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 Post subject: Assad's forces capture strategic town in southern Syria
 Post Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 5:24 am 
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Assad's forces capture strategic town in southern Syria

(Reuters) - The Syrian army captured a strategic southern town from rebel fighters on Wednesday after a ferocious two-month bombardment, in an advance likely to result in President Bashar al-Assad's forces regaining control of an international transit route, opposition sources said.

The fall of Khirbet Ghazaleh, situated in the Hauran Plain on the highway to Jordan, came after a Jordanian-backed Syrian opposition military council failed to supply weapons to the town's defenders.

This raised resentment among opposition fighters over what they saw as a lack of Jordanian support for their efforts to defeat Assad's forces in the region, according to rebel commanders and activists in the area.

The Hauran Plain, which extends to the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, is the birthplace of the revolt against four decades of family rule by Assad and his late father, which erupted in the city of Deraa in March 2011.

Rebel fighters, operating under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, cut off the highway to Jordan two months ago. But keeping the road off-limits to Assad's forces depended on retaining Khirbet Ghazaleh, which is at a crossroads leading west to the contested city of Deraa, the sources said.

Before the uprising in Syria, billions of dollars in goods traded between Gulf countries, Turkey and Europe were transported along the highway, which passes Khirbet Ghazaleh before ending at the Nassib border crossing to Jordan.

About 1,000 rebel fighters withdrew from Khirbet Ghazaleh on Wednesday after losing hope that reinforcements would come from Jordan, which has been cautious about provoking a military response from Assad, activists and opposition fighters said.

"Assad's forces started advancing from the north and west and I can still go back to Khirbet Ghazaleh but I cannot do anything," Abu Yacoub, commander of the Martyrs of Khirbet Ghazaleh brigade, told Reuters by telephone from Hauran.

"I can get a thousand fighters back but it is useless because I don't have ammunition in my hands."

Abu Yacoub said he had contacted Ahmad Nemaah, head of the Jordanian backed military council, before ordering the rebel fighters to withdraw, but Nemaah told him he could not do anything.

"If we lost a battle it does not mean we lost for good. But everyone has turned against Nemaah," Abu Yacoub said.

Nemaah could not be reached for comment.

'BIG TRAGEDY'

"Tomorrow, the big tragedy will happen, the regime's supply route to Deraa will reopen and the officers will go back and ammunition will be resupplied and the bombardment will resume," said Abu Yacoub. "For 61 days we had choked them by controlling Khirbet Ghazaleh."

Abu Yacoub said he had lost 35 fighters in two months.

Al Mutasem Billah, an activist with the Sham News Network opposition monitoring group, said most of the rebel brigades in the south blame Jordan and the military council for the defeat.

"The council follows Jordanian Intelligence, which is more concerned about setting up a proxy unit than an effective force on the ground to take on Assad," he said.

Abu Bakr an activist in the nearby Ghweireh village said most civilians had fled Khirbet Ghazaleh but fear was growing that the remaining residents would face summary executions, similar to massacres in other towns overrun by Assad's forces.

"The people of the area are now fleeing because they fear the army will sweep across the region," he said. "The Free Syrian Army will continue to withdraw and won't face the army along the highway because they no longer have ammunition."

Hauran, which borders Jordan and the Golan Heights, has become a significant battleground as the capital of Damascus comes under pressure, with Assad's forces and loyalist militias hitting back.

The intensified fighting has also led to an influx this year of hundreds of thousands of refugees through Jordan's 370 km (230 mile) border with Syria.

The rebels say they have captured large quantities of weapons, ammunition and vehicles, which has helped them to maintain an offensive after a long period in which the southern border area was relatively quiet compared to the northern and eastern parts of Syria.

Jordan has stepped up security and deployed more troops to the border.

Diplomatic and regional intelligence sources also said Amman was allowing limited supplies of light arms to the military council, which is opposed to the Nusra front, an Islamist militant group suspected of links to al Qaeda and blacklisted by the United States as a "terrorist group."

Al-Nusra members, however, have been largely uninvolved in the Khirbet Ghazaleh fighting, activists and opposition military sources said.

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 Post subject: Re: Assad's forces capture strategic town in southern Syria
 Post Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 5:32 am 
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From Dr. John M Curtis.


Meeting inside the gilded walls of the Kremlin May 7, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to hammer out acceptable options for Syria, where 47-year-old Bashar al-Assad clings to power with over 70,000 civilians killed since March 11, 2011. Putin has warned the West about supporting various terror groups seeking to oust al-Assad, without an alternative government that could see Syria deteriorate like Iraq and Afghanistan. Kerry finds himself battling conservatives on Capitol Hill, hell-bent on arming various militias with the intent to toppling the al-Assad. Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping back al-Assad’s attempt to maintain power, something opposed by the U.S. and European Union. Syrian rebel groups won’t agree to any plan unless it involves ousting al-Assad. Neither Kerry nor Putin have any clue whether Damascus would consider their plan.

Looking form outside, most parties see growing violence and chaos, with rebel groups starting to gain the upper hand. If U.S. conservatives get their way, they’d arm the Syrian National Army and other moderate militias with the intent of toppling al-Assad. “The alternative,” Kerry said in a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, “is that Syria heads closer to an abyss, if noT over the abyss into chaos,” referring already to the mounting rebel campaigns advancing on Damascus. Beating back insurgents, al-Assad’s military continues to resist rebel advances with swirling rumors about his regime using sarin nerve gas. President Barack Obama has said that chemical weapons use would cross a “red line” and be a “game changer,” triggering possible military intervention. So far, al-Assad shows no signs of giving in to rebel forces.

Given the damage done to the Middle East and North Africa from the so-called “Arab Spring,” the West should view the revolt in Syria suspiciously. Instead of siding with revolutionary groups, the U.S. and Western power should trade places with al-Assad for a day and ask what they would do. “The alternative is that the humanitarian crisis will grow. The alternative is that there may be even a break-up of Syria,” said Kerry, not considering that whatever political entity emerges could be far more hostile to U.S. interests. With Russia’s history in Chechnya and other North Caucasus states and China’s history with barbarians along its Northern and Eastern frontiers, yielding sovereignty to various Islamic groups could be disastrous. Replacing al-Assad’s authoritarian regime with a Taliban-like theocracy would be far more destabilizing to Syria and the region.

Holding a joint press conference with Kerry, Lavrov said that Russia was not concerned about whether al-Assad continued to lead Syria. Calling for a conference to come up with an option to the current civil war, Lavrov wanted to resume the Geneva communique that called for a transitional government but not specifying al-Assad’s fate. Can you imagine if the shoe were on the other foot and foreign powers commented on taking over Russia or the United States? Calling for a conference “as soon as practical—possibly and hopefully by the end of the month,” neither Kerry nor Lavrov had any suggestion where such a conference would take place. Putin and Lavrov sought to reverse growing pressure for the U.S. to militarily support various rebel groups committed to getting rid of al-Assad. Russia sees no stability in turning Syria over to moderate or radical Islamic groups.

Kerry’s trip to the Kremlin hoped to get more cooperation on Syria from Kremlin to transition al-Assad out of power. Hoping to get “a growing crescendo of nations who want to push for a peaceful resolution, rather that the chaos that comes with the break-up of the country,” Kerry encouraged the Russians to help end the conflict. China remains steadfast on the U.N. Security Council, refusing to back resolution condemning al-Assad’s government for cracking down on rebel groups. Kerry insisted that the goal of a peace conference is “to persuade the government and opposition together . . . to fully implement the Geneva communiqué” that asked all parties to come to the table to negotiate transition to a new government. Despite the Geneva communiqué and other peace efforts, the al-Assad government shows no interest in surrendering its sovereignty to any rebel group.

Obama showed keen political instincts dispatching Kerry to meet with Putin on Syria. However Syria eventually turns out, Barack knows he’ll have to face Russia and China in the U.N. Security Council. If Obama acquiesces to conservative demands to arm Syrian rebel groups, it could cause more civilian deaths and anarchy, failing to oust al-Assad’s Baathist Shiite government. Getting on the same page as Russia and China, gives Barack the most clout to eventually settle the crisis, even if it means keeping al-Assad in power. Sovereign governments must stand on principle that no unlawful rebellion should take down a U.N.-recognized state. If permanent members of the U.N. Security Council side with various rebel forces, it would set a dangerous precedent and encourage more rebellions. If al-Assad decides to go, it must be by consensus not at the barrel of a gun

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 Post subject: Re: Assad's forces capture strategic town in southern Syria
 Post Posted: Fri May 10, 2013 9:28 am 
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The most telling event of the Kerry-Putin meeting was that Kerry was made to wait 3 hours by Putin before Putin actually saw him. Tells you who is got the power in this situation. Obama needs to get this syrian mess over with with some kind of 'defeat with honor' nonsense for obama and his mercenaries. What a joke; iraq - lost, Afghanstan - lost, syria - lost, libya - lost. Even the great actor Ronald Regan could win a few wars.


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