Israel launches missile strike against Syria

Niall Green

The Hafiz M-113 based mobile missile launcher carries six
Tamuz missiles, target acquisition system employed in line-
of-sight modes and a datalink maintaining non-line-of-sight
(NLOS) communications with the missiles through its flight.

Following the re-election of Barack Obama in last week’s US presidential poll, Washington and its allies have stepped up their war drive against Syria. In the most serious escalation of the 20-month conflict in the Middle East country, the Israeli armed forces fired a missile into Syrian territory Sunday.

The strike, by an advanced Tammuz guided missile, is the first acknowledged attack by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Israeli warplanes struck the site of an alleged Syrian nuclear project in 2007, but neither regime ever officially confirmed the action.

The Israeli missile reportedly struck a Syrian army base, though the government in Damascus has not released any details of the damage caused.

The IDF strike was reportedly carried out in response to a Syrian mortar that landed in the Golan Heights, the Syrian territory illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Nobody was reported killed or injured by what appears to have been a misdirected 120mm Syrian tank shell.

A statement issued by the IDF shortly after the Tammuz missile struck Syrian territory claimed, “IDF forces fired warning shots and relayed a message to the Syrian forces via the United Nations that warns against additional fire. Additional fire will prompt a quick response.”

The IDF acknowledged that eight Syrian shells had fallen within the Israeli-controlled section of the Golan Heights over the past two months, likely the inadvertent result of fighting between Syrian government forces and “rebel” fighters, without any military response from the IDF.

While Israel appears to have turned a blind eye to errant Syrian shells in the weeks leading up to the US election, the decision by the IDF to launch a strike now indicates that Washington and its allies are entering into a new phase of their conflict with the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Washington seizes on alleged massacre in Syria to promote war

Niall Green

Reports of scores of deaths in the Syrian village of Tremseh Thursday, in the course of violent clashes between government forces and opposition militia, have been seized upon by the United States and its allies to ramp up their campaign to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Tremseh is located near the central Syrian city of Hama, an area that has been a focal point of fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government forces for over a year.

In a press statement issued Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that the Syrian regime had carried out “yet another massacre,” claiming there was “indisputable evidence that the regime deliberately murdered innocent civilians.”

However, no sooner had the US-sanctioned account of events been released than it fell apart. Syrian opposition spokesmen had initially claimed that pro-Assad militiamen had entered the village and killed unarmed civilians. They then claimed that the Syrian army had carried out a rampage aimed at civilians. But it quickly became clear that almost all of the deaths were the result of fighting between government troops and foreign-armed anti-Assad militia.

Though there are still conflicting accounts of the events in Tremseh, it appears that “rebel” fighters attacked an army convoy passing through the village on Thursday. Government troops then launched a sustained counterattack, resulting in opposition forces being routed and suffering heavy casualties.

Major General Robert Mood, the Norwegian commander of the United Nations mission in Syria, told a press conference in Damascus that observers under his command had witnessed prolonged fighting in the area, including the use of army mechanized units and helicopters.

The UK-based pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that “several dozen rebel fighters were among those killed” in the battle in and around Tremseh. Reuters reported that the fighting was part of a campaign by the Syrian air force over recent days directed against opposition activities near Hama.

“At this stage, though we do not yet have the final count, the number of civilians killed by shelling is not more than seven,” said a spokesman from the pro-opposition Sham News Network. “The rest were members of the [US-backed] Free Syrian Army,” he added.

US-led conference backs Syrian puppet group, threatens war

Niall Green

Meeting Sunday in the Turkish city of Istanbul, the so-called “Friends of Syria” conference stepped up the US-led campaign to destabilize and oust the government of Syria through a combination of diplomatic maneuvers and direct military interference.

Washington leads the group of 74 countries, with the aid of the European powers and the pro-US dictatorships of the Middle East. The conference took place as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan heads a UN monitoring mission in Syria, with the stated goals of bringing about a ceasefire and opening dialogue between the government and the opposition. The Syrian regime has signed on to Annan’s peace talks, though the main US-backed opposition groups have refused to do so.

Opening proceedings Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made clear that the Annan mission is to be used by the “Friends of Syria” as a means to ratchet up tensions with the Assad regime and lay the groundwork for foreign military intervention.

“I need to state that if the Syrian regime does not cooperate [with Annan’s mission], it will be an inevitable requirement for the UN Security Council to fulfill its responsibility and put an end to the massacre in Syria,” Erdogan said. “If the UN Security Council avoids this historic responsibility once again, the international community will be left with no choice but to support the Syrian people’s right to self-defense.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton struck a similar note in her address to the conference, telling delegates that the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad would not observe the conditions of Kofi Annan’s peace talks. “Nearly a week has gone by, and we have to conclude that the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises,” said Clinton. “The world must judge Assad by what he does, not what he says. And we cannot sit back and wait any longer.”

The US-led “Friends of Syria” coalition was established earlier this year in order to circumvent the United Nations Security Council, which had been unable to pass resolutions against the Assad government due to the vetoes cast by Russia and China, whose governments refused to sign off on Washington’s campaign for regime-change in Syria.

Petraeus outlines indefinite Afghan occupation in congressional testimony

Niall Green

The result of the US occupation of Afghanistan has been devastating. The United Nations reported last week that 2,777 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2010, a rise of 15 percent over the previous year. According to the UN, 722 civilians were killed by US and allied forces last year. These figures grossly underestimate the number of civilians killed, due to the US policy of either not reporting civilian casualties or mis-recording them as “insurgents.” A large number of civilians have died in US and NATO attacks so far in 2011, including at least 65 civilians killed in a US-led offensive in the province of Kunar. In one such atrocity, on March 3 a US air strike killed nine children collecting firewood near a Forward Operating Base in the Darah-Ye District.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General David Petraeus demanded increased funds and an indefinite US military occupation in order to secure what he described as “fragile and reversible” gains.

Petraeus, the top commander of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan, told senators on Tuesday that “the momentum achieved by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2005 has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas.”

Since 2009, President Barack Obama has poured an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, while escalating the bombing campaign across the border in Pakistan. There are now 150,000 troops from the US, NATO and other allied countries in Afghanistan, in addition to forces from the Afghan National Army.

Petraeus, the senior military commander in Iraq during the “surge” that brutally suppressed militant opposition to the US occupation between 2007 and 2008, is charged with replicating that policy in Afghanistan.

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