US slaps sanctions on Iran shipping network over Syria oil | AFP

The United States imposes sanctions on a shipping network it says is run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, saying it sold millions of barrels of oil to benefit Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. SOUNDBITE

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‘Out with Putin’: Assad protesters clash with police on 8th anniversary of Syrian uprising

Protesters clashed with police in Berlin, after a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turned chaotic.

Police detained several protesters who broke through a police cordon that was guarding counter-demonstrators near the Russian embassy.

Around 250 people joined the march in the German capital, marking the 8th anniversary of the Syrian uprising under the pouring rain, waving banners and shouting slogans like ‘Assad must go,’ and ‘Out with Putin,’ among others.

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US helps Syria terrorists, it doesn’t fight them – Assad aide

Afshin Rattansi speaks to Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, the Political and Media Advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on America’s withdrawal from Syria, Israeli strikes on Syria, the West’s lack of understanding of the Middle East and the Islamist threat and ISIS bride Shamima Begum.

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Christmas joy missing in rubble of Syria town

With Christmas approaching, Nabil al-Aash dusts off religious books as he attempts to tidy up the war-scarred Saint George Church in the town of Arbin, northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus. Retaken in the spring by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad during a brutal offensive to capture the rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta, Arbin is anything but festive.

Syrians in government areas vote in first local polls since 2011

Syrians in government-controlled areas cast their ballots in the first local elections there since 2011, when the country’s ill-fated uprising erupted against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. More than 6,550 voting centres opened at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) across government-held parts of the country with more than 40,000 candidates competing for 18,478 seats on local administrative councils, state media reported.

Trump warns Assad against ‘reckless’ attack on Idlib

#Syria #Idlib
Rebel fighters from the Free Syrian Army, who oppose the government of Bashar al-Assad, are preparing for battle in the province of Idlib – the last remaining militant and terrorist stronghold in Syria.

That’s as US president Donald Trump urges Russia and Iran to call off liberation efforts in the region.

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Exiled Syrians put on dance performance at Paris art festival

Posters denouncing the government of Bashar al-Assad, paintings on Syrian jails and choreography to evoke the trauma … These artists in exile have Syria in their skin and they tell through their work, by commitment or because they do not know any other way to express their stories. Their work was presented at the third edition of the festival “Syrien n’est fait” in Paris, at Les Grand Voisins (14th), organized by the NGO ASML / Syria.

Syrian flag rises over Nawa after city freed from militant control

Residents of Nawa in western Daraa took to the streets on Wednesday, to voice their support for government forces, after the city was freed from militant control last month.
Local residents gathered in the city’s centre, where they hoisted the Syrian national flag. Some held up portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while others chanted and clapped.

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France, US and Britain push button on Syria strikes

The United States, Britain and France carry out a wave of pre-dawn strikes against Syria’s regime in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack, with leaders saying the strikes “send a clear message” to the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Defiance in Syria after US, Britain & France launch air strikes

“Proud” and defiant Damascus residents react after the United States, Britain and France carried out a wave of punitive strikes against Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime. Syria’s government says the “aggression” will only “increase its determination”.

World leaders deliberate strikes against Syria

Western strikes against the Syrian regime in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons could affect Bashar al-Assad’s military apparatus and push Russia to return to the negotiating table, but also spark tensions in the region, or even a US-Russia confrontation. US President Donald Trump has been weighing his military options, British Prime Minister Theresa May held an emergency cabinet meeting and the priority for Russia’s Ambassador to the UN is “to avert the danger of war.”

US, UK condemn suspected chemical attack in Syria

A video posted on the Facebook page of the Douma City Coordination Committee says it shows children and adults receiving treatment and being washed down with water in a medical facility in Douma after an alleged chemical attack, which Syrian state media and the regime’s ally Russia have denounced as ‘fabrications’. Jim Mattis points toward Russia’s role, and says he will not rule out a military response. British Prime Minister Theresa May says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers “must be held to account” if the attack on the rebel-held town of Douma is confirmed.

Theresa May warns Assad “and backers” over chemical attack

British Prime Minister Theresa May says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers “must be held to account” if a suspected poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Douma is confirmed. International outrage has mounted against the alleged use of the weapons, with US President Donald Trump and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron vowing strong responses. SOUNDBITE

Why Russia Is So Involved With The Syrian Civil War

Russia has played a major role in the Syrian Civil War and has garnered controversy over its airstrikes along with Syrian government forces against terrorist organizations and other rebel groups. Andrew Parailiti, RAND director of the Center for Global Risk and Security, explains why Russia decided to intervene in the war, which includes its willingness to aid an ally, and challenge the US’ role in the world. Following is a transcript of the video.  

Andrew Parasiliti: Russia takes a broader view of what it considers to be terrorist groups than the United States does.

Why Russia is so involved with the Syrian Civil War.

Parasiliti: I tend to find that Russia’s interests in Syria are pretty clear and they are as follows: One, they’re supporting an ally. Bashar al-Assad’s government is under attack. First by popular uprisings, and then by terrorist groups, and other armed groups backed by countries in the region. And they’re not gonna let him fall. The Russians are concerned that if Assad fell, that you would either have a group in power that included jihadists who would be inimical to US and Russian, and other interests, actually. Or you would have a continually destabilized state that allowed these terrorist groups to continue.

Two, there’s a counter-terrorism piece. This is what the Russians tell the Americans when we talk about Syria with them. They say Moscow shares Washington’s interests in combating terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. That’s true to a certain extent. Although, Russia takes a broader view of what it considers to be terrorist groups than the United States does. It is more inclined towards Assad’s definition, which is any armed group which opposes him, rather than the strict UN definition which would be Islamic State, Al-Qaeda. But it is correct to say that Russia also supports counter-terrorism activity.

Third, is challenging the US role. In a kind of lesson learned from the previous era, Russia went along with the UN resolution which allowed what was then called the Right to Protect Use of Force in Libya during the Obama administration. And that ended up leading to the downfall of Gaddafi, and we saw what happened there. Russia is not ever going to let that happen again. They’re going to try to prevent, actually, any US or other military intervention that could destabilize a friendly state.

It’s kind of a demonstration effect to the rest of the Middle East. Russia stands by its allies in the region. People take note of that. When Assad was on the ropes, Russia stepped up with a substantial military power to keep him in power. The Iranians too, but it was the Russian initiative and Russian airpower which has been instrumental in Assad’s ability to hang on.

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More deadly regime strikes as Syria toll mounts

Fresh regime strikes on a besieged rebel-held enclave near Damascus kill 47 civilians despite mounting Western pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile the UN representatives in Syria call for an immediate cessation of hostilities lasting for at least one month to enable the delivery of humanitarian aid and services as well as to evacuate critically sick and wounded people.

Erdogan says ‘terrorist’ Assad cannot be part of Syria solution

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that a political solution to the Syrian conflict is impossible without the departure of President Bashar al-Assad, branding him a “terrorist”.

Military parade in Aleppo marks one-year since city’s liberation

Thousands of people gathered in Saadallah al-Jabiri square in Aleppo on Thursday to join a military parade marking one-year since the Syrian government retook the city.
The military were greeted by many of the city’s residents carrying pro-government banners and images of President Bashar al-Assad.

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‘No preconditions’ for Syria opposition delegation in Geneva

The Syrian opposition delegation says it came to Geneva peace talks with ‘no preconditions after Syrian government negotiators indicated that they might not return to continue talks, condemning “provocative” statements from the opposition about the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.