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December 2, 2016 / 2 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Damascus’

EU Seeks Iranian Cooperation to ‘Resolve Problems’ in Middle East

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini met Saturday in Tehran for talks with President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Mogherini’s visit followed a trilateral meeting on Friday in Moscow between Iranian, Russian and Syrian foreign ministers to discuss developments in Syria, according to Iran’s official FARS news agency.

During his meeting with Mogherini, the Iranian president “underlined the necessity for cutting aid to the terrorist groups,” according to FARS. Rouhani reportedly “called on the EU to use military and political leverage to pressure those states that are supporting the terrorists in the region.”

Mogherini “stressed the necessity for a campaign against the ISIL (Islamic State terrorist group) and Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra) Front as threats to the world…” The EU foreign policy chief was quoted by FARS as saying, “The EU needs Iran’s cooperation as a key and important power to resolve problems in the region.”

(Yes, these are real quotes.)

Hana Levi Julian

Report from Syria: Rebel Syrian Forces Claim They Will Return Eli Cohen’s Body to Israel

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

In a shocking report this evening, Channel 2 TV news and Walla are quoting serious Arab news sources in Lebanon, that Syrian Rebel forces announced they would be returning the body of Eli Cohen to Israel.

Eli Cohen, known as “Our Man in Damascus”, is one of the most well known Israeli spies. He was captured and killed in 1965.

After successfully infiltrating Syria’s Defense Ministry (1961-1965) he was discovered by Syria and publicly executed by hanging in Damascus in 1965 where he was buried.

Days ago, never before seen video footage of his execution was distributed on social media and the news that Syrian rebels are now offering to give his remains to Israel is extraordinary.

Let’s hope it’s true.

Jameel@Muqata

Mortar Shell Strikes Golan Heights Third Day in a Row

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Another round of mortar fire from Syria reportedly struck the Golan Heights in northern Israel from Syria. The IDF located four artillery shells in the northern part of the Golan Heights by Wednesday night, Ynet reported, allegedly more of the “spillovery” from the raging civil war taking place across the border.

If the report is confirmed, it will be the third day in a row for what has become a continuing series of mortar fire despite Israeli military efforts to deter, or at least, contain an escalating situation on the northern border.

This is the eighth time the region has been hit by “spillover” action from the raging civil war taking place on the Syrian side of the border.

The attacks have continued despite retaliatory Israeli Air Force air strikes and IDF artillery fire intended as a warning to prevent further shelling.

On Tuesday, the IDF closed Route 98 in the north after the third mortar shell of the day came whistling into the region from across the border.

That attack came just 24 hours after two projectiles landed in Israel from Syria.

The Golan Heights also was attacked on Monday, and over the weekend as well.

The Israeli government has issued a statement after each attack, warning that it holds the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad responsible for all activity that takes place within its territory, military and otherwise.

Hana Levi Julian

Update: IDF Retaliates for Second Day of Mortar Fire from Syria

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

The Israel Defense Force has again retaliated for several rounds of renewed mortar fire on Tuesday that was directed — albeit perhaps unintentionally — at northern Israel’s Golan Heights.

“In response to the projectiles which hit Israel earlier today, IAF aircraft targeted artillery positions of the Syrian regime in the central Syrian Golan Heights,” the IDF said in a terse statement to media.

Earlier in the day, Israeli authorities closed Route 98 in the northern part of the country, deeming it unsafe for civilians to travel in the area due to the shelling from Syria.

Israel hold the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad responsible for any actions taken on the Syrian side of the border.

Hana Levi Julian

Northern Israeli Road Closes After Third Mortar Shell Hits Golan Heights

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Israeli authorities closed Route 98 in the Golan Heights on Tuesday evening after the third mortar shell of the day came whistling into the region from Syria.

The attack came less than 24 hours after two projectiles fired from Syria had also landed on Israel’s side of the border.

It is also the fifth time mortar fire has reached Israel from Syria since the start of a ceasefire negotiated by Russia and the United States; the truce was to begin simultaneously with the start of the festive Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice.

Israeli warplanes struck targets near Quneitra late Monday night in retaliation for Monday’s shelling.

The IDF Spokesperson confirmed that two surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) were fired by Syria at the fighter pilots during their mission, but said no harm was caused. All Israeli military personnel returned safely to base.

The IDF continues to maintain the mortar fire is spillover from the savage civil war raging in Syria between regime forces, which include Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah guerrilla fighters, and those of the opposition, including a range of Western-backed “moderates,” Kurdistani forces, and radical Islamist terrorist groups such as Jaish al Islam, Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al Nusra, and Da’esh (ISIS.)

Nevertheless, Israel has said it holds the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad responsible for what takes place in its territory. The Israeli government has also said it won’t tolerate any attempt to harm Israel’s sovereignty or the security of her citizens.

Hana Levi Julian

IDF Confirms: IAF Jets Targeted by SAM Missiles over Syria, No Hits

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

The IDF spokesperson’s office on Tuesday morning confirmed that two surface-to-air missiles were shot at IAF attack planes that were on a mission inside Syria’s airspace. The IDF says the planes were far from the source of the missiles, and the attack did not constitute a serious threat.

The IDF announcement came in response to Syrian state media which had reported that the regime’s army claims it hit the Israeli aircraft while they were retaliating against targets near Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights.

The story that emerges from a variety of Arab social media reports Monday night, Syrian government claims and the IDF version, is that while the Israeli Air Force was hitting Syrian Army positions in Quneitra Monday, in response to a mortar shell that landed in Israeli territory, the Syrian Army responded by launching two S-200 (SAM) ground-to-air missiles from an airbase on the outskirts of Damascus, at Mount Qasioun. The missiles did not hit the Israeli fighter jets.

The IAF attack was the first since the beginning of the ceasefire that had been declared by Russia and the US in Syria on Monday. The IDF spokesperson released a statement saying Israel “views the Syrian regime as responsible for what takes place in its territory and would not tolerate any attempt to harm Israel’s sovereignty and the security of its citizens.”

The S-200 is a very long range, medium-to-high altitude surface-to-air missile system designed in the 1960s to defend large areas from bomber attack or other strategic aircraft. The system became operational in 1966. In its original design the S-200 probably couldn’t pose a serious threat to a 21st century attack aircraft, however, according to reports, in 2013 the Iranian air defense force improved its S-200 systems, introducing solid state parts and removing restrictions on working time. According to an Iranian report, an Iranian S-200 destroyed a UAV target beyond a 60 mile range in a military drill in recent years. The Iranians use two new solid propellant missiles, named Sayyad-2 and Sayyad-3, in cooperation with the S-200 system, and can cover medium and long ranges at high altitudes.

In August, The Jewish Press Online cited the Syrian Al-Etihad Press Network’s report that Iranian military reinforcements (Revolutionary Guards) have moved into Quneitra. At the same time, Iran was claiming that the forces in question were a contingency of Hezbollah and the Assad regime’s Army. Of course, it could be all three, and the reports Monday that these forces, or forces aligned with them in Damascus, have begun to shoot S-200 missiles at the IAF, may suggest an approaching escalation on Israel’s Syrian border.

David Israel

Another US-Russian Ceasefire Deal for Syria, Again

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov shook hands Friday on a deal to impose a new cease-fire in Syria after marathon talks in Geneva. More than half a million Syrians have died since the start of the savage civil war that has raged in the country since March 2011.

The truce is scheduled to begin Monday together with the start of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

But few have faith the deal will hold up for more than a few minutes.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA), itself little more than a name on paper for a collection of secular opposition groups backed by the West, quickly dismissed the possibility that this time the deal would bring peace.

Fares al-Bayoush, head of the FSA’s Northern Division group, pointed out that Russia and Syrian government troops had not complied with the previous cease-fire. Likewise, Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, military spokesperson for the Nour al-Din al-Zinki Brigades opposition group said the agreement would only give government troops the opportunity to gather forces and reinforce troops in Aleppo with more Iranian-backed military forces.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also welcomed the agreement but reminded that “broken promises” had been heard before, The Guardian reported. “I call on all parties to the Syria conflict and all countries with influence upon them to do what is needed to end violence and lift sieges,” he said. “In particular, it’s vital that the regime in Damascus now delivers on its obligations, and I call on Russia to use all its influence to ensure this happens.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Kerry by phone on Saturday that Ankara welcomes the cease-fire. Two and a half weeks ago, Turkey launched its own invasion of Syria after dealing with an endless flood of Syrian refugees through its southeastern border, and numerous “overflow” attacks from the war. Now Ankara has said it will provide humanitarian aid to Aleppo, in northern Syria, in cooperation with the United Nations, following the cease-fire.

It’s not the first time such a cease-fire has been proposed the same two parties; just six months ago, a similar truce was made, and violated repeatedly by both sides almost immediately. Before that, the two sides worked out a cease-fire deal in 2013. That one didn’t happen, either.

Kerry told reporters at a joint news conference with Lavrov, “The United States is going the extra mile here because we believe Russia and my colleague have the capability to press the Assad regime to stop this conflict and come to the table and make peace.

“Out of complexity in Syria, there is emerging a simple choice between war and peace,” he said.

The plan is for the U.S. and Russia to establish a joint operation center to coordinate military efforts against the Da’esh (ISIS) and Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations.

Russia informed President Bashar al-Assad about the agreement and, according to Lavrov, the regime agreed to comply. Although the terms were documented and agreed to by both sides, they would not be made public, he told reporters, according to the UK-based newspaper, The Telegraph.

The deal rides on Russia’s ability and willingness to stop attacks by the Assad regime and its allies, and the same cooperation by the United States to halt attacks by “moderate” opposition forces who unite with Al Nusra and other radical Islamists when it suits their needs.

Other forces that have become involved in the Syrian conflict include Iran and Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the Kurds.

It’s a coin toss whether anyone will actually pay more than five minutes’ attention to the terms of the deal in Damascus this time — and some bookie is probably making good money on the estimates of how long the quiet will last, or if it will even be quiet at all by Monday night.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/latest-us-russian-ceasefire-deal-for-syria-to-start-monday-with-eid-al-fitr/2016/09/11/

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