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Syrian Army gives Islamist rebels final ultimatum to surrender east Damascus suburbs

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 12:29 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:10 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) distributed thousands of leaflets in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, yesterday, demanding that Islamist rebels immediately surrender the area.

According to a military report from Damascus, the Syrian Army issued a final ultimatum to the Islamist rebels, telling them to surrender the suburbs of Harasta, ‘Arbin, Jobar, and ‘Ayn Tarma in eastern Damascus.

This latest demand by the Syrian military comes just days after the Islamist rebels of Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and Faylaq Al-Rahman launched a big assault to capture the strategic vehicle management base in Harasta.

While the attack managed to besiege the base for a week, it would ultimately be repelled after Syrian Army reinforcements arrived to drive back the Islamist rebels.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

ISIS snatches 3 towns in southwest Syria amid wide-scale offensive

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 12:23 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:20 A.M.) – Forces of the Islamic State-affiliated Jaysh Khalid Ibn al-Walid militant group (alternatively called the ‘Saifullah al-Maslul’ Army) have conducted a powerful offensive operation against rebel factions in southwest Syria, snatching up three towns in rapid succession.

On the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, ISIS-linked forces operating throughout the Yarmouk Basin region in the southwestern countryside of Daraa province launched a major assault against local rebel groups near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, blitzing through three towns over the course of a matter of hours.

The attack by ISIS appears to have been backed up by artillery, tanks and other heavy weapons and represents more than just a mere raid against rebel positions.

Rebel sources on the ground have identified the towns captured by Islamic State terrorists as Bakkar al-Sharqi, Al-Jabiliyah and Harat al-Majahid.

Free Syrian Army-linked fighters claim to have since retaken Al-Jabiliyah after what they describe as heavy clashes for the town and its surrounding countryside, however no additional reports have clarified the situation at Bakkar al-Sharqi and Harat al-Majahid, leading to the conclusion that both settlements remain under the control of ISIS for the time being.


Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Turkish regime demands Syrian Army halt their advance in Idlib

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 12:05 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:40 A.M.) – The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called on Russia and Iran to halt the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) large-scale advance in the Idlib Governorate, adding that it is a violation of the de-escalation agreement.

"Russia and Iran must stop the Syrian regime. They should realize their duties as guarantor countries," Çavuşoğlu told state-run Anadolu Agency on January 10th, as quoted by Hurriyet Daily.

Çavuşoğlu added that the Syrian government is attempting to weaken the opposition forces by launching such a large assault inside the Idlib Governorate.

Syria and Turkey currently have no diplomatic relations, despite attempts by Russia and Iran to ease tensions between the neighboring countries.

Late last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad a ‘terrorist,’ adding that it is impossible for Ankara to deal with his government.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Mossad chief: Israel has ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground in Iran

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 11:37 PM PST

Yossi Cohen, head of Israel's national intelligence service, in a briefing on the security situation alluded to the country's covert operations in Iran, saying that Mossad had "eyes and ears" on the ground in the Persian state.

Cohen told Finance Ministry officials during a closed session in Jerusalem that Israel was keeping a close watch on the situation in Iran, not only from abroad, but also from within the Islamic Republic.

“We have eyes and ears, even inside Iran,” he said, without specifying.

Commenting on the recent wave of anti-government protests in Iran that started on December 28, 2017, Cohen said that while he did not believe the unrest was likely to topple the regime, he would be “very happy to see a social revolution” in the country.

“I would, of course, be very happy to see a social revolution in Iran,” Cohen said. “That’s something that could perhaps happen in the future.”

The Mossad chief admitted that Iran’s economy has improved since the signing of the nuclear agreement with the US and other countries in 2015, but claimed that it has’t significantly affected the lives of Iranian citizens and therefore they have taken to the streets to protest against unemployment, poverty, and the rising cost of living, as well as the policies of the country’s government.

“This reality is pushing people out into the streets, but one must temper expectations,” Cohen said.

About 3,700 people have been detained during the demonstrations in several major cities in Iran, including Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Rasht, according to the country’s lawmaker Mahmoud Sadeghi. At least 20 people have reportedly been killed during the protests.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities accused foreign countries, including the United States and Israel, of trying to destabilize the situation in Iran, saying that evidence provided by intelligence showed “there has been a triangle pattern activating these events”.

“Once again, the nation tells the US, Britain, and those who seek to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran from abroad that ‘you’ve failed, and you will fail in the future, too,'” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote on his Twitter page Tuesday.

Cohen’s comments also come two months after an alleged Mossad agent was sentenced to death in Iran, after being found guilty of involvement in a string of assassinations of Iran’s nuclear scientists, according to prosecutors.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

US-backed forces suffer heavy casualties as ISIS captures territory in east Deir Ezzor

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 11:24 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:05 A.M.) – The Islamic State (ISIS) launched a powerful assault in the eastern countryside of the Deir Ezzor Governorate, yesterday, targeting several areas controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

According to the Islamic State’s official media wing, their terrorist forces managed to capture the town of Gharanij after launching a new attack along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

In addition to capturing Gharanij, the Islamic State claimed their forces killed more than 20 fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, while also capturing four other members of the US-backed group.

Despite being expelled from the western bank of the Euphrates, the Islamic State still maintains a large presence in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor; specifically, along the Iraqi border.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

ISIS presence on Iraqi-Saudi border annihilated by Iraqi forces in major operation

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 11:16 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:15 A.M.) – Iraq forces have kicked-off a major anti-insurgency operation throughout western Anbar province all to way down to the country’s southern border with Saudi Arabia, detecting and neutralizing a noteworthy ISIS presence in the process so far.

On Tuesday, Iraqi troops launched a wide-scale anti-insurgency operation in the western countryside of Anbar province with elite counter-terrorism units of the army’s 1st Division and pro-government tribal fighters sweeping as far south as the border with Saudi Arabia.

As expected, elements of ISIS in the form of a small motorized force and a regional operations room where uncovered and destroyed by government troops.

Iraqi media reports that pro-government forces destroyed four pickups, captured another three vehicles and neutralized 4 Islamic State encampments.

The operation in western Anbar is part of a wider campaign by Iraqi forces aimed at destroying the remaining elements of ISIS within the entire country which have since moved their insurgency underground after the terrorist group suffered major defeats in 2017.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Netanyahu says Iran plans to send 100,000 Shia fighters to ‘colonize’ Syria

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 09:48 PM PST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Iran intended to send 100,000 Shia fighters to Syria in an effort to “colonize” the country.

“As part of Iran's plans of conquest and colonization of Syria, they want to bring in as many as 100,000 Shias, Shia fighters… not Iranians, under Iranian command,” Netanyahu said during a lunch with NATO ambassadors in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu stressed that this move might escalate tensions in the region and would lead to the emergence of new terrorist groups born out of Daesh and Al Qaeda.

The Israeli prime minister noted that the potential confrontation would affect Europe, as it would become the destination for those fleeing the hostilities, if they were to begin. He also stressed that Israel was currently the only state that was trying to prevent this from happening.

“Where will the spillover happen? In Europe. Where will the human flow go? To Europe. Who is preventing it right now? Israel? Right now, Israel alone. But I maintain that this is a common interest that we have in NATO,” Netanyahu said.

Israel regards Iran as its number one threat, citing its curtailed but existing nuclear program, hostile rhetoric, and support offered to anti-Israel forces throughout the Middle East.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Elite Syrian forces launch night assault in southeast Idlib despite heavy shelling by jihadist artillery

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 09:39 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:35 A.M.) – Elite forces of the Syrian Arab Army continue to advance in the southeastern countryside of Idlib province, launching a night assault in recent hours and capturing another town despite having to endure heavy shelling by militant howitzer and rocket units.

On the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, assault units of the Syrian Arab Army’s elite Tiger Forces Division seized the town of Al-Jabriyah, located about six kilometers south of the Abu Duhur airbase in southeast Idlib.

The advance has brought the towns of Miraya and Heysa within striking distance of Syrian troops and the latest reports provided to Al-Masdar News state that army mortar units are now shelling militant positions in and around both settlements.

However, from far behind the front-line, jihadist-led militias have brought the heaviest guns in their arsenal to bear and since late Tuesday, Syrian forces have come under heavy rocket and howitzer shelling by militant groups who aim to slow down the army’s advance on Abu Duhur.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

VIDEO: Syrian troops, armor drive back multiple jihadist assaults on key base in east Damascus

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 08:37 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:35 A.M.) – Over the last 48 hours, the Syrian capital has witnessed Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood linked jihadist militias conduct two counter-attacks against a key Syrian Arab Army base located in the eastern district of Harasta.

Even after lifting the siege on the military vehicle base in Harasta several days ago, the Syrian Army has still been made to endure two powerful counter-attacks by jihadist militias against the installation and the newly established supply line running to over the last 48 hours.

Although both assaults, led by car bomb attacks, have been successfully repelled, they nonetheless prove that jihadist fighters are not yet prepared to ditch their efforts to take the base despite very high losses.

Amazingly, rebel forces maintain their offensive posture against the military vehicle depot despite being driven back in Harasta’s Al-Ajmi neighborhood by Syrian troops who have taken nine building blocks around the Abu Bakr Mosque during the last 12 hours.


Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Yet another town seized by the Syrian Army in northeast Hama as new offensive shifts into top gear

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:33 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:30 A.M.) – Forces of the Syrian Arab Army and allied pro-government paramilitary groups continue to drive back jihadist militants in the northeastern countryside of Hama province, taking control of a third town in 24 hours.

According to military-affiliated sources, units of the Syrian Arab Army and Qalamoun Shield Forces (an elite pro-government paramilitary group) have captured the town of Umm Sahreej from jihadist-led militias.

The advance, made on Tuesday afternoon, comes after Syrian army-led forces also captured the towns of Al-Shakousyah and Rahjan earlier in the day.

Syrian Army operations in northeast Hama are part of a renewed offensive push aimed at completely expelling militant groups from the province.

Many of the rebel fighters opposing the advance by pro-government forces in the region are affiliated to Al-Qaeda, belonging to two armed groups – Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra) and the Turkistan Islamic Party –  both of which are considered terrorist organizations by the United States and Russia.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Graphic video: Jihadist tank hunter has hands blown off after being hit by Syrian Army anti-armor missile

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:20 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:20 A.M.) – Amid ongoing clashes in the southern countryside of Idlib province between the Syrian Arab Army and the jihadist-led militias, two anti-tank guided missile teams from opposite sides of the line have directly faced off.

On Tuesday, a tank hunter team of the Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) militant group found itself of the receiving end of anti-tank missile strike by the Syrian Arab Army.

In is not know under what conditions the Syrian Army anti-tank team spotted their jihadist equivalents first, however, what is known (having been video documented) is that end result was bad for the militant tank hunters.

In the event, the spotter of the jihadist tank hunter team was killed outright due to the missile strike whilst the gunner (seen above) sustained major injuries including what appears to be the loss of his right hand.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Palestinian resistance fighters kill illegal Israeli settler

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 04:38 PM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:50 P.M)- Earlier tonight, Palestinian resistance fighters reportedly fired upon an Israeli settler shuttle bus, killing a 35 year old, well known settler.

Prominent settler killed, 35 years old

A settler shuttle bus was travelling near the village of Saraa (South Nablus) when armed men, who were described as Palestinian resistance fighters, opened fire upon the illegal settlers, heading to their racial colony.

35 year old Israeli settler, Rabbi Raziel Ben Elana, was wounded by bullets fired at the vehicle, later dying from his sustained injuries.

Hamas have made an announcement in support of, what they deemed, an act of “resistance”.

In retaliation military occupation forces have been deployed into various villages surrounding Nablus, carrying out raids. The gunmen have not yet been found, nor identified.

Israeli settlers have also taken to the streets of Nablus, firing at and injuring random Palestinians (no casualties yet).

A Palestinian man was also transported to hospital after settlers attacked his car, he was driving near to the scene of earliers attack.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army ignores Turkey’s disapproval to capture another town in Idlib – map

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 10:18 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:10 P.M.) – The Turkish regime summoned the Russian and Iranian ambassadors this evening to complan about the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) recent advances in the Idlib Governorate.

According to the Turkish regime, the Syrian Army’s advances are a violation of the de-escalation agreement, despite the fact that they are against the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham.

In response to the Turkey’s disapproval, the Syrian Army’s Tiger Forces continued their push towards the strategic Abu Dhuhour Military Airport tonight, capturing a new town from the jihadist rebels.

The Syrian Army was able to impose full control over Al-Jabiriyah this evening after the jihadist rebels abandoned the town in order to build their defenses around the airport.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

At least 12 civilians killed in latest Saudi attack in western Yemen

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 10:01 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:50 P.M.) – At least a dozen civilians were killed in western Yemen tonight after the Saudi Coalition bombed the Ta’iz Governorate.

According to Yemen’s Saba News Agency, the Saudi Coalition bombed a row of trucks that were filed with coal inside the Hais District of Tai’z tonight, killing a dozen people in the process.

The Saudi Coalition has recently intensified their air operations over the western countryside of Yemen in order to aid the UAE-backed Southern Resistance forces in their battle against the Houthis.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Turkish regime summons Iranian, Russian ambassadors after Syrian Army gains in Idlib

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 09:32 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:20 P.M.) – The Turkish regime summoned the Iranian and Russian ambassadors this evening, following the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) significant gains in the Idlib Governorate.

According to Turkish state media, the Turkish regime summoned the ambassadors in order to report that the Syrian Army’s gains were a breach of the de-escalation agreement.

No further details have been released.

However, despite this claim by the Turkish regime, the Syrian Army has repeatedly stated that any part of Syria that has a Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham presence is fair game for their forces.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Recording of Netanyahu son’s gas deal remarks leaked amid corruption scandal

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 09:16 AM PST

An Israeli news network has released the audio track of the alleged conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son and his friend outside a strip club, in which the young man drunkenly touts his father promoting a hefty gas deal in 2015.

The Channel 2 News’ audio leak features what the television channel says are the voices of the Israeli Prime Minister’s son Yair Netanyahu and Ori Maimon, the son of an Israeli gas tycoon.

While apparently inebriated, 26-year-old Yair is heard bragging outside a strip club about his father advancing a hefty gas deal in parliament so that gas tycoon Kobi Maimon could benefit from it.

“Bro, you got to spot me. My dad made an awesome deal for your dad, bro, he fought, fought in the Knesset for this, bro. Bro, my dad now arranged for you a $20bn deal and you can’t spot me 400 shekels?,” Yair said.

The conversation apparently dates back to 2015, when Israel was embroiled in a political scandal over “newly discovered natural gas deposits and the rights to drill in them,” according to The Guardian.

The Channel 2 News’ recording comes as Benjamin Netanyahu is being investigated in a pair of corruption probes, known as cases 1000 and 2000.

The Israeli Prime Minister faces charges of accepting expensive gifts from wealthy supporters, in the form of cigars, champagne and jewelry in return for advancing their interests.

The second investigation looks into allegations that Netanyahu arranged to obtain favorable coverage from the popular newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in return for creating problems for its rival, the Israel Hayom paper.

Additionally, Netanyahu may be accused of alleged involvement in a multimillion dollar submarine deal with German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp. He vehemently denies any wrongdoing, saying that he is the victim of a smear campaign created by his political opponents.

In late December, thousands of people protested in the streets in Tel Aviv to demand Netanyahu’s resignation over alleged corruption.

At the time, the “March of Shame” demonstration was held in central Tel Aviv for the fourth consecutive week. The beginning of January saw the continuation of anti-corruption protests, with more than 2,000 people taking to the steets in Tel Aviv.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Islamist rebels fire several missiles into densely populated areas of Damascus, 4 civilians killed

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 08:24 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:10 P.M.) – For the second day in a row, the Islamist rebels fired several missiles into the densely populated districts of Damascus City, killing and wounding many civilians in the process.

According to Damascus Now, at least four civilians were killed and sixteen more were wounded this afternoon when a number of missiles struck the Bab Touma and Bab Sharqi districts.

Damascus Now stated that the missiless were fired from the Islamist-controlled East Ghouta region, which is located just outside the Syrian capital.

Video footage showing the aftermath of the attack was released by Damascus Now –


Yesterday, one civilian was killed inside the predominately Christian district of Bab Touma after a similar attack was launched by the Islamist rebels in the East Ghouta.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Erdogan announces Turkey will attack Kurdish enclave in northern Syria (video)

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:31 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:25 P.M.) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey will continue the Euphrates Shield operation in Syria’s Afrin and Manbij regions, during a speech in Ankara, Tuesday.

“It is now time to breakdown the planned construction of the corridor of terror by a separatist organisation along the Syrian border. We will complete this process by continuing the Shield of Euphrates through Afrin and Manbij until the whole border is peaceful and safe. In this period, we need stronger support from our brothers in the region. We need to put in an effort to carry out the steps that we have made in the past to do more,” Erdogan stated.

The Turkish President made the statement during a parliamentary address to his ruling AK Party.

Turkey’s operation ‘Euphrates Shield’ was launched on 24 August, 2016, in alliance with the US-led coalition with the stated aim of clearing IS fighters from the Syria-Turkey border. However, Turkish forces were also carrying out operations against Kurdish fighters.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

US spy aircraft flew between Russian bases in Syria during drone attack – MoD

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:58 AM PST

The Russian military in Syria has disrupted a massive attack with the use of battle drones on its facilities in the country on January 6, intercepting six and shooting down seven more UAVs launched by militants.

The US Navy’s Boeing P-8 Poseidon was on a patrol mission in the area between the Russian Hmeimim airbase and Tartus naval base in Syria when militants attempted to attack the facilities using 13 drones, the ministry revealed on Tuesday.

“… This forces us to take a fresh look at the strange coincidence that, during the attack of UAV terrorists on Russian military facilities in Syria, the Navy reconnaissance aircraft Poseidon was on patrol over the Mediterranean Sea for more than 4 hours at an altitude of 7 thousand meters, between Tartus and Hmeimim,” the ministry said.

After preventing the attack, the Russian military analyzed the design of and ammunition inside the seized UAVs, saying that such drones could have been supplied to the militants only by a country that is capable of “providing satellite navigation and remote control for the dropping of explosive devices.” Later in the day, the Pentagon issued a statement saying that such drones could be bought on “the open market.”

​Commenting on the Pentagon’s statement, the Russian military expressed its concern over the remark that the technologies for attacking Russian military facilities are “easily accessible on the open market.”

“What are those technologies that are being talked about?” the ministry asked. A spokesperson also called for the Pentagon to reveal where this market is “located and what special service is selling space reconnaissance data” to militants.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Last phase of Beit Jinn reconciliation agreement completed (photos)

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:47 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:25 P.M.) – The last phase of the Beit Jinn reconciliation agreement was completed, today, after both government and rebel delegations met to declare the end of hostilities in this area.

According to a military report from southwest Syria, the Syrian government and rebel delegations met with Russian officers in Beit Jinn this morning to complete the last phase of the agreement and raise the Syrian flag over Beit Jinn.

The photos below show the meeting that took place:

As of today, the Beit Jinn pocket is officially under government control.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

UN agency urges Israel to stop forced relocation of African refugees

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:18 AM PST

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, urged Israel on Tuesday to stop forcibly relocating African refugees because of the different kinds of abuse they suffer on their way back to Europe.

“UNHCR is again appealing to Israel to halt its policy of relocating Eritreans and Sudanese to sub-Saharan Africa. This is after some 80 cases were identified in which people relocated by Israel risked their lives by taking dangerous onward journeys to Europe via Libya… Feeling they had no other choice, they travelled many hundreds of kilometers through conflict zones in South Sudan, Sudan and Libya after being relocated by Israel. Along the way they suffered abuse, torture and extortion before risking their lives once again by crossing the Mediterranean to Italy,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

​In early January, Israeli authorities adopted regulations forcing thousands of predominately Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers, who applied for refugee status in Israel but received no response, to leave the country within 90 days or face imprisonment.

According to media reports, those who are to leave by the end of March will receive $3,500 as well as a flight ticket.

“The UNHCR is seriously concerned over Israel's plans announced on January 1st to forcibly relocate Eritreans and Sudanese to countries in Africa or have them face indefinite detention,” the UN agency said.

Israeli authorities estimate that about 27,000 Eritreans, 7,500 Sudanese and about 2,500 people from other African states are currently residing in Israel, with many of them not having the relevant permission.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army derails Islamist offensive on strategic vehicle base (video)

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:09 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:50 P.M.) – The Islamist rebels launched a big assault on the strategic vehicle management base in eastern Damascus, yesterday, targeting the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) positions at the eastern flank of the military installation.

Led by Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and Faylaq Al-Rahman from the Madera axis, the Islamist rebels stormed the technical institute at the vehicle management base in a bid to alleviate the pressure on their forces in northern Syria.

However, despite the intensity of the attack, the Islamist rebels were unable to make any progress at the vehicle management base on Monday.

According to a military source in Damascus, the Islamist rebels lost several combatants and two tanks during the short-lived assault on the base.

Video footage of the Syrian Army repelling the attack was released by Hezbollah’s official media wing on Tuesday:

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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US, UK ‘failed’ to destabilize Iran through recent protests – Supreme Leader

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 05:52 AM PST

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that the United States and the United Kingdom had “failed” to create unrest in Iran during recent mass protests in the country.

“Once again, the nation tells the US, Britain, and those who seek to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran from abroad that ‘you’ve failed, and you will fail in the future, too,'” Khamenei wrote on his Twitter page.

He added that all the moves of hostile nations against Tehran over the past 40 years were “attacks on the Islamic Revolution.”

The Iranian leader also shared his vision of the reasons behind demonstrations in the country, stressing that it was a US-Israeli scheme funded by a Persian Gulf state.

“According to evidence of intelligence, there’s been a triangle pattern activating these events. The scheme was formed by U.S. & Zionists. The money came from a wealthy government near the Persian Gulf; the 3rd element were the henchmen. The butchers, MEK, were hired as minions for this plot,” Khamenei said.

Several major cities in Iran, including Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Rasht, have been engulfed in anti-government protests since December 28, 2017. The people have taken to the streets to protest against unemployment, poverty, and the rising cost of living, as well as policies of Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

At least 20 people have reportedly been killed and 450 have been detained. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said that about 42,000 Iranians had participated in the rallies.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Egypt’s Naval Expansion Strategy Amid a Complex Geopolitical Environment

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 05:39 AM PST

Egypt's geographical position endowed the country with a relatively large
maritime space, and the control over one of the most important water
passages in the world; the Suez Canal. This key position entails a double
approach reconciling economic interests and security threats in the
Mediterranean and Red Sea. The emerging challenges in the Middle East and
North Africa deriving from the globalization of terror, failed states, energy
security obligations and the increase of armed conflicts must be addressed
by adapting the political and military demands.

In recent years, political instability has led Egyptian institutions to focus on
internal security issues following the revolutions in 2011 and 2013 which had
undermined Egypt's active role on the regional scene. However, since 2014
the Armed Forces have launched a significant modernisation program of the
entire military as part of a strategic plan aimed at meeting future geopolitical
aspirations and imposing Egypt as the only Arab country with the ability to
deal with political and security issues on a regional scale.

This new approach driven by growing economic, security and political
requirements implies a complete rethinking of the need to elaborate a real
Egyptian maritime policy, since the navy is considered one of the most
important military branches, offering a wide range of diplomatic instruments.
Therefore, the navy has experienced a significant development of its doctrine
over the past years, with the acquisition of two Mistral class carriers designed
for amphibious landing, command and force projection capabilities. This
ability offers Egypt naval forces the means to become a green-water navy,
capable of projecting power offshore in a regional range adding an offensive
dimension to the naval doctrine.

Egypt's naval expansion strategy has evolved through time, and thus can not
be analyzed without a real understanding of the potential threats to Egyptian
national security. Three major factors must be taken into account in this

Maritime and Coastal Assets

Egypt has a relatively large maritime space in the Mediterranean Sea and in
the Red Sea, having more than 2600km of coastline resulting in a highly
intense maritime traffic. This vast marine space gives Egypt various maritime
and coastal assets.

The discoveries of oil and gas fields in the Mediterranean continue to
increase in number year by year, and were recently marked by the discovery
of the giant Zohr field, holding up nearly 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. This field
alone could be worth around $100 billion, and represent the largest gas
discovery ever made in the Mediterranean. Through increasing its gas
reserve, Egypt seeks to become an energy hub in the region, following
massive foreign investments in the energy sector with more than 73 oil and
gas exploration deals signed in the past three years worth at least $15 billion.
These significant discoveries will lead to a remaking of regional alliances and
force Egypt's neighbors to review their aspirations to become main gas
exporting countries.

In December 2015 a summit between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece was held to
boost economic, energy and political cooperation, as a result of this changing
regional gas outlook. This diplomatic initiative undertaken by President AlSissi
was motivated mostly by the deterioration of the Egyptian – Turkish
relationships and Erdogan's will to launch natural gas exploration in the
Mediterranean as early as 2014. Again this year, Turkey threatened to take
measures against Greece and Cyprus if explorations are carried out near the
Cypriot maritime spaces. These threats have pushed Egypt to elevate
cooperation with its allies to the military level. Later in 2016, Cypriot Defense
Minister visited Cairo where a military cooperation program was signed, while
Greek Naval and Air Forces conducted the joint military drill Medusa 2016 as
part of the framework of cooperation between the two countries to confront
the growing challenges in the Mediterranean.

It is clear that these new discoveries valued in multi-billion dollars in the
Mediterranean will attract the attention of state and non-state actors. On the
other hand, the Egyptian Navy has to establish a robust and constant
presence in the Mediterranean to face any challenges in disputed maritime
domains and to provide security to energy infrastructures, such as
safeguarding pipelines and gas fields.

Red Sea, a center of interest

Egypt is an important transit for global commerce through the Suez Canal
and the Red Sea, handling 8% of world trade. This reinforces the strategic
importance of this maritime route from the Gulf of Aden to the Mediterranean.
The creation of an Egyptian southern fleet aims not only at protecting this
vital navigation route to international trade but also to face emerging threats
at the entrance of the Red Sea. Former assistant defense minister Hossam
Suweilam made a reference to a 'new Red Sea Strategy' in order to impose
full control of territorial waters in this area and protect Egypt's interests.

Back in 2015, President Al-Sissi stated that securing the strategic Bab alMandab
Strait 'is a battle of life and death' for Egypt due to its political,
economic, military and strategic value. Gate to the Suez Canal, Bab alMandab
has witnessed various military activities over the past years. The
military intervention in Yemen has resulted in several operations undertaken
by the Houthis against UAE and Saudi ships in the Gulf of Aden leading to
constant threats in the area.

Meanwhile, western countries and Turkey include a geopolitical range in the
Red Sea, since it represents a primary oil artery and a world navigation route.
This leads to the second concern; the establishment of multiple foreign
military bases by the United States, China, France, Turkey and UAE in Eritrea,
Djibouti and Somalia. In fact, the presence of military from a hostile country
like Turkey, considering the current state of relations, in an area that has a
direct influence on the passage of ships towards the Suez Canal is going
against Egypt's interests.

The creation of the southern fleet will represent a counter-weight to the
military incursion in the Horn of Africa, and implies the need for the Egyptian
navy to develop a strong and large fleet able to secure the entire Red Sea

Turkish Naval Threat

In July 2017, Turkish President voiced his country's ambition to build an
aircraft carrier as part of a Turkish navy massive modernization program,
undertaken since 2010, to upgrade its entire naval forces in term of structure,
technology and shipbuilding industry. If completed, this project would boost
the force projection capability of the Turkish Navy. This restructuring process
has been labelled 'Turkish Armed Forces 2030 Vision' which is part of
Erdogan’s plan to make of Turkey a regional military power.

Actually Turkey has the strongest naval forces in the Mediterranean and has
an advantage in terms of number and technology. Within its 2030 vision,
turkey is undertaking the construction of 12 multipurpose Ada-class
corvettes and light frigates as part of the MILGEM project (4 completed), 4
TF-2000 frigates designed for anti-aircraft warfare, 2 Bayraktar class landing
ships (1 completed) dedicated for amphibious missions and capable of
transporting 18 tanks, 1 TCG Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) that will be
capable of operating 12 F-35B stealth fighters, 12 helicopters and hosting 29
main battle tanks (MBT), while a 10-year program was launched in 2015 to
locally build 6 Type-214 submarines.

The Turkish Navy is without a doubt becoming a regional military power and
seeks to impose a naval superiority in the Mediterranean. In this way, the
Egyptian naval expansion shows a real response to the Turkish naval
modernization, in case of any threat in the contested Cypriot maritime space
as Turkey is categorized as a hostile country by regional actors like Egypt,
Greece and Cyprus.

The Egyptian naval forces must respond to this emerging economic, political
and military considerations by developing its naval capability. Egypt's will to
build a green-water navy is the first step to be in alignement with future
geopolitical aspirations and to respond to rising threats in the region. This
evolution implies an increase of military demands to complete the escort
group for the northern and southern fleets, in which the two Mistral- class
carriers are used as command and control ships. These escort fleets should
be able to perform anti-air and anti-submarine warfares and provide a
complete protection to both carriers inside and outside the Egyptian maritime
space. This new vision signals Egypt’s endeavor to enhance its role in the
region by establishing a constant presence in the Red Sea and the
Mediterranean in order to secure Egypt national security and if required,
conduct military expedition abroad. The naval expansion plan still has a long
way go to meet Egypt's ambitions but it is going to reinforce the country's
strategic role regionally on the long-term.

This article was written by Bassem A. Youssef El-Telawy. You can follow him on Twitter @BTelawy

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Syrian Army severs main road leading between two cities in Idlib with fire control

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 05:37 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:37 P.M.) – Amid ongoing battles between the Syrian Arab Army and jihadist-led militias in the eastern countryside of Idlib province, government forces have severed the main road linking two key cities in the region with fire control.

Moments ago, reports from military-affiliated confirmed that the main road between the rebel-held cities of Marrat al-Nu’man (in central Idlib) and Abu Duhur (in eastern Idlib) has been cut by Syrian Army fire support assets – namely artillery, heavy machine guns, tank fire and anti-tank missiles.

The development comes after elite assault units of the Syrian Army captured a dozen towns and villages in the eastern countryside of Idlib bringing them well to within fire control range of the road from Abu Duhur (the current area of government operations) and Marrat al-Nu’man (further west).

Whilst it remains unclear what direction Syrian troops will move in next, it is highly possible that physically cutting the road between Marrat al-Nu’man and Abu Duhur with ground forces will be part of a future assault by the army as aims to isolate the latter city and its nearby airbase.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Syrian Army seizes highly-prized jihadist-held town in northeast Hama amid new offensive

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 05:23 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:23 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army and allied paramilitaries have seized a highly-prized town from the control of Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the northeastern countryside of Hama province amid an a new and rapidly expanding offensive operation in the region.

Moments ago, sources exclusive to Al-Masdar News confirmed that the strategic town of Rahjan was ripped from the clutches of the Al-Qaeda-linked Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) terrorist group by Syrian army-led forces.

Rahjan’s capture comes just hours after pro-government forces took the town of Al-Shakusiyah further northeast and represents a new offensive operation by the Syrian Arab Army aimed at entirely expelling jihadist-led militias from Hama province.

Rahjan is a culmination of smaller interconnected villages based around a main settlement that served as the hometown of the Syrian Ministry of Defence prior to it being seized by jihadist-led militias in 2014.

After many years, the Syrian Arab Army has now retaken this long-lost town.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Video: How Syrian Army sent food supplies to besieged soldiers in rural Damascus

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 05:20 AM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:20 P.M.) – For almost two weeks, up to 200 Syrian Army soldiers have been besieged by Islamist rebels who attacked the Vehicle Base in Harasta suburb in east Damascus before the blockade was lifted two days ago.

During that time, dozens of Army troops were killed and wounded while fighting off the fierce offensive, others were even captured by the militants.

In a video recently released on social media, a local activist showed how the Syrian forces attempting to break the siege used cannon shells to send food supplies to the encircled troops.

The footage features several soldiers stuffing a hell cannon shell – after empting it from explosives – with food, and then fire it into the besieged base.

Last Sunday, the government forces managed to reach out for the embattled soldiers inside the Vehicle Base following ferocious battles with jihadi militants.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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Breaking: 12 towns fall to the Syrian Army in east Idlib as elite forces aim to encircle key city and airbase

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 04:42 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:42 P.M.) – Elite Syrian troops have made another cascade of major gains in the eastern countryside of Idlib province, capturing some twelve settlements over the last 12 hours en-route to a key city and its nearby airbase.

Amid what clearly appears to be a total collapse of jihadist defenses, assault units of the Syrian Arab Army’s elite Tiger Forces Division have seized from jihadist-led militias another twelve towns and villages in the eastern Idlib province near the strategic Abu Duhur area.

The latest reports from sources at the front-line identify the settlements as Al-Khuraybah, Al-‘Oja, Al-Hardanah, Al-Harmalah, Rabdah, Tell al-‘Oja, Karatin Shaghirah, Al-Rabi’yah Burnan, Umm Miyal, Umm Muwaylat al-Shamali, Zafar and Zabool.

The latest advance – which began on the night of Monday to Tuesday – shows that the Syrian Army most likely aims to encircle the city and airbase of Abu Duhur instead of attacking both places directly. This is most likely being done to encourage militants to withdraw from the highly strategic Abu Duhur area without putting up any fight.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Latest battle map update from Idlib

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 04:37 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:05 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has captured several towns in southern Idlib, today, leaving them within 5 km of the strategic Abu Dhuhour Military Airport.

Led by their elite Tiger Forces, the Syrian Army began the day by capturing four towns from Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and their allies.

Since then, the Syrian Army and their allies have been pressing north towards the Abu Dhuhour Military Airport in a bid to close the gap on this imperative installation.

With the Syrian Army near the gates of the Abu Dhuhour Airport, the jihadist rebels will have to make the decision whether or not they want to waste their manpower on protecting the base because this will likely be a bloody battle.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Pictures: ISIS conducts Vietnam-style insurgency against Kurdish forces in east Syria

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 04:03 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:00 P.M.) – ISIS-linked media has released new photos of recent battles between Islamic State terrorists and Syrian Collation-led forces (of which Kurdish until forma a major part) in the country’s east.

The last month has witnessed heavy clashes in the east Syrian province of Deir Ezzor – namely along the eastern shore of the Euphrates River – as US-backed Arab and Kurdish militias battle it out with ISIS for control of the entire region.

Lacking the kind of strategic mobility it use to have in previous years due major losses in technical pickups and armored transports over the course of 2017, ISIS has contented itself with the more tactically-orientated strategy of waging local battles within the remaining small towns and villages controlled by its forces along the Khabur River and eastern shore of the Euphrates.

Unlike before where ISIS would only retake a lost settlement from the outside with a motorized counter-attacking force, now it re-seizes the odd town and village by counter-attacking from within it.

To this effect, armed Toyota pickups as a means of transport have been replaced by tunnels and the terrorist group’s remaining forces have been dispersed across the few settlements still under its control and entrusted to local commanders rather than grouped into a single mass for the purpose of conducting strategic operations.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Russian military boosts qualified Syrian sappers to demine war-ravaged country

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 03:44 AM PST

Russian servicemen have trained another group of Syrian combat engineers to clear the areas in the country liberated from terrorists.

A total of 93 Syrian servicemen passed the fast-track exercise, TASS reported from the graduation ceremony for the course participants at the International Mine Action Center.

The training program aims to prepare combat engineers in the shortest possible period of time.

“Here in the center they (the Syrian servicemen – TASS) underwent a one-month program to clear areas of explosive objects. We held practical and theoretical courses for them to study the means for searching and detecting explosive objects, as well as destroying munitions. They will apply this knowledge later on,” said Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Bagrov, head of the branch of the International Mine Action Center.

The refugees still cannot return to their homes after Syria's liberation from IS (outlawed in Russia) terrorists, because many areas are mined, and the Syrian army lacks combat engineers.

“The main goal of the center's opening was the need to prepare a great number of experts to clear the liberated territories of mines and explosive devices that terrorists planted in houses and along streets.

We are grateful to the Russian army for the help in demining our territories and preparing Syrian combat engineers. It will help the civilians return to their homes sooner,” said head of the Syrian engineer force Lieutenant General Abdul Karim Aderi.

The main problem of the demining in Syria is the need to clear a great number of makeshift munitions and explosive devices camouflaged as children's toys and everyday items, along with tripwire mines.

Tripwire mines are explosive devices that are detonated by triggering a taut wire attached to a grenade pin, mine or a shell. It is the most widely used mining method in Syria's rural areas.

Russian instructors teach Syrian combat engineers safe ways to demine tripwire mines with the help of simple and effective technical means: grappling hooks for minesweeping.

“They can be thrown both manually and by a single shot from an automatic rifle,” course participant Muhammad Saleh Budel told reporters.

One branch of Russia's International Mine Action Center opened in the Homs Governorate in April 2017.

The other branch is operating in Aleppo. Russian servicemen trained almost 900 combat engineers for the Syrian army, using new methods of training taking into consideration the Syrian climate and soil. All course graduates receive Russian-made metal detectors and equipment.


Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Houthi forces shoot down Saudi warplane in Yemen (video)

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 03:36 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:15 P.M.) – The Houthi forces shot down a Saudi warplane in northern Yemen, Monday, after it was seen flying over their positions in the eastern countryside of the Sana’a Governorate.

According to the official media wing of the Houthi forces, their air defense units shot down the Saudi F-15 with an anti-aircraft missile.

However, video footage of the attack was released on Tuesday, showing that the missile did not in fact hit the warplane (please see below:

Despite missing, the Houthi anti-aircraft missile came very close to hitting the Saudi warplane, which is an impressive feet, given that they are developing the SAM domestically.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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Breaking: Syrian Army launches second phase of Idlib offensive as southwest Aleppo front explodes into action

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 03:27 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:27 P.M.) – Forces of the Syrian Arab Army have kicked-off the second phase of their greater Idlib strategic operation, attacking jihadist-led militias from a new front en-route to the Abu Duhur military airport.

Moments ago, military-affiliated sources informed Al-Masdar News that assault units of the Syrian Arab Army began a powerful attack out of southwest Aleppo via the Khanasser axis, de facto initiating the second phase of the Idlib strategic operation.

Whilst the specific army units involved in the offensive on this new front have not been revealed, preliminary reports hint that at least one battle group of the elite Tiger Forces Division is tasked leading the assault.

Clarification of the presence of even just one Tiger Forces unit would confirm that the current activities being witnessed around Khanasser are part of a major offensive operation in southwest Aleppo.

At the present time Syrian Army artillery units as well as Russian and Syrian warplanes are laying down a wall of saturation fire onto militant positions in southwest Aleppo to prepare the way for a ground assault by government troops.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Turkey will launch offensive to capture Kurdish enclave in northwest Aleppo – Erdogan

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 03:13 AM PST

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday during a parliamentary address to his party that Turkish the military will continue its Euphrates Shield operation in Syria’s Afrin and Manbij regions.

In 2016, Turkey launched its Euphrates Shield Operation in Syria, aimed at the elimination of Daesh terrorists in the northern part of the country. In March 2017, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced the successful completion of Operation Euphrates Shield, during which Turkish-led forces drove out the Daesh terrorist group from a number of settlements.

However, Ankara has continued its military operations against Syria’s armed Kurdish groups. These are suspected by Turkey of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey.

In October, the Turkish Armed Forces said that Turkish military units had crossed the border into Syria’s Idlib province to conduct expeditionary activities and observe the implementation of the de-escalation zone agreement.

The deployment of the Turkish troops has been criticized by the Syrian government, which has demanded Turkey’s withdrawal from Syria.

Afrin, located in the northwest of Syria on the border with Turkey, is part of the Syrian Kurdish region commonly known as Rojava. Turkey considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) controlling Afrin a terrorist organization linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) banned in the country. In December, Turkey sent military reinforcements to the region.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Russia repels attack by 13 ‘militant’ drones on military facilities (video)

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 02:56 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:50 P.M.) – Russia says its military repelled an attack by 13 "militant" drones on its Khmeimim Air Base and Tartus naval facility in Syria on Saturday.

In a statement, the Russian Ministry of Defence said its forces had detected ten drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), approaching its air base in Lakatia province and another three targeting the naval logistics facility in the coastal city of Tartus.

It went on to say the drones were either shot down by Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile launchers or disabled by electronic defence systems before reaching their target.

Images released by the defence ministry show one of the captured UAVs carrying several improvised explosive devices.

Some reports suggested the attack was carried out by an "Islamist faction".

Khmeimim was also hit by mortar shelling on December 31 which claimed the lives of two Russian military personnel.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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Breaking: Senior Hamas official reportedly assassinated in Gaza

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 02:45 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:30 P.M.) – A senior Hamas official has been allegedly assassinated in the Gaza Strip, today, the Al-Quds News Network reported this afternoon.

According to the Al-Quds report, ‘Imad Al-Alami was shot in the head while traveling through Gaza City this morning.

Prior to his assassination, Al-Alami was the head of the Hamas office in Tehran after he was expelled from the Gaza Strip by the Israeli forces.

No further details have been released.

Update: Hamas Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said Al-Alami was wounded while inspecting his gun – Barhoum added that he is in critical condition.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army keeps rolling in southern Idlib, 4 towns captured

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 02:27 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:15 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continued their offensive in the southern countryside of Idlib, today, targeting the last jihadist-held towns located south of the Abu Dhuhour Military Airport.

Backed by heavy artillery and Russian airstrikes, the Syrian Army’s Tiger Forces captured four more towns from the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and Jaysh Al-Izza this morning.

According to a military report from the Hama Governorate, the Syrian Army captured the towns of Rasm Hamideh, Surouj, Al-‘Adiliyah, and Astablat in the southwestern countryside of Abu Dhuhour.

With this latest advance, the Syrian Army finds themselves within 5 km of the Abu Dhuhour Military Airport and 15 km away from their forces in the southern Aleppo town of Hader.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Breaking: Syrian Army kicks-off surprise offensive in northeast Hama, capturing town from Turkistani militants

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 02:02 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:02 P.M.) – Syrian troops have reactivated operations against jihadist-led militias in northeastern Hama province – a front that has laid dormant for almost one month – capturing one town right off the bat.

According to military-affiliated sources, moments ago, assault units of the Syrian Arab Army and allied paramilitaries attacked Turkistani (ethnic Uyghurs) jihadist militants at the town of Al-Shakusiyah in Hama province’s northeastern countryside.

After brief clashes, jihadist fighters withdrew from Al-Shakusiyah and the town quickly fell to advancing Syrian troops.

Al-Shakusiyah is located northeast of the strategic town of Rahjan, a key rebel-held road junction settlement area consisting of a number of smaller villages that had served as the hometown of the Syrian Ministry of Defence prior to its seizure by jihadist militants in 2014.

By this most recent advance, Syrian troops have reactivated a front which until now had been dormant for weeks whilst other major battles developed in southeast Idlib province.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Iran and Oman agree: Saudi war against Yemen must stop

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 01:19 AM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:15 AM) – During a visit of Foreign Responsible Minister of the Sultanate of Oman, Yusuf bin Alawi, to Iran, the two nations have issued a collective statement calling on Saudi Arabia to immediately cease its offensive operations against the Republic of Yemen.

Minister Yusuf bin Alawi voiced his country’s support for the stance of Iran regarding the Yemeni conflict during a meeting with his Iranian colleague Javad Zarif during a meeting in Tehran on Monday.

“There is an urgent need for ending the war in Yemen and also dispatching the humanitarian aid to the war-torn country,” Zarif stated during the meeting.

Omani minister Yusuf bin Alawi, for his part, voiced his support to what he called the Saudi massacre of Yemeni people.

The Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs of Oman is visiting Iran for the Second Tehran Security Conference, officially dubbed Regional Security in West Asia, Emerging challenges and Trends, which started on Monday as well.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Tunisia: Police disperse protests against price hikes with tear gas (video)

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 01:02 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:55 A.M.) – Tunisian police fired tear gas to disperse violent protests in Tunis on Monday, where hundreds of people are protesting against deteriorating economic conditions.

Clashes erupted when police used tear gas to disperse protesters who had been burning tires and hurling stones at officers.

Protests kicked off when the government announced another spike in prices and taxes.

Tunisia is under great pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its partners to cut its deficit and to create jobs, despite the fact that one of Tunisia's most profitable sectors, tourism, has been suffering since 2015, when the so-called Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIS/ISIL) led numerous military attacks against tourists.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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Yemen warns: We will cut off Red Sea access if Saudi aggression continues

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 12:43 AM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (10:35 AM) – Yemen will not hesitate to cut off the international shipping route in the Red Sea if the Saudi-led coalition will not cease with its attack against major port city Al-Hudaydah. This was said by Yemeni president Saleh Ali al-Sammad on Monday.

Saleh Ali al-Sammad, who is the chairman of the Supreme Council of Yemen (the revolutionary government composed of supporters of Ansarullah, also known as the Houthi movement), said this in a conversation with UN representative for Yemen, Maeen Sharim. The position of Supreme Council chairman is similar to that of president of the country.

“Once military operations of aggressors to Yemen's largest city Al Hudaydah are continued, we will cut off the international shipping route in the Red Sea," president al-Sammad said, adding that Yemen is fed up with the fact that “While Yemeni people die from hunger, they (the Saudis and their allies) cross our waters with their vessels freely.”

The cutting off of Red Sea shipping is a deterrent measure that could have international economic consequences, and is not to be taken lightly. For Yemen, it could be a last lifeline to force the international community to listen to its calls. In the past, similar threats of Red Sea blockading were made by Egypt under president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

However, Saleh Ali al-Sammad continued by stating that Sana’a is more than willing to reach a negotiated end to the hostilities with the Saudi invasion forces, provided that the Saudi bombings cease.

“Yemen is ready for bilateral talks in order to end bloodshed and establish stability and security in the region,” the president said.

Al-Sammad denied claims by Saudi Arabia that they have ended the blockade of the Ansarullah-controlled port city of al-Hudaydah in order to let humanitarian aid in, stating “They claimed to have reopened the port while nothing special has been done up to the present time. They even removed the ships from the harbor.”

Regarding last month’s conflict between Ansarullah loyalists and troops led by former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who defected to the Saudi side after having sided with the revolutionary government since 2014, al-Sammad stated that “many of those who were arrested in Sana'a events and failed coup d'etat of Ali Abdullah Saleh were released.”

Saleh Ali al-Sammad concluded by criticising the United Nations for its lack of effort to stop the war in Yemen, stating the “UN has a very sensitive role in this regard but it is a matter of regret to say that we have perceived the lackluster and weak performance of this monitoring body.”

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian military says they struck an attacking Israeli warplane

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 12:43 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:30 A.M.) – The Syrian Ministry of Defense stated on Tuesday that their air defense scored a direct hit on an Israeli warplane that was flying near the Syrian border last night.

According to the Ministry’s statement, the Israeli warplane had fired several rockets towards the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) positions in Qutayfah, hitting an arms depot and military base before the Syrian Air Defense units fired an anti-aircraft missile at the fighter jet.

Al-Masdar has reached out to the Syrian military for information regarding the anti-aircraft strike – no response has been given thus far.

The total number of casualties from Tuesday’s assault is still unknown.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

VIDEO: Syrian Army uses massive rockets to smash rebel defenses amid ongoing advance in east Damascus

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 12:23 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:20 A.M.) – As the Syrian Arab Army continues to expand the scope of its offensive in the Harasta district of eastern Damascus, more and more heavy rocket thrower units are being deployed by government forces to smash militant defenses ahead of advancing troops.

Following the lifting of the siege on a key military base in eastern Damascus by Syrian army-led forces several days ago, government troops continue to pursue jihadist militants throughout the district of Harasta.

According to military-affiliated sources, Syrian troops are currently in the process of trying to flush jihadist fighters out of Harasta’s Al-Ajmi and Al-Hadaek neighborhoods and to this end some hard-line militants are hurling themselves at government forces with suicide bomb vests strapped to their person.

Whilst the firefights are under way, more army rocket thrower units – utilizing the Golan-300 system – are being brought to bear to pummel rebel positions ahead of advances by Syrian troops.


Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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Fighting Westoxification: Iran bans English from primary schools in order to stop “cultural invasion”

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 12:09 AM PST

DAMASCUS (10:10 AM) – Senior education officials in the Islamic Republic of Iran have moved to ban English from the curriculum in kindergarten and primary schools, in an apparent campaign against what is deemed “cultural invasion” of Iran by Western imperialist powers. Under the new education regulations, English will still continued to be taught in secondary schools and higher.

“Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” leader of the High Education Council, Mehdi Navid-Adham was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“This is because the assumption is that, in primary education, the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid.”

English is not one of the sixteen officially recognized languages in Iran, but nevertheless some private education institutions over the years have opted to teach primary school pupils the English language, sometimes even using it as lingua franca in the school.

In 2016, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei already voiced concerns about the matter, after reports surfaced that even some daycare centers were teaching English rather than Persian or Arabic.

“That does not mean (we are in ) opposition to learning a foreign language, but (this is the) promotion of a foreign culture in the country and among children, young adults and youths,” the Ayatollah said.
“Western thinkers have time and again said that instead of colonialist expansionism of the 19th century, the best and the least costly way would have been inculcation of thought and culture to the younger generation of countries and training experts and elites that would act like soldiers of the system of dominance.”

The Iranian fear of foreign powers using culture and language as means to exercise control over Iran is grounded in a long history of opposition to imperialism. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 was partially caused by a growing dissatisfaction to what many saw as gharbzadegi”, which is usually translated as “westoxification” or “occidentosis”: the loss of Iranian national and cultural identity and the gradual degradation of then imperial Iran into a passive pawn in the hands of the West.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Saudi women to be allowed into stadiums for first time Friday

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 12:07 AM PST

ports stadiums in Saudi Arabia will open their doors to female football fans for the first time ever on Friday, as part of the government's series of reforms, which include the planned lifting of a ban on women driving and the reopening of cinemas.

Three previously male-only stadiums in the capital, Riyadh; Jeddah on the Red Sea; and the eastern city of Dammam are preparing to open special sections for women, according to the kingdom’s General Sports Authority.

“The first match that women will be allowed to watch will be Al-Ahli versus Al-Batin on Friday, Jan 12,” the country’s Ministry of Information said in a statement on Monday, adding that Jeddah’s King Abdullah Stadium will host the game.

Women will also be able to attend a second match between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad at Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium on the following day and a third one, between Al-Ettifaq and Al-Faisaly, at Dammam’s Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium on January 18.

“There will be a number of ways in which women will be granted access to the matches, including the ticketing system… and the electronic gates which will be controlled and transferred between the three stadiums as well as other places on the field in case the stadium is crowded,” Undersecretary of Technical Affairs and Investment at GSA Abdul Rahman Al Qadheeb told the Riyadh Daily newspaper.

He added that after an assessment of the opening of the first three stadiums, the remaining stadiums in Saudi Arabia will gradually join the initiative.

Previously, some stadiums hosted women only for one-off events, including Saudi Arabia’s national day celebrations.

The change is radical for the country, which has long been internationally criticized for its tight restrictions on women, barring them from studying or traveling without permission from a male “guardian” — normally a father, husband or brother.

The social reform is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to shed the kingdom’s ultra-conservative image and to overhaul the country’s oil-dependent economy by boosting domestic spending on entertainment.

The law was decided on October 29 last year, soon after the decision to lift the driving ban, which is set to happen in June. As a part of the crown prince’s reform drive, Saudi Arabia also announced in December it was ending a decades-ban on cinemas. The first movie theatres are expected to open in March.

Saudi Arabia was ranked 141 out of 144 countries on gender parity on the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز