• The Syrian army took over the town of Zabadani overnight. According to Deutsche Press Agentur, which followed the case closely, Lebanese Hezbollah fighters were on the spot to assist the Syrian military. Not true, claimed As Safir; the Army was testing a new technique: it withdrew from the town during the day to encircle the rebels. It then waited until nightfall for the population to be safe, before launching an attack and regain control of the town. This method is effective because the gangs have no popular support.
Oddly enough, the photos of the rebels posing in Zabadani show them toting German assault rifles.

• The Los Angeles Times scoffs at Russia’s support for Syria. Its reporter in Moscow interprets this policy purely as an anti-Western reflex on the part of Vladimir Putin.

• While several suicide attacks have stricken Damascus with grief, the United States Embassy insisted, for its own protection, to have the busy street in front of it cordoned off. The Syrian authorities refused, considering that the al-Qaida attacks are sponsored by the West and that the United States are the only ones who have nothing to fear. The Washington Post bemoans that the US personnel is in danger and that the Embassy should consequently be closed.

• Kamal al-Labwani, an opponent who was granted amnesty in November, took part in an anti-Assad demonstration in Amman. He gave an interview to Associated Press and Mustaqbal, wherein he appeals to religious minorities not to fear a Sunni revolution and promises that the next regime will be secular and will recognize their rights.

Al-Watan (Qatar) reveals that Emir Hamad turned to the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the Turk Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, beseeching him to request the Arab League to refer the Syrian issue to the UN Security Council if the repression continues. The OIC, like the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League, had endorsed the war against Libya.

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