Archive | September 6th, 2013

Russia sending large landing ship to Syrian coast: navy source


Russia’s landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov (file photo)

Russia’s landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov (file photo)

Russia has recently deployed other warships to the Eastern Mediterranean in an effort to beef up its naval grouping in the region, amid a looming US attack on Syria.

Russia is dispatching a massive landing ship carrying ‘special cargo’ toward the Syrian coast, a report says.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed Russian navy official as saying that Nikolai Filchenkov will leave the Ukrainian port city of Sevastopol later on Friday.

“The vessel will dock in Novorossiysk, where it will take special cargo on board and head to the designated area of military service in the eastern Mediterranean,” the source said.

The source, however, did not elaborate on the nature of the cargo.

Russia has recently deployed other warships to the Eastern Mediterranean in an effort to beef up its naval grouping in the region amid the intensifying US war rhetoric against Syria.

On September 1, Moscow dispatched its Priazovye reconnaissance ship tasked with collecting information in the tense region, which will be operating separately from the naval unit.

Russian military sources said on September 4 that Moscow was sending three more naval ships, including a missile cruiser, to the Eastern Mediterranean. The missile cruiser is to be joined by two other vessels, a destroyer from Russia’s Baltic Fleet and a frigate from the Black Sea Fleet.

The war rhetoric against Syria intensified after Syria militants claimed the army had carried out a fatal chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21, which killed hundreds of Syrians.

Damascus has repeatedly said the attack was a false-flag operation carried out by the Takfiri groups in a bid to draw in foreign military intervention.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on September 3 that Moscow has its own plans to deal with a US military offensive against Syria.

“We have our own ideas about what we would do and how we would do it if the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise,” Putin said.

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U.S.-Russian Tensions Heighten over Syria; Roots of Conflict Stem fromNATO Bombing of Libya




Adam Entous, national security correspondent forThe Wall Street Journal. He wrote the recent article on longtime Saudi ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan: “A Veteran Saudi Power Player Works to Build Support to Topple Assad.” His latest is “U.S. Decided Not to Horse-Trade With Russia on Assad.”

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The Wall Street Journal recently revealed new details about how Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud — Saudi’s former ambassador to the United States — is leading the effort to prop up the Syrian rebels. Intelligence agents from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Jordan and other allied states are working at a secret joint operations center in Jordan to train and arm hand-picked Syrian rebels. The Journal also reports Prince Bandar has been jetting from covert command centers near the Syrian front lines to the Élysée Palace in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow, seeking to undermine the Assad regime. “Really what he’s doing is he’s reprising a role that he played in the 1980s when he worked with the Reagan administration to arrange money and arms for mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan and also worked with the CIAin Nicaragua to support the Contras,” says Wall Street Journal reporter Adam Entous. “So in many ways this is a very familiar position for Prince Bandar, and it’s amazing to see the extent to which veterans of the CIA were excited to see him come back because, in the words of a diplomat who knows Bandar, he brings the Arabic term wasta, which means under-the-table clout. You know his checks are not going to bounce and that he’ll be able to deliver the money from the Saudis.”

Watch Part Two of Interview, ‘U.S.-Russian Tensions Heighten over Syria; Roots of Conflict Stem from NATO Bombing of Libya’


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: At the G-20 Summit in Saint Petersburg, Russian and China officials, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, are urging the United States not to bomb Syria in response to last month’s chemical weapons attack. The U.N.’s Ban Ki-moon said, quote, “Let us remember: Every day that we lose is a day when scores of innocent civilians die. There is no military solution.” Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly said a U.S. strike without authorization from the U.N. Security Council would be illegal. But on Thursday the Obama administration declared there is, quote, “no viable path forward” in the U.N. Security Council on Syria. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has accused Russia of holding the U.N. Security Council hostage.

SAMANTHA POWER: I was present in the meeting where the U.K. laid down the resolution. And everything in that meeting, in word and in body language, suggests that that resolution has no prospect of being adopted by Russia, in particular. And our view—again, our considered view, after months of efforts on chemical weapons and after two-and-a-half years of efforts on Geneva, on the humanitarian situation, is that there is no viable path forward in the Security Council.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

One nation that has been pushing for a U.S. military strike is Saudi Arabia. The Wall Street Journalrecently revealed new details about how Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, Saudi’s former ambassador to the United States, is leading the effort to prop up the Syrian rebels. The Wall Street Journal reports Prince Bandar has been jetting from covert command centers near the Syrian front lines to the Élysée Palace in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow, seeking to undermine the Assad regime. The Journal also reports intelligence agents from Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Jordan and other allied states are working at a secret joint operation center in Jordan to train and arm handpicked Syrian rebels.

Joining us now from Washington, D.C., is Adam Entous, national security correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. He co-wrote the recent piece, “A Veteran Saudi Power Player Works to Build Support to Topple Assad.”

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Adam. Why don’t you just start where you begin your piece, A Veteran Saudi Power Player Works to Build Support to Topple Assad”? Americans know him most famously as “Bandar Bush,” because this former Saudi ambassador to the United States was so close to the Bush family. He was the ambassador who was there, for example, September 11, 2001. What is his connection to the Syrian rebels?

ADAM ENTOUS: Well, I mean, he—he really didn’t have a strong connection to these rebels until a couple years ago, when the king of Saudi Arabia decided to put him in the job of intel chief last summer. And since then, he’s been very aggressive in arranging arms shipments and funding for these rebels. Really what he’s doing is he’s reprising a role that he played in the 1980s when he worked with the Reagan administration to arrange money and arms for mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan, and also worked with the CIA in Nicaragua to support the Contras. So, in many ways, this is a very familiar position for Prince Bandar. And it’s amazing to see, you know, the extent to which veterans at the CIA were excited to see him come back, because, you know, in the words of a diplomat who knows Bandar, he brings the Arabic term wasta, which means under-the-table clout. You know his checks are not going to bounce and that he’ll be able to deliver the money from the Saudis.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, your article provides enormous detail—for instance, the role of Jordan and the training, not only by the CIA, but by Saudi forces. Could you talk about Jordan’s role now in the training of the rebels?

ADAM ENTOUS: Right. So, what happened was, is, initially, the Saudis, Qatar, Turkey and, to a certain extent, the CIA in more of an observatory capacity, had set up their operations for arming the rebels out of Turkey. And about a year ago, a little over a year ago, you know, the Saudis were watching as these arms were flowing in, and were concerned that they were going to what the Saudis and what the Americans would consider to be the wrong rebels, and this would include Islamist groups, Muslim Brotherhood-connected groups. And so they decided to pull out of Turkey and move to Jordan.

They convinced the king of Jordan, who was a little—a little bit reticent initially to accept this being done in their territory, because they were worried about reprisals, where, for example, there are large refugee camps for Palestinians just north of the Jordan-Syria border, inside Syria, and the fear for the Jordanians was that the Syrians would literally push those refugees into Jordan and further destabilize the kingdom. What we found in our reporting is, is that Bandar spent many hours with the king and with his military chiefs, reassuring them that the Saudis would support the Jordanians through this. And then CIA Director David Petraeus was involved, as well, in helping assure the Jordanians that the U.S. would have Jordan’s back.

And last summer they created this operation center. And what would happen—what is happening now is you have actually more CIA officers now there at that base than there are Saudi personnel. They fly weapons in. The Saudis are the ones who are doing the bulk of this. They buy the weapons in—largely in places like Eastern Europe, to a certain extent Libya, and they bring them to this base, which has a landing strip and storehouses for the weapons to be stored. The Saudis and the Jordanians draw on defectors, largely, from the Syrian military, which already have a good degree of military training. And they’re brought to this base, where different intel agencies train them. And the Americans are there. The Brits are there. The French are there. The Saudis, UAE is there. And they train them, and then they send them into the fight. And this—but very, very slowly, this process has been built up over the last couple months.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you report, as well, again in a replay of Afghanistan, that the CIA is not only training some of these rebels, but actually has put key figures of the Free Syrian Army on the payroll.

ADAM ENTOUS: Right. It’s a very interesting development, which we learned of as part of the reporting, which is, you know, we are—you know, the United States is not at war with Syria, so this is obviously being done covertly with the CIA. The Saudis were instrumental in getting the CIA to agree to pay these salaries. And the idea is, if these—if these FSA commanders receive American money, the U.S. is building loyalty and building relationships that would last into the future. And that’s the main rationale with these payments that are being made.

And it’s part of, generally, an effort by the Saudis to gradually increase the extent of the U.S. investment in the war in Syria. And it’s been slow-going, as far as the Saudis are concerned, because the CIA is—remains, you know, divided and skeptical about whether or not this is—this has a chance of succeeding. And that’s why you see, for example, the number of CIA-trained rebels entering Syria is incredibly small, given the number of months that this has been going on. For example, Congressman—excuse me, Senators McCain and Graham were told on Monday by Obama that an initial group of 50 rebels trained by the CIA were getting ready to enter, and this is after months of work at this base in Jordan, and the number is incredibly small.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Saudi Arabia, Prince Bandar and the chemical weapons story?

ADAM ENTOUS: Right. So, you know, as you know, the U.S. right now is poised for military action in response to a very large alleged case of chemical weapons use on August 21st. You know, over the course of the last year, there have been these scattered reports of chemical weapons being used in much smaller quantities. Generally speaking, the U.S. intelligence community has been skeptical initially of those. The Saudis played an early and important role in trying to bring evidence of chemical weapon use to the West for analysis. And we were told, as part of the research for the story, that the Saudis had a—were brought by members of the Free Syrian Army, which is the Western-backed rebel group, a Syrian who had been exposed to an agent, a chemical agent. The Saudis arranged for that Syrian to be flown to Britain for treatment and to be tested. What the British found when they did the testing was that this Syrian was exposed to sarin gas, which the U.S. and British and French intelligence believe is only in the possession of the Syrian regime. That was sort of the first case that was—offered credible evidence that chemical weapons had been used.

And what you saw in the months that followed was, first, Saudi intelligence, so Bandar’s intelligence agency, concluded that chemical weapons were being used on a small scale by the regime. Followed by that, the Brits and the French were convinced of the same conclusion. It took U.S. intelligence agencies really until—until June to reach that conclusion. And that’s what led the Obama administration, at least publicly—it was cited by the Obama administration as the trigger for Obama’s decision to instruct the CIA and authorize the CIA to start arming the rebels at this Jordan base.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, you write not only about the role of Prince Bandar, but also the current Saudi ambassador to the United States and his close connections to Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham and also to the Obama administration. Could you elaborate?

ADAM ENTOUS: Sure. So, Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir replaced Bandar as the ambassador here, and he is—you know, has the kind of access to the circles of power in Washington that few, if any, ambassadors have. He gets meetings with the president. He meets constantly with the top White House advisers, as well as members of Congress. And he sort of used the Saudi playbook from the 1980s in Afghanistan. In the case of Afghanistan, you’re probably familiar with the Tom Hanks portrayal of Charlie Wilson, Congressman Wilson, in supporting arming the rebels, the mujahideen, in Afghanistan. Well, in the case of Syria, the Saudis identified the core group as being Senators McCain, Senator Graham and former—former Senator Lieberman. That was the core group. And then Adel al-Jubeir, the ambassador—

AMY GOODMAN: We have about five seconds, Adam.

ADAM ENTOUS: —worked to expand—sure—worked to expand that out to bring more people in, and in the end built a great deal more support within Congress for arming the rebels.

AMY GOODMAN: Adam Entous, we want to thank you for being with us and ask you to stay with us an extra 10 minutes after the show so we could talk to you about your latest piece, the U.S. deciding not to horse-trade with Russia on Assad, about the G-20 meeting, and we’ll post it online Adam Entous is the national security correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. We’ll link to the story he wrote about the Saudi ambassador in Washington, past and present.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI, Russia, SyriaComments Off on U.S.-Russian Tensions Heighten over Syria; Roots of Conflict Stem fromNATO Bombing of Libya

MLFA Funds Appeal of Ziyad Yaghi Thought-Crime Conviction


Attorney Says Defendant Ziyad Yaghi was Convicted for Personal Beliefs, Not Actions

Representatives from the Muslim Legal Fund of America, a national civil liberties defense organization, agreed to fund the appeal in the case of United States of America v. Ziyad Yaghi (Case No. 5:09-CR-216-8-FL), in which appellate attorney Robert Boyle says Yaghi was convicted based solely on First Amendment activities.

Yaghi and six other defendants, commonly referred to as the “Carolina 7,” were arrested on July 27, 2009, and accused of conspiring to provide material support to terrorist groups overseas. On October 13, 2011, a jury found Yaghi guilty. Approximately 90 days later, Yaghi was sentenced to 32 years in prison. He was 23 years old at the time of sentencing.

The appellate brief argues that the trial judge refused to instruct the jury that Yaghi and his co-defendants could not be convicted solely on the basis of their beliefs or advocacy of those beliefs, as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Boyle said that this error was prejudicial to the trial and warrants a reversal of the convictions.

“The bulk of the government’s evidence consisted of the defendants’ mere possession of books, videos and literature as well as public statements on social media,” said Boyle. “There was no evidence that Ziyad committed any criminal actions or even agreed to take any such actions.”

MLFA representatives feel that this case is another test case for the government to see how far prosecutors can push back against civil liberties in the name of national security. One issue of concern to the charitable legal fund is the fact that rap lyrics Yaghi authored and posted to his social media accounts were used as evidence against him.

“If we criminalize art, what’s next?” asked Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA. “We have a proud tradition of First Amendment protections in America, and MLFA will continue funding cases that defend these rights.”

According to Boyle, the appeal will likely be argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, around August or September.

Robert Boyle, Esq. is an attorney specializing in criminal appeals, civil rights and human rights litigation. He has represented several targets of government entrapment in alleged “material support” prosecutions.

The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is a national civil liberties legal fund that defends the U.S. Bill of Rights by supporting legal cases involving civil liberty encroachments. Established in 2001, MLFA has defended freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, due process of law and many of our nation’s civil liberties. To learn more about MLFA, visit their website at

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Russian FM says US strike on Syria may spur nuclear disaster


American aircraft carrier warship USS NImitz

American aircraft carrier warship USS NImitz

The development comes while UN experts are still investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized that Moscow needs convincing evidence and not rumors from UN experts that chemical arms were indeed used by government forces.”


Russian foreign ministry has warned that a military strike against Syria may lead to a nuclear disaster if a small reactor near capital Damascus is hit.

“If a warhead, by design or by chance, were to hit the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) near Damascus, the consequences could be catastrophic,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich is a Wednesday statement cited in a RT report.

The development comes as the US still insist on waging military action against the Arab nation despite a growing global opposition to such moves.

Russian foreign ministry further called on UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct a risk evaluation as the administration of US President Barack Obama continues to seek support for military measures against the Syrian nation.

It asked the agency to “react swiftly” and carry out “an analysis of the risks linked to possible American strikes on the MNSR and other facilities in Syria,” the report adds.

Lukashevich is further cited in the report as emphasizing that the region may be at risk of “contamination by highly enriched uranium and it would no longer be possible to account for nuclear material, its safety and control.”

IAEA, meanwhile, said in a report to member states last week that Syria had declared there was a “small amount of nuclear material” at the MNSR, a type of research reactor usually fuelled by highly enriched uranium.

The agency further announced that it will not conduct a risk evaluation until it receives a formal request to do so, according to press reports.

The is while US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee voted on Wednesday to approve Obama administration’s plan to wage military action against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons, an accusation fiercely denied by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

If both house of Congress vote to approve Obama’s war plan, the US could soon initiate a military strike on Syria.

The development comes while UN experts are still investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized that Moscow needs convincing evidence and not rumors from UN experts that chemical arms were indeed used by government forces.

“We believe that at the very least we should wait for the results of the UN inspection commission in Syria,” Putin said in a recent interview.

The rhetoric of war against Syria first gained momentum on August 21, when the militants operating inside the Middle Eastern country and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition claimed that over a thousand people had been killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.

Damascus categorically rejected the accusation.

Nevertheless, a number of Western countries, particularly the US, France, and the UK, hastily began a publicity campaign to promote military action against the Syrian nation.

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We have our plans if US launches war on Syria, Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow has its own plans to deal with a possible US military offensive against Syria.

Putin made the remarks on Tuesday night at his country residence outside Moscow during an interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television published on Wednesday.

“We have our own ideas about what we would do and how we would do it if the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise,” he said. “We have our plans, but it’s too early to talk about them.”

The war rhetoric against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21.

Damascus has vehemently denied the accusations, saying the chemical attack was carried out by the militants themselves as a false-flag operation.

On August 31, US President Barack Obama said he has decided that Washington must take military action against the Syrian government, which would mean a unilateral military strike without a UN mandate.

Obama said that despite having made up his mind, he will take the case to US Congress. But he added that he is prepared to order military action against the Syrian government at any time.

The US president once again held the Syrian government responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

On August 29, a meeting of the Security Council’s permanent members ended without reaching an agreement on Syria.

The Western members of the council have been pushing for a resolution on the use of force while Russia and China are strongly opposed to any attack on Syria.

Since March 2011, Russia and China have vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions proposed by European states threatening military action and sanctions against Damascus.

The two countries are also opposing the current push by the United States and France to launch a war on Syria, vowing to veto any resolution that paves the way for the military action.


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Pressure mounts on Obama over Syria at G20 summit


At G20 summit, world leaders pressure Obama not to launch military strikes in Syria. ‘There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict,’ EU leader states


US President Barack Obama faced growing pressure from world leaders not to launch military strikes in Syria on Thursday at a summit on the global economy that was eclipsed by the conflict.

The Group of 20 (G20) developed and developing economies met in St. Petersburg to try forge a united front on economic growth, trade, banking transparency and fighting tax evasion.

But the club that accounts for two thirds of the world’s population and 90% of its output is divided over issues ranging from the US Federal Reserve’s decision to end its program of stimulus for the economy to the civil war in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to use the meeting in a seafront tsarist palace to talk Obama out of military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad over a chemical weapons attack which Washington blames on government forces.

The first round at the summit went to Putin as China, the European Union and Pope Francis – in a letter for G20 leaders – aligned themselves more closely with him than with Obama over the possibility and legitimacy of armed intervention.

“Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price – it will cause a hike in the oil price,” Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao told a briefing.

The Pope urged the leaders to “lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution”. He has also invited the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and people of other faiths to join him in a day of prayer and fasting on Saturday to end the civil war.

European Union leaders, usually strong allies of the United States, described the August 21 attack near Damascus, which killed an estimated 1,400 people, as “abhorrent” but added: “There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict.” .

Putin, Assad’s most important ally, was isolated on Syria at a Group of Eight meeting in June, the last big meeting of world powers. He could now turn the tables on Obama, who recently likened him to a “bored kid in the back of the classroom.”

Only France, which is preparing to join US military action, rallied behind Obama.

“We are convinced that if there is no punishment for Mr. Assad, there will be no negotiation,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said before leaving for St. Petersburg.

With backing by Beijing and Moscow unlikely at the UN Security Council, where both have veto powers, Obama is seeking the approval of the US Congress.

Putin says rebel forces may have carried out the poison gas attack and that any military strike without Security Council approval would violate international law, a view which is now increasingly openly being supported by others.

He has no one-on-one talks scheduled with Obama but hopes to discuss Syria at a dinner with all the leaders. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi were also in St. Petersburg, hoping to secure agreement on holding an international peace conference on Syria.

Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, portrayed the “camp of supporters of a strike on Syria” as divided and said: “It is impossible to say that very many states support the idea of a military operation.”

One national leader attending the summit said there appeared to be little chance of a rapprochement between Putin and Obama, whose relations have soured following Russia’s offer of asylum to former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Foreign ministers from the key states in the G20 – which includes all five permanent UN Security Council members – will also discuss Syria on the sidelines of the meeting.

Also attending the summit are French President Francois Hollande, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Saudi Prince Saun Al Faisal al Saud, among others.

Any G20 decision on Syria would not be binding but Putin would like to see a consensus to avert military action in what would be a significant – but unlikely – personal triumph.

Loss of Harmony 
The G20 achieved unprecedented cooperation between developed and emerging nations to stave off economic collapse during the 2009 financial crisis, but the harmony has now gone.

There are likely to be some agreements – including on measures to fight tax evasion by multinational companies – at the summit in the spectacular, 18th-century Peterhof palace complex, built on the orders of Tsar Peter the Great.

An initiative will be presented to leaders on refining regulation of the $630-trillion global market for financial derivatives to prevent a possible markets blow-up.

Steps to give the so-called ‘shadow banking’ sector until 2015 to comply with new global rules will also be discussed.

But consensus is proving hard to achieve among developed economies as the United States takes aggressive action to spur demand and Europe moves more slowly to let go of austerity.

The emerging economies in the BRICS group – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – urged the G20 to boost global demand and ensure that any changes in monetary policy are well flagged to minimize any disruptive “spillovers” that may result.

The appeal reflected the concerns among developing nations over the prospect that the Fed will scale back its ultra-loose monetary policy, and a view that Europe is not doing enough to promote a demand-driven recovery.

The BRICS also agreed to contribute $100 billion to a joint currency reserve pool. China will commit $41 billion; Brazil, India and Russia $18 billion each; and South Africa $5 billion.

Russia and China also joined forces in warning about the potential impact of the Fed ending its bond-buying program to stimulate the economy.

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US sure to ‘suffer loss’ if it acts in Syria, says Iran’s Khamenei


Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (photo credit: AP/Office of the Supreme Leader)

Supreme  leader:  America  using  chemical claims as pretext for war; Rouhani warns ‘US friends’ could be harmed; Syrian adviser blames al-Qaeda for attack

Times of Israel

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday that the United States was sure to “suffer loss” if it took military action in Syria, adding that Washington was using the reported chemical weapons attack near Damascus on August 21 as a pretext for intervention. The US claims the attack was perpetrated by the Syrian regime and killed 1,429 people.

“In the case of Syria, the chemical attack is a pretext… The Americans try to play with words and pretend that they’ve become involved in this case for humanitarian aims,” Khamenei told a meeting of the Assembly of Experts, a state body, quoted by Reuters.

“I believe the Americans are making mistakes in Syria and they have felt the impact and will certainly suffer loss,” he said.

The new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani tweeted on Thursday that any military action in Syria would be harmful to the region and to “US friends.”

Earlier Thursday, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s political and media adviser pointed the finger at al-Qaeda for the chemical attack.

Media and political adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Bouthaina Shaaban, gives an interview to Iran's Press TV on the reported August 21 chemical attack near Damascus (Photo credit:Screenshot/PressTV)

Bouthaina Shaaban said the terror organization was responsible just as just as it was responsible for “killing Syrian people, raping women, [and] kidnapping Christian clerics.”

“The same people who were on the London Tube and who killed British people, the same people who on 9/11 in New York killed American people, they are the same people in Mali, the same people in Libya, the same people in Iraq, the same people in Syria,” she stated as reported by Iran’s Press TV.

She called on the US to provide proof that the regime was behind the attack, saying Washington was “using the same lies, the same fabrications, the same claims, in order to target our country and our people.”

The Syrian regime has denied using chemical weapons, calling US claims “blatant lies.” The Syrian opposition has been consistently backed by Russia, which has warned the US against any action that wasn’t UN-backed, and by Iran.

Iran has remained a staunch ally of the Syrian regime and has actively helped Syrian troops loyal to Assad on the battlefield. The Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has also been an active player on the side of Assad in the civil war that has raged in the country for two-and-a-half years, claiming the lives of over 100,000 people, according to the latest UN figures.

On Wednesday, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force said Iran would defend Syria “until the end,” according to a report in the Fars news agency. Kassem Sulemenai reportedly also said that the majority of Syrian rebels are foreigners and that the US has attempted repeatedly to topple Assad, unsuccessfully.

Meanwhile, a Senate panel on Wednesday approved a resolution authorizing US President Barack Obama to order a limited military strike in Syria. Obama is also seeking congressional approval for a military response.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on US sure to ‘suffer loss’ if it acts in Syria, says Iran’s Khamenei

Irish Mercenaries Training Syrian Death Squads

Global Research

In its weekend supplement devoted to geopolitics French daily Le Mondepublished 8 March, 2013 a report entitled “Syrie : à Atmé, entre révolution et désenchantement” – “Syria: Atme, between revolution and disenchantment”- Christophe Ayad, a regular embedded journalist with NATO’s mercenary forces in Syria, reports on the mixture of despair and chaos that reigns in rebel controlled territory.  One of the rebels tells the French reporter that “three former soldiers of the Irish military elite” provided training to Syrian rebels. It is claimed the Irish soldiers were acting as “independent mercenaries”.  These “former soldiers of the Irish military elite” are acting in violation of international law.

The 1981 UN Declaration on the Inadmissibility and Intervention in the Internal Affairs of States stresses the “imperative need for any threat of aggression, any recruitment, any use of armed bands, in particular mercenaries, against sovereign States to be completely ended, so as to enable the peoples of all States to determine their own political, economic and social systems without external interference or control.”

According to the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann), the Irish republic maintains a policy of military neutrality. This policy has been a foundation stone of the Irish state for many years. What relation do these former Irish military have to the Irish defense forces who are soon  to be deployed as ‘peace-keepers’ in the Golan under a UN mandate?

All Irish retired military have state pensions and often maintain close links with military personnel in active service. If the deployment of Irish troops is approved by Dáil Éireann (the Irish Parliament), what guarantees are there that Irish troops will uphold international law, given the report above which shows that military personnel are already violating international law by training so-called ‘rebels’?

The Irish media have been trying to drum up public support for the deployment of Irish troops to the region by bumptiously claiming that the Irish presence will once again show that Ireland is ‘punching above its weight’. The Irish Herald, for example, claims that an Irish presence in Syria “will do our country proud, referring to our “long peacekeeping tradition”. But  what guarantee is there that Irish troops will behave in a neutral manner when former military elites are training some of the death squads overrunning the country and committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, while blaming those crimes on the Syrian government?

The ultra-reactionary Fine Gael party is pushing for Irish deployment in the Golan Heights but their labour partners are showing signs of possible hesitation over fears that the deployment would violate Ireland’s neutrality. The question of Irish military training one side in the conflict, confirmed by the Le Monde report, should be raised when discussing this issue.

The Moral Code of Imperialism

After the Second World War, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill scolded the Irish government for its neutral position during the war, stating that Britain had shown restraint in not invading the Irish Republic. Taoiseach Eamon De Valera responded that this would imply that:

Britain’s necessity would become a moral code and that when this necessity became sufficiently great, other people’s rights were not to count….this same code is precisely why we have the disastrous succession of wars… shall it be world war number three?

During the Cold War, America’s necessity became a “moral code” as Taoiseach Sean Lemass ordered the checking of all planes flying from the Warsaw Pact countries to Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962-63.  The Irish government did not show the same concern for the CIA’s rendition flights over Shannon Airport after the US invasion of Afghanistan, as US military planes were allowed to pass through Shannon without being checked by Irish authorities. In “world war number three”, Ireland’s neutrality is firmly slanted towards the aggressors.

Irish governments have a history of total hypocrisy in the observance of neutrality. The current coalition ruling party Fine Gael trace their roots back to the fascist Blueshirt organization of the 1930s, who fought on the side of General Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

Now, Fine Gael has plans to wreck the last vestiges of the principle of neutrality by seeking a mandate to send troops to the Golan Heights, while ‘former military elites’ train Zionism’s death squads in their war on the Syrian people. Fine Gael would appear to have not lost their affinity with far right militias and counter-revolutionaries.

Death Squads in Irish History

The fact the Irish government is going along with NATO’s war on Syria and military officials are training death squads on the ground inside that country is particularly sickening when viewed in the light of Irish history. During the Irish War of Independence, the British Empire sent death squads into Ireland to terrorize the Irish people into submission. The terrorist gangs were known as Black and Tans.

Syria’s fight for its independence from the US Empire is no different to the Irish fight in the 1920s, yet the reactionary Fine Gael/Labour government in Dublin is supporting the “Black and Tans” murdering and torturing the people of Syria, while blaming their crimes on the Syrian Arab Army, who are, mutatis mutandis, the equivalent to the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence.

Like Irish governments during the first decades of Irish independence, the Syrian Baath led government instituted vast agrarian reform throughout the 1960s that redistributed farms from landlords to poor peasants, greatly improving the standard of living of the working people. Now, the Irish government is supporting armed bandits who are fighting on behalf of expropriated landlords and foreign multinational corporations.

As for Sinn Féin, they have behaved like cowards and traitors since the NATO war on Libya in 2011. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi had always been a supporter of Sinn Féin, supplying the IRA (Irish Republican Army) with arms during the 1980s, yet the Irish ‘nationalist’ party turned its back on him and the Libyan people as NATO’s “black and tans” slaughtered all before them, reducing Africa’s richest and most promising country to ruins.

If the Sinn Féin leadership had had any courage or intelligence, they would have supported the proposals of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for a ceasefire, a commission of inquiry into the allegations of war crimes by the Libyan government and the initiation of a peace process. Instead, Sinn Féin cowered in silence and went along with NATO’s neo-colonial war, a despicable position they have upheld since NATO’s war came to Syria.

Irish Child Soldiers and the failure of our schools

This is not the first report of Irishmen fighting alongside, and indeed training, NATO death squads in Syria. German daily Die Welt claimed there were Irish jihadists among the fighters in Syria.

The Irish Times reported that there were up to 20 Irish jihadis fighting in Syria. It also claimed that ‘senior figures in Ireland’s Muslim community’ were trying to discourage the young men, some of whom are children, from going to fight in Syria.  Yet, no prominent imams are mentioned.

The Irish Times article makes no mention of the influential European Council for Islamic Fatwa And Research, based in Dublin, whose president is Yusef Al Qaradawi, a fanatical and sectarian Sunni imam who has been openly calling on all Muslims to fight in Syria.

“Every Muslim trained to fight and capable of doing that (must) make himself available”, said the president of Dublin’s European Council for Islamic Fatwa and Research. So, who are the ‘Senior figures in Ireland’s Muslim community’ who are against the injunctions of the bigot Qaradawi?

Algerian deputy and former wife of Qaradawi Asma ben Kada revealed in 2012 that Qaradawi was working for the Israeli Mossad (secret service).

Have Irish authorities investigated the activities of this man and his council for Islamic research and fatwa?

Mehdi Al Herati, a Dublin-born jihadist, was a key player in NATO’s Blitzkrieg on Libya in 2011.  In 2012 a sixteen year old child Shamseddin Gaidan from Navan, Co Meath, Ireland was shot dead in Syria.

Shamseddin Gaidan was only 16. How did a child from Ireland end up fighting alongside NATO mercenaries in Syria?  The principal of St Patrick’s Classical School in Navan, Colm O’Rourke, told the Irish Times ‘“He was a good student who got on with everyone,” Mr O’Rourke said. “He was keen to go fight with the rebels. In 2011 he talked about wanting to join the Libyan revolution.”

Mr. O Rourke seems to be aware that one of his pupils expressed a desire to join in the “Libyan revolution” as he puts it. Shamseddin moved to Ireland from Libya in 2001 and is said to have gone to Syria after spending his holidays in Libya in 2012.  This is rather odd. Given the absolute chaos and violence currently reigning in Libya, it is odd that Shamseddin’s parents would allow their child to spend his summer holidays therejust months after a massive war!

Regardless of whose side they were on in the Libyan war, it is bordering on irresponsible to allow your child to spend his summer holidays in a war zone! Yet, none of this seems to bother the reporters of the Irish Times, who make no effort to find out why the child’s parents let their son travel to Libya. Another question that should be asked here is: how did Mr. O Rourke know that Shamseddin wanted to fight in the Libyan “revolution”?  This suggests that the child spoke about his dream in school and the idea probably came from the non-stop war propaganda of the mass media. Here, one should also point out the responsibility of teachers to educate themselves about the complex world we live in.

Young children are being manipulated by a violent war propaganda media machine into committing acts of terrorism. What role can teachers play to ensure that other pupils are not brainwashed by the mass media into losing their lives for the sake of an international criminal gun and drug cartel called NATO? This is a question for the staff at St. Patrick’s Classical school. We are not attempting to lay the blame on the St. Patrick’s Classical School but rather to point out that when criminal agendas are normalized and accepted in our society through mass media disinformation and propaganda, innocent lives are needlessly lost. In modern multicultural societies, children need to be taught how to question established media narratives. Had young Shamseddin and his parents been educated about the outrageous lies used to justify NATO’s neo-colonial war on Libya, he would probably be alive today.

Lies that kill our children

Shamseddin is reported to have contacted his father by telephone from Syria and refused to come home.   “He refused saying how could he leave when the Syrian regime was killing its own people, including children.”

The accusation that the Syrian government is “killing its own people” has been propagated almost every day since the outbreak of conflict in the country when unknown snipers opened fire on protestors and police in the town of Deraa on 17 March, 2011, killing police and protestors, an operation used by NATO and the CIA in many past destabilization campaigns.

The idea that the conflict started after a “brutal crackdown” by the Syrian government on “peaceful protestors” is one of the biggest lies in the bloody Syrian war propaganda narrative used repeatedly by the corporate press.

The simplistic war propaganda slogan of a dictator “killing his own people” used in the past against Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Gaddafi, and now Bashar Al-Assad is designed to appeal to the emotions of the politically naïve.  Given the success of NATO’s war propaganda since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict this strategy has proven to be effective.  Such propaganda is particularly effective in manipulating the emotions of the youth. This has led hundreds, if not thousands, of ignorant Muslim youths to fight alongside NATO and Israel’s cannon fodder in Libya and Syria.

This is a generation that has grown up on video games and Pentagon-funded Hollywood action films; their understanding of international politics is zero. Stations such as Al Jazeera, BBC, RTE, France 2, CNN, ABC and the corporate media complex in general have provoked these youths into committing acts of terror on behalf of NATO imperialism.

Although the journalists, teachers and politicians in Ireland do not understand what is really happening in Syria, their ignorance makes them complicit in these crimes being committed against the Syrian people.

For over two-and-a-half years the people of Syria have undergone hell on earth as the country has been overrun with terrorists from Iraq, Saudi-Arabia, Qatar, Bangledesh, Philippines, Chechnya, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, TurkeyPakistan and many European states. This is a dirtygenocidal war waged by NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council under the guise of the corporate funded Arab Spring, a cover regime change scenario planned by the US State Department as far back as 2004 according to Rand National Defense Research Institute reports.

The war seeks to replace the Syrian government with a puppet regime in accordance with NATO’s corporate and geopolitical interests; it is a drive by the Euro-Atlantic power elite for global hegemony or what the pentagon calls ‘full spectrum dominance’; they want to create a New Middle East, with all resistance to Israel rendered impossible, a Middle East similar to that envisaged by the Middle East Treaty Organisation formed in 1955; such a fiefdom could be relied upon by the empire to furnish further terrorists for the destabilization of the North Caucasus, Iran and Eastern China.

Freedom House, International Republican Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, Movements.Org, Canvas, Open Society Institute, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Americans for Reformed Democracy, Project for Middle East Democracy were just some of the US regime change NGOs that trained and funded the activists of the “Arab Spring”.

There are prominent ‘thinkers’ and ‘intellectuals’ on the left who have promoted the Arab Spring as some form of anti-imperialist uprising against ‘US-backed dictators’. Such an interpretation flies in the face of all the evidence which shows that the uprising was part of a far wider and long-term geopolitical strategy to reconfigure North Africa and the Middle East in accordance with NATO and Israeli interests.

In spite of all overwhelming evidence that none of these uprisings were led by a genuine,  working class movement, these pseudo leftists supported the right-wing hooligans in Libya and have continued to support the clerico-fascist death squads in Syria; some have even had the temerity to describe what is happening there as the ‘end of the Sykes Picot’, neo-colonial Middle East; they have even indulged in the most ludicrous conspiracy theories, suggesting that the US and Israel are secretly backing Assad and don’t want the ‘rebels’ to win!  It is extraordinary how the reputation for being a ‘serious intellectual’ can mask statements and analyses whose quackery and absurdity are clear to anyone with an understanding of US foreign policy and a grasp of elementary logic.

Ireland has a long history of fighting imperialism. For centuries the rights of Irish people were trampled upon by the world’s first ‘free trade’ empire.  Now the successors of that free trade empire want the Irish Republic to participate in their foreign wars, so that other people can be beaten down and subjugated like the Irish.

Ernesto Guevara Lynch’s mother once remarked that her son’s Irish ancestry inspired him to fight against US imperialism. Anyone who has visited Syria will recall the popularity of Che Guevara Lynch among supporters of the Syrian Arab Army; Che’s mascot can be seen throughout Syria. Now, the Irish labour party, who falsely claim to trace their roots to the Irish revolutionary James Connolly, are considering sending Irish troops to Israeli-occupied Golan, as Irish military “elites” train clerico-fascists and counter-revolutionaries in Syria, extreme right wing thugs who behead, torture, slaughter civilians and abuse women; these hordes of a decadent empire in its death throes, sent in to smash the last bastion of  peoples’ resistance against Zionism and Imperialism in the Middle East.

It is time for the Irish people to rise up against their own criminal dictators who have sold out our hard-won land and independence to foreign bondholders and imperialist interests. The attempt by the Irish press to drum up support for Irish involvement in this neo-colonial war of aggression against the Syrian people is nothing short of a national disgrace.  The Syrian Arab Army is fighting for the freedom of their country, for Syria’s right to national self determination.

What James Connolly wrote just months before the 1916 Rising is sadly relevant today when he remarked:

Our Irish daily newspapers have done all that human agencies could do to confuse the public mind upon the question of what the essentials of a free nation are, what a free nation must be, and what a nation cannot submit to lose without losing its title to be free

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I$raHell ‘uneasy’ being painted by Obama as potential WMD victim


‘We don’t need America to take care of threats to Israel,’ officials quoted as saying. President said to have assured PM he remains determined to stop Iran going nuclear

Times of Israel

Israel’s leaders are reportedly unhappy that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are citing concern over Israel being hit by Syrian chemical weapons as a means to galvanize Congressional support for a strike against President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Israel is “discomfited that both Obama and Kerry mentioned Israel as a potential victim of Assad’s chemical weapons,” Israel’s Channel 2 news reported Monday night. Israel, it quoted unnamed senior Israeli officials saying, “is not a victim. We don’t need America to take care of threats to Israel.”

Israel’s army, the sources said, was perfectly capable of protecting Israel from any dangers posed by Assad.

Furthermore, if the United States did go ahead and strike at Assad, for using chemical weapons to kill 1,429 Syrians in what Kerry said Friday was a carefully planned attack on August 21, Israel would regard itself as having full “freedom of action” to respond as it saw fit, the TV report said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that he sees a low probability of Assad retaliating against Israel for any US strike, and has warned that any Syrian attack would be met with forceful response.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu urged Israelis to enjoy the forthcoming High Holidays — Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) starts on Wednesday night — and warned, “If anyone thinks of disturbing the tranquility of the festival, he should know what’s in store for him.”

During his Rose Garden remarks on Saturday, Obama called the August 21 attack “an assault on human dignity… It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons…”

Kerry, a day earlier, bracketing Assad with Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein in making an urgent case for military intervention, said “our choice today has great consequences… It matters to our security and the security of our allies. It matters to Israel.”

In a telephone call on Saturday, some four hours before he surprisingly announced that he would seek Congressional authorization before a strike on Syria, Obama reportedly telephoned Netanyahu to give him advance warning of his change of heart. Obama told Netanyahu in that conversation that his stance on Syria had “no negative implications” for his policies aimed at thwarting Iran’s nuclear drive, Channel 2 further reported, quoting the president as saying to Netanyahu, “I remain determined to prevent Iran going nuclear.”

Kerry also reportedly telephoned Netanyahu, on Sunday, and insisted that Assad would be “held accountable” for the August 21 attack.

Privately, Israeli leaders are said to be worried that Iran will read the delay in a US-led strike on Assad as an indication of American hesitancy and weakness, with potential implications for the Islamic Republic’s drive to a nuclear weapons capability. Netanyahu has ordered his ministers to stay silent on the issue of Obama’s change of heart, but a former Israeli national security adviser, Giora Eiland, said flatly in a radio interview Monday that he considered the Obama shift to be “a mistake” — and noted that it gave Assad further leeway to keep killing the civilians that an American response would be designed to protect.

Channel 2 quoted unnamed senior American sources as saying that tackling Syria was “complex” but “marginal from a strategic point of view.” They reportedly said Obama was concerned not to get the US drawn into the Syrian civil war, but that the president was adamant that Assad’s use of chemical weapons would not be allowed to pass without the appropriate response.

The American sources said Obama was telling members of Congress, as he sought to persuade them to authorize a strike, that America’s deterrent capability vis-a-vis Syria, Hezbollah and Iran would be damaged were it not to take military action against Assad. Anyone worried by Iran’s nuclear program should support hitting Assad, the sources said Obama was telling members of Congress.

The TV report said the White House was hoping that the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC would help win Congressional support for Obama to strike at Syria

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Putin warns against ‘illegal’ military action in Syria, bypassing UNSC


Russia needs convincing proof, not rumors, from UN experts that chemical weapons were used in Syria, said the Russian president in an interview with First Channel and AP. It is up to the UN Security Council to decide on the next course of action, he said.

Speaking to journalists from Russia’s state Channel 1 television and Associated Press, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a number of decisive statements regarding the supposed use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, which evoked a threat of a US-led strike on Syria.

“We believe that at the very least we should wait for the results of the UN inspection commission in Syria,”Putin said, adding that so far there is no information about what chemical agent exactly was used in the attack in Damascus’ suburbs and who did it.

“I’ve already said I find it absolutely ridiculous that [Syrian] government’s armed forces, which today are actually on an offense mission and in some regions have already encircled the so-called rebels and are finishing them off, that the Syrian army has used prohibited chemical weapons,” Putin said.

“They know all too well that this could become a cause for sanctions and even for a military operation against them. That’s stupid and illogical.”

“We proceed from the assumption that if anyone has information that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regular army, then such proof must be presented to the UN Security Council and the UN inspectors,”Putin said, stressing that the proof must be “convincing” and not based on “rumors” or any sort of“eavesdropped intelligence data,” conversations etc.

“Even in the US there are experts who question the reliability of the facts presented by the administration. These experts do not exclude the possibility that the Syrian opposition has conducted a pre-planned provocation in order to give their sponsors a reason for military intervention,” he acknowledged.

Putin later leveled criticism at US Secretary of State John Kerry as he spoke to human rights activists on Wednesday, saying Kerry “lied” by claiming there was no Al-Qaeda militants fighting in Syria and that the military strike against President Assad will not boost the terrorist network’s presence in the region.

“They lie, plainly. I watched the Congressional debate. A congressman asked Mr. Kerry: “Is there any Al-Qaeda [in Syria]? There are reports they have been growing stronger.” He [Kerry] replied: “No. I say with all responsibility: there is no [Al-Qaeda] there,” Putin explained.

The Russian President then said the Al-Nusra Front terrorist organization, which pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda, has been at the forefront of the rebel groups fighting Assad’s forces, and that the US is well aware of that.

“Well, he [Kerry] lies. And he knows that he lies. This is sad,” Putin remarked.

Speaking of Kerry’s confidence in that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons, Putin recalled former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s rhetoric on the eve of American invasion in Iraq.

Powell even brandished some test tube with a white powder as he attempted to persuade the international community that Iraq has chemical weapons, Putin said, stressing that it later turned out that “all these arguments did not hold water.”

Putin says he “does not exclude” that Russia may agree with a military operation if it is proved that the Syrian government is behind the attack, however he emphasized that in accordance with international law a decision of the UN Security Council is needed for that.

“All other reasons and means that excuse using military force against an independent sovereign state are unacceptable and cannot be classified otherwise but as an aggression,” Putin noted.

“We would be convinced by a detailed investigation and direct evidence of who exactly used chemical weapons and what substances were used. Then we’ll be ready to take decisive and serious action,” said the president.

Answering a question about video records of dead children that allegedly died in the chemical attack in Damascus, Vladimir Putin called the material with dead children “horrible”.

“The questions are what exactly was done and who is to blame. This video does not answer these questions,” Putin said, sharing an opinion that this video is a compilation made by the militants who – even the US acknowledges – have links with Al-Qaeda and are notorious for extreme atrocities.

Putin recommended to pay attention to the fact that in the video with dead children there are no parents, children’s relatives or even medical personnel, while people who do appear in the video remain unidentified. However terrible the picture could be, it cannot be proof of anybody’s guilt, Putin said, and called for investigation of the incident.

Russia is fulfilling arms contracts with Syria “because we believe that we are working with the legitimate government and we are violating neither international law, nor our obligations,” assured Putin, stressing that the UN had imposed no sanctions on the export of weapons to Syria.

He confirmed that Moscow has a signed contract with Damascus to deliver S-300 air defense missile complexes to Syria. The S-300 system is kind of outdated, said Putin, “though they might be a little better than Patriot missiles.”

Russia already has deployed S-400 and forthcoming S-500 systems, “[and] these are all certainly very efficient weapons,” Putin noted.

“We have a contract to supply S300 missiles, and we’ve already supplied some parts, but not all of it, because we decided to suspend the supplies for a while. But if we see international law being violated, we will reconsider our future actions, including supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world,” he promised.

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