Nato planning Libya-style no-fly zone for Syria, claims Russia

Jan 12, 2012

Russian security chief makes no-fly claim as Arab League peace monitor quits Syrian ‘farce’

THE ARAB LEAGUE peace mission to Syria is on the brink of collapse after two members of the team labelled it a “farce”. The new crisis came as nine people, including a French journalist, were killed during a pro-government rally in the restive town of Homs – and Russia claimed Nato is planning to impose a no-fly zone…
An unnamed member of the Arab League team sent to Syria to monitor the situation has said he wants to quit because the mission is ineffectual, Reuters reports. Two days ago, Anwar Malek, an Algerian member of the delegation, walked out, telling Al Jazeera that the mission is a “farce”. He claimed that security forces were hiding their tanks and repositioning them as soon as the observers leave. 
"What I saw was a humanitarian disaster,” he said. “The regime is not just committing one war crime, but a series of crimes against its people. The snipers are everywhere, shooting at civilians." The Reuters source agreed with Malek’s account. Earlier this week 11 observers were injured in an attack in the port of Latakia. 
A French journalist was killed when militants launched a mortar attack on a pro-Bashar rally in Homs yesterday, CNN reports. Syrian authorities blamed “terrorists” for the attack which killed Gilles Jacquier of the France 2 TV network and eight Syrians. Jacquier was on a government-sponsored tour of the city which was supposed to show that it is under control, despite the fact that it has been at the forefront of the anti-Bashar uprising.
Russia claims that Nato, led by the US and Syria’s northern neighbour Turkey, is planning to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria, Bloomberg reports. Nikolai Patrushev, who heads the Russian Security Council, said: “We are receiving information that Nato members and some Persian Gulf states, working under the ‘Libyan scenario’, intend to move from indirect intervention in Syria to direct military intervention.” 
At the end of last year, an opposition group called the Free Syrian Army requested international backing for buffer zones around the borders with Turkey and Jordan as well as a no-fly zone across the whole country.
Bashar al-Assad has attended a rally in Damascus (above) with his wife Asma and their children. He told a cheering crowd that the “conspiracy” is “nearing its end” and he would “hit terrorists with an iron fist”. The Daily Telegraph reports that the appearance of Asma might have been designed to quash rumours that Assad’s British-born wife had fled the country in disgust at her husband’s crackdown.

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