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June 28, 2022

Putin, Netanyahu hold Syria-focused talks

Outrage at Syrian rebel shown ‘eating soldier’s heart’.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel and Russia can work together to make the Middle East more stabile and secure, the Voice of America reports.Netanyahu’s comments came Tuesday in Sochi as Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed him for talks focused on the situation in Syria.Israel and Western powers are concerned about potential Russian sales of advanced anti-aircraft weapons to Syria, which would complicate any possible airstrikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week his government is completing arms sales to Syria under existing contracts, but did not say if advanced S-300 missile batteries were included.

The talks come as efforts continue to arrange an international peace conference on Syria, which Russia and the United States proposed last week.President Putin has discussed with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Prime Minister David Cameron the plan for bringing together delegates from the Syrian government and rebels opposed to Assad.  It is not clear if either side would take part.Syria’s state-run SANA news agency carried comments Tuesday from Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi saying the government needs more details before making a decision.  He also said Syria will not take part in any dialogue that infringes on its sovereignty.

The situation in Syria will remain a prominent focus of talks later in the week, as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travels to meet with Russian officials. In another development, a video which appears to show a Syrian rebel taking a bite from the heart of a dead soldier has brought strong condemnation, according to BBC.US-based Human Rights Watch identified the rebel as Abu Sakkar, a well-known insurgent from the city of Homs, and said his actions were a war crime.

The main Syrian opposition coalition said he would be put on trial.The video, which cannot be independently authenticated, seems to show him cutting out the heart. “I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog,” the man says referring to President Bashar al-Assad as he stands over the soldier’s corpse.Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Abu Sakkar is the leader of a group called the Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade.The video, posted on Sunday, is one of the most gruesome to emerge among the many thrown up by more than two years of carnage in Syria, says the BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut.

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