Syria’s main opposition alliance on Wednesday urged fighters to come from around the country to reinforce Qusayr against attempts by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops and supporters to gain control of the rebel-held town.
The appeal came as Syrian government forces battled for the fourth straight day trying to wrest control of the western town of Qusayr from the rebels. The town lies along a strategic land corridor linking the capital, Damascus, with the Mediterranean coast.
“Forces from outside Syria” aim to destroy Qusayr and rebels should join the fight to “rescue” the town, George Sabra, the acting chief of the Syrian National Coalition, said in a statement.
A local government official from the Homs governor’s office told The Associated Press on Wednesday that about 80 percent of the town was in government hands. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to give information to the media during an ongoing military operation.
He added that Assad’s troops had discovered tunnels linking areas around the town, adding that the fighting is now concentrated in the northwestern parts of Qusayr where the “terrorists” – the phrase the Syrian government uses for opposition fighters – were still entrenched. The official’s account could not be independently verified because Damascus bans independent media access to much of the country.
In Lebanon, dozens of supporters of Salafi sheikh Ahmad al-Assir on Wednesday blocked the road leading to a cemetery in the southern city of Saida to prevent the burial of a Hezbollah fighter who died recently in Qusayr.
The standoff, which lasted over an hour, was the latest sign of rising tensions in Lebanon because of the growing involvement by disparate Lebanese groups on opposing sides of the Syrian civil war. The conflict in Syria has killed more than 80,000 people, according to United Nations, and has often spilled across Syria’s borders.
Also on Wednesday, an international group known as the Friends of Syria is due to meet in Amman, Jordan. The closed-door meeting among diplomats from nations that back the Syrian uprising is aimed at preparing for UN-hosted international talks expected to be held in Geneva next month.
Top diplomats from Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States are attending the meeting.
The Syrian ambassador to Jordan lashed out on Wednesday at the meeting, describing it as a gathering of “enemies of Syria”.
May 19, 2013 marks the fourth anniversary of the abduction and disappearance of Melissa Roxas. An American citizen, Ms. Roxas was abducted on May 19, 2009 while on a medical mission in La Paz, Tarlac, held against her will and tortured via physical beatings and asphyxiation during her captivity until she surfaced in Quezon City on May 25, 2009. Abundant evidence points to the Armed Forces of the Philippines as responsible for Ms. Roxas’ abduction and torture.
As one of the few survivors of abduction and torture by the military, Ms. Roxas filed her case in the Philippine courts, testified in various venues, and fully cooperated with the investigation undertaken by the Commission on Human Rights. Despite exceptionally credible testimony by Ms. Roxas, the perpetrators of this crime still have not been apprehended. Justice continues to be denied Ms. Roxas, who courageously went public with her story, seeking justice not only for herself, but for all victims of human rights violations, which now number into the tens of thousands since the beginning of Aquino’s presidential term in 2010.
Thousands of women, students, farmers, medical professionals, workers, lawyers, journalists, people of faith, and other activists like Melissa Roxas are being unjustly abducted, killed, tortured, disappeared and imprisoned by the Philippine military. President Aquino must act now to stop the human rights violations and put an end to impunity in the Philippines.
Damascus, May 19 (Prensa Latina) - President Bashar al-Assad denied again that the authorities are using chemical weapons, as argued by Western and regional governments, and he anticipated a likely military invasion against the country.
The accusations regarding the use of chemical weapons or my resignation change every day, and this is likely to be used as a pretext for a war against the nation, he said in an interview with two Argentinian media organizations that is making headlines today in local media here.
“They said we used chemical weapons against residential areas. Now, if they were used on a city or suburb, with alleged 10 or 12 victims reported, would it be credible?”, he wondered.
Al Assad said this would mean the deaths of thousands or tens of thousands of people in a matter of minutes, which would be impossible to hide.
The West lies and fabricates evidence to unleash war; this is what they usually do, said Assad while recalling the fiasco of ex US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who swore at the UN that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which were never found, but the pretext was used for the invasion of 2003.
Besides, it is inadmissible for someone to say that the Syrian President has to go because the United States or the terrorists want so, said Assad, who insisted that this decision can only be made by the Syrian people by their votes in elections called for 2014.
Jorge Rafael Videla, the military junta leader who oversaw a ruthless campaign of political killings and forced disappearances duringArgentina’s so-called Dirty War against dissidents in the mid-1970s, died on Friday in the Marcos Paz Prison in Buenos Aires, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. He was 87.
At least 15,000 people were killed or “disappeared” during the junta’s campaign, according to government estimates. Human rights officials say the figure is closer to 30,000.
General Videla rose to power in 1976, when he led a largely bloodless coup against President Isabel Martínez de Perón, widow of Juan Domingo Perón, the founder of the country’s populist movement. Whisked away by helicopter in the dead of night, Mrs. Perón was arrested and charged with corruption, and General Videla, the chief of the armed forces, took over the presidency and established a military junta, promising to restore civilian rule promptly.
Instead he declared as a priority the “eradication” of the leftist guerrillas who had begun a fierce offensive against Mrs. Perón’s government. The junta’s net soon widened to include lawyers, students, journalists and union leaders suspected of ties to radical groups. Congress was suspended, political parties were abolished, strikes were made illegal and death squads roamed the country.
Good riddance to this fascist pal of Wall Street and Pope Francis.
Syria’s “main battle” at present is raging in the Qusayr area, touching Lebanon’s northeastern border, President Bashar al-Assad reportedly told Lebanese politicians this weekend.
Speaking to a delegation of Lebanese backers of his government, Assad said the army was determined to succeed in the area “at any cost,” according to Abdel Rahim Mrad, former Lebanese defense minister who spoke to AFP after the meeting in Damascus.
Tens of thousands of Colombians have taken to the streets of Bogotá in support of peace talks aimed at ending Latin America’s longest-running insurgency.
Wearing white, playing music and chanting “We want peace,” the dense crowds marched towards the Plaza Bolivar where they were joined by President Juan Manuel Santos.
“The nation is expressing its rejection of violence; violence that has caused so many wounds and so much pain,” Santos said of the rally, which comes amid a sensitive and controversial stage of negotiations in Havana between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People’s Army (FARC-EP). …
Critics of the mass demonstrations on Tuesday claim they were partly funded by the FARC-EP and could be used as a springboard by the group to re-enter mainstream politics. They have not produced any evidence to support the claims
However, the leftist politicians who organised the march in Bogotá , including Ivan Cepeda and Piedad Cordoba, say it was an important show of solidarity for the negotiators. It took place on the anniversary of the murder of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, the leftwing presidential candidate whose death in 1948 – just as he looked set to take power – is often cited as the spark for the decades of bloodshed that followed.
The rallies – which also took place in several other cities, including Cali and Santander – were led by the Patriotic March, a grassroots social movement that campaigns for peace and social justice. It was joined by organisations representing rural peasants, indigenous populations and organised labour, as well as the mayor of Bogota and the leader of the Colombian House of Representatives.
Among the demonstrators was Luis Angel Garcia, who said he survived four attempts on his life while he was a member in the 1990s of the Patriotic Union, a civil society group that supported the FARC-EP. “We are survivors and we are here supporting this movement,” he said.
By Julian Assange
“[T]he psychological effectiveness of the CSDF concept starts by reversing the insurgent strategy of making the government the repressor. It forces the insurgents to cross a critical threshold-that of attacking and killing the very class of people they are supposed to be liberating.”— US Special Forces doctrine obtained by Wikileaks
So states the US Special Forces counterinsurgency manual obtained by Wikileaks, Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces (1994, 2004). The manual may be critically described as “what the US learned about running death squads and propping up corrupt government in Latin America and how to apply it to other places”. Its contents are both history defining for Latin America and, given the continued role of US Special Forces in the suppression of insurgencies, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, history making.
The leaked manual, which has been verified with military sources, is the official US Special Forces doctrine for Foreign Internal Defense or FID.
FID operations are designed to prop up “friendly” governments facing popular revolution or guerilla insurgency. FID interventions are often covert or quasi-covert due to the unpopular nature of the governments being supported (“In formulating a realistic policy for the use of advisors, the commander must carefully gauge the psychological climate of the HN [Host Nation] and the United States.”)
The manual directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive surveillance, censorship, press control and restrictions on labor unions & political parties. It directly advocates warrantless searches, detainment without charge and (under varying circumstances) the suspension of habeas corpus. It directly advocates employing terrorists or prosecuting individuals for terrorism who are not terrorists, running false flag operations and concealing human rights abuses from journalists. And it repeatedly advocates the use of subterfuge and “psychological operations”(propaganda) to make these and other “population & resource control” measures more palatable.