Wednesday 29 August 2012
Appeal for the release of Palestinian activist, Souad al-Tayeb: On 10 June 2012 the Palestinian activist Souad al-Tayeb was arbitrarily arrested from her office in Kornesh al-Tejara - Damascus, by a patrol of the al-Khatib Branch of the State security department. She remains in detention in the same Branch; she is banned from having visitors and has not been officially charged until this moment.
Family: Married with a one year old child.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for Wednesday 29/8/2012: More than 140 Syrians have been killed
The dead include 84 unarmed civilians, 6 unidentified bodies, 14 rebel fighters, 2 defected soldier, and no less than 32 members of the Syrian regular forces.
84 Unarmed civilians:
-In Reef Dimashq 34 civilians were killed. 12 civilians was killed by the bombardment on the towns of Kafarbatna, Hezza, Zamalka, Yabr
-In Idlib province 16 civilians were killed. 7 civilians (1 woman, 3 children and 3 men) were killed in the bombardment on Jabal al-Zawiay, Kafru Eid and Kafrenbel. 3 civilians was killed by the bombardment on Ma’arat al-Nu’man. 1 civilain from Kafrouma was shot by regime forces. 2 civilians, 1 of them a woman, were killed by wounds in the villages of Balshoun and Ma’ali. 2 civilian were killed by a sniper in the city of Ariha. 1 civilian was killed from wounds caused by the bombardment on Ma’arat Hurma 3 days ago.
-In Damascus 13 civilians were killed. 11 civilains from the Jobar neighbourhood were killed : 5 civilians were summarily executed by regime forces in the Jobar neighbourhood; 3 civilians, including a child, were killed by regime fire; 3 civilians were killed by the regime fire in the town of Eir Terma, Reef Dimashq. 2 civilians from the Qaboun neighbourhood were killed by the regime bombardment on the Jobar neighbourhood.
-In Aleppo province 8 civilians were killed. 3 civilians from the city of al-Bab were shot and killed by a military checkpoint in Reef Aleppo. 4 civilians (2 men and 2 women) were killed by the bombardment on the neighbourhoods of Bustan al-Basha, Bustan al-Qasr and Jisr al-Neyrab. 1 civilian was killed by a sniper in the al-Sukkari neighbourhood.
-In Deir Izzor province 5 civilians were killed, all in the city of Deir Izzor. 1 was killed by a sniper. 1 by a military checkpoint. 3 civilians were killed by the bombardment on the al-Jubeila and Hamidiya neighbourhoods.
-In Hama province 4 civilians were killed. The body of a civilian was found in the Tariq Halab al-Jadeeda neighbourhood, killed by regime forces. 3 civilians were killed by regime fire in the villages of al-Qam’iya and al-Hawash in Reef Hama.
-In Dera’a province 1 civilian was killed, he died by the bombardment on the town of Kherbet Ghazala.
-In Latakia province 2 civilians were killed when their motorbike was shot at on the Wadi Sheikhan-Hour highway, Reef Latakia.
-In Homs province 1 civilian was killed by a sniper in the Jourat al-Shayyah neighbourhood of Homs.
***6 unidentified persons were killed today in Damascus and Reef Dimashq: 4 people, including a woman, were shot and killed by regime forces in the Qadam, Jobar and Asali neighbourhoods of Damascus. 2 unidentified bodies were found in the town of Mou’adamiya, Reef Dimashq***
**Information was received that 7 civilians were killed by the bombardment and gunfire in the towns of Zamalka and al-Ebada, Reef Dimashq**
14 Rebel fighters:
Reef Dimashq: 5 rebels killed. A fighter from Harasta was killed during clashes in the city of Douma. 2 rebel fighters were killed when pro-regime gunmen attacked a rebel area in the town of Sabina. 1 was killed by regime fire in the town of Irbeen. Mohammad Al-Khateeb, a rebel brigade leader, was killed by regime fire in the city of Yabrud, Reef Dimashq.
Idlib province: 4 rebels killed. 3 rebel fighters were killed during clashes in the towns of Taftanaz and Zarzour. 1 rebel was killed in clashes in Ariha.
Der’a province: 3 rebels from the town of Jasem, Dera’a province, were killed in clashes in the capital, Damascus.
Aleppo province: A rebel fighter from the town of Mare’ was killed during clashes in the Ahdath area of Aleppo city.
Homs province: 1 rebel fighter was killed during clashes in the al-Khaldiya neighbourhood.
2 defected soldiers were killed during clashes in Reef Dimashq and Idlib province.
No less than 32 members of the Syrian armes forces were killed during clashes in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Homs, Reef Dimash, Damascus and Dera’a.
The weekly briefing news from Media and Foreign affairs office of the PYD.
The continuation of Syrian crisis reveal that Syria has become an arena for regional and international conflicts after militarizing and Islamizing the popular and peaceful revolution for dignity and freedom. The regime has chosen to use the military and security as a tool to suppress and eradicate the revolution resulted in such a situation. The international and regional interventions are clear to the extent that war in Syria is labeled as a representative war on behalf of regional and international powers. This fact makes us realize how dangerous the situation is in Syria. The ambiguous future which awaits Syria after the expected fall down of the regime made the whole world worried about and planning for that day. What makes it worse is existence of Islamist extremist groups and all armed manifestations. Therefore the Kurds must have their own plans and take the necessary measures for the day after Bashar al- Assad as all other parts doing so.Based on this fact all national and pro- democracy parts called for protecting and strengthening of the national unity and this measure should not considered as atransitional measure to bring the regime down, because what is coming is more dangerous and extremely difficult. On the other hand the Turkish state continues to undermine the Kurds unity and tries to sow the seed of dissension among them by spreading and circulating different kinds of rumors and false news ( propagandas) aiming at undermining our people’s aspirations from obtaining their legitimate rights. It is no doubt that the suspicious events which have happened in Kurdish areas recently and the formation of a military council the Free Syrian Army threats against the Kurds and vowing to interfere in those areas is a sign of Turkish intelligence activities. Those activities came after the Turkish- American agreement with some factions of Syrian opposition to establish their presence and organizations in the Kurdish areas.
Therefore it is the Kurds responsibility to be cautious and to get united to spare our areas troubles and destruction and not to give our enemies a chance to succeed in preventing our people from getting their legitimate rights.
The higher Kurdish Council decides to raise the Council’s symbol indemonstrations and checkpoints.
The higher Kurdish Council met in Nurradin Zazza’s hall in Qamishlo on Wednesday the 22. August 2012. They discussed different issues of which the called on joint- committees to continue to form their meetings in order to define their authorities and responsibilities and to fulfill tasks. They also took some important decisions by agreeing to Kobane’s two local councils’ recommendations to combat the spread of drug plants. The higher Kurdish Council’s spokesman Ahmed Suleiman said in an interview with Aldemoqrati website, that the higher Kurdish Council has decided to raise only the Council’s emblem and to reduce the use of Kurdish parties’ flags and symbols and focus on what is common. As well as the Council has also decided to demonstrate in the next Friday under the slogan ‘’ towards a democratic, pluralistic Syria for its entire people’’.He reiterated the Council has taken a decision to raise only the Council’s symbol on all checkpoints and they going to meet with the local security unities in this regard.
Higher Kurdish Council’s statement
Due to the developments of the situation in Syria and their repercussions on the Kurdish people areas, as well due to the chaos which is spreading rapidly in turn required the Kurdish movement to take some urgent procedures to secure people’s safety and their properties as well raised some suspicions by some regional and international sides. We do confirm that we are a part of Syrian people and their revolution for freedom and dignity. We strive by our peaceful and active participation in this revolution to establish a pluralistic and democratic Syria. As we reiterate that the Kurds are no danger and no threat for the security of neighboring countries and we do not seek an independent state or separation from our Syrian society and those urgent and necessary procedures, which has been taken in the Kurdish areas, are to maintain the civil peace and protect people’ lives.
Second wife strips the head of Amuda’s rural council of his duties.
The broad council for Amuda’s region has decided to disqualify the head of Amuda’s rural areas council from his post; After deciding to get married with a second wife. The people’s council in western Kurdistan decided in its second meeting to the membership of any people’s council in western Kurdistan member when they would get married for a second time. The decision came after demands form women’s committee on the board of the meeting which was voted for by members. Women’s committee expressed the decision came to ensure that women’s rights and that they have the same rights as men in all walks of life; As well to protect the family integrity in the Kurdish society.
The executive board of people’s council in western Kurdistan gathers for its second meeting in Efrin.
The executive board of people’s council in western Kurdistan gathers for its second meeting in Efrin on Friday 17.8.2012. in center for youths in the presence of the co-president of the people’s council in western Kurdistan Ms Sienam Muhammed, democratic society coordination member Mr Ferhad Deriki and the co-president of the democratic union party PYD Ms Asia Muhammed.
They discussed the current political developments in Syria as well in the region and the whole Middle East, the importance of the Kurds unity to refute plots and conspiracies against the Kurdish people, they also pointed out that the higher Kurdish committee should tackle all the current developments with sensitivity and cautiousness.
The meeting pointed at the importance of developing tasks and demanding to exert more efforts to succeed in this historical time which Syria is going through generally and western Kurdistan especially.
They mentioned the importance of Kurds unity to achieve people’s aspirations and hopes in freedom and democracy. That why they called on all parts to be cautious and aware of the conspiracies and plots which aim at our people’s will.
After the political discussions they started to read reports which were presented by different committees and organizations working under the people’s council umbrella in western Kurdistan. They also studied suggestions, opinions and terms which were sent to the council.
The meeting expressed their willingness to fulfill their responsibilities in order to serve their people and to accomplish democratic self-administration project in western Kurdistan which reignited people’s hopes and aspirations in freedom and democracy.
[local time] 22:13 An AFP feature story describes how mosques and buildings across Aleppo carry the scars of five weeks of bombing and shelling.
21:00 Jordanian Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh said on Wednesday that his country would send home Syrian refugees who attacked police during clashes over living conditions in a desert border camp.
20:44 Wednesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 108 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying.
19:24 Tourism in Syria has been decimated by more than 17 months of deadly conflict, official figures show.
18:53 Human Rights Watch on Wednesday urged Syria’s neighbors to keep their borders open to refugees fleeing the violence, as Turkey looks to set up a zone to shelter them on Syrian soil.
16:59 Russia on Wednesday called for an impartial investigation into the latest “barbaric” violence near Syria’s capital Damascus, where hundreds of deaths have been reported since the weekend.
16:53 Wednesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 62 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying.
16:27 An AFP feature story details how clashes, displacement of people, destruction, unemployment and inflation have depressed much of the five million people of Damascus.
14:20 Italy hosted international talks in Rome on Wednesday on the future of Syria after President Bashar al-Assad leaves power.
14:03 Turkey said Wednesday it will allow Turkish lawmakers to visit a refugee camp set up for Syrian army defectors in a bid to quash rumors that the camp morphed into an underground rebel training base.
13:21 Turkey is in talks with the United Nations on ways to shelter thousands of refugees on Syrian soil and expects the world body to take concrete steps.
12:50 The official Syrian Arab News Agency said on Wednesday that men and women were killed in a Damascus suburb by “terrorists” to “alter the public opinion against Syria.”
12:04 Thirty people were killed by Syrian regime forces on Wednesday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
11:26 French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius admitted Wednesday that plans to create buffer zones in Syria were “very complicated” and would require the imposition of partial no-fly zones.
11:15 Fierce fighting broke out on Wednesday between the Syrian army and rebels near Taftanaz military airport, which is located between the northern cities of Aleppo and Edleb, a watchdog said.
11:06 Syrian security forces heavily shelled Al-Ghouta al-Sharqiyya in the Damascus district, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
10:40 Syrian rebels say they have destroyed 10 Syrian regime helicopters in an attack on Edleb’s Taftanaz military airport, Al-Jazeera reported.
10:10 Syria needs more time to end the conflict raging across the country, President Bashar al-Assad said in a television interview to be broadcast by pro-regime Al-Dunia channel on Wednesday.
9:05 MORNING LEADER: A car bomb rocked the funeral of two government loyalists in a Damascus suburb killing 27 people on Tuesday as the army kept up its bombardment of rebel strongholds in the east of the capital. The bombing hit Jaramana, a mainly Druze and Christian town on the southeastern outskirts of Damascus that is generally supportive of the government.
8:38 Syria’s rebels on Tuesday claimed that they had seized from the regime’s arsenal 10 missiles in the eastern belt of Damascus province, amid a marked escalation of violence in the area.
8:29 A prominent France-based Syrian dissident resigned on Tuesday from the embattled country’s main opposition coalition, accusing it of failing to protect the population against “horrific massacres.”
8:11 Clashes broke out at dawn between regime forces and the Free Syrian Army rebels in the Tadamoun neighborhood of Damascus, Al-Jazeera reported on Wednesday.
Guardian: Bashar al-Assad says there is no end in sight to Syrian civil war: 29 Aug 2012: Syrian president shrugs off high-profile defections and says regime forces need more time to wipe out opposition
Syria‘s president, Bashar al-Assad, has said there is no immediate prospect of an end to the country’s 17-month-old civil war, adding that more time is needed for his “heroic” armed forces to wipe out the opposition.
In an interview with Syria’s pro-government Addounia TV channel, Assad shrugged off recent damaging defections by senior regime figures, and suggested the situation for ordinary Syrians was now gradually improving. Events on the ground on Wednesday, however, suggested otherwise, with heavy shelling near the capital Damascus and a major rebel attack on a strategic northern airbase.
“We are moving forward, the situation is practically getting better, but the victory needs more time,” Assad said. He continued: “We’re fighting a regional and global battle and must have more time to resolve [it].”
The interview marks a rare public appearance for Assad, and follows a devastating explosion last month at his Damascus military-security command, which killed four of his top advisers. Assad laughed off claims that he had fled the capital, or escaped abroad, telling his interviewer: “I’m here with you in Damascus inside the republican palace.”
The president also praised his country’s embattled armed forces. Opposition activists and human rights groups accuse Assad’s troops and pro-government shabiha militias of staging a series of massacres, most recently in the town of Daraya. Up to 400 people were reportedly killed there over the weekend. “The army are doing their job. They are performing heroic acts in every sense of the word,” Assad said.
Assad also suggested outside diplomatic pressure to end the conflict made little difference, and said he did not think a no-fly zone over Syria would ever happen. “The truth is that Syria doesn’t need a green light when dealing with its internal affairs, neither from our allies or our enemies,” he told the channel, owned by his cousin Rami Makhlouf, one of Syria’s wealthiest men.
Assad’s remarks, showing him to be relaxed and calm, came as his new prime minister, Wael Nader al-Halqi, arrived in Tehran for a two-day summit. Iran, Assad’s principal regional backer, proposed a three-month ceasefire inside Syria. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, also attended the non-aligned summit, with Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, due to drop in on Thursday.
But the Iranian initiative has little prospect of success and came amid another day of carnage across Syria. Residents in Ghouta, three miles (5km) east of Damascus, said they had been under bombardment from government tanks and warplanes for two days. “A lot of people are fleeing Ghouta to escape the random shooting, but they don’t know where to go,” one resident, Abu Omer, told the Guardian via Skype.
Omer said the regime had punished the area – home to two million people – after fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) shot down a warplane. He said the Syrian army was now converging in nearby Ain Terma and al-Miliha, and was attempting to storm the town. “There are conveys of tanks and armoured vehicles full of soldiers on the highway that divides Damascus and eastern Ghouta. The snipers are shooting anyone in sight,” he said. The regime had forced local bakeries to close, with food and medicines now in short supply, and was shooting civilians sheltering in their houses. The victims included two children in Juber aged seven and eight, and three women, he said.
Omer’s claims are impossible to verify. But video footage posted on YouTube on Wednesday appears to show heavy bombardment of Ghouta, with residential buildings targeted next to a minaret and smoke billowing across the skyline. More than 40 people have been killed by pro-regime militias in outlying areas, activists said.
In northern Syria, an armed Islamist rebel group claimed it had carried out a major attack on the Taftanaz airbase near the town of Idlib. At least five helicopters were destroyed, it said, with the rebels assaulting the airbase using tanks captured from a Syrian military checkpoint and rocket-propelled grenades.
“The operation lasted for 40 minutes,” one rebel commander, Tamiem al-Shami, told the Guardian via Skype. “We were able to take out most of the defences at the base. We used a lot of fire against the helicopters and could see with our own eyes how the helicopters were burning.” Shami said he was a member of the Ahrar al-Sham brigade in Idlib, an Islamic religious unit which was separate from the FSA but co-operated with it.
Shami said three of his men were killed during the operation and one injured. The rebels withdrew when Syrian warplanes attacked their positions, he added. The Syrian state news agency Sana said forces loyal to the government had successfully repulsed the assault.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, meanwhile, said he would press the UN security council to set up a safe haven inside Syria to protect thousands of people fleeing the violence.
Turkey has long been floating the idea of a no-fly zone, or buffer zone, to protect displaced Syrians from attacks by Assad’s forces, but the issue has become more pressing now the number of refugees in Turkey has exceeded 80,000 – a number it says approaches its limits. “We expect the UN to step in and protect the refugees inside Syria, and if possible, to shelter them in camps there,” Davutoglu told reporters before leaving for New York to attend Thursday’s high-level UN security council meeting on Syria.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the military needs more time to “win the battle” against rebel forces, as fighting rages across the country.
In an interview with pro-government al-Dunya TV, Mr Assad also dismissed as “unrealistic” the idea of creating humanitarian buffer zones within Syria.
Opposition activists say the army has launched offensives across the country to regain control of rebel-held areas.
Meanwhile, rebels claimed to have seized 10 missiles from the regime’s arsenal near the capital, Damascus.
The rebels posted unverified footage on YouTube which purported to show a storage warehouse seized from troops.
Heavy shelling has been reported in several cities, including Damascus, Aleppo, and the north-western province of Idlib.
Officials told state media on Wednesday that soldiers had repelled a “terrorist attack” on the military air base in the northern town of Taftanaz, inflicting heavy losses.
The reports came after rebel fighters claimed they had destroyed several military helicopters using two captured tanks.The claims could not be independently verified, but a video posted online by local activists purported to show the destroyed helicopters. Smoke could be seen rising from the airfield.
Security forces ‘heroic’
In excerpts of his interview with al-Dunya, which was broadcast in full on Wednesday evening, Mr Assad said the Syrian government was “fighting a battle both regionally and internationally”.
“It definitely needs time to bring it to a decisive end. But I can sum it up in one sentence: we’re heading forward,” he told al-Dunya. “The situation on the ground is better now, but the conclusion is not there yet. That needs some time.”
The security forces were “doing a heroic job in every sense”, he added.
“Everyone is worried about their country – that is normal. But [the rebels] will not be able to spread fear, they never will,” he said. “I say to Syrians: destiny is in your hands, and not in the hands of others.”
The president mocked senior government and military officials who have defected in recent months, saying their departure amounted to a “self-cleansing of the government firstly, and the country generally”.
Responding to rumours about his whereabouts since a July bombing in Damascus killed four senior officials, he revealed that he was being interviewed from the presidential palace in the capital.
Mr Assad also addressed the proposal by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to set up a United Nations-sanctioned “safe zone” inside Syria to shelter refugees and help distribute humanitarian aid.
“Talk of buffer zones firstly is not on the table and secondly it is an unrealistic idea by hostile countries and the enemies of Syria,” he said.Turkey says extra refugee camps will be ready next week but says it is rapidly running out of space
“Do we go back because of the ignorance of some Turkish officials or do we focus on our relationship with the Turkish people, especially those people who have stood by us during the crisis and were not swayed by the media and material propaganda?”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius admitted on Wednesday that creating a buffer zone would be impossible without imposing a no-fly zone deploying ground forces.
“We are thinking about this. It is very complicated. We cannot do it without the agreement of the Turks and other countries,” he told France Inter radio.
“But what we want is for things to move forward, to make Bashar fall as quickly as possible and at the same time find humanitarian solutions.”
The UN refugee agency warned on Tuesday that as many as 200,000 refugees could flee to Turkey to escape fighting in Syria – almost double the number Turkey has said it can take.
The UNHCR said 5,000 refugees were now arriving at the Turkish border every day, compared to about 500 earlier this month. There are already more than 74,000 in Turkey, and 128,000 in other countries.
There are also thought to be more than 1.2 million internally displaced people in Syria, and 2.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
In a separate development, activists said a rebel group known as the Gathering of Ansar al-Islam Battalions had seized 10 surface-to-surface missiles.
However it is not clear if guerilla fighters would be capable of deploying them, reports the BBC’s Barbara Plett in Beirut.
Our correspondent says the warehouse is in a district known as Ghuta, which includes the eastern outer suburbs of Damascus, said to be home to some of the best organised armed opposition groups.
Analysis: Barbara Plett BBC News, Beirut
President Assad’s intervention comes as the war escalates in Syria. He wants to both reassure his constituency that, “despite several mistakes”, the government’s military strategy is working, and to prepare it for a long struggle.
He says the task is difficult because the army is facing a “global and regional” battle, reflecting the government’s view that it is the victim of a foreign conspiracy aimed at weakening Syria’s resistance to Israel and the West.
And his tone echoes earlier comments of winning the war “at any price”, again a sign that the government is digging in its heels for a military victory. His aim is also to dispel any idea of weakness: he emphasises that he’s in the presidential palace, and not in hiding following a bomb blast that killed members of his inner circle last month. He shrugs off recent high-level defections as the “self-cleansing” of weak regime elements.
And his comment that a Western-imposed buffer zone in Syria is “unrealistic” is probably true, given international reluctance to intervene militarily.
Syria opposition group not up to challenge, says ex-member: UNITED NATIONS – Basma Kodmani, a prominent figure in the Syrian National Council who resigned on Tuesday, said the umbrella opposition group had become too focused on personal agendas and needed to be replaced by a new political authority.
Speaking to Reuters on Wednesday, Kodmani said the SNC was not doing enough to back the increasingly militarized 17-month revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“While the political role of the SNC is important, the credibility and legitimacy of a coalition of an opposition is related to its effectiveness,” she said.
“My sense was that the SNC was not up to facing the increasing challenges on the ground and was not up to the performance I would have liked it to be,” she said in a telephone interview from Paris.
Kodmani, one of the few women in the SNC, headed up the group’s foreign affairs bureau.
With fighting reaching the capital Damascus and commercial center Aleppo, Western countries are increasingly anxious for the disparate opposition factions to agree on a credible plan for a transitional government to succeed Assad.
The SNC was formed in Istanbul last year as an umbrella organization to guide a democratic transition if Assad fell but has been accused by some of being dominated by Islamists.
“The groups inside the council did not all behave as one in promoting one national project,” Kodmani said. “Some have given too much attention to their own partisan agendas, some to their personal agendas sometimes. That resulted in a major weakness in connecting closely with the groups on the ground and providing the needed support in all forms.”
Another former SNC member, Randa Kassis, said on August 23 she had been driven out of the group after expressing fear about Islamist domination.
“I joined the council to support a revolution and not play partisan politics,” Kodmani said.
The Paris-based academic said the SNC had served its purpose, but that a new political authority that included the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had to be created.
France has said that it would recognize an inclusive provisional government if it managed to represent and gather the various ethnic and sectarian strands in the country.
“I am not talking about arming or financing, but coordination in the sense that the political and military authorities on the ground need to coordinate,” Kodmani said.
“I think the FSA is willing to be under the control of a political authority, and my view is that we did not do enough to make this happen.”
Kodmani said she would now work with people on the ground, institutions and projects that make more of a direct contribution to the current situation and the future of Syria.
Her efforts would also focus on getting humanitarian aid into the country and building trust between local channels and countries outside Syria that were often skeptical of local groups.
The U.S. State Department said it believed that Kodmani — who has met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton several times — would continue to work for Syria’s future despite her decision to leave the SNC, and it downplayed the centrality of the SNC.
“We’ve said from the beginning that we see them as a legitimate representative, but we never embraced them as the sole representative because Syrians themselves had a number of other groups,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
“What’s most important is not what group folks label themselves as being affiliated with, but that increasingly the opposition inside Syria and outside Syria are all talking about the same kind of democratic future.”
(Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn in Washington Editing by Vicki Allen, Cynthia Osterman and Eric Beech)