Assad says missile shipment arrives in Syria
Russian air defense systems may have reached Syria, Iraq sectarian clashes worsen, and Buddhist mobs terrorize Myanmar. Today is Thursday, May 30, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad carry their weapons as they move during what they said was an operation to push rebels from the road between Dahra Abd Rabbo village and Castello in Aleppo, May 27, 2013. REUTERS/George Ourfalian
Assad claims receipt of anti-aircraft S-300 rockets. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a Lebanese news outlet that Syria received the first shipment of an air defense system from Russia:
Russia had promised delivery of the S-300 missile system to the Syrian government despite Western objections, saying the move would help stabilize the regional balance at a time of insurgency in Syria waged by Western-backed rebels. Moscow is a staunch ally of Assad and it has appeared to grow more defiant since the European Union let its arms embargo on Syria expire as of June 1, opening up the possibility of the West arming the Syrian rebels
Israel said it is looking into whether Syria has indeed begun to receive shipments. Assad’s announcement comes amid an intensifying battle between government and rebel forces for the strategic border town of Qusair. Rebels under attack by regime forces begged for supplies and medical aid, saying they could not evacuate the 700 wounded from the embattled town. Hezbollah fighters are believed to have joined government forces in the fight for Qusair, a key territory for both sides.
From bad to worse in Iraq. A series of explosions and clashes between gunmen and security forces killed at least 16 people in Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim neighborhoods across Baghdad, continuing the worst period of sectarian violence the country has seen in years:
The bloodletting reflects increasing conflict between Iraq’s majority Shi’ite leadership and the Sunni minority, many of whom feel unfairly treated since the 2003 fall of strongman Saddam Hussein, a Sunni. Civil war in Syria between Sunni rebels and President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect derives from Shi’ite Islam, has aggravated the strife in Iraq. Sunni and Shi’ite Iraqis have been crossing the border to fight on opposing sides in Syria.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for today’s attacks, though al Qaeda’s Iraqi wing and Sunni Islamists have stepped up operations since the start of 2013. Thousands of Sunnis have continued to protest in the streets since December as Sunnis, Shi’ites and ethnic Kurds fight for power in Iraq’s divided government.
Muslims in hiding after clashes with Buddhists. Hundreds of Muslim families hunkered down in a guarded Buddhist monastery after two days of sectarian violence rocked the northern Myanmar city of Lashio, the latest in a series of violent clashes between the majority Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims:
About 1,200 Muslims were taken to Mansu Monastery after Buddhist mobs terrorized the city on Wednesday, a move that could signal the resolve of a government criticized for its slow response to previous religious violence. The unrest in Lashio, a city about 430 miles from Myanmar’s commercial capital of Yangon, shows how far anti-Muslim violence has spread in the Buddhist-dominated country as it emerges from decades of hardline military rule.
Six people were killed or injured in clashes which erupted after a Muslim man reportedly set a Buddhist woman on fire on Tuesday.
Nota Bene: For the first time, a Khmer Rouge leader accepted responsibility for his role in the 1970s killing of 1.7 million Cambodians.
Ant antics - German woman gets an unlikely ding-dong ditcher. (The Guardian)
Blank slate - Once called the Prince of Evil, a feared former Burmese general now runs an art gallery. (Time)
Larry King, live in Russia - Veteran interviewer Larry King will host a talk show on the Kremlin-funded RT network. (BBC)
North Korea No. 2 - Dennis Rodman was not Vice’s first choice for a trip to the Hermit Kingdom. (The New York Times)
Beware exploding ticket machines - German police warn machines may be filled with explosive gas. (The Associated Press)
From the File: