22 October 2007

U.S. Assisted Israel In Syrian Attack

"Reuters" - - Israel had obtained detailed pictures of a Syrian complex from an apparent mole, which supported an Israeli belief the facility was nuclear and led to an air strike on it last month, ABC News reported on Friday.

ABC, citing a senior U.S. official, said the person had provided several pictures of the complex from the ground, and Israel showed the images to the CIA. The U.S. spy agency helped pinpoint "drop points" to assist in potential targeting, ABC said.

Israel urged the United States to destroy the complex, but Washington hesitated because no fissionable material was found that would prove the site was nuclear, ABC said.

The network quoted the official as saying the facility was of North Korean design and that Syria must have had "human" help from North Korea.

The White House and the CIA declined to comment on the report, in keeping with a strict U.S. refusal to discuss the issue.

Israel has confirmed that it carried out an air strike on Syria on September 6 but it has not described the target. Syria has said only that it was a building under construction.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that the targeted site was modeled on a facility North Korea used for stockpiling atomic bomb fuel. Syria has one declared, small research nuclear reactor under safeguard of the International Atomic Energy Agency and has denied hiding any nuclear activity.

The complex struck by Israel was in a remote area about 100 miles from the Iraqi border and along the Euphrates River, ABC said.

It said the official described the pictures as showing a large cylindrical structure, still under construction, with thick reinforced walls. There was also a secondary structure and a pump station with trucks around it.

"It was unmistakable what it was going to be. No doubt in my mind," ABC quoted the official as saying.

The United States had begun to consider ways to destroy the complex, such as a special forces raid using helicopters, ABC said. But it said the White House sent word the United States would not carry out a raid and urged Israel not to do it either.-(NYTimes/ICH)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.