- Are they really funded by the West, as Russia claims,- which would be quite credible based on NATO's recent history in Libya and Egypt?
- Or are the murderers the 20,000 or so Shabiha Alawite mercenaries hired by Assad, as claimed in the Stratfor article?
- Alternatively, do we have a combination of mercenaries hired by both right and left, in essence a bunch of gangs and warlords, fighting each other and everybody else too?
- See also this video about bombing of civilians:
- And what are the implications for Israel in any case? Either way, it looks like one giant BALAGAN there.
Assad’s Army Kills One every 10 Minutes
Homs, a center of anti-Assad demonstrations, was shelled for the fifth straight day. The body count could not be verified because of the official ban on foreign media. The government-controlled media allege that “armed terrorists” were shooting from within the city.
Despite the gag on media, BBC said one of its reporters is embedded with rebel fighters. He reported the bombardment from machine guns mounted on tanks was so heavy that it was too dangerous to go outside to help the wounded or count the dead. He added that residents fear Assad will order a ground invasion.
A BBC reporter in Beirut said there were reports that Assad‘s secret police and soldiers murdered 19 people from three families.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who visited Damascus on Tuesday, voiced continued support from Moscow for Assad, saying that the conflict should be solved by Syrians and not by others.
The Obama administrating reportedly is in a quandary, having rejected direct military help for the rebels while having no diplomatic solution to end the nearly year-long brutal suppression of the Arab Spring protests that have grown into a full-scale rebellion.
U.S. Republican Senator John McCain urged that the United States arm Syrian opposition groups
"We should start considering all options, including arming the opposition,” he told visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Tuesday. “The blood-letting has got to stop," said McCain, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
One consideration not often mentioned is the chance the conflict will force Israel into war as Assad continues to allow munitions – including chemical weapons – to fall into the hands of Hizbullah terrorist in Lebanon.
"The question is when, not if [Assad will fall]. And the big question is what will happen the following day,” said newly-appointed Israel Air Force Commander Major General Emir Eshel "What has been passed on to Hizbullah so far? What will be passed on in the future? What will be divided between the two factions in Syria?"
An unnamed defense official told the Hebrew-language Yisrael HaYom newspaper that Israel cannot stand by silently with chemical weapons in the hands of Hizbullah.
It has previously been reported that Hizbullah already has smuggled into Lebanon long-range Scud missiles, which can reach metropolitan Tel Aviv.
... For once, Barak might be telling the truth... See how he is preparing the Israeli public for the likely transfer of the 20,000 Shabiha mercenaries to Israel - as discussed in "The Stench of Deceit, Part III". He is also clearly stating that Assad's fall is the danger re: chemical and other weapons, more so than Assad himself.
So here is your answer: the intervention by the West, i.e. NATO, the UN, and Obama's U.S., is the real danger for Israel - not the other way around. We have more to fear from the West fighting Assad than from Assad himself, - not to mention the Shabiha about to enter Israel.
Barak Fears Arms Transfer to Hizbullah
“You have to be alert to the possibility, so that during the fall of the regime there will not be the transfer of sophisticated Syrian weapons to Hizbullah and Lebanon,” Barak told Army radio.
“We are tracking this issue constantly and carefully,” he said, without elaborating further.
Barak said Israeli assessments suggest Assad’s downfall is only a matter of time, “The fate of the regime of Bashar al-Assad is sealed; his situation is getting worse every week."
Israel has been closely following developments in neighboring Syria, where Assad has perpetrated a bloody, nearly year-long crackdown on anti-regime protesters.
Israeli officials have expressed concern that Assad's fall would have regional consequences that could affect Israel.
Officials have expressed concern that Israel's north could be inundated with Syrian refugees, or that Assad might attack the Jewish state to shift attention from his regime.
Officials have also warned that Syria’s weapons, including alleged chemical and biological ones, could fall into the hands of terrorists, including Hizbullah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006.
Last month, incoming IAF chief Major General Amir Eshel, said Syria possessed “huge stockpiles” of such weapons.
“The immediate concern is the huge stockpiles of chemical, biological, strategic capabilities that are still going into Syria, mainly from eastern Europe,” he said.
“That’s a major concern because I don’t know who is going to own those the day after. Up till now, what has been transferred to Hizbullah? What will be transferred to Hizbullah? What will be divided between those factions inside Syria? What is that going to create?”
The UN estimates at least 5,400 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March. But that figure is from January, when the UN stopped counting because deteriorating security prevented verification of the figures.
At least 117 protesters have been killed by Assad forces in the past six days alone as the Syrian military continues to shell the focal protest city of Homs.
EU Breaks Ban on Funding Hamas
Despite the official isolation of Hamas by the EU, an official statement this week stated that that “the EU looks forward to continuing its support, including through direct financial assistance, for a new Palestinian government that should uphold the principle of non-violence.”
EU foreign relations spokesman Michael Mann tried to explained the EU’s continued financing of the new unity PA government by stating, "We need to know who will be the ministers and what they will say.”
Hamas has repeatedly emphasized that the Palestinian Authority cannot achieve statehood without “resistance,” the code word for terrorism. It also has publicly encouraged kidnapping Israeli soldiers and civilians, particularly since it was able to gain the release of more than 1,000 terrorists and security prisoners in return for handing over to Israel kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
Hamas and its rival party Fatah, headed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, hammered out an agreement in Doha Tuesday for a new interim PA government headed by Abbas. The two factions broke off from each other after Hamas’ bloody military coup in Gaza in 2007.
The Quartet – the United States, EU, Russia and the United Nations – has said it recognizes the on the conditions that it renounce violence, recognizes Israel and honors previous agreements. Hamas has categorically refused to agree to the conditions, while Abbas vocally has stated opposition to violence while constantly lauding terrorists. He also has declined to officially recognize Israel, particularly not as a Jewish state.
He also has broken the Oslo Accords several times, the most blatant violation being the unilateral move to ask the United Nations for recognition of the Palestinian Authority as an independent state based on his own territorial and political definitions.
First foreign troops in Syria back Homs rebels. Damascus and Moscow at odds
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 8, 2012, 1:35 PM (GMT+02:00)
This site is the first to report the presence of foreign military forces in any of the Syrian uprising's embattled areas.
Our sources report the two foreign contingents have set up four centers of operation - in the northern Homs district of Khaldiya, Bab Amro in the east, and Bab Derib and Rastan in the north. Each district is home to about a quarter of a million people.
More details as they unfold will be available in the coming DEBKA-Net-Weekly issue out Friday.
To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly, click here
Our military sources also report that Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 8, Assad sent the 40th Mechanized Brigade of heavy T-72 tanks to Homs for an all-out effort to beat the rebellion, counter the foreign contingents and reinforce the 90th Infantry Brigade commanded by his kinsman, Gen. Zuhair al-Assad, the backbone of the military force battering the city for the past five days at the cost of hundreds of dead.
The presence of the British and Qatari troops was seized on by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan for the new plan he unveiled to parliament in Ankara Tuesday, Feb. 7. Treating the British-Qatari contingents as the first foreign foot wedged through the Syrian door, his plan hinges on consigning a new Turkish-Arab force to Homs through that door and under the protection of those contingents. Later, they would go to additional flashpoint cities.
In the close to eleven months of the Syrian revolt, Erdogan has hatched more than one scheme for countering the Assad regime's savage crackdown on dissent. His most persistent was a plan for the creation of military buffer zones to shelter rebels and civilians persecuted by the Syrian authorities. But nothing came of those plans because, every time they came up, Assad reinforced his contingents on the Turkish border and deployed air defense and surface-to-surface missile batteries. He made it clear that the first Turk crossing the border would spark a full-scale war.
It is hard to say at this point whether the latest Turkish leader's current plan is any more practical than his earlier schemes. For now, he has put the ball in the American court. Wednesday, Feb. 8, he sent Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Washington to ask for the Obama administration's cooperation. The Turkish prime minister is also in urgent consultation with Saudi and several other Gulf rulers in the hope of bringing them aboard.
The British-Qatari troop presence in Homs was at the center of Assad's talks in Damascus Tuesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian SVR intelligence chief Mikhail Fradkov. Senior Syrian intelligence officers laid their updates from the field before the Russian visitors and received SVR data and evaluations in return.
Western intelligence officials familiar with the talks describe the atmosphere between Assad and the Russian officials as uneasy and tense. Later, Lavrov reported optimistically that he had received assurances from the Syrian ruler of an end to the violence, talks with all Syrian parties and an early referendum on a new constitution for political reforms. His account was no more than prevarication to conceal the opposite outcome of their talks. In fact, their conversation focused on more violence, namely, Assad's plans for his next assault on rebels and protesters and his military response to the rising covert presence of foreign Western, Arab and Muslim troops in Syria.
Report: U.S. Looking into Military Option in Syria
According to the report, the Pentagon is currently examining the range of possibilities for action in Syria, but a final decision on the matter is still far off.
As part of the work it is doing, the report said, the Pentagon is examining the resources available to the U.S. in the region and, based on that, building an analysis of the prospects and risks. One possibility being examined is landing humanitarian aid in Syria or even arming the rebels.
Channel 10 noted that the Pentagon is also preparing a scenario of military action in Syria, but noted that the chances that the U.S. will realize that option are close to zero. The Pentagon’s move is more of an American signal to Russia, after it vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, that the veto was not the final word on the Syrian issue.
On Wednesday, the head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Navi Pillay, called on the international community to "take effective action" to stop the killing in Syria.
Pillay said there is no statute of limitations for serious international crimes. There is an "extreme urgency for the international community to cut through the politics and take effective action to protect the Syrian population," she added.
Syrian troops stormed the central hotspot city of Homs this week, killing scores of residents and rebels alike in the area of Bab Amr.