Syrian Crisis Spreads to Lebanon

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | DECEMBER 10, 2012

Lebanon has experienced this week its worst outbreak of violence so far this year. At least 15 people have died and over a hundred injured in six days of fighting between loyalists and opponents of the Assad regime in Tripoli, the second largest city.

The contagion of the crisis in the neighboring country seems unstoppable, especially in the north, where both the Army and the Executive have been unable to halt spiraling sectarian tension that goes beyond the usual boundaries between the neighborhoods of Bab el Tabaneh (Sunni) and Jabal Mohsen (Alawi, the sect of Assad). Several bombs and mortars fired overnight kept the neighbors awake in areas near Zaharia, Mena and Abi Samra, close to the city center.

The last battle between the two neighborhoods, which has been going on for decades, began early Tuesday after images the mutilated bodies of several Lebanese fighters killed in Syria were disseminated. At least a dozen men, mostly Salafists, died last weekend in an ambush from the Syrian Army in Tal Kabaj.

Three of the bodies arrived this morning to Lebanon through the Arida border crossing in the northern part of the country. The repatriation has lit the fire since early in the morning. At least one of the bodies brought to one of the families has been badly destroyed, which has caused an outcry from relatives at the lack of sensitivity on the part of the Syrian and Lebanese authorities.

On Friday, the continuing conflict alerted authorities. After an emergency meeting, the pro-Syrian government headed by Najib Mikati Sunni got a weak truce that was soon broken by the sound of several explosions in both neighborhoods. Not even the intervention of the Army have stopped the outbreaks of violence.

“I left here,” said Mohammad Nablisi, “people are taking their things and getting out.” In the background, he points to the hill where he says stands Jabal Mohsen. The bullets of shots fired by snipers arrive all the way to his home.

The last six days set off all the alarms and highlighted the inability of the army to impose order while increasing fears abound that the situation goes out of control in an area taken over by the Free Syrian Army. The conflict in the neighboring country, has dragged on for 20 months, and has intensified into an open war that has claimed nearly fifty lives so far this year, while the radical elements are strong in the area.

“When I came here,” said a young refugee from Homs, “I went to Bab el Tabaneh to ask for a weapon to fight against followers of Assad. The Bab el Tabaneh forces are being reorganized around elements inspired by Al Qaeda jihadists and refugees in the neighborhood after the dismantling in 2007 of a croup called Fatah al Islam.

The opposition has used the coup to reload their fight against the inactivity of the pro-Syrian Executive.

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Muammar Gaddafi Dead After Firefight in Sirte – VIDEO

Reuters
October 20, 2011

Deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was captured and wounded in both legs near his hometown of Sirte at dawn on Thursday, National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid said.

A photo by AFP that seems to show the body of Muammar Gaddafi.

Majid reported the capture after Libyan interim government fighters took the town on Thursday, extinguishing the last significant resistance by forces loyal to the former leader and ending a two-month siege.

“He’s captured. He’s wounded in both legs … He’s been taken away by ambulance,” the senior NTC military official told Reuters by telephone.

Gaddafi was trying to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes attacked, Majid said. The head of Gaddafi’s armed forces Abu Bakr Younus Jabr had been killed during the capture of the Libyan ex-leader, he added.

Majid said NATO warplanes struck the convoy and hit four cars as it headed west. Ahmed Ibrahim, a cousin and adviser of Gaddafi, was also captured.

In the capital Tripoli, sounds of gun shots were heard and people cheered in the street: “God is Great, God is Great, Gaddafi has been captured.”

Video by Al Jazeera Network

Operation Mermaid Dawn: NATO Slaughter in Tripoli

by Thierry Meyssan
Global Research
August 22, 2011

On Saturday evening, at 8pm, when the hour of Iftar marked the breaking of the Ramadan fast, the NATO command launched its “Operation Siren” against Libya.

The Sirens were the loudspeakers of the mosques, which were used to launch Al Qaeda’s call to revolt against the Qaddafi government. Immediately the sleeper cells of the Benghazi rebels went into action. These were small groups with great mobility, which carried out multiple attacks. The overnight fighting caused 350 deaths and 3,000 wounded.

The situation calmed somewhat on Sunday during the course of the day.

Then, a NATO warship sailed up and anchored just off the shore at Tripoli, delivering heavy weapons and debarking Al Qaeda jihadi forces, which were led by NATO officers.

Fighting stared again during the night. There were intense firefights. NATO drones and aircraft kept bombing in all directions. NATO helicopters strafed civilians in the streets with machine guns to open the way for the jihadis.

In the evening, a motorcade of official cars carrying top government figures came under attack. The convoy fled to the Hotel Rixos, where the foreign press is based. NATO did not dare to bomb the hotel because they wanted to avoid killing the journalists. Nevertheless the hotel, which is where I am staying, is now under heavy fire.

At 11:30pm, the Health Minister had to announce that the hospitals were full to overflowing. On Sunday evening, there had been 1300 additional dead and 5,000 wounded.

NATO had been charged by the UN Security Council with protecting civilians in Libya. In reality, France and Great Britain have just re-started their colonial massacres.

At 1am, Khamis Qaddafi came to the Rixos Hotel personally to deliver weapons for the defense of the hotel. He then left. There is now heavy fighting all around the hotel.

No end in sight for NATO in Libya

Russia calls latest NATO attack ‘illegal’ and a great departure from what was permitted by the UN resolution.

AP
May 25, 2011

The military campaign in Libya began with what seemed a narrowly defined mission: to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians from attack.

Two months later, the campaign has evolved into a ferocious pounding of the country’s capital, Tripoli, in what appears an all-out effort to oust Moammar Gadhafi. But that goal remains elusive, raising the prospect of a quagmire in the desert. And the political will of the countries involved is being sorely tested.

The Libyan opposition remains weak. NATO, the North Atlantic military alliance which took over command of the campaign from the U.S. on March 31, appears to have no clear exit strategy. Two of the allies, Britain and France, have descended into public squabbling over bringing the fight closer to Gadhafi with attack helicopters. And the French foreign minister said Tuesday his country’s willingness to continue the campaign was not endless.

Part of the challenge lies in the original U.N. resolution: It authorized the use of air power but forbade ground troops, even as it authorized “all necessary means” to protect civilians following Gadhafi’s brutal suppression of the popular uprising against his rule.

From Yugoslavia to Iraq, recent history has shown that ousting a regime through air power alone is, at best, exceedingly difficult.

In Libya, it is not for lack of trying. What seemed at first to be limited strikes on military targets – tanks heading for the rebel-held city of Benghazi here, some anti-aircraft batteries there – has now expanded to the point that early Tuesday saw the biggest bombardment of the capital since the conflict began.

The targets have come to include, for example, Gadhafi’s presidential compound; one of the leader’s sons was killed April 30. NATO’s official line is that the compound was a command-and-control center and it was not trying to kill Gadhafi. But clearly no one in the alliance would have shed a tear had the Libyan leader died.

There are signs of frustration, or perhaps desperation, among the allies. To avoid anti-aircraft fire, the campaign at first relied largely on high-altitude precision bombing, generally from above 15,000 feet (4,500 meters) – nearly three miles (five kilometers) high. But France said Monday that it now plans to deploy helicopter gunships to hit targets more precisely in urban areas while risking the lives of fewer civilians.

So far, no allied servicemen or women have been killed in the campaign. But by using helicopters and flying far lower, the French would be putting their pilots at greater risk, underscoring their intense desire to finish the Libyan operation sooner rather than later.

“I can assure you that our will is to ensure that the mission in Libya does not last longer than a few months,” Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said during a question-and-answer session at the French parliament Tuesday.

He said the action “may take days, weeks in my opinion (but) certainly not months.”

The danger to pilots could be significant. Although Libya’s surface-to-air missile network has been effectively destroyed, Gadhafi’s forces are said to retain hundreds of heavy machine guns, automatic cannon and shoulder-launched missiles that would pose a danger to helicopters at lower altitudes.

In past conflicts, NATO has shied away from using slow-moving and low-flying helicopters and AC-130 gunships against opponents with such weaponry.

During the bombing of Kosovo and Serbia in 1999, the alliance quickly abandoned plans to deploy Apache attack helicopters after the defenders shot down or damaged half a dozen strike jets in the opening days of the campaign.

Not content with their own announcement, French officials also said that Britain would deploy helicopters too. British officials angrily denied that any decision had been made.

NATO declined comment about the proposed deployment of helicopter gunships because none had yet been placed under its command, saying only through a spokesman that it would be “grateful for all contributions.”

The U.S., which launched the international air campaign March 19 and handed off command to NATO shortly afterward, also welcomed the offer of helicopters.

U.S. officials said Tuesday that the “robust pace” of strikes in Tripoli was intended to send Gadhafi a message that “the pressure is not going to relent.”

“It’s actually going to increase. I think we want to underscore to Gadhafi that the foot is not going to come off the gas pedal in terms of the decisions he’s going to have to make,” said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, traveling with President Barack Obama in London.

“It’s a set of messages all of which convey to Gadhafi that leaving is in his best interests and the best interest of the Libyan people,” Rhodes said.

But a NATO diplomat said frustration was growing in the North Atlantic Council, the alliance’s governing body.

“There will be some tough questions asked about the endgame” if the conflict drags on until the end of June, when the military campaign needs to be reauthorized by the council, said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of standing rules.

Theo Farrell, a professor of war studies at King’s College, London, said the introduction of attack helicopters in Libya might divert potential resources from the war in Afghanistan.

“Since mostly air and naval assets are involved in Libya, these resources wouldn’t in any case be useful in Afghanistan,” Farrell said. “The only area where it is a distraction is in terms of senior leadership attention and strategic planning.”

The choppers, he said, were a different matter.

“The more this happens, the more there would be tension about the diversion of resources.”

He said this comes at a critical time in Afghanistan, where “the war is being won operationally and lost at the same time strategically” because of growing war-weariness in NATO countries and problems with President Hamid Karzai’s government and the militants’ safe havens in neighboring Pakistan.

Attempt to Murder Gadhafi fails

U.S. led forces attack and kill Gadhafi’s young son

AP
May 1, 2011

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli on Saturday, but his youngest son and three grandchildren under the age of 12 were killed, a government spokesman said.

The strike, which came hours after Gadhafi called for a cease-fire and negotiations in what rebels called a publicity stunt, marked an escalation of international efforts to prevent the Libyan regime from regaining momentum.

Rebels honked horns and chanted “Allahu Akbar” or “God is great” while speeding through the western city of Misrata, which Gadhafi’s forces have besieged and subjected to random shelling for two months, killing hundreds. Fireworks were set off in front of the central Hikma hospital, causing a brief panic that the light would draw fire from Gadhafi’s forces.

The attack struck the house of Gadhafi’s youngest son, Seif al-Arab, when the Libyan leader and his wife were inside. White House spokesman Shin Inouye declined to comment on the developments in Libya, referring questions to NATO.

The alliance acknowledged that it had struck a “command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighborhood” Saturday evening, but it could not confirm the death of Gadhafi’s son and insisted all its targets are military in nature and linked to Gadhafi’s systematic attacks on the population.

The commander of the NATO operation, Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, said he was aware of unconfirmed reports that some Gadhafi family members may have been killed and he regretted “all loss of life, specially the innocent civilians being harmed as a result of the ongoing conflict.”

Seif al-Arab Gadhafi, 29, was the youngest son of Gadhafi and brother of the better known Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, who had been touted as a reformist before the uprising began in mid-February. The younger Gadhafi had spent much of his time in Germany in recent years.

Gadhafi’s children had been increasingly engaged in covering up scandals fit for a “Libyan soap opera,” including negative publicity from extravagant displays of wealth such as a million-dollar private concert by pop diva Beyonce, according to a batch of diplomatic cables released by the secret-spilling WikiLeaks website.

But Seif al-Arab remained largely in the shadows, although he had a penchant for fast cars and partying when outside Libya.

Moammar Gadhafi and his wife were in the Tripoli house of his 29-year-old son when it was hit by at least one bomb dropped from a NATO warplane, according to Libyan spokesman Moussa Ibrahim.

“The leader himself is in good health,” Ibrahim said. “He was not harmed. The wife is also in good health.”

Ibrahim would not give the names of the three children killed, except to say they were nieces and nephews of Seif al-Arab and that they were younger than 12. He said they are not releasing the names yet to protect the privacy of the family.

He said the compound that was hit was in the Garghour neighborhood.

“It seems there was intelligence that was leaked. They knew about something. They expected him for some reason. But the target was very clear, very, very clear. And the neighborhood, yes of course, because the leader family has a place there, you could expect of course it would be guarded, but it is a normal neighborhood. Normal Libyans live there,” he said.

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