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Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Excerpts: Russian warships sent to Mediterranean. No clear winner re Syria war December 18, 2012

Excerpts: Russian warships sent to Mediterranean. No clear winner re Syria
war December 18, 2012

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 18 Dec.”Russia Sends Warships to Mediterranea”,
Agence France Presse
SUBJECTS: Russian warships sent to Mediterranean

QUOTES:”Russia is sending a new flotilla of warships to the Mediterranean. .
. amid the escalating situation in Syria”; ”Russian navy ships could be used
to evacuate the thousands of Russian citizens still in Syria”

FULL TEXT:Russia is sending a new flotilla of warships to the Mediterranean,
the defense ministry said on Tuesday[18 Dec.], amid the escalating situation
in Syria.

The frigate Yaroslavl Mudry, the landing ships Kaliningrad and Alexander
Shabalin as well as two other vessels have left their home port of Baltiysk
on the Baltic and are heading for the Mediterranean, the defense ministry
said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

It said the Baltic Fleet flotilla would be replacing a flotilla already in
place from the Black Sea Fleet and would carry out training maneuvers.

The statement did not mention Syria but military sources have previously
told the Interfax news agency that Russian naval ships could be used to
evacuate the thousands of Russian citizens still in Syria in case the
situation in the country worsens.

SourceAgence France Presse

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 18 Dec.’12:”Assad deputy at odds with president over
Syria war”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: No clear winner re Syria war
QUOTE: Assad’s deputy (Farouk Sharaa) said a clear winner is unlikely to
emerge from Syria’s 21 month war. . . preferred a negotiated solution. .
. at odds with Assad”
DAMASCUS — President Bashar Assad’s deputy said a clear winner is unlikely
to emerge from Syria’s 21-month war, in remarks published on Monday[17
Dec.], as UN chief Ban Ki-moon voiced alarm at escalating bloodshed.

Farouk Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim, also told the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar he
preferred a negotiated solution to the conflict, a position at odds with
Assad, who is from the Alawite offshoot of Shiite Islam.

In the latest fighting, Assad’s warplanes pounded eastern Damascus as
residents fled renewed clashes at a Palestinian camp in the capital — bombed
by regime aircraft for the first time at the weekend.

“No opposition can end the battle militarily, just as the security forces
and army cannot achieve a decisive conclusion,” Vice President Sharaa told
Al Akhbar newspaper.

“Every day that passes, we are moving further away from a military or
political solution.

“[Assad] does not hide his desire to press on militarily until the final
victory [and he believes that] after this, political dialogue will actually
still be possible.”

Sharaa, 74, has served the Assad regime for decades, but has been seen in
public only a few times since the Arab Spring-inspired uprising erupted in
March 2011.

Iran and Turkey offered their own proposals aimed at ending the conflict.

Tehran’s six-point plan included an immediate halt to violence under UN
supervision, lifting sanctions against Syria, freeing political prisoners
and a dialogue to form a transitional government to organise free elections.

Arab and Western nations including the United States reject any Iranian
involvement in the crisis, saying Tehran is discredited over its unwavering
support for Assad.

Ankara reportedly called for Assad to step down within the first three
months of 2013 and for the transition to be overseen by the opposition
Syrian National Coalition.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cancelled a planned Monday[17 Dec.]
visit to Turkey, his office said a day after his foreign minister warned
Ankara over hosting Patriot missiles on its border with Syria.

In Washington, the US Treasury said it had designated former Lebanese
minister Michel Samaha a “specially designated global terrorist” for aiding
the Assad regime to carry out attacks in his country.

On Sunday[16 Dec.], warplanes bombed the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in
Damascus, prompting the UN’s Ban to express alarm.

“The secretary general is alarmed by the continued dramatic escalation of
violence in Syria over the past several days, and the grave danger facing
civilians in areas under fire,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes killed at least
eight civilians.

Residents said more people fled the camp on Monday[17 Dec.] as new clashes
erupted between rebels and the pro-regime Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine-General Command.

East of Damascus, warplanes attacked the Eastern Ghuta region, while smoke
was seen rising from nearby Zamalka, also raided by jets.

Army reinforcements were travelled from a military airport west of Damascus
to Daraya farther south, where about 8,000 residents were trapped by a
tank-backed regime assault.

“It is a tragic situation today in Daraya... there are fierce clashes on all
fronts,” activist Abu Kinan said from Daraya, where more than 500 people
were reportedly killed in August in the conflict’s bloodiest massacre.

Unverified video footage showed the Abu Suleiman mosque being pounded by
shelling, as clouds of smoke billowed into the sky.

Nationwide, at least 42 people were killed on Monday, said the observatory,
which puts the overall death toll from the conflict at more than 43,000.

==========
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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