UN Secretary-General to form an independent technical mission to investigate the use of chemical weapons by terrorist groups operating in Syria.

While on his first state visit to Israel, Barack Obama cast doubt and expressed deep skepticism toward the Assad government’s version of events, stating that if the government did indeed use chemical weapons, then it meant a “red line” had been crossed. Obama vowed not to make further announcements until concrete facts were established. What this essentially means is that Obama is now in a position to act on his statements and intervene more boldly and directly than the United States has already been doing since the beginning of the conflict. Additionally, NATO personnel have also indicated that they are prepared to employ a wide range of operations. US-European Command Admiral James Stavridis recently told media that the alliance was “prepared, if called upon, to be engaged as we were in Libya.”

Those who have critically monitored the situation from the beginning are under no illusions. The way in which mainstream media sources have covered the Syrian conflict, perhaps more so than any other topic in recent times, shows unequivocally how certain content providers have moved in step with the foreign policy of the Western and Persian Gulf states who have enabled insurgent groups and provided diplomatic cover for opposition politicians who represent their economic and strategic interests. The Obama administration’s policy toward Libya and Syria eyes the same familiar endgame as what the Bush administration sought in its foreign policy adventures. The fact that many of those on the left who campaigned against Iraq and Afghanistan are now generally silent, or even supportive of Obama’s agenda, is proof that his policies have been packaged far more intelligently for mainstream consumption. The reality is that Syria is “Shock and Awe” by other means.



AL MANAR NEWS,  by Franklin Lamb  22 March 2013

For the past year, a plan C or D, depending on how one numbers the failed “sure-fire” US-Israel projects in Syria was badly needed. And this week, according  to Congressional staffers, both Tel Aviv and the White House are pinching themselves in disbelief over their good luck with  installing republican leaning conservative Dixie businessman, the congenial, Ghassan Hitto, as Syria’s new interim Prime Minister.

Securing the key position for Mr. Hitto, a decision made last year, was not easy and had to be approached gingerly. But finally, after weeks of sometimes intense debate within Syrian opposition circles, Washington, Ankara, Doha and Tel Aviv among others managed to appoint their preferred guy.  “Hitto was the best of a bad lot”, one Congressional committee source, whose work load includes Syria, explained. “Bottom line, he’s an American, nearly thirty years here makes Ghassan one of us. And who cares if he came here as a teenage to dodge military service in Syria. We can count of him!”



Interview on Tuesday 19 March, ABC Sydney Mornings: Linda Mottram interviews AMRIS member, Robert Bakhazi:

http://blogs.abc.net.au/files/robert-berghazi-online.mp3  http://blogs.abc.net.au/files/robert-berghazi-online.mp3



In this program,  Matt Brown, reports from a ‘rebel’ held area of Aleppo.  He presents the point of view of a young boy whose father is a fighter.  At one point (23:24 mins), the boy in Arabic refers to the people his father he is fighting with as the “front”.   It is assumed by Arabic speakers in AMRIS he was referring to Jabhat al-Nusra, the terrorist group operating in Syria.  However, the official translation presented in the program is ‘the parties’, which is both ambiguous and misleading.  Ibrahim, the 11 year old, says toward the end of the program (25:17), “If I see him (President al-Assad), if I catch him, we will execute him”.   Children have been playing an active role in the war waged by the ‘rebels’, as was evidenced by the video of a young boy beheading a Syrian soldier (Ref: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/syria-the-descent-into-holy-war-8420309.html )


Video shows fighters flying an Al-Qaeda flag fire mortar rounds into a Christian area from the roof of a school in Aleppo
 Uploaded October 2012



Russian reporter’s documentary on Syria: The Syrian Diary

Published on Dec 30, 2012

A documentary about the human cost of the Syrian conflict and the scale of the devastation. No politics — only people telling their story.
Caution: previously unseen facts of brutality (16+).


SyrianTVOfficial   VIDEO TV NEWS




Syria For Impartial Investigation in Chemical Attack

Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr Bashar al-Jafari, speaks at a press conference at the UN about the recent chemical attack.  20 March 2013


Syrian Rebels Caught on Tape Discussing Chemical Weapons Attack

Paul Joseph Watson

March 20, 2013

An alleged audio recording of a phone conversation between two members of the Free Syrian Army contains details of a plan to carry out a chemical weapons attack capable of impacting an area the size of one kilometer.


Post-Saddam Iraq defined by division

Kerry Murphy March 19, 2013


Chemical Weapons Attack On Aleppo by Rebels Syria


Published on Mar 19, 2013

25 people are killed and many tens injured by an unknown substance used Aleppo against Syrian Soldiers and …




SYRIA: US-NATO Backed Al Qaeda Terrorists Armed with WMDs. Chemical Weapons against the Syrian People

Global Research, March 19, 2013

The implications of Western-backed terrorists using chemical weapons, regardless of their origin, has cost the West its already floundering legitimacy, jeopardized its institutions, and has further shook the confidence of the many shareholders invested in them – politically, financially, industrially, and strategically. Such shareholders would be wise to begin looking for exits and cultivating alternatives outside the Wall Street-London international order.




Aleppo activist Edward Dark: ‘People here don’t like the regime, but they hate the rebels even more’

15 March 2013

Activist Edward Dark has been in Aleppo, Syria’s second city, since the outbreak of revolt. Here he talks to Syria Live about life in the city.

Is there broad support for the revolt in Aleppo today, or is it localized?

People here don’t like the regime, but they hate the rebels even more. The economic hardships and harsh living conditions brought by the rebel assault on the city [last July] added to their crimes and has significantly eroded their support among the people here.

How divided is the city in terms of opposition to and support for the revolt? Has it changed since the early days?

The city is divided in terms of support, yes. And as I have said earlier, support for the revolt has waned ever since the rebel assault on the city.

In your experience, are all rebel fighters dangerous and careless of civilians’ lives, or just some?

In my experience, the majority of rebels show recklessness toward civilian lives, as of course, so does the regime, but that shouldn’t be an excuse at all. Some rebel groups are no more than organized crime syndicates, opportunistically engaging in kidnapping, extortion and large-scale looting of factories and warehouses. The fact that the ‘good guys’ in the rebels haven’t been able to stop them casts a very dark shadow on all the rebels here.




Graham calls for American boots on the ground in Syria

Posted By Josh Rogin Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In the face of new reports alleging chemical weapons use in Syria, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Tuesday for the United States to put American troops inside Syria to secure the WMD sites there.


Graham told The Cable in an interview Tuesday that whether or not the attack can be confirmed as the first use of chemical weapons in the 24-month Syrian civil war, the United States must devise and implement a plan to secure Syrian chemical weapons sites and deploy U.S. troops to do it if necessary.

“My biggest fear beyond an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is the chemical weapons in Syria falling in the hands of extremists and Americans need to lead on this issue. We need to come up with a plan to secure these weapons sites, either in conjunction with our partners [or] if nothing else by ourselves,” Graham said.

Asked if he would support sending U.S. troops inside Syria for the mission, Graham said yes.

“Absolutely, you’ve got to get on the ground. There is no substitute for securing these weapons,” he said. “I don’t care what it takes. We need partners in the region. But I’m here to say, if the choice is to send in troops to secure the weapons sites versus allowing chemical weapons to get in the hands of some of the most violent people in the world, I vote to cut this off before it becomes a problem.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the U.S. government is still evaluating the intelligence from Syria, but downplayed the regime’s accusation.

“We have no evidence to substantiate the charge that the opposition has used chemical weapons. We are deeply skeptical of a regime that has lost all credibility. And we would also warn the regime against making these kinds of charges as any kind of pretext or cover for its use of chemical weapons,” Carney said.

“We are evaluating the charges that are being made and the allegations, consulting closely with our partners, in the region and in the international community,” he added.


Tuesday 19 Mar 2013: Channel 4, ALEX THOMSON‘S VIEWS

How can we find the truth about ‘chemical weapons’ in Syria?

The embarrassing scare stories put about by the British Foreign Office and US Department of State several months back about credible evidence of chemical weapons being prepared by the regime, proved to be one of the more toe-curling moments in the careers of Hague, Clinton (H) and others.

Not a shred of proof was offered from the secret services who brought you Iraqi WMD. We were supposed to take it on trust. We didn’t.

Clinton and Hague did what they did because they wanted to play war propaganda games against Damascus at a time when they thought (wrong again) that the rebels were about to storm the capital’s airport.

Today’s reports from both sides appear to fall into the same category – there being little yet by way of evidence to the contrary.

YouTube has a number of videos apparently showing anti-government rebels preparing all manner of liquid cocktails for dirty bombs. And it is technically feasible to improvise a rocket and successfully fill it with a chemical agent. Possible, but hard because the liquid agent is hard to keep stable in flight and then you have the much bigger problem of dispersal within the target area.

Of course, it’s possible one of the outside world’s worst Syria nightmares is now playing: rebels have acquired chemical missiles from the Syrian state arsenal. OK – but they’ll still need a compatible launch platform and system.

So we should be cautious. One side definitely has a large chemical and nerve agent arsenal allegedly secure so far. The other side desires to acquire dirty munitions if its propaganda videos are any guide.

The logical and distressing conclusion is thus, it is just a matter of time until it may happen. But if and when it does, we should base our conclusions firmly on real evidence and not upon the sea of Syrian lies and propaganda.



Leaked EU Report; EU to spend Millions, monitoring and targeting critical Media, Journalists and Social Media

Tuesday March 19, 2012



The article below is relevant to reporting on Syria, as it points to the complexity of societies and human relations, something which becomes a serious barrier for outsiders to understanding and responsible policy making.  Up to now, Australian reporters have on the whole accepted the claims and point of view of those who support the ‘rebels’ in Syria.

Many Afghans held by ADF are falsely accused

March 17, 2013
According to this report, the attack on the US embassy in Libya was funded by Saudi Arabia:

Leaked intel mail to Hillary Clinton: funding for both, Benghazi & In Amenas attack came from Saudi Arabia




Kerry to Assad, Opposition: ‘Come to the Table’

17 March 2013

US Secretary of State John Kerry this week pressed both Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian opposition to begin direct negotiations on a transitional government.

In a press conference with Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide on March 13, Kerry said: “…We want to be able to see Assad and the Syrian opposition come to the table for the creation of a transitional government according to the framework that was created in Geneva, the Geneva Protocol, which requires mutual consent on both sides to the formation of that transitional government. That’s what we’re pushing for. And to do that, you have to have President Assad change his calculation so he doesn’t believe he can shoot it out endlessly, but you also need a cooperative Syrian opposition to come to the table, too. We’re working on it, and we will continue to work on it.”

Kerry’s announcement may be seen as support for Moaz Al-Khatib, leader of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, who is under siege within the opposition for both his willingness to negotiate with Damascus and his resistance to setting up a provisional government, as was reported this week by As-Safir and translated by Al-Monitor.

Mustafa Al-Sabbagh, the Coalition’s secretary general, is behind the pressure on Al-Khatib. Al-Sabbagh represents a faction within the coalition backed by Qatar, which has no interest in a political solution. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on March 14 called for lifting the arms embargo on support for the rebels, which could embolden more hard-line elements within the opposition, as well as those in Washington who want the US to provide arms to the rebels.

This column has reported time and again on the possibilities for, and urgency of, a political solution, including engaging Iran, which has officially, through the P5+1, expressed a willingness to strengthen cooperation in dealing with Syria, as Seyed Hossein Mousavian wrote last week. The military option, encouraged by Qatar and its acolytes within the opposition, will only accelerate the killing and state collapse in Syria that is taking place. It can and might get worse, absent a negotiated transition.

Geoffrey Aronson wrote this week that outgoing Commander of US Central Command, Gen. James Mattis, believes that even Assad’s demise “would not end the story but rather create conditions for continuing sectarian conflict in Syria and perhaps throughout the region.” Mattis said, “I believe [Iran] will arm militias inside the country to try to create a Lebanese Hezbollah-type effect, and they would redouble their efforts via-a-vis Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere. I think that’s, on a strategic plane, what we would see as part of their shift.”

In other words, as we wrote in December, in any endgame scenario, “the ‘final days’ may be more illusion than reality.”



Syria: President prepared to negotiate with rebels


Two years of civil war in Syria has been nothing short of devastating, and it appears that the country’s strongman is starting to finally face up to reality.

In his first interview with the western media in over a year, President Bashar al-Assad says his regime is prepared to negotiate with the country’s rebel groups.

Hala Jaber, who conducted the long awaited interview with Assad, joins RN Breakfast from Damascus to discuss these latest events in the war torn nation.


Link to Hala Jaber’s interview with President al-Assad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZZesWADJGw

(For transcript, please see page on this blog)



Exclusive: Gaza Salafists Take Fight to Syria

BY Amaa al-Ghoul  March 13, 2013

…The only way to reach the house of the leader (of the Salafists), who was forbidden from talking to the press, was by being disguised as a devout woman. Then I revealed my identity as a journalist, after which the Salafist leader’s family kicked me out. However, he explained why the members of the movement had moved to Syria to fight, saying, “They moved to Syria because the jihad door in the Gaza Strip was closed, and the situation was not taken into consideration, contrary to Syria, where it is open to jihad and to fighting the enemy.” He refused to define what he means by enemy, and he noted that after he was locked up more than once in the aftermath of Ibn Taymiya Mosque incident, he sought to live a simple life and to keep his jihad mission and vocation as a member of the Salafist jihad between God and himself.

When asked if he is considering going to Syria himself, should he get the chance, he replied, “I prefer to keep this to myself.” Regarding the movement’s connection with al-Qaeda, the leader said that both organizations share the same approach, which calls for unity and jihad in the name of God, adding that only their names differ. Moreover, he said what differentiates them from other Salafism movements is that they abide by the religion as a whole, following the ideology of Sheikh Muhammad al-Maqdisi.

Despite his reluctance to talk or to disclose the number of militants from Gaza in Syria, he ultimately provided some information about their presence and efforts against the regime in Syria, independent of the Free Syrian Army. The militants joined Jabhat al-Nusra, which was formed in 2011 in Syria and was classified by the US as a terrorist organization………

Hijazi added that Salafists in Gaza are supported by an international network of small associations, whose mission is to offer logistical support. Those provide individuals with money and means to move to regions of tension. Through them, Salafists get salaries, visas and tickets and are directed to the conflict regions, where there is a political vacuum. The associations make sure to help them move around easily, and often, the countries that are the source of financing are aware of that. He said he considered Syria a favorable environment, where this trend that opposes the revolution’s principles of liberalism can constantly grow, as long as money and weapons are available.



The extreme violence of a Salafist group in Gaza was highlighted when it killed an Italian peace activist in 2011.

FRANCE 24, 15/4/2011

Gaza Salafist group kills Italian hostage

A Salafist group has killed an Italian activist kidnapped on Thursday in the Gaza Strip. In a video posted on YouTube, the group had demanded the release of several of its members detained by Gaza security forces

AFP – Rome on Friday denounced the “barbaric murder” of an Italian peace activist after his kidnapping by an Islamist group in Gaza.

The Italian foreign ministry “denounces in the strongest manner the act of vile and senseless violence committed by extremists who are indifferent to the value of human life”, a statement said.

The ministry expressed “its deep horror over the barbaric murder and its most sincere condolences to the family”.

In a video posted on YouTube, the Salafist group had demanded the release of an unspecified number of their members detained by the security forces in the Gaza Strip.

They said they would execute the hostage if their demand was not met by 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Friday.




EU rejects Britain and France’s appeal to let them arm Syrian rebels

European leaders block call to lift embargo on supplying weapons to opposition

15 March 2013

Britain and France found themselves isolated today after their call to lift an embargo on supplying weapons to Syrian rebels was rejected by EU leaders, who are fearful of sparking an arms race with Russia and escalating a conflict which has already left 70,000 people dead.

France’s President Francois Hollande went into the EU summit yesterday calling on his fellow leaders to lift the embargo before it expires in May. David Cameron’s office said they wanted to use the two-year anniversary of the uprising today to prod other nations into stepping up assistance.

But at meetings today, Germany, Austria, Sweden and other nations disagreed. “One has to ask if it doesn’t fan the flames of the conflict,“ said Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel. “What is important is to act together as Europeans, just the fact that two have changed their minds is not enough for 25 to follow suit.”

Ms Merkel added that the EU foreign policy chief – Catherine Ashton, a Labour peer – had also spoken out against putting weapons in the hands of the opposition. “Lady Ashton said Iran and Russia were looking for the development to resume arms exports to (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad,” the chancellor said.

Russia has stood by Assad throughout the conflict and continues to ship weapons to the regime, despite pleas from Europe and the United States to use their clout to force Assad to negotiate.

One diplomat struggled to come up with the names of any countries that backed Mr Hollande and Mr Cameron’s proposals: “There are many member states that have reservations,” the diplomat said……

Louay Almokdad, a political coordinator for the Free Syrian Army, urged Britain and France to keep pushing to provide the rebels with anti-aircraft weapons, anti-tank missiles and logistical support.

“At the moment, we don’t have enough to create a safe zone for civilians in the north,” he said. “We have given all the guarantees they want. The weapons would be under trained officers and they would not go to any extremist groups.”



This is significant news, but one wonders why it took so long and what impact it will have.   It appears that ABC reporter, Matt Brown, enters Syria illegally to embed with fighters from Al-Nusra.   (see comments above related to ABC’s Foreign Correspondent.)

Australia blacklists terror group in Syria

AAP March 17, 2013, 2:29 pm

The Australian government has placed a prominent Islamic group fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria on its terrorist blacklist.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has announced Australia will list the Al-Nusrah Front as a terrorist organisation to try to starve the group of funding and support.

Unknown before the uprising, the Al-Nusrah Front since mid-2012 has become the spearhead of the insurgency ahead of the mainstream rebel Free Syrian Army.

The Islamist jihadist faction has since captured key army bases and is believed to have set up a religious council to administer affairs in rebel-controlled areas in eastern Syria.

Senator Carr said with 5000 fighters in Syria, the Al-Nusrah Front had a history of suicide attacks and bombings.

“I’m advised Al-Nusrah is active against the Syrian military but also against civilian targets,” he said in a statement.

“There is no place for violent extremist groups such as Al-Nusrah in Syria or elsewhere.”

He said there was evidence that Al-Nusrah had direct links with al-Qaeda in Iraq, which supplies it with weapons, recruits and equipment.

The United States placed the Al-Nusrah Front on its terror blacklist in December, citing links to al-Qaeda.

The listing means anyone in Australia who makes funds or assets available to the group could face up to 10 years in jail.

Assets known to be owned or controlled by Al-Nusrah must be frozen and reported immediately to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


**********************************************************************ABC NEWS 13 DEC 2012

National Coalition gets official backing

The United States, European powers and Arab states have officially backed Syria’s newly-formed opposition group, recognising the National Coalition as the sole representative of all Syrians. The declaration has been issued at a Friends-of-Syria meeting in Morocco, and coincides with battlefield gains by jihadists fighting president Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Australia’s Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, says it’s the right move at the right time. It also comes amid claims that the Syrian regime has recently begun using Scud missiles and incendiary bombs against the rebels, in what the US has described as a ‘vicious’ and ‘desperate’ measure.




UPDATE 4-Syrian opposition urges review of al-Nusra blacklisting

Jihad a legitimate motive for Syrian rebels -opposition leader

MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 (Reuters) – The leader of Syria’s opposition coalition urged the United States on Wednesday to reconsider its decision to designate the militant Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist group, saying religion was a legitimate motive for Syrian rebels.

“The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed,” Mouaz Alkhatib told a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Morocco, where Western and Arab states granted full recognition to the coalition seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

“We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime.”

Alkhatib also called on Syria’s Alawite minority on Wednesday to launch a campaign of civil disobedience against Assad, an Alawite facing a mainly Sunni Muslim uprising against his rule.

The United States designated the Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) as a foreign terrorist organisation and said it was trying to hijack the revolt on behalf of al Qaeda in Iraq.



There are thousands of ‘jihadists’ traveling to Syria from all around the world, including Australia.  It is important to understand what motivates them and what they support.  What is there view of a post-war Syria?

Albanian Jihadist in Syria Wants to Cleanse Syria from Kuffar (Infidels) and Implement Sharia

Posted by Friends of Syria blog on 18/3/13




Robert Fisk: John Kerry wants the Gulf to support the Syrian rebels. But which rebels? The soft, safe ones? Or those horrible, ‘terrorist’ Islamists?

Why wouldn’t the Saudi royal family arm their favourite anti-Shiite militia?

John Kerry has had a miserable time of it in the Gulf. He has to love them all – the kings and princes and emirs – and he needs their support against Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Because, of course, they are sending cash and weapons to the rebels. But which rebels? The soft, secular safe guys of the Free Syrian Army or the horrible ‘terrorist’ Islamists who are also fighting Assad and who, give and take a few thousands square yards, have just captured the Syrian provincial capital of Raqa?

In Qatar yesterday, the US Secretary of State vouchsafed to tell the world that he now had “greater guarantees” that arms were being sent to “moderate” groups in Syria. Such guarantees may exist – but they are worthless. If Saudi Arabia and Qatar are sending guns to the opposition, how can they possibly label them ‘Not for al-Nusra or other Islamist groups’? And since the Saudi royal family are Wahabis – like many of the Islamist fighters in Syria and, indeed, the 9/11 killers in America – why shouldn’t the Saudis arm their favourite anti-Shiite militia in Syria? ….




Syria two years on

Richard Aedy interviews

Dr Sami Moubayed:  Syrian historian and political analyst, Visiting Scholar with the Carnegie Endowment Center in Beirut Lebanon

Mother Agnes Mariam:  Catholic Nun




21st Century Wire

Open War Crimes: US and British-Backed Weapons Airlift From Croatia to Terrorists in Syria

March 10, 2013,  Patrick Henningsen

The evidence is now in, as list of state actors can now be seen openly conspiring to drive the Middle East into full-blown war.

It’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. Plan C is to draw in the UN by creating a ‘chemical weapons’ crisis in Syria, and thanks to a prominent online leak of documents relating to UK DOD contractor Britam, the British have been caught brokering a deal transferring ex-Gaddafi stocks from Libya to Syria to be blamed on Assad, and paid for by Qatar. But the WMD threat still remains a hard sell for western voters…

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.

It can now be revealed that NATO allied nations were busy using proxy states to drive their war in Syria – putting together one of the biggest international black operation transfers of military supplies in recent history. So it’s official: large caches of hardware from the West have been transferred to the Syrian jihadist mercenary collective known as the ‘Free Syrian Army’ , ‘Syrian Rebels’, or ‘Syrian Opposition’ – depending on who you ask, a brash move which may be vehemently opposed by other UN Security Council members – namely Russia and China.

Multiple media sources reveal the details of this massive airlift comprised of 75 airplanes, and an estimated 3,000 tons of military weaponry on board has left Croatia and has already been delivered… to Syria.

It is also confirmed from these reports that Saudi Arabia has financed a large portion of this purchase secretly transported to al Qaeda and other FSA fighters – who are working with the support of the CIA, MI6 and others, along with other financial and material support of Qatar and Saudi, to further destabilise and overthrow the Assad government in Syria…….



THE TELEGRAPH 8 March 2013

US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’

The United States has coordinated a massive airlift of arms to Syrian rebels from Croatia with the help of Britain and other European states, despite the continuing European Union arms embargo, it was claimed yesterday.




Syria: Summary killings and other abuses by armed opposition …
14 March 2013

An extract from the conclusion of the Amnesty International report

In light of the abuses documented in this briefing, Amnesty International urges any state considering supplying arms to armed opposition groups in Syria to first carry out a rigorous human rights risk assessment and establish a robust monitoring process which would enable all arms transfer proposals to be carefully considered before any approval is granted. The monitoring mechanism should recommend strong mitigation methods to be adopted in relation to any recipient so as to remove any substantial risk the arms would be misused for serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.  This mechanism should also allow for any arms transfer subsequently approved to be rapidly halted should evidence emerge that the arms are being or will be used to carry out serioushuman rights abuses, or are being transferred or diverted to third parties. The mechanism should also include a system for limiting arms supplied to only those weapons, munitions and related equipment which are not inherently indiscriminate, such as anti-personnel land mines or cluster bombs.

There should also be a system for ensuring that those who receive the arms are first equipped with the practical knowledge and awareness of international human rights and humanitarian law to understand their obligations to uphold the relevant standards and their criminal liability under international criminal law should they fail to do so.


Amnesty International page on Syria http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/syria

Below, image of Mahmoud Mattar, who was apparently tortured and killed by the FSA in Daraa and hanged in front of AlAsoud mosque. (apology for this very disturbing image. Ref: http://realsyriaupdates.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/mahmoud-mattar-tortured-and-killed-by-fsa/)


28 August 2012

Death Squad Coordinator Robert Ford Keynotes Amnesty International Annual Meeting


ABUSE OF MAN IN ALEPPO (Middle-aged man who dresses in yellow as a tourist attraction.)


THE GUARDIAN 8 March 2013

West training Syrian rebels in Jordan

Exclusive: UK and French instructors involved in US-led effort to strengthen secular elements in Syria’s opposition, say sources

Jordanian soldiers guard the border with Syria. The Guardian has been told that UK intelligence teams are giving Syrian rebels in Jordan logistical and other advice. Photograph: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

Western training of Syrian rebels is under way in Jordan in an effort to strengthen secular elements in the opposition as a bulwark against Islamic extremism, and to begin building security forces to maintain order in the event of Bashar al-Assad’s fall.

Jordanian security sources say the training effort is led by the US, but involves British and French instructors.

The UK Ministry of Defence denied any British soldiers were providing direct military training to the rebels, though a small number of personnel, including special forces teams, have been in the country training the Jordanian military.

But the Guardian has been told that UK intelligence teams are giving the rebels logistical and other advice in some form.

British officials have made it clear that they believe new EU rules have now given the UK the green light to start providing military training for rebel fighters with the aim of containing the spread of chaos and extremism in areas outside the Syrian regime’s control.

According to European and Jordanian sources the western training in Jordan has been going on since last year and is focused on senior Syrian army officers who defected.

“As is normal, before any major decision is taken on this issue, the preparations are made so that when that decision is taken, everything is in place for it to go smoothly. That is what these groups [special forces] do. They go in in advance,” a European diplomat said.

A Jordanian source familiar with the training operations said: “It’s the Americans, Brits and French with some of the Syrian generals who defected. But we’re not talking about a huge operation.”

He added that there had so far been no “green light” for the rebel forces being trained to be sent into Syria. But they would be deployed if there were signs of a complete collapse of public services in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, which could trigger a million more Syrians seeking refuge in Jordan, which is reeling under the strain of accommodating the 320,000 who have already sought shelter there.

The aim of sending western-trained rebels over the border would be to create a safe area for refugees on the Syrian side of the border, to prevent chaos and to provide a counterweight to al-Qaida-linked extremists who have become a powerful force in the north.

British officials say new European guidelines on the Syrian arms embargo, formally adopted by the EU at the beginning of March, allow military training as long as the ultimate aim of that training is “the protection of civilians”.

Paris takes an identical view of the EU rules.

Officials in Brussels say the language of the guidelines is less than clear-cut. “It’s deliberately hazy,” said one. “When it comes to technical assistance, what it means in practice depends on who you ask. The Brits and the French, for example, are much more forward-leaning than others. The principle is that the assistance should be for the protection of civilians, but as we saw in Libya, that can be interpreted in different ways.”



Where is the Syrian conflict heading?

An uprising that was inspired by the Arab Spring is now a violent conflict, with no end in sight.Inside Syria Last Modified: 17 Mar 2013 08:34

…… So, where is the Syrian conflict heading and what are the prospects for its end?

To assess the current situation, the possible outcomes and next steps, Inside Syria, with presenter Hazem Sika, is joined by guests: Yaser Tabbara; legal advisor for the Syrian National Coalition, and the Syrian opposition coalition in the United States; Joshua Landis, a Syria expert and director of Center of the Middle East Studies, and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma; and Danny Makki, the co-founder of the Syrian Youth in Britain – a group of Syrians advocating democratic change through dialogue.


DW 24/12/2012

Suliman: ‘Al Jazeera plays the piper, but Qatar calls the tune’

The long-time Berlin correspondent for Al Jazeera, Aktham Suliman, recently resigned from his post. The journalist tells DW that the Qatari government is exercising undue influence on Al Jazeera’s reporting.

DW: You’ve criticized Al Jazeera as lacking in professionalism, and you’ve quit your post as the broadcaster’s Berlin correspondent. Is Al Jazeera following a specific agenda?

Aktham Suliman: I have to say that professionalism is now lacking at Al Jazeera. When I started in 2002, I didn’t have that impression – quite the contrary. Of course there were fundamental, long-term problems, but in the last two years Al Jazeera has really let itself go in terms of professionalism.

It’s possible that it does have an agenda, but of course no one makes it clear. The thing is that, if you’re professional, you can deal with an agenda. If the employees, the editors or the owners had one and tried to impose it, professionalism would ensure that this didn’t happen at the cost of high quality journalistic product.

But that’s precisely what didn’t happen when efforts were obviously being made to impose on Al Jazeera the agenda of the state of Qatar. The problem is that the organization lacks internal structures that would immunize it against what was presumably an attempt by the owner or by the editors to interfere politically in things that should have been handled in a journalistic manner….


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