Takfiri Daesh terrorists have launched a fresh push to retake Palmyra in Syria’s Homs Province shortly after the US launched a missile strike on an airfield used by the Syrian army to protect the ancient city.
According to the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV channel, Daesh terrorists took advantage of the US attack on Shayrat Airfield, located southeast of Homs city, on Friday and attacked Palmyra, killing four people.
Sources on the ground said the offensive was successfully repelled by the Syrian army.
Since 2014, when Daesh unleashed its campaign of terror in Syria, the group has seized Palmyra twice but the army liberated it once last year and the second time in March.
The US military fired some 60 cruise missiles at the army airbase, inflicting “big material damage” on the facility, which was used by the Syrian army to defend southern regions, including the cities of Palmyra, al-Qaryatayn and Mahin in Homs Province.
Foreign-backed terrorist groups welcomed the strike, but urged additional action, with one major faction saying a single strike was “not enough.”
“Hitting one airbase is not enough, there are 26 airbases that target civilians,” a key figure in the Jaysh al-Islam faction, Mohamed Alloush, said on his Twitter account.
Mohamed Bayrakdar, another leader of the terrorist group which operates mainly around the capital Damascus, described the strike as “a bold and correct step.”
Other Takfiri groups also called for continued military action against the Syrian government.
“In my opinion, the message is political, and the message has arrived to Russia and been understood,” Issam Raes, spokesman for the Southern Front terrorist faction, told AFP.
Colonel Ahmed Osman, of the Turkey-backed Sultan Murad militant group, said: “We welcome any action that will put an end to the regime that is committing the worst crimes in history.”
Reports say there were 40 hangers for Sukhoi and Mikoyan warplanes in the airfield, which Syria had recently received from Russia.
Given the strategic location of the airfield, Syria and Russia were recently considering plans to upgrade the airbase to deploy advanced aircraft and Russia’s S-400 air defense systems at Shayrat.
Later on Friday, the Kremlin cited Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying that the US missile attack on the Syrian airbase has violated international law and significantly harmed Russia-US relations.
The US launched the military strike on Shayrat airfield in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib Province earlier this week.
Syria has categorically denied carrying out a chemical attack. Russia has also said the deaths in Idlib were caused when a Syrian airstrike struck a terrorist warehouse used for making bombs with toxic substances.
The Pentagon said the Russians deployed to the targeted military facility were given prior notice, and that attack did not hit sections of the airbase where Moscow’s forces were reportedly present.
According to al-Mayadeen, the Syrian army had evacuated most of its warplanes from Shayrat airfield before the US attack.
Washington’s assault was met with strong condemnations from Russia, Syria and Iran.
The foreign-backed National Coalition, an alliance of terrorist groups, however said it “welcomes the strike” and urged Washington to neutralize Syria’s ability to carry out air raids.
Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, along with their Western allies, joined the militants and voiced support for the militants.
Israel is likely to try to retain the existing status quo in Syria since it has benefited from the ongoing conflict in the war-torn neighboring nation, political analyst Sergei Balmasov asserted, saying that Tel Aviv’s combat missions are not aimed at President Bashar al-Assad, but are rather meant to prevent the crisis from being resolved.
“Israel is deeply interested in the ongoing standoff between the Sunnis and the Shia. Tel Aviv wants them to continue killing each other. Nothing presents a threat to Israel as long as this war is ongoing. The Israeli Air Force launches airstrikes against Shia militias in Syria, tipping the balance. This evens out the chances and the war drags on,” he told RT.
Balmasov, an expert at the Middle East Institute at the Russian International Affairs Council, also suggested that Israel could use a border incident to move its forces into southern Syria.
“One could not rule out that Israel does not deploy its troops to the southern buffer zone which borders the Golan Heights to create a territorial entity on the basis of Druze settlements using some kind of an incident as a pretext,” he said.
Israel has largely refrained from taking an active part in the devastating Syrian conflict, but has occasionally sent its warplanes to launch airstrikes on Hezbollah in a bid to eliminate its leaders and destroy its weapons. Several such missions are reported to have taken place in recent days in what marks the most serious incident between Tel Aviv and Damascus since the 2011 foreign-sponsored insurgency in Syria morphed into a large-scale war.
It started on Friday, with the Israeli Air Force launching airstrikes on several Hezbollah targets near the Syrian city of Palmyra, close to an area where Russian experts have been engaged in demining efforts following the successful campaign to push Daesh out of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The operation prompted the Syrian Arab Army to launch three anti-aircraft missiles at the departing Israeli planes, with Israel’s Arrow missile defense system intercepting one of the projectiles.
The incident sparked a war of words among high-ranking officials on both sides. On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman pledged that Tel Aviv would destroy all Syrian air defense systems “without thinking twice” should a similar situation occur in the future. Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Tel Aviv would continue to carry out airstrikes on convoys suspected of transferring advanced weapons to Hezbollah.President Bashar al-Assad reiterated that it was Damascus’ right and duty to defend Syrian borders.
“Why has Israel squared off against the Syrian Arab Army? Israel views the SAA’s links to Hezbollah as unacceptable. Tel Aviv is concerned that the group could become stronger,” Irina Zvyagelskaya, a senior research fellow at the Center for Arab and Islamic Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies, told RT.
Israel considers Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization and views the Lebanon-based Shia movement, one of Assad’s key allies in Damascus’s war against Daesh, to be one of the top security threats.
Over the past two decades, the Kosovar government has spent over $2 billion on payments to former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) paramilitary organization. Kosovo received the money from the United States and the European Union and since 2009 mostly from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Kosovo Liberation Army was formed during the mid-1990s by Kosovo Albanians seeking independence from Serbia and the creation of a monoethnic state. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.
There have been numerous reports of abuses and war crimes committed by KLA members during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war, including massacres of civilians, prisons camps, allegations of organ theft etc. A special court in The Hague has been established to investigate those crimes. According to different estimates, currently at least 500 KLA veterans are fighting in the ranks of Daesh in Syria.
“Compared to the entire population of Kosovo, this number is the fifth-largest among other European countries. Many of the KLA veterans fighting for Daesh receive payments from the Kosovar budget which [is] regularly funded by the US, the EU and the IMF,” journalist Brankica Ristic wrote for Sputnik Serbia.
Currently, there are 46,000 KLA veterans in Kosovo. A list was made up to identify those who deserve pensions from the budget. The IMF unveiled €106 million ($113 million) for the initiative.
The first payments were made in 2015. Some 12,000 former KLA members, who fought against the Yugoslavian government and law enforcement agencies in the 1990s, received €170 ($181) each.
However, since that time the number of officially registered veterans has increased fourfold. Pristina had to ask the IMF to unveil more funds. The Kosovar budget for 2017 is €2 billion ($2.1 billion), including money to transform the Kosovo security forces into full-fledged armed forces, which will be funded by the IMF. However, the IMF does not want to give money for pensions for 46,000 KLA veterans. The fund asked Pristina to clarify the number of veterans. The government hopes that if the IMF rejects giving the money the US could do [so]. But the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election has put this into question.
“After the 1999 war Kosovo received $3.8 billion of international aid. According to different sources, between 2000 and 2010 the region received up to $40 billion. Part of this money could have been paid to those fighting now in the ranks of Daesh,” the journalist wrote.
Ammunition supplied by the United States and Saudi Arabia to moderate Syrian opposition groups has been found in the possession of Daesh terrorist group, representatives of a UK-based organization monitoring weapons movement said.
The Conflict Armament Research (CAR) investigators work in the areas recently liberated from Daesh and its research shows that ammunition boxes left by the jihadists can be traced back to factories in Eastern Europe, the BBC reported Monday, citing CAR team leader James Bevan.
Inquiries by Bevan’s team indicated that the factory orders could be traced back to the United States and Saudi Arabia. Ammunition was then shipped to southern Turkey en route to opposition groups in northern Syria.
“Their procurement networks reach out into southern Turkey and they obviously have a series of very strong relationships with very big distributors,” Bevan told the BBC.
The ammunition then found its way into Daesh hands, eventually ending up in Iraq, where Daesh is fighting US-backed government troops. Ammunition boxes in question were found starting late 2015 in Tikrit, Ramadi, Falluja and Mosul, according to CAR.
CAR estimated that the speed of procurement was some two months between factory and the final destination in Iraq. The organization’s report has yet to be published.
Daesh, a militant jihadist organization outlawed in many countries, including the United States and Russia, took over vast swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014 amid the ongoing Syrian civil war.
The US Train and Equip Program aimed at moderate Syrian rebels was canceled in October 2015 after a number of US-trained forces were quickly overrun by extremists while the US-provided weapons were reportedly handed over to the terrorist groups. A part of the US-trained forces defected and fought on the side of terrorists.
Both the United States and the United Kingdom have recently decided to resume training programs in Syria.
US President-elect Donald Trump has indicated that tackling Daesh will be a key priority for the incoming administration, prompting many to say that Washington will withdraw its tacit support of the Syrian rebels and work with Damascus instead. Professor Alexander Azadgan told Radio Sputnik that these are “good signals.”
“He had some interesting general policy statements, but as you know the devil is in the details. We’ll have to see how he actually implements even the generalities that he talked about,” Azadgan, Professor of Strategic Global Management and International Political Economy, said. “These are good signals. However, saying that ‘we are going to fight [Daesh]’, that’s not good enough. Everybody is fighting [Daesh], even Washington’s fighting [Daesh].”
The analyst urged policymakers in Washington to “change their vocabulary” when it comes to Syria, particularly the Syrian rebels.
“There is no such thing as a Syrian rebel. We’ve got to throw [this word combination] out of our vocabulary. There are mercenary, lunatic Wahhabis from everywhere around the world, especially Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. They are neither Syrian, nor rebels. They are terrorists and savages.”
Trump appears to have questioned the concept last week when he said that “now we’re backing rebels against Syria and we have no idea who these people are.”
Azadgan expressed concern that Washington was not ready to listen to other countries with regard to resolving the Syrian crisis.
“I don’t think that Washington has good will to want to compromise or have some kind of fruitful negotiation. I think they are just buying time. Every time Washington says that they are going to negotiate, they create a false flag operation, like the bombing of a Syrian convoy that happened two months ago,” he said. “I don’t think they are interested in peace whatsoever. They are into prolonging this conflict. … It’s very dangerous. And war, even planned war, never goes right.”
The analyst was referring to an attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy in mid-September, a week after a ceasefire brokered by Russian and American diplomats had entered into force. The incident took place near Aleppo, with the US swiftly blaming Moscow and Damascus. The Russian Defense Ministry provided detailed information disproving these allegations.
Azadgan suggested that Washington’s foreign policy could change once Trump is sworn in as the next US president. “We could reason that maybe Washington has realized that these policies are unsustainable and that they are going to have some face-saving change in policy. We have to talk about this potential,” he said.
The analyst further compared the present-day situation with regard to Syria to Serbia a century ago, saying that we are at a dangerous stage when global powers have taken different sides in a local conflict, which could have global implications.
Trump’s apparent willingness to limit to an extent Washington’s engagement overseas is a good sign.
“If you have cooler heads in Washington, if you have people expressing slight forms of isolationism, this is good for world peace. More importantly this is good for American taxpayers who have seen their taxes being plundered in the Middle East by policymakers, who are illiterate, imperialistic and hegemonic.”
US President Barack Obama has just given the Pentagon orders to assassinate commanders of the Al Nusra terror network in Syria. American media reports over the weekend say the new urgency arises from US intelligence fears that al Qaeda-affiliated groups are preparing to mount terror attacks against Western targets from strongholds in Syria.
The purported US «kill list» will be acted on through drone strikes and «intelligence assets». The latter refers, presumably, to US special forces that are already operating in northern Syria alongside Turkish military.
Last week, a similar announcement was carried in the British press, which reported that elite British SAS troops had received orders to kill up to 200 jihadi volunteers from Britain who are suspected to be active in Syria (and Iraq). Again, the same rationale was invoked as in the latest American plan. That the assassination program was to pre-empt terror attacks rebounding on Western states.
A British defense official was quoted as saying that the mission could be the most important ever undertaken by the SAS in its entire 75-year history. «The hunt is on», said the official, «to take out some very bad people».
Significantly, too, the British SAS kill operations in Syria are reportedly being carried out as part of a «multinational effort». That suggests that the Pentagon’s initiative reported this weekend is being coordinated with the British.
However, there is something decidedly odd about this sudden determination by the Americans and British to eliminate terrorists in Syria.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011, US, British and other NATO forces have shown meagre success in delivering on official claims of combating al Qaeda-linked terror groups, such as Islamic State (IS, ISIS or Daesh) and Jabhat al Nusra (also known as Jabhat al Fatal al Sham).
A straightforward explanation for this apparent anomaly is that the US and its NATO allies are in reality covertly working with these terror networks as proxies for regime change against the Assad government – a longtime ally of Russia and Iran. What Washington refers to as «moderate rebels» whom it supports are in reality serving as conduits for arms and funds to the known terror groups. In this context, the terror groups have been Western assets in the regime-change war. Therefore, there has been no incentive to liquidate these assets – until now that is. Why now is the telling question.
The recent ceasefire debacles in the battleground northern city of Aleppo have demonstrated a systematic Western terror link. The failure by Washington to deliver on its commitment to separate so-called moderates from extremists is clear evidence that the alleged dichotomy is a hoax. The plain fact is that the US-backed «rebels» are fully integrated with the terror groups. That is, the US and its allies are sponsors of terrorism in Syria.
This has led to the reasonable charge by the Russian government that the US is supporting al Nusra, despite the latter being an internationally proscribed terrorist organization at the heart of the so-called American «war on terror». That charge has been corroborated by claims made by Nusra commanders who say that they have been receiving covert weapons supplies from the Americans. It is also substantiated by recent finds of US weaponry among terrorist dens that have been over-run by the Syrian Arab Army.
So, the question is: what is this latest urgency from the Pentagon to wipe out Nusra’s leadership in Syria really about?
First, let’s note that the implied precision of terrorist «kill lists» that the Americans and British are suddenly working on seems incongruous given that these NATO powers have up to now apparently been unable to furnish Russia with coordinates for extremist bases in Syria.
The Russian Ministry of Defense disclosed last week that the Americans have not provided a single scrap of information on the location of terrorist groups in Syria. The US was obliged to share intelligence on extremist positions as part of the ceasefire plans resolved in September by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
That then marks a seeming curious shift. From not being able to provide any intelligence on terror groups, now we are told in a different context that the US and its British counterpart are urgently moving ahead to carry out decapitation strikes on Nusra and ISIS commanders.
On the British side, reports said that a kill list of hundreds of British jihadis had been drawn up by the intelligence services of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. Why wasn’t this information shared before with Russia, as part of the Kerry-Lavrov accord?
Timing is also another telling factor. Obama’s announced order to the Pentagon to ramp up assassination of Nusra leaders comes in the wake of the shock presidential election victory for Donald Trump. Trump’s election last week was an outcome that completely blindsided the White House and the Washington establishment, who thought that Democrat rival Hillary Clinton was a safe bet.
The abrupt US impetus to neutralize Nusra cadres also comes as the Russian navy flotilla takes up position in the Mediterranean off Syria. The flotilla is led by the aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, along with destroyers equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles. The naval formation has been described as the biggest Russian deployment since the end of the Cold War 25 years ago. It will greatly enhance Russia’s air power which already has over the past year transformed the Syrian war into an eminent defeat for the Western-backed insurgents.
Now that nearly three weeks of Russia’s unilateral cessation in air strikes on terror targets in Syria has elapsed to no avail for a surrender by the insurgents, it is anticipated that Russian air power and Syrian forces on the ground are readying for a final, decisive offensive to vanquish the Western-backed proxy war.
President-elect Trump has stated on several occasions his approval of Russian and Syrian anti-terror efforts, unlike the Obama administration, which has sought to hamper them by accusing Moscow and Damascus of «war crimes» against civilians. Russia has rejected those claims as false. It points to recent initiatives to set up humanitarian corridors in Aleppo as evidence that it is trying to minimize civilian casualties. It is the US-backed militants who have sabotaged the humanitarian efforts.
In any case, Trump’s accession to the White House can be expected to give Russia a freer hand to bring the Syrian war to a close. And as noted, increased Russian military forces appear to be poised for this final push.
This is perhaps where the real significance of the latest Pentagon and British terrorist kill program is evinced. If we accept the plausible and proven premise that the Americans and their NATO allies have been covertly funding, arming and directing jihadi terror proxies, then one can expect that there is plenty of evidence within the terrorist ranks of such state-sponsoring criminal connections.
As Russian and Syrian forces eradicate the terrorist remnants one can anticipate that a trove of highly indicting information will be uncovered that grievously imputes Washington, London, Paris and others in Syria’s dirty war. Among the finds too will be hundreds of Nusra and other terrorist operatives who may be willing to testify as to who their handlers were. A huge can of worms awaits to be prized open.
To pre-empt such devastating evidence of Western culpability in waging a covert criminal war in Syria, the Pentagon and its British partner appear to be dispatching their elite troops to perform a little bit of «house cleaning». That cleaning may involve whacking jihadis who know too much.
No wonder the British official said it could the most important mission for the SAS in its 75-year history. Washington and London’s neck is on the line.
Syria has released footage of American- and Israeli-made weapons seized by the Syrian army from Takfiri militants in the capital, Damascus.
Syria’s official news agency said Sunday that the Syrian army units had confiscated the weapons in the town of Khan al-Shih in the countryside of Damascus.
The Syrian government says the Tel Aviv regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding the Takfiri militant groups fighting against Damascus.
On April 28, Syrian officials and locals confiscated a vehicle loaded with Israeli-manufactured weapons bound for the Takfiri Daesh terrorists in the Arab country’s southern province of Suwayda.
The vehicle, which was coming from eastern Dara’a Province, was heading to the eastern Badiya desert.
Anti-personnel landmines, RPG launcher and rounds, B9 shells, 120-mm, 80-mm, and 60-mm mortars, grenades and 23-mm machine-gun rounds were among the weapons confiscated back then.
Earlier in April, popular defense groups in Suwayda also seized a car packed with RPG rounds and other shells on their way to the Badiya desert.
Israel has also been treating the wounded militants from Syria in its medical centers and hospitals. Syrian sources have frequently reported that, after receiving treatment at the Israeli hospitals, the militants return to Syria to continue their acts of sabotage and terror.
Israel has spent millions of dollars for the treatment of the militants injured in fighting with Syrian government forces, documents from Israeli hospitals show.
A senior Iranian official says the US and West intend to partition countries in the Middle East, warning that the breakup of Muslim states will lead to “dangerous” consequences.
“What is pursued by the US and Western countries is to partition Syria into four parts and the same issue is also envisaged for Iraq to be divided into three parts and also for Yemen to be divided into at least two parts,” Ali Akbar Velayati, senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs, said in a meeting with a Tunisian parliamentary delegation in Tehran on Saturday.
He added that the disintegration of Muslim countries would lead to “dangerous consequences and outcomes.”
“Terrorists and extremists are a tool in the hands of the Americans and the Zionists, supported by them. The aim of terrorism and arrogant powers is to weaken and partition Muslim countries,” the senior Iranian official said.
He pointed to the dangerous conditions and the presence of terrorists in the region and said, “There is an undesirable and dangerous situation surrounding Tunisia, which has led to insecurity in the region.”
Velayati emphasized that Muslim countries have great resources and can potentially become an important part of the world power, warning; however, that they could turn into “ineffective governments” in case of their division.
He expressed hope that the ongoing wars in Iraq and Syria as well as conflicts in regional countries would end.
Gruesome violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq ever since Daesh terrorists mounted an offensive there more than two years ago, and took control of portions of Iraqi territory.
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which started in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says terrorists have created chaos in the Middle East, adding that the continuation of conflicts and acts of terror will serve the Israeli regime’s interests.
“The [critical] situation and chaos in the region has been created by a number of terrorists and the enemy does not want this chaos to end,” Larijani said on Saturday.
He added that all Muslim countries, including Syria, Yemen and Iraq, are entangled in conflicts and only the Israeli regime benefits from such a chaotic situation.
“Superpowers formed an anti-terror coalition in coordination with 60 countries but since they do not want to see the end of wars in the region and regard such an end as detrimental to the Zionist regime [of Israel], they are fanning the flames of tensions in the region,” Larijani said.
He noted that even American and Israeli experts and strategists have confirmed that the current conflicts in the Muslim world best serve the interests of the Zionists and that any success by Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, would be detrimental to them.
The top Iranian parliamentarian added that whenever promising prospects emerge for putting an end to the regional conflicts, the world powers rush to hold meetings and try to prolong the crises.
He said these powers have reinforced their links with terrorist groups operating in regional countries and are covertly providing them with weapons and military equipment.
Since March 2011, Syria has been hit by militancy it blames on some Western states and their regional allies. The Syrian military is engaged in an operation to rid the country of Daesh and other terrorist groups.
Over the past months, Syria has managed to recapture swathes of land from Daesh and other groups in the east and north of the country. The Syrian military has used the assistance of fighters from Hezbollah as well as advisory military support from Iran. Russia also helps Syria in the fight against terrorists through a series of coordinated airstrikes on their positions.
This is while Iraqi army troops, backed by fighters from allied Popular Mobilization Units, have been engaged in military operations to win back regions held by Daesh and have managed to liberate most of these areas.
The militants have been committing heinous crimes against all ethnic and religious communities in the northern and western parts of Iraq.
Turkish jets have reportedly not taken part in the Euphrates Shield operation in neighboring Syria for a week now over the fears of being shot down by local air defenses after Damascus promised to prevent any aerial incursions.
Ankara halted air support for its ground incursion into Syria on October 22, after Damascus vowed to shoot down Turkish Air Force planes over Syrian skies, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity. The official added that the coalition forces have also decreased the number of flights in northern Syria.
Syria’s air defense capabilities have been widely boosted after Russia deployed its mobile S-400 and S-300 missile batteries earlier this year to protect its personnel on the ground. Russian hardware has the ability to shoot down planes and cruise missiles over at least 250 miles (402km) in all directions from western Syria.
Two days before Turkey halted its military flights over Syria, Damascus, which called the Turkish invasion a violation of national sovereignty, warned that it would shoot down any Turkish warplanes.
“Any attempt to once again breach Syrian airspace by Turkish warplanes will be dealt with and they will be brought down by all means available,” warned Damascus on October 20. The presence of Turkish troops in Syria is a “dangerous escalation and flagrant breach of Syria’s sovereignty”
The response from Damascus came after Turkish planes targeted Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the fighting wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), near al-Bab in northern Aleppo the day before.
Turkish forces crossed into Syria on August 24, under the pretext of targeting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) positions along the border. Turkey has been supporting the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the ground.
In addition to jihadist fighters, the Turkish troops involved in Operation Euphrates Shield also engaged the YPG militia, part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). One of Turkey’s primary objectives in the operation is to block the path of Kurdish forces trying to form a link between their Afrin and Kobani cantons. Syrian rebels, with the help of the Turkish military, are slowly making their way across northern Aleppo province.
The source told the Turkish daily that the pace of the offensive has been largely impacted by the lack of air support. The FSA’s advance toward Al-Bab has faltered due to the lack of Turkish airstrikes, he said, pointing out that Turkish offensive only secured 5km in the last three days.
Earlier in the week Turkey’s military accused the Syrian government forces of attacking FSA fighters in the city of Marea in northern Aleppo province. Despite the attack which allegedly killed two rebels, Ankara promised to proceed with the operation.
“We will not stop fighting against the Daesh [Arabic pejorative term for IS] terrorist group due to the regime forces’ attacks. The Euphrates Shield operation will be continued until retaking of the city of al-Bab in order to create a security zone for the return of refugees,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday.
On Friday, Turkish General Staff said in a statement that the FSA had managed to capture around 164 residential districts since the beginning of the operation, which on Saturday entered its 67th day.
At the beginning of October, the Turkish parliament extended cross-border military operations into Syria and Iraq against Kurdish and IS forces for another year.
The US military has dramatically increased the number of its airstrikes in Libya in less than a month, new data shows, further cementing President Barack Obama’s record of taking more military action than any other American president.
American fighter jets and drones stationed aboard the amphibious assault vessel USS Wasp off the Libyan coast, have so far carried out 324 airstrikes in the country, according to data by the Pentagon’s Africa Command, which leads the operation.
This is more than two times the 161 air raids that the US had carried out in Libya until September 21.
According to a report by Reuters, American aircraft had conducted more than 30 strikes across Libya between Saturday and Monday.
Washington began the air campaign on August 1, under the pretext of taking out the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri terrorists, who rose to power in the oil-rich country after the NATO-backed ousting and death of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Initially, the White House had claimed that the bombing campaign would be focused on the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, which fell to Daesh last year, and would end in a few “weeks.”
However, Obama silently extended the prolonged campaign for another month in late September.
The military intervention is likely to continue over the next months, as indicated by a US military official in a Fox News interview on Monday.
“We continue to work with GNA (the Government of National Accord) aligned forces as they clear through Sirte and we now have better intelligence,” the official told Fox on the condition of anonymity.
In addition to the bombing campaign, US troops have also been “in and out” of Libya, according to Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Gordon Trowbridge.
The Obama administration has set a new record in terms of military intervention abroad, carrying out airstrikes and ground operations in at least seven countries, namely Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Libya.
Earlier this year, Obama regretted meddling in Libya as his “worst mistake,” because it led to a power vacuum that gave rise to terrorist groups in the country.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, addresses a ceremony on October 11, 2016 on the occasion of Tasu’a.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, has warned of plots by the US, Saudi Arabia and their regional allies to partition Syria in order to serve the Israeli regime’s interests in the Middle East.
The “real goal” of the countries that have neither democracy nor elections was not democracy or elections in Syria, Nasrallah said on Tuesday.
“The goal was for Syria to fall and be fragmented and be ripped apart” in line with Israel’s interests, he added.
Nasrallah made the remarks at the Sayyed al-Shohada Complex in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on the ninth day of the lunar month of Muharram, Tasu’a, the eve of the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam, and his 72 companions.
He said the Daesh Takfiri militants and al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra, “are being used to serve and achieve US and Israeli goals.”
Nasrallah further noted that the US seeks to concentrate Daesh terrorists in eastern Syria, adding that Washington is allowing and “opening the roads for” Daesh militants to flee from Iraq into Syria.
He cited the recent “deliberate action” by the US to launch airstrikes against Syrian army positions in eastern Syria as an example of Washington’s attempts to boost Daesh in the region, adding, “US raids on Dayr al-Zawr were targeting the Syrian army positions so that the whole area would fall to Daesh.”
The Hezbollah leader said, “All those who are defending Syria defend the Resistance and look forward to a political solution and not to more bloodshed,” but “US, Saudi Arabia and some regional states are demanding crippling conditions to neutralize the political solutions.”
Pointing to a recent abortive truce deal between the US and Russia on Syria, the Hezbollah chief said Washington withdrew from the agreement because it called for the separation of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham from other militant groups and the identification and targeting of Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham positions.
Nasrallah said the US, Saudi Arabia and their regional allies are obstructing a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria and the easing of the sufferings of the Syrian people.
He expressed regret that “more escalation and tensions” is on the horizon in Syria, but called for “perseverance and firm stance” in order to counter the plots of the country’s enemies.
The Hezbollah chief said Syria’s foes sought “a decisive victory within a few weeks” but have faced stiff resistance from the Syrian government and nation and their allies for over five years.
Sana’a carnage major scandal for Saudi Arabia
In another part of his speech, Nasrallah pointed to the recent bloody air raid by Saudi Arabia on a funeral hall in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a and said the strike was a major scandal for Al Saud regime.
Hezbollah leader said some media circles had noted that his remarks on Saudi attack in Sana’a would affect chances of Michel Aoun becoming Lebanon’s next president, which could end a political crisis in the country.
Noting that the demand was tantamount to political blackmail, Nasrallah added, “Even [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon has condemned this strike, although he has always been silent, so how do you want me to remain silent?”
Nasrallah added that the Saudi regime committed a “historic mistake” in Yemen by thinking that it could emerge victorious from the battle within weeks.
The Hezbollah chief condemned the international community’s silence on the bombardment of Yemen by Saudi warplanes and said the world must convince Riyadh that it cannot win this war.
He emphasized that the Sana’a massacre must provide a motive for ending the war in Yemen and added that the Saudi regime has no option but to accept the political solution.
“Saudi Arabia’s insistence on carrying on with the war will not only make it lose Yemen, but will also make it lose itself. The current Saudi leadership is pushing the kingdom to the brink of the abyss,” Nasrallah pointed out, recommending the Saudi rulers to come to their senses.
All parties must preserve Lebanon’s peace and security
The Hezbollah secretary general further stressed the importance of preserving security, stability and civil in Lebanon, describing them as the “pillars of everything,” and adding, “Despite their differences, the Lebanese have managed to preserve security, stability and peace.”
Nasrallah stated that Lebanon has entered a positive political phase during the past few weeks with regard to the presidential election.
“We support and welcome any positive political developments regarding the presidency and we will acknowledge the efforts and courage of anyone who makes efforts in this regard,” Nasrallah pointed out.
He noted that Hezbollah has always pursued a clear stance on Lebanon’s presidential election, adding, “We support every positive political change, which may solve the presidency challenge.”
Hezbollah leader concluded his remarks by stressing the importance of supporting the Lebanese army without any political reservations.