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Egypt Severs Relations with Syrian Regime, US Arms Opposition Fighters, Keeps Missiles, War Planes in Jordan

Egypt's Morsi cuts ties with Syria

CAIRO, June 15, 2013 (Xinhua) --

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Saturday announced cutting ties with Syria, shutting down the Syrian embassy in Cairo and withdrawing the Egyptian charge d' affaires from Damascus, at a popular conference aired on state TV.

Morsi also warned Lebanon's militant group Hezbollah against continuous involvement in the conflict in Syria.

"Hezbollah must leave Syria," Morsi warned, "We reject any military or political interference in Syria whether by states or militants."

The Egyptian president added that the country's leadership, people and army are in support of the Syrian people, yet he stressed non-interference in the Syrian domestic affairs.

He called on the international community not to allow the " reproduction of repressive regimes," urging a UN Security Council resolution for imposing a no-fly zone on Syria.

"There is no place for the current Syrian regime in the future of Syria," Morsi reiterated while addressing the popular conference in support of Syrian "revolution", held at Cairo Stadium by Islamists.

Morsi also urged Arab and Islamic states for an emergency summit to discuss the latest developments in the Syrian conflict.

The Egyptian Islamist-oriented president deplored that the Syrian conflict killed over 90,000 citizens, injured hundreds of thousands and displaced millions, citing a UN report.

He slammed "regional and international powers" for their military support of the Syrian government that led to the continued bloodshed in the country.

Moving to internal affairs, Morsi criticized the intended anti- president protests on June 30 urged by activists and opposition who call for ousting Morsi and holding an early presidential election.

He said such protests "seek to ruin the state without knowing how to rebuild it afterwards," insisting they are urged mostly by "residuals of the ex-regime."

Morsi called such acts, ruining Egypt through such protests, as "illusions," yet he stressed respect for the right of peaceful protests without riot, damage or weapons.

"We should rather save our energy for work and production," Morsi added, warning against acts of violence during such protests and calling on the opposition to unite with the leadership to meet the challenges of the country.

Obama speaks with European leaders on Syria

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2013 (Xinhua) --

President Barack Obama on Friday spoke over the telephone about Syria with leaders from Britain, France, Italy and Germany ahead of the upcoming G-8 summit, the White House said Saturday.

The president discussed "ways to support a political transition to end the conflict" in Syria with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the White House said.

The leaders also discussed efforts to support the Libyan government to "enhance security and advance the political transition," the White House said.

The White House maintained in a statement Thursday that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against rebels.

In a conference call on Thursday, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters that Obama has decided to provide "military support" to the Syrian rebels, without giving further details.

Obama was to attend the G-8 summit scheduled on Monday and Tuesday in Northern Ireland. The summit reportedly will be heavily focused on deeper Western involvement in the prolonged Syrian conflict.

Editor: yan

Jordan asks U.S. to keep patriot missile launchers, F-16 warplanes

AMMAN, June 15, 2013 (Xinhua) --

Jordan asked the United States to keep some of the weapons that will be used in the Eager Lion military exercise in the country, the state-run Petra news agency reported.

Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Momani said the weapons include Patriot missile launchers and F-16 warplanes.

The minister added that this is part of continued cooperation to develop the military and defense capabilities of the Jordan's armed forces.

The weapons will be run and supervised by the Jordan Armed Forces.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour recently said that Jordan had asked the United States to install Patriot missile launchers at the borders with Syria.

Editor: yan

Washington tries to prop up Syria's opposition ahead of inevitable peace conference

DAMASCUS, June 15, 2013 (Xinhua) --

Syrian analysts have downplayed Washington's recent escalation against the Syrian administration and its decision to arm the rebels in Syria, saying that such escalation aims to prop up the Syrian opposition's stance ahead of the peace conference initially slated for July.

U.S. President Barack Obama agreed Thursday to render weapons to the rebels, under pretext of "Syria's army use of chemical weapons" in its battles against the rebels.

The White House on Thursday concluded in a statement that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against rebels in a move that signaled deeper U.S. interference in the Syrian conflict.

Syria's Foreign Ministry said Friday that the U.S. report of Damascus forces' use of chemical weapons against rebel fighters is "full of lies."

Local observers slammed the U.S. chemical weapons' talks as aiming to secure a "pressure card" against the Damascus administration by threatening further foreign involvement.

Akram al-Akram, a leading opposition figure and member of the oppositional National Coordination Body, said that the armament issue comes in the framework of practicing more pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's administration ahead of the Geneva conference.

However, he noted that the U.S. move could trigger more violence, killings and destruction in Syria.

Speaking to Xinhua on Saturday, al-Akram reiterated his groups' stance that rejects any form of rendering arms to both the opposition and the government alike and its resolve to pursuit political means to transfer Syria into a democratic and plural system.

"If America supported the rebels with weapons, the government's allies, such as Russia and Iran, would do the same and there would be no victor," he said, calling on all foreign fighters whether fighting alongside the government, such as the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group, or beside the rebels, like the Sunni hardline foreign jihadists, to leave Syria.

Regarding the talks that have been floated recently about Washington's will to impose a no-fly zone on Syria from neighboring Jordan, al-Akram brushed aside the reports as "not on the table."

In Washington, the Obama administration has so far been vague on what exactly it aims to provide to rebels in war-ravaged Syria, and the White House said the president would discuss the issue with European allies at next week's G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

Furthermore, Washington, wary of the unpredictability of potential military involvement in Syria, has been under mounting pressures to take more decisive actions, including imposing a no- fly zone in the Middle East country.

Talks of a no-fly zone have increased as the United States unleashed a military exercise named "Eager Lion" in Jordan, just 120 km from the Jordan-Syria border. The exercise involved F-16s and U.S. Patriot missile batteries that have been shipped near the Syrian border and could remain deployed afterwards.

The 12-day-long war games include 8,000 personnel from 19 countries, including Arabs, and around 4,500 American troops.

Maher Morhej, a moderate opposition figure and head of the local Youth Party, contended that the arms that the United States had brought to Jordan would not be pulled out, at least for the time being.

He, however, told Xinhua that Russia has a total of 10 war ships in the Mediterranean, noting that both superpowers are doing their best to help their allies and project power before the planned conference.

He titled the current events and its developments as the " maneuvers' scenario."

Morhej, however, played down any real significance of the recent moves and said that the Geneva conference would inevitably be held, adding that the United States is trying to help the opposition and salvage the conference especially after the sweeping victories of the Syrian army that has advanced on several fronts, prompting the rebels to cry out for international help to save their very existence.

He mirrored the opinion of many observers that the Syrian army' s victories would embolden the Syrian government to not compromise or to give concessions during the talks with the opposition in Geneva conference.

Media reports said that the conference would initially be convened on July 8, noting, however, that the final date will be defined on June 25 during the tripartite meeting that will combine the UN, Russia and the United States in Geneva.

The conference would bring to the negotiations table representatives of the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition to try to find a peaceful solution to the 27-month-long crisis in Syria and shape out the features of the next stage, including the formation of a transitional government.

Editor: Yang Yi

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