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Assad, Israel two sides of same coin: Syria activists
by Staff Writers
Beirut (AFP) Nov 16, 2012

Germany may offer missiles for NATO aid to Turkey: report
Berlin (AFP) Nov 17, 2012 - Germany is prepared to contribute Patriot missiles to a NATO mission to help Turkey at the border with Syria, the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Saturday.

The German army would contribute up to 170 soldiers as well as Patriot anti-aircraft missiles to such a NATO mission, the newspaper said.

The German defence ministry said Saturday that NATO first needed a mandate before Berlin could consider such a commitment, with a ministry spokesman noting that Turkey has yet to make a formal request.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung said Ankara was expected to lodge one on Monday.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said early this week that the transatlantic alliance was prepared to assist Turkey, a NATO member, in case the conflict in Syria encroached on its border.

Ankara said last week that it was in talks with NATO about the Patriots but had not made any formal request.

President Abdullah Gul said last week that Turkey reserved the right to defend itself against any threat from Syria, its one-time ally, but that it was "out of the question" that Ankara would start a war.

Syrian forces and rebels have been involved in heavy and often deadly fighting in the past week around a Syrian border town, sending thousands more Syrians fleeing into Turkey, which has boosted its defences along the volatile frontier.

Turkish forces have systematically retaliated to every cross-border shelling since Syrian fire killed five Turkish civilians on October 3.

Syrian protesters held a placard on Friday showing two missiles, one with a Syrian flag, the other with a Star of David, plummet to the earth as plumes of smoke rise from the town below.

"War against Terrorism!" reads the caption on the placard, raised during a protest in the northern Syria of Kfar Nabal which has been photographed and shared widely on Facebook.

The artists from this otherwise insignificant town in Syria's largely rebel-held north have become known for their biting satire, expressed in politically charged and socially conscious posters.

Kfar Nabal has also earned the ire of a regime that indiscriminately labels opposition intellectuals and rebel fighters alike as "terrorists," and the town suffers constant air raids and shelling by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

The residents of the town were among thousands of Syrians who took to the streets across the strife-torn country after weekly Friday prayers, chanting in solidarity with the newly-formed opposition Syrian National Coalition and with the Palestinians of Gaza.

A YouTube video showed a man in the the town of Naseeb in the southern province of Daraa marching with a sign that read: "In Gaza, 70 raids = 14 martyrs. In Syria, one raid = 70 martyrs."

The banner highlighted the scale of the bloodshed in Syria, where activists say over 39,000 people have died since March last year.

"We sacrifice our blood and souls for you, O Gaza," demonstrators cried out in unison in the central city of Hama, as they waved the three-starred flag of the Syrian revolution.

Friday's protests "were dominated by slogans condemning Israeli's savage tyranny on the people of Gaza and demonstrated that we are one blood and that Gaza cannot be separated from Syria," Hama activist Abu Ghazi told AFP via Internet.

"Assad and Israel are two sides of the same coin," he stressed.

Damascus has condemned Israel's "atrocities" in the Gaza Strip, saying: "Syria will always remain faithful to its national and historical duty to the Palestinian people."

But a wave of caricatures and slogans by Syrian activists has aimed to highlight the contradiction between these statements and what they view as the shared oppression of Syrians and Palestinians.

In a graphic posted to Facebook, two images of fighter jets are placed side by side, one showing a plane with an Israeli flag bombing Gaza, the second bearing a Syrian flag and shown dropping a missile on its own country.

"This is the enemy," says the caption for the first warplane. "And this is the obstacle," it says of the Syrian jet, portraying the regime as the protector of neighbouring Israel.

Another caricature shows Assad aiming a rifle at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, covered in spiderwebs to symbolise the four decades that he and his father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad had kept the border quiet.

Behind him, Syria burns.

"The humanitarian situation differs little between Gaza and Syria, and this is more important to me than politics," explained artist Wissam al-Jazairy, 22.

"The oppressed are fighting an unjust battle and the world watches and does nothing," he told AFP in a message via Facebook, without giving his location in Syria for fear of his safety.

In an illustration by Jazairy, a child looks at a burning city as rockets descend from the sky. "Is it Gaza or Damascus father?" the son asks.

The father answers his son: "It is all the same."


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Israel okays reserve call-up of up to 75,000: TV
Jerusalem (AFP) Nov 16, 2012
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