TEL-AVIV, February 11 (Itar-Tass) —— In the Syrian city of Aleppo 30 people were killed and 175 others injured in a series of terrorist attacks on Friday. The so-called Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility.
According to reports, in that city, located 340 km north of Damascus, several bombs went off at several sites, including the central quarters of Marjeh and Sakhur. Terrorists attacked the headquarters and barracks of the military intelligence and internal forces in the area Dowar Al-Basil, from where the greatest number of victims was brought. The leader of the FSA, Colonel Riad al-Asaad, hiding in Turkey, has dismissed accusations of involvement in the terrorist attacks that killed innocent civilians, but confirmed that the insurgents made a "heroic attack" on the headquarters of the intelligence and the barracks.
Meanwhile, opposition supporters held a series of demonstrations Friday in the western outskirts of Damascus. Along with anti-Russian slogans protesters in the capital's neighborhoods Basatin and Kfar Sousa voiced the demand President Bashar Assad should step down. As the TV channel Al-Jazeera reports, the demonstrations in Damascus were dispersed by police forces. Demonstrators in Marjeh and Firdous squares in the city of Aleppo were fired at and five people were killed.
Fierce fighting between the regular army and the rebels of the FSA are underway in the area of ··the city Madaya, 30 km away from the capital. Eyewitnesses report that government troops have been brought to the capital's troubled suburbs Dumeir, Duma, and Draya, where the Muslim Brothers are most active. There were reports of clashes between Islamists and security forces in the neighborhoods of Saliba and Tamra in Latakia on the coast, where military reinforcements have been moved, too. Street fighting is underway in Homs, 165 km north of Damascus, where, according to the Opposition, 39 people were killed on Friday.
Against this background, a group of U.S. senators has urged the U.S. Administration to furnish logistical support to the Syrian opposition. It is expected that a draft resolution will be submitted to the Senate for consideration on Saturday. Foreign Policy magazine, which has obtained the text of the document, says that it also emphasizes the need for the resignation of Syrian President Bashar Assad. In addition, the following measures are proposed: more sanctions on Syrian officials, creation of a group of Friends of the Syrian People, efforts in cooperation with the international community to create safe havens for Syrian citizens, a discussion of putting on trial those responsible of war crimes in that country, as well as steps to ensure the security of military hardware.
The U.S. has already sent its envoy - Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman - to Morocco, France and Bahrain to prepare for the first meeting of the group Friends of Democratic Syria. As State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, has said the need for such steps emerged after the UN Security Council failed to adopt a resolution on Syria and now the United States is forced to act outside the UN system to help the people of Syria. The Americans say that they would like to see the group of "friends of Syria" in the first place address the question of humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria and undertake to coordinate the efforts to tighten sanctions against the government in Damascus.
Moscow, however, believes that the responsibility for ending the bloodshed in Syria and for the opportunity for resolving the conflict through a dialogue lies on the opposition and its accomplices. Such an opinion was voiced in an interview with Itar-Tass by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, currently on a visit to Colombia. "Russia has offered its mediation. It offered to host an inter-Syrian meeting in Moscow,” said the diplomat. “During the visit to Damascus by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov Bashar Assad confirmed the authority of Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa to lead a delegation to the Syrian government and to conduct a dialogue with the opposition forces."
"The leadership of Syria expressed the readiness to hold an early referendum on a new constitution and move towards election,” said Ryabkov. “All responsibility for the opportunity for improving the situation and finding ways of ending bloodshed and achieving agreements and compromises lies on the Opposition."
"Western nations, inciting the Syrian opposition to uncompromising action, as well as those who supply them with arms, and provide advice and guidance, are accomplices in the process of fomenting the crisis,” said Ryabkov. “In connection with the Russian-Chinese veto on the Moroccan draft resolution in the Security Council we are being accused of responsibility for the bloodshed, which is a malicious falsehood and distortion." He also said that Russia was ready to use powerful means in the UN Security Council again in the case of foreign partners' attempts to use the SC as a tool to interfere in the internal affairs of Syria.
Beijing also said that the solution of conflicts and disputes through a dialogue is always the best way out and contributes to the process of peace talks in Syria. Some Western countries have launched a harsh verbal attack on Russia and China, which imposed a double veto on the UN Security Council draft resolution on Syria, said the Chinese Xinhua news agency. However, at a time when they are putting forward such sharp and furious rebukes, these countries may themselves be accused of trying to push through an extremely dubious draft resolution.
Meanwhile, in Cairo on Friday there were more than twenty marches of protest on the eve of the first anniversary of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. The main protest actions, in the first place, the beginning of an indefinite strike, are scheduled to begin on Saturday. On Friday, thousands gathered in front of the Defense Ministry building in the quarter Abassia and other parts of the capital to protest against the country’s military leadership. The leading political force in the country - Muslim Brotherhood - has already announced its refusal to participate in the strike, which caused the discontent of its partners in the opposition, who declared the Islamists were apostates.
At Sinai, there was another incident involving the kidnapping of foreigners. Armed Bedouins robbed a bus carrying tourists, who after an excursion to the monastery of St. Catherine were returning to the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. As the police said, the bus was carrying 30 people of different nationalities, but only three tourists from South Korea - women aged 51, 57 and 61 - were taken hostage. After that, the attackers escaped with the women and the Egyptian guide.