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Rockets Fired from Syria Hit Northern Israel: Two rocket hits were identified in the Golan; IDF returned fire, fighter jets were sent forward

Alarm sounded in several towns near the border. Local residents were instructed to stay close to the protected spaces

Alarm sounded today (Tuesday) afternoon in the communities of: Redness, Al-Rom, Bukaata, Massadeh Majdal Shams, restaurant, Neve Ati''b, Nimrod and 'Ein Qiniya Golan Heights. The army said that four launches were identified from Syria, and that the two falls were located in northern plateau. The IDF returned fire and fired dozens of artillery shells at the area of Syria. At the same time, planes and helicopters were sent forward to the border area.

Home Front Command ordered the residents of the area to remain close to the protected spaces, and ordered farmers to move away from agricultural areas near the border with Syria. In addition, the police blocked main roads to avoid civilian vehicles to get to the border area.

Just last week, Lt. Gen. Benjamin “Benny” Gantz spoke of the situation in northern Israel. “IDF forces are closely monitoring the events taking place here [in northern Israel], and are prepared, alert, and ready to act if necessary,” he said.


A bomb exploded in the northern Golan Heights, near the border fence. Four soldiers were injured in the blast, one of them critically

Following the terrorist attack on the border: the IDF attacked military installations in Syria and Syrian security officials who helped with the attack.

Last week, a bomb was detonated at an IDF force on the Lebanese border. No casualties were reported in the incident.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon published in the morning a message following the Israeli attack on Syrian territory, in which he wrote: "We will not tolerate any violation of our sovereignty and harm our soldiers and our citizens, and will respond with determination and strength to all who will work against us, any time and anywhere, as we did tonight," . According to Ya'alon, "anyone attempting to harm us - the blood in his head., We also see the Assad regime responsible for what is happening in its territory, and if he will continue to cooperate with terrorists who seek to harm the State of Israel we will collect from him heavy price in a way that will make him regret his actions."

US Officials: Israel Strikes Syrian Military Base, Neither Israeli nor Syrian officials have confirmed the attack

VOA, Israeli warplanes are reported to have attacked a shipment of missiles at a Syrian military base near the port city of Latakia.

Speaking anonymously on Thursday, U.S. officials said the target of the Israeli airstrike was likely Russian missiles headed for the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

The Lebanon-based Shi'ite group has been fighting alongside the Syrian government in its civil war against mainly Sunni Muslim rebels. It also fights the Jewish state.

Neither Israeli nor Syrian officials have confirmed the attack on the Syrian air base, which was hit late Wednesday or early Thursday. It is not clear if the strike succeeded in destroying the missiles.

Israel has reportedly attacked Russian or Iranian missile shipments inside Syria at least two other times this year, though it has not confirmed these attacks publicly.

Syria strongly protests the Israeli military intervention, but has so far failed to follow through on its threats of retaliation.

Meanwhile, the international watchdog overseeing Syria's destruction of its chemical arsenal says the country has met a deadline to destroy equipment used to make the weapons. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also said that all of Syria's chemical weapons have been placed under seal.

The next step for Syria is to detail how it will destroy its chemical weapons stockpile by the middle of 2014. Syria agreed earlier this year to turn over its entire stockpile of chemical weapons to the United Nations for destruction or face a strike by the U.S. military. Damascus has so far met all the deadlines agreed to under the deal.

Meanwhile, the human rights group Amnesty International issued a report Thursday calling on Syria's neighbors, particularly Jordan, to ensure that refugees can freely enter those countries and not be forcibly sent back to Syria.

The group highlighted efforts that Syria's neighbors have made to host more than 2 million people forced to flee the war and the immense strain that has created on providing services. However, Amnesty says Jordan is placing "undue restrictions" on who can enter the country.


Chemical weapons watchdog urges cooperation in Syria to carry out UN-joint mission

UN, The head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) today called on all parties in the Syrian conflict to cooperate so that a joint United Nations mission tasked with overseeing the destruction of the country’s chemical stockpiles can carry out its work as quickly as possible. 
“We have urged all parties in Syria to be cooperative and to contribute positively to this mission,” the OPCW’s Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, said during a press conference in The Hague, and added that temporary ceasefires will permit the experts to carry out their work.
“Much depends on the situation on the ground,” he said, stressing that the deadline for destroying the chemical weapons is “extremely tight” and that there have been significant logistical and security challenges.
“I think that the elimination of those weapons is in the interest of all. Therefore, if we can assure some cooperation by all parties and some temporary ceasefires could be established in order to permit our experts to work in a permissible environment… I think the targets could be reached,”
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution two weeks ago calling for the speedy implementation of procedures drawn up by the OPCW for the “expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme and stringent verification thereof.”
The destruction of chemical weapons facilities, stocks and associated material is the responsibility of the Syrian Government, since neither the OPCW nor the UN is mandated to conduct actual destruction activities.
An advance team for the UN-OPCW mission began its work on 6 October, and Mr. Üzümcü said some equipment has already been destroyed. He added that first verification activities have to be completed by the end of this month and production facilities will have to be rendered unusable by that time as well, with the view of destroying all chemical weapons capabilities by mid-2014.
Mr. Üzümcü said Syrian authorities have been cooperative so far, and added that 12 additional experts were deployed to Damascus, the capital, today.
The Council passed its resolution after Syria agreed to join the Chemical Weapons Convention in the wake of a chemical attack in August that reportedly killed hundreds of people in a Damascus suburb.
In a letter earlier this week to the Security Council proposing the formal establishment of the Joint OPCW-UN Mission, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called that attack an “especially disturbing” event in a conflict that has already killed over 100,000 people and driven some 6.5 million others from their homes since protesters first sought the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad’s Government in March, 2011.
Mr. Ban proposed that the Joint Mission will work in three phases, the first focusing on establishing an initial presence in Damascus and developing an initial operating capability, including verification activities through talks with the Government and planning for site visits.
In phase two, through 1 November, the OPCW must complete its initial inspections of all chemical weapons production and storage facilities, and oversee the destruction by Syria of all chemical weapons production and mixing and filling equipment.
During phase three, which the UN chief said “will be the most difficult and challenging phase…an operation the likes of which, quite simply, have never been tried before,” the Joint Mission will be expected to support, monitor and verify the destruction of a “complex chemical weapons programme involving multiple sites spread over a country engulfed in violent conflict, which includes approximately 1,000 metric tonnes of chemical weapons, agents and precursors that are dangerous to handle, dangerous to transport and dangerous to destroy.”


Russian Foreign Minister urges cooperation, collective action in Middle East

UN, There is an urgent need to agree upon collective responses to the key issues of today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the United Nations General Assembly. 
“All the recent history testified that no State – no matter how big or powerful – can cope alone with the challenges of the scope faced by mankind today,” Mr. Lavrov said addressing other high-level officials at the 68th General Assembly debate underway in New York.
The Foreign Minister noted that while leadership was required, it must be collective leadership based on the agreed upon actions of the leading members of the international community with strict respect for the principles and norms of international law.
Turning to the situation in Syria, which is scheduled to be discussed this evening in the Security Council by Mr. Lavrov and the other members of the Council, the Foreign Minister stressed that a political settlement is “virtually the only possibility today to put an end to this turmoil.”
He said that Russia is working energetically for the earliest convening of an international peace conference, with participation of the United States, based on tenets of the Geneva communiqué of 30 June 2012.
He recalled that a “common argument” is, increasingly, that the threat or use of force – a means Mr. Lavrov stressed is ‘directly prohibited by the UN Charter – is the perhaps the most effective method to address international problems, including domestic conflict. However, such use of force in recent years, he said, has proved to be “ineffective, meaningless and destructive.”
Highlighting Damascus’s decision to join the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and moving forward on plans to have its chemical arsenal put under international control and eliminated, Mr. Lavrov voiced his support for a conference on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destructive and means of their delivery in the Middle East.
On the peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians, the diplomatic Quartet – comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the US – is due to meet this afternoon, he said.
“We believe it is necessary to intensify the activity of the Quartet,” Mr. Lavrov said, urging closer involvement of the Arab countries in the Quartet activities.
Mr. Lavrov also spoke about the Iranian nuclear programme and the Korean Peninsula, as well as terrorism and drug trafficking which will be prioritized during Russia’s presidency of the G8 in 2014.


Kerry: UN Report Confirms Assad Forces Used Sarin in Syria

VOA, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.N. report about last month's chemical weapons attack in Syria confirms that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces carried out the attack.

Kerry told reporters at the State Department Thursday that the facts are not complicated.

"Sarin was used. Sarin killed. The world can decide whether it was used by the regime which has used chemical weapons before, the regime which had the rockets and the weapons, or whether the opposition secretly went unnoticed into territory they don't control to fire rockets they don't have containing sarin that they don't possess to kill their own people," he said. "And that without even being noticed, they just dissembled it all and packed up and got out of the center of Damascus controlled by Assad. Please."

In an earlier interview with the U.S. network Fox News, Assad denied his forces launched the poison gas attack that killed hundreds near Damascus. He said he is fully committed to disposing of his government's chemical arsenal, and he promised to abide by a U.S.-Russia deal aimed at destroying the chemical stockpiles by the middle of 2014.

Assad described the situation as "complicated," saying destruction of the weapons would cost about $1 billion and would take a year or "maybe a little more."

More than end-date needed

American University international relations professor Sharon Weiner told VOA the success of the U.S.-Russian timetable will depend on both powers agreeing to more than just an end-date.

"In terms of destroying the weapons, can it be done in that period of time? Absolutely," she said. "But, the question is reaching agreement on how you are certain that you have all the weapons and that there is not some residual concern that you missed something.”

Weiner also said the ultimate cost of destroying Syria's stockpiles is unclear.

"It depends on how far you have to transport them and ... how much you have to pay to protect the people who are destroying them. I think anyone who tries to give a realistic estimation of the cost right now just doesn't have the information they need to do that,” she said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said his country has no plans to destroy Syria's chemical weapons on its own territory, although he acknowledged it has the facilities to do so.

Logistical issues

Russia and the United States are the only countries with the industrial scale capacity to handle mustard, VX, sarin or cyanide-armed munitions, but the import of chemical weapons is banned under U.S. law.

The disarmament plan, which is still being debated by U.N. Security Council envoys, requires Syria's government to turn over details of its chemical weapons by Saturday. Assad said he is willing to do this "tomorrow," and can provide experts access to the sites where the weapons are stored.

The Syrian leader criticized this week's U.N. report that confirms sarin nerve gas was used in an attack against civilians in the rebel-held suburb of Ghouta on August 21.

Although the report did not assign blame, the U.S. and other Western nations say it strongly suggested that government forces, not rebels, were responsible for the attack.

Assad called the findings "unrealistic," expressing doubt about the authenticity of the large amount of photos and videos purporting to show the aftermath of the attack.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said evidence gathered by U.N. investigators in Syria and released Monday "indisputably" and "overwhelmingly" confirms the use of sarin on a relatively large scale in the attack on Ghouta.

The U.S. says the attack killed 1,400 people.

PM Netanyahu: What the past few days have shown is that if diplomacy has any chance to work, it must be coupled with a credible military threat. What is true of Syria is true of Iran, and vice versa.

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at the conclusion of his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry:
"We have been closely following – and support – your ongoing efforts to rid Syria of its chemical weapons. The Syrian regime must be stripped of all its chemical weapons, and that would make our entire region a lot safer.
The world needs to ensure that radical regimes don't have weapons of mass destruction because as we've learned once again in Syria, if rogue regimes have weapons of mass destruction, they will use them. The determination the international community shows regarding Syria will have a direct impact on the Syrian regime's patron, Iran. Iran must understand the consequences of its continual defiance of the international community, by its pursuit towards nuclear weapons.
What the past few days have shown is something that I have been saying for quite some time, that if diplomacy has any chance to work, it must be coupled with a credible military threat. What is true of Syria is true of Iran, and, by the way, vice versa.
John, I appreciate the opportunity we've had to discuss at some length our quest for peace with the Palestinians and the ongoing talks. We both know that this road is not an easy one, but we have embarked on this effort with you in order to succeed, to bring about a historic reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians that ends the conflict once and for all."


Ban Ki-moon receives report from team probing possible chemical weapons use in Syria, will brief Security Council on findings

UN, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has today received the report of the UN team probing the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria and plans to brief the members of the Security Council on the findings in a closed-door session tomorrow. 
A note to correspondents issued by a UN spokesperson confirms that the report of the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic has been turned over to the Secretary-General.
“It was transmitted today […] to the Secretary-General by Professor Ake Sellström, the head of the Mission, and the Secretary-General will provide it to the Member States tomorrow morning,” says the note.
It goes on to say that Mr. Ban will brief the Security Council on the report during its closed consultations tomorrow morning. Following that briefing, at approximately 12:50 pm, the Secretary-General will speak to reporters at the Security Council stakeout, according to the note.
The Secretary-General will also brief the UN General Assembly on the report.

PM Netanyahu on US-Russian understandings regarding Syria

The understandings will be tested by results – the full destruction of the stocks of chemical weapons that the Syrian regime has used against its own people. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarks at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, at the state memorial ceremony marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur War:

"We hope that the understandings that have been achieved between the US and Russia regarding Syria's chemical weapons will show results, and indeed, these understandings will be tested by results – the full destruction of the stocks of chemical weapons that the Syrian regime has used against its own people.

The test of results also applies to the international community's diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons. Here as well, it is not words that will be decisive, but rather actions and results. In any case, Israel must be prepared and ready to defend itself by itself against any threat. Today, this ability and this willingness are more important than ever."


Ban welcomes Syria’s letter on accession to treaty banning chemical weapons

UN. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has received a letter from the Government of Syria President Bassar Al-Assad will sign and abide by the 20-year-old international treaty on banning chemical weapons. 
A statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesman in New York confirmed that the UN chief received a letter from Damascus today informing him that “President Al-Assad has signed the legislative decree providing for the accession of Syria to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction of 1992.”
“In their letter, the Syrian authorities have expressed their commitment to observe the obligations entailed by the Convention even before its entry into force for Syria,” the UN spokesman says in the statement.
“The Secretary-General welcomes this development,” the statement says, noting that, as depository of the Convention, Mr. Ban has long called for universal accession to the treaty.
“Given recent events, he hopes that the current talks in Geneva will lead to speedy agreement on a way forward which will be endorsed and assisted by the international community,” the statement concludes.
The statement comes after United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Geneva earlier today for further talks on Russia’s proposal for Damascus to surrender its chemical weapons and place them under international control. Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint UN –Arab League Envoy for Syria also met in Geneva with Mr. Kerry
Meanwhile, evidence collected by a UN team probing possible chemical weapons use in Syria on 21 August is being examined by laboratories in Europe. Mr. Ban has said that scientists are working “around the clock” to ensure a rapid result but one that also respects the highest professional standards and without compromising its integrity.
Results of the analyses will be shared with Mr. Ban, who will then share them with the 15-member Security Council and all 193 Member States.

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