Iran has sent training staff and advisers, including members of the
Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, to help Syria crack down on its
10-week-old popular uprising, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
assistance reportedly includes not only arms and ant-riot gear, but advanced
surveillance equipment to help Damascus monitor citizens’ Facebook and Twitter
accounts, the newspaper reported, quoting two US officials and a foreign
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The diplomat said the military trainers were brought to
Damascus to instruct Syrians in methods the Iranians used in crushing its Green
Movement after the 2009 presidential election.
Syrian security forces
shot dead 12 people on Friday during protests in 91 locations nationwide, human
rights activists said.
Leaders at a Group of Eight meeting in France said
they were “appalled” at the killing of peaceful protesters, and demanded an
immediate end to the use of force.
In a communique issued at the G8
summit, the leaders of the seven Western powers, plus Russia, called on Damascus
to respond to the Syrian people’s “legitimate demands for
“Unfortunately, I regret to say that Syrian leaders have made a
formidable step back.
In these conditions, Syria no longer has our
trust,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, speaking at the summit in
The language of the final draft was watered down,
however, to remove an explicit proposal to act against Damascus in the UN
Security Council. The shift in language to a vaguer threat of “further measures”
appeared to be driven by Russia, which has a Security Council veto and has taken
a softer line than Western states against autocratic Arab leaders.
groups estimate thatat least 1,000 people have been killed over 10 weeks of demonstrations against
President Bashar Assad.
“There are no grounds to consider this issue
[Syria] in the UN Security Council,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei
Ryabkov told reporters, as the summit wound down in Deauville. He said a draft
resolution circulated to the 15- nation council on Wednesday by Britain, France,
Germany and Portugal was “untimely and damaging,” adding: “We will not even read
The draft resolution could also face a Chinese
The Syrian National Organization for Human Rights said Friday’s
killings took place in rural districts around Damascus, in southern Syria, the
northwestern province of Idlib, the coast and the central city of
Security forces also clamped down on protesters in the northeastern
city of Deir al-Zor, activists and residents said.
Deir al-Zor province
accounts for most of Syria’s 380,000-barrel- per-day oil output.
greater than the oppressor... Death rather than humiliation,” thousands shouted
on Friday in the Damascus suburb of Hajar al-Aswad.
demonstrations continued into the night in Hama. Tens of thousands of people
marched earlier in the city, where an army assault to crush an armed Islamist
uprising in 1982 killed up to 30,000 people.
The biggest demonstrations
typically occur on Fridays after Muslim prayers, and they have also generally
been the deadliest.
But the bloodshed last week appeared to be on a
lesser scale than witnessed recently.
Human-rights activists said
protests flared in the eastern cities of Abu Kamal, where people burned pictures
of Lebanese-Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who this week threw his weight
Ten weeks into the unrest, protests have failed to gain a
critical mass, as security forces prevent mass rallies, and Damascus and Aleppo
have yet to witness big demonstrations.
The Ba’ath Party suppresses any
dissent and there is no unified opposition structure to lead the popular
But opposition activists in exile will meet in Turkey this week
to help coordinate the campaign.
Representatives of protesters in Syria
will also attend the three-day conference in Antalya, which starts on Wednesday,
Khalaf Ali Khalaf, a member of the meeting’s secretariat, told
Reuters the aim was to “coordinate the democratic effort, instead, for example,
of talking individually with countries that support the uprising.”
said the conference will select representatives to help raise international
pressure on Syria, but will not form a transitional council similar to that set
up in Libya by rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi.
Among the 300
participants will be human-rights campaigner Ammar Qurabi, Radwan Ziadeh, head
of the Damascus Center for Human Rights, Abdel Razzaq Eid of the Damascus
Declaration opposition umbrella group, Syrian university professors in Europe
and the United States, and Muslim Brotherhood members.
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted on Friday as saying Assad should deliver
“shock therapy” reforms to end bloody protests.
Davutoglu’s words are
among the most forceful by a Turkish official, highlighting Turkey’s growing
concern over a crisis that has sparked world outrage.
In comments carried
by the state-run Anatolia news agency, Davutoglu said he believed it was
possible for Syria to end the unrest, but that the “treatment” should feature
“shock therapy,” including reforms of the economy, security, politics and the
The comments, made in an interview with a Turkish television
channel late on Thursday, were repeated in a separate interview with The New
MK Ayoub Kara, deputy minister for the development of the
Galilee and the Negev, on Saturday said that members of the Syrian opposition
had turned to him to ask for Israel’s help in stopping the Assad regime’s
Kara said he asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to use his
influence to exert pressure on Assad, but the prime minister refused. The Likud
lawmaker made the statements at a cultural event in Beersheba.
Syrian opposition asked for my help because of my connections.
wanted me to go to the government for help – that we would ask the UN, the US
and the EU to go against Assad. I brought the request before the government, but
they refused to interfere,” Kara said.
Kara, the only Druse member of the
cabinet, said he had forwarded a government message to Turkey indicating that
Israel would not prevent Ankara from delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza through
the Red Cross.
Kara has boasted in the past of his extensive contacts
throughout the Arab world, and in 2009 said he had visited Syrian officials from
Assad’s ruling Alawite sect in Washington.
Kara said he is often
approached by Arab officials with various requests, and at other times acts
according to his own initiatives.Reuters contributed to this report.
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