Fresh concerns over Syria

2013-02-01 20:14
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Damascus - The US said Iran is boosting support for the Syrian regime and that Russia is still arming it, heightening fears on Friday that the conflict may spill over the country's borders.

The assessment by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came as US Vice President Joe Biden prepared to discuss the crisis with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Syrian opposition Chief Moaz al-Khatib.

Fresh concerns about the 22-month conflict drawing in the wider region arose after Damascus threatened to retaliate over a reported Israeli air raid and key ally Iran warned the attack would have "grave consequences”.

President Bashar Assad's regime accused Israel of sending its warplanes to attack a military research centre in Jamraya, near Damascus, on Wednesday.

Israel has so far maintained a stony silence, as well as over separate reports its aircraft had hit a weapons convoy near the Lebanese border.

But media speculated that the alleged air strike on the convoy could spark a chain reaction, and reported troops on high alert in northern Israel.

Israel has frequently warned that if Syria's chemical weapons fall into the hands of Lebanon's Shi'ite movement Hezbollah, Israel's arch-foe and close Damascus ally, this would be a casus belli.

Israel has also raised the alarm over long-range Scud missiles, anti-aircraft systems and surface-to-surface missiles being transferred to Hezbollah.

Residents of eastern Lebanon reported soldiers and unidentified gunmen engaged in a fierce fire-fight near the border with Syria on Friday.

After Wednesday's alleged air strike, the foreign ministry in Damascus affirmed "Syria's right to defend itself and its territory and sovereignty”.

Damascus's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdel Karim Ali, said Syria, "which defends its sovereignty and territory, may decide to respond by surprise to this aggression.

"It is up to the competent powers to choose the appropriate answer, and to determine the means and the place," Ali told Lebanese website Al-Ahad, which is close to Hezbollah.

Damascus ally Iran was strident, with Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian warning that the "Zionist regime's attack on the outskirts of Damascus will have grave consequences for Tel Aviv," ISNA news agency reported.

Russia’s concern

Russia expressed "deep concern" over the reported strike, saying it would be a brazen infringement of the UN charter and unacceptable.

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon called on all parties to "prevent tensions or their escalation in the region”.

Clinton's grim assessment warned of "the dangers of an increasing civil war and a potential proxy war”.

"The worst kind of predictions of what could happen, both internally and spilling over the borders of Syria, are certainly within the realm of the possible now," she said.

"The Iranians have made it clear for some time that keeping Assad in power was one of their highest priorities. We believe they have acted on that by sending in more personnel, not only to help Assad, but to support and advise military security forces."

They "have been actively involved from the very beginning. It appears that they may be increasing that involvement and that is a matter of concern to us."

She noted Russia was propping up the regime despite US efforts to work for an international solution to a conflict the UN says has cost more than 60 000 lives.

"We have reason to believe that the Russians continue to supply financial and military assistance in the form of equipment to Assad."

Biden is to meet Lavrov and Khatib on Saturday on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

"What we would like to see from other countries, including Russia, is an acknowledgment that Bashar Assad must go and that there needs to be a transition within Syria to a new government," said Ben Rhodes, a White House national security adviser.

The US administration has resisted calls for it to deploy military assets to help Syria's rebels and has stopped short of arming them.

But it has provided non-lethal logistics, and medical and humanitarian support to rebels.

In Geneva, the UN's children's agency said some 420 000 people - half of them children - in the central region of Homs desperately need humanitarian aid.

On the ground, southern Damascus saw fresh clashes on Friday, while army shelling hit a town in northern Aleppo province and Homs city was also pounded, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least 163 people were killed nationwide on Thursday, the watchdog said.

Read more on:    un  |  joe biden  |  bashar assad  |  sergei lavrov  |  hillary clinton  |  ban ki-moon  |  russia  |  syria  |  iran  |  us  |  syria conflict
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/World

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are in a curious mood and you want to be the first to know what is happening. You may find yourself drawn into cyber chatting...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.