Thursday, April 24, 2014


Russia

Beside Netanyahu, Putin Warns Against Aggravating Syria Crisis

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 14
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 14
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By RFE/RL
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned against any move that would "aggravate" the situation in Syria.

Putin was speaking to reporters on May 14 after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

"Obviously, we spent a lot of time today talking about the regional security issues," he said. "My colleague and I we both understand that any continuation of the armed conflict in Syria will bring about the most damning consequences both for Syria and the entire region. The negative scenario can only be thwarted through an immediate cessation of the armed conflict and a switch to a political settlement. It is of utmost importance to avoid any actions that could further aggravate the situation during this crucial period."

The remark appeared intended as a warning against foreign military intervention or arming the rebels fighting against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, a close Russian ally.

The comment follows Israeli airstrikes against government targets in Syria a week ago.

It also comes amid reports that Moscow is planning to deliver advanced S-300 antimissile batteries to the Syrian regime.

Netanyahu’s visit comes as new diplomatic pushes are being made to discuss the Syrian crisis with Moscow.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon plans to travel to Russia later this week to discuss ways of solving the two-year conflict.

Friends Of Syria To Convene

Meanwhile, Jordan announced on May 14 that the Friends of Syria group opposing Assad will meet next week in Amman to coordinate positions ahead of a possible peace conference proposed by the United States and Russia.

Jordan's Foreign Ministry said the meeting will include foreign ministers from the United States, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy.

Earlier on May 14 in Stockholm, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Syrian rebels would receive additional assistance if Syrian government representatives would not attend a peace conference.

"If [Syrian] President [Bashar] al-Assad decides to miscalculate again about that -- as he has miscalculated about his own country's future over the course of the last years -- it is clear the opposition will be receiving additional support," he said. "There will be additional efforts made, and unfortunately the violence will not end."

Syria's information minister said May 13 that his government's participation "depends on knowing the details."

Washington and Moscow are trying to get Damascus and the opposition to reach an agreement that would end the Syrian conflict.
 
UN Denounces 'Heart-Eating' Incident

In related news, the United Nations has condemned a gruesome video appearing to show a Syrian rebel taking a bite from the heart of a dead soldier.

The rebel has been identified as Abu Sakkar, an insurgent from the city of Homs.

The video, which cannot be independently authenticated, seems to show him cutting out the soldier's heart.

In a statement on May 14, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called Sakkar's actions a "war crime."

Pillay urged the opposition to investigate the incident along with other alleged violations by rebels, including acts of torture and extrajudicial killings.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition also condemned it, saying that the perpetrator would be brought to justice.

The video was posted on May 12, although reporters from "Time Magazine" said they first viewed it in April.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, "Time," and dpa

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