Iran to work with Russia to stop strike on Syria
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country will press forward with efforts to ward off military action by the U.S. and its allies against the Tehran-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iranian state TV reported Aug. 29.
The report said the remarks came late Aug. 28 during a phone conversation between Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Rouhani was quoted as saying “military action will bring great costs for the region” and “it is necessary to apply all efforts to prevent it.”
Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards, used stronger rhetoric while talking to the Tasnim news website, saying an attack on Syria would draw in Israel.
“The Zionists should know that a U.S. military attack on Syria will not save the fake regime from the resistance but it means the immediate destruction of Israel,” Jafari was quoted as saying.
According to the state TV report, President Rouhani said both Iran and Russia would work in “extensive cooperation” to prevent any military action against Syria. Rouhani also called such military action an “open violation” of international laws. AP
France: Military ready to go to Syria if needed
The French military is ready to commit forces to an operation in Syria if President Francois Hollande decides to do so, the defense minister said Aug. 29. But the chief of state, who met with the head of the Syrian opposition, stopped short of announcing military intervention over a suspected chemical weapons attack.
Hollande offered his political and humanitarian support for the Western-backed Syrian National Council, but said the group will only be a viable alternative to Syrian President Bashar Assad if it has military credibility – and if the international community can stop the spiral of violence.
The United States, France and Britain are believed to be preparing possible military action against Assad’s regime after an apparent poison gas attack in Syria on Aug. 21. U.N. experts are currently in Syria investigating the attack.
“The Armed Forces are in a position to respond to the requests and the decisions of the president once he reaches that point” of committing French forces to an international intervention in Syria, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
Hollande does not need French parliamentary approval to launch any military action that lasts less than four months. AP
Poll: Most Germans oppose Syria military strike
A poll finds that a majority of Germans oppose Western military intervention in Syria and don’t want their country to provide backing for any U.S.-led strike.
The Aug. 29 poll for ZDF television found that 58 percent oppose intervention following last week’s suspected poison gas attacks, with 33 percent in favor and 9 percent undecided.
It says 41 percent believe Germany should support financially or materially U.S.-led military action, with 55 percent opposed. The Forschungsgruppe Wahlen polling group surveyed 1,348 people Aug. 26-28 and gives a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Germans are generally wary of military action and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is treading carefully ahead of Sept. 22 elections. AP
U.S. releases two Algerians from Guantanamo
The U.S. military says it has sent two men who had been held at Guantanamo Bay prison back to their homeland of Algeria.
A brief Pentagon statement says the release of the two men brings the prisoner population at the U.S. base in Cuba down to 164 men. The United States said it was grateful for Algeria’s willingness to accept the men, Nabil Hadjarab and Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab.
The British human rights group Reprieve represents the 34-year-old Hadjarab and it welcomed the Aug. 29 announcement, calling for the release of more prisoners from Guantanamo.
President Barack Obama has pledged repeatedly to close the prison but has been thwarted by Congress, which imposed restrictions on transferring prisoners abroad or holding them in the United States, even for trial. AP