Flags of Hezbollah, Assad's Syria 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ali Hashisho)
The Syrian army deployed forces Monday night on the border with Lebanon near the
northern village of Akkar.
A convoy of tanks belonging to the Syrian
Republican Guard was seen in the border area, according to a correspondent from
Lebanon’s MTV, who was quoted on the Now Lebanon website.
A source in the
Syrian army told the Lebanese outlet that Damascus had made a decision to “get
rid of terrorism coming from neighboring countries.”
In the Syrian
capital, a mortar round hit the Vatican embassy on Tuesday morning, damaging the
building but causing no casualties, a diplomat told AFP
Meanwhile, a bid
to hold a peace conference to find a political solution to the Syria war has
still not materialized.
An international peace conference involving
Syrian government and opposition representatives will not be held this month,
Russian news agency Itar-Tass quoted a source close to preparatory talks as
saying on Tuesday.
Russia said Iran must be invited to a proposed peace
conference on Syria, reiterating its stance after the main Syrian opposition
leader said his coalition would not attend if Iran took part.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also criticized Syrian National Coalition chief
Ahmad Jarba’s demand for a clear time frame for President Bashar Assad to leave
power, saying there should be no preconditions for the “Geneva 2” peace
When asked about Jarba’s statement, Lavrov said: “All those with
influence on the situation must certainly be invited.... This includes not only
Arab countries, but also Iran.”
UN and Arab League special envoy Lakhdar
Brahimi met US and Russian officials on Tuesday to discuss convening
long-delayed Syrian peace talks this year despite disputes over Assad’s future
and whether his ally Iran can attend.
Hours earlier, Damascus reiterated
that Assad would stay in power come what may, casting doubt on the political
transition that is the main focus of the proposed conference.
conferred with US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, US Ambassador to Syria
Robert Ford and Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov, who are Russian deputy
foreign ministers, at the United Nations in Geneva.
But even with Arab
diplomatic cover, it is unclear whether the opposition, which has scant
influence with rebels fighting in Syria – some of them linked to al- Qaida –
“The Qataris have been trying to hammer out a united
position between the opposition, but I don’t think they will succeed,” said an
Arab diplomat in Geneva.
“The Saudi position is complicating things; they
are not too excited about Geneva 2 any more after they made that big stink,” he
said, alluding to Saudi Arabia’s refusal of a Security Council
Riyadh is angry over what it sees as a weak US commitment to
removing Assad, especially since US President Barack Obama dropped a threat of
air strikes following a poison gas attack near Damascus in August.