Rev 6:3-4 NCV When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" Then another horse came out, a red one. Its rider was given power to take away peace (prosperity, rest) from the earth and to make people kill each other (butcher, slaughter, to maim violently, in streets), and he was given a big sword (assassins sword, terrorist, loud, mighty, sore afraid).
Editor's note: Prophecies in the Bible state that there will be an army of 200,000,000 soldiers from the East which will advance toward Israel in the Last Days. There are many different theories about which countries will comprise this great number. What is clear, however, is that they will all gather together and advance against Israel with weaponry described by John in the Revelation. These prophecies are found in Revelation 9:13-21 at the Sixth Trumpet.
Russia, China and Iran showed support for Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, on Monday, just days before an international meeting which is likely to put more pressure on him to step down amid an increasingly bloody uprising.
Mr Assad met a senior Russian politician in Damascus, who reiterated Moscow’s support for his reform programme and spoke out against any foreign intervention in the conflict, Russian and Syrian news agencies reported.
China accused western countries of stirring up civil war in Syria, and two Iranian warships docked at a Syrian naval base, underscoring rising international tensions over the near year-long crisis.
The ships, which docked at the port of Tartous on Saturday, were said to be providing training for Syrian naval forces, Iranian state TV reported.
With Iran already at odds with the US, Europe and Israel over its nuclear programme, the deployment was likely to add to western concerns that the Syria crisis could boil over into a regional conflict if it is not resolved soon.
Asked about the Iranian move at a briefing in Jerusalem, Dan Meridor, Israeli deputy prime minister, said Mr Assad was receiving generous support from Iran and the Hizbollah militant group, and that Russia and China had given him “a licence to kill”.
Meanwhile, Syria’s forces pressed on with their crackdown on the anti-Assad uprising, with opposition activists reporting five people killed in renewed shelling of an opposition-held district of Homs, and troops and militiamen blockading Hama. Both cities have been in the forefront of the revolt.
The crisis is entering an important week, with western and Arab powers due to meet at a conference in Tunisia on Friday to press Mr Assad to give up power, while he forges ahead with plans for a referendum on Sunday for a new constitution.
The referendum, which would lead to multi-party elections within 90 days, is part of what Mr Assad describes as a reform programme to address demands for more democracy.
The west and Syrian opposition figures have dismissed the plan as a joke, saying it is impossible to have a valid election amid the continuing repression.
Alexei Pushkov, head of the international affairs committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament, met Mr Assad in Damascus on Monday and affirmed Russia’s support for the plan. Moscow is Syria’s main arms supplier.
Mr Pushkov also stressed the need “to continue working for a political solution to the crisis based on dialogue between all concerned parties, without foreign intervention”, Sana, the state news agency, said.
Mr Assad, who shows no inclination to relinquish power, told Mr Pushkov Syria was being targeted by armed terrorist groups supported by foreign elements aiming to destabilise the country.
China, which sent an envoy to Damascus this weekend, also backs Mr Assad’s plan for a political solution and has appealed to government and opposition alike to halt the violence.
China’s Communist party newspaper, the People’s Daily, took the west to task in a commentary, saying: “If western countries continue to fully support Syria’s opposition, then in the end a large-scale civil war will erupt and there will be no way to thus avoid the possibility of foreign armed intervention.”
However, Nabil Elaraby, the Arab League secretary-general, told reporters there were “indications coming from China and to some extent from Russia that there may be a change in position”.
The west has so far ruled out Libya-style military action but the Arab League has indicated some of its member states are ready to arm the opposition, with Saudi Arabia taking the lead.
A more immediate concern for the west is the civilians caught up in the offensive against the opposition and a nascent rebel army. Activists in embattled cities such as Homs say food is running out and doctors lack medicine to treat the wounded.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in Geneva it was negotiating with Syrian authorities and opposition fighters for a ceasefire to bring life-saving aid to civilians. Diplomatic sources said the ICRC was seeking a two-hour ceasefire in hotspots including Homs.
Opposition activists said five people had been killed in government shelling of Homs’s Baba Amro district on Monday, adding to a reported death toll of several hundred since the operation began there on February 3.
Activists in the western city of Hama said troops, police and militias had set up dozens of roadblocks, cutting neighbourhoods off from each other.
“Hama is cut off from the outside world. There are no landlines, no mobile phone network and no internet. House-to-house arrests take place daily and sometimes repeatedly in the same neighbourhoods,” an opposition statement said.