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February 14, 2016 / 5 Adar I, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

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.

Ancient Central Synagogue of Aleppo In Danger of Destruction

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

As forces of the Assad regime draw closer to the heart of the city of Aleppo, the ancient ‘Central Synagogue of Aleppo’ is under the threat of destruction, due to the clashes with opposition forces in the city.

The synagogue, built in the 9th century CE, serves as one of the Jewish world’s oldest houses of prayer. This report features an exclusive photo of the synagogue, snapped from a hiding place by the Amaliah organization, which also reports about the synagogue’s status.

Ancient synagogue in Aleppo.

Due to its proximity to a large number of opposition snipers nests, the synagogue, which is already badly damaged, is currently under the threat of total destruction.

Efforts are being made in order to preserve its religious articles and ancient scriptures, which if destroyed might also destroy the last fragments of Jewish heritage in the city.

In light of that, the Amaliah organization, headed by Israeli-American businessman Moti Kahana is working with opposition forces in the city in order to salvage as much as possible from the synagogue.

Last week, backed by intense Russian air support and Hezbollah reinforcements, forces loyal to the Assad regime in Syria began their push towards the city of Aleppo, a known opposition stronghold in the region.

As the clashes between the forces intensify, people of Aleppo flee the city in search of a safe haven or prepare themselves for the imminent siege of the city. This has endangered not just the civilian life Aleppo, but its buildings and religious monuments as well. One such building is the ancient Central Synagogue of Aleppo.

“We are doing everything in our power in order to save as many books and scrolls as possible”, says Moti Kahana, who for the last five years has been engaged in humanitarian work in Syria. “This synagogue is an important heritage site for the Jewish people, holding many historical and holy religious articles, which if destroyed, will take with them any memory of Jewish life from this ancient city.

“We are working together with opposition forces in order to salvage the synagogues religious articles, an effort which has proven to be very costly and difficult. Hence, we call upon all Jewish people and those who share the Jewish belief, to join us in our efforts. Together, we can save the story of the Jewish life in Aleppo, which is part of the unique tapestry of the ancient Jewish life in the area.”

In 2012 the synagogue suffered major hits during the Syrian civil war, as the first battles over the city of Aleppo began. The ancient synagogue was massively hit during the clashes, leading to the belief that it was completely destroyed.

In 2014, there were reports that the synagogue was destroyed in the attack and it indeed suffered massive damage, leaving its fate in the hands of the Syrian rebels controlling the city.

In 2015, as the last Jewish family in the Aleppo was smuggled out of the city by Amaliah, the synagogue stood as a lone remnant to the Jewish life in the city, which dates back to 12th century CE.

Kahana was also involved in 2014 in preserving the ‘Jobar Synagogue’ in Damascus; he was the first Israeli-American businessman to work with various opposition groups throughout Damascus.

Bashar al-Assad’s Mother Anissa Makhlouf Assad Dies at 86

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Syrian state media reported Saturday night the mother of President Bashar al-Assad, Anissa Makhlouf Assad, 86, died in a hospital in Damascus. The widow of the late president Hafez al-Assad and former first lady was ill for many years, according to the official SANA news agency.

No cause of death was reported. Until 2012, she traveled often to Germany for treatment, but the trips ended after she and other Syrian figures were included on a European Union list of those whose assets were frozen and for whom travel was banned. Born in Latakia in 1930, married in 1957, Anissa gave birth to five children, two of whom have died. In addition to Bashar, Anissa Assad is survived by her son Maher and her daughter Bushra.

Hundreds Captured or Dead in ISIS Assault on Syria’s Oil-Rich Deir Ezzor

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Hundreds of Syrian women, children and elderly are dead following an assault by Da’esh operatives from the ISIS terror organization on the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor on Saturday.

The murders were carried out in the suburb of al-Bghailiye in Deir Ezzor city, capital of the province of the same name, according to the Syrian state-run SANA news agency, which quoted local sources.

Some reports of the assault claimed fewer deaths but a higher number of captives, dragged away to Raqqa, the so-called capital of the mushrooming Da’esh “caliphate.”

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated that closer to 400 civilians were abducted Saturday after Da’esh seized new territory in Syria’s eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

The attack places Da’esh in control of approximately 60 percent of Deir Ezzor City. The oil-rich province borders Iraq.

“After their attack on Deir Ezzor [on Saturday] ISIS abducted at least 400 civilians from the residents of the al-Baghaliyeh suburb it captured and adjacent areas in the northwest of the city,” the Observatory said in a statement to media.

“Those abducted, all of whom are Sunnis, include women, children and family members of pro-regime fighters,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman added.

The hostages were reportedly taken to areas under Da’esh control in the western area of Deir Ezzor province, to the border with the Raqqa province, in the northwestern part of Syria.

According to the Observatory, the attack on Saturday left 85 civilians and 50 regime fighters dead. In addition, 42 member from the “Islamic State” organization (including 12 infiltrators and members who blew themselves up with explosive belts in the same attack) were killed as well, the organization reported on its website.

The report from state-run SANA, quoting local residents, said “around 300 civilians” were killed in the assault, and cited a “massacre.”

If the figures are confirmed it will be one of the highest death tolls in a single day in the nearly 5-year civil war.

Russia Directly Arming Hezbollah Fighters in Syria

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Russia has begun to directly arm Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists in Syria, according to a report this week by The Daily Beast.

Hezbollah field commanders serving in Syria told the news outlet they are receiving “heavy weapons” for their troops “with no strings attached.” Among the arms they reportedly have received were long-range tactical missiles, laser-guided rockets and anti-tank weapons.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin so far has not denied the report.

“We support both Assad’s army and the armed opposition,” Putin said in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper. “Some of them have publicly declared this, others prefer to remain silent, but the work is ongoing.

Putin claimed Russia’s actions are directed towards the destruction of the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization.

“This is hundreds, thousands of armed people fighting Islamic State (Da’esh). We are coordinating our joint operations with them and support their offensives by air strikes in various sections of the front line,” Putin said.

The Hezbollah commanders deployed in Syria confirmed in speaking with The Daily Beast that there is a relationship of “complete coordination” between Russia, Hezbollah and its patron, Iran, and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

Direct inter-dependence between Hezbollah and Russia is increasing as well, as time goes on, according to that report.

“I can tell you precisely what we do not want to happen,” Putin told Bild. “We do not want the Libyan or Iraqi scenario to be repeated in Syria.”

But it is also true that Russia does not consider the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group to be a terror organization. Last November, Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying, “We maintain contacts and relations with them because we do not consider them a terrorist organization.

“They have never committed any terrorist acts on Russian soil. Hezbollah was elected by Lebanese citizens to the Lebanese parliament. There are cabinet members and ministers from Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is a legitimate sociopolitical force.”

ISIS Terrorists Train in Missiles at ‘Jihadi University’

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

ISIS terrorists are learning how to assemble, repair and recondition missiles and other weaponry at a new “Jihadi University” in Raqqa.

A new ISIS (Da’esh) training video on the subject, obtained by Britain’s Sky News, has deeply impressed — and worried — former United Kingdom Special Forces bomb technician Maj. Chris Hunter.

The video shows footage of a weapons lab in the Da’esh terror group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria. The lab appears to have become a “jihadi technical college,” as it is being referred to by the terrorist organization.

The footage shows that the group can now produce key components for advanced weapons, including surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and refurbish those previously believed to be obsolete or unusable.

Da’esh operatives have produced a homemade thermal battery for use in SAM systems – something that was also believed to be impossible for terrorist groups without any military infrastructure.

But it is now abundantly clear that Da’esh, at least, has managed to create for itself just such an infrastructure. The group has the capability of re-commissioning thousands of missiles previously thought to be unusable.

With these, Da’esh can target passenger and military aircraft anywhere within its range — and since it is creating an air force as well, it may become a menace in the sky sooner rather than later.

“What this video shows is that ISIS is “leagues ahead of its terrorist predecessors,” Hunter told Sky News on Wednesday (Jan. 6). “At first, the images didn’t look very different from the raft of other ISIS propaganda on the internet, but within minutes it occurred to me that this was definitely no ISIS propaganda video.”

Instead, Hunter said he saw “technically adept and highly trained weapons specialists giving expert tuition in how to turn obsolete munitions and ammunition into state-of-the-art weapon systems.

“Without doubt, the most chilling aspect of watching this training video was the unprecedented levels of technical expertise and ingenuity of those weapons engineers,” he said.

“Their advanced knowledge of weapons engineering, coupled with their seemingly limitless ability to reverse engineer and recondition weapons (previously considered by intelligence agencies to be obsolete or beyond repair), kept me awake all night.”

The components whose assembly, repair and refurbishing were painstakingly demonstrated included a missile seeker unit, infra-red homing radar, and MANPADS (shoulder-launched surface-to-air weapons systems). Also included with the assembly of a remote control car bomb – complete with a mannequin capable of tricking the advanced early warning sensors at critical/high security facilities.

Hunter called it “the stuff of nightmares.”

The real fear, at least for him, is “they’re certain to find their way into the hands of jihadi organizations and networks outside Iraq and Syria.”

For residents of Israel, of course, that nightmare began a long time ago.

Rouhani: Muslims Must Improve Image’ but not Forget ‘Zionist Crimes’

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that Muslims must improve the image of Islam in light of the evil of the Islamic State (ISIS) that has stained the religion as violent, according to foreign news agencies.

The report on Reuters omitted what was headlined in the Iranian regime-controlled Mehr News Agency, which headlined:

Ignoring Zionist crimes in Islamic world implausible – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani slammed disappearance of addressing and broadcasting violence and crimes of Zionist regime in the Islamic world.

Rouhani was speaking at an international “unity” conference, which he said he hopes will help unify Muslims.

He called on Muslims “to follow a fair, moderate tone of discourse which is far from any kind of extremism, which he said results in violence.”

Iran is fearful of the Islamic State (ISIS), which has the same objective of the Tehran regime by wanting to create a Caliphate in the entire Middle East, for starters, before conquering the rest of the world.

The real difference between Iran and the ISIS is who calls the shots, or in their case, who swings the knife or tightens the noose.

Rouhani implied the rest of the world should have listened to him two years ago when Iran proposed the “World Against Violence and Extremism” to the United Nations. “Although seemingly passed unanimously by Muslim and non-Muslim countries, no measure of good faith was taken in practice,” he said.

Ignoring the “Zionist crimes,” which means the existence of Israel, the Iranian president referred to Islamic civil war and added:

If the world wants peace, all have to work together against extremism, violence and terrorism.

Why are we so silent in the face of all the killing and bloodshed? Do we help those who are the main cause of crimes? Is it not a disgrace to the Islamic world that innocent Muslims with their small children, with women, travel during the harsh winter, inside the river or sea with boats to seek refuge in non-Islamic countries?

We have to eliminate the negative interpretation of Islam in the virtual and real world; the great injustice is not only upon Muslims and the people of Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen; it is also the greatest injustice in the face of Islam.

His thesis tried to distance Islam in Iran from ISIS. Rouhani asked, “Did we ever think that, instead of enemies, an albeit small group from within the Islamic world using the language of Islam, would present it as the religion of killing, violence, whips, extortion and injustice?”

Reuters did not ask if “the religion of killing, violence, whips, extortion and injustice” also exists in Iran but took care to call Rouhani “a relative moderate” who supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who also is trying to defeat the ISIS.

Assad also continues to use chemical weapons and raid civilian population centers with barrel bombs.

“Rouhani the moderate” as secretary of Supreme National Security Council in 1999, stated in a pro-government rally during student protests, “At dusk yesterday we received a decisive revolutionary order to crush mercilessly and monumentally any move of these opportunist elements wherever it may occur. From today our people shall witness how in the arena our law enforcement force . . . shall deal with these opportunists and riotous elements, if they simply dare to show their faces.”

Since taking office as president, more than 600 people have been executed, usually by hanging, which for Rouhani may be a more moderate type of Islam than the ISIS practice of beheading.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rouhani-muslims-must-improve-image-but-not-forget-zionist-crimes/2015/12/27/

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