|A protester burns a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.|
“It was a constructive conversation. I won't say there aren't still gaps. There are still gaps, but it was a constructive conversation. And we're continuing to talk to the Russians about this [crisis in Syria],” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at a news briefing on Thursday. Russia has twice – along with China - vetoed UN resolutions against Damascus over what it calls a pro-rebel bias, but has, however, fully backed UN envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, which calls for the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from urban areas and a ceasefire to end 15-months of spiraling violence there. Western powers are trying to persuade Russia to apply pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad and convince him to cede the power in the country to opposition before the current crisis escalates to a civil war. - RIA Novosti.CNN reports this afternoon that the Pentagon has finalized plans to attack Syria and forcefully depose its leader, Bashar al-Assad, under the cover of securing weapons of mass destruction and preventing “sectarian violence” it has fomented by supporting and training the Free Syrian Army.
“The U.S. military has completed its own planning for how American troops would conduct a variety of operations against Syria, or to assist neighboring countries in the event action was ordered, officials tell CNN.” CNN says the Pentagon has “finalized its assessment of what types of units would be needed, how many troops, and even the cost of certain potential operations.” “There is a sense that if the sectarian violence in Syria grows, it could be worse than what we saw in Iraq,” an unnamed Obama administration official told CNN. The attack plan is similar to the one used against Libya: The military planning includes a scenario for a no-fly zone as well as protecting chemical and biological sites. Officials say all the scenarios would be difficult to enact and involve large numbers of U.S. troops and extended operations. CNN reveals that the United States, Britain and France have discussed the attack, which they describe as “contingency scenarios,” and have trained specifically for a military intervention. They are also “sharing of intelligence about what is happening in Syria with neighboring countries including Jordan, Turkey and Israel.” - Info Wars.Meanwhile, Syrian Air Force is preparing bombing raids as part of their fight against insurgents and terrorists north of Aleppo. A look at home-made problems and terror networking darkens the picture, and the right strategy appears to still be out of reach.
Consultant and peace activist Christoph R. Hörstel told RT that his information “is directly obtained from Syrian security personnel of various origins personally taking part in battles and other operations, and/or close relatives of such personnel – some are even well-known people. The information reaches me through a partner in Turkey. I counter-check all information obtained this way as best as possible under the circumstances,” Hörstel said. He gives an outline of the military’s activities from Syria. These days, the Syrian Army is busy preparing for the prolonged fighting to prevent the establishment of a war zone from the northwestern town of Hafeh, to Hassakeh in the northeast. As one of the first targets, the areas around Aleppo are under scrutiny, involving a huge military deployment. More military operations are due in Idlib and Hafeh. Kurdish volunteers, who until now have not responded to rebel advances, are being weaponized – and thus internally upgraded in status – by the government east of Hassakeh for boarder guarding; southern borders are being mined, and a buffer zone has been established inside Lebanon to keep Syria trouble-free at least in part; coastal areas are now fully under control, say official sources – but how correct that is will soon be clear. - RT.All this, against the background of a report from Human Rights Watch, that Government forces have used rape and other sexual violence against men, women and children during the Syrian uprising.
The US-based group said it had recorded 20 incidents from interviews inside and outside Syria with eight victims, including four women, and more than 25 other people with knowledge of sexual abuse - including medical workers, former detainees, army defectors, and women's rights activists. "Sexual violence in detention is one of many horrific weapons in the Syrian government's torture arsenal and Syrian security forces regularly use it to humiliate and degrade detainees with complete impunity," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW. "The assaults are not limited to detention facilities - government forces and pro-government shabiha militia members have also sexually assaulted women and girls during home raids and residential sweeps." Cases were reported all around Syria, but most of all in Homs province, an epicentre of the revolt. - Stuff.