The incident occurred in the town of Damascus, VA, on Saturday afternoon during the annual celebration of the Appalachian Trail, a famous hiking trail in the northeast of the United States. The nature of the injuries was not immediately known, AP reports.State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says troopers have been sent to the scene but she had no further information.Four helicopters arrived at the site to airlift the victims to local hospitals.DETAILS TO FOLLOW …
RT reports that following the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Moscow this week, the US and Russia have “reiterated their commitment to bringing the sides of the Syrian conflict to the negotiating table, and that they have announced an international conference to be called by the end of May which will serve as a follow-up to the Geneva communiqué. The Geneva communiqué should be a roadmap to a new Syria, not a forgotten piece of paper, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after their Tuesday Moscow meeting.”So is it time to toast the imminent end of a terrible, bloody conflict which, according to a UN estimate in February, has cost, up to then, around 70,000 lives?As Sergey Lavrov pointed out on Wednesday, the Syrian government has for a long time shown a willingness to talk, but their readiness to make compromises to find a peaceful, political solution to the conflict has not been matched by the so-called ‘rebels’. Instead of using their influence to pressurize anti-government militia to lay down their arms and to negotiate directly with Damascus, the foreign supporters of the rebels have been egging them on to intensify their campaign to violently overthrow the Syrian government. It’s a campaign which has involved some appalling acts of terrorism, such as last week’s bombing of a main square in Damascus in which at least 13 people were killed.These countries stoking the conflict in Syria have, up to now, not been interested in compromises, or in allowing the Syrian people to decide their own future, as the new 2012 Constitution allows them to do, but have been hell-bent on achieving ‘regime change’ for geo-strategic reasons- most importantly to ‘knock out‘ the strongest regional ally of Iran. Despite John Kerry’s support for an international conference, he has still to rule out direct US military aid to the rebels. When asked about the bill recommending the direct arming of the rebels which is before Congress, Kerry said that the future of the bill would depend “to some degree on the state of the evidence in respect to chemical weapons”. Yet only a few days ago, Carla Del Ponte of the UN Commission of Inquiry said that there was “no, no indication at all” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons, on the contrary she said there were “strong, concrete suspicions” that the opponents of the government themselves had used them.If the US stance still leaves a lot to be desired, the position of the UK in relation to Syria is arguably even worse. The UK’s neo-conservative dominated government is trying all it can to pressurize other EU countries to lift the Syrian arms embargo. Today we hear that they have sent a ‘discussion paper’ to other EU members making the case either for a total lifting of the ban or an easing of it.But the UK government’s line is deceitful. They claim they want to help the ’good’ i.e. non radical Islamist rebels, yet a report in the New York Times claimed that “nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.” We’ve already had the al-Nusra front, one of the largest groups which make up the ‘rebels’ openly pledging their allegiance to al-Qaeda but that still isn‘t enough to change the UK’s policy. The double standards are breathtaking: the UK government which gave support to the French military action against al- Qaeda linked radical Islamists fighting the authorities in Mali, is spending British taxpayers’ money on helping an uprising dominated by radical Islamists to topple a secular government in Syria.Peace will only come to Syria when the foreign countries currently menacing it start acting as fire-fighters and not arsonists. That means telling the rebels that its time to end their campaign of violence and to negotiate directly with Damascus. It also means accepting that whether or not President Assad and the Ba’ath Party continue to rule Syria, is up to the Syrian people alone, and not the US, Turkey, Qatar, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel or indeed anyone else. The trouble is that the countries concerned have invested so much time and money into trying to topple Bashar al-Assad that it’s highly unlikely that they’ll change direction now, even though continuing with their destructive, destabilizing policies towards Syria only means that the bloodshed will continue.Neil Clark for RT …
The video, 27 seconds of footage, was first spotted in April, with the TIME magazine conducting a probe into whether it had been faked for propaganda purposes. On Sunday, the clip emerged on a pro-regime website, triggering a wave of rage online. Human rights organizations, as well as his fellow rebels, have condemned the rebel. However, Khalid Hamad, known by his war nickname Abu Sakkar, didn’t seem to regret his behavior much, labeling it as revenge: “an eye for eye, a tooth for tooth.” In an interview with TIME magazine, he commented on his actions: “We opened his cell phone, and I found a clip of a woman and her two daughters fully naked and he was humiliating them, and poking a stick here and there.” Hamad says as a Sunni he hates Alawite Muslims, which once again signals of the increasingly sectarian side of the Syrian conflict. UN warned of it as early as in December last year.“Hopefully we will slaughter all of [the Alawites]. I have another video clip that I will send to them. In the clip, I am sawing another shabiha [pro-government militiaman] with a saw. The saw we use to cut trees. I sawed him into small pieces and large ones,” Hamad said in the interview.The Supreme Military Council has already compiled a poster calling for Hamad’s arrest, saying it wants him “dead or alive” on official Damascus’s behalf.On Monday, Human Rights Watch issued a report on the matter, saying the rebel was also to blame for the cross-border bombing of a Lebanese village that left two killed not long ago.“It is not enough for Syria’s opposition to condemn such behavior or blame it on violence by the government,” Nadim Houry, the watchdog’s deputy director for the Middle East, told TIME magazine.“The opposition forces need to act firmly to stop such abuses.” However with recent reports showcasing lack of unity in the opposition ranks, a unified response to such acts may stay only in the form of calls. The Red Cross for instance brings the following report from within Syria.“Sometimes it can take more than two weeks of negotiations with both sides. With armed groups, maybe half of them will accept and with half we still have to negotiate. Even if you get the green light from both sides, you would have some groups or snipers who would not really follow instructions and would shoot at anyone who is trying to cross,” head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) team Marianne Gasser told Reuters.But while some of the opposition factions denounce Hamad’s actions, there are supporters who make portraits of him with the inscription “We Love You.”“These types of atrocities have been happening in Syria since the beginning of the crisis. The international community just didn’t want to admit it,” Ali Haider, Syria’s minister for reconciliation, told the Telegraph. The minister also pointed out that they had documents that were as “horrific” as the video featuring Hamad.“We have seen one of our pilot’s heads cut off and cooked on a grill. We have seen rebels toasting their success by drinking the blood of their victims,” he claimed.All this comes as the UK and France urge for the arms embargo on Syria to be lifted in order to supply the opposition with weapons. This has already drawn criticism from allies, with Austria reportedly circulating a discussion paper among the EU member states on Tuesday pressing that such a move would violate the international law.Lifting the embargo would “constitute a breach of international and EU law” and be contrary to the “principle of non-intervention and non-use of force” laid down in the UN Charter, Austrian press quoted the document. If the weapons fall with al-Nusra Front opposition group, it would also violate UN Security Council resolutions on Al-Qaeda, given al-Nusra’s recent affiliation claims.At least 70,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began just over two years ago, according to the UN, putting the number of displaced Syrians at more than 850,000. …
http://www.youtube.com/v/mAyU7CNC2RE?version=3&f=videos&app=youtube_gdata Link: Turkey vs Syria: Ties fray amid blame game over border bombing
http://www.youtube.com/v/zJ2ysFsC9Zg?version=3&f=videos&app=youtube_gdata Link to original: Talk to Al Jazeera – Moaz al-Khatib: The priority is to save Syria
Syrian group criticises Israel over air strikes 07/05/2013 04:46 CET
Israeli officials confirm air strike on Syrian target 04/05/2013 13:45 CET
Arab Spring becoming an Islamist Winter, says… 06/02/2013 15:59 CET
‘Nuclear weapons against our beliefs’ says Iran’s… 04/02/2013 17:07 CET
Russia condemns reported Israel strike in Syria 31/01/2013 11:35 CET
Israeli air attacks near the Syrian capital Damascus have changed the dynamics of insecurity for the whole region, as Syria’s civil war transforms into a cross-border conflict.
Israel said it struck stores of Iranian missiles bound for Iran’s Hezbollah allies in Syria. Even though Israel has to plan for whoever might eventually replace the regime of Syrian President Assad, officials have said Israel is pursuing its own conflict – not with Syria but with Iran.
Iran, Syria and Lebanon form what has been dubbed a Shiite Crescent alliance. Israel must avoid Hezbollah getting missiles that might strike Tel Aviv if Israel attacks Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Israel has denied it is taking the side of Syria’s Sunni rebels, and it has proved it will do what it sees as necessary to prevent Hezbollah from getting heavier weapons.
But analyst Alon Liel said it has an additional, wider communication challenge: “If somebody in the region, especially in Syria or Lebanon, understands these attacks as a direct intervention in the civil war, it might be a real problem for Israel.”
Syria’s allies want Israel’s actions to be seen as intervention in the civil war. Before the raids, the leader of Hezbollah warned: “Syria has real friends in the region and the wider world who will not allow the country to fall into American or Israeli hands.”
An Iranian former commander of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard unit, Hossein Kanami Moghaddam, said: “As Syria’s strategic ally, Iran might send troops to Syria if Israel launched a bigger military attack on Syria. Iran can do that.”
Regional expansion of the Syria conflict is also high in ordinary people’s minds. Activists in the Palestinian city Ramallah said attacking Syria is tantamount to attacking all Arab countries.
Many analysts have said that Assad could ultimately benefit if more players got involved militarily in Syria’s conflict. Egypt, for one, condemned Israel’s air strikes as a breach of international law that it said “made the situation more complicated”.
Another complication is that, according to war crimes investigator Carla del Ponte with the UN, Syrian rebels may have used the nerve agent sarin. She did not rule out that Assad’s forces may also have used chemical weapons. Washington has made such use a ‘red line’, the crossing of which it said would meet an active response.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
On May 3-4 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) launched two successive aerial bombing strikes deep inside Syrian territory, reportedly against the Jamraya military research center near Damascus Airport. While Israeli spokesmen have been coy about admitting responsibility, the Obama Administration confirmed and endorsed the bombings in Syrian sovereign territory. By precepts of international law, Israel has committed acts of war against Syria, in violation of the UN Charter.The alleged justification for the Netanyahu regime, which seems to set another set of laws for itself as the norms of international law, was the claim that the strikes targeted a warehouse storing Iranian Fateh-110 “game changing” missiles in transit to the Lebanese Hezbollah. In January the IDF made a similar air strike to destroy a convoy of advanced air defense missiles en route to Hezbollah that would hinder Israel’s ability to enter Lebanese airspace unharrassed.To grasp what is going on inside Tel Aviv a recent timeline helps. On April 27, before Israel embarked on action against Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov forged a new Russian alliance with Hezbollah in Beirut. According to Debka.com, an online source with reported close ties to the Israeli intelligence community, “This was Putin’s answer to Obama’s direct appeal for a partnership in the effort to terminate the Syrian conflict. Obama’s rejoinder was the green light he gave Israel to go for Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria.”On April 30, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a public speech in which he for the first time indicated that his organization was ready to come to the active aid of Assad’s Syrian regime in the fight against Al Qaeda and assorted foreign and domestic “opposition” to Assad’s rule. Nasrallah also said charges that Syria used chemical sarin weapons were fabricated to justify foreign intervention. At the same time Iran called in the UN to investigate alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.The next day, on May 1, President Barack Obama said the US is now ready to arm Syrian rebels and to increase efforts to topple Bashar al Assad. On May 3-4 the IDF bombing strikes took place. Then on May 6 the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria issued a statement that they had no evidence that the Syrian Government has used chemical weapons, sarin or other, against the rebel insurgents. Instead, the UN found evidence that the rebels had used sarin and tried to blame it on the regime. No small embarrassment for Washington and Tel Aviv which claimed otherwise.The Israeli bombings come coincidentally at a time when direct reports from within Syria indicate major recent successes of the Syrian Army in rolling back rebel held areas along the border to Lebanon. Until Israel or Washington are able to produce overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the weight of suspicion for the Israeli acts of war has to be not interdiction of potential “game changer” missiles to Hezbollah, but rather an attempt by Israel, with Washington backing, to prepare the climate of world opinion for a full-scale Libya-style NATO-IDF air campaign to obliterate Syria, as more than two years of surrogate arming and training of mercenaries and even Al Qaeda terrorists to wage a regime destruction in Syria appear to have failed. The Netanyahu aggressions are an ultra-high-risk gamble that could colossally backfire on Tel Aviv as well as Washington. The Shi’ite alliance of Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah in Lebanon is backed firmly by Putin’s Russia with China supporting. The rebels are backed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Washington and now Israel. Already Syria, Iran and Hezbollah have promised retaliation. The situation has the potentials for conflict out of control.Is anyone for the rule of international law, notions of just and unjust wars, classical diplomacy and basic human rights for a change? …