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Western Intelligence Confirms Syrian Use of SCUD Missiles

American and NATO sources have confirmed that the Syrian regime has used Scud missiles against opposition forces. A NATO official on Wednesday acknowledged “the launch of a number of unguided, short-range ballistic missiles inside Syria…Trajectory and distance traveled indicate they were Scud-type missiles.” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland remarked that the Assad regime is “resorting to increased lethality and more vicious weapons.” Meanwhile, in an interview with the Reuters news agency, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R- Mich.) warned that Assad could decide to deploy his chemical weapons “at a moment’s notice.” Rogers admonished the international community not to take Syrian assurances to the contrary “at face value.” He suggested that the escalation to using Scuds deepens the concern about the regime’s willingness to use chemical weapons if and when it feels sufficiently desperate – a point taken by Nuland as well. One day after President Obama announced US recognition of the newly-formed Syrian Opposition Council as the “legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” Nuland announced that an invitation to visit Washington had been extended to the Council’s head, Moaz Al-Khatib. On Thursday, Assad received a blow from Russia -- a chief supporter in the international community. Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov took note that regime forces are “losing more and more control and territory,” concluding that, “Unfortunately, we cannot rule out the victory of the Syrian opposition.”

Atomic Watchdog Arrives in Iran to New Allegations of Building at Parchin

Optimism at Iranian cooperation for a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday was tempered by the release of photos showing new building at the Parchin nuclear facility. The images were made available by the Institute for Science and International Security which said in a statement that, “A new site layout is taking shape…at a steady pace.” The IAEA team visiting Tehran did not have prior permission to visit the Parchin site but hoped the government would permit it when discussions were held with Iran’s nuclear officials. The purpose of the visit is to reach an agreement on resuming talks on the nuclear program.


Israeli Border Guard Shoots and Kills Palestinian Aiming Fake Gun at Soldier

Skirmishes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron broke out on Wednesday after a border guard shot and killed a Palestinian teen she had seen drawing and aiming a gun at soldiers. After the incident, police sappers determined the gun was a metal copy, not a usable weapon. When the shooting touched-off rioting, the army used tear gas to disband the crowd, injuring five Palestinian rioters in the course of doing so. The border guard’s commander said afterward that she had “Acted with professional resolve to end the event and I commend her for it.” Violence has been escalating in Hebron, where two other Palestinians were killed by soldiers within a few weeks. It is also believed to have the largest concentration of Hamas members of West Bank cities.

Abbas Pushes Reconciliation in Call to Meshaal

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas phoned Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal to talk about renewing efforts to reconcile the Fatah and Hamas factions as the Hamas leader was wrapping up a visit to the Gaza Strip. Meshaal was Hamas’ long-time leader-in-exile based in Damascus until he recently moved to the Gulf as Hamas’ welcome in Syria wore thin. Last week he made his first trip to Hamas-controlled Gaza where he took part in victory celebrations after the week-long battle against Israeli aerial bombing. Abbas offered another fig leaf by permitting a celebratory rally in the West Bank to commemorate Hamas’ 25th anniversary there, a move that would have been unthinkable a short time ago. Ending the bifurcation between Hamas-ruled Gaza and the Fatah-ruled West Bank is a priority for the Palestinians as a precursor for statehood.  The next round of reconciliation talks will take place in Cairo, but no date has been set.








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