ACTION ALERT: US Stay Out of Syria

May 26th, 2013 - by admin & The Nationa – 2013-05-26 01:21:35

ACTION ALERT: US Stay Out of Syria
Jon Soltz /

(May 23, 2013) — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently voted 15-3 in favor of arming and training the Syrian rebels.

This is a misguided and dangerous idea.

I helped to train the Iraqi Army during my second tour, and their concern is that many of the anti-Assad forces are the same terrorists they’ve fought before and who continue to target them.

Plus, as Senator Tom Udall noted, once we introduce weapons, we have zero control over them. The United States “could turn over the weapons we’re talking about and next day they end up in the hands of al-Qaida.”

Three Senators voted against the bill in committee, but we need you to send a strong message to the other 97 that you oppose intervention in Syria’s civil war. You can do that here:

Moreover, there is no winning scenario when we get involved in other nations’ civil wars and proxy wars.

On this point, Senator Chris Murphy said it best: “We have failed over and over again in our attempts to pull the strings of Middle Eastern politics.”

Let’s not make the same mistake again.

Jon Soltz @jonsoltz is an Iraq War Veteran and Chair of

Syrian Rebel Groups Plan to Attack Hizbollah in Lebanon
Phil Sands / The National

ISTANBUL (May 25, 2013) — Syrian rebels are planning to attack Hizbollah in its Lebanese strongholds, in response to the Shiite militant group’s growing combat role on the side of President Bashar Al Assad in the Syria conflict.

Such attacks would mark a significant escalation and spread of what is fast developing into a highly sectarian, regional war.

“It is really a question of when, not if, Hizbollah gets attacked on its home territory,” said a Syrian opposition activist involved with armed rebel factions and rebel groups working out of Lebanon, made up of Syrian members.

Plans were being devised to carry out guerrilla strikes against Hizbollah in the Bekaa Valley and in the Beirut neighbourhood of Dahieh, he said.

The activist, who is part of a secretive network of rebels — not with the Syrian National Coalition or any other publicly recognised opposition faction — would not go into details about which group would be involved in any attacks.

Planning has been taking place for several weeks, he said, since before the start of the latest assault on Qusayr, a town close to the Syrian-Lebanese border.

Fighters from Hizbollah, which is armed and supported by Iran — Syria’s principal ally — are playing a central role in the strategically and symbolically important battle in Qusayr, according to analysts and rebels.

Hizbollah’s experienced guerrillas have helped Syrian regime troops advance into areas they have not held for more than a year, underlining the importance of their expertise in reinforcing Mr Al Assad’s army.

France and Britain have said they want Hizbollah added to the EU’s list of terrorist organisations over its role in Syria, and a bombing that killed five Israelis in Bulgaria last year. The US already classifies Hizbollah as a terrorist group.

“We have known for a long time about Hizbollah’s involvement, it has been fighting in Homs and Damascus and if they continue to fight in our homes in Syria then it is only natural that the war will arrive at their homes too,” the activist said.

No precise timeline for any attacks had yet been set, he said.

“It depends on the circumstances: if Hizbollah pull out now then maybe it will not happen, otherwise when things are in place and the opportunity is there, the attacks will happen,” he said.

This week at least 18 people have been killed and more than 170 wounded in Lebanon during an outbreak of fighting in Tripoli between Sunni supporters of the Syrian rebels and Shiite supporters of Mr Al Assad.

Syria’s ruling elite, including the Assad family that has ruled the country for more than four decades, is dominated by Alawites, a Shiite sect, while Syria’s majority Sunni Muslims are playing an increasingly dominant role in the uprising against the regime.

In Lebanon, the Alawite enclave of Jabal Mohesin and the neighbourhing Sunni area of Al Qobba in Tripoli have long been flashpoints for sectarian violence.

Lebanese Alawites from the Arab Democratic Party have said Sunni Islamist militants from Jabhat Al Nusra, a group linked to Al Qaeda, prominent in the insurgency against Mr Al Assad, are leading the fighting in Tripoli.

Plans by Syrian rebels to assault Hizbollah strongholds would open a new front, particularly if they were to take place in zones where the Shiite militant group has faced no real challengers.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organisation monitoring the death toll in Syria, said it believed 104 Hizbollah fighters had been killed in Syria since last autumn.

Hizbollah does not openly report on its casualties. However, the Agence France-Presse cited a source close to the group as saying 75 fighters had been killed.

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