The Western-backed theory that chemical weapons were taken from the Syrian government’s military compound is very doubtful, according to Ochsenreiter, because “the military compound where gas is stored is heavily guarded. The Syrian government knows exactly what might happen if this gas comes out.”He said that the weapons might have been from Turkey as it is one of the “most important players in the conflict, which supports the so-called armed opposition” and “Turkey already used chemical weapons in battles against the Kurdish population and militia.”There have been false statements before, for example the blame of the Syrian government for the June 2012 Houla massacre, which was later refuted “but it didn’t have any affect or result in diplomatic means” noted the German journalist.Peace activist and journalist Ryan Dawson told RT that it would be difficult to determine where the weapons originated from as the so-called opposition has many outside sources financing it and aiding with weapons.“We have the Gulf monarchs and Israel. Probably not directly from the US and Israel, because they like to have plausible deniability – they probably went through Qatar or Turkey.”RT: There’s been widespread opinion, promoted by some major world powers that any chemical weapons use in Syria would only ever be down to the Assad regime. So are you surprised to hear it may have been the rebels using them?Ryan Dawson: I’m not surprised, because we’ve heard that before, back in December there was a scare about chemical weapons and red lines being crossed. That turned out to be the terrorist mercenaries in Syria. And there was an Israeli airstrike following that in January. So this is the exact same scenario.RT: If it turns out to be true, where would the rebels have got them from?RD: It will be difficult to pen down because the so-called opposition has so many outside sources financing them and aiding with weapons. We have the Gulf monarchs and Israel. Probably not directly from the US and Israel, because they like to have plausible deniability – they probably went through Qatar or Turkey. RT: This investigation is separate from the one launched by the UN’s own chief – so why are there two different probes being carried out by the same body?RD: The first party to call for the UN investigation was the Syrian government themselves, that’s how confident they were that the mercenaries used the chemical weapons. When you look at it, the US and Israel don’t have a leg to stand on to be lecturing anybody about having or using chemical weaponsRT: Syria was hit this weekend by a series of Israeli airstrikes – do you have any ideas why the attacks took place? Was it really self-defense?RD: Of course not. But its hard to explain Israel’s actions. You are not talking about a rational player. It’s not the first time Israel has struck inside of Syria. Israel from time to time invades Gaza, attacks Syria, they are trying to bolster their image in the Middle East and get the fear factor and deterrent for themselves. Yet again Israel will claim that Syria was shipping weapons to Hezbollah, which they consider a terrorist group. Though the Israelis are aiding the mercenaries in Syria, which have killed up to 70, 000 people. So concerning the chemical weapons killing a dozen or so people – that is just a red line, they are just looking for a pretext. The wanted to strike anyway.RT: There are so many blank spaces in the story, mostly because Israel’s avoiding all questions about the strikes – Why is that? Do you think international bodies will move in to shatter this silent strategy?RD: Israel is fishing for escalation; the mercenaries are starting to lose. You’ll see the Western powers backing the mercenary groups just enough to keep the perpetual conflict going. But there are no decisive battles. That’s the whole point, the profit from it, to destroy Syria from within.RT: Could Israel face justice here?RD: They ought to, but they won’t. Israel has absolute immunity from international bodies, because the US and Canada back them up no matter what they do. We are talking about a state that has open apartheid, open ethnic cleansing, they are colonizing Palestine, they shoot children at will – they are breaking UN resolutions and nothing ever happens. Israel felt confident that they could go on a clumsy pretext of chemical weapons and bomb whatever they want and get away with it. …
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Russian activists gathered at Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square – on the anniversary of an anti-Putin protest that ended in violent clashes with police and several arrests.
This year’s crowd was smaller and calmer than at the rally held on May 7, 2012, the day Vladimir Putin was inaugurated as president for a third term.
In what some see as a bad omen for this year’s event, a construction worker was killed when equipment fell on him as he set up a sound system. The organisers say, sad though the accident was, the protest must go ahead.
Maria Baronova took part in last year’s demonstrations and is still living with the consequences:
“I was the only one who was charged after the house searches. I’m still free but I’m not allowed to leave Moscow and won’t be able to for many years,” Baronova said.
More than 600 protesters were detained and over a dozen faced criminal charges following the 2012 rally. The opposition maintains that the clashes were provoked by the police.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
Syrian state news outlet SANA reported that the Foreign Ministry sent identical letters to the president and secretary general of the UN Security Council deploring the attacks and urging action against Israel.”While stressing its right to defend itself , its land and sovereignty, the Syrian Arab Republic demands that the international Security Council shoulder its responsibilities to stop the Israeli aggression on Syria and prevent its recurrence and prevent the deterioration of the situation in the region so as not to go out of control,” wrote SANA, quoting the letters. The Syrian government likened the strike to a declaration of war by Israel.The letter stated that the three strikes were carried out at 1.40am on Sunday by Israeli warplanes and hit three depots of the Syrian Armed Forces near Damascus.”This leaves no room for doubt Israel is the beneficiary, the mover and sometimes the executor of the terrorist acts which Syria is witnessing and which target it as a state and people directly or through its tools inside,” the ministry stressed in its letters. The Assad government usually brands opposition factions as terrorist groups.Meanwhile, Israel has not admitted to being behind the attacks, but a spokesperson in Washington issued a statement following the attack that “Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, especially to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”Following the strikes Israel reportedly beefed up security along its borders, deploying tanks and reinforcing troops.The US, for its part, refrained from pointing the figure at its ally in the Middle East and emphasized that Israeli has the “right to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.”“We coordinate closely with the Israelis, recognizing they are very close to Syria, they are very close to Lebanon,” said President Obama to Telemundo on Sunday. US officials said they had not received any warning that such a strike was going to occur. However, the official did concede that it would not be unusual for Israel to execute such a strike.”It would not be unusual for them to take aggressive steps when there was some chance that some sophisticated weapons system would fall into the hands of people like Hezbollah,” a US intelligence official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has yet to comment on the strike, is currently in China on a state visit where the government has also spoken out against the act of aggression against Syria.”We oppose the use of military force and believe any country’s sovereignty should be respected,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing, coinciding with the beginning of Netanyahu’s five-day visit to the country. He called on the “relevant parties” to respect regional peace and stability.A similar attack was carried out on Syrian territory back in January, striking targets that were reported to be convoys transporting weapons to Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon. …
Thousands of opposition protesters are taking part in Monday’s sanctioned event called ‘For Freedom!’Some 5,000 law enforcers have been deployed in the capital’s downtown to ensure security as the opposition gears up for the protest, expected to be held from 7-9:30pm (15-17:30 GMT).In what some see as a bad omen, tonight’s event has already been marred by tragedy: a worker, identified as 25-year-old Maksim Melkov, died while erecting the stage for the opposition gathering after a loudspeaker column fell on him.Shortly after the accident, it was reported that the event might be canceled. However, the organizers decided to hold the meeting as it had been agreed with the Moscow authorities. The format of the rally might be changed though, as the scene of the accident is to be thoroughly examined by investigators and the stage may remain blocked.The rally on Bolotnaya Square will start with a minute of silence to commemorate Melkov.The main demand of the participants of the event organized by Russian opposition activists is the release of all ‘political prisoners’ in the country. Those also include activists arrested as part of the so-called ‘Bolotnaya case’ following last year’s rally on the square.A day before Vladimir Putin’s inauguration as president, thousands took to streets to protest against election results, and to demand political reforms and a fresh vote. The sanctioned rally turned violent as demonstrators clashed with police.Over 600 protesters were detained and over a dozen faced criminal charges ranging from inciting mass unrest to using violence against police. So far, two of the Bolotnaya Square protesters were sentenced to jail terms. The opposition maintains though that clashes were provoked by police. On Sunday – as Orthodox believers celebrated Easter – the opposition held another sanctioned protest rally in the Russian capital. The event called ‘Freedom March’ was organized by the so-called Opposition Expert Council. Despite the initially-announced 10,000 participants, the gathering was joined by only around 400-500 participants and around a hundred journalists. …
Under the proposed changes, the Government Communications and Security Bureau [GCSB] would be empowered to spy on New Zealanders only after receiving permission from the prime minister.”The GCSB will require an authorization from the responsible minister and the commissioner of security warrants when its cyber security and information assurance functions are being performed in relation to the communications of New Zealanders,” news website Stuff.co.nz cites Prime Minister John Key as saying. The amendments would also allow the GCSB to provide support to police, the Defense Force, and the Security Intelligence Service, which is currently tasked with spying on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.”The GCSB will only be able to provide that support when those agencies are acting within their own lawful duties,” Key continued. Key said the Bureau – traditionally tasked with foreign signals intelligence – needed expanded powers due to the rapidly evolving technological landscape “in areas like cyber-security and the threat of cyber-attacks.”“It’s vital that legislation in this area is fit for purpose and keeps pace with changes in the operating environment, while also safeguarding the rights of law-abiding New Zealanders,” he insisted. Key said he was willing to compromise on the legislation to gain support from opposition lawmakers. However, the opposition Labor Party claimed the proposed measures, which will be debated in parliament this week, are nothing but a ‘band aid’ solution which did nothing to fix the deeper issue of government transparency. “The state should not extend its powers to spy on citizens lightly… [John Key] is asking New Zealanders to trust him to personally decide who can be spied on, despite his record of lax oversight of the GCSB,” AFP cites Labor leader David Shearer as saying. The proposed changes followed revelations that the GCSB illegally spied on Kim Dotcom – a German national with New Zealand residency – prior to an armed police raid on his Auckland mansion in January 2012. Dotcom was subsequently arrested by New Zealand authorities, who were aiding a US investigation into online piracy. In March, New Zealand’s Court of Appeal ruled that Dotcom has the right to sue the GCSB for illegally intercepting his communications. Key, who said he was unaware that they bureau had snooped on Dotcom illegally, was forced to issue a public apology to the internet tycoon last month. A subsequent inquiry released in April revealed that another 88 New Zealanders may have been illegally monitored, though details of the cases were not released. The US Department of Justice alleges Dotcom’s popular file hosting website Megaupload.com, cost copyright holders over $500 million in lost revenues. He is wanted on digital piracy and money laundering charges.Dotcom has denied the charges against him and is free on Bail in New Zealand in the run up to an extradition hearing scheduled in August. …
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