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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

80 Syrian Soldiers Killed as Russian-US Ceasefire Wobbles, And Israel Deploys Iron Dome

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

It looks like the ceasefire between Russian and American forces is very shaky, if not ceasing, as Da’esh (ISIS) forces appear to threaten the city of Deir el-Zour.

At least 80 Syrian government forces were killed Saturday in an air strike on a base near the Deir al-Zour airport, but it’s not clear which bomb was responsible.

The Syrian government military loyal to President Bashar al-Assad said it was the U.S.-led coalition that bombed its army base in Deir el-Zour. The force contends that the attack caused casualties and damage to equipment, and allowed Da’sh (ISIS) terrorists to advance on the area.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that 80 Syrian soldiers were killed in the strike, citing a source at the airport. But the monitoring group told Reuters that Russian jets — who back the Assad regime — had also been bombing in the same area, at the same time.

The source at the airport confirmed the air strike had the effect of paving the way for Da’esh fighters to overrun Jebel Tharda, according to the UK-based monitoring group.

Russia meanwhile has claimed Syrian opposition forces violated last week’s ceasefire at least 55 times over the weekend, with various clashes, including strikes on military and civilian targets in Aleppo. Russia’s official Interfax news agency quoted Colonel Sergei Kopytsin on Saturday as saying mortar fire and improvised rockets launched by rebels hit Aleppo 26 times.

Syrian state news agency SANA claimed that opposition forces, “insurgents,” violated the ceasefire 12 times in the past 12 hours.

Syrian opposition activists, meanwhile, say that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have killed at least five civilians from the opposition contingent. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a woman and child were killed in the central Homs province, in the town of Talbiseh. Two men were also killed outside Damascus and a child was killed in Aleppo.

Israeli military officials decided at the weekend to deploy the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system in the Israeli Golan Heights due to the near-daily “spillover” mortar fire that has been reaching over the Syrian-Israeli border. On Saturday alone, the Iron Dome system intercepted two such attacks, neutralizing both shells before they could land and explode on Israeli territory.

Hana Levi Julian

Syria Ceasefire Faltering as Assad Regime Reneges on Deal at Aleppo

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Government forces in Syria are not allowing a United Nations convoy to deliver humanitarian aid starving families in eastern Aleppo, and their unwillingness to withdraw are jeopardizing the ceasefire, according to UN officials.

Under the terms of the ceasefire deal worked out between Russia and the United States, the Syrian government was to issue documents allowing the UN vehicles to reach the besieged northern city. But on Thursday, forces loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad were still blocking the main artery into Aleppo, and refused to allow anyone to pass, including the UN convoy.

Moscow accused Washington of not living up to its agreements, while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told international reporters at a briefing that “by and large” the truce was still holding up and that it had been extended to next Monday.

UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, however, said that while the Syrian regime troops were expected to withdraw from the “Castello Road” into Aleppo, they were refusing to budge because opposition forces still remained in the same area — and the regime forces would not leave before the rebel forces.

De Mistura said that 40 UN trucks were still sitting at the Syria-Turkey border, packed with aid for some 80,000 residents in eastern Aleppo. But, he said, “The clock is ticking.”

Hana Levi Julian

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

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

Syrian Mortar Shell Explodes in Israel’s Golan Heights, Again

Monday, September 12th, 2016

A Syrian mortar shell exploded Monday evening in the northern section of Israel’s Golan Heights, for the second time in less the two weeks.

No physical injuries were reported in the incident.

Just a little over a week ago, a mortar shell fired from Syria landed in an open field, also in central Golan.

No physical injuries were reported in that incident either, and the shell was presumed to have been part of the “spillover” from the fighting between factions in southern Syria.

Nevertheless, Israeli military forces attacked Syrian artillery launchers a few hours later the same day (Sept. 4) in retaliation for the shelling.

The Syrian mortar fire had struck the central area of the northern Golan Heights near Al-Furan, although the source of the shelling was not clear.

However, Israel holds the Syrian government responsible for all actions that take place within its borders, according to the IDF.

Another official ceasefire worked out between Russia and the United States was to begin Monday night with the start of the Islamic Eid al-Adha Feast of the Sacrifice holiday.

Regime forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were pledged to abide by the ceasefire. But it’s not clear whether they had yet begun their part of the deal, or whether some of the other factions to whom Russia and the United States had reached out in the past week had simply chosen not to observe the truce — or were simply testing its limits.

Hana Levi Julian

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

Roll Over John Kerry, Russia Eager to Host Abbas-Netanyahu Moscow Summit

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

The Russian state news agency Interfax on Thursday afternoon released two short statements, one saying, “Russian Foreign Ministry confirms willingness to host Netanyahu-Abbas meeting in Moscow, preparations continue,” followed by, “Israeli, Palestinian leaders agree in principle to meet in Moscow – Russian Foreign Ministry.”

Russian Foreign Ministry official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Tass on Thursday: “Responding to the appeals of the Palestinians and Israelis, we confirmed our readiness to arrange a meeting in Moscow between Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

The Russian diplomat said she was concerned over the “deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement,” stressing that this could leads to the deterioration of the situation on the ground.

Zakharova said that after US mediation efforts in 2013 and 2014 had failed, direct dialogue between the parties to the conflict had come to a grinding halt. “We are convinced that there is a need to resume the negotiations, which would be a factor in normalizing the situation,” Zakharova said.

Zakharova confirmed that the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed in principle to meet in Russia. “It is most important to choose an appropriate moment for it, the intense contacts continue, including on this issue,” she said. “We are satisfied by how Russia’s role is in demand in the Middle East peace process.”

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/roll-over-john-kerry-russia-eager-to-host-abbas-netanyahu-moscow-summit/2016/09/08/

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