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Syrian conflict getting worse – VOR

Monday, June 11, 2012

Andrei Smirnov
The Syrian conflict has taken a sharp turn for the worse, with international news agencies reporting the start of serious clashes in the capital Damascus.

According to United Nations observers, armed rebels have been firing rocket-propelled grenades, hitting apartment blocks, a power plant and at least six commuter buses. Government forces have had to use tanks to remove barricades of burning tires from the streets. The latest Damascus clashes are believed to have claimed over 50 civilian lives.

Reports from the opposition say another 35 civilians have died in a government shelling attack on rebel-held neighbourhoods in the city of Homs.

Syria has been ablaze for almost 18 months. The ceasefire effected last April in accordance with Kofi Annan’s settlement plan appears to be unraveling, and the UN observers in Syria are powerless to stop this.

The United Nations estimates the fatalities in the Syrian conflict at more than 12,000. Over a quarter million people have fled their homes, and almost a million are in dire need of emergency aid.

Russia and China believe that this conflict must be resolved through a political dialogue between the warring sides. Accordingly, they have been consistently blocking Security Council motions which would pave the way for Libya-style intervention in Syria. Another Libya, however, is exactly what the armed Syrian opposition is holding in its crosshairs.

We hear about this from Russian political analyst Dr Georgi Mirsky:

“The rebels are hoping to secure Western air support of their armed campaign against the Syrian government. Safe havens would be established, used by the Free Syrian Army as well as fleeing civilians. The Syrian army would have to attack these FSA bases, triggering an opposition appeal to the United Nations. Russia and China, however, would certainly block any intervention motion. NATO would probably intervene on its own, launching a massive air campaign. And once started, this new NATO war would draw in Iran.”

In the meantime, the Syrian opposition is doing everything in its power to stir as much instability as possible.

Dr Boris Dolgov is an expert working for the Moscow-based Arab Studies Centre:

The armed rebels are the main destabilizing force in Syria. During our January visit to that country, we found out that they do not have popular support. The majority of the Syrian people support President Assad and his reforms, which include the adoption of a new constitution and the introduction of multiparty democracy. Importantly, Syria has already held multiparty elections and formed a broad-based government. The Syrian opposition, however, is after toppling the Assad regime. It continues to stubbornly decline any dialogue with it.”

According to Iran’s FARS new agency, the Syrian rebels are going to use chemical munitions smuggled in from Libya. The goal is the same: supplying Western powers with a pretext for military intervention in Syria.

Jun 10, 2012

VOR.