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             "I Hate Tricks Pilgrim"
                                 -John Wayne

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Yesterday, as soon as I heard the breaking news about the 48 pilgrims from Iran being kidnapped near Damascus by the armed opposition in Syria, I thought something wasn't right about the story. I mean, who goes on a pilgrimage in the middle of a war zone?

The Russian news source Ria Novosti reported the story this way:

Nearly 50 Iranian Pilgrims Kidnapped in Damascus
17:48 04/08/2012
DAMASCUS/MOSCOW

A total of 48 Iranian Shia pilgrims were kidnapped in Syrian capital, Damascus on Saturday as they were heading to the country’s shrines, a spokesman for the Iranian Al-Alam TV channel said.

A bus carrying the pilgrims from the Damascus airport, was stopped by the armed militants from the opposition Syrian Free Army, the spokesman said, adding that under the preliminary information, there are no children and women among those abducted.

The pilgrims were on their way to the Sayeda Zeinab mosque and other holy sites in the Syrian capital, the spokesman told RIA Novosti. More ...

The Iranian based PressTV said the International community must call for release of Iranian pilgrims in Syria and Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called on Turkey and Qatar to assist in gaining the freedom of what they were calling hostages. And of course the point was made that these were Shiite pilgrims with the implication that sectarianism was behind whatever had happened to them. I covered the news in my Syria diary yesterday as part of the EAWorldView report and figured that this story would get sorted out in a few days.


It didn't take that long. From the beginning, the fact that they were all men drew suspicion because pilgrims usually travel as families. Already today, we know that they are being held by the Free Syrian Army and there is clear and convincing evidence that the 48 Iranian men aren't pilgrims at all but part of a 150 man strong Iranian Republican Guard force doing reconnaissance for the Assad regime in Syria. Al Arabiya News is reporting:
Kidnapped Iranians are Revolutionary Guards, FSA says in Al Arabiya video
Sunday, 05 August 2012

Syrian rebels claim that the 48 Iranians it kidnapped on Saturday are members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards and not pilgrims as Iran alleges, in footage aired exclusively by Al Arabiya TV.

The rebels “captured 48 of the Shabiha (militiamen) of Iran who were on a reconnaissance mission in Damascus,” said a man dressed as an officer of the Free Syrian Army, in the video aired by Al Arabiya.

“During the investigation, we found that some of them were officers of the Revolutionary Guards,” he said, showing ID documents taken from one of the men, who appeared in the background with a large Syrian independence flag held by two armed men behind them.

Abdel Nasser Shmeir, interviewed later by Al Arabiya and presented as the commander of Al-Baraa Brigade, gave similar details.

“They are 48, in addition to an Afghani interpreter,” he said, claiming that the captives were members of a 150-strong group sent by Iran for “reconnaissance on the ground.”

Iran has appealed to Turkey and Qatar, both with close relations with the Syrian opposition, for help in securing the release of the hostages it claims were pilgrims visiting the Sayyida Zeinab shrine, a Shiite pilgrimage site in the southeastern suburbs of Damascus.  More...

The more Syrian soldiers defect the more the Assad regime is forced to rely on its foreign allies like Russia, Iran and China. Not surprisingly Tehran on Sunday dismissed claims "that the Iranian nationals recently abducted in Syria are military forces" and accused media outlets of "abusing the issue of the abduction of Iranians." In point a fact, their calls for help from Turkey and Qatar are more about making points about who they claim is really behind the uprising than it is about freeing their citizens. That will require negotiations with the Syrian opposition.

This incident reveals for the hundredth time the hypocritical nature of the anti-interventionist policies of Russia, Iran and their supporters. They are opposed to international support for the Syrian people against Assad, even things like humanitarian corridors or a no-fly zone because they want to see Assad stay in power. Publicly they they oppose any move to force an end to the Assad regime's slaughter and they decried any attempts to arm Syrians for their own self defense, privately their slogan is "Praise Assad and past the ammunition" as they continue the flow of arms and even troops that allow the regime to continue the slaughter.    

0819 GMT: Syria. Claimed footage of Free Syrian Army troops speaking in front of the 48 Iranians seized in Damascus on Saturday --- Iranian State media says the men are pilgrims, but the insurgents claim they are members of Tehran's military supporting the Assad regime:

                     "Hey Pilgrim, you forgot your pop-gun"
                                                               -- John Wayne

In other news and notes:

The forces are still building around Aleppo and the Assad regime is really pounding the opposition held areas with tanks long range artillery and its warplanes but the expected ground assault by the more than 20,000 troops they have amassed still hasn't come. Many, including this writer, are speculating that they are afraid to use the troops less the defect. For the Assad regimes its a case of "Use them AND lose them."

The BBC has this up to the minute report on the situation in Aleppo this morning:

Syria conflict: Troops 'mass for Aleppo assault'
 5 August 2012 Last updated at 11:23 ET

More than 20,000 Syrian troops are massed around Aleppo, military sources say, as fighting rages for control of the country's second city.

Fighter jets, helicopters and artillery have pounded rebel positions ahead of a feared full-scale assault within days.

Tanks are trying to push into two key rebel-held areas, the opposition says.

In Damascus, another vital battleground in the war, army sources said rebels had been pushed from a last stronghold. The rebels said they had withdrawn.

Meanwhile, Iran is seeking the release of 48 Iranians kidnapped on Saturday. More ...


I found a new facebook page Alawites in the Syrian Revolution designed to combat the Assad regime propaganda that the the struggle in Syria is organized along sectarian lines. It says the following about itself:

About
من اجل بناء وطن ديموقراطي على اسس المساواة و العدل في دولة مدنية تعددية قانونية.
Toward building a democratic secular,pluralistic, just nation
Biography
سجل عن مشاركة السوريين العلويين في الثورة السورية, ثورة الكرامة.
This page provides a record and archive of Syrian Alawite participation in the Syrian Revolution - the Dignity Revolution
The Assad regime would like it to be organized along sectarian lines, and so would their Russian and Iranian backers. They all know that Assad's chances of weathering this storm is to convince most of the Alawites, and Shiites and Christians that they will be in big trouble if the opposition wins and Assad goes down. They are trying to use fear of change to keep their people in line. It is also used by the international Assad supporters to portray this popular uprising as a sectarian squabble that will only get worst if Assad if forced out.




Human Rights Watch has confirmed that the Assad regime is using cluster bombs on Syrian civilians. I say again, this is a sad legacy for a world that does nothing to stop this and a sad, sad legacy for the left that is mostly silent while violence being used by a totalitarian government against its civilian population escalates seemingly without limit. International Business Times carried this report yesterday:
Assad Using Cluster Bombs On Syrian Civilians, Says Human Rights Watch
By Rasha Elass
August 4, 2012 12:09 PM EDT

Human Rights Watch has confirmed for the first time claims that the Syrian government has used cluster bombs against its civillian population during the 17-month conflict.

"We have been able to verify the use of cluster bombs," Nadim Houry, regional Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch, told the International Business Times in Beirut, Lebanon.

The verification comes before the third meeting of states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to be held in Oslo, Norway, on September 11.

Houry added that there was no evidence of cluster bomb use in the ongoing major clashes in Syria's biggest city and commercial hub, Aleppo. More...



Jonathan Schanzer has an interesting piece on CNN on:
Why the Palestinians are turning against al-Assad

Even if Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad somehow survives the current uprising aimed at toppling his regime, the beleaguered dictator will have a lingering identity problem. Indeed, a long-standing pillar of Syria’s foreign policy has been support to the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel. But in the wake of the Syrian onslaught, the country’s estimated 500,000 Palestinians are abandoning – even challenging – their long-time champion. With this dramatic shift, al-Assad is left more isolated in the Middle East than ever before.

Reports from the region continue to confirm what would have been deemed impossible just two short years ago: Palestinians are turning against the regime. Human Rights Watch notes that, “Palestinians have joined anti-government protests.” One FSA commander, meanwhile, has boasted, “Palestinians are fighting alongside us, and they are well trained.”

It doesn’t help that the regime is murdering Palestinians. On Thursday, the regime reportedly killed 20 when it shelled a refugee camp. Reports before that indicated that al-Assad’s campaign had already claimed the lives of some 300 Palestinians. It’s still unclear just how many Palestinians have responded by taking up arms to challenge the regime, but a clearer picture is emerging of who is abandoning al-Assad in his hour of need.

The most prominent Palestinian defection has been Hamas. The Islamic Resistance Movement, as it is officially known, established its headquarters in Syria in the late 1990s. Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal reportedly liaised with Iran and other regional financiers from this office, which also played a key role in supporting Hamas’ military operations in the Gaza Strip. Not surprisingly, when the Syrian uprising began in early 2011, the faction stood by their patron. But there is a level of violence that even a group designated a terrorist organization by the United States can’t bear. In February, as the body count continued to rise inexorably, Meshaal left Syria for Qatar. Amidst the ongoing violence, Hamas spokesman Izzak Reshak recently condemned Syria for massacring 17 Palestinians. More...



EAWorldView has this on Syria today:
Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Planning for Life After Assad
Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 9:24 | Scott Lucas

An 8-minute drive through "liberated" parts of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, on Friday --- "Quiet but devastated streets. Tons of garbage. And a long bread queue that I was told was actually short --- they get much longer than this later in the day"


Saturday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Has the Regime Lost Aleppo?




1520 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees report 72 deaths at the hands of security forces so far today, including 34 in Damascus and its suburbs.

1432 GMT: Egypt. Al Jazeera English's Rawya Rageh reports from Dahshour, south of Cairo, where Christian residents have reportedly been driven from their homes by violence (see 0814 GMT):

1102 GMT: Syria. Syria's first astronaut, General Muhammed Ahmed Faris, has defected and entered Turkey, according to the Turkish news agency Anatolia.

1058 GMT: Syria. A bit of context to the story of the 48 Iranians seized by insurgents near Damascus on Saturday....

Before reports of the capture emerged, Iranian Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi said the Islamic Republic has not sent any military forces to Syria and the Syrian regime has never asked it to do so.

Vahidi was responding to claims in Israeli media that more than 3,000 Iranian snipers had arrived in Damascus to aid President Assad's forces.

1052 GMT: Syria. The leader of the opposition Syrian National Council, Abdulbaset Sieda, has said he is ready to negotiate with regime officials whose hands are not "stained with blood", after President Assad and his inner circle leave power.

Sieda said in a newspaper interview:

As far as we are concerned, the authorities have lost their credibility and legitimacy, and we have said this in Moscow bluntly: that dialogue with this regime is no longer possible.

Bashar and his gang must leave and after that we will move to negotiate with other officials whose hands were not stained with Syrian blood and who were not involved in big corruption cases.

0949 GMT: Syria. More on the video of the 48 Iranians captured by insurgents on Saturday near Damascus (see 0819 GMT)....

Troops of the Al Baraa Brigade of Free Syrian Army said the Iranians are "shabiha (militiamen)...who were on a reconnaissance mission in Damascus".

He continued, "During the investigation, we found that some of them were officers in the Revolutionary Guards."

Abdel Nasser Shmeir, a commander of the Al Baraa Brigade, said later, "They are 48, in addition to an Afghani interpreter," among a 150-strong group sent by Iran for "reconnaissance on the ground".

(Cross-posted from Iran Live Coverage)

0927 GMT: Syria. Demonstration this morning in Latamneh in Hama Province:

0639 GMT: Syria. Confusion this morning over 48 Iranian pilgrims who were abducted on Saturday as they travelled to the Damascus airport --- al-Mayadeen TV said they were released, but an official in the Iranian embassy denied the report.

0625 GMT: Syria. Last week we reported a ruling by the US Treasury that American citizens can provide money, through the Syrian Support Group, to aid the insurgency.

The Treasury has posted a copy of the License, which effectively bypasses US sanctions on Syria.

The leaders of the Syria Support Group include Mazen Asbahi, who briefly served as the director of Muslim and Arab American outreach for the Obama Presidential campaign in 2008, and Jamal Said, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Justice Department’s case against a Texas-based charity called the Holy Land Foundation, an alleged fundraiser for the Gazan group Hamas.

The chief lobbyist is Brian Sayers, who served in the State Department during the George W Bush Administration and was a Political Advisor at NATO until the SSG was officially founded in June.

0555 GMT: Syria. C.J. Chivers of The New York Times writes of the strain on the Assad military:

Analysts said Syria’s fleet of Mi-25 Hind-D attack helicopters, which numbered 36 at the start of the conflict, is insufficient to hold back rebels as the number of fronts, from Aleppo and Idlib in the north to the suburbs of Damascus in the south and Hama and Homs in the center of the country, continues to proliferate.

Maintenance technicians are struggling to keep the machines aloft in an intense campaign and in the searing heat and sand associated with summer desert war. Estimates are that only half his fleet can be used at a given time, with some helicopters cannibalized for spare parts and Mr. Assad dependent on supplies from Russia....

Defections of government troops and seizures of armaments are also a growing problem. Rebels in Aleppo claim to have control of a total of 14 T-72 and T-55 tanks and many indirect-fire weapons, including artillery pieces as well as mortars.

0530 GMT: Syria. We open this morning by noting stories, fed by Turkish and US officials, of planning for a post-Assad Syria.

The Americans use The New York Times to put out the message that they are "quietly sharpening plans to cope with a flood of refugees, help maintain basic health and municipal services, restart a shattered economy and avoid a security vacuum", while a Turkish diplomat said General Manaf Tlass, who defected last month and been upheld as a possible leader in a transitional administration, had talks at Ankara's Foreign Ministry on Friday.

Of course, Assad has not given up. Despite --- or because of --- reports of insurgents expanding their presence in Aleppo, regime artillery, tanks, and a helicopter gunship pounded Free Syrian positions on Saturday, trying to break the insurgent hold on the district of Salaheddin.

The Local Coordination Committees said 145 people were slain by security forces on Saturday, including 53 in Damascus and its suburbs.

Here are my related diaries on Syria:
Syria: Aleppo under Siege!
BREAKING: UN votes to condemn Assad Regime as Reuters posts false story on SyriaBREAKING: Kofi Annan resigns as envoy to Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian diplomat to Armenia defects
BREAKING: Big Explosion hits #Damascus #Syria
UPDATED: Syria's Charge D'Affaires Quits London Post
BREAKING: Ground assault on Aleppo begins!
BREAKING: Protests across Syria in spite of Assad regime violence
ALEPPO: Step outside the Matrix and witness the Horror
UPDATED: US fears massacre in #Aleppo, #Syria
BREAKING: Reports of clashes between Jordan Army & Assad's Syrian army
BRAKING: Obama stops Putin from re-arming Assad in Syria
Syria: Foreign meddling increases as crisis builds
BREAKING: Aleppo, Syria bombed with fighter jets
BREAKING: Syria issues a correction, it has no WMD to use
BREAKING: Arab League asks Assad to step down!
Bashar al-Assad: New images released as slaughter continues in Syria
no blood for oil
BREAKING: Activists report toxic gas attack in Deir ez-Zor, Syria
Glenn Greenwald sees Islamist Terrorism as main issue in Syria
Will Syria's Assad make a chemical attack in Damascus on Saturday?
BREAKING: I know where Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is!
BREAKING: Massive Fire near #Assad's Presidential Palace in #Damascus, #Syria
BREAKING: Is Syria's Bashar al-Assad dead or dying?
BREAKING: Damascus explosion kills Defense Minister, other key figures
The battle for Damascus is coming
BREAKING: General Strike in Damascus
BREAKING: Intense fighting reported in Damascus now!
BREAKING: Syrian defector spills beans as important new defection reported.
Does Syria's Assad have something on Kofi Annan?
Tremseh Massacre in Syria: What we know
BREAKING: ~227 reported massacred by Assad's forces in Tremseh, Syria today!
Syria: Is Assad regime on the verge of collapse?
BREAKING: Russian Warships reported in Syria
BREAKING: #Russia changing on #Assad but not as fast as conditions in #Syria
UN Observers say violence in Syria is ‘Unprecedented’
BREAKING: Defection of major Assad insider reported in Syria
BREAKING: WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million #Syria emails
When did "Never Again" become "Whenever?" | #Douma
BREAKING: Incredible mass rally in Aleppo, Syria today!
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on Syria
My response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout
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Comment Preferences

  •  Pilgrims - all military age males w/ beards (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, ferg, Quicklund, Rich in PA

    Not seeing any old men on a bucket-list trip or pimple-faced teens in that group.

    Definitely suspicious, but I make no conclusions.  Iran certainly has powerful reasons to have its people on the ground.

    Someone speculated that the reason the planes bombing Aleppo have typically been L-39 trainers is because any trained pilot should be able to fly it, whereas Syria's Migs require specified training.

    Implication being that mercenaries could be flying those planes.  Foreigners & shabiha who would not be at risk of defecting.

    Follow Me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/#!/ZeddRebel

    by TarantinoDork on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 03:28:47 PM PDT

    •  They use trainers because they can (4+ / 0-)

      The resistance does not have aircraft or air defense so any plane becomes a lethal warplane. Slower, more stable, more fuel efficient planes like trainers are much more effective in this role than jet fighters. Thy can linger over the area longer. And they get a better look by puttering along instead of flashing through the area.

      Without some other clues I wouldn't read more into this than the title to this comment.

      •  'loiter capability' (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund

        Good point.  CJ Chivers of the NYT pointed out the use of the L-39s could be evidence of the increasing strain being put on Assad's helicopter gunship fleet.

        Follow Me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/#!/ZeddRebel

        by TarantinoDork on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 05:05:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, that's the term I was searching for. (0+ / 0-)

          It could be a good sign or a bad sign. Maybe the Syrians are having trouble flying their helicopters. Maybe they figured out a way to double their effective air fleet. Maybe they just find the trainers more effective than helicopters. Maybe all of the above, maybe none. Beats me.

    •  Good insights, as always (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks,

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 04:48:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

      Yeah, that beard thing is a clincher. Especially for military men! Cos the balding, fat and bearded are first in line for acceptance into the Revolutionary Guards in Iran.

      •  Or the first ones shipped to rescue a dying tyrant (0+ / 0-)

        I make no conclusions, just weird they're all in their 30s, 40s, 50s.  No teenagers, no 'youth' looking to find themselves on a pilgrimmage.  And no old men making a final trip to holy sites.

        Maybe they're not all spies or mercenaries but I'm not taking the 'pilgrim' line at face value.  Maybe they just caught Assad's Iranian SuperPAC bundlers.

        Follow Me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/#!/ZeddRebel

        by TarantinoDork on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:43:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Would it be unusual for 48 adult males to... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clay Claiborne

    go on a pilgrimage together, without any women or children at all in the group?  I really don't know, well, anything about Shiite religious practices or about pilgrimages, but the question occurs to me.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 03:43:14 PM PDT

  •  small quibble about rhetorical question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    downsouth, InAntalya

    regarding pilgrimages into a war zone; during the Iraqi Occupation, pilgrimages continued during the worst of the troubles with scores of pilgrims maimed or killed.

    Also regarding Iranian forces in Syria, I thought Qod forces had long maintained a presence in Syria.  If these men are Revolutionary Guards, how does this present a shift in Iranian foreign policy?

    •  But that was in their own country... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clay Claiborne

      ...and they made the pilgrimages in order to assert their rights as the majority in the country, long oppressed under Saddam.  None of that applies in this case so there's a legitimate presumption against the genuineness of their pilgrimage, especially if they're all in the paramilitary demographic.

      Mitt Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

      by Rich in PA on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 04:46:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In that case, screw 'em. (0+ / 0-)

    I can't stand Republicans.

    Mitt Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

    by Rich in PA on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 04:46:32 PM PDT

  •  Yes, Muslim men do go on pilgrimages alone (6+ / 0-)

    and in dangerous places.  

    From the beginning, the fact that they were all men drew suspicion because pilgrims usually travel as families.

    ...

    I mean, who goes on a pilgrimage in the middle of a war zone?

    You have heard of the Hajj, haven't you? It is not usually a family affair.

    Many, many Muslim men will go on pilgrimages without their wives or children, especially during Ramadan, and especially when going somewhere dangerous.

    It's a pilgrimage, not a holiday.

    Also, in the video you will see that many of the men are overweight and in their 40s, a major Muslim pilgrim demographic. They have reached a degree of financial security and go on a pilgrimage to give thanks for having achieved this.

    And most of the others are men in their 50s or 60s, another major Muslim pilgrim demographic. They go after they have raised their families but before they get too old to travel.

    The shrine in Damascus is very important to Shias. It is also important to Iranians because Ali Shariati, an Iranian intellectual and very popular and important figure in Iran in the 1970s (and today), is buried there.

    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 05:11:10 PM PDT

    •  Don't bother (5+ / 0-)

      The author has already decided that lining up a family against the wall and shooting them is ok.

      Mass kidnappings are nothing. As long as we have someone to say it is ok. And justify it.

      Since this isn't the first time the FSA has kidnappedand got away with it in the West, I don't see the conversation progressing.

      In fact, Americans can legally fund Al Qaeda, as long as their actions are in Syria. Did you know I can pay to buy explosives to blow up a police station in Syria, legally! Yet if I give the same people, of the same group, money to blow up a police station in Iraq, I will go to jail for a long time.

      Ain't that a hoot.

  •  asdf (4+ / 0-)

    Iran does not have Republican Guards - they have Revolutionary Guards. Republican Guards belonged to Iraq and, iirc, Libya.

    The source for your claim re: the Iranians captured in Syria is the FSA themselves and the al-Arabiya website. Both sources need to be treated with caution. Al-Arabiya is not at all neutral and belongs to a member of the ruling elite in Saudi. It's well-know for extreme right-wing and religious propaganda from the Saudi regime. It's interesting to note that the rebels who made the video of the kidnapped Iranians does not give any proof beyond assertion that they are IRGC. It's also interesting that he stands in front of  flags that are basically Saudi Wahhabi. Are you getting the link somehow? Perhaps you need to do a bit more thinking about verifying sources and claims before you make them.  And think again about why you are so eager to support violent sectarianism of the Wahhabi kind.

    Angry Arab is reporting that the FSA is now backtracking from its claim that they are all IRGC - apparently some of them are now accused of being Hizbullah. I haven't made the rounds of the Arab media that I usually read yet so I'm not sure what his source is. But let's try to get all the facts before we do knee-jerk things like agreeing with FSA propaganda and agreeing with them because a few of them have beards.

  •  UK photographers released (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chipmo
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/...
     5 August 2012

    Syria conflict: Photographers' UK jihadist claim considered

    Reports that Britons were among Islamist militants who kidnapped and wounded two photographers in Syria are being taken "very seriously" by ministers, the Foreign Office has said.

    The claims were made by photographers John Cantlie and Jeroen Oerlemans, who were held at a camp for a week in July.
    ...
    "When you're held captive, you're blindfolded and you have a guy sticking a gun at your head, it's very real," he said.

    "It was inferred that we would meet our God. We had sowed the seeds of our own destruction. We would be shot or beheaded.

    "At one point they even started sharpening knives for a beheading. It was pretty frightening."
    ...
    "They were from anywhere but Syria," he told the BBC.

    "They were from Pakistan, Bangladesh, the UK and Chechnya. A real mix."

    He said there were "between 10 and 15 young jihadists from the UK" who he described as being "a mixed bunch".

  •  Your chronic dismissal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya, Claudius Bombarnac

    of the sectarian dimensions of this conflict and your absolute credulity toward opposition "reports" renders you the propagandist. Whatever utility these diaries may have once had for informing / updating Kossacks on the complexities of the conflict in Syria has long since been subsumed by an utterly simplistic, romanticized and wilfully one-sided narrative. A shame, really...

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 06:48:01 AM PDT

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