02/23/2012, 00.00
SYRIA
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The 'Friends of Syria' expected to meet tomorrow in Tunis

The Arab League, the European Union and the United States are represented at the conference. Although invited, Russia and China will be absent. Homs is shelled for the 20th consecutive day. According to opposition sources, Syrian security forces deliberately targeted the building where two journalists were killed yesterday.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The 'Friends of Syria' will meet tomorrow in Tunis in a conference. The Arab League, European Union and the United States will be represented. Although invited, Russia and China are not coming, thus signalling their support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Host country Tunisia said the goal of the meeting was to send "a strong message" to the Syrian government to end the violence. There has been enough killing. There must be radical political change," Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem said ahead of the talks. However, a decision to arm the rebels is not likely to come from the conference.

Russia's support for the Syrian regime is costing Moscow support elsewhere in the Arab world. In a telephone conversion yesterday, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Russia should have "coordinated with the Arabs . . . before using the veto" against a resolution on Syria in the UN Security Council. For the Saudi monarch, dialogue on Syria was "futile".

News from inside Syria seems to confirm his view. For the 20th day in a row, Homs' Baba Amr district has been under shelling from Syrian security forces.

Local sources speak of "terrifying explosions"; the same that say that yesterday's attack that claimed the lives of journalists Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik was intentional, aimed at the building where they were staying.

A reconnaissance aircraft was flying over the area and probably picked up a transmission signal, which led to the shelling of the building from which it was coming. Syrian security forces are in fact trying to jam all communications to and from the city.

For their part, the rebels have announced that a senior Syrian military officer has defected from Assad's forces along with a group of some two hundred soldiers.

Still, although the number of defectors joining the Free Syrian Army is growing, the Syrian security forces do not show any sign of collapsing. (PD)

 

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