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Mother Agnes Discusses Evidence of Chemical Attack Videos Fabrication with al-Jadeed TV - Part 1 and 2


Christian nun, Mother Agnes Mariam, who heads the convent of St. Jacob in the Damascus countryside, has collected evidence of fabrication based on the 13 videos that the US administration used to blame the chemical attacks in Eastern Ghouta on August 21, 2013 on the Syrian government. This evidence is discussed with al-Jadeed TV in Lebanon, as it relates to the unusually large number of parentless and unknown children that were victims of the attack in conjunction with the shifting of locations where the suffocating children were filmed within a short period of time.

Source: al-Jadeed TV (Lebanon)




Part 1

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Part 2

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Related:

President al-Assad interview with TeleSUR TV

Sep 26, 2013

Damascus, SANA: President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Latin America TeleSUR TV channel.

Following is the full text of the interview:

TeleSUR: Welcome TeleSUR viewers to this special program covering the events in Syria. Our distinguished guest has managed to capture the attention of the whole world – President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. President, thank you for giving this interview to TeleSUR, which we hope will provide an opportunity for our viewers in Latin America to understand your perspective and your views. Welcome to the program.

President Assad: I would like to welcome you and TeleSUR in Syria and to extend my good wishes to you on your recovery from your leg injury. I believe that my interview with a journalist who has witnessed terrorism first hand will be pragmatic and rich. Once again, I welcome you as a journalist whose blood has been mixed with the blood of soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army.

TeleSUR: Thank you. Indeed, there are many common factors between us, including this blood. You mentioned terrorism - a car bomb exploded in Damascus yesterday, killing and injuring many civilians. What is the terrorist’s message particularly in these circumstances facing Syria and the world? And how do you see the current efforts to confront terrorism in Syria?

President Assad: These terrorists have only one message, which is the dark ideology they carry in their minds; for them, all those who do not think like them do not deserve to live. Every so often, they carry out these acts of terror to either attract people to their cause or to frustrate them. In other words, they want people to lose hope - and when you lose hope, life has no meaning. So in one way or another you become closer to them. From another perspective, these terrorist operations are financed, planned and instigated by people outside Syria with the aim of pushing Syrians towards complete despair, making them believe that there is no hope in their homeland and that the Syria which has existed for centuries no longer exists. Loss of hope pushes people towards defeat, which in turn makes them stop defending their country. What you saw yesterday was only one of hundreds of attempts in that direction; in fact they have all had the opposite effect - Syrians today are more committed than ever before to defending their country.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis the US policy has been based on lies

TeleSUR: Mr. President, yesterday we heard US President Barack Obama speech reflecting on what the United States has done in different parts of the world, he spoke specifically about the situation in Syria; Syria was also a major issue at the United Nations. President Obama, more or less agreed on the need for a political solution in Syria, however, he called on the United Nations or the Security Council to pass a tough resolution against Syria and against your government if you do not continue to fulfill requirements of the chemical weapons agreement. He also stressed that, as far as the United States is concerned, your government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack against civilians.

President Assad: His speech yesterday was more of the same – full of allegations based on fabrications and lies. In general, most statements made by American officials, whether in the current or previous administrations, do not have the least bit of credibility. Their statements are often similar and repetitive, and as such we do not feel it is necessary to comment.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, American policy, whether knowingly or unknowingly, has been based on lies. I believe that they were aware of most of these lies, which increased in intensity, and the administration played a direct role in these fabrications after the chemical weapons issue was raised on August 21st. The administration has not provided any evidence to support its claims, which implies that it was lying to the American people. From the beginning, we challenged them to present their evidence, which they didn’t; when they failed to convince the American people of their allegations, they couldn’t retreat and so became more determined.

As for their talk about invoking Chapter Seven, this does not concern us in Syria. First since independence, it is well known that Syria has always committed to all agreements it signs. Second, today there is balance in the Security Council which prevents the United States - as was the case in the past, from using the Security Council as an instrument to achieve its special agendas, including toppling regimes and destroying states as was the case in 1990s. As I said, these American allegations are nonsense and have no realistic or logical foundation.

The actions of the US, through wars and interventions, completely contradict their interests

TeleSUR: Back to President Obama’s speech, we saw that he was confused and didn’t know what he wanted. Sometimes he speaks about the use of force and sometimes he speaks about a political solution. He says that the Israeli aggression against Syria is in defense of American interests in the region. What are America’s interests in the region, and what is it looking for in Syria? Taking into account what’s happening at the Security Council concerning Syria, are you able to rule out an American aggression against Syria?

President Assad: With regards to the contradiction you mentioned, this has become the hallmark of every statement made by every American official, be it the President, his Secretary of State or others. For instance, they say that Syria’s military capabilities do not pose any concern to the American army should it decide to carry out any military action or aggression against Syria; however, at the same time, they say that Syria is a threat to American national security. This is just one of many examples in this regard.

As for the possibility of an American aggression, if you look back at the wars waged by the United States and American policies - at least since the early 1950s, you find that it has always been a policy of one aggression after another - starting with Korea, then Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq; this is the American policy. We also cannot forget American policy in South America where it instigated military coups and caused the deaths of millions; tens of governments were toppled as a result of American policy. For decades this has been their policy, which continues today - unchanged, it is also unlikely to change in light of the current American domestic situation. So the possibility of aggression is always there, this time the pretext is chemical weapons, next time it will be something else.

The more important element in all of this is that for decades, the United States has been superseding the Security Council, superseding the UN Charter, superseding the sovereignty of states and superseding all human and moral conventions. So, maybe all of us in the world need to keep this possibility in our minds - and this what we are doing in Syria. Is there a possibility of aggression? It might not be now, but nobody knows when it could happen. It remains a possibility, and we shouldn’t rule it out.

As for the interests of the United States, I believe that for decades, the actions of the United States, through wars and interventions, completely contradict their interests. It is a superpower and as such has political, economic, military and other interests. It can achieve these interests through mutual respect, good relations, trust, credibility and promoting science and knowledge instead of spreading terrorism, destruction and fear. There’s no doubt that as a superpower it has interests. Most of the big powers have interests around the world, but these interests need to be based on achieving stability in the world first. You cannot have any interests in an unstable region full of wars and terrorism. So yes, it has interests, but everything the United States is doing and all its policies, contradict its interests and the interests of the American people.

Violence destroys any chance for political action

TeleSUR: As Your Excellency said, the speech of the American President is in line with this great degree of contradiction, which characterizes the American empire. Yesterday he talked about a political and peaceful solution for the Syrian crisis; nevertheless he left the door open for you to step down. He literally said that the time has come for Russia and Iran to know that President Assad remaining in power means giving extremist groups a wider space to step up their activities. What do you think of what Obama said, and do you consider it likely that you will step down?


President Assad: As for your first point, this is another example of American contradictions; it’s like saying that we are seeking war and peace on the same issue and we are using the same roadmap to resolve the matter. This logic means promoting violence in the world and legitimizing violence as a means to reach a political solution. This is illogical. There is nothing in common between violence and political action. Violence destroys any chance for political action. We reject this logic, which the United States has recently tried to promote in order to justify aggression on Syria.

As to the question of stepping down, American officials - or some of their European allies, have been raising this issue for over a year. It doesn’t concern us for a simple reason: Syria has been independent for generations - for more than five decades, the United States has not toppled a president in Syria and has not brought any official to a position of power. So the United States cannot presume now that it has the right to decide, on behalf of the Syrian people who is in power and who isn’t. This issue is decided upon one hundred percent by the wishes of the Syrian people; even friendly countries have no say in this matter. This is determined by the desires of the Syrian people, which are solely expressed through the ballot box. When the Syrian people don’t want you, you should leave immediately; and the opposite is true. Regardless of what the United States says or does in this regard, it has no role whatsoever. That’s why these statements are of no significance to us.

The world is better when the United States stops interfering

TeleSUR: Let’s finish this discussion about Obama with what he said: “the world is better now thanks to the United States.” How do you think that the world is better thanks to the United States?

President Assad: Let’s talk about facts. Has Iraq become better with the American presence? Has Afghanistan become better? Is the situation in Libya better? Is the situation in Tunisia better? Is the situation in Syria better? In which country is the situation better? Was Vietnam better when the Americans interfered or when it was left alone to become independent and develop on its own? Look at the situation in South America: is it better now or when the United States used to interfere? The truth is that the world is better when the United States stops interfering – we don’t want it to help anyone. He (Obama) said yesterday “we cannot solve the problems of the whole world” - well, I say that it is better if the United States does not solve the problems of the world. In every place it tried to do something, the situation went from bad to worse. What we want from the United States is for it not to interfere in the affairs of other countries, then, the world will certainly be better.

However, if he meant that the spread of terrorism everywhere is better, this confirms what some Americans are saying in the American media - that the Obama policy is based on supporting extremism and terrorism. If this is the case, then what he said in this regard was accurate - that the world is better because of the spread of terrorism throughout the world.

The Iranian position towards the Syrian crisis is very objective

TeleSUR: Did you found anything new in Obama’s position towards President Rohani when he quoted President Rohani as saying that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis, and that the chemical weapons were passed to the armed groups fighting in Syria by Western countries? And how do you see President Rohani’s position when he calls for the cessation of financing and arming of the opposition?

President Assad: The Iranian position towards the Syrian crisis is very objective because they know the reality of what is happening in Syria. At the same time, they understand that this is one region, and consequently if there is a fire in Syria, it is bound to spread to neighboring countries and later to countries further away, including Iran. Iran bases its policies on these foundations and also on the grounds that it is the Syrian people’s right to solve their own problems.

As to American remarks on the Iranian position: first, as I said before, regardless of whether American statements are positive or negative, whether they praise, criticize, condemn or denounce - nobody believes them. In the same token, the Iranians are not naive to be deceived by the American position; Iran’s experience is similar to Syria’s experience with successive American administrations, at least since the Islamic Revolution in Iran. That’s why what concerns us is not the American remarks, what is important for us is the essence of Iranian policy towards Syria; and once again I stress that in essence it is objective and achieves stability for our region, if different parties in Syria have adopted the Iranian vision.

TeleSUR: In fact, in Iranian statements at the United Nations, there was a proposal about Iran’s relations with the United States to the effect that a meeting will be held between the Iranian president and the American administration. Such meetings have not taken place for a long time. How do you see the rapprochement? Is the United States really engaging Iran, or is it just an attempt to push Syria’s friends away from it? Or is this position another way of saying that the United States has no choice but negotiations rather than the use of force to protect its interests?

President Assad: First, unfortunately even the United States’ closest allies do not trust them; so the Iranian-American rapprochement does not mean that Iran trusts the United States. Our relations with the United States have been through various stages of ups and downs, but trust has never existed at any of these stages. However, in politics, you need to try all methods and means and to knock on all doors in order to reduce tension in the world. So, communication and dialogue are necessary in relations between states. We believe that the rapprochement between Iran and the United States, whether regarding the Iranian nuclear program or regarding anything else, is positive and good for the region, if the United States has a real and genuine desire to deal with mutual respect with Iran, not to interfere in its domestic affairs, and not to prevent it from acquiring nuclear technology.

On the other hand, I can’t imagine that the United States has abandoned its principle of resorting to military force. I think the opposite is true; when the United States saw that it had competitors on the international arena - or let’s say partners, if not competitors, in the form of great and emerging powers in the world, - it started to resort more to the principle of force, although this same administration was elected on the basis of rejecting the Bush doctrine of using force; now, it returns to the same doctrine. I believe that they are trying to co-opt the Iranian position as they tried to do with Syria a few years ago, but the Iranians are fully aware of this game.

TeleSUR: Mr. President, going back to Syria and the chemical weapons issue. What are the real guarantees provided by your government that the list you submitted on your chemical arsenal is truly representative of the weapons you possess? And what are the guarantees you provide to the UN investigators in order that they do their job, inspect the sites and put the chemical weapons under international control?

President Assad: Our relationship on this issue will be with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Syria is not required to provide guarantees to the world or to the organization, it is required to deal with specific mechanisms or to abide by specific mechanisms stipulated in the chemical weapons convention. And as I said before, Syria is committed to all agreements it signs.

Syria has recently sent the required data to the OPCW. Shortly, OPCW’s experts will visit Syria to familiarize themselves with the status of these weapons. As a government, we do not have any serious obstacles. However, there is always the possibility that the terrorists will obstruct the work of the investigators in order to prevent them from reaching the identified sites, either because they have their own motives or because they are acting on instructions from the states that support and finance them. Either way, we expect that their objective is to blame the Syrian government for not cooperating with the investigators. But as far as we are concerned as a government, we have no problem with agreeing to the mechanisms provided by in this agreement.

It was the Syrian government who invited the investigators to come to Syria last March

TeleSUR: The international investigators will return to Damascus today to identify other places where there were allegations that chemical weapons were used, in addition to the August 21st incident. What are your government’s guarantees that the investigators will do their job freely and independently?

President Assad: This group hasn’t come to Syria on the initiative of the United Nations or any other country. It was the Syrian government who invited the investigators to come to Syria last March, when the terrorists used toxic gases in an Aleppo suburb in the north. In fact, it was the United States that created obstacles in order to prevent them from coming. We invited them, since we have an interest in their visit in order to determine the truth about the use of chemical agents in Syria. So, it is illogical for us to invite them and create obstacles to prevent them from doing their work. Even when the mission left Syria a few weeks ago, we had wanted them to complete their visits to the areas where chemical weapons had allegedly been used; it was the United States that insisted on them leaving before they had completed their mission. Now that they have returned, the Syrian government certainly supports their mission. And as I already mentioned, there are no obstacles except when the terrorists obstruct the work of the mission, particularly in the places where terrorists exist in large numbers.

TeleSUR: Despite the allegations that it was the Syrian government who used chemical weapons, the Russian government provided the United Nations with evidence that it was the armed groups who used the chemical weapons. What evidence do you have? And what is the Russian and Syrian government doing in order to prove that it was the terrorist groups and not the Syrian government who used chemical weapons?

President Assad: Of course we have both evidence and indicators. As for the evidence, when toxic gasses were used in Khan al-Assal, we took samples from the soil, blood samples from the victims, and also pieces from the projectiles used to carry the toxic material to that region. Later on, during operations carried out by the Syrian Army, a number of hiding places were discovered housing different sized containers filled with chemical agents - and in some cases toxic materials, as well as the instruments required to manufacture them. We provided the evidence to the Russian government before the UN mission came to Syria. We also have the confessions of the terrorists who brought some chemical agents from neighboring countries into Syria. These confessions were broadcast on television about a week ago.

Why the Syrian government did not use these materials?. First, the Syrian forces were making progress: they did not use them a year ago, when the terrorists were much stronger, so why should they use them now? The Syrian forces did not use them in remote areas where there are a much larger number of terrorists than in Damascus suburbs, so why should they use them here? You can’t use these materials in residential areas where they likely to kill tens of thousands and not only several hundreds or a thousand. You cannot use them in places close to your own forces - Syrian soldiers, because the soldiers themselves will be killed. So, logically, practically, militarily, they can’t be used in such conditions.

In any case, when you have a crime, one of the first questions a detective asks is who has an interest in using these weapons, or who has an interest in this crime. It is very clear that the terrorists have an interest in this crime, particularly when these allegations coincide with the investigating team’s mission to Syria. Can you really believe that the Syrian government invites an investigation mission, only to use chemical weapons so that the mission can investigate their use? This is unbelievable, totally illogical. All the indicators show that the Syrian government did not use them, and all tangible evidence shows that it was the terrorists who used the chemical weapons near Damascus.

TeleSUR: In this context, what was the role of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in bringing these chemical weapons to the armed groups?

President Assad: To be precise, we have no evidence that they passed chemical weapons to these groups. But it is well-known that these countries have been supporting the terrorists since the beginning of the crisis in Syria. They have, without exception, provided them with all kinds of sophisticated weapons; this is certain and well-documented. So, it is to be expected - that when these countries openly and publically support these groups and provide them with all kinds of weaponry, it is to be expected - that they are accused, especially Saudi Arabia, of delivering these types of materials to the terrorists to be used against the Syrian Army.

This is all the more so, since these terrorist groups have failed to present to their masters outside Syria with any real achievements militarily on the ground. Of course, they have been able to destroy a lot in Syria; they have destroyed the infrastructure, they have affected the economy, and they have affected the life of civilians in a very negative way. We have no doubt that these terrorist groups have caused a great deal of suffering, but I’m referring here to military achievement in line with the objectives that were given to them. In this regard, they failed miserably, so they had to resort to a different kind of weapon. By using these weapons, they would either defeat the Syrian Army or apply political pressure to reach an agreement on foreign intervention so that the United States and its allies can launch an aggression against Syria and weaken the Syrian Army. Of course, the second option is the more likely scenario.

Israel is an aggressive state. It was created based on expansion

TeleSUR: There is a chessboard under the table. It’s known that there are agreements done under the table, and someone is moving the pieces under the table, and that someone is Israel. Israel has a role in what is happening in Syria. Why are they talking about chemical weapons in Syria and nuclear weapons in Iran while not talking about the Israeli nuclear weapons?

President Assad: Israel is an aggressive state. It was created based on expansion. It occupies other people’s land and kills the people surrounding it. It has killed numerous Palestinians for over six decades. It killed numerous Lebanese and many Egyptians, Syrians and others using assassinations, bombing, terrorism and other methods. Today it plays the same role by supporting the terrorists directly in the areas adjacent to the Syrian front, i.e. near the occupied Golan, where it provides them with logistic and medical support and also with information, weapons and ammunition.

TeleSUR: There are also reports that Israel has oil interests in some Syrian regions?

President Assad: This has been reported, particularly concerning oil on the Eastern Mediterranean coast, but these are mere analysis and we have no concrete information. As for Israeli nuclear weapons, as you said, nobody talks about them because Israel, the aggressive state, the rogue state, enjoys full support from the United States in all its policies. It covers up all its crimes. As long as this process of covering up continues inside the United States, in the Security Council and the United Nations, in the international organizations, including the IAEA, it’s no longer surprising that any weapon anywhere in the world can be discussed, but not Israeli weapons. This is the prevailing logic in the world, the logic of hegemony, of colonialism, the logic of force.

Dialogue is inevitable among Syrians, all Syrian parties about the future of Syria

TeleSUR: Mr. President, while they are trying to reach a political solution for the crisis at an international level, what are you doing inside Syria in order to reduce the tension? Are there any attempts to engage the different parties in Syria? Is there any hope of an internal solution in Syria leading to the Geneva conference?


President Assad: No matter how intense the terrorist operations become, and how bad the situation is, we should continue to initiate political action to solve any problem. We believe in this and have pursued it from the very beginning, despite the recent escalation of terrorist acts. Political action requires, first of all, putting an end to smuggling terrorists from neighboring countries and stopping the support for these terrorists with weapons, money, and all the logistical support necessary to help them carry out their terrorist operations.

At the same time, dialogue is inevitable among Syrians, all Syrian parties about the future of Syria. This dialogue should start with the political system in the country: which system do the Syrians want, and consequently address the laws and regulations that stem from that system. There are many other elements and details: when the Syrians at the table reach a certain conclusion, it should be presented to the Syrian people for approval through a popular referendum. Now, the Geneva conference is an important venue, and it provides an opportunity for dialogue among the different Syrian constituents. Of course, we do not assume that the terrorists who carried out acts of killing will attend, neither do we accept that dialogue can be conducted with entities which called for foreign intervention. By law, and judging by the popular sentiment in Syria, those who called for foreign intervention are traitors and cannot be accepted by anyone.

As for the principle of the Geneva conference, it is an important and necessary step towards paving the way for dialogue between Syrian constituents. But the Geneva conference cannot replace internal Syrian dialogue, and certainly it does not replace the opinion of the people, which should be determined through a referendum. These are the broad lines of our vision for political action to solve the Syrian crisis; all these elements will not achieve any real results on the ground if support for terrorism is not stopped.

TeleSUR: You stressed that you’ll not negotiate with the armed groups and the terrorists in Geneva. Who are the parties with whom you will negotiate? How can this dialogue be achieved on the international level, and what is the timeframe for achieving a political solution for the Syrian crisis?

The parties outside Syria do not represent the Syrian people

President Assad: I can answer the part of the question that is related to the parties inside Syria, which represent the Syrian people. There are different types of parties – opposition parties, parties in the middle, or parties supporting the state. With regards to the parties outside Syria, we need to ask the states that support them because these states, - the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others – have propped up these individuals who do not represent the Syrian people. If these states tell them to go to Geneva, they will go; they will say and do as they are told. If we want to have an answer to this part of the question, we need to ask those states whether they intend to send these individuals or not, because they do not represent the Syrian people, neither the Syrian people nor the Syrian government will be sending them. This is why I have said that by dialogue, I mean engaging with the various opposition groups, basically, based in Syria as well as other influencers and movements that do not necessarily belong to the opposition.

TeleSUR: I cannot finish this interview without mentioning the leader Hugo Chavez who visited Syria and went with you to Maaloula, which only a few days ago suffered an attack carried out by extremists. When he was in Maaloula, President Chavez said “Nothing human or humanitarian can be used to justify an attack and an aggression against Syria. How can we not support the Syrian government? How can we not support the government of President Bashar al-Assad?” How can they support armed groups?” Could you please give us your impressions and your recollections of President Chavez’s visit to Syria? And what do you think of the position of Venezuela and the ALBA countries in defending freedom and defending Syria and the rights of the Syrian people?

President Assad: We have always said that the developing world, of which we are both a part of, has been through a number of stages in its pursuit of independence. The first stage was with the evacuation of foreign forces from our occupied countries, which most countries have been able to achieve through their independence. The second stage, which is more important, is the independence of political, economic and military decisions - the independence of national decision-making so to speak. This was achieved in Latin and Central America in the past two decades. There were two symbols for this independence: President Castro - five decades ago, and President Chavez. When we remember President Chavez, we remember this second stage because the endeavors we are facing in our region, in the Middle East, are similar to those that you went through earlier in Latin America.

When you achieved independent national decision-making, the situation in South America, and even Central America, became much better and political stability started to yield economic benefits. When you started economic development, some countries emerged as industrial powers and have become important economic powers. This is the natural outcome of independence. To date in the Arab region, we have barely achieved minimum independent political decision-making and in a limited number of countries. The conflict with the West now is in part related to this point, in other words, gaining independent national decision-making. I believe that South America in general, Venezuela and President Chavez, and before him President Castro, are important role models to be followed on the road towards independence and freedom sought by nations trying to shrug off Western hegemony in the form of long decades of direct colonization and, today, indirect colonization.

There are many similarities in temperament, in emotions and in the warmth felt by citizens of the same nation in your country and in ours. There are also similarities in our histories. President Chavez and President Castro aside, there are many presidents in Latin America today walking the same line of President Chavez.

But, I would also like to especially mention my friend and brother President Maduro whom I know through a number of meetings, during my visit to Venezuela and his visits to Syria. We are very happy that the Venezuelan people decided to choose this person to represent and enforce the political line taken by the President Chavez. He is a resilient and proud leader who has a clear understanding of our region; I am sure that he will continue to lead Venezuela to the path of independence. We all know that the United States and some of its allies had great hopes that Venezuela will return to America’s embrace in the absence of President Chavez. With President Maduro at the helm, these dreams have evaporated. I believe that as Arab states, we should follow the path of Latin America if we want to make a mark in the world, to be independent and advanced.

We are defending the future of our children and the future of the whole region

TeleSUR: Thank you very much, Mr. President for everything you have said, give us one last message to Latin America: will Syria remain steadfast? Will she triumph?

President Assad: Had we had other choices but to stand fast, I would have shared them with you, but we have no other choice but to stand fast because the political future of this region is tied to what is happening in Syria. We are not only defending Syria, or just our interests and principles, we are defending the future of our children and the future of the whole region - and this region is the heart of the world. An unstable Middle East undermines the stability of the world, even remote parts of the world. We cannot refer today far away regions like Latin America, North America or East Asia; the world today is a small village, and what’s happening in Syria will affect the surrounding region. What happens in this region will affect the remotest part of the world. I don’t want to say that we want the peoples of Latin America to support our causes, because they always support Arab causes with no less warmth and objectivity than our own people who live in this region and belong to these causes. We hope to enhance this relationship between us in order to enlarge the space of independence and reduce the space of colonization represented by the West and the United States in particular.

TeleSUR: Thank you very much, Mr. President. This was a special interview with His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad. Thank you to our friends in TeleSUR and in Latin America for staying with us. Be sure that our objective at TeleSUR is to bring people together.

President Assad: Thank you.

--
SOURCE | http://sana.sy/eng/21/2013/09/26/504399.htm



Syrian rebels accused of killing hundreds of civilians


Human Rights Watch says militant groups slaughtered villagers and took others hostage in attacks on Latakia in August

Jonathan Steele and agency theguardian.com, Friday 11 October 2013


WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES. Human Rights Watch video on the claims of civilian killings in Latakia.

Syrian rebels killed at least 190 civilians and took more than 200 hostage during an offensive in Latakia province in August, Human Rights Watch said on Friday, in what it calls the first evidence of crimes against humanity by opposition forces.

HRW said many of the dead had been executed by militant groups, some linked to al-Qaida, who overran army positions at dawn on 4 August and then moved into 10 villages nearby where members of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect lived.

In its first government-sanctioned trip into Syria during the two-and-a-half year conflict, New York-based HRW has documented a series of sectarian mass killings by Assad's foes during a broader campaign in which Western-backed rebels took part.

In some cases, entire families were executed or gunned down as they fled, according to the HRW report You Can Still See Their Blood.

HRW identified five rebel groups instrumental to funding, organising, planning and carrying out the Latakia attacks, including the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant groups, as well as the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and another unit of foreign jihadi fighters.

These groups publicised their involvement through videos and statements, some of which were used to corroborate the HRW report. The operation appeared to have been largely financed by private Gulf-based donors, HRW said.

What is less clear is the role of fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the armed wing of the main opposition coalition which is openly supported by the United States, Britain, France and Sunni Muslim Gulf states.

In a video posted on 11 August and apparently filmed in Latakia, FSA chief Salim Idriss said the organisation was taking part in the offensive "to a great extent".

But HRW researcher Lama Fakih, who spent several days in Latakia province in September and spoke to residents, soldiers, militiamen, doctors and officials, said she could not confirm whehter the FSA were present on the day the atrocities took place.

Assad's forces are also accused by rights groups of committing atrocities and using incendiary and cluster bombs in populated areas. They have carried out sectarian attacks, including killing up to 450 civilians in two massacres in mainly Sunni Muslim areas in May, according to United Nations officials.

The opposition and rights groups accuse Damascus of a chemical weapons strike in a Damascus suburb on 21 August that killed hundreds of civilians. The government blames the attack on rebels.

Reuters was unable to get comment from all 20 rebel groups mentioned in the HRW report. Syrian National Coalition spokesman Khaled Saleh said the SNC condemned all human rights abuses and if any had been committed by rebels affiliated with the coalition, they would face justice.

In a written statement to Reuters, Saleh said: "We have previously committed ourselves to applying these rules on all the brigades that work for us and we will hold accountable, after investigation and fair trial, all those responsible for violations against human rights or international laws. The incidents in Latakia are not an exception and we will treat them as we treated previous cases."

A member of the Sunni Islamist Ahrar al-Sham said its fighters had killed no civilians in the offensive.

"If someone uses a weapon against you, you have to fight them. If they do not, you must not kill them," said Abu Muhammed al-Husseini, the 30-year-old head of Ahrar al-Sham's political office in Raqqa.

Lama Fakih, the Syria and Lebanon researcher in HRW's Middle East and North Africa division, told Reuters in reference to the Latakia operation by rebels: "Homes were destroyed and burned. Most villagers had not returned."

Fakih met Hassan Shebli, an Alawite man from the village of Barouda, who fled his village at 4.30am on 4 August as rebels approached. He left his wife, who was in her 60s and needed canes to walk, and his son, 23, who was paralysed, Fakih said.

Shebli said they were both killed and buried behind his house. Fakih visited the house and saw bullet holes in the son's bed frame. "I was able to see the blood splattered on the wall," she said, showing a picture of the room.

Rebel footage posted on the internet showed images of Shebli's son and wife with rebel fighters during the operation.

The scale and organisation of the attacks on civilians suggested premeditation and made them a crime against humanity, HRW said, rather than isolated war crimes reported during the Syrian civil war. The United Nations says the conflict has killed more than 100,000 people.

"These abuses were not the actions of rogue fighters," said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at HRW. "This operation was a co-ordinated, planned attack on the civilian population in these Alawite villages."

Residents who returned to the villages said they found bodies of their neighbours on the streets and in their homes, as well as in piles of burnt corpses and in mass graves, Fakih said.

Syria's mainly Sunni Muslim rebels are battling to overthrow Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shia Islam and accounts for about 12% of Syria's 23 million people.

The Latakia offensive ended on 18 August, when the government regained control of the area. Rebels told Reuters in August that about 200 of Assad's men were killed at the start of the offensive.

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SOURCE | http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/11/syrian-rebels-accused-killing-civilians-latakia

Syrian forces capture US Satcom gear

By Grae Stafford  17/10/2013


Highly sophisticated U.S.-branded satellite communications equipment has been discovered in a Syrian rebel arms cache captured by Syrian Arab Army (SAA) forces.The report from Arabic RTV describes it as an ”American made communication systems” and the video shows branded Hughes products with “Assembled in the U.S.A.” inscribed on them.

A longtime military communications expert who requested anonymity told The Daily Caller the equipment seems to be a remote access array that is not classified or very valuable, although the model is not clear from the pictures.

“The equipment is for remote satellite internet access through HughesNet,” this expert told The DC.  “[It is] not classified or expensive…about $900 plus monthly access fee. If I had to guess, the equipment was provided to Syrian rebels by the agency and the Syrian military recovered the gear after overrunning a rebel command site.  If there was a classified piece, it would have been an encryption device that could have easily been removed.”

Hughes is a Maryland-based company that specializes in satellite broadband and communications systems. The hardware and systems it builds, and what appears to be depicted in the RTV video, are designed to provide high-speed voice and data communication in locations without a working infrastructure, such as after a natural disaster, or in a war zone.

Hughes sells a variety of different options and models to commercial, government and military buyers but they all work on the same principle. Once they have been connected to a power source they are able to connect to the internet via satellite. Some of the models provide basic internet. Others provide wifi to enable multiple devices to connect.

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SOURCE | http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/17/syrian-forces-capture-us-satcom-gear-video/

Doctors Without Borders Aiding Globalists in Syria

by Brandon Turbeville | http://www.activistpost.com

"Humanitarian Aid"
Anthony Freda Art

As fighting continues to rage across Syria, Doctors Without Borders (DWB) is now calling for “greater access for humanitarian aid to Syrians suffering in their country’s civil war” and urging the international community to show as much urgency in regard to humanitarian aid as it did to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons.

Of course, it should be noted immediately that the conflict in Syria is not so much a civil war but an invasion of foreign forces put together from all over the world and funded by the Anglo-American powers. Moreover, it should also be pointed out that, during the international hysteria over Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, there has never been even one shred of evidence suggesting that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against civilians or even against the deaths squads running rampant and inflicting terror upon the Syrian people.

Regardless, the General Director for Doctors Without Borders Christopher Stokes, stated to AP that "You have an industrial-scale war, but you have a very kind of small-scale humanitarian response. There is a recognition that greater humanitarian access is needed for life-saving assistance, but at the same time we don't see the mobilization."

Although the United Nations council issued a call for immediate access to all areas inside Syria, including in conflict areas and across battle lines, there still exists a number of obstacles to actually getting that aid to the people who may need it.

The AP report continued by stating,
Stokes said the aid community has long been told that it's impossible to grant full access to all regions affected by the fighting, and that "one side is always blaming the other" for the impasse. 
But the recent agreement to grant international inspectors unfettered access to every site linked to Syria's chemical weapons program "has shown is that it is possible, if the international political willingness is there, to grant access and free movement to aid agencies to go into these enclaves," Stokes said. 
"Cease-fires could be organized as was done to allow chemical weapons inspectors in, they could be organized to allow in medical convoys," he said.
Yet, while Stokes claims that part of the difficulty in providing aid to suffering Syrians is because “one side is always blaming the other” and therefore hindering the delivery, it should be noted that not only does the responsibility for the entire conflict rest on the shoulders of the death squads, but that it is not the Assad government who has captured and kidnapped aid workers – it is only the death squads who have been guilty of this crime. Thus, the responsibility regarding the hindrance of aid deliverability should fall on the shoulders of the death squads as well.

It is true, however, that the Syrian government has not granted DWB permission to operate inside Syria at this time. However, there may be a more justifiable reason for Assad’s refusal to allow the organization to set up camp in Syria than first meets the eye.

This is because Doctors Without Borders, along with several other internationally recognized and renowned human rights and medical charity organizations, have been clearly implicated in their cooperation with Anglo-American interests in the ginning up of a case for Western military action against Syria by misreporting and even outright lying in regards to massacres having taken place inside the country.

Indeed, DWB is maintaining a highly questionable operation in Syria – with aid distribution almost exclusively established within “rebel controlled” areas, thus allowing the death squads to soak up much of the humanitarian supply line.

Even in the AP report, DWB admits that it is currently operating six “field hospitals” in “rebel-controlled” areas and is supporting medical facilities in both areas that are controlled by the death squads and the government. Still, both the AP report and DWB imply that the Assad government is to blame by suggesting that it is stalling further aid to the Syrian people – despite recent events which prove quite the opposite.

It is important to point out, as Tony Cartalucci has done in his excellent article “’Doctors’ Behind Syrian Chemical Weapons Claims are Aiding Terrorists,” that, despite media claims that DWB is “independent,” the fact is that the organization itself is being bankrolled by many of the financier interests that clearly support Western military action against Syria.

As Cartalucci writes,
To begin with, Doctors Without Borders is fully funded by the very same corporate financier interests behind Wall Street and London's collective foreign policy, including regime change in Syria and neighboring Iran. Doctors Without Borders'own annual report (2010 report can be accessed here), includes as financial donors, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, and a myriad of other corporate-financier interests. Doctors Without Borders also features bankers upon its Board of Advisers including Elizabeth Beshel Robinson of Goldman Sachs.In a telling interview with NPR, which Cartalucci partially quotes in his own article, the Executive Director of DWB, Stephen Cornish, admitted the fact that the organization largely has provided medical aid to the death squads not just as a matter of unbiased Hippocratic Oath-based treatment, but what appears to be a “rebel”-based program.

As Cornish revealed,
Over the past months, we've had a surgery that was opened inside a cave. We've had another that was opened in a chicken farm, a third one in a house. And these structures, we've tried to outfit them as best as we can with enough modern technology and with full medical teams. They originally were dealing mainly with combatant injuries and people who were - civilians who were directly affected by the conflict. [emphasis added]Even assuming that the “civilians” Cornish mentions are truly civilians, Cornish’s team has also been focused largely on “combatant injuries” which is an interesting focus considering that the teams are mainly located within death squad controlled territory.
Indeed, Cornish removes all doubt about whether or not the death squads are receiving priority care as the interview continues. Cornish states,
So it is very difficult for civilians to find care. And one of the difficulties also is that a number of smaller surgeries that have been set up are either overwhelmed with combatants or primarily taking care of combatants. And what we would certainly urge is that all surgeries and all health posts also are accommodating the civilian population.

BLOCK: You mean, in other words, that the fighters are getting priority for medical care and the civilians are suffering for that. 
 
CORNISH: Unfortunately, that is sometimes the reality on the ground. Some of the surgeries we visited, you could tell that because not only there were no civilians on the wards, but there were also no beds or toilet facilities for women. So it's kind of a dead giveaway. [emphasis added]
Tony Cartalucci expertly responds to the alleged “charity” provided by DWB when he writes,
In other words, the Wall Street-funded organization is providing support for militants armed and funded by the West and its regional allies, most of whom are revealed to be foreign fighters, affiliated with or directly belonging to Al Qaeda and its defacto political wing, the Muslim Brotherhood. This so-called "international aid" organization is in actuality yet another cog in the covert military machine being turned against Syria and serves the role as a medical battalion.
Indeed, following in the footsteps of corrupted and compromised “human rights” and “charity” organizations like Human Rights Watch (see here and here) and Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders is sacrificing whatever legitimacy and trustworthiness it ever had for the benefit of wealthy donors and their Anglo-American imperialist desires.

In polite society, it is incredibly difficult to criticize an organization that uses charity, real or imagined, as a cover for more nefarious means. Although Doctors Without Borders may have done legitimate work in the past, its current position as the medical wing of the Syrian destabilization will forever mar the organization, and it should therefore be discredited as a source of information from this point forward.

SOURCE http://www.activistpost.com/2013/10/doctors-without-borders-aiding.html

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Read other articles by Brandon Turbeville here.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius -- The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 275 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville's podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

Syria crisis: Guide to armed and political opposition


Guide to the Syrian rebels

There are believed to be as many as 1,000 armed opposition groups in Syria, commanding an estimated 100,000 fighters.
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Many of the groups are small and operate on a local level, but a number have emerged as powerful forces with affiliates across the country or formed alliances with other groups that share a similar agenda. The BBC News website looks at the most prominent.

MAIN REBEL COALITIONS

SUPREME MILITARY COUNCIL OF THE FREE SYRIAN ARMY
Leader: Brig Gen Salim Idris

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) was formed in August 2011 by army deserters based in Turkey, led by Col Riad al-Asaad. Its banner was soon adopted by armed groups that began appearing across the country. Despite this, the FSA's leaders had little or no operational control over what was happening on the ground in Syria. The opposition's Western and Gulf Arab backers sought to encourage a centralised rebel leadership and in December 2012 a number of brigades affiliated themselves to a newly-created Supreme Military Council (SMC). The SMC's chief-of-staff, Gen Idris, wants it to be a more moderate and stronger alternative to the jihadist rebel groups in Syria.


The SMC has 30 members, six representing each of five "fronts" in Syria - Northern (Aleppo and Idlib), Eastern (Raqqa, Deir al-Zour and Hassaka), Western (Hama, Latakia and Tartus), Central (Homs and Rastan) and Southern (Damascus, Deraa and Suwaida). Each front has a civilian-military council and a commander. The opposition National Coalition describes Gen Idris as the commander of the FSA, however observers have said the FSA is simply a loose network of brigades rather than a unified fighting force. Brigades supposedly report through the chain of command to Gen Idris, but he is yet to assert operational control and serves more as a spokesman and conduit for foreign funding and arms shipments. SMC-aligned brigades retain separate identities, agendas and commands. Some work with hardline Islamist groups that alarm the West, such as Ahrar al-Sham, and al-Qaeda-linked jihadists from the Nusra Front.


SMC AFFILIATES

Martyrs of Syria Brigades
Leader: Jamal Maarouf
Estimated number of fighters:7,000

Originally called the Martyrs of Jabal al-Zawiya Brigade, the group was formed in late 2011 in Idlib province. Although its name was changed in mid-2012 to the Martyrs of Syria Brigades to reflect the growing ambitions of its leader, its operations are still focused in north-western Syria. Unlike Suqour al-Sham (see below), which also hails from Jabal al-Zawiya and wants an Islamic state, the Martyrs of Syria Brigades reportedly ascribe to no particular ideology.

Northern Storm Brigade

The Northern Storm Brigade is an Islamist FSA unit that controls an important border crossing between Syria and Turkey. In September 2013, there were deadly clashes between the Northern Storm Brigade and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) after the jihadist group stormed the town of Azaz.

Ahrar Souriya Brigade

The Ahrar Souriya (Free Men of Syria) Brigade, which operates under the SMC, was set up by Col Qassem Saad al-Din, a former air force pilot from the northern town of Rastan.

SYRIAN ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT (SILF)
Leader: Ahmed Issa (Suqour al-Sham)
Claimed number of fighters: Between 35,000 and 40,000

The Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF) is a loose alliance formed in September 2012 by about 20 rebel groups, including the Farouq Brigades, the Islamic Farouq Brigades, Liwa al-Tawhid, Liwa al-Fath, Liwa al-Islam, Suqour al-Sham, and the Deir al-Zour Revolutionaries' Council. Most of the groups, which range from moderate Islamist to ultraconservative Salafist in outlook, recognise the FSA's Supreme Military Council. However, they are sceptical of the Western-backed opposition National Coalition. The SILF is active in Idlib, Aleppo, Damascus, Homs and Deir al-Zour provinces. The SILF has described itself as "the largest of the revolutionary coalitions" and it makes up the bulk of the SMC's fighting force.

Farouq Brigades
Leader: Osama Juneidi
Claimed number of fighters: 14,000

The Farouq Brigades first emerged in late-2011, and was involved in a failed rebel effort to repel a government offensive on the Baba Amr district of Homs in February 2012. Since then, it has grown into a powerful force with affiliates across the country. Its northern wing, Farouq al-Shamal, has a strong presence on the Syrian-Turkish border. The group has suffered repeated splits, with several leading figures expelled and offshoots formed, including the more hardline Islamic Farouq Brigades and the Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade. The Farouq Brigades' leader occupies senior positions in the SILF and SMC.

Suqour al-Sham
Leader: Sheikh Ahmed Issa
Claimed number of fighters: 9,000 to 10,000

Suqour al-Sham (Falcons of Syria), one the more hardline groups in the SILF, was formed in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of the north-western province of Idlib in September 2011. It has since grown in size and influence and expanded its operations into Aleppo and Damascus countryside provinces. Its commander is also the head of the SILF and a member of the SMC.

Liwa al-Tawhid
Leaders: Abdul Qadir al-Saleh and Abdul Aziz Salama
Estimated number of fighters: Between 8,000 and 10,000
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Liwa al-Tawhid (Battalion of Monotheism) was formed in July 2012 to unite the many separate fighting groups operating in the northern Aleppo countryside. It took control of part of the city of Aleppo after leading a rebel offensive that month. Liwa al-Tawhid is now one of the main forces operating in the province. It joined the SILF in January 2013. Its military leader is a former businessman known as "Hajji Marea" who is the SMC's assistant deputy chief of staff for the Northern Front. The group's political leader, known as "Hajji Anadan", read out a statement by 11 Islamist brigades in September 2013 declaring that they did not recognise the National Coalition and calling for the opposition to unite under an "Islamic framework".

Liwa al-Fath

Liwa al-Fath (Battalion of Conquest) operates mainly in the city of Aleppo and the surrounding countryside, as well as in Hassaka and Raqqa provinces, to the east. The group seeks to establish a "free Syria". In September 2013, it sent reinforcements to defend a key border crossing with Turkey when another SMC-affiliated group came under attack from jihadists in the northern town of Azaz.

JAYSH AL-ISLAM
Leader: Zahran Alloush (Liwa al-Islam)

Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) was formed by some 50 Islamist factions operating in and around Damascus in September 2013. Zahran Alloush, whose group Liwa al-Islam is the most prominent and powerful member of the alliance, said it had been formed to "achieve unity among the units of the mujahideen and avoid the effects produced by the divisions within the National Coalition". More than 30 of the brigades in Jaysh al-Islam were already operating under the banner of Liwa al-Islam. The others include Liwa Fath al-Sham, Liwa Tawhid al-Islam and Liwa al-Ansar. Jaysh al-Islam's formation is believed to have been an attempt by Saudi Arabia to counter the expanding presence of al-Qaeda affiliates around the Syrian capital, with Salafist groups being offered arms and money in return for loyalty. Zahran Alloush's father is a religious scholar based in the Gulf Kingdom.

Liwa al-Islam
Leader: Zahran Alloush
Estimated number of fighters: 9,000

Liwa al-Islam (Battalion of Islam) was founded in mid-2011 by Zahran Alloush, a Salafist activist who had been jailed by the authorities two years earlier. The group rose to prominence after claiming it was behind the bombing of the National Security Bureau's headquarters in Damascus in July 2012, which killed several senior security officials including the defence minister and President Assad's brother-in-law. However, some have alleged that the attack was an inside job. Liwa al-Islam is the leading rebel group in the east of the Ghouta agricultural belt around Damascus and is well-armed.

SYRIAN ISLAMIC FRONT (SIF)
Leader: Hassan Abboud (Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya)

The Syrian Islamic Front is a coalition of 11 hardline Islamist groups formed in December 2012. At the time, it suggested it had control of nearly 30,000 fighters. It has since become the most powerful rebel force battling the government, and it operates all over the country. The largest and dominant faction in the SIF is Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya, whose leader Hassan Abboud, also known as Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi, is the SIF's president. He was imprisoned by the Syrian authorities after taking part in the insurgency in neighbouring Iraq but released in early 2011 as part of an amnesty. Other members of the SIF include the Homs-based al-Haqq Brigade, the Ansar al-Sham Battalions from Idlib, the Jaysh al-Tawhid from Deir al-Zour and the Hama-based Mujahidi al-Sham Brigade. The SIF has remained independent and refuses to come under the umbrella of the SMC, but co-operates with SMC affiliates on the battlefield. The SIF also calls for the creation of a Sunni-led Islamic state and co-operates with al-Qaeda affiliates, but does not call for a global jihad.

Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya
Leader: Hassan Abboud
Estimated number of fighters: 10,000 to 20,000
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The Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant) is a Salafist group that first emerged in the north-western province of Idlib in late 2011 as Ahrar al-Sham and has since made a major impact on the battlefield. In January 2013, a month after it formed the SIF, the group claimed to operate 83 units across Syria, including the cities of Damascus and Aleppo. It merged with three other SIF groups to form Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya in February 2013. Its fighters are renowned for their discipline and ability. They were some of the first to use improvised explosive devices and to target military bases to capture weapons. In March, it led the rebel assault on the northern town of Raqqa. The group operates a "technical division" that carries out cyber-attacks and a "relief office" that runs social services and carries out public works in Raqqa and Aleppo.

INDEPENDENT GROUPS

Ahfad al-Rasoul Brigades
Leaders: Abu Osama al-Julani, Mohammed al-Ali and Maher al-Nuami
Estimated number of fighters: Between 7,000 and 9,000

The Ahfad al-Rasoul (Grandsons of the Prophet) Brigades are an alliance of more than 40 moderate Islamist groups formed in 2012. They operate across Syria, although their presence is strongest in the northern province of Idlib. The alliance is independent but aligned to the SMC, and has also been linked to Qatar and Western intelligence agencies. In August 2013, its fighters were forced from the northern town of Raqqa by ISIS.

Asala wa al-Tanmiya Front
Claimed manpower: 13,000 fighters and civilian personnel

The Asala wa al-Tanmiya (Authenticity and Growth) Front is a moderate Islamist alliance formed in November 2012. Its fighters are organised across five "fronts" covering most of Syria, but their presence is strongest in Aleppo, where the Nour al-Din al-Zinki Brigades operate, and in the tribal areas of the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, the power base of the Ahl al-Athar Brigade.

Durou al-Thawra Commission

The Durou al-Thawra (Revolution's Shields) Commission is an SMC-linked alliance of a few dozen small armed factions, most of them in Idlib and Hama provinces. It was set up in 2012 with the help of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. It describes itself as a moderate Islamic-democratic alliance. It acknowledges receiving support from the Brotherhood, but denies any direct link to it.

Tajammu Ansar al-Islam

Tajammu Ansar al-Islam (Gathering of the Supporters of Islam) was formed in mid-2012 by seven Damascus-based Islamist groups. However, it has since suffered several splits.

Yarmouk Martyrs' Brigade

The Yarmouk Martyrs' Brigade is a moderate Islamist group linked to the SMC that was formed in the southern province of Deraa in August 2012 through the merger of eight small units. Led by Bashar al-Zoubi, it operates mainly near Syria's borders with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where in March and May 2013 fighters briefly detained UN peacekeepers patrolling the demilitarised area.

National Unity Brigades
Estimated number of fighters: 2,000

The National Unity Brigades (Kataib al-Wihda al-Wataniya) were created in August 2012. It claims to have several units located in almost all of Syria's provinces and top operate "for the sake of a civil, democratic state for all ethnicities and social identities". The NUB operates mainly in the Jisr al-Shughour region of Idlib province and south of Damascus, but also in Jabal al-Zawiya, Deraa and Deir al-Zour. Some fighters are reported to be from the minority Alawite and Ismaili sects.

JIHADIST GROUPS

Al-Nusra Front
Leader: Abu Mohammed al-Julani
Estimated number of fighters: 5,000 to 7,000














The Nusra (Support) Front for the People of the Levant, is a jihadist group believed to have been created in mid-2011 with the help of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), a militant umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). It declared its existence in January 2012 and has since emerged as one of the most effective rebel forces. Its fighters are active in 11 of Syria's 14 provinces, particularly Idlib, Aleppo and Deir al-Zour. Initially, the group was blamed for dozens of suicide bombings in major city centres, killing many civilians. Later, its disciplined and well-armed fighters began to take part in regular rebel operations, then major offensives. Today, they control territory in northern Syria. The US designated al-Nusra a terrorist entity in December 2012, saying it was an "alias" of AQI. In April 2013, the head of the ISI, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the merger of his group and al-Nusra, creating the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). However, al-Nusra's leader Abu Mohammed al-Julani - another former insurgent in Iraq released in 2011 by the Syrian government - swiftly rejected the move and asserted his allegiance to al-Qaeda's overall leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Since then, al-Nusra and ISIS have operated as separate entities, with large numbers of foreign fighters joining the latter. Like Ahrar al-Sham, al-Nusra has sought to build popular support by providing social services and carrying out public works.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)
Leader: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Estimated number of fighters: 3,000 to 5,000
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The creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in April 2013 was rejected by the al-Nusra Front. ISI's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, known as Abu Dua, nevertheless pressed ahead with expanding its operations into Syria. In August 2013, US intelligence assessed that he was based in Syria and commanded as many 5,000 fighters, many of them foreign jihadists. The group is active mostly in northern and eastern provinces of Syria. It has assumed joint control of municipalities in Aleppo, Idlib and Raqqa provinces. ISIS has taken part in a number of major rebel operations, including by carrying out suicide bombings that helped capture two military bases. But it has also had tense relationships with other rebel groups, including those considered Islamist. Its fighters reportedly recently killed a prominent member Ahrar al-Sham, and have clashed with those from Ahfad al-Rasoul in Raqqa and the Northern Storm Brigade in Azaz. They have also targeted Shia and Alawite civilians.

Jaysh al-Muhajirin wa al-Ansar

Jaysh al-Muhajirin wa al-Ansar (Army of the Emigrants and Helpers) is a group comprising hundreds of mostly foreign fighters, many of them from the North Caucasus, that was formed in March 2013 by several jihadist units. The group, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Syria, operates mostly in Aleppo province, but says it is also fighting in Hama and Latakia. It is led by a Chechen jihadist called Abu Omar al-Shishani, who has aligned himself with ISIS.


KURDISH GROUPS

Popular Protection Units (YPG)
Political leader: Salih Muslim (PYD)
Claimed number of fighters: 10,000 to 15,000














The Popular Protection Units is the armed wing of the Kurdish political party, the Democratic Unity Party (PYD), an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that runs the de facto autonomous Kurdish zone in north-eastern Syria. The YPG emerged as a force in the summer of 2012 when the Syrian army withdrew from Kurdish areas and it sought to provide security. The PYD has tried to keep the Kurds out of the conflict and consolidate its territorial gains. However, there has been occasional fighting with government troops, and since November 2012 also deadly clashes between the YPG and rebel fighters - particularly those from Islamist and jihadist brigades - over control of several border towns and parts of the city of Aleppo. The Syrian rebels and the Turkish government have accused the Kurdish group of acting as an Assad proxy.

Research by Lina Sinjab, David Gritten, James Longman, Faisal Irshaid

A Critique of the Report of the UN Mission to Investigate the Use of Sarin in Damascus - Syria





"I have a PhD in pharmacology, and, to be honest, it doesn't come in handy all that often. But it did this time. For the life of me, as a pharmacologist, I could not understand how anyone could look at those vids flooding out of Syria on Aug 21 and conclude that the victims had been gassed with sarin. Even if one accepted that there was a CW attack, the agent that was used could have been any of a dozen or twenty different possible agents.

Without the perpetrators themselves telling you what agent they used, there was no way to know it was sarin without some pretty serious chemical analyses. How could these insurgents be so certain within a couple of hours of the attack that the agent was sarin unless they had been told by those responsible, where “those responsible” is a PC euphemism for “the colon-scum who killed those kids”?

Think about it. The only people who could have known at 6 am GMT what agent was used 3 hours earlier were the actual colon-scum using the agent.

And given that the people making the videos knew it was sarin, then logic tells us that the people responsible for the attack and the people making the videos were either the same colon-scum or so closely associated as to be co-conspirators, which is to say co-colon-scum.

You can see where I'm going with this line of thought: the hypothesis that the people who were publishing the videos and alerting the world to a “sarin” attack were the same people responsible for the attack.

Thinking back to 8 grade, you may recall how the guy in class who was the first one to point at others around him was inevitably the one who farted. Same principle; it’s universal
. " -- by Dr Denis R. O’Brien
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That was an extract from a new expert analysis report which shatters the UN Report on Ghouta. The author is a pharmacologist who obviously has a point of view on the alleged CW events, but focuses a laser-light on some of the most blatant discrepancies and biases in the UN Report.
A must-read -> "Pigeon Poop on the Pump Handle: A Critique of the Report of the UN Mission to Investigate the Use of Sarin in Damascus" by Dr (PhD) Denis R. O’Brien, (October 11, 2013) which can be found here: >


The Other Side – Bashar al-Assad Interview with Izvestia

First published | September 2nd, 2013



[I was so impressed with this interview I just had to post it. It is well worth the full read. Izvestia is a high-circulation daily newspaper in Russia. Assad is quite an impressive man who faces the biggest challenge of his nation's history, clearly showing himself much more the true statesman as opposed to the warlord vultures attempting to overthrow him. While everyone has their own propaganda machine and this is clearly carefully scripted as is most media today, nonetheless the points made and how they're framed is an eye-opener. It's no wonder the western press won't publish this interview. - Zen] (P.S. I’m republishing the entire piece in case it gets “disappeared” off of the net.]

Izvestia: Mr President, the most pressing question today is the current situation in Syria. What parts of the country remain under the rebels’ control?

Bashar al-Assad: From our perspective, it’s not a matter of labelling areas as controlled by terrorists or by the government; we are not dealing with a conventional occupation to allow us to contextualise it in this manner. We are fighting terrorists infiltrating particular regions, towns or peripheral city areas. They wreak havoc, vandalise, destroy infrastructure and kill innocent civilians simply because they denounce them. The army mobilises into these areas with the security forces and law enforcement agencies to eradicate the terrorists, those who survive relocate to other areas. Therefore, the essence of our action is striking terrorism.

Our challenge, which has protracted the situation, is the influx of large amounts of terrorists from other countries – estimated in the tens of thousands at the very least. As long as they continue to receive financial and military aid, we will continue to strike them. I can confirm that there has not been any instance where the Syrian Army has planned to enter a particular location and has not succeeded in eliminating the terrorists within it.

The majority of those we are fighting are Takfiris, who adopt the al-Qaeda doctrine, in addition to a small number of outlaws, so as I said this not about who controls more areas of land. Wherever terrorism strikes, we shall strike back.

Izvestia: Yet, Western mainstream media claim that the terrorists control 40% to 70% of Syrian territory; what is the reality?

Bashar al-Assad: There isn’t an army in the world that can be present with its armament in every corner of any given country. The terrorists exploit this, and violate areas where the army is not present. They escape from one area to another, and we continue to eradicate them from these areas with great success. Therefore, I reiterate, the issue is not the size of the territories they infiltrate but the large influx of terrorists coming from abroad.

The more significant criterion to evaluate success is – has the Syrian Army been able to enter any area infiltrated by terrorists and defeat them? Most certainly the answer is yes; the army has always succeeded in this and continues to do so. However, this takes time because these types of wars do not end suddenly, they protract for prolonged periods and as such carry a heavy price. Even when we have eradicated all the terrorists, we will have paid a hefty price.

Izvestia: Mr President, you have spoken of Islamist Takfiri extremists’ fighters who have entered Syria. Are they fragmented groups who fight sporadically? Or do they belong to a coherent major force that seeks to destroy the security and stability in Syria and the whole Middle East?

Bashar al-Assad: They have both traits. They are similar in that they all share the same extremist Takfiri doctrine of certain individuals such as Zawahiri; they also have similar or identical financial backing and military support. They differ on the ground in that they are incoherent and scattered with each group adhering to a separate leader and pursuing different agendas. Of course it is well known that countries, such as Saudi Arabia, who hold the purse strings can shape and manipulate them to suit their own interests.

Ideologically, these countries mobilise them through direct or indirect means as extremist tools. If they declare that Muslims must pursue Jihad in Syria, thousands of fighters will respond. Financially, those who finance and arm such groups can instruct them to carry out acts of terrorism and spread anarchy. The influence over them is synergised when a country such as Saudi Arabia directs them through both the Wahhabi ideology and their financial means.

Izvestia: The Syrian government claims a strong link between Israel and the terrorists. How can you explain this? It is commonly perceived that the extremist Islamists loathe Israel and become hysterical upon hearing its name.

Bashar al-Assad: If this was the case, why is it then that when we strike the terrorists at the frontier, Israel strikes at our forces to alleviate the pressure off of them? Why, when we blockade them into an area does Israel let them through their barricades so they can come round and re-attack from another direction? Why has Israel carried out direct strikes against the Syrian Army on more than one occasion in recent months? So clearly this perception is inaccurate. It is Israel who has publically declared its cooperation with these terrorists and treated them in Israeli hospitals.

If these terrorist groups were indeed hostile to Israel and hysterical even on the mention of the word as you mention, why have they fought the Soviet Union, Syria and Egypt, whilst never carrying out a single strike against Israel? Who originally created these terrorist groups? These groups were initially created in the early 80’s by the United States and the West, with Saudi funding, to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. So logically speaking, how could such groups manufactured by the US and the West ever strike Israel!

Izvestia: Mr. President, this interview will be translated into several international languages, and shall be read by world leaders, some who may currently be working against you. What would you like to say to them?

Bashar al-Assad: Today there are many Western politicians, but very few statesmen. Some of these politicians do not read history or even learn from it, whilst others do not even remember recent events. Have these politicians learned any lessons from the past 50 years at least? Have they not realised that since the Vietnam War, all the wars their predecessors have waged have failed? Have they not learned that they have gained nothing from these wars but the destruction of the countries they fought, which has had a destabilising effect on the Middle East and other parts of the world? Have they not comprehended that all of these wars have not made people in the region appreciate them or believe in their policies?

From another perspective, these politicians should know that terrorism is not a winning card you play when it suits you and keep it in your pocket when it doesn’t. Terrorism is like a scorpion; it can unexpectedly sting you at any time. Therefore, you cannot support terrorism in Syria whilst fighting it in Mali; you cannot support terrorism in Chechnya and fight it in Afghanistan.

To be very precise, I am referring to the West and not all world leaders, if these western leaders are looking to achieve their interests, they need to listen to their own constituents and to the people in this region rather than seeking to install ‘puppet’ leaders, in the hope that they would be able to deliver their objectives. In doing so, western policy may become more realistic in the region.

Our message to the world is straightforward: Syria will never become a Western ‘puppet’ state. We are an independent country; we will fight terrorism and we will freely build relationships with countries in a way that best serves the interests of the Syrian people.

Izvestia: On Wednesday, the rebels accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons; some Western leaders adopted these accusations. What is your response to this? Will you allow the UN inspectors access to the site to investigate the incident?

Bashar al-Assad: The statements by the American administration, the West and other countries were made with disdain and blatant disrespect of their own public opinion; there isn’t a body in the world, let alone a superpower, that makes an accusation and then goes about collecting evidence to prove its point. The American administration made the accusation on Wednesday and two days later announced that they would start to collect the evidence – what evidence is it going to gather from afar?

They claim that the area in question is under the control of the rebels and that the Syrian Army used chemical weapons. In fact, the area is in contiguity with the Syrian Army positions, so how is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located; this is preposterous! These accusations are completely politicised and come on the back of the advances made by the Syrian Army against the terrorists.

As for the UN Commission, we were the first to request a UN investigation when terrorists launched rockets that carried toxic gas in the outskirts of Aleppo. Several months before the attack, American and Western statements were already preparing public opinion of the potential use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. This raised our suspicion that they were aware of the terrorists’ intentions to use these weapons in order to blame the Syrian government. After liaising with Russia, we decided to request a commission to investigate the incident. Whereas we requested an investigation based on the facts on the ground, not on rumours or allegations; the US, France and the UK have tried to exploit the incident to investigate allegations rather than happenings.

During the last few weeks, we have worked with the Commission and set the guidelines for cooperation. First of these, is that our national sovereignty is a red line and as such the Commission will directly liaise with us during the process. Second, the issue is not only how the investigation will be conducted but also how the results will be interpreted. We are all aware that instead of being interpreted in an objective manner, these results could easily be interpreted according to the requirements and agendas of certain major countries. Certainly, we expect Russia to block any interpretation that aims to serve American and western policies. What is most important is that we differentiate between western accusations that are based on allegations and hearsay and our request for an investigation based on concrete evidence and facts.

Izvestia: Recent statements by the American administration and other Western governments have stated that the US has not ruled out military intervention in Syria. In light of this, is it looking more likely that the US would behave in the same way it did in Iraq, in other words look for a pretext for military intervention?

Bashar al-Assad: This is not the first time that the possibility of military intervention has been raised. From the outset, the US, along with France and Britain, has strived for military intervention in Syria. Unfortunately for them, events took a different course with the balance shifting against their interests in the Security Council despite their numerous attempts to haggle with Russia and China, but to no avail. The negative outcomes that emerged in Libya and Egypt were also not in their favour.

All of this made it impossible for them to convince their constituents and the world that they were following sound or successful policies.

The situation in Libya also differs to that of Egypt and Tunisia, and Syria as I have said is very different from all these. Each country has a unique situation and applying the same scenario across the board is no longer a plausible option. No doubt they can wage wars, but they cannot predict where they will spread or how they will end. This has led them to realise that all their crafted scenarios have now spiralled out of their control.

It is now crystal clear to everybody that what is happening in Syria is not a popular revolution pushing for political reform, but targeted terrorism aimed at destroying the Syrian state. What will they say to their people when pushing for military intervention: we are intervening in Syria to support terrorism against the state?!

Izvestia: What will America face should it decide on military intervention or on waging a war on Syria?

Bashar al-Assad: What it has been confronted with in every war since Vietnam… failure. America has waged many wars, but has never been able to achieve its political objectives from any of them. It will also not be able to convince the American people of the benefits of this war, nor will it be able to convince the people in this region of their policies and plans. Global powers can wage wars, but can they win them?

Izvestia: Mr. President, how is your relationship with President Vladimir Putin? Do you speak on the phone? If so, what do you discuss?

Bashar al-Assad: I have a strong relationship with President Putin, which spans back many years even before the crisis. We contact each other from time to time, although the complexity of events in Syria cannot be discussed on the phone. Our relationship is facilitated through Russian and Syrian officials who exchange visits, the majority of which are conducted away from the glare of the media.

Izvestia: Mr. President, are you planning to visit Russia or invite President Putin to visit Syria?

Bashar al-Assad: It is possible of course; however the current priorities are to work towards easing the violence in Syria, there are casualties on a daily basis. When circumstances improve, a visit will be necessary; for now, our officials are managing this relationship well.

Izvestia: Mr. President, Russia is opposing the US and EU policies, especially with regards to Syria, what would happen were Russia to make a compromise now? Is such a scenario possible?

Bashar al-Assad: Russian-American relations should not be viewed through the context of the Syrian crisis alone; it should be viewed in a broader and more comprehensive manner. The US presumed that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was perpetually destroyed. After President Putin took office in the late 90s, Russia began to gradually recover and regain its international position; hence the Cold War began again, but in a different and subtler manner.

The US persisted on many fronts: striving to contain Russian interests in the world, attempting to influence the mentality of Russians closer to the West both in terms of culture and aspiration. It worked diligently to eliminate Russia’s vital and powerful role on many fronts, one of which is Syria.

You may be wondering, like many Russians, why Russia continues to stand by Syria. It is important to explain this reason to the general public: Russia is not defending President Bashar al-Assad or the Syrian government, since the Syrian people should decide their president and the most suitable political system – this is not the issue. Russia is defending the fundamental principles it has embraced for more than a hundred years, the first of which is independence and the policy of non-interference in internal affairs. Russia itself has suffered and continues to suffer from such interference.

Additionally, Russia is defending its legitimate interests in the region. Some superficial analysts narrow these interests to the Port of Tartous, but in reality Russia’s interests are far more significant. Politically speaking, when terrorism strikes Syria, a key country in the region, it would have a direct impact on stability in the Middle East, which would subsequently affect Russia. Unlike many western governments, the Russian leadership fully understands this reality. From a social and cultural perspective, we must not forget the tens of thousands of Syrian-Russian families, which create a social, cultural and humanitarian bridge between our two countries.

If Russia were to seek a compromise, as you stipulated, this would have happened one or two years ago when the picture was blurred, even for some Russian officials. Today, the picture is crystal clear. A Russia that didn’t make a compromise back then, would not do so now.

Izvestia: Mr. President, are there any negotiations with Russia to supply fuel or military hardware to Syria? With regards to the S-300 defence system contract in particular, have you received it?

Bashar al-Assad: Of course, no country would publically declare what armaments and weapons it possesses, or the contracts it signs in this respect. This is strictly classified information concerning the Armed Forces. Suffice to say that all contracts signed with Russia are being honoured and neither the crisis nor the pressure from the US, European or Gulf countries’ have affected their implementation. Russia continues to supply Syria with what it requires to defend itself and its people.

Izvestia: Mr President, what form of aid does Syria require from Russia today? Is it financial or perhaps military equipment? For example would Syria request a loan from Russia?

Bashar al-Assad: In the absence of security on the ground, it is impossible to have a functioning and stable economy. So firstly, the support that Russia is providing through agreed military contracts to help Syrians defend themselves will lead to better security, which will in turn help facilitate an economic recovery. Secondly, Russia’s political support for our right of independence and sovereignty has also played a significant role. Many other countries have turned against us politically and translated this policy by cutting economic ties and closing their markets. Russia has done the complete opposite and continues to maintain good trading relations with us, which has helped keep our economy functioning. Therefore in response to your question, Russia’s supportive political stance and its commitment to honour the agreed military contracts without surrendering to American pressure have substantially aided our economy, despite the negative bearings the economic embargo – imposed by others, has had on the lives of the Syrian people.

From a purely economic perspective, there are several agreements between Syria and Russia for various goods and materials. As for a loan from Russia, this should be viewed as beneficial to both parties: for Russia it is an opportunity for its national industries and companies to expand into new markets, for Syria it provides some of the funding necessary to rebuild our infrastructure and stimulate our economy. I reiterate that Russia’s political stance and support have been instrumental in restoring security and providing the basic needs for the Syrian people.

Izvestia: Mr. President, do these contracts relate to fuel or basic food requirements?

Bashar al-Assad: Syrian citizens are being targeted through their basic food, medical and fuel requirements. The Syrian government is working to ensure these basic needs are available to all Syrians through trade agreements with Russia and other friendly countries.

Izvestia: Returning to the situation in Syria and the current crisis. We are aware that you successively issue amnesties. Do these amnesties include rebels? And do some of them subsequently change sides to fight with the Armed Forces?

Bashar al-Assad: Yes, this is in fact the case. Recently, there has been a marked shift, especially since the picture has become clearer to many that what is happening in Syria is sheer terrorism. Many have come back into the mainstream of civil life, surrendering their weapons and benefitting from the amnesties to help them return to their normal lives. Most remarkably, there are certain groups who have switched from fighting against the army to fighting beside it; these people were either misled by what was propagated in the media or were initially militarised under threats from the terrorists. It is for this very reason that from the start of the crisis, the Syrian government has adopted an open door policy to all those who wanted to U-turn on the initial route they took against their country. Despite the fact that many people in Syria were opposed to this policy, it has proven to be effective and has helped alleviate some of the tension from the crisis.

Izvestia: Mr. President, Syria’s relations with several states are collapsing consecutively, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Who are your true allies, and who are your enemies?

Bashar al-Assad: The countries that support us are well known to everyone: internationally – Russia and China, regionally – Iran. However, we are starting to see a positive shift on the international arena. Certain countries that were strongly against Syria have begun to change their positions; others have started to reinitiate relations with us. Of course, the changes in these countries’ positions do not constitute direct support.

In contrast, there are particular countries that have directly mobilised and buttressed terrorism in Syria. Predominantly Qatar and Turkey in the first two years; Qatar financed while Turkey provided logistical support by training terrorists and streaming them into Syria. Recently, Saudi Arabia has replaced Qatar in the funding role. To be completely clear and transparent, Saudi Arabia has nothing but funding; those who only have money cannot build a civilisation or nurture it. Saudi Arabia implements its agenda depending on how much money it commands.

Turkey is a different case. It is pitiful that a great country such as Turkey, which bears a strategic location and a liberal society, is being manipulated by a meagre amount of dollars through a Gulf state harbouring a regressive mentality. It is of course the Turkish Prime Minister who shoulders responsibility for this situation and not the Turkish people with whom we share a great deal of heritage and traditions.

Izvestia: Mr. President, what makes Russian-Syrian relations so strong? Is it geopolitical interests? Or that they jointly share a struggle against terrorism?

Bashar al-Assad: There is more than one factor that forges Syrian-Russian relations so strongly. First of which is that Russia has suffered from occupation during World War II and Syria has been occupied more than once. Secondly, since the Soviet era, Russia has been subjected to continuous and repeated attempts of foreign intervention in its internal affairs; this is also the case with Syria.

Thirdly but no less significantly is terrorism. In Syria, we understand well what it means when extremists from Chechnya kill innocent civilians, what it means to hold under siege children and teachers in Beslan or hold innocent people hostage in Moscow’s theatre. Equally, the Russian people understand when we in Syria refer to the identical acts of terrorism they have suffered. It is for this reason that the Russian people reject the Western narrative of “good terrorists and bad terrorists.”

In addition to these areas, there are also the Syrian-Russian family ties I mentioned earlier, which would not have developed without common cultural, social and intellectual characteristics, as well as the geopolitical interests we also spoke of. Russia, unlike the Europeans and the West, is well aware of the consequences of destabilising Syria and the region and the affect this will have on the inexorable spread of terrorism.

All of these factors collectively shape the political stance of a great country like Russia. Its position is not founded on one or two elements, but rather by a comprehensive historical, cultural and intellectual perspective.

Izvestia: Mr. President, what will occur in Geneva 2, what are your expectations from this conference?

Bashar al-Assad: The objective of the Geneva conference is to support the political process and facilitate a political solution to the crisis. However, this cannot be accomplished before halting the foreign support to terrorism. We expect that the Geneva conference would start applying pressure on the countries supporting terrorism in Syria, to stop the smuggling of weapons and the streaming of foreign terrorists into the country. When this is achieved, political steps can be easily pursued, most imperative of which is initiating a dialogue between Syrians to discuss the future political system, the constitution, various legislations and others.

Izvestia: Thank you for your sincerity and for such a transparent discussion during this interview.

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