|Syrian despot al-Assad and family: Don't ignore the photo above, but know that the story it illustrates |
is about as far from heart-warming as stories get. [Image Source] And Dr Jihad actually exists.
"Total censorship, widespread surveillance, indiscriminate violence and government manipulation made it impossible for journalists to work" in Syria last year, which fell to 176th position in the index.
At the foreign ministry media conference, the Syrian government acknowledged for the first time that it possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and said it will only use them in case of a foreign attack and never internally against its own citizens. "No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used, and I repeat, will never be used, during the crisis in Syria no matter what the developments inside Syria," spokesman Makdissi said. "All of these types of weapons are in storage and under security and the direct supervision of the Syrian armed forces and will never be used unless Syria is exposed to external aggression." [Source]
|Dr Jihad addresses the media conference in Damascus today. |
Screen shot of the official Syrian site [Image Source]
"We are sorry that the Arab League has descended to this level concerning a member state of this institution... This decision [presumably, whether or not al-Assad goes] only concerns the Syrian people, who are the sole masters of fate of their governments. If the Arab nations who met in Doha were honest about wanting to stop the bloodshed they would have stopped supplying arms... they would stop their instigation and propaganda... All their statements are hypocritical."
"It is clear that the Syrian army is defending the Syrians and that we are in state of self-defense. There might be clashes in certain areas but the security situation is much more better."
...We are defending ourselves. If there are such weapons, they are for defending Syria against external aggression. Any military person knows that such weapons can't be used in a guerilla warfare." On the possibility of a comprehensive war taking place in the region in case Israel decided to bombard the sites of the chemical weapons in Syria, Makdissi said "Don't ask a diplomat about a war option, I don't talk about a war and, God's willing, there will not be a war."
Accompanying the extraordinary pictures, the Telegraph's Nick Meo ["Family photo album reveals Assad private life"] offers some of the most devastating understated commentary on the Syrian situation to have emerged in recent months:
Most parents would want to safeguard a young family - and many other Syrians, of all political hues, have already done exactly that by fleeing the country, or making plans to leave. It is one of the more contradictory facts about the couple who have presided over 18 months of bloody repression of their people - with Mr Assad ordering the arrest, detention and torture of thousands of his own compatriots, or sending tanks to shell rebel villages indiscriminately - that they have tried to preserve the nearest thing possible to a normal family life. They were never an ordinary family, with their palaces, private jets and billion dollar fortune. But now photographs have emerged - apparently taken for propaganda reasons - showing in intimate detail how they led an apparently warm family life, one to which it may never now be possible to return... The photographs, from Mrs Assad's private collection, were handed to a foreign friend in Damascus before the uprising started in the spring of last year. They are believed to have been taken between five and seven years ago in Syria, probably by a professional photographer, and appear intended to portray the family as happy, normal and modern. Their cosy intimacy looks too natural to be have been staged. Unseen by the photographer, and by most visitors to Syria, were the torture chambers, tanks and chemical weapons that the family relied on to maintain their brutal rule. Also unseen among the photographs of Hafez, now aged 10, with his sister, eight-year-old Zein, and their brother Karim, now seven, are images of those less fortunate Syrian children who have died in the course of the uprising: some blown apart in artillery barrages against rebellious suburbs, others slaughtered in their villages by loyalist Shabiha militia who cut their throats in vengeful rampages.