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Syrian Tanks Shell Idlib As Kofi Annan Speaks with Assad

Syrian Tanks Shell Idlib As Kofi Annan Speaks with Assad

Just a few hours after United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus to try to negotiate a cease-fire, the Syrian army began a military assault on the northern region of Idlib. Activists report that, starting early Saturday morning, tanks and artillery shelled buildings at two-minute intervals. Al Jazeera also reports that sixteen opposition fighters were killed in an ambush in which the opposition killed four soldiers and captured five.

The assault on Idlib suggests that the government is now seeking to subdue other regions after its month-long siege of the Baba Amr district of Homs in central Syria. Dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers had reportedly been amassing in Idlib during the past week. Journalists from the Associated Press reported seeing wounded opposition fighters being taken to medical clinics and families fleeing. One activist said that “We’re expecting something like Baba Amr,” according to the New York Times.

Annan Meets With Assad
On Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had told reporters that the purpose of Annan’s visit was to urge an end to all the fighting between government troops and rebel fighters. While Annan has not yet made any public comments about the meeting, the Syrian state news agency, SANA, reported President Bashar al-Assad’s comments, that no talks with the opposition will be held as long as “armed terrorist groups” are operating in Syria and “spreading chaos and instability.”

Russian Foreign Minister Meets With Arab League in Cairo
Along with China, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for Assad to step down immediately a month ago. During a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo this weekend, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, advised the League against “crude interference” in Syria’s internal affairs, says the BBC. Lavrov said that Russia is not “protecting any regimes” and emphasized that Russia’s position would be of benefit to other Arab countries with restive populations, a statement that the New York Times characterized as a “diplomatic wink at Saudi Arabia, which despite its dismal human rights record, has led the charge to topple Mr. Assad, by invoking his government’s brutality.”

Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have called for arming the opposition to Assad. Officials from the Gulf nations directed blame to Russia for the ongoing violence, which has claimed the lives of at least 7,500 people in the past year. The BBC’s John Leyne noted that the meeting in Cairo has “revealed bitter divisions between the League and Moscow, with Russia finding out just how little support its policy on Syria has.”

Despite the disputes, the meeting ended with a call for an end to the violence in Syria “whatever its source” and a joint statement that rejected foreign intervention while emphasizing the need for humanitarian aid as well as for some sort of system to “objectively monitor the situation.”


Previous Care2 Coverage

UN Humanitarian Chief Visits Baba Amr: What Happened To Its Residents

Should the US Bomb Syria?

Anthony Shadid’s Last Story: The Free Syrian Army


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6:17AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

Martin L

Even worse, Sheila is taking information from hate sites. I'm quite aware that Syrian TV is hardly an unbiassed source, but I want to get all perspectives.

5:42AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

Oh dear Sheila. You accuse John of watching some dubious TV/websites. But remember Sheila if you are watching mainstream TV or believing all that comes out of Care2 then you can paint yourself with the same brush and feathers. Remember, there are two sides that have taken up arms in Syria and both sides have turned their weapons on the civilian population.

The death toll in Syria is high and unforgivable, but most unbiased media sources will say that this death toll includes many thousands of soldiers and men who have taken up arms on both sides of this conflict. Those who bear arms and turn those weapons against a fellow man should also expect to have the same happen to them. So if a civilian shoots another man, then they can expect the same in return. After all, in America, if a man or a woman shoots another person or gets into a fire-fight with law enforcement agencies they can expect to be shot back at and pay the ultimate price themselves. And in Afghanistan, if a civilian fires at a soldier then they will have fire returned and I don’t hear you complaining when a US/NATO soldier shoots civilians that they are wrong

So how can it be different in Syria, if someone shoots at a soldier, is it not likely that they will return fire and I am not saying here that all Syrian deaths occur this way; but both sides must take blame with innocent (women and children) civilian deaths?

1:21PM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

What facts, Sheila H? You mean the set of unreferenced allegations from a well known hate site?

As for your snide comment about work, well I don't need to work full time at my time of life.

Being paid to post? No, that's for supporters of the Zionist Entity, many of whom are paid to post on as many sites as possble.

12:36PM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

Hahahaha, you’re really funny, John. You really crack me up, do you know that?

When you can’t argue the facts – discredit the source. Typical spin-doctoring technique.

You must have attended the Alistair Campbell School of Political Discourse – you use his methods so well. I’m expecting you to storm the Channel 4 News Studios any day now.

We can all see the sort of obscure and dubious “outlets” you get your “information” from.

All I can say is I hope Bashar is paying you well – you seem to spend all your time trawling the internet for any article where you can parrot Assad’s line in response, and searching out any off- the-radar website for a link for a cut-and-paste job which you think supports the regime’s propaganda, because with the number of sites you respond on, you can’t have any time left for a full-time proper job. Maybe you’re happy with just a de-luxe line in bird seed.

I tell you what, I’m more than happy for anyone reading these conversations to view any comments we have made, any links we have given, and any other information they may like to research from any source, and let them decide for themselves where the facts lay.

10:48AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

Poor Sheila H

She accuses me of bias, when all I do is to take my information from a number of outlets, yet she uses the unsourced allegations of a well known hate site, the meforum, to try to prove a point.

"The Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank, works to define and promote American interests in the Middle East and protect the Constitutional order from Middle Eastern threats"

You're the one who's ridiculous, Sheila.

10:47AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

Poor Sheila H

She accuses me of bias, when all I do is to take my information from a number of outlets, yet she uses the unsourced allegations of a well known hate site, the meforum, to try to prove a point.

"The Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank, works to define and promote American interests in the Middle East and protect the Constitutional order from Middle Eastern threats"

You're the one who's ridiculous, Sheila.

8:13AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012


Funding - At the time of al-Manar's founding (1991), the station reportedly received seed money from Iran and had an operating budget of $1 million. According to station officials, al-Manar's annual budget currently (2004) stands at approximately $15 million.

Many reports maintain that al-Manar receives a significant portion of this sum from Iran. al-Manar uses a loophole to get around the law prohibiting foreign subsidies of Lebanese television stations. It receives its subsidies from Hizbullah—which gets its stipend from its patron, Iran.

Extracted from;

So, Al-Manar TV is funded by Hizbullah (Shi’ite), which is funded by Iran (Shi’ite), which supports the Syrian regime (Allowite, a form of Shia Islam) which also happens to be the authority which ensured Al-Manar’s license to broadcast. Hmmm…….

Oh, yes, a very independent news medium.

I’d shut up now, if I were you, John D. You’re beginning to make yourself sound ridiculous.

8:11AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012


In 1996, Lebanon refused all but 5 TV licences (Al-Manar not being among them, but continued to broadcast illegally). Hizbullah decided to appeal the decision. How did al-Manar pursue its appeal?

Hizbullah sent a delegation to Damascus in order to lobby the then-president of Syria, Hafez al-Assad, for permission to broadcast. The strategy worked: on September 18, 1996, at the request of the Lebanese president, the cabinet reconsidered its decision and decided to grant al-Manar an operating license. In a sense, the decision extended to al-Manar the same exemption enjoyed by Hizbullah. Since Israel continued to occupy Lebanese and Syrian land, Hizbullah continued to enjoy an exemption from the general disarmament of militias. For the same reason, al-Manar was given an exemption from the general dismantlement of ideological television stations.

The fact that al-Manar continues to operate freely is proof that the station's message enjoys the approval of the governments in Damascus and Beirut.

8:09AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

Oh dear, JohnD, you do watch some dubious TV/websites, don’t you?

In other conversations I’ve seen you quote PressTV (Iranian).

Now its Al-Manar. And who is Al-Manar?

Al-Manar (the beacon) is the official television station of the Lebanon-based Hizbullah, the Iranian-supported Shi'ite movement

With access to continuous funding from Iran, the station has grown by leaps and bounds from a clandestine, ramshackle operation to a comprehensive satellite station.

Al-Manar is located in the poor, Shi'ite-populated neighborhood of Harat Hurayk in Beirut's southern suburbs….. However, upon closer examination, it is clear this station is unlike any other. Armed Hizbullah security guards stand watch outside the station, checking visitors' papers and belongings.

In point of fact, the station is run by Hizbullah members, reports to Hizbullah officials, and takes its direction from the personal office of Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, Hizbullah's secretary general.

6:17AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

Hello Sheila.

Did you also see on Syrian TV the poor women and children killed by opposition militia, testified to by several witnesses? These are your precious "freedom seekers" - cold blooded killers.

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