BY Wire Reports
Sunday, January 27, 2013
1/27/13 at 2:47 AM
Beirut: Iranian official: An attack on Syria is attack on Iran
Issuing Tehran's strongest warning to date, a top Iranian official said Saturday that any attack on Syria would be deemed an attack on Iran, a sign that it will do all it can to protect embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made his comments as Syrian troops conducted offensive air raids against rebels and discovered a trio of tunnels that were being used to smuggle weapons in their fight to topple Assad.
The world has been grappling over how to deal with Syria ever since an uprising against Assad's regime erupted nearly two years ago. But so far, there has been no international intervention on the ground where more than 60,000 people have been killed, according to the United Nations.
"Syria plays a very key role in supporting or, God forbid, destabilizing the resistance front," Velayati was quoted by Iran's semiofficial Mehr news agency as saying. "For this same reason, (an) attack on Syria is considered (an) attack on Iran and Iran's allies."
Peshawar, Pakistan: 24 dead as Islamists clash over key base
Two Islamic militant groups clashed Saturday over control of a prized valley in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 24 people and wounding dozens more, officials said.
Arshad Khan of the Khyber tribal region said the fighting between the two Islamic militant groups began Friday in Tirah valley, near the Afghan border, when the militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban captured the base of another militant group, Ansarul Islam. Ansarul Islam tried to retake the base, and fighting continued into Saturday.
The Pakistani military has been battling a stubborn insurgency in northwest Pakistan in rugged tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.
New Delhi: Kashmir strike dampens Republic Day celebration
Indians on Saturday celebrated Republic Day without major incident except in disputed Kashmir, where separatists held a general strike to protest Indian rule.
Security was tight Saturday in Kashmir, especially after border clashes between Indian and Pakistani soldiers left five dead on both sides early this month, and in the insurgency-hit remote northeast.
Official observances were held in Kashmir despite a near-total shutdown caused by the general strike. However, In the northeast, people ignored another call for a general strike made by six insurgent groups.
Republic Day commemorates the day India's Constitution came into effect in 1950. Celebrations usually include military parades and displays of weaponry, cultural pageants and dances.
Prague: Former Czech PM wins first presidential election
A left-leaning former prime minister staged a big return to power Saturday by winning the Czech Republic's first directly elected presidential vote.
With all the votes counted, Milos Zeman won 54.8 percent of the vote for the largely ceremonial post, the Czech Statistics Office reported. His opponent, conservative Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, received 45.2 percent of the vote.
Voters seemed to punish Schwarzenberg for the government's unpopular austerity cuts aimed at reducing the budget deficit.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Eritrean ambassador denies coup attempt
A senior Eritrean diplomat denies there was an attempted coup last week in the Horn of Africa nation and says reports to the contrary are a deliberate disinformation campaign.
Girma Asmerom, Eritrea's ambassador to the African Union, said in a statement Saturday that coup reports were "wishful thinking" by people he did not name.
Without explaining the incidents on Monday, Asmerom wrote of "terrorist acts" being called an attempted coup.
But activists and experts said about 100 dissident soldiers stormed the state broadcasting service at Ministry of Information in the capital, Asmara, and read a statement vowing to free all political prisoners and implement the country's constitution.
Indian paramilitary soldiers march during Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi, India, Saturday. Indians across the country celebrated Republic Day, which commemorates the 1950 adoption of its constitution. MANISH SWARUP / Associated Press