Aletho News


Gaza fishers and farmers: nowhere to go

By Kevin Neish | International Solidarity Movement | September 13, 2013

Gaza, Occupied Palestine – We had a meeting with some leaders in the Gaza commercial fishing industry, to hear their stories and see if or how we can assist them.

Fishermen in Gaza City (Photo by Kevin Neish)

Fishermen in Gaza City (Photo by Kevin Neish)

Gaza Strip fishers have historically been some of the poorest families here, especially as many are not refugees, and so do not receive UN assistance.  Their lot has been made that much worse with the attacks and restrictions imposed on them by the Israeli forces.  Since the July Egyptian coup, the Israelis have ignored the Nov 2012 ceasefire that was brokered by the previous Morsi Egyptian government.  There’s been a sad litany of recent violations against Palestinian fishers:

  • the arbitrary reduction of the fishing area from six nautical miles to five.
  • the Israelis are now holding weekly military exercises within Palestinian waters.  Yesterday morning activists watched as an Israeli gunboat cruised along, only 500 meters off the coast of Gaza City.
  • the Israeli navy usually just shot at ships’ hulls, but are now shooting at the fishermen themselves.
  • Gaza fishers are being shot at three miles, two miles and even just one mile from shore.  Two fishers from Shadi Camp were recently shot by Israeli forces while well inside the new five-mile limit.
  • a safety related, permanently anchored, Palestinian light ship, marking their safe fishing limit, was just stolen by Israeli forces.

Even with all these provocations, the Gaza government is still striving to keep the ceasefire alive, going as far as to pass their own law, to arrest any fisher crossing the six-mile ceasefire limit.  And we activists have not been encouraged to accompany the fishers, in case our presence may encourage fishers to “push the envelope” and challenge the Israelis.

The trickle down effects of all this on fishing families eventually hits the youth the hardest, with no funds for education, clothing, proper nutrition and ultimately no next generation at all, as there is no work, accommodations or finances for young fishermen’s families to get started.

And the farmer’s lot is no better, as we found out at a recent meeting in Khan Younis, with farmers who own land close to the Israeli “buffer zone.”

Farmers in Khuza'a (Photo by Kevin Neish)

Farmers in Khan Younis (Photo by Kevin Neish)

Even though it is time to plant, these farmers are not even attempting to approach their fields due to Israeli sniper fire.  The November cease fire, supposedly guaranteed that farmers could work their land, up to 100 meters from the border, but the Israelis only honored that for three months, and now shoot at farmers 800 meters from the border.  And even if they do manage to get plants in the ground, they cannot tend and water them due to the danger. Even if they could do this, the Israeli bulldozers and tanks are flagrantly crossing into the “buffer zone” and destroying their hard work in minutes. So now their plan is to wait until the fall rains come, so the crops will not need as much dangerous personal attention from the farmers, and ISM will be there, to at the very least, document any ceasefire violations.  But, at a minimum, three crucial months of farming some of the most productive land in Gaza, are being lost, in a country desperate for food.  And with the tunnels to Egypt now cut off, the Palestinians are left to buy overpriced, second-rate produce and junk food from Israel.

As well, they now have to buy Israeli fuel at double the cost of Egyptian tunnel fuel, so everything from taxi rides to the farms to bread for their families has gone up.  And Gaza is going from having power cuts of eight to twelve hours a day to only having power for 4 hours a day.  Besides the personal impossibilities of managing a household of refrigerators, freezers, well water pumps, washing machines, computers and such, on just four hours of electricity, think of the hospitals. The famous recent instance, of a Gaza doctor during a power outage completing an operation using the light of his cell phone, may soon not be so unusual.

It would seem the Israeli military is trying to goad Gaza into striking out at them, and then the “retaliatory” Israeli attacks would begin.  And then this one-way ceasefire would truly end, with rockets and missiles flying in both directions, and the Western media will suddenly, but belatedly, take notice of Gaza.  There is a desire for peace over here, if someone from the “outside” would just offer some support.

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

Obama’s foreign policy just as bad or worse than Bush’s – poll

RT | September 12, 2013

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say President Barack Obama’s handling of foreign policy is either equal to or worse than that of predecessor George W. Bush, a new poll reveals.

The results of a recent Reason-Rupe poll published on Tuesday this week suggest that a majority of Americans — 64 percent — consider the current commander-in-chief’s job performance with regards to international affairs to be no better than Pres. Bush, who kick-started wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq during his eight years in the White House.

According to the results of the poll, 32 percent of Americans polled said Obama’s handling of foreign policy is worse than that of his predecessor, with 32 percent also saying it was “about the same.”

Thirty-two percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they consider Obama’s handling of foreign policy better than that of Pres. Bush.

And as a potential United States-led military strike against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s regime remains a very real possibility in the days to come, Reason’s Emily Ekins wrote that Obama — who famously said he opposes “dumb wars” — could launch the US into a situation that wouldn’t be supported by a majority of Americans.

“Nearly three-quarters of Americans, 74 percent, say it would be ‘unwise’ for the United States to launch airstrikes on Syria without the support of the United Nations or Great Britain,” Ekins wrote of the results.

Additionally, only 17 percent of those polled said it would be a wise move to attack Assad’s regime to reprimand the Syrian leader for the alleged use of chemical weapons last month outside of Damascus. The White House said previously that Assad’s army deployed chemical warheads on August 21 and in turn eradicated more than 1,400 people.

The same proportion of Americans who put Bush’s foreign policy record at-or-above that of Pres. Obama — 64 percent — told pollsters that US airstrikes against Syria are not necessary to protect America’s credibility and national security, despite the administration arguing otherwise.

Pres. Obama had been considering a unilateral military strike against Assad without approaching Congress for authorization, but has in recent days formalized his request with the House and Senate and has since postponed voting while diplomatic options are considered by the UN and international community.

Foreign policy aside, however, the Obama administration isn’t winning much support among the Americans polled by Reason and Rupe. According to their questioning, 61 percent said they believe the US is heading in the “wrong direction,” compared to 28 percent who say America is, “generally speaking,” on the right path.

Forty-three percent of those surveyed said they disapprove of Obama’s overall job performance. Before the US ramped-up its interest in the Syrian civil war, a similar poll conducted in May found that exactly half of Americans polled approved of the president’s job, signaling a 7 percentage point drop in a matter of months.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney acknowledge the president’s reluctance to use military force in Syria after more than a decade of wars started under the Bush administration.

thumbs_obama-face“He knew and knows and understands that the American people are extremely reluctant to get the United States involved again militarily in the Middle East — not just in the Middle East, but anywhere,” Carney told reporters. “But as someone who deeply understands that, and who has spent four and a half years as president getting us out of wars, he believes in the case that he made last night, and I think he understands why there’s reluctance and why there’s anxiety about potentially striking Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons.”

Full poll

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Comments Off on Obama’s foreign policy just as bad or worse than Bush’s – poll

Costa Rica: Indigenous Communities Reject Proposed US Army Incursion

By Kahina Boudarène | The Argentina Independent | September 12, 2013

Indigenous people and farmers from the canton of Talamanca rejected their mayor’s demand to allow incursions by the United States Southern Command within the Bribri Indigenous Territory.

In a letter to Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, Talamanca’s mayor Melvin Cordero asked for the establishment of a “humanitarian air bridge” with the US organisation to facilitate access to the territory by institutions such as the Social Welfare Fund, the Ministry of Education, the Institute of Rural Development, the National Production Council, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the municipality.

Cordero stated that this request is intended as a means to provide essential services to the communities of Alto Telire. However, Bribri indigenous leader Leonardo Buitrago declared that this argument is questionable as there is no extreme poverty in Talamanca, the main reason quoted by the mayor.

According to Buitrago, this operation would put the population in danger and would facilitate the entry of military troops into indigenous territory without consulting the concerned communities.

Farmer Wilbert Gomez from Sixaola also considered that these proposed incursions are unjustified, stating that humanitarian missions could be carried out by the communities themselves along with the institutions in charge of protecting the population. “Military power is used to suppress the people, and to impose power over the people. But we love our sovereignty and freedom, and we believe that we ourselves have the ability to decide what we want.”

The US Southern Command, which aim is to protect US interests in Latin America -such as its access to the Panama Canal- is in charge of security, surveillance, and counter-narcotics operations in more than 31 countries. Its estimated number of soldiers is 24,000.

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | Comments Off on Costa Rica: Indigenous Communities Reject Proposed US Army Incursion

What Convinced Obama to Reverse His Position on NSA Surveillance?

By Jennifer Hoelzer | September 11, 2013

8734868513_42f8f0e4dd_m.jpgSince details of the NSA’s surveillance programs started coming to light in early June – and President Obama’s been forced to publicly answer for its activities – the president has repeatedly reminded us that he came into office with a “healthy skepticism about these programs.”  But, after careful evaluation, he determined “that on, you know, net, it was worth doing.”

Some of these programs I had been critical of when I was in the Senate. When I looked through specifically what was being done, my determination was that the two programs in particular that had been at issue, 215 and 702, offered valuable intelligence that helps us protect the American people and they’re worth preserving. (From his August 9th Press Conference.)

It’s a rhetorical strategy intended to win his critics’ trust by demonstrating that he understands our concerns because he used to share them.  The message he wants us to take away is: if we had been in his shoes and saw the evidence he saw when he got into office, we would have signed off on these programs too.

Well, yesterday we got a glimpse of some of the evidence he saw when he assumed office – at least in connection to the NSA’s collection of U.S. phone call records — and, it begs the question, what exactly changed his mind about the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs?  What did the President see that led him to the conclusion that everything he had previously said on the topic was wrong because allowing the NSA to collect everyone’s phone call records really is a constitutionally-supported, great idea?

Because, according to the documents the ODNI released yesterday, when President Obama took office, the NSA’s “telephony metadata” program wasn’t getting stellar reviews.  In fact, we now know that days prior to Obama’s inauguration, the NSA reported that it had repeatedly violated the court-ordered rules limiting its use of the data it was collecting.  A little over a month later, a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found that, “Since January 15 [five days before Obama’s inauguration] it has finally come to light that the FISC’s authorizations of this vast collection program have been premised on a flawed depiction of how the NSA uses” the phone call data.

Not only had the Intelligence Community been misrepresenting its program to the court, the judge, Reggie B. Walton, went on to write:

The minimization procedures proposed by the government in each successive application and approved and adopted as binding by the orders of the FISC have been so frequently and systemically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall BR regime has never functioned effectively.


To approve such a program, the Court must have every confidence that the government is doing its utmost to ensure that those responsible for implementation fully comply with the Court’s orders.  The Court no longer has such confidence.

The judge also implied that – other than hypothetical examples of how this data might provide intelligence of “immense value to the government” – the government had yet to provide the court with concrete evidence that the program was actually providing that value.

This program has been ongoing for nearly three years.  The time has come for the government to describe to the Court how, based on the information collected and analyzed during that time, the value of the program to the nation’s security justifies the continued collection and retention of massive quantities of U.S. person information.

Again, Judge Walton reached these conclusions based on evidence that was available to him at the very same time that I imagine President Obama and his team were evaluating these programs.  Plus, I’m assuming the president considered Judge Walton’s opinion in his evaluation, right?

So, what exactly convinced President Obama that this was “worth doing?”  Because as the president explained last month, the prospect that something could happen isn’t the same as actual evidence that it has or ever will.

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Comments Off on What Convinced Obama to Reverse His Position on NSA Surveillance?

Ex-FBI counsel implicated in surveillance abuses nominated to crucial federal bench

RT | September 11, 2013

The former top lawyer at the FBI deeply implicated in surveillance abuses revealed before and by Edward Snowden’s leaks was confirmed as a federal judge in a top court for terrorism cases this week.

The US Senate voted 73-24 on Monday in approving Valerie Caproni, Federal Bureau of Investigation general counsel from 2003 to 2011, to the Southern District of New York, one of the country’s most important federal courts for terrorism cases.

Caproni has received bipartisan criticism for allowing and defending surveillance abuses both found to be overbroad during her tenure and those not disclosed when she was counsel but later revealed to be inappropriate or illegal. For example, the Snowden leaks showed Caproni mischaracterized the limits of the Patriot Act during her term.

A 2010 report by the Department of Justice revealed the FBI inappropriately used non-judicial subpoenas called “exigent letters” to gather phone numbers of over 5,550 Americans until 2006.

“The FBI broke the law on telephone records privacy and the general counsel’s office, headed by Valerie Caproni, sanctioned it and must face consequences,” said John Conyers in April 2010 as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Conyers called for Caproni’s firing at the time over the use of the non-judicial subpoenas, according to the Guardian.

“It’s not in the Patriot Act. It never has been. And its use, perhaps coincidentally, began in the same month that Ms Valerie Caproni began her work as general counsel,” Conyers said in 2010.

Caproni told House lawmakers in 2008 if phone numbers — acquired from telephone companies by the FBI via the non-judicial subpoenas evidently sanctioned in the Patriot Act — were not related to a “currently open investigation, and there was no emergency at the time we received the records, the records are removed from our files and destroyed.”

Yet revelations found in documents supplied by Snowden outlined how the National Security Agency stores phone records on all Americans for up five years no matter if they are associated with an open investigation or not. In addition, it’s been found that the NSA has the capability to feed the FBI phone records if there is a “reasonable articulable suspicion” they are related to terrorism.

“Caproni knew that the Bush administration could use or was using the Section 215 provision in the Patriot Act to obtain Americans’ phone records on a broad scale, an issue that has recently been documented by the whistleblower material first printed in the Guardian,” Lisa Graves, a former deputy assistant attorney general who dealt with Caproni while working on national security issues for the ACLU, told the Guardian.

In 2007, DOJ’s Inspector General Glenn Fine found the FBI was serially abusing National Security Letters — a demand regarding national security independent of legal subpoenas– to obtain business records, including “unauthorized collection of telephone or internet email transactional records.” While the larger collection of phone records was still not exposed at the time, Caproni called the inappropriate collection a “colossal failure on our part.”

“Government officials that secretly approved of overbroad surveillance programs the public is only seeing now because of leaks, and whose testimony on the issue obscured rather than revealed these abuses, should be held to account for their actions in a public forum,” former FBI agent Mike German told the Guardian.

Caproni’s nomination to the federal bench had some bipartisan opposition, but not enough to block her appointment.

“She is a woman with impeccable credentials,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor Monday. “This country needs more women like her.”

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NSA, no way! Anti-spying sentiments on the rise amid steady stream of disclosures

RT | September 11, 2013

The National Security Agency isn’t making many friends, apparently: a new poll published this week suggests that a majority of Americans continue to have complaints with the NSA’s surveillance practices amid a myriad of recent disclosures.

According to the results of survey released this week by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, anti-NSA sentiment remains rampant in the United States more than three months after former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden first began disclosing top-secret documents exposing the inner-workings of a vast surveillance apparatus operated by America’s premier spy agency. Meanwhile, concerns regarding those practices are growing amid members of Congress and even independent coalitions.

Polling conducted by the AP and NORC last month and released on Tuesday suggest that 56 percent of Americans surveyed oppose the NSA’s collection of telephone records, and 54 percent said they were against the practices that put Internet metadata into the hands of federal investigators.

A confused poll earlier this year in July by the PEW Research Center found that 44 percent of Americans disapproved of the NSA program, with half of the country not opposing the surveillance methods.

Now only 34 percent — or roughly one-third of those polled — say they are okay with the dragnet collection of metadata, or raw information including information on the sender and recipient, time and location pertaining to emails and phone calls. Additionally, 53 percent of Americans polled from a group of 1,008 adults say the federal government is doing a good job of ensuring freedom, a drop in seven percentage points since 2011. That earlier study concluded that 40 percent of Americans thought the government was doing a good job of protecting privacy, and today that number is down to 34 percent.

The AP poll also concluded that an overwhelming 71 percent of those asked opposed US officials eavesdropping on calls without warrant, and 62 percent said they were against the monitoring of email content.

Results from the latest poll were published on Tuesday, one day before the UK’s Guardian newspaper published the latest top-secret document in a series of classified leaks attributed to Snowden since early June. On Wednesday morning, the Guardian published a NSA memo from 2009 in which it’s revealed how US intelligence officials have shared raw data collected from American persons with Israeli counterparts without domestic agents even analyzing that information before it changes hands.

Commenting to the AP, Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation suggested the recent NSA disclosures undoubtedly have influenced the public’s perception of the US intelligence community and the way it conducts itself.

“For the first time, the public is able to see what’s going on behind closed doors and it’s changing minds,” Timm told the AP.

The EFF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and more than two dozen other entities, are named as plaintiffs in a collection of lawsuits challenging the Obama administration’s surveillance programs. Attorneys for the EFF are representing plaintiffs in the matter of First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, which grew in size this week when five new organizations signed on to sue the White House. The EFF announced on Tuesday this week that Acorn Active Media, the Charity and Security Network, the National Lawyers Guild, Patient Privacy Rights and The Shalom Center have all signed on to the suit, which attorneys say challenges the government’s surveillance alleged abuse of Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect bulk telephone metadata — an activity first disclosed on June 5 after Snowden leaked documents to the Guardian and Washington Post.

“The First Amendment guarantees the freedom to associate and express political views as a group,” EFF legal director Cindy Cohn said in a statement. “The NSA undermines that right when it collects, without any particular target, the phone records of innocent Americans and the organizations in which they participate. In order to advocate effectively, these organizations must have the ability to protect the privacy of their employees and members.”

Also signing on in support of NSA reform is US Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), who only this week announced he’d be seeking changes in the way America conducts surveillance operations. Issa previously voted against a measure proposed by colleague Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) which would have aimed to thwart the NSA’s now-infamous practices, but this week wrote a letter to Congress saying lawmakers on Capitol Hill should debate those policies once again as leaks continue to raise concerns.

“Now that it has been publicly acknowledged that the communications of Americans were included in the NSA’s data collection program, likely violating their Fourth Amendment rights, Congress must respond in a manner that both increases the transparency of the agency’s programs and reinforces the constitutional protections of our citizens,” Issa wrote in a letter first published by Politico.

“We’re very pleased that Chairman Issa supports our amendment,” Amash spokesman Will Adams told US News & World Report. “If the Amash amendment does get taken up by the House and it does pass this fall, it will put pressure on the committees to start passing comprehensive reforms.”

The Amash Amendment would have barred the NSA from using the PATRIOT Act provision at the center of First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA to collect the phone records of all Americans. It was defeated in the House last month by a 12 vote margin.

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on NSA, no way! Anti-spying sentiments on the rise amid steady stream of disclosures

The Syrian Gambit

James’s blog – WinterPatriot – 09/11/2013

Russia has played a new opening move in the contest with the United States and it could be called “The Syrian Gambit”. In the tradition of chess, a “gambit” is a move whereby a chess player gives away a minor piece to position him or herself better to defeat their opponent. To the beginner chess player, a gambit appears counter-intuitive because their opponent deliberately suffers a loss and the advantage only makes itself apparent later. By which time, if the gambit has been played well, the neophyte player is already suffering a disadvantage.

John Kerry now famously made a rhetorical offer to Syria that if it gave up all its chemical weapons they could avoid an attack from the US. Much to Kerry’s consternation, Sergei Lavrov, the very capable Russian Foreign Minister, said he thought it was a good idea and would discuss it with President Bashar al-Assad. That same day Assad agreed to give up Syria’s chemical weapons in exchange for not being attacked. The Gambit was offered. And now the US is very rattled and nervous about accepting. Contradictory messages from various US administration staff seem to follow each other almost by the hour.

Many commentors on the internet are saying that it is a dangerous move because both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi got rid of their chemical weapons and both of their countries were subsequently invaded and decimated. They ask, ‘why will Syria not suffer the same fate?’

The reason Syria won’t go the way of Iraq or Libya is because of one fundamental and decisive difference: Russia is standing firmly by Syria’s side (with its warships off the coast of Syria) and has said repeatedly that it will not allow Syria to be attacked by the US or anyone else. Assad, in explaining why he agreed to the Russian initiative, said it was because he had full confidence in Russia’s protection of Syria.

So Syria is offering to give up an asset from amongst its arsenal of weapons. How will it gain from it being accepted?

The chemical weapons (CW) were becoming a liability and their military value is very limited. So not much, if any, value is being surrendered. Assad has said that the idea of CW was to counter the threat of nuclear weapons. But how likely is israel to attack Damascus with nuclear weapons with both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem little more than 210kms (130mls approx) away as the wind blows?

On a battlefield, chemical weapons need to be deployed by specially trained troops and these soldiers need to be in the right terrain at the right time with the right weather conditions for them to be effective and not be harmlessly dispersed, or worse, not blow back on their own soldiers. If the enemy soldiers have gas masks, any advantage quickly dissipates.

Holding CW may have value as a deterrent against the civilian population of a neighbouring country contemplating an invasion. But once they are fired at said population, the deterrent value evaporates while leaving the offending country open to being targeted by other surrounding countries and/or abandoned by their allies. Targeting the enemy’s civilian population does nothing to improve the immediate military situation at hand.

The US is able to say Syria was responsible for the false flag that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians because Syria has a stockpile of chemical weapons. It would be impossible to say that if it was known that Syria no longer had chemical weapons. Indeed, a day or two after this proposal from Russia came news that another CW false flag operation was being planned by the NATO mercenaries against israel. (see video in comments section below)

So making the announcement to surrender the CW nipped that false flag (and any others involving CW) in the bud.

On the plus side, it takes away the excuses of the US to invade. They no longer have to prevent Syria from using them or prevent them falling into the ‘wrong hands’ (assuming those are different hands from the ones that the US and Saudi Arabia are already supplying with CW).

Syria can be seen as serious about working for peace and as an example to all the countries that are condemning Syria who ALL have stockpiles of CW! All these countries and especially the US and israel are now on the defensive.

Syria now has the ‘high ground’ (or centre control) by jettisoning a liability – a pawn that was actually in the way.

September 12, 2013 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syrian opposition rejects Russia’s chemical weapons plan

Al-Akhbar | September 12, 2013

Syrian opposition groups categorically rejected Thursday a Russian proposal for placing Syria’s chemical arms under international control, and called for government officials to be brought to justice.

Meanwhile, Washington called Thursday on the Syrian government to quickly declare the scope and size of its chemical weapons stockpile as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva for high-stakes talks.

“It’s doable, but difficult,” a US official told reporters accompanying the top US diplomat.

The Syrian National Coalition opposition group questioned the initiative, saying it is a “political maneuver aimed at buying time” for President Bashar al-Assad.

“The Free Syrian Army announces its categorical rejection of the Russian initiative that foresees placing chemical weapons under international control,” FSA military commander General Selim Idriss said in a video posted on YouTube.

Idriss told world powers they should not “be satisfied only by removing the chemical weapon, which is the tool of a crime, but judge the author of the crime before the International Criminal Court, who has clearly acknowledged possessing it and agreed to get rid of it.”

Questioning the motives for the initiative by Russia, the Coalition’s overnight statement also said it would be unacceptable unless it “called to account the crimes against the Syrian people.”

And any measures should be adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for possible military measures.

Idriss also called on countries backing the 30-month uprising against Assad to increase the supply of arms to the rebels so that they can “continue to liberate the country.”

And he exhorted his fighters to “intensify operations in all regions of the country.”

The United States claims that the Syrian government carried out chemical weapons strikes on a number of Damascus suburbs on August 21, and threatened to carry out punitive strikes.

Assad’s government denies any responsibility in the chemical attack, saying rebels were behind it to garner international momentum against Assad.

Russia on Monday announced a proposal under which Syria would turn over its chemical weapons, and US President Barack Obama postponed any military action to consider the Russian initiative.

The four-point plan, details of which were disclosed on Wednesday, would see Syria becoming a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, according to a report in Moscow.

Syria would then have to declare the location of chemical weapons arsenals and, then allow OPCW inspectors to examine them and finally decide, in cooperation with the inspectors, how to destroy them.

UN inspectors have already visited the sites of the alleged attacks in Damascus, and France has said their report will probably be issued on Monday.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French radio Thursday “it will say that there was a chemical massacre” and that “there will certainly be indications” of the origin of the attack.

Diplomats have said the report is unlikely to pin blame on either side in the conflict, but that it would contain enough detail to suggest which party was responsible.

Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in Geneva on Thursday to try to agree on a strategy to eliminate the chemical arsenal.

The top Russian diplomat said on a visit to Kazakhstan before heading to Geneva that both Russia and the United States would be taking experts on chemical weapons to the talks.

Lavrov said he did not rule out UN-Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi joining the talks in Geneva to discuss a stalled US-Russian initiative for a peace conference in the Swiss city.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | Comments Off on Syrian opposition rejects Russia’s chemical weapons plan