Clashes rage across Syria as EU officials meet in Cyprus

On Thursday, fierce fighting continued across Syria as 90 people were killed. In Homs province, clashes ignited between opposition forces and "popular committees," civilians armed by the Syrian government, killing at least nine opposition fighters and four of the residents. Clashes broke out in multiple areas of Damascus. The Palestinian Yarmouk camp was heavily bombarded. ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, fierce fighting continued across Syria as 90 people were killed. In Homs province, clashes ignited between opposition forces and "popular committees," civilians armed by the Syrian government, killing at least nine opposition fighters and four of the residents. Clashes broke out in multiple areas of Damascus. The Palestinian Yarmouk camp was heavily bombarded. Additionally, 23 bodies, including women and children, were found in the neighborhood of Zalmaka and 22 bodies were discovered in Qatana, southeast of the capital. Syrian forces reportedly regained control of a strategic bridge outside Aleppo on the road to Damascus. The Syrian military's recent successes have been attributed by some to increased support from Iran, which has shipped military equipment including guns and rockets. Additionally, according to Western intelligence sources, Iran has committed to send 150 senior Revolution Guards commanders to assist the Syrian government. European Union foreign ministers are meeting Friday to discuss options for helping the Syrian opposition and address the growing humanitarian crisis. A French diplomat has said the country is considering moving from providing non-lethal aid to supplying the opposition with anti-aircraft guns and artillery.

Headlines  

Egyptian troops have arrested an additional 99 people in the crackdown on the Sinai. Meanwhile, authorities have identified seven suspects in an attack that killed 16 border guards last month, Israel has allowed entry to three Eritrean migrants but has sent the remaining 18 back to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, all of whom have been waiting on Israel's southern border for a week. Iranian news has reported that presidential elections to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be held on June 14, 2013 along with municipal voting. One Turkish soldier and 18 Kurdish militants were killed in operations launched by the Turkish army on September 5.

On Thursday, fierce fighting continued across Syria as 90 people were killed. In Homs province, clashes ignited between opposition forces and "popular committees," civilians armed by the Syrian government, killing at least nine opposition fighters and four of the residents. Clashes broke out in multiple areas of Damascus. The Palestinian Yarmouk camp was heavily bombarded. Additionally, 23 bodies, including women and children, were found in the neighborhood of Zalmaka and 22 bodies were discovered in Qatana, southeast of the capital. Syrian forces reportedly regained control of a strategic bridge outside Aleppo on the road to Damascus. The Syrian military’s recent successes have been attributed by some to increased support from Iran, which has shipped military equipment including guns and rockets. Additionally, according to Western intelligence sources, Iran has committed to send 150 senior Revolution Guards commanders to assist the Syrian government. European Union foreign ministers are meeting Friday to discuss options for helping the Syrian opposition and address the growing humanitarian crisis. A French diplomat has said the country is considering moving from providing non-lethal aid to supplying the opposition with anti-aircraft guns and artillery.

Headlines  

  • Egyptian troops have arrested an additional 99 people in the crackdown on the Sinai. Meanwhile, authorities have identified seven suspects in an attack that killed 16 border guards last month,
  • Israel has allowed entry to three Eritrean migrants but has sent the remaining 18 back to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, all of whom have been waiting on Israel’s southern border for a week.
  • Iranian news has reported that presidential elections to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be held on June 14, 2013 along with municipal voting.
  • One Turkish soldier and 18 Kurdish militants were killed in operations launched by the Turkish army on September 5.

Arguments and Analysis 

Bombing Iran is the way to make sure it gets the bomb‘ (Philip Stephens, Financial Times)

"There is one sure way to persuade Iran to press on with its programme to build the bomb. That’s for Israel to go ahead and bomb Iran.

Whatever one’s views about the toppling of Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush and Tony Blair made a grievous mistake when they invaded Iraq. They did not properly consider what would happen next. The risk is the US will repeat the error by backing Israeli strikes against Iran.
We don’t know whether the Israeli government has a definitive plan to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before the US presidential election. The evidence is that senior figures in the Israeli intelligence and military establishments are somewhere between deeply cautious and hostile about such action. On the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu may well prove vainglorious and reckless enough to overrule them."

No letting up‘ (The Economist)

"LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, the experienced Algerian peacemaker who recently replaced Kofi Annan as the UN’s special envoy for Syria, describes his new task as "nearly impossible". That seems a sound judgment. Syria’s beleaguered but ruthless regime refuses to talk to its opponents until they lay down their arms. For their part, the outgunned, fractious but resilient rebels will not talk to the regime until President Bashar Assad goes. The rest of the world watches in dismay or quietly fuels the conflict, as misery mounts. In August alone, the number of Syrian refugees applying for asylum abroad doubled, to 200,000."

Never Mind the Democrats’ Jerusalem Kerfuffle, Where’s the Peace Process?‘ (Tony Karon, Time)

"The Democratic Party’s clumsy, eleventh-hour re-jigging of its election platform to proclaim Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a but morbid sideshow when viewed against the greater drama of the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Proclamations over the status of Jerusalem are a well-established, if hollow bipartisan ritual of the U.S. election season. They may be deemed necessary to assuage the concern of a relatively narrow segment of activist voters and donors for whom Israel is a priority issue, but the Israelis themselves don’t set much store by them. After all, the record shows that campaign promises on Jerusalem have little bearing on how candidates behave once in office: Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both vowed, when running for the White House, to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem – indeed, the Democratic Party platform on which President Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976 included the same promise."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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