NATO chief says 'no intention' to intervene in Syria

Rasmussen remains firm on non-intervention despite deterioration; Syrian violence spills over into Lebanon with 3 killed, 10 wounded, 5 hour firefight, including rocket propelled grenades.

May 21, 2012 06:57
1 minute read.
Syrian tank

Syrian tank. (photo credit: Reuters)


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NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Sunday expressed concern about the escalating violence in Syria, but maintained that the alliance has "no intention" of taking military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, according to AFP.

"We strongly condemn the behavior of the Syrian security forces and their crackdowns on the Syrian population and we urge the Syrian leadership to accommodate the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people," he told a news conference during an alliance summit in Chicago.

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"But again NATO has no intention to intervene in Syria."

NATO members are being criticized in some quarters for being willing to offer military assistance in the case of Libya, but leaving the Syrian rebel opposition out in the cold, other than various forms of indirect support.

NATO has been unmoved despite the fact that the Syrian opposition is badly outgunned and has been hammered by far superior regime forces.

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Rasmussen's statement followed the G8's statement one day earlier that a "political transition" was needed to end the crisis in Syria.

Monitors report that over 12,000 people have died in a government crackdown since March 2011.

Meanwhile, the violence, if only indirectly, spilled over into Lebanon.

At least three people were killed and 10 wounded in pre-dawn clashes Monday between Sunni and anti-Syrian Future Movement supporters and their rival Arab Movement Party headed by Shaker Berjaoui, who is close to Hezbollah, in the Beirut neighborhood of Tariq al-Jadideh, security sources told the Lebanese Daily Star.

The five-hour clashes with assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades came to a close when Berjaoui agreed to evacuate his office near the Arab University. A Lebanese Army force entered the area and removed Berjaoui and his supporters from the area, said the report.

Citing local Lebanese TV, the report also stated that soldiers secured the area after gunmen withdrew from the streets. There were fires in two buildings and many destroyed cars and shop windows.

The escalation appears to have been a response to the shooting of a prominent anti-Syrian-regime preacher and his companion at a Lebanese Army checkpoint in the northern district of Akkar.

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