web analytics
May 25, 2016 / 17 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Russia Resumes Bombing in Syria, Ceasefire is Shaky

Monday, February 29th, 2016

The cease-fire in Syria that is just two days old may already be gradually grinding to a halt.

Russia has resumed its bombing operations and the regime has launched a new offensive against Homs. Other breaches have been reported as well.

Contrary to the general international perception, the arrangements worked out with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and “moderate” opposition leaders by the United States and Russia do not apply to the entire geographic area of the country.

Thus Russian warplanes were in the skies across Syria on Monday, particularly in northern Aleppo, an area not included in the cease-fire.

“Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reportedly continue to advance south of Shaddadi and toward the ISIS-held town of Markadah,” reported the Levantine Group think tank. The opposition forces were reported to be “clearing ISIS villages along both of the banks of the Khabour river,” the military analysis think tank reported.

Several breaches to the current cease-fire were reported and levels of violence correspondingly have increased.

Local sources reported on Twitter that Russian planes bombed six Syrian towns around Aleppo, and areas north of Homs. Thousands of Syrian refugees were reported to be stranded at the Turkish border after fleeing the northern commercial hub.

However, other news services such as Al Arabiya continued to report the truce “seems to be largely holding, though rebels report what they describe as occasional government violations.”

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Drones Allegedly Seen in Syrian Skies

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Residents of Latakia have reported seeing Israeli drones flying in the skies overhead, according to local sources quoted in social media.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed Monday that his own forces were using the drones to carry out reconnaissance on opposition forces.

Photos of rebel positions were posted to Syrian social media sites. Some of the commentators on the sites have been theorizing that Israel sold the drones to Russia, who then gifted them to Assad.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Kerry on Syria: May Be Too Late to Keep Whole, May Get Much Uglier

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Tuesday the world community may not be able to save Syria – what once was Syria, anyway – if the current fighting continues much longer.

Speaking at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the State Department’s annual budget request, Kerry had a grim outlook for the future of Syria.

“It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if we wait much longer,” the Secretary said, according to Reuters.

Even if the regime’s Russian-backed forces re-take the northern city of Aleppo – the largest commercial hub in the country – Kerry said it is hard to hold territory in Syria at this point.

For starters, the Secretary told the committee that he cannot guarantee that Russia will stick to the new cease-fire signed this week between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and moderate opposition forces. Moscow and Washington also signed on to that truce, which excluded the Da’esh (ISIS), Al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra Front) terrorist groups.

The U.S. military is already looking ahead to a “Plan B,” he said, and will continue to support rebel efforts to overthrow Assad if Russia abandons its obligations under the truce.

“This can get a lot uglier,” Kerry warned. “Even if Russia took Aleppo… holding territory has always been difficult,” he said, according to Foreign Policy magazine. “Russia has to be sitting there evaluating that.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) asked Kerry what would happen if in fact “this cease-fire doesn’t hold? I don’t think Russia believes that anything is going to happen.”

Kerry ducked the question, replying instead, “I’m not going to say this process is sure to work because I don’t know. But I know that it’s the best way to end the war, and it’s the only alternative available to us if indeed we’re going to have a political settlement.”

The Arab world, on the other hand, may not be as willing to wait around and see.

Gulf nation governments and that of Saudi Arabia have already warned their citizens to leave Lebanon if they haven’t already. As early as last week, rumors were flying that Turkey and Saudi Arabia were preparing their troops for a ground invasion of Syria to deal with the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist threat on their own.

Hana Levi Julian

Truce Signed in Syria by Assad Regime, Rebel Forces – Excludes ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

As the gunshots and sounds of mortarfire grow closer to Israeli communities in the Golan Heights, the Syrian regime has signed a truce with representatives of the rebel forces.

The truce, however, excludes Da’esh (ISIS), Al Qaeda and the Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra Front) terrorist organizations, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon by the state-run SANA news agency, which raises the issue of how long it will actually last, and how relevant it really is.

“The Syrian Arab Republic accepts the cessation of fighting actions on the basis of continuing the military efforts for combating terrorism against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Jabhat al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations according to the Russian-U.S. agreement,” said an official source at the Syrian Expatriates and Foreign Ministry.

The military picture in Syria is far from simple.

Both Russia and the U.S.-led coalition are still claiming to be bombing ISIS terror targets in Syria, but one can hardly separate those out from the general population, let alone from other combatants.

The Syrian regime forces include the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist guerrilla fighters and Russian military personnel on the ground and in the air.

The U.S.-led coalition forces in the air have been bombing targets on behalf of the more moderate Syrian opposition forces. But there have been overlaps and on more than one occasion the “moderate” rebels have united with radical Islamists when they deemed necessary to overcome an enemy target. In this way, weapons, ammunition and other foreign ordnance changes hands, and Da’esh (ISIS) and/or Al Qaeda-linked terrorists end up possessing American arms and military technology.

Moreover, Ankara — also a member of NATO along with the United States — has been bombing Kurdish sites in northern Syria, claiming the PYD and YPG groups are related to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group. Turkey alleges the PKK perpetrated last week’s horrific suicide car bombing in the capital city, Ankara, together with a PYD-linked Syrian national.

Regardless of who is dropping the bombs, after five years of one of the most savage civil wars in the Middle East very little is left of the “Syrian Arab Republic” that the world — or President Bashar al-Assad himself — once knew. At present, even the outlying districts of Damascus have been bombed into rubble in many areas, as seen in the video below, filmed by RussiaWorks.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry source noted that the cease-fire is set to begin on Saturday Feb. 27. In order to ensure the success of the cease-fire, “the Syrian government affirms readiness to continue to coordinate with the Russian side for identifying the areas and the armed groups that are to be included in the cessation along the period it is in effect,” the source said.

“The Syrian government stresses the importance of border curbing, halting support provided by some countries to the armed groups, and preventing these organizations from boosting their capabilities or changing their positions so as to avoid anything that may undermine this agreement,” the source warned.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed that he and U.S. President Barack Obama had agreed on a joint statement announcing their plans to stop military operations in Syria. The U.S. State Department announced the agreement, which it said includes “plans to stop the military operations in Syria, [but] which exclude the Islamic State (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations.”

Hana Levi Julian

Russia: No S-300 Deliveries Until Iran Pays the Bill

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson has flatly denied reports from Tehran that a delivery of the S-300 anti-missile defense system is due to arrive from Moscow this week.

The spokesperson told the TASS news agency that Iranian claims the first batch would arrive Thursday are “out of the question.” He said on Wednesday, “The beginning of deliveries of the first consignment of Favorit missile systems cannot take place since the Iranian side has not paid the price written in the contract as of Feb. 16.”

Last week, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehgan told international media the first shipment of the S-300 systems would arrive within the next two months.

The S-300 is a long-range surface-to-air missile designed to intercept aircraft and cruise missiles. The most advanced versions of the system can also target ballistic missiles.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hossein Jaberi Ansari claimed earlier in the week that a shipment of the system is already on its way to Tehran.

A Russian presidential aide for military-technical cooperation told TASS in December 2015, “The contract is in action.” But it was the Iranian ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sanai, who claimed in November 2015 that Iran was already receiving the first S-300 systems.

These claims and denials have been going back and forth for months, but at the end of the day, Iran has yet to receive the system and it is not at all clear whether Tehran has paid for it.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the S-300 system poses no threat to Israel. He was quoted in an article published in the April 2015 edition of Russia Today as saying the system “will not put at risk the security of any state in the region, including Israel.”

Hana Levi Julian

Turkey Shells Kurds in Syrian Border Village After Recapture

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Over the weekend, Turkish forces shelled the Syrian village of Maranaz and the Menagh airbase, both of which were re-captured recently by the Kurds.

Israel is watching the situation in Syria closely; events across the northern border have serious potential to affect Israeli national security. Although Israel coordinates its activities with Russia, that doesn’t mean every move by Moscow is one that works well for Jerusalem across the northern border. Nor does Russia necessarily take into consideration how its military activities might impact Israeli security. The same holds true for Turkey.

Coverage earlier in the day by international media claimed Turkish artillery was aiming its shelling at villages that were under the control of Jaysh al-Thuwar (Revolutionary Army), not YPG, (Kurdish People’s Protection Units militia). A Turkish government source told Reuters on Saturday that Turkey’s military force shelled YPG targets near the town of Azaz in northern Syria. The source did not explain the extent or reason for the shelling.

The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), like the YPG, is considered by Ankara to be a branch of the Turkish PKK terror organization.

The PKK is recognized by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist entity. However, neither considers the YPG or the PYD to be terrorist organizations.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the shelling struck areas of Aleppo, including Menagh, that were recently taken by YPG. The Syrian Kurdish YPG group confirmed the news in a tweet early Saturday evening. Local sources said the shelling did not have any major impact and was not hampering YPG efforts or operations at either location.

“It’s just a propaganda show to pretend they are not idle while al-Qaeda is smashed,” wrote a local source in a response on the Twitter social networking site.

But the artillery aimed Kurdish positions, rather than Da’esh targets, has raised more questions about the Ankara’s goals at a time when Turkey has turned up the pressure over its candidacy for European Union membership.

Moreover, as a member of NATO, Turkey has flatly stated that it expects the world organization to come to its aid in the event that its borders are breached.

But what if those borders are breached by desperate Kurds fleeing flaming wrecks of cities shelled by Turkish artillery?

Those same Kurds are viewed by Turkey as “terrorists” and yet the United States does not view them in the same light. How would this conflict be resolved among two members of NATO, sworn to protect each other under “siege” ?

Meanwhiel, special forces from the United Arab Emirates are reportedly being sent to Syria to help Sunni fighters recapture Raqqa, the northern Syrian city seized by Da’esh (ISIS) for use as the capital of its world caliphate.

It is not clear how many forces the UAE plans to send to Syria for the mission. But Saudi Arabia has also pledged to send forces to train and help local fighters recapture Raqqa.

Numerous Kurds fell in the initial battle to hold the city.

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, however, warned other nations they not interfere in the Syrian conflict. Medvedev said in an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt that more foreign intervention will only exacerbate the conflict and could lead to a “permanent war.”

Meanwhile, Israel could easily be caught between all parties and find itself dancing at numerous weddings all at the same time.

Having managed to maintain a cold peace with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for decades on the Golan Heights border, Israel has lately been forced to maintain a much closer watch in the area. The various groups jockeying for position in what is colloqually now being referred to as “the Syrias” are coming closer and closer to the Israel-Syria border — close enough to be seen with binoculars.

Hana Levi Julian

Report: Russia, Israel, to Sign Free Trade Agreement

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Russia and Israel are about to sign a free trade agreement in the very near future, Russian Deputy Agriculture Minister Sergey Levin told TASS on Friday after talks with his Israeli counterpart.

“We’ve discussed the prospects of forming a free trade zone, which the government plans to put on paper within the shortest period of time,” Levin said, adding that the issue had also been discussed at a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel confirmed his intention to go ahead with the plan very soon.

The two sides agreed on reciprocal purchases of agricultural products, setting up joint ventures and the introduction of agricultural high-tech, Levin said. Russia would like to increase its sale of wheat, beef and eggs to Israel, while Israel, a world power in agricultural technology, is ready to share its expertise with its Russian trade partners.

Russia and Israel plan to establish a Moscow-based agricultural technological demonstration center, Ariel told TASS, adding that Israeli export to Russia has been decreasing recently due to the ruble’s devaluation, implying Israel would like to see a solution to the price gap, to encourage both exports and imports.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/report-russia-israel-to-sign-free-trade-agreement/2016/02/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: