- Jihadists recover several areas they lost in southern Aleppo
- Israel, Arab leaders urged US to bomb Iran – Kerry
- Watch the Syrian Army operation that led to the big advance in southern Aleppo
- Macron announces plans of ‘military action’ in Libya
- VIDEO: Syria’s most important offensive against ISIS led by Iran’s best commander
- Breaking: Top Al-Qaeda leader ripped to pieces by assassin gunfire in Idlib
- Russia demands revision of cross-border humanitarian operations in Syria
- Syrian President attends prayer in observance of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday
- Elite Syrian Army division to head operation in Idlib
- Turkish Army hammers Kurdish heartland in northwest Aleppo ahead of planned offensive
- Lebanese actor officially indicted for collaborating with Israel
- Syrian security forces foil terrorist attack in Homs
- Three reasons why Turkey needs to establish direct dialogue with Damascus
- US-led coalition tries to hide grave consequences of Raqqa operation – Russian envoy
- Omar Khribin becomes first Syrian to be named Asian Player of the Year
- Watch the Syrian Army’s advance in southern Aleppo
- Crisis in Lebanon to end soon, Hariri to stay Prime Minister, says President Aoun
- Jihadists launch large counter-attack in southern Aleppo to recapture lost towns
- Saudi Army’s attempt to recapture town near Yemeni border ends in disaster – video
- Syrian Army lures Al-Qaeda into unwinnable battle in northeast Hama
- Eastern Ghouta pasta factory reaches full capacity for first time since war’s onset – video
- Russian defense minister arrives in Egypt
- Syrian Army liberates large area along western bank of Euphrates River – video
- North Korea announces new missile could ‘hit entire US mainland’ – video
- Syrian Army’s elite division prepares for next battle
- ISIS makes its final stand against the Syrian Army in the least expected place
- Putin favors Palestinian state with capital in East Jerusalem
- ISIS vows to fight to the last man in Iraq: battle video
- Russia to keep S-400 missiles in Tartous, Hmaymim Airport
- Pentagon, White House aids to foil Trump’s plan to stop arming Syrian Kurds, opposition
- Russian airstrikes pulverize jihadist positions in northern Hama
- Gulf crisis creates opportunity for asian nations
- Russian military to remain active in Syria
- Syrian government delegation arrives in Geneva for UN-sponsored peace talks
- Breaking: Egyptian President orders army to clear Sinai Peninsula of terrorists within 3 months
- Iranian Navy unveils its new achievements
- Saudi Arabia releases senior prince, once contender to the throne, for $1 Bln
- Syrian Army storms last jihadist bastion near occupied Golan Heights
Posted: 30 Nov 2017 12:00 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:55 A.M.) – The jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham launched a big counter-assault in the southern countryside of Aleppo, yesterday, targeting the areas they lost to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) the day before.
Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham began the assault by attacking the Syrian Army’s positions at the town of Al-Ramleh.
The jihadist group would establish full control over Al-Ramleh after the Syrian Army failed to beat back the first wave of the assault.
Following the capture of Al-Ramleh, the jihadist rebels managed to recapture the town of Abisan and its surrounding hilltop, putting them in position to attack nearby ‘Azizah.
Currently, the jihadist rebels are attempting to recapture ‘Azizah and have reportedly entered the town.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 11:09 PM PST
Israel and Egypt lobbied the US to bomb Iran before the 2015 nuclear accord was reached, but Washington saw the proposition as a "trap," former US Secretary of State John Kerry revealed Tuesday night.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “genuinely agitating towards action” against the Iranian government, Kerry said Tuesday at an event in Washington, according to published reports.
The leaders of other Middle East nations, including Egypt, also tried to sway the US into going to war with Iran because bombing the country is “the only thing they [the Iranians] are going to understand,” Kerry said.
On the former diplomat’s account, Washington viewed the proposal as a trick. If the US did take such military action against Iran, Kerry believed many Middle East nations would follow up by condemning the US for using excessive military force.
Kerry defended the deal struck with Iran to monitor its nuclear production facilities. The deal will prevent Tehran from producing its own nuclear weapon in 10 or 15 years, when certain restrictions in the deal are lifted. After that point, it is uncertain whether Iran will seek to build out their nuclear arsenal, Kerry said.
It’s easy to understand, then, why the Israeli prime minister celebrated recent moves against that deal in Washington.
Earlier this year, Netanyahu praised US President Donald Trump’s refusal to recertify Iran’s compliance with the deal, though independent auditors and other signatories to the landmark agreement say Iran has been compliant.
Trump created an “opportunity to fix this bad deal, to roll back Iran’s aggression and to confront its criminal support of terrorism. That’s why Israel embraces this opportunity,” Netanyahu said following the decertification in October.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 10:38 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:30 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) recently advanced inside the southern countryside of the Aleppo Governorate, capturing several towns and hilltops from the Al-Qaeda linked Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham terrorist group.
Led by their 3rd and 5th legions, the Syrian Arab Army was able to advance Al-Rashidiyah to a group of towns located near the Idlib Governorate axis.
Among the several areas captured by the Syrian Arab Army this week were the towns of ‘Azizah, Abisan, and Al-Ramleh.
Video footage of this operation was released by Syria’s Al-Ikhbariya TV on Wednesday; it showed the army advancing deep into enemy territory.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 10:15 PM PST
President Macron has revealed how EU leaders are planning to stop groups of human traffickers in Libya.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday EU leaders were pondering to crack down collectively on people's smugglers in Libya, in an interview with a local news network.
“We are proposing to take police and military action. We are not waging war but this is a country in a political transition,” he told France 24.
African illegal migrants wait to receive medial assistance after being rescued by coastal guards on a port in Tripoli, Libya.
Slave Trade in Libya: Who Controls the Human Trafficking Market in Tripoli?
He said groups of human traffickers were smuggling people from the Sahel region to the Mediterranean coast, from where they were sent on their way to Europe. Thousands have perished in the sea.
European and African officials have been meeting in Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire to address this and other issues. Macron said he had discussed Libya action with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Libya is one of the main transit countries for migrants. According to UN figures, 90 percent of migrants, who cross the Mediterranean to Europe depart from Libya. The civil war in Libya, as well as the unstable situation in the region, have brought the humanitarian situation in the country to a critical state. Over a million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Libya.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 06:31 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:30 A.M.) – Iranian-led forces have played a critical role in the battle against ISIS in eastern Syria. This is all the more truer when talking about the battles to liberate cities like Al-Mayadeen and Abu Kamal as well as the battle for the T-2 military airport.
In recent weeks it has become apparent that leading Iranian-backed forces in support of the Syrian Arab Army during such battles was none other Major General Qasem Soleimani, the top commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and a battlefield leader with experience dating back to the Iran-Iraq war.
Recently, Hezbollah affiliated media released a brief video showing Major General Soleimani in action, at the front-line and in the operations room, leading Iranian-backed forces during the battle for Al-Mayadeen.
Specifically, the video shows Soleimani directing forces to capture certain hills near Al-Mayadeen in order to achieve fire control and cut ISIS supply lines running into the city.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 05:58 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:58 P.M.) – The Al-Qaeda-linked Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (former Jabhat al-Nusra) terrorist group operating in northwest Syria continues to suffer from assassinations against its military and political leaders.
According to reports, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham emir Abu Mahmoud Al-Halabi (a native of Aleppo province) was killed in recent hours after his car was ambushed by gunmen whose allegiance and motive remains unknown.
Unleashing a hail of gunfire on Abu Mahmoud Al-Halabi’s passing car, the assassins succeeded in killing the regional emir instantly.
In addition to being the emir of the Al-Roj district in Syria’s Idlib province (being responsible for an area spanning from Zaqiyah to the Al-Ghab plain), Abu Mahmoud Al-Halabi was also a military commander for Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham.
The assassination comes amid an ongoing attrition against Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham’s military and political leadership – both on the battlefield and due to assassinations within rebel-held territory.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 12:52 PM PST
Deliveries of humanitarian aid to Syria from neighboring countries in bypass of Damascus, which the UN Security Council authorized in 2014, cannot continue in their current form any longer and stand in need of a revision, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzya said on Wednesday at a meeting of the UN Security Council.
“The Security Council is facing a serious discussion of cross-border operations in the absence of quality monitoring over them,” he said, adding that Moscow would request consultations on the issue.
“This mechanism should not be kept up in its current form because it infringes on Syria’s sovereignty and runs counter to the principles of international humanitarian cooperation coordinated by the UN General Assembly,” Nebenzya said. “Some time ago, it became an unprecedented emergency measure that requires reassessment today.”
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 12:28 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:15 P.M.) – The Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad was seen attending a prayer service in Damascus, Wednesday, making a rare public appearance in Damascus.
Assad arrived at the Al-Akram Mosque in the Mezzeh District this evening and was joined by several officials and religious figures, including the Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun.
The Syrian President was attending the Mawlid prayer service, which commemorates the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 12:04 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:50 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army’s elite Tiger Forces division will be redeployed to the northern countryside of the Hama Governorate once they complete their operation in southeast Deir Ezzor, a military source told Al-Masdar News this evening.
According to the source, the Tiger Forces will specifically be deployed to the Abu Dali axis in northern Hama, where they will head the operation to enter the southeastern part of the Idlib Governorate.
With the 3rd and 5th legions already pushing towards the Abu Dhuhour Military Airport from the southern Aleppo axis, the Tiger Forces should be able to help speed up this assault with a major assault from the Abu Dali axis.
Abu Dali is an important town in northern Hama that was captured by the Al-Qaeda linked Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham terrorist group in late September of this year.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 12:03 PM PST
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (10:05 P.M.) – Light skirmishes and heavy artillery exchanges continued between Kurdish and Turkish belligerents in northwestern Aleppo on Wednesday amid reports of a looming Turkish invasion into the Efrin enclave, a rural pocket controlled by the US-backed ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF).
With Turkish reconnaissance planes observing the region around the clock, the Turkish Army and allied Syrian rebel groups shelled Kurdish-led villages across the Bilbile district, targeting the SDF’s positions in a number of villages amid a constant flow of intelligence reports, satellite imagery and reconnaissance footage.
With some of the shells coming from inside Turkey itself, the SDF came under fire in the villages of Dikmedash, Maranaz, Ayn Daqna, Yazibax, Basufane, Bedirxan, Barin, Bashur and Iki Dame. At one point during the afternoon, the artillery bombardment could be heard going on for a straight 40 minutes.
The SDF responded by shelling Turkish-backed groups in the northern countryside of Aleppo but refrained from firing back across the border into Turkey.
Both sides have systematically refused to reveal any information regarding their death toll while no territorial changes have happened in the past few months.
Nevertheless, persistent rumours indicate that Ankara intends to deploys its military against Kurdish forces in the Efrin region in order to secure its own border and simultaneously link the rebel pocket in northern Aleppo with the opposition mainland in Idlib.
So far, this preplanned Turkish-led offensive is yet to come to fruition, likely due to political pressure from the United States and Russia, both of whom maintain ties to the SDF.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 11:45 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:30 P.M.) – The Lebanese actor/writer Ziad Itani was officially indicted by Judge Peter Germanos, Wednesday, on charges of collaborating with Israel.
Due to the nature of the case, Judge Germanos reportedly referred Itani to the military court, where Judge Riad Abu Ghaida will oversee his case.
Itani was detained by the security forces after the Lebanese intelligence directorate monitored his communications in both Lebanon and Turkey.
The actor reportedly confessed to monitoring several high ranking officials for Israel, including the Lebanese Interior Minister Nahed Mashnouq.
No date has been set for his official court case.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 11:27 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:15 P.M.) – The Syrian security forces foiled a terrorist attack on Wednesday inside the provincial capital of the Homs Governorate, the Syrian government reported.
According to the government’s report, the Syrian security forces received a tip from a local in Homs City about a plan to bomb the Ba’ath Party headquarters and the cultural center building.
The Security forces foiled the potential attack after discovering two bombs planted near these buildings, both being 3 kg of C4 explosives.
This attack could have devastated the city, as these two buildings are located in a densely populated area.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 11:05 AM PST
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped a hint about the possibility of direct contacts between Ankara and Damascus on the Kurdish issue. Speaking to Sputnik, Turkish observers emphasized the necessity of Turko-Syrian cooperation, at the same time pointing to contradictions between all parties involved in the regional crisis.
After the Sochi summit between the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the green light to building bridges with Damascus, political observer Mehmet Ali Guller told Sputnik Turkey.
“[Erdogan’s] statement is undoubtedly of a political nature, and is aimed at assessing the possibility of establishing contacts with Damascus,” Guller noted. “It is a logical, albeit belated, consequence of the process of normalizing Turkey’s relations with Russia and Iran which are friendly with Syria.”
On November 22, the three leaders held a meeting in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi. Speaking to journalists Erdogan remarked with regard to potential Turko-Syrian cooperation: “Whatever happens tomorrow is based on the circumstances. It is not appropriate to have an understanding of saying ‘no way at all.’ The doors of politics are always open until the last moment.”
Guller believes that it is of strategic importance to mend fences between Ankara and Damascus. According to the observer this step cannot be postponed any longer: “If the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) intends to continue to cooperate with Russia and Iran, it should find common ground with Damascus, one way or another.”
“If [the AKP] did not support the armed opposition from the outset, halted border crossings to the territory of Syria for armed opposition elements, neither Turkey nor Syria would have paid such a high price,” he emphasized. “If Ankara could have already reached an agreement with Damascus, there would be no need for the Turkish army to conduct an operation in Syria.”
According to the Turkish political observer, there are several reasons why building bridges between Ankara and Damascus is necessary: first, if the two countries reach compromise, the presence of Turkish troops in Syria would be legitimate. Second, the Turko-Syrian agreement may exclude the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) from the peace negotiating process. Third, it would weaken the axis of Israel, Persian Gulf monarchies and the Kurds, which the US is trying to build in the Middle East.
Members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) ride near near the main traffic circle in Raqqa Syria, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017
In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines prepare to build a military site during a sandstorm in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition’s newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.
Ozugurlu doesn’t exclude the possibility of direct contacts between the two countries, but that wouldn’t mean that Ankara and Damascus have overcome their contradictions.
“Turkey wants to establish contacts with Syria, but its expectations from these contacts are related to its own understanding of security, primarily on the Kurdish issue,” the journalist told Sputnik. “Meanwhile, Syria has set its own ‘red lines’ as priorities, not Turkey’s sensitive issues. In order to establish a direct dialogue with Damascus, Turkey should not interfere in the internal affairs of the country, and should put Syrian interests at the forefront.”
At the same time, Ozugurlu insists that Turkey should completely abandon its support to such structures as the Free Syrian Army (FSA): “However, Turkey intends to continue to provide this support to counteract the Kurdish factor — this issue remains the main stumbling block in this process.”
The journalist believes that the situation in northern Syria requires Turkey’s readiness to make certain concessions and reach compromises otherwise Ankara may find itself cornered.
He pointed out that all players which are currently operating in the north of Syria have different expectations: “The US supports the processes related to the creation of the Kurdish autonomous administration here. The Syrian authorities are waiting for the Kurds to stop contacting the US and [for the Americans] to withdraw from the Syrian territory… On the other hand, Russia and Iran unanimously oppose close collaboration between the US and the Kurds, but do not want to completely exclude the latter from the settlement process.”
Ozugurlu remarked that Damascus has recently signaled that there is a possibility of securing the rights of autonomy for Syrian Kurds.
“This topic is open to negotiation and discussion and when we are done eliminating Daesh, we can sit with our Kurdish sons and reach an understanding on a formula for the future,” Muallem said as quoted by Reuters.
However, this option does not fit into Turkey’s plans, Ozugurlu underscored.
“The expectations of the parties differ,” the Turkish journalist highlighted. “This means that under any circumstances in northern Syria, if Turkey agrees with one of the parties, it will face opposition from the other. Only time will tell whether there is a way for Turkey to resolve this dilemma.”
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:53 AM PST
The US-led coalition is trying to hide the grave consequences of its operation for the liberation of Syria's Raqqa from the Islamic State terrorist organization (outlawed in Russia), Russia's Permanent Envoy to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said on Wednesday.
The Russian envoy who spoke at a UN Security Council session said that Moscow was seriously alarmed “by the humanitarian situation in Raqqa caused primarily by the coalition's indiscriminate use-of-force actions.”
“Now the United States and its main allies are taking steps, including in the information space, to hide the grave consequences of their military operation,” Nebenzya said.
“The cause is clear. The coalition has something to hide from the world public: considerable victims among civilians and huge destructions,” Russia's envoy said.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:23 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:15 P.M.) – Omar Khribin of Damascus, Syria was named the 2017 Asian Player of the Year during the Asian Football Confederation's Annual Awards in Bangkok, Thailand tonight.
The 23 year old star forward for the Saudi Professional League’s Al-Hilal team beat out two finalists from the United Arab Emirates’ Omar Abdulrahman and China's Wu Lei on Wednesday night.
Khribin is the first Syrian to ever win the AFC Player of the Year.
In addition to his success in the Saudi Professional League, Khribin is also a star on the Syrian National Team; he scored the game winning goal against Qatar earlier this year.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:11 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:05 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) reportedly made advances during an offensive in the southern countryside of Aleppo, Tuesday.
According to reports, the SAA managed to advance from Al-Rashidiyah to Azizah and Abisah, regaining control of the villages from Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (also known as Tahrir al-Sham or HTC).
Following the offensive, militants are believed to have retreated further south.
The offensive is aimed to gain access to the Abu al-Duhur Military Airbase, located east of Idlib.
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Posted: 29 Nov 2017 08:54 AM PST
Lebanese President Michel Aoun met with Saad Hariri shortly after he returned to Lebanon following a long absence. As a result of the meeting, it was announced that President Aung has not accepted the resignation of Hariri, since he promised to reconsider the decision to leave his post.
Lebanon will soon see an end to its crisis and its prime minister, Saad Hariri, will remain in office, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Wednesday.
“Lebanon has always been a calm and secure country, it is known how to govern it. The crisis will end next week,” Aoun told La Stampa newspaper in an interview.
There is “a broad agreement” among all Lebanese political forces regarding Hariri's decision to stay in office, the Lebanese president added.
On November 4, Hariri announced his resignation in a televised speech from Riyadh.
When announcing his resignation earlier this month, Hariri said he feared being assassinated in Lebanon, like his father was. He also accused Iran and the Hezbollah movement of attempting to destabilize the situation in Lebanon and across the Middle East.
The Lebanese President did not recognize Hariri’s resignation and asked Saudi Arabia to explain what was preventing the Prime Minister from returning to Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that the reasons for Hariri’s resignation could be linked to Riyadh, and suggested that he might be remaining in Saudi Arabia against his will.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 08:23 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:15 P.M.) – The jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham launched a powerful counter-attack in the southern countryside of the Aleppo Governorate, today, targeting the towns they recently lost to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham began the attack by storming the town of Al-Ramleh, which was not well-defended by the Syrian Army and NDF troops there.
The jihadist group managed to recapture Al-Ramleh after the SAA and NDF troops at the town were forced to retreat to nearby Abisan and ‘Azizah.
According to a Syrian military source, HTS is now attacking the aforementioned towns in a bid to recapture everything they lost over the last 24 hours.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 08:10 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:45 P.M.) – The Saudi Army attempted to recapture a town in the Najran Region near the Yemeni border, Tuesday, after losing it several months ago to the Houthi forces.
However, the attack did not go as planned for the Saudi Coalition as they were ultimately forced to frantically retreat after the Houthi forces launched a counter-attack.
Video footage released by the Houthi media wing on Tuesday showed their forces beating back the Saudi Coalition at the Al-Sharfah Hills in southern part of the Najran region..
The Houthi forces currently control a large chunk of the Yemeni-Saudi border, which has aggravated the regime in Riyadh as they are unable to recapture these lands.
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Posted: 29 Nov 2017 07:56 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:55 P.M.) – Jihadist-led militants in northeast Hama find themselves locked into a battle with Syrian pro-government forces which they have virtually no hope of winning. The outcome of this battle had already been decided the very moment the Syrian Arab Army and its allies chose to initiate it.
So far the battle has witnessed a comparatively small force of mixed Syrian Army units and pro-government militias liberate 29 villages from jihadist-led militants.
Unlike the battle fronts which are adjacent to northeast Hama (such as north Hama proper and southwest Aleppo), the terrain in northeast Hama is mostly flat and thus ideal for classic mobile battles.
Typically, pro-government forces are employing overwhelming numbers of tanks, artillery and airpower in the ongoing operation and to this end, the terrain of the northeast Hama battlefield (unlike southwest Aleppo and north Hama) could not be more suited.
The main opponent to the Syrian Army’s advances, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda), is no longer the force it use to be just eighteen months ago when it mustered nearly 100 tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to storm western Aleppo.
A series of reckless operations (including the western Aleppo operation) has seen most of the offensive sting that Al-Qaeda’s army in Syria once had (particularly tanks, seasoned troops, expert commanders and artillery) be squandered with virtually no hope of replenishment.
Such past actions have guaranteed that Al-Qaeda can never hope to win the current maneuver battles being fought over the rolling semi-desert steppes of northeastern Hama.
By the same token, with the Syrian Army and its allies now approaching the Idlib province’s eastern border at full speed, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham finds itself in a position whereby it has to fight this great battle to which it is predestined to lose, much so in the same fashion that the Islamic State more-or-less met its end in Syria.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 07:33 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:00 P.M.) – A pasta and noodle factory in Eastern Ghouta’s ‘de-escalation zone’ has reportedly reached its full production capacity for the first time since the onset of the Syrian conflict, as shown in footage released on Wednesday.
The factory reportedly produces some 200,000 packs of dried pasta per day, half of which are distributed among the towns and villages recently liberated from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIS/ISIL).
Each pack costs around 100 Syrian pounds ($0.17/€0.14). A Syrian government programme is said to compensate any losses incurred by the facility. The factory currently employs about 100 people; however, the number is expected to rise to 400 by the end of the year, given the demand for food.
Earlier in the week, the Syrian government accepted a Russian proposal for a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta.
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Posted: 29 Nov 2017 06:39 AM PST
Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergey Shoigu has arrived in Cairo, which hosts the fourth meeting of the joint Russian-Egyptian commission for military and technical cooperation on Wednesday, the Defense Ministry said.
During the visit, Shoigu is expected to hold talks with Egyptian Minister of Defense and Military Production Sedki Sobhi to discuss bilateral military and military-technical cooperation.
The Russian defense minister is also due to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. At the meeting, the sides plan to discuss international and regional security.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 06:27 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:15 P.M.) – Over the course of a week, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies have liberated a large chunk of territory from the so-called Islamic State (IS) between the cities of Albukamal and Al-Mayadeen.
On Tuesday, the Syrian Arab Army’s elite Tiger Forces were finally able to clear the Islamic State’s pocket between Al-Mayadeen and Al-Salihiyah, resulting in the liberation of this area along the western bank of the Euphrates River.
Russian TV accompanied the Tiger Forces during their operations in this Islamic State’s pocket between Al-Mayadeen and Al-Salihiyah recently, releasing their video footage earlier today.
The Tiger Forces are now working to clear the remaining towns under the occupation of the Islamic State in the Euphrates River Valley.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 05:57 AM PST
North Korea announced the launch of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which could "target the entire area of mainland United States," during a televised governmental broadcast on Wednesday.
Footage showed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hand-signing an order to fire the ICBM missile, called Hwasong-15 and described as its "strongest." North Korea said the missile was "tactically and technically far more superior" to its predecessor the Hwasong-14, which was tested twice in July. North Korea stated the Hwasong-15 could reach mainland US carrying a “super-huge nuclear warhead.”
The missile, North Korea's first test in 75 days, was fired on a steep trajectory and flew for 53 minutes, North Korea said. It reached an altitude of 4,475 km (2,780 miles) and flew 950 km (590 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan, within Japan's exclusive economic zone.
After Wednesday's launch, Kim Jong-un announced that with the Hwasong-15 North Korea had "finally realised the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force."
North Korea said that its strategic weapons development was solely aimed at "protecting the nation's sovereignty" and countering US threats, adding "if they do not violate our rights and interests, the strategic weapons development will not be a threat to any country or region."
The launch was the first since September 15, when North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the Japanese island Hokkaido, eventually falling into the Pacific Ocean.
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Posted: 29 Nov 2017 05:42 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:10 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) elite Tiger Forces are preparing for their next battle as they wrap-up their operations against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in the Deir Ezzor Governorate.
According to a military source in Damascus, the Tiger Forces will most likely be deployed to the northern countryside of the Hama Governorate, where they will lead the charge into the Idlib Governorate.
With several of their units already deployed in the Hama Governorate, it would make most sense for the division’s next major operation to be in this region.
Furthermore, following the recent advances by the 3rd and 5th legions in southern Aleppo, the Syrian Arab Army now finds themselves within 20 km of the strategic Abu Dhuhour Military Airport.
The Abu Dhuhour Military Airport is Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham’s main installation in the eastern countryside of Idlib.
Some other options for the Tiger Forces are the western and southern countrysides of the Aleppo Governorate; however, the former is not likely due to the large presence of Turkish Army troops in the Darat Izza area.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 05:29 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:30 P.M.) – With ISIS resistance along the western shore of the Euphrates all but liquidated, evidence is now beginning to emerge that sheds light on the intensity of the final set-piece battle between the Islamic State and the Syrian Arab Army in eastern Syria, one which took place in the least expected location.
As can now be seen, ISIS fighters operating on the Euphrates’ western bank chose to make their final stand in and between the towns of Al-Qurayya and Al-Asharah, these being two settlements otherwise unheard of and small in comparison to cities like Deir Ezzor, Al-Mayadeen and Abu Kamal where it was thought the most fanatical resistance would be encountered.
At Al-Qurayya and Al-Asharah, ISIS fought – speaking strictly in military terms (not moral terms) – an admirable rear-guard action.
Terrorist militants – outnumbered, outgunned and pounded remorselessly from the air by Russian heavy bombers on a daily basis – managed to hold off the best units of the Syrian Arab Army for over two weeks and buy time enough for other fighters to withdraw to the eastern shore of the Euphrates where they will most likely surrender to US-backed forces.
Through a combination explosive traps, car bombs, snipers and a general unwillingness among jihadist militants to give up their positions until the last man had been killed, ISIS inflicted heavy losses on the Syrian Army, repelled multiple assaults and even launched several successful counter-attacks which saw it reclaim lost positions a number of times over.
The line at which ISIS made its last stand was part of a greater defensive belt running from Muhassan to Abu Kamal. This defense line was mostly bypassed by pro-government forces and with the rapid capture of Al-Mayadeen and Abu Kamal, it was thought that the belt had been shattered.
In any case, despite the overwhelming odds against them, it appears that ISIS militants – driven out of Al-Mayadeen to the north and Abu Kamal to the south – managed to quickly regroup and salvage a solid adhoc defense line around two otherwise unheard of towns on the western Euphrates shore where they would fight their last major battle in Syria’s east.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 05:01 AM PST
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a message of congratulations to his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Kremlin reported on its website on Wednesday.
“Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the Middle East Quartet of international mediators, takes a principled stand in support of the realization of the Palestinians' legitimate right to self-determination. We are in favor of a comprehensive and fair settlement in the Middle East on a solid international legal basis, including the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. It should result in the end of the Israeli occupation of the Arab lands that began in 1967 and the creation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem,” the Russian head of state noted in his message of greetings.
“Amid the persisting tensions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and in view of the growing terrorist threat in the region, your continued commitment to the political and diplomatic solution to the Palestinian problem and your policy aimed at overcoming the intra-Palestinian discord acquires special significance. For our part, we will continue to assist efforts to restore the Palestinian national unity,” Putin stressed.
The president reaffirmed willingness to develop economic ties with Palestine in the future and actively participate in resolving its pressing social issues. He highlighted the significance of the activities of the Russian-Palestinian commission on trade and economic cooperation. In conclusion, Putin wished the Palestinian leader good health and success and “peace and prosperity on their native soil” to the Palestinian people.
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People was established by UN General Assembly Resolution 32/40 of December 2, 1977. The date was chosen because on November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed one of the key documents concerning the Palestinian-Israeli settlement, namely, Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine. It envisaged the establishment of two independent states – Arab and Jewish – on Palestinian territory and a special international regime for Jerusalem. The Day of Solidarity is designed to pool the world community's efforts aimed at ensuring the Palestinian people's right to gain state independence and securing the return of refugees to their homes, which they had to flee during the conflict.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 04:48 AM PST
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:50 P.M.) – Despite suffering a series of territorial setbacks across Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State’s media department appears to be somewhat unaffected and continues to produce material on a daily basis.
The footage below, an ISIS release covering recent clashes in western Iraq, shows jihadist militants preparing for hit-and-run raids and carrying them out against the predominately Shiite ‘Popular Mobilization Units’ (PMU) in the desert of northwestern Anbar, causing some casualties in the process.
Viewer discretion is advised:
Within the last six months alone, the Iraqi Army and PMU have declared full victory in Mosul, Tal Afar, Al-Ba’aj, Hawija and Al-Qaim, thus expelling ISIS from all its strongholds in Iraq.
Effectively, ISIS has been pushed back to a sparsely populated desert corridor along the border with Syria. This pocket of territory is expected to be eliminated before the beginning of 2018, thereby ending the Islamic State’s three-year long reign of terror in the country.
However, ISIS militants are still active behind enemy lines and continue to conduct suicide bombings in Baghdad while sleeper cells are known to be active in a handful of provinces, most notably Babil, Kirkuk and Diyala.
This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 04:17 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:00 P.M.) – The Russian military will keep their S-400 systems in the Syrian port-city of Tartous and Hmaymim Military Airport near Jableh, the Kremlin’s Defense Committee on Wednesday.
This statement by the Russian Federation’s Defense Committee comes just two months after the Kremlin secured the sale of their S-400 systems to the Turkish regime.
The S-400 systems were first moved to the port-city of Tartous in late 2015 after the Turkish military downed a Russian Su-24 fighter jet in the northern countryside of the Latakia Governorate.
Since then, the Russian military has kept the S-400 systems on the Syrian coast in order to protect their forces inside the country.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 03:49 AM PST
The US military and intelligence services are likely to succeed in blocking President Donald Trump's efforts to end US military support for rebel groups in Syria, former foreign policy adviser to Senate Republicans Jim Jatras told Sputnik.
On Monday, the White House said the United States is now in a position to stop providing military support to opposition groups in Syria given the Islamic State terrorist group (Daesh) has been crushed.
“The military and the intelligence community — are used to calling the shots the way they want,” Jatras said on Tuesday when asked about the possibility Trump might cut off defense provisions to the Syrian opposition.
US Cuts Aid to Free Syrian Army Due to Disappointment Over Syrian Army Gains?
However, Jatras cautioned that Trump had surrounded himself with hawks like Secretary of Defense James Mattis, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster all of whom were committed to fighting the ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It doesn't help that Trump has appointed virtually nobody to the top of his team who seems to agree with him on basic security strategy,” he said.
Trump had made clear he wanted to end US support for Islamist extremist groups fighting to topple the legitimate government of Syria and had been trying to implement that policy, Jatras acknowledged.
Recently Trump had informed Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the United States would no longer support the Kurds since Daesh as a physical caliphate was almost destroyed, Jatras recalled.
“That was immediately disputed from the military,” he said.
The US armed forces and intelligence community were also determined to retain the massive physical infrastructure they had built up within Syria under the guise of supporting the rebel groups and a fighting Daesh, Jatras noted.
“The US has a dozen-odd bases illegally on Kurdish-controlled Syrian territory. Defense Secretary Mattis says we are not leaving. Trump is under pressure from the Saudis and Israelis to break the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah 'land bridge.' It's anybody's guess who's running US policy on this,” he said.
However, trump still appeared determined to career through his election pledge and pull US forces out of Syria once Daesh had been destroyed, Jatras recalled.
Jatras said the United States can accept that the Syrian government along with Russia and Iran have won and seek to influence the end game or stay embedded in Syria, arm various groups to “keep the pot boiling” even though it will not change the overall outcome.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 03:38 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:30 P.M.) – The Russian Air Force has been relentlessly bombing Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham’s positions in the northern countryside of Hama this week, targeting several towns near the government controlled towns of Suqaylabiyah and Mhardeh.
Russian jets flying out of the Hmaymim Airbase in Jableh, Latakia reportedly carried out several airstrikes over the towns of Zakat, Abu Dali, Al-Lataminah, and Kafr Zita.
Video footage of the Russian airstrikes over northern Hama was released by pro-opposition media on Tuesday; it specifically shows a Russian jet bombing the town of Zakat.
The Russian airstrikes were conducted in retaliation for the jihadist attacks on the government-held towns of Suqaylabiyah and Mhardeh over the weekend.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 03:29 AM PST
The rift between the Gulf countries and Qatar has created a space for Asian countries to step in to engage with the small peninsular state.
There's a silver lining for Asian countries in the six-month old crisis in the Gulf that pits a UAE-Saudi-led alliance against Qatar. That is as long as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates shy away from attempting to harness their financial muscle to shore up lagging international support for their diplomatic and economic boycott of the idiosyncratic Gulf state.
Asian nations, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines, whose nationals populate the Gulf's labour force, have already reaped initial benefits with Qatar, eager to put its best foot forward, significantly reforming its controversial kafala or labour sponsorship regime.
Qatar recently became the first Gulf state to introduce a minimum wage, albeit criticized by human rights groups for being at $200 below earning levels in many of the labour-supplying states. It has also sought to improve workers' rights and committed to improving their living conditions.
Qatar was under pressure to reform the kafala system long before the Gulf crisis erupted, but the dispute with its Gulf neighbours strengthened its interest in being seen to be doing the right thing. Its moves are over time likely to persuade other Gulf states to follow suit.
The boycott as a result of its refusal to accept UAE-Saudi demandsthat would curtail its independence has forced Qatar to restructure trade relationships, diversify sources for goods and services, creative alternative port alliances, and recalibrate the strategy of its national carrier, Qatar Airways.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and their allies insist that Qatar unconditionally break its ties to various political groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, adhere to Saudi and UAE foreign policy, reduce relations with Iran, shutter the Al Jazeera television network, and accept monitoring of its compliance. Qatar has rejected any infringement of its sovereignty and called for a negotiated solution.
The two countries have so far shown no willingness to compromise on their insistence on unconditional Qatari acceptance, but have also shied away from escalating the dispute, by among others pressuring third parties to choose sides.
The dispute has further divided the Arab world with some countries like Egypt and Bahrain siding with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, others like Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia,and Algeria sitting on the side lines and calling for a negotiated solutions, and finally nations like Oman and Algeria who have stepped in to help Qatar offset the impact of the boycott.
The fracturing of the Arab world was on display at a meeting in Cairo in mid-November of Arab foreign ministers. Saudi Arabia was able to wrest a statement condemning Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, but failed to achieve a consensus as Lebanon teetered on the balance because of Saudi pressure.
Without breaking the stalemate and the initiation of negotiations that at best would achieve a face saving formula that falls short of a fundamental resolution, the dispute is likely to settle in as a fact of life and further undermine the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that groups the six Gulf states. Saudi Arabia and its allies have said they were not contemplating military intervention even if they have sought to foster tribal opposition to Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani led by lesser known members of the ruling family.
The UAE's articulate ambassador to Russia, Omar Ghobash, suggested in June that "there are certain economic sanctions that we can take which are being considered right now. One possibility would be to impose conditions on our own trading partners and say you want to work with us then you have got to make a commercial choice."
Six months later, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have yet to act on their threat, creating business opportunities as Qatar settles in for the long haul and structurally ensures that it will no longer depend primarily on its Gulf neighbours.
Food is one key area, making food security a Qatari priority. Turkey and Iran were quick to step in to fill the gap created by the Saudi ban on export to Qatar of dairy and other products. With the import of some 4,000 cows, Qatar has sought to achieve a degree of self-sufficiency with domestic production within a matter of months accounting for approximately 30 percent of consumption. Nonetheless, with a minimal food processing industry, Qatar will seek to diversify its sources, creating opportunity for Asian producers.
With the loss of some 20 Gulf destinations as a result of the boycott, state-owned Qatar Airways, the region's second largest airline, may be the Qatari entity most affected by the crisis. Against the backdrop of a likely annual loss, Qatar Airways is looking to expand its route network elsewhere and weighing stakes in other airlines.
Asia is an obvious target. Qatar is scheduled to initiate flights to Canberra in Australia, Chiang Mai and Utapao in Thailand, and Chittagong in Bangladesh in the next year. The airline has rejected proposals that it bid for Air India, but plans to move ahead with plans for the launch of a domestic Indian airline. Elsewhere, Qatar Airways acquired a 9.61 percent stake in troubled Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific for $662 million.
Similarly, Qatar has had to compensate for its loss of port facilities, primarily in the UAE by diverting to Salalah in Oman and Singapore. While that solved the Gulf state's immediate bottlenecks, it is probable that Qatar will take an interest in other Asian ports in competition with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Given Saudi interest in China-backed ventures such as Pakistan's Gwadar and the Maldives, Qatar could well look at Indian alternatives, including the Indian-supported Iranian port of Chabahar, a mere 75 kilometres further up the coat from Gwadar. Singapore port has stepped in with Qatar availing itself of shipping and logistical services. Vietnam and India see opportunities in the sale of food and construction materials.
Perhaps most fundamentally, Asian countries like India, in a bid to ensure the security of their energy supplies, are looking at diversifying their sources and increasing the non-Middle Eastern portion from producers like the United States. Indian Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan adopted a tough stand in recent talks with OPEC Secretary General Sanusi Mohammad Barkindo, advising him that India was looking at alternative sourcing. India recently cut crude oil imports from Iran because of stalled negotiations over the development of an offshore gas deposit in the Gulf, forcing Iran to look for alternative buyers in Europe.
The Gulf, irrespective of if and how the crisis may be resolved, is unlikely to return to the status quo ante. As a result, the crisis is certain to influence political, economic and commercial relationships for decades to come. That creates opportunity that Asian nations potentially can capitalize on.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 02:59 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:40 P.M.) – The Russian Federation’s Defense Committee announced on Wednesday that their military will remain inside Syria to monitor the ceasefires and de-escalation zones across the country.
According to the Defense Committee, Russia will keep their jets, helicopters, and armored vehicles in Syria, along with their military personnel.
The Russian military has played an imperative role in monitoring the de-escalation zone agreements; they will continue to work with their Iranian and Turkish partners to ensure more ceasefires are established across the country.
Russia officially entered the Syrian war in September 2015 to aid the government forces in their battle against several terrorist groups.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 02:37 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:30 P.M.) – The Syrian government delegation has officially arrived in Geneva for the UN-sponsored peace talks that are set to take place shortly.
Led by their chief negotiator, Dr. Bashar Al-Ja’afari, the Syrian government delegation is set to meet with the opposition in order to further discuss potential ceasefires in the country and to work towards a peace settlement.
This week’s meeting will mark the 8th official round of this conference that is sponsored by the United Nations
Al-Masdar will provide updates from the Geneva peace talks as the meeting gets under way.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 02:23 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:55 A.M.) – The Egyptian President ‘Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi stated on Wednesday that he has ordered his army to clear the entire Sinai Peninsula of terrorists within a 3 month span.
Furthermore, Sisi blamed certain regional countries for arming these terrorist groups in the Sinai; however, he did not specify which nations.
Sisi’s comments come just days after the devastating terrorist attack that killed over 300 civilians in a Sinai mosque.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:16 AM PST
The Iranian Navy revealed its new achievements in the maritime industry during a ceremony on Wednesday.
The ceremony was held in the Iranian capital in the presence of the second-in-command of the Iranian Army Brigadier General Mohammad Hossein Dadras.
The Navy’s new products include the fuel for combustion engine used in torpedoes, the digital autopilot and the Persian Gulf training warship.
Producing fuel for combustion engine is a technology which had been monopolized by the US before Iran managed to indigenize it.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 12:49 AM PST
65-year-old Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who has been held along with other Saudi princes, ministers and officials in a five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh amid an ongoing anti-corruption campaign, has been allowed to leave as part of the “acceptable settlement agreement” with the country’s authorities.
Senior Prince Miteb bin Abdullah has reportedly agreed to pay more than $1 billion and admit to corruption “involving known cases” in exchange for the freedom to leave the luxurious hotel in Riyadh, where he was kept along with other individuals detained on corruption charges, a Saudi official said on Wednesday.
The 65-year-old son of the late King Abdullah and former head of the elite National Guard, who has been once deemed as a contender to the throne, was among dozens of royal family members who have been accused by the Saudi authorities of money laundering, bribery and the misappropriation of public funds for self-enrichment.
In #SaudiArabia Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah had help from paymaster foreigners link to the #CIA for his release, that billion dollar did not really came out of his wallet, but perhaps a loan deal with “them”
It was not immediately known whether the Prince was released or transferred to some other form of house arrest.
The anti-corruption campaign was led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and was widely seen as an effort to strengthen his power. However, the kingdom’s authorities have not disclosed any details on the charges against any of the detainees or about any settlement talks with them.
Three other people are also believed to be set free.
Posted: 29 Nov 2017 12:30 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:05 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) stormed the western part of Taloul Barda’yah this morning after successfully capturing the eastern slope of this large hilltop.
Backed by heavy artillery, the Syrian Arab Army’s 42nd Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division stormed the western slope of Taloul Barda’yah, where they confronted by the Al-Qaeda linked Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham terrorist group.
While no advance has been made thus far, the Syrian Army is attempting to seize this entire hilltop in order to impose fire control over this large jihadist pocket that is located near the occupied Golan Heights.
While the 42nd Brigade attacks the Beit Jinn pocket, the Quneitra Hawks Brigade and Golani Regiment are beefing up their numbers near the strategic town of Hadar, as rumors of another big assault by HTS is looming.
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