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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Damascus’

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

Document Shows Abbas Was KGB Agent

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was a KGB agent in 1983, according to a report on Israel’s Channel 1 News which presented Soviet-era documents from the archive of Vasili Mitrokhin, a former Soviet intelligence archivist who defected to the UK with a treasure trove of historic documents after the fall of the USSR. Mitrokhin died in 2004. The report was broadcast Wednesday night, during a week that had seen Russian President Vladimir Putin pushing for a prestigious peace summit in Moscow between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Tuesday, Abbas told reporters in Poland that he had been on his way to a preliminary meeting in Moscow with the Israelis September 9, when Jerusalem issued a call for a delay.

The timing of the revelation did not escape PA Arab representatives, who have been flooding Israeli media Thursday morning with profuse denials of the charges, as well as accusations that the Netanyahu government is trying to torpedo the peace efforts.

The document, which lists people the KGB was recruiting in 1983, names “Abbas, Mahmoud,” born 1935 in Palestine, as “Krotov,” or mole, in Damascus, Syria. Abbas was born in 1935 in British Palestine, and after 1948 fled with his family to Damascus, where he grew up.

And, in the clandestine spy world John le Carré books are made of, where being together at the same place and time is proof for plots and conspiracies, the following has to be a fine nugget: Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian deputy foreign minister who has been Putin’s envoy pushing Abbas and Netanyahu to meet in Moscow, was stationed in Damascus from 1983-89 and from 1991-94. Put that in your hookah and smoke it.

Dr. Isabella Ginor of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, who together with Gideon Remez, an Israeli journalist and analyst of post-Soviet affairs, researched the Mitrokhin documents, rejected the claims by senior PA Arabs saying she and her colleague have no ties to the Israeli government and they certainly do not receive their orders from Netanyahu. As to the Timing of the revelation, Ginor told Israel Radio on Thursday morning that there has always been tension between Netanyahu and Abbas, meaning that whenever her team’s revelations were to be publicized it would have boosted Israel’s case against the PA Chairman.

Ginor added that the KGB also had an agent in the Israeli government, starting in 1972, a relatively unknown person who came to Israel from Moldova.

The PA officials argued that there was no need for the Soviets to recruit Abbas as a Soviet agent because the PLO was openly collaborating with Moscow. Indeed, Abbas was the head of a Palestinian-Soviet friendship foundation and as such served as a liaison to Moscow for PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.

The documents are now in storage at the Churchill Archives Center of Cambridge University and have been open to the public for the past two years. Ginor and Remez came across the document naming Abbas while researching the Soviet involvement in the Middle East.

JNi.Media

ISIS Takes Weapons in US Retreat, But Where Else Are American Arms?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

The Amaq media outlet of the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization disseminated photos of American arms this past weekend showing the new military treasure it acquired when U.S. troops who were supporting government soldiers in Afghanistan retreated in the face of terrorist fire during a clash that took place in July.

Among the seized items were a rocket launcher, grenades, machine gun ammunition, an encrypted radio and military identification cards, the Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday. One of the identity cards was that of an American soldier, but U.S. officials denied he was taken prisoner and said he was with his unit.

U.S. Brigadier-General Charles Cleveland, deputy chief of staff for the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan confirmed the loss, saying the clash had taken place in the eastern province of Nangarhar as American forces were moving a “casualty collection” area. Cleveland said in his statement the soldiers came under “effective enemy fire” and were forced to retreat. “In the course of moving the [casualty collection point] to a safe location, some equipment was left behind. For understandable reasons, the lives of soldiers were not put at risk to recover the equipment,” he said. “The loss of equipment is regrettable but no equipment is worth undue risk to those involved,” Cleveland pointed out. “And we do not expect any measurable operational impact due to the loss.”

This is not the first time that American military hardware and weapons have ended up in hands other than those for whom they were intended.

Weapons that were sent to Syrian opposition forces via Jordan last year by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia were reported stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives, according to an investigative report by the New York Times.

Instead, they ended up in the hands of arms merchants who sold them to the highest bidders on the black market, American and Jordanian officials told the newspaper.

Those same weapons were used by a Jordanian officer to murder two U.S. government security contractors, a South African trainer and two Jordanians in an attack at a U.S.-funded police training facility for Jordanian intelligence in Amman last November, both NYT and Al Jazeera reported. The killer was later shot dead in a shootout.

The site was set up in 2003 as a center for the U.S. to train Iraqi police. It then was used to train Palestinian Authority security forces, who were ultimately equipped with new American military equipment. Although (USSC) U.S. Security Coordinator (2005-2010) Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton repeatedly stated, “We don’t give out any guns or bullets,” the forces received them from Jordan and Egypt with approval from Israel.

Numerous Palestinian Authority security forces have since used their vastly improved military skills to target Israelis in terror attacks.

In his report, The Implications of United States Military Training of Palestinian Security Forces, journalist David Bedein points out that in addition to the United States, the European Union also started training and equipping Palestinian Authority security forces in 2007. (see page six)

Under the European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EU COPPS), about one thousand police officers were trained and at least a dozen police stations were opened in Judea and Samaria. By mid-2008, European donor states had already pledged $242 million to the Palestinian Authority, all this in addition to the USSC effort.

At present, a similar issue is taking place in Syria with American weapons once again going astray. Western-backed “moderate” opposition forces are fighting government troops defending the regime of President Bashar al-Assad together with Russian, Iranian and the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist fighters.

The Western-backed opposition forces, supplied in part by the United States, are not in any way linked to Al Qaeda or Da’esh (ISIS). But in the heat of battle and for the purposes of achieving their objectives, all opposition forces often band together as one in Syria — regardless of ideological affiliation.

Hana Levi Julian

Syrians Prepare for Last Stand in Aleppo

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Syrian residents in the once-beautiful commercial hub of Aleppo are gathering their strength — what little remains — to seek whatever safe spaces they can find in the next 24 hours.

The splintered fragments of opposition forces are about to launch their final stand against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

Thus far, opposition forces appear to have the upper hand in this vicious, years-long civil war that has ripped the soul from a lovely land that for decades was the Republic of Syria, but no longer. Today Syria has been torn apart and divvied up among hungry competing warlords like a bleeding carcass about to be butchered for lion cubs.

Some 250,000 residents are beginning to slowly starve in Aleppo, trapped in the eastern part of the city since early July, while the western part of the city remained under government control. The residents of the eastern party of the city are almost without food and water now, after the main artery into that section was shut down by regime forces nearly six weeks ago.

The water pumps in the city are without power. That means two million people are without running water and facing a full siege.

Syrian state media reports government and Russian warplanes are continuing to bomb opposition forces.

But those opposition forces cut off the key access route into the western part of the city Sunday to block the entry of regime soldiers.

According to media sources in Tehran quoted by A-Sharq al-Awsat, “around 2,000 fighters came from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon to assist regime forces,” but the infusion of foreign aid didn’t faze the opposition.

Jaish al-Fatah, the Islamist opposition group, released a voice recording on Monday of a phone-tapped conversation by a Hezbollah guerrilla fighter describing the situation on the southern Aleppo front. The fighter said in a Lebanese accent that Hezbollah and regime fighters were collapsing and were left to fight alone. Other militias had already abandoned the front, fleeing the debacle to save their own lives.

According to a Ahrar al-Sham leader who spoke with A-Sharq al-Awsat, “The collapse in the ranks of regime forces is clear and it continues as long as Jaish al-Fatah fighters advance in the city.”

Both sides are now preparing for “the great battle of Aleppo,” said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The United Nations is urging both sides to cease their fire — or at least to pause it — long enough to allow repairs to the water and electricity grids.

According to UN sources, some two million people are without basic supplies — such as sugar, wheat, food cans and water — and children in the city are at “grave risk” of disease.

Opposition forces, meanwhile, say they are poised to take control of the entire city. The fragmented forces are united in this goal, at least, and it is this unity that allows the exchange of Western-supplied weapons between so-called “moderate” Syrian opposition forces and those who are dubbed “radical Islamist groups” linked to Al Qaeda and Da’esh (ISIS).

That unity when it comes to fighting the Assad regime is not well understood by the United States and other Western nations, and it is this Western lack of familiarity with the regional culture codes that has repeatedly led to disaster when trying to fight worldwide terror.

For all of these reasons, and because of the utter chaos taking place north of Israel’s border, the IDF is being especially watchful now.

Hana Levi Julian

Tim Kaine’s Decision to Boycott Netanyahu’s Speech Could Hurt Hillary

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

When Hillary Clinton’s choice for VP, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, joined the Democrats who avoided Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 2015 speech to a joint session of Congress, he announced: “There is no reason to schedule this speech before Israeli voters go to the polls on March 17 and choose their own leadership.” Revealing that he had labored to delay the Netanyahu appearance, Kaine said, “I am disappointed that, as of now, the speech has not been postponed. For this reason, I will not attend the speech.”

Before Kaine made his announcement, only three other senators had planned to boycott the speech: the two anti-Netanyahu Vermont Senators Bernie Sanders and Pat Leahy, and Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz. All the other Democratic senators were reluctant to commit either way, and told the press they were thinking about it. Even the biggest Democratic opponent of the Iran deal, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, did not forcefully call on his fellow Democrats to show—not willing to upset an already irate President Obama. Most Democratic legislators who said they’d avoid the speech came from blue states and blue districts. But when Kaine, whose state of Virginia until 2008 voted Republican for president, gave permission to Democrats from red states to boycott Netanyahu when he declared he was skipping the speech.

The Forward on Friday wrote that Kaine “Will be the Jewiest Vice President” under Hillary Clinton, describing him as “a friend to the Jewish community for about as long as he’s been in public service.” But when one reads the reasons why Kaine is so “Jewey” according to the Forward, one realizes Kaine would be a bonanza to leftwing Israeli Jews, very much like the folks who are currently in the White House.

Kaine supports a two-state solution, argues the Forward; also, he is a religious Catholic (so he knows all about the auto-da-fé); during his time as the governor of Virginia, Sabra built the world’s largest hummus factory outside Richmond, and hummus is Jewish, isn’t it, ask anyone from Cairo to Ramallah to Damascus; and Kaine hosted several Passover seders and played matchmaker to Conservative Rabbi Jack Moline’s daughter.

So, in considering Kaine’s pros and cons regarding Israel, you have his support for a nuclear deal with Iran, and his support for a Palestinian State, while on the plus side you have lots of hummus.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/tim-kaines-decision-to-boycott-netanyahus-speech-could-hurt-hillary/2016/07/23/

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