Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Binocular Snapshot for 02/26/2014

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group based in the UK which has a network of contacts inside Syria, told the AFP news agency that dozens were killed in the ambush.

"Dozens of Islamist fighters were killed and wounded in an ambush by loyalist troops, with the help of Hezbollah, near Otaybeh village in the Eastern Ghouta area,"

If the regime claims of foreigners among the dead in Wednesday’s ambush bear out, it would highlight the often-nebulous and mixed nature of both groups, which remain very tightly aligned even amid some disagreement over organizational structure.

As for the old foe, Israel, he said: "None of their borders are safe now and this is not a good thing for them. They cannot be happy with the momentum anywhere in the region, especially Syria.

Mr. Strokan thinks the Kremlin is not ready to extend new protections to Russian Ukrainians just yet. "This is all at the stage of signalling and contingency planning," he says. But if it thinks Russians' rights are being violated, "then Russia will act."

"Intervening in Crimea would create a rift with the West ... but perhaps Putin doesn't care about that anymore," Strokan says. "Russia has grown stronger, more assertive, and more anti-Western. This is our back yard, the people in Crimea are Russians, and there's no chance Russia will back down if it comes to a struggle over that."

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