middle east

Syria's former ambassador to Iraq, who defected last week, has begun talking to the press.

In an interview with CNN, Nawaf Fares said he supported military intervention in the country because the regime of President Bashar Assad "will only go by force."

CNN's Ivan Watson asked Fares if he wanted to send a message to Assad.

The violence in Syria is increasingly being called a civil war, and it can also be called a sectarian war, because much of the fighting pits the majority Sunni Muslims against the minority Alawites who make up much of the country's leadership.

Yet not everyone fits neatly into a category. There are some Alawites who have joined the uprising.

One 30-year-old Alawite man, who doesn't want his name revealed, is nervous as he lights another cigarette and tells the story of how he came to side with the opposition and turned his back on the Alawite rulers.

The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said its Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain had opened fire on a speeding vessel off the coast of Dubai today.

In a press release, the Fifth Fleet said a small motor vessel disregarded warnings and approached the USNS Rappahannock. A security team about the Navy vessel "used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel before resorting to lethal force."

The team aboard the vessel fired using a .50-caliber machine gun.

The AP reports:

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Across the border in Syrian, reports of clashes between the army and rebels overnight in a neighborhood in Damascus. It was some of the heaviest fighting so far in the capital, according to residents and activists who say the army for the first time bombarded one neighborhood with mortars.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

From the America Abroad series: The Middle East is largely Muslim but it’s also the birthplace of Christianity, Judaism, and many other religions. Many non-Muslims have left in recent decades, leaving relatively small populations of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects.

Now, the rise of Islamist political parties in the Mideast raises questions about the rights and protections such minorities can expect or whether they can expect them at all.

Go here for more information on this series.

Can Newest Peace Plan For Syria Succeed?

Jul 9, 2012

Transcript

MARIA HINOJOSA, HOST:

I'm Maria Hinojosa and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, the band, Brownout, is trying to bring Tejano Latin funk to the U.S. mainstream. We'll sit down with them and hear some music. That's just ahead.