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November 24, 2014 / 2 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Syrian Rebels Claim They Overran Golan Spy Post Backed by Russians [video]

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Syrian rebels have posted a YouTube claiming that they overran a spy post on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights that was partially manned by Russians.

The video, picked up by The Daily Beast shows includes insignia and other signs that the post was run by Syrian intelligence with help from Russia. The post probably was used to monitor communications between rebel forces but also might have been used to tune in on the Israeli side of the strategic Golan Heights.

Photos of the location of IDF units were found bit the Free Syrian Army (FSA), confirming reports from Israel earlier this year that Russia is even more deeply involved in the Assad regime than previously estimated. Russian insignia were seen in the YouTube.

An FSA official told The Daily Beast that its fighters spotted more than dozen Russians in the area before the FSA overran the post.

Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russia’s military and intelligence services at New York University was quoted as saying that Russian advisers probably were “running an operation for detailed radio technical intelligence; we are not talking about intercepting telemetry and aircraft.”

With the ISIS advancing in northern Syria and closing in on cities in Iraq, including Baghdad, it is safe to assume that Israel would have preferred that Assad forces, even with the presence of Russian personnel, man a spy post across from the Israeli border instead of its being operated by rebels who just as easily could be overrun by Al Qaeda or ISIS jihadists.

SWIFT Refuses to Suspend Israel, Russia

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has announced it will not buckle to pressure to disconnect Israel – or for that matter, Russia – from its international transaction system.

“SWIFT regrets the pressure, as well as the surrounding media speculation, both of which risk undermining the systemic character of the services that SWIFT provides its customers around the world. As a utility with a systemic global character, it has no authority to make sanctions decisions,” the group said in a statement released on Monday.

“SWIFT services are designed to facilitate its customers’ compliance with sanctions and other regulations, however SWIFT will not make unilateral decisions to disconnect institutions from its network as a result of political pressure,” the communique said.

The international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement has been trying to pressure the system – as well as numerous corporations and other systems – to boycott Israel in an attempt to destroy its economy. BDS supporters are hoping that through economic destruction, Israel will be forced to withdraw from territory it won in the defensive war forced upon it by Arab nations in 1967 – including numerous Jerusalem neighborhoods restored to the Israeli capital since that time.

Disconnecting Israel from SWIFT would isolate its economy from international trade. However, the Brussels-based SWIFT is incorporated under Belgium law, the system noted, blocking it from making such unilateral decisions.

“Any decision to impose sanctions on countries or individual entities rests solely with the competent government bodies and applicable legislators. Being EU-based, SWIFT complies fully with all applicable European law,” the statement said.

Last month, the SWIFT system transmitted more than 21 million financial messages per day between more than 10,500 financial institutions and corporations, in 215 countries, according to the RT news site.

Over the summer there were discussions among EU leaders on whether to consider disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT system as means of pressuring Moscow into backing away from the Ukraine conflict.

‘Russian Hackers’ Attack Millions of JP Morgan Chase Bank Accounts

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Hackers working from deep inside Mother Russia – with at least some level of government approval, according to a report by The Washington Times – were behind a massive cyber attack on the United States-based JP Morgan Chase Bank this past July.

More than 83 million accounts were compromised – names, addresses, phone numbers and contact information — on more than 90 servers that were accessed. More than seven million small businesses were compromised.

According to a report in The New York Times, the hackers were able to steal “a list of every application and program deployed on standard JP Morgan computers that hackers can cross check with known, or new, vulnerabilities in each system in a search for a backdoor entry.”

All accounts that were compromised were disabled and employee passwords were reset. Customers were told they would not need to change their account information or passwords, and Chase Bank said it would not hold customers liable for unauthorized transactions, according to Associated Press.

Intelligence agencies, the Secret Service and the Treasury all worked together with JP Morgan Chase to lock out the hackers, but it took until August until they were able to do so, the Times reported.

Iran Scorns ‘Ridiculous’ US-led Anti-ISIS Coalition

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani scorned the international coalition organized by the United States to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in an interview with NBC News on Wednesday.

Rouhani called the mission “ridiculous” and said that without a commitment to send ground troops into battle against the rapidly spreading terrorist force, the project would fail.

“Are Americans afraid of giving casualties on the ground in Iraq?” he asked. “Are they afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?”

That same day U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters in a briefing at MacDill Air Force Base, “American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.”

Nor has the United States requested combat troops from any nation in the anti-ISIS coalition.

There is more than one complication in placing troops on the ground in such a conflict. Historically, Iran was suspected of targeting American troops during the previous Iraq War, although the Tehran government denied direct involvement in any battles.

But Rouhani commented that air strikes alone would not suffice to wipe out the Al Qaeda-spawned terrorist organization, which even Al Qaeda itself now denounces as “too extreme.” Other Muslims are hurrying to distance themselves from the group as well, declaring that ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam.”

“If they want to use planes and if they want to use unmanned planes so that nobody is injured from the Americans, is it really possible to fight terrorism without any hardship, without any sacrifice? Is it possible to reach a big goal without that? In all regional and international issues, the victorious one is the one who is ready to do sacrifice,” Rouhani told journalist Ann Curry.

Iran, meanwhile, has been directly involved in Syria’s civil war from the start, having sent its elite Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards force to supplement the troops of President Bashar al-Assad in the fight against opposition forces. Iran also recruited the aid of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist guerrilla fighters – which Tehran generously patronizes – to come to Assad’s assistance. Iran has long been a generous backer of the Syrian government as well; the two nations have done business for many years.

Rouhani told NBC News that any campaign to conduct air strikes against ISIS in Syria would require the permission of the Syrian government, which is supported by Iran and Russia. Any action in Syria without Assad’s permission, he said, would constitute a violation of international law and an act of aggression. Moscow has expressed similar views.

But the U.S. is unwilling to collaborate with Iran or Syria in a fight against ISIS. And nearly half the battle against the global terror group is rapidly moving over to Syria.

However, the U.S. House of Representatives has just voted 273-156 to back Obama’s request to train, equip and arm the “moderate” rebels in the Syrian opposition forces. The U.S. is hoping these rebel forces will fight against ISIS.

Russia and Egypt Agree to $3.5B Arms Deal

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Russia and Egypt have reached a preliminary agreement for a $3.5 billion arms deals, according to a Reuters report.

Russia and Egypt began discussing arms deals, when the US froze their arms deals with Egypt following the overthrow of Morsi.

No More Visas for Israelis to Belarus

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Israeli citizens will no longer be required to obtain a visa to enter Belarus, Israel’s ambassador to Belarus Yosef Shagall has announced.

The need for entrance visas to Belarus for Israelis will be cancelled as from 19 September this year, he said.

The decision, which came in an agreement between Foreign Ministry and the government of Belarus, during the opening ceremony of Limmud FSU (Former Soviet Union) in the Municipal Theater of Vitebsk which was attended by some 700 participants.

The event included representatives of the government of Belarus, the president of the Jewish community, Boris Gerstein and the founder of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler.

Chabad Rabbi Remains with Trapped Jews as Ukraine Troops, Rebels, and Russians Fight for Mariupol

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Jews in Mariupol, Ukraine are caught between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’ with nowhere to run as the winds of war whirl into their community. Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and rabbi of the city, Rabbi Mendel Cohen, has remained to serve his brethren in what has become one of the greatest challenges of his life.

Pro-Russian separatists, Russian tanks and Ukraine forces are all rapidly converging on the key southeastern port city to fight for control.

The nearby town of Novoazovsk reportedly has fallen to the rebels over the past 24 hours, according to a report by the BBC which quoted Russian TV. The Ukraine government told media that Russian forces have crossed the border in support of the rebel advance — a charge denied by Moscow.

The besieged cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, further north, have been embattled for months. The self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), where the city of the same name is located, has attempted to secede from Ukraine. DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko told Russian TV there were up to 4,000 Russian citizens within the ranks of the separatist rebel army, “former high-ranking military officers who have volunteered to join us. They are fighting with us, considering that to be their duty.

“There are also many in the current Russian military that prefer to spend their leave among us, brothers who are fighting for their freedom, rather than on a beach.”

“People are very worried right now,” Rabbi Cohen told Chabad.org. “There are lines at all of the gas stations and ATMs and people are stocking up on food, so there is nothing left in the stores. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Mariupol, the second-largest city in Donetsk, is only 35 miles from the Russian border and Russian is the primary language. In February, pro-Russian separatists seized the city’s administrative buildings and maintained control over the city for months.

Kiev sent troops and battled for control over the city in a fierce fight that ended at the city’s police station. At least six were killed in the offensive and it took until June 13 before the Ukraine government forces managed to secure total control over the city.

Rabbi Cohen described “armed men with masks right next to the shul,” saying it was “dangerous to walk around in the street” until June. Since then, however, “thank God it has become more stable.”

The sense of unease has returned, however.

Over the past month, more than 330,000 people have been displaced by combat in Donetsk to the north, and Lugansk to the east. Some 2,000 people have been killed so far, according to some estimates.

Many refugees have ended up in Mariupol. This week the sounds of shelling are much closer. Mariupol’s Jews so far insist on staying, fearing the dangers on the road to freedom more than the uncertainties facing them in their own homes. The Chabad emissary says he will stay as long as he can to aid the community.

“We have a minyan three times a day and Torah classes. Our day camp just ended, and we are now preparing for the school year,” Cohen said. The Jewish community has also worked to supply food packages to a growing number of people who need them.

Out of four emissaries serving southeastern Ukraine, Rabbi Cohen is the only one left. Three others were forced to re-evaluate their situations, along with the Jews of Donetsk, Lugansk and Maakeevka.

‘I hope and pray they will be able to return to their work very soon,” Rabbi Cohen said.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/chabad-rabbi-remains-with-trapped-jews-as-ukraine-troops-rebels-and-russians-fight-for-mariupol/2014/08/28/

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