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Posts Tagged ‘Government’

Syria vows to crush Aleppo rebels

July 29th, 2012 Comments off

Renewed heavy fighting is reported in Syria’s largest city, as the government pledges to defeat rebels who control parts of Aleppo.
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Syrian Baath Escalates, Uses Jets to Bomb Aleppo

July 25th, 2012 Comments off

When I was interviewed by the BBC last week about rebel advances in Damascus, I cautioned that putting some armed bands in some neighborhoods would not result in a revolution. Nor did even a big bombing of security officials. I said that that a significant proportion of the population of the capital would have to rise up in order for the regime to fall. The rising did not take place (people were still terrified, and thousands fled). In subsequent days, the Baath government riposted, taking back the downtown Midan and other areas, and not hesitating to use its massive firepower advantage, even if it meant high non-combantant casualties.

Then the rebels launched their Aleppo campaign, taking over whole neighborhoods of the country’s largest city, in the north. This advance was probably made possible in part because the regime had pulled troops to the capital to meet the challenge there. But now that Damascus has been largely regained, the government of Bashar al-Assad has turned its sights on Aleppo.

One Arabic report has it that that the al-Assad regime has removed hundreds of Sunni officers from responsibilities for safeguarding chemical weapons stores and commanding helicopter gunships. They are giving these sensitive responsibilities to officers from the minority Alawite Shiite community instead, which dominates the upper echelons of the Baath government and military.

The defection of the Tlass (Talas) family, formerly pillars of Sunni support for the regime, may have driven this change if it is true. Manaf Tlass surfaced Tuesday to call on Syrians to rise up against their government.

In a remarkable escalation, the regime on Tuesday and early Wednesday subjected Aleppo to bombing raids by MIGs.

ITN has a chilling video report with footage from Aleppo:

The determination of a terrified and brutal minority regime to reassert itself is clear in the appointments made by President al-Assad to replace his assassinated officials. As Joshua Landis explains, they are all hawks.

On Tuesday evening into Wednesday, ground forces subjected the Tal district of Aleppo to heavy artillery bombardment. The 216th Mechanized Brigade directed fire on the district of 100,000 people about 5 miles north of Aleppo proper. Helicopter gunships were also deployed against the rebels.

Elsewhere in the north, there was back and forth fighting by rebels and regime loyalists in Deir al-Zor.

The Syrian regime is armed to the teeth, with 5,000 tanks, thousands of artillery pieces, and a significant air force. If it decides to commit these massive military resources to the fight with the rebels, it may well be able to crush them in the short term. But its problem is to retain the loyalty of enough of the population and the troops that stem from them to continue to operate the machinery of war against its own urban population.

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Syria soldiers ‘head for Aleppo’

July 25th, 2012 Comments off

Thousands of government troops stationed on Syria’s border with Turkey are heading to Aleppo to join in fighting in the city, activists say.
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What is the Government Hiding about its Drone Assassinations? (Currier)

June 26th, 2012 Comments off

Drone Documents: Why The Government Won’t Release Them

by Cora Currier ProPublica.

The covert U.S. effort to strike terrorist leaders using drones has moved further out of the shadows this year — targeted killing has been mentioned by President Obama and defended in speeches by Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. The White House recently declassified the fact that it is conducting military operations in Yemen and Somalia.

But for all the talk, the administration says it hasn’t officially confirmed particular strikes or the CIA’s involvement.

Over the past year, the American Civil Liberties Union and reporters at The New York Times have filed several requests under the Freedom of Information Act seeking information about the CIA’s drone program and the legal justification for attacks that killed terrorists and U.S. citizens. The government answered with a Glomar response — neither verifying nor denying that it has such documents.

So both the Times and the ACLU sued, claiming that there is widespread acknowledgement by government officials of drones and targeted killing, as well as the CIA’s involvement.

Last week, the Justice Department submitted a motion in a federal court in New York seeking to dismiss the lawsuits. The government’s argument, it turns out, mostly reiterates its Glomar response.

Any public statements by the administration, the motion states, were carefully phrased to avoid discussing specific operations and don’t constitute official acknowledgement of targeted killing or the drone program. This includes Obama’s statements on the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar Al Awlaki — “the President plainly did not acknowledge whether the United States was responsible for his death” — and Holder and Brennan’s speeches this spring, which, according to the motion, address only the “potential targeting” of U.S. citizens, but not specific operations.

However, the motion says the CIA can now acknowledge that it has some documents related to “the use of targeted lethal force” against U.S. citizens — including, namely, the public speeches given by Holder and Brennan this spring:

The motion cites some existing legal analysis related to targeted killing and those public speeches:

But it says the government can’t reveal more about the documents — neither their names nor how many there are:

Because whether or not the U.S. was involved in specific targeted killings, or whether the CIA is involved in targeted killing — at all — remains classified:

Similarly, the motion says that to acknowledge any number of records on drones would reveal whether the CIA possesses drones:

Finally, the government’s brief adds that a few of the documents sought by the FOIA requests could be identified but are protected under executive privilege — because they involve internal deliberations in the Office of Legal Counsel, or are related to preparations for public statements by administration officials or meetings with the president.

The ACLU’s deputy legal director said that the organization is preparing its opposition brief. A federal appeals court will hear arguments in September in another of the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuits over the CIA’s drone program.

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Mirrored from ProPublica

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Syria in civil war – UN official

June 13th, 2012 Comments off

Syria is in civil war, warns the UN’s head of peacekeeping, as the US accuses Russia of supplying the Syrian government with attack helicopters.
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“Democracy becomes a government of bullies . . .” (Ralph Waldo Emerson Poster)

May 5th, 2012 Comments off

Emerson: Democracy becomes a government of bullies…

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Indonesia seeks UAE investments

April 30th, 2012 Comments off

The Indonesian government has urged the UAE companies to tap opportunities in that country.
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Syrian activists: Homs calm as observers expected

April 21st, 2012 Comments off

Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to Geneva Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, center, answers questions from the media after the Syrian Humanitarian Forum at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, April 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)Activists say fighting and government shelling has stopped in Syria’s central city of Homs in advance of an expected visit by U.N. observers.

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Flash: Lebanon government hacked

April 17th, 2012 Comments off

Syria wants guarantees to pull troops from cities

April 8th, 2012 Comments off

In this Friday, April 6, 2012 photo, Free Syrian Army fighters stand guard during fighting with Syrian troops in a suburb of Damascus, Syria. Syrian government shelling and offensives against rebel-held towns killed dozens of people across the country on Saturday, activists said, as the U.S. posted online satellite images of troop deployments that cast further doubt on whether the regime intends to comply with an internationally sponsored peace plan. (AP Photo)Syria demanded “written guarantees” Sunday that its opponents will lay down their weapons before the government withdraws troops from cities, derailing a U.N.-brokered truce that was supposed to start in two days.

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