The Battle for Syria
|Dan Levin||August 5th 2012|
Iranian media said Sunday Tehran has asked Turkey and Qatar to help secure the release of 48 Iranian national kidnapped Saturday in Damascus. Iran has described the victims as religious pilgrims. However, al-Arabiya television says the Syrian rebels have described them as elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Iran backs the Syrian government, while Turkey and Qatar support the Syrian opposition. The U.S. State Department announced Sunday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Turkey Saturday to discuss the deteriorating situation in neighboring Syria where a mass uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has been underway for more than 17 months. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Malawi, Clinton's latest stop on her African tour, that the U.S. top diplomat is going to Istanbul "for bilateral consultations with the Turkish government on Syria, as well as to cover other timely issues."
Explosions Saturday rocked the Syrian capital, Damascus, and the northern city of Aleppo as security forces tried to push rebels from their remaining strongholds. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than two dozen people were killed in clashes across the country. The United Nations General Assembly on Friday voted overwhelmingly to condemn the Security Council for its failure to act and condemned the Syrian regime for using heavy weapons.
The U.N. special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, resigned Thursday in frustration with the world body's failure to act decisively to prevent the ongoing bloodshed in Syria. Annan said he could not be the only one working for peace while the fighting between Syrian forces and the rebels intensified. Annan's peace plan for Syria included an immediate cease-fire and talks on a transitional government.
Russia and China have vetoed three Security Council resolutions that would have held President Assad responsible for his failure to abide by the Annan's peace and threatened him with sanctions.