Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Palestine Scholars: Qatar stood by Gaza when nobody else did

Palestine Information Center – June 18, 2017

GAZA – Head of the Palestine Scholars Association, Dr Marwan Abu Ras, lauded Qatar’s pro-Palestine position and stressed Palestinians’ support for the government and people of Qatar.

“We are here today, in the blockaded Gaza Strip, to tell the world that our sole enemies are the Israeli colonizers who forced us out of our own and only lands,” said Abu Ras. “It is high time Arabs and Muslims combined forces in the face of the Israeli occupation.”

“We, Palestine Scholars, hail all those who have rallied round the Palestinian people and Gaza. We are most grateful to Qatar which has left its stamp in every street and at every home in besieged Gaza,” he said.

“Our homes have been lit, infrastructure rehabilitated, and hospitals equipped thanks to Qatar,” added Abu Ras as he paid tribute to the Qatari government and NGOs.

He slammed the Israeli occupation and all the other parties who have been involved in underway schemes to tighten grip around Gazans’ neck and famish the Palestinians.

June 18, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 2 Comments

A US-Iran confrontation is just what Israel seeks – and it may get

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | June 18, 2017

The move by the US military to shift for the first time the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) into Syrian territory from Jordan signifies that the Pentagon has created a new fact on the ground. According to the CNN, the deployment will be in the military base in Al-Tanf near Syria’s border with Iraq in the south-eastern region, which is currently an area of contestation between US-backed rebel groups and Syrian government forces.

A Russian Defence Ministry statement in Moscow on Thursday noted that the deployment might suggest a US intention to attack the Iran-backed Syrian government forces. The Russian statement said:

  • The range of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is not enough to support the US-backed units… in Raqqa. At the same time, the US-led anti-terrorist coalition has several times attacked the Syrian government forces near the Jordanian border, so it can be assumed that such attacks will continue, but this time involving the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.

Indeed, such authoritative Russian statements, even while speculative, must be relying on intelligence inputs. Clearly, the US intentions need to be interpreted. One possibility could be that it might actually be a defensive move. The US has so far counted on other protagonists – government forces, Hezbollah, Iran, Turkey and Russia – to exercise absolute self-restraint in not confronting the American forces. This tacit understanding (or pragmatism on both sides) largely worked well so far. Although, US-Russia relations continue to deteriorate, the ‘de-confliction’ arrangement in Syria has worked well so far.

However, war is war and there is nothing like a bit of self-help in such uncertain times. The point is the HIMARS provides an alternate means to hit the adversary if air operations are not feasible for some reason – or is simply a preferable option. From all appearances, the US reportedly has plans to create military bases in southern Syria (similar to what it has done in the northern regions bordering Turkey and Iraq) and, if so, the deployment of HIMARS fits into the plan.

Suffice to say, it all boils down to the big question: What are, going ahead, the Trump administration’s politico-military intentions in Syria? At a press briefing in Baghdad on June 7, Brett McGurk, US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, maintained that the US military presence in and around Al-Tanf (near Syrian-Iraqi border) is purely temporary. While explaining the rationale for the recent US attacks on the Syrian government forces in that area, McGurk claimed that the US mission is to fight the ISIS in Syria and “when the fight against Daesh is over, we won’t be there.” But then, one thing that the Qatar crisis has shown is that the Trump administration can be diabolical.

On the other hand, Syrian government forces are interested in regaining control of their country’s border with Iraq. President Bashar Al-Assad has repeatedly insisted that he intends to regain control of the whole of Syria. And there are sufficient indications that the Syrian government forces are being deployed to regain the vast, vacant, lawless spaces in eastern Syria bordering Iraq. This Syrian military thrust has been interpreted by some commentators as aimed at opening a land route across Iraq all the way to Iran through which Tehran can beef up Hezbollah. The assumption here is that a 1000-kilometre long land bridge connecting Damascus with Tehran (via al-Tanf and Baghdad) serves the purpose.

A commentary by the Brussels-based think tank European Council on Foreign Relations – US must avoid a war with Iran in eastern Syria – cautions the Trump administration that it is bound to lose in any rivalry with Iran over control of the Syrian-Iraqi border. However, Israel is betting on a US-Iranian conflagration and it remains to be seen how far the Trump administration can withstand the pressure from the Jewish lobby.

Meanwhile, latest reports suggest that Iraqi government forces and Sunni fighters have taken control of the border crossing near Al-Tanf inside Iraq (known as al-Waleed border crossing). A Reuters report has interpreted this development as in effect “preventing Iranian-backed forces supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from receiving heavy weaponry from Iran by using the main highway between Iraq and Syria.” Quite obviously, a US-Iranian contestation is building up in southern Syria.

In sum, Israel might be getting what it seeks, but it is another matter altogether whether it is going to like the final outcome of the struggle between the US and Iran over control of southern Syria near Golan Heights. It is improbable that Iran will give up the ‘axis of resistance’ because it is ultimately about Iran’s own defence. Read an incisive analysis by the Middle East Eye on the joint Israeli-US game plan to work in tandem with ISIS to pile pressure on Iran to pull back from the Syrian and Iraqi theatres — The CIA and Islamic State: Iran’s twin threats.

June 18, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US-Led Coalition Shoots Down Syrian Army Aircraft – Reports

Sputnik – 18.06.2017

The US-led anti-terrorist coalition has reportedly shot down a Syrian government forces’ aircraft.

Syrian Arab Army announced that the US-led anti-terrorist coalition had brought down its aircraft in southern Raqqa countryside, Syrian media reported citing a statement by the Syrian Defence Ministry.

According to the report, the Syrian jet fighter was carrying out military tasks fighting Daesh terrorist organization.

“Our aircraft was downed at lunch time today near the [Syrian] city of Raqqa, when it was fulfilling its mission against the IS,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the US-led coalition was responsible for downing the aircraft.

The ministry noted that the coalition’s “actions are aimed at halting the Syrian army and its allies in the fight against terrorism, whereas our army and allies make great progress.”

According to the ministry, the pilot of the aircraft has not been found to date.

This is not the first time the US-led coalition’s activities in Raqqa cause casualties. Syrian media reported earlier that at least 43 civilians were killed as a result of the US-led coalition airstrike in the region. The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned the airstrikes and sent two letters the UN secretary general and the head of the UN Security Council, in which the coalition’s actions were compared to Daesh crimes. Just a few days later, the Lebanese media reported that the coalition’s airstrikes killed more than 30 civilians more near Raqqa.

Raqqa has been under the control of Daesh since 2013, and is the de-facto capital of the self-proclaimed Daesh caliphate. The operation to retake Raqqa, conducted by a coalition consisting of almost 70 countries, has been on-going since November 2016. The strikes in Syria are not authorized by the UN Security Council or the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

June 18, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Colombia: Bogota Mall Explosion Leaves 3 Dead, 11 Injured

ELN: “There are those who try to tear apart the peace process”

teleSUR | June 18, 2017

Colombian authorities searched Sunday for the perpetrators of a bombing at a major upscale shopping center in Bogota that killed three and left nine others injured in an attack Saturday some have suggested could be an attempt to benefit from fear in the country [which is] implementing peace after more than half a century of civil war.

Authorities reported that an explosion hit a second-floor women’s bathroom at the Andino Commercial Center in Bogota on Saturday night. The shopping center, one of the busiest in the country, was evacuated, while President Juan Manuel Santos returned to the capital from the northern coastal city of Barranquilla to respond to the blast.

“This is a vile, cruel, cowardly act and we are not going to rest until those responsible are captured,” Santos said, adding that there were no indications that another attack was planned in Bogota. The president also expressed solidarity with the victims, while Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa described the incident as a “cowardly terrorist attack.”

Both the FARC and the ELN, the country’s two largest guerrilla groups, condemned the attack and voiced support for the victims.

“Solidarity with the victims in Bogota today,” FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, also known as Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko, wrote on his Twitter account Saturday to 95,400 followers. “This act can only come from those who want to close the paths to peace and reconciliation.”

The bombing comes just days before the FARC is set to hand over the last of its weapons to a U.N. monitoring mission as part of a historic peace agreement reached with the government last year paving the way for the guerrilla’s disarmament and transition into a legal political party.

The ELN, currently in peace talks with the government, also responded to the attack.

“ELN Peace repudiates the attack against civilians in the Andino Commercial Center. We share the pain and express solidarity with the victims,” the group’s peace delegation wrote on its Twitter account Saturday to 27,600 followers.

The active rebel army — which has yet to reach a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the government and who claimed responsibility for a bombing outside a bull ring in Bogota in February — was quick to be signaled as a possible suspect in the attack, an assumption the group rejected in its response to the bombing.

“ELN Peace calls for seriousness from those who make unfounded and reckless accusations; there are those who try to tear apart the peace process,” the ELN peace delegation continued, calling for a thorough investigation.

“The ELN will never again carry actions whose objective is to affect the civilian population,” the statement concluded.

The three victims of the attack included a 23-year-old French national, identified as Julie Hunh, who had reportedly been in Colombia for the past six months doing volunteer work.

The U.S. Embassy in Bogota offered condolences in a series of tweets, saying that it is standing by to “provide any support requested by the Colombian authorities.”

June 18, 2017 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , , | 1 Comment

US, allies sponsor Daesh: Adviser to Syria’s Assad

Bouthaina Shaaban, political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Press TV – June 18, 2017

A political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accused the US and its allies of financing and arming the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in a bid to tear the region apart and deplete its resources.

Bouthaina Shaaban made the remarks in a statement to journalists after meeting with visiting China’s Special Envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan and the accompanying delegation in Damascus on Saturday.

While the US and its allies sponsor Daesh, the alliance supported by Russia and China stands against the expansion of terrorism in the Arab country, Shaaban said.

Russian and China, two of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, have vetoed resolutions against the Syrian government that is battling foreign-sponsored terrorists since 2011.

There are UNSC resolutions, under which those responsible for committing, organizing and supporting terror acts as well as facilitating the movement of terrorists must be held accountable, but these motions have not been implemented at all, the Syrian official noted.

UNSC Resolution 2253, adopted unanimously in December 2015, covers asset freeze, travel ban, arms embargo and listing criteria for Daesh, al-Qaeda militants and “associated individuals, groups, undertaking and entities.”

Elsewhere in her remarks, Shaaban said that the Syrian army and its allies had recently managed to reach the Syria-Iraq border and “dealt a severe blow to the terrorists” through unified efforts, underlining the importance of strengthening communication between the two neighbors in that regard.

Washington’s agenda intersects with that of Daesh, which serves the interests of Israel, she added.

The Syrian official also denounced as unjustified the US deployment of rocket launchers to southern Syria and its attacks on the army positions.

Earlier this week, Russia said the US had deployed the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers from Jordan to its base in the Syrian town of At-Tanf, warning that the equipment could be used against Syrian government forces.

Additionally, on two occasions in June and May, US warplanes attacked a Syrian military position near At-Tanf, killing an unspecified number of people and causing some material damage.

The US claimed that the Syrian forces who came under the attack posed a threat to its forces in Syria.

The Syrian army denounced the assaults, saying they demonstrated US support for terrorism, at a time when the Syrian army and its allies were making gains against Daesh militants.

June 18, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment