Amid Setbacks, Assad's Grip Loosens
NATO set to approve Patriot missiles for Turkish border
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2012 3:42 AM CST
Updated Dec 4, 2012 7:56 AM CST
Syrian citizens walk in a destroyed street in Homs that was attacked by the regime's aircraft last week.   (AP Photo/Homs City Union of The Syrian Revolution)

(Newser) – Bashar al-Assad's regime has survived many claims of being near collapse during Syria's 20-month uprising, but a series of setbacks has left the Syrian leader more isolated than ever, the New York Times reports. Rebels are gaining ground in multiple areas and President Obama has sternly warned the regime against using chemical weapons.

  • NATO is poised to send Patriot missiles to Turkey's increasingly volatile border with Syria, the BBC reports. Diplomats say NATO ministers will agree to "augment Turkey's air defenses," though a US State Department official cautions that the move does not mark "an inexorable move towards a no-fly zone" over Syria.

  • As fighting raged around Damascus, a senior Turkish official said Russia had agreed to a new diplomatic push to get Assad to relinquish power. But Russian political analysts say Assad has lost hope of escape and only an "extremely bold" proposal could get him out of the country. "His mood is that he will be killed anyway," the analyst says.
  • A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman who was one of the regime's most public faces has fled the country, Reuters reports. Sources say Jihad al-Makdissi defected after being fired for making statements that did not reflect the government's position—and referring to weapons that the regime hasn't officially confirmed that it has.

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Dec 4, 2012 4:18 PM CST
Assad's days are numbered!
Dec 4, 2012 2:30 PM CST
Putin: We have reservations on Deploying Patriot Missiles.. We didn't reach Joint Principles with Turkey on crisis in Syria Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed Russia's firm stance regarding the crisis in Syria which calls for the halt of violence as soon as possible, not to repeat mistakes which have been committed in the past in other countries. "We discussed the Syrian file from different sides.. till now, we didn't reach joint stances or principles on the solution in Syria.. during negotiations, new points were occurred, but it is early to announce them, and we instructed the foreign ministers in Turkey and Russia to hold additional consultations," President Putin said during a joint press conference with Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday. "We repeatedly underlined that we are not a lawyer for the Syrian regime, but we are worried about the future in Syria .. we don't want mistakes that were committed in the past to be repeated.. let us not forget how was the western community backing the rebels in Libya, and who imagined that those who were backed by the western countries would assassinate the US Ambassador in Benghazi," the Russian President said. On the Russian stance over the deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey, and if there are guarantees that Syria will not use "nuclear weapon", President Putin added "is there any nuclear weapons in Syria.. maybe there was a mistake in the translation.. Syria is not a nuclear country." "Regarding Patriot missiles, I want to say that they are not of ideal systems, they are not of the best systems for the air defense in the world, but they are from the old generation," Putin said, adding that Russia has reservations on the situation on the Syrian-Turkish borders and the deployment of Patriot missiles, but it calls for the self-restraint as this leads to escalation in the stance. He considered that the fall of mortars on the Turkish lands constitutes a new moral burden on Turkey and Syria, saying 'Syria will not attack turkey.. we will contact with the Turks to settle this issue."
Dec 4, 2012 2:29 PM CST
Lavrov to Brahimi: No Alternative to Working with all Sides in Syria to Stop Violence, Start Dialogue Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, stressed the necessity for all foreign players to work according to the statement of the International Work Group which was agreed upon in Geneva to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. Lavrov discussed with UN Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, in a phone call, means of solving the crisis in Syria politically, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement broadcast by Russia Today Channel on Tuesday. Lavrov stressed that there is no alternative to working with all sides in Syria to stop violence immediately and start dialogue with no preconditions. The statement added that Lavrov told Brahimi that Russia is working permanently in this direction through intensive contacts with the Syrian government and opposition alike. The statement pointed out that it is necessary for all foreign players to go in this direction in consistence with Geneva Statement.