BRUSSELS — A day after the European Union agreed to lift its arms embargo for Syrian rebels, Russia confirmed Tuesday it was giving the Syrian government more high-powered missiles – raising the prospect of a new foreign-fed arms race in the Middle East.
DUBLIN, Ireland — Escalating tensions, sparked by American claims that the regime of Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against opposition forces and the subsequent U.S. move to arm the rebels, have moved Syria to the top of the agenda for the coming G8 meeting.
Several months ago, when France vehemently opposed canceling the delivery of the Mistral amphibious warship to Russia, its largest bank BNP was "unexpectedly" slapped with a record $9 billion fine by the US Department of Justice for money-laundering. The retaliatory measure was so obvious even Putin opined on the US action: "We know about the pressure which our U.S. partners are applying on France not to supply the Mistrals to Russia,” Putin said in July.
DAMASCUS, Syria — A top Iranian official visiting Damascus on Monday said Israel will regret its “latest aggression” on Syria and said the entire Muslim world should be ready to defend the Syrian people.
Saeed Jalili, the head of Iran’s National Security Council, also said Iran supports any initiative for dialogue between President Bashar Assad and his opponents to end the civil war in Syria, but insisted that any talks be held in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s prime minister escaped an assassination attempt Monday when a bomb went off near his convoy in Damascus, state media reported, the latest attack targeting a top official in President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi was unhurt in the bombing in the capital’s western neighborhood of Mazzeh, state TV said. The TV showed footage of heavily damaged cars and debris in the area as firefighters fought to extinguish a large blaze set off by the explosion.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview broadcast Thursday that he is “confident in victory” in his country’s civil war, and he warned that Damascus would retaliate for any future Israeli airstrike on his territory.
Assad also told the Lebanese TV station Al-Manar that Russia has fulfilled some of its weapons contracts recently, but he was vague on whether this included advanced S-300 air defence systems.