June 6, 2013
First on CNN: U.S. to send Patriot missile battery, fighter jets to Jordan as part of exercise
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved the deployment of a Patriot missile battery and F-16 fighter jet aircraft to Jordan as part of a planned military exercise, but with an understanding that the weapons systems may stay in the country to bolster Jordan’s security as violence from the Syrian civil war spreads.
The deployment, approved by Hagel over the weekend, will send the weapons to Jordan for a multinational training exercise called Eager Lion, which is taking place this month.
German FM Says Syria Conference May Be Delayed
Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Monday that an international Syria peace conference may have to be delayed until July to give more time for preparations.
“It would be better that it takes place in July than never,” Westerwelle said at the U.N. headquarters where he signed an international arms trade treaty. The United Nations had wanted to hold the conference this month, but mounting obstacles have appeared.
Iraq warns Israel on using airspace in Iran strike
Baghdad has warned Israel that it would respond to any attempts by the Jewish state to use Iraqi airspace for a strike against Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, a top Iraqi minister told AFP.
The remarks from Hussein al-Shahristani, deputy prime minister responsible for energy affairs, mark the first time a senior Iraqi official has publicly warned Israel against entering its airspace — the most direct route — to hit targets in Iran.
Key Bloc Quits Syria Opposition, Slams Leaders
A key bloc within Syria’s main opposition National Coalition announced its withdrawal from the body on Monday, accusing some leaders of misusing funds and being motivated by personal ambition.
The Syrian Revolution General Commission said in a statement: “We are withdrawing from the Coalition… because it is taking initiatives far removed from the true revolution and cannot represent the revolution in an authentic way.”
Violence in Tripoli claims more lives
Three men and a woman were killed in renewed clashes between Sunni and Alawite residents of the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli in less than 24 hours, a security source told AFP on Monday.
“One civilian was killed and 21 were wounded in clashes late Sunday between the Sunni-majority Bab el-Tabbaneh neighbourhood and the facing Alawite area of Jabal Mohsen,” the source said.
The violence is tied to the conflict in Syria, where a Sunni-led uprising is fighting to overthrow the regime of Alawite President Bashar al-Assad.
Israel now has 80 nuclear warheads, report says
Israel possesses some 80 nuclear warheads — rather fewer than once thought, and lower than the nuclear arsenal of countries that are officially in possession of atomic weapons — according to the new 2013 yearbook put out by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a leading think tank on global security issues.
Of those warheads, 50 are for medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 are for bombs carried by aircraft, the report said. In addition, “Israel may also have produced non-strategic nuclear weapons, including artillery shells and atomic demolition munitions,” the Guardian reported Monday.
Israel: No Russian S-300s to Syria before 2014
Russia cannot deliver advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian regime before 2014, Israel’s defense minister asserted on Monday.
“We are following this matter with concern, but no deliveries have taken place. If they do take place, it will not be before next year,” Moshe Yaalon told the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defense, in comments reported by army radio.
Turkey clashes: Erdogan says protests ‘are not Turkish Spring’
PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan says four days of anti-government protests do not constitute a Turkish Spring.
At a news conference before a trip to Morocco, he said the protests were organised by extremists and accused the opposition of provoking “his citizens”.
The protests initially targeted plans to build on a treasured Istanbul park but have spread into nationwide unrest.
Protests continue in Ankara as group supporting police attack demonstrators
Solidarity protests against the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park continued in Ankara today while clashes erupted between demonstrators and a group 30 people chanting slogans on behalf of the police. The unknown group, which attacked while shouting “May the hands of those who attack the police be broken,” ran away after attacking demonstrators.
During the day, protesters persistently gathered in Kızılay Square after being dispersed by police through the side streets several times.
Turkey protests show no sign of letdown
Istanbul (CNN) — More than a week after protests began sweeping Turkey, demonstrators kept up their occupation of bustling Taksim Square on Monday amid appeals from the government to abandon the rallies and return to work and school.
What began as a small sit-in over the Turkish government’s plan to demolish a park in central Istanbul in favor of a shopping arcade has morphed into the biggest protest movement against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan since he was elected more than 10 years ago.
Kerry concerned over “excessive force” in Turkey
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday voiced concern over “reports of excessive use of force” by Turkish police in clashes with demonstrators in Ankara and other Turkish cities.
Kerry stressed that the United States supported the right to peaceful protests and said Washington was “deeply concerned about the numbers of people injured,” urging all sides to “avoid any provocations or violence.”
Iran may have cleared key base of nuclear evidence: IAEA
VIENNA: Extensive construction activities at Iran’s Parchin military base may have removed all evidence of alleged nuclear weapons research, the head of the UN atomic agency said Monday.
“As our verification capacity has been negatively impacted by extensive activities (at Parchin), it may no longer be possible to find anything even if we are given access,” Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency told reporters in Vienna.
Gulf sources: “Accidents” to Ahmadinejad, Jalili were attempted assassinations
Twelve days before Iran’s presidential election, stubborn rumors were making the rounds that two “accidents” which took place Sunday, June 2, were in fact attempts on the lives of outgoing Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a leading presidential hopeful, Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. Both escaped unhurt. The rumors pointed the finger of suspicion at supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or his underlings in the wake of a reported secret Ahmadinejad-Jalili deal for the former to be awarded the vice presidency if the latter won the election.
Hezbollah slams attempt on Sheikh Hammoud’s life
BEIRUT: Hezbollah denounced Monday the early morning shooting at a prominent Sunni sheikh in the southern coastal city of Sidon and said the attack aimed at inciting strife in the country.
“At dawn today, criminals tried to assassinate Sheikh Maher Hammoud in his home city Sidon while he was heading to the mosque to pray. Such a criminal attempt aims without a doubt at inciting strife in the service of the Zionist enemy and its conspiracy against Lebanon,” Hezbollah said in a statement.
Jumblat Slams Nasallah’s ‘War against Takfiris’: Syrian Regime Uses al-Nusra to Execute Attacks
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat slammed on Monday Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s description of Syria’s war as a “fight against Takfiris,” accusing the Syrian regime of hiding behind the Islamist jihadist al-Nusra Front to conduct attacks in Iraq and Lebanon.
“President Bashar Assad’s regime executed terrorist attacks in many locations, in Iraq for example, by claiming it was fighting occupation and it also released many al-Nusra members from jails upon the eruption of the Syrian revolution,” Jumblat stated in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa website.
Gulf Cooperation Council Warns of Steps against Hizbullah
Gulf states could take measures against Hizbullah in the near future, the head of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council said on Sunday.
The GCC “decided to look into taking measures against Hizbullah’s interests in the member states,” GCC chief Abdul Latif al-Zayani told reporters at the end of a ministerial meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah.
Syria’s Qusayr pounded as battle enters third week
Syrian warplanes pounded the embattled town of Qusayr on Monday as a regime offensive backed by fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah to retake the town from rebels entered its third week.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a fierce overnight onslaught both on the strategic town near the border with Lebanon and slightly farther north in Dabaa.
Dabaa, the site of a disused military airbase that had been seized by rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, is still partly under insurgent control.
Red Cross still pushing for access to besieged Qusair in Syria
(Reuters) – The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Monday it was still seeking a formal Syrian response to its request for urgent access to the besieged town of Qusair after a minister said aid efforts should wait until the fighting was over.
Humanitarian groups say as many as 1,500 wounded people may be trapped in Qusair by fighting between rebels and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, who are backed by fighters from Lebanon’s militant Shi’ite group Hezbollah.
300 wounded civilians trapped in Qusair fighting
BEIRUT (AP) — At least 300 seriously wounded residents of an embattled Syrian town near the border with Lebanon need to be evacuated for medical treatment, a doctor told The Associated Press on Monday, as fighting in Qusair raged for the third straight week.
Kasem Alzein, who coordinates treatment in several makeshift hospitals in Qusair, said the wounded are being treated in private homes after the town’s main hospital was destroyed during fighting between the Syrian army — backed by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas — and rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Missile hits village near Syria’s second city, killing 26
A missile hit a village near Syria’s second city of Aleppo overnight, killing 26 people including six women and eight children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday.
“At midnight on Sunday, 26 people were killed, including six women and eight children, when what appears to have been a surface-to-surface missile struck the village of Kfar Hamra,” said the Observatory.
NATO to discuss training Libyan security forces: U.S. official
(Reuters) – NATO defense ministers concerned about the growing presence of al Qaeda-linked rebels in southern Libya will this week discuss the possibility of training Libyan security forces, U.S. defense officials said on Monday.
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan requested the assistance at a meeting last week with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who raised the issue with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington last Friday.
Suicide Bomber Kills 13 in Afghanistan
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside a busy market in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, killing 13 people, including 10 children and two NATO security forces, The Guardian reported. A local security official confirmed that the attacker rode a motorcycle into a group of US soldiers the same time schoolchildren were breaking for lunch. It is noted that the explosion also killed an Afghan police officer.
New Al Qaeda Video Urges Boston-Like Homeland Attacks
Al Qaeda’s most dangerous franchise is threatening the U.S. with renewed attempts at homeland terror attacks, while urging radicalized Americans to launch strikes like the Boston bombings and poison mail cases on their own.
The dual-pronged “Message to the American Nation” comes from a top militant in Yemen’s al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and was both warning to the U.S. and call to arms for homegrown jihadis.