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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

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Breaking: 2 Russian servicemen killed in militant mortar attack on Khmeimim Air Base in Syria

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 11:37 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:36 A.M.) – A mortar attack by Syrian militants against Russian military personnel and assets at the Khmeimim Air Base several days ago has resulted in the death of two Russian servicemen according the Russian Ministry of Defence

In recent hours the Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed that a mortar attack carried out by Syrian militants against the Khmeimim Air Base on December 31 (Sunday) resulted in the killing of two Russian servicemen.

Original reports by the unofficial sources some days earlier claimed that seven Russian aircraft were also destroyed in the mortar attack, however the Russian Ministry of Defence dismissed such information as ‘fake news.’

At the present time, it is unclear how or from where militant groups managed to carry out the mortar attack against the Russian military installation which until now was only ever considered to be within range of Grad rocket launchers fired from northern Latakia province.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

VIDEO: Nusra knocks out Syrian Army tank in rural Hama with hit to the turret

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 11:05 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:05 A.M.) – Two days ago, Al-Qaeda-linked fighters of the Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) terrorist group knocked out a Syrian Arab Army tank in the northeastern countryside of Hama province.

On Tuesday, jihadist militants knocked out a Syrian Army T-72 tank with an anti-tank guided missile in rural Hama amid an ongoing battle between pro-government forces and Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters for the key rebel-held town of Al-Rajhan.

As the video (below) shows, the terrorist tank hunter team opportunistically struck the upper side turret of the army T-72 despite it because mostly concealed behind a large earth mound – the tank burst into flames almost immediately in what is often called a ‘catastrophic kill.’

Rajhan, the town near where the engagement took place, has been the site of renewed heavy clashes in recent days after combat operations between both Syrian army-led forces and jihadist militias quietened down several week ago.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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

Russian chopper crashed in northern Hama on December 31, two pilots killed

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 10:34 PM PST

Russia's Mi-24 helicopter crashed on December 31 due to a technical failure as it was flying to the Hama airfield in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

“Both pilots died in a rough landing 15 k, from the airfield. The engineer got injuries and the rescue team sent him to the Hmeymim airfield, where he received necessary assistance,” the ministry said.

“The crash was not caused by any firing,” the ministry added.

During the mission of Russia's Aerospace Force in Syria, which began on September 30, 2015, the Aerospace Force has lost seven aerial vehicles (including the crash on December 31, 2017).

More:
http://tass.com/world/983944

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Kurdish forces battle hard to control 2 key ISIS strongholds in east Syria amid rising losses on both sides

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 10:05 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:05 A.M.) – Syrian Coalition-led forces are currently engaged in two major battles against Islamic State terrorists along the eastern shore of the Euphrates, the clashes relating to these engagements have been going on almost non-stop for weeks now and losses on both sides are rising.

US-backed forces operating in the east Syrian province of Deir Ezzor find themselves currently bogged down in battles to control two large ISIS-controlled fortress towns, Abu Hammam and Haijin.

The battle for Abu Hammam has, technically, been going on for almost three weeks now.

Syrian pro-Coalition forces (represented by both Arab and Kurdish units) have attempted to enter the town on two separate occasions, being repelled both times despite having virtually encircled it at this time. Securing Abu Hammam will give US-backed troops full control over the Shaitat tribal region.

Further south, Coalition-led militias have been attempting to eject Islamic State terrorists from the town of Haijin – which commands the roads to other major towns on the east Euphrates bank such as Abu Hasan and Ash-Sha’fah – for almost a week now.

Their initial push saw US-backed Arab and Kurdish forces capture nearly half of Haijin before an ISIS counter-attack drove them back to the town’s north outskirts. Clashes are ongoing.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army demands Islamist rebels surrender immediately in east Damascus suburb

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 09:47 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:35 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) demanded via loud speaker this morning that the Islamist rebels surrender immediately or else they would not halt their counter-assault in the Harasta suburb of east Damascus.

Prior to issuing this demand, the Syrian Army’s 105th and 106th brigades peppered the Islamist defenses with a barrage of surface-to-surface missiles.

The Syrian Arab Army is hoping to recapture the territory they lost to the Islamist rebels of Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and Faylaq Al-Rahman in the Harasta suburb earlier this week.

Currently, the Syrian Army is besieged by Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and their allies around the strategic vehicle base that is located inside Harasta.

The Syrian Army has recaptured some territory, but still needs to retake the blocks around the municipal building and the Al-Barazi Hospital.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

The ‘Persian Spring’ – The latest US regime change project and its possible consequences

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 09:21 PM PST

With the eyes of the world focused on Iran since violent unrest began in the country last Thursday, many observers will no doubt be reminded of similar scenes that played out in Libya and Syria in early 2011, and what those so-called 'popular uprisings' resulted in for both nations.

What initially began in the city of Mashhad as a protest against rising food prices (something that is in place as a result of US sanctions) soon developed into nationwide disturbances which have so farseen 21 people killed and one terrorist attack targeting Iranian infrastructure.

Although the Western media has framed these protests as organic in nature, beginning as a result of the Iranian people finally standing up to an 'oppressive regime', the recent rhetoric emanating from Washington and Tel Aviv regarding Iran's role in the region, as well as those two countries historic involvement in regime change, suggests that they are anything but.

Just over two weeks before the protests began, a high-level summit meeting was reported to have taken place between US and Israeli officials to discuss a strategy on how to counter alleged 'Iranian influence' in the Middle East, a call that was later reiterated in public by the White House's UN envoy Nikki Haley.

With the finger of evidence pointing firmly at US/Israeli involvement in the current disturbances, it must now be asked to what extent will the West push for regime change in Iran.

The next logical step for the US to achieve this goal, as seen by their strategy in Libya and Syria, would be to arm so-called Iranian 'rebel' groups.

One terrorist attack has already occurred when on the second day of the disturbances a pipeline was destroyed in a bombing by the al-Nusra-linked Ansar Al-Furquan group, the timing of which cannot be described as anything less than suspicious.

It has also already been established that Israel has links with Iranian terrorist groups Jundallah and Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), using the latter to assassinate an Iranian nuclear scientist back in 2012.

Should the US and Israel increase their support for Iranian terrorists in a bid to oust the current government of Hassan Rouhani, the effects would be devastating not just for Iran but for the entire region.

The 'rebels' that the CIA supported in Libya turned the country into a lawless wasteland, likewise the groups that the US supported in Syria went on to form a key component of ISIS.

The blowback from such a move could be even more far reaching than the Middle East, as evidenced last May when the Manchester Arena bombing was carried out by a terrorist previously trained by MI6 to depose Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The other possible regime change option however, would have the most serious consequences of all; a direct military intervention.

Iran, possessing some of the most advanced air defence systems in the Middle East, would make any attempt at a Libya style 'no-fly zone' impossible; and any attempt at a ground invasion would undoubtedly result in Tehran's ballistic missile capabilities being put to use on Washington's regional allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

This, of course, would be before even Iran's own allies decided to get involved.

Both Syria and Iran have a common defence agreement, which seen Tehran coming to Damascus' aid in its own proxy war. Any external efforts to remove the current Iranian leadership would no doubt see the Syrian Arab Army being dispatched to the streets of the Islamic Republic.

Russia also maintains key trade and military agreements with Iran, including the sale of the
aforementioned S-300 air defence system to Tehran and the use of Hamadan Airbase to target terrorist groups in Syria.

Indeed, Moscow has already issued a statement decrying the possibility of any external influence in the current disturbances.

Therefore, it is not just in Iran's best interests to quickly quell this 'uprising', but the entire World's.

 

Author Gavin O'Reilly is a Republican and social activist from Dublin, Ireland. He is the Secretary of the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Masdar.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Graphic pictures (18+): Syrian special police units kill their share of jihadists in east Damascus battle

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 08:54 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:50 A.M.) – Among the many Syrian Arab Army and pro-government paramilitary units involved in a major battle currently take place in the east Damascus district of Harasta are also Syrian special police forces, and to this effect, they have been hard at work.

On Wednesday, pictures (below) emerged on pro-government social media showing Syrian specialist police troops – part of the police force’s criminal branch – involved in the ongoing battle against Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood affiliated armed groups throughout Damascus city’s eastern district of Harasta.

According to reports, the battle had come to the Syrian police units when jihadist militias attempted to overrun their local headquarters in the neighborhood – an attack which they have managed so far to repel.

Six days ago, on Friday, the armed groups known as Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) and Ahrar al-Sham (Muslim Brotherhood affiliate) launched a powerful offensive against Syrian pro-government forces in Harasta with the hope of capturing a key army base, so far only partially besieging it. The battle is ongoing.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

European citizen detained during protests in Iran – Iranian official

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 07:20 PM PST

A European national was detained during the protests in the Iranian city of Boroujerd, the head of the local justice department said Wednesday.

“A European citizen was detained in the city of Boroujerd as he was participating in the demonstration and leading the insurgents,” Hamid Reza Abolhasani said as quoted by Tasnim news agency.

The Iranian official did not clarify which country the detainee was from.

Since December 28, several large Iranian cities have seen a number of protests over quality of life. At least 20 people have reportedly been killed so far, and 450 people have been detained.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that the unrest had been provoked by a mix of existing domestic problems and outside influence.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

IRGC commander announces end of seditious protests in Iran

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 05:42 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:30 A.M.) – The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), General Mohammad ‘Ali Ja’afari, was quoted on the military group’s official media page on Wednesday saying that the seditious protests have reached their end.

"Today we can announce the end of the sedition," General Mohammad Ali Jafaari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, said on its website.

"There were a maximum of 1,500 people in each place and the number of trouble-makers did not exceed 15,000 people nationwide," he added.

"Enemies know that they can by no means threaten the Islamic Republic of Iran militarily, and after the Sacred Defense (during Iraq's imposed war on Iran), they have invested heavily to carry out cultural, economic and security threats against Iran,” he concluded.

Sources: IRNA, Al-Manar

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Trump promises ‘great support from US’ to Iranian protesters

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 02:34 PM PST

Within the last week, Iran has been engulfed in the surge of the public discontent and protests, prompted by high fuel and food prices, unemployment, inflation and air pollution. As a result, about 20 people have reportedly been killed, and 450 were detained.

US President Donald Trump promised that Iranians protesting against President Hassan Rouhani’s government will receive the US assistance “at the appropriate time.”

“Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government. You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!” Trump said on Twitter.

The statement was made amid protests raging in the country: the same day several hundred people took to the streets of a number of Iranian cities to protest against outbreaks of violence during anti-government demonstrations that hit the country over the last week, the largest in nearly a decade. They were prompted by a surge in fuel and food prices and high rates of unemployment, inflation and air pollution. At least 20 people have reportedly been killed so far, and 450 people have been detained.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian supreme leader, has accused “enemies” of Iran for the deadly protests on Tuesday, pointing out that they had “used the various means they possess, including money, weapons, politics and intelligence services, to trouble the Islamic Republic.”

The same day, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Iranian citizens have the right “to vote and to protest,” unlike the US allies in the region, noting that the authorities would not allow “infiltrators” to sabotage these rights “through violence and destruction.”

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

US to cut funding to UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 02:08 PM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:59 A.M)- This Tuesday, United States Ambassador to the United-Nations, Nikki Haley, announced the intentions of the US to halt aid to UNRWA, today going a step further extending the halting of funds to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Nikki Haley announced, with perceived conviction, that the move to halt funding to the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, a wing of the United Nations set up to specifically deal with Palestinian refugees, will pressure the PA to engage in peace talks.

The question that is now being asked by many is; without funding, will the PA continue to see the value in embracing politics? And will they continue to comply with upholding security, in complience with the illegal Israeli occupation, all in the name of peace talks? This question is expected to be answered in the coming months and weeks.

 

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

ISIS ambushes large Hezbollah force in eastern Syria

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 01:59 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:50 P.M.) – The so-called Islamic State (ISIS) carried out a big ambush against a large number of Hezbollah personnel in the Badiya region of eastern Syria, a Syrian military source told Al-Masdar on Wednesday.

According to the military source, the Islamic State forces attacked the large contingent of Syrian Hezbollah personnel while they were traveling through the Humaymah area in the western countryside of the Deir Ezzor Governorate on Tuesday.

As a result of this Islamic State attack, several Hezbollah personnel were killed, including a large number of fighters from the predominately Shi’i towns Al-Zahra’a and Nubl in northern Aleppo.

In response to this ISIS attack, Hezbollah and their allies from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) stepped up the intensity of their assault in the Badiya region, inflicting heavy damage on the terrorist group’s defenses in the Humaymah area.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Netanyahu announces refugee deportation plan

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 01:41 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:20 P.M.) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his government’s intention to expel undocumented African refugees from Israel during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Netanyahu spoke first about a guarded hard border comprising fences and barriers before delivering his future intentions for undocumented migrants inside Israel.

“We have deported approximately 20,000 and the mission now is to deport the rest. Last year we deported approximately 4,000 and the major effort is to deport most of those who remain, who have infiltrated and are present in Israel illegally,” said the Israeli prime minister

He added: “the infiltrators have a clear choice – cooperate with us and leave voluntarily, respectably, humanely and legally, or we will have to use other tools at our disposal, which are also according to the law. I hope that they will choose to cooperate with us.”

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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

Syrian Army kills one of the most important rebel commanders

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 01:32 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:20 P.M.) – The rebel forces in southeast Idlib suffered another big loss this week after a military commander of Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham was killed by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) near the Hama axis.

According to military report from the Syrian Army, the elite Tiger Forces killed the Ahrar Al-Sham commander, Yousef Khaled Al-Yousef, during clashes on Wednesday.

Yousef was one of the commanders of the jihadist forces that captured the provincial capital of the Idlib Governorate in 2015; he was considered a seasoned leader and important part of Ahrar Al-Sham.

With Yousef killed, Ahrar Al-Sham will have to find another competent commander to lead their forces in the southeastern countryside of Idlib.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Jihadist rebels attempt to break Syrian Army lines in southern Hama

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 01:02 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:50 P.M.) – The jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham attempted to breakthrough the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) front-lines inside the southern corridor of Hama, today, resulting in short battle near the historical Orontes River.

According to a military source, the HTS militants attacked the Syrian Army’s positions near the town of Hirbnafsah in a bid to expend their presence inside the Hama Governorate.

However, the jihadist assault would be short-lives, as the Syrian Arab Army spotted the enemy moving towards their positions from a short distance away.

As a result, the Syrian Army was able to score direct hits on the enemy forces, killing at least three members of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and forcing the remaining militants to retreat south.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Netanyahu alleges Iran plotting terrorist attacks in Israel (video)

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 12:45 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:40 P.M.) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged that Israeli intelligence and security forces had foiled a “terrorist network in Judea and Samaria that operated under the aegis of Iranian intelligence,” during a speech in Jerusalem, Wednesday. “This is not the first time,” he added.

“They are trying various methods, and in various fields, to attack the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

“I would like to bring to your attention that Iran is using terrorism against the State of Israel not only with the assistance of terrorist movements such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad but is also attempting to organise terrorist actions inside the State of Israel and against the citizens of Israel.”

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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

Turkey slams US, Israeli support of Iranian protesters

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 12:23 PM PST

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned, Wednesday, the fact that the US and Israel's leaders voiced support for the Iranian protesters.

“There are only two [world] figures who support these protesters: [US President Donald] Trump and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. We are against such foreign interventions … You may not like the regime, but Iran's president and government, apart from the religious leader, can only be changed through elections. And there are no objections regarding the security of elections [in Iran],” Cavusoglu said, as quoted by Hurriyet newspaper.

The statement was made in wake of US President Donald Trump’s promise of Washington’s support “at the appropriate time” to Iranians protesting against President Hassan Rouhani’s government, made earlier in the day.

A similar stance was made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on January 1: he has praised the demonstrators, saying that their countries would be “great friends” after a change of the current authorities in Tehran.

The anti-government protests, the largest in nearly a decade and praised by some leaders, have been raging in Iran since December 28, as a response to a surge in fuel and food prices, as well as high rates of unemployment, inflation and air pollution. Several major cities in Iran, including Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, and Rasht, have been hit with protests.

The social unrest has thus far claimed the lives of at least 20 people and resulted in 450 people being detained.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Last ISIS pocket along eastern Euphrates steadily collapsing

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 12:10 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON 9:55 P.M.) – The last Islamic State (ISIS) pocket along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River is steadily collapsing, as troops from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) advance deep inside the terrorist group’s lines.

Led by their Deir Ezzor Military Council, the Syrian Democratic Forces managed to capture several towns inside the Islamic State’s pocket along the eastern bank of the Euphrates, today, forcing ISIS to further withdrawal towards the Iraqi border.

According to the SDF’s official media wing, their forces captured the towns of Muhamidah, ‘Ard Al-Zir, and Al-Majeed in the eastern part of the Deir Ezzor Governorate.

The Syrian Democratic Forces will now attempt to capture the last dozen towns under the Islamic State’s control along the Iraqi border.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Iran re-opens border crossings with Iraq-Kurdistan region

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 11:54 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:50 P.M.) – Hundreds of trucks crossed the Parviz Khan Border crossing with the Iraqi Kurdistan region in Sulaymaniyah on Wednesday, after Baghdad requested it's re-opening.

Iran re-opened two crossings with the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Tamarchin and Parviz Khan, on Tuesday after being closed for over two months following tensions between the Iraqi government and the Erbil-based Kurdish regional government after the Kurdish referendum.

Truck drivers that had been unable to work for weeks, expressed their optimism over the gesture, “two months ago the crossing was closed and we were jobless, thank goodness the crossing is re-opened now and we can go forth as usual.”

For Varshad Abbas, a truck driver from Kermanshah in Iran, this constitutes a “good gesture” from Iran's side and is linked with the wave of demonstrations that has shook Iran over the past days.

Source: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Jihadists suffer major setbacks as Syrian Army troops advance in southeast Idlib – map

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 11:42 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:25 P.M.) – The jihadist rebels suffered another series of setbacks this week, as Syrian Arab Army (SAA) troops captured several towns inside the southeastern countryside of the Idlib Governorate.

Led by their elite Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army managed to capture Tal Al-Khalakheel (hill), Mashraft Al-Jouaan, Al-Daribiyah, Um Sahreej, and the Um Sahreej Train Station after several hours of fighting on Wednesday.

With this latest advance, the Syrian Arab Army has now captured a dozen towns equating to 100 square kilometers of territory captured in the last 48 hours.

If the jihadist rebels are unable to hold the last few towns along the Hama-Idlib axis in the coming days, they could find themselves besieged at the towns of Kafr Zita and Al-Lataminah.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Massive pro-government demonstrations held around Iran (Video)

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 11:18 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:15 P.M.) – Thousands of Iranian citizens rallied through several of Iran’s major cities in support of the government on Wednesday.

Supporters were seen holding their national flag in the cities of Qom, Bushehr and Arak, as they made their way through central streets, pumping their fists in the air in support of the government. State TV said the marchers were demonstrating against violence seen during recent demonstrations.

At least 21 people have died in anti-government protests that have taken place since Thursday, with rallies against rising food prices, unemployment and alleged corruption.

President Hassan Rouhani has acknowledged the public’s anger over Iran’s flagging economy, though he and other officials have warned that the government would not hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also blamed recent riots on meddling by the “enemies of Iran.”

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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

Syrian Army gears up for Mother of all Battles in east Damascus amid the arrival of top-end commander

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 09:25 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:25 P.M.) – Forces of the Syrian Arab Army and allied paramilitaries are gearing up for a Mother of all Battle in eastern Damascus amid a constant and ongoing build up of new troops and heavy equipment as well as the arrival of a top-end commander.

On Friday, Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood affiliated jihadist militias launched a powerful offensive against the army-held military vehicle depot base in the district of Harasta, partially besieging it but failing to actually capture it.

For almost week now, basically since the jihadist offensive began, the Syrian Army and allied forces have been rushing huge numbers of troops and heavy equipment to east Damascus, still yet however to deliver their much expected counter-blow.

Among some of the many reinforcements still arriving are specialized shock troop battalions of the 9th Armoured Division who will be led by Colonel Nizar Fandi (below).

According to sources exclusive to Al-Masdar News, the Syrian Army troop build-up in eastern Damascus is unprecedented and to this end pro-government forces not only plan on restoring the original front-lines around the vehicle depot base, but also aim to retake all of the Harasta district as well as enter other areas of the capital that have been under militant control since 2012.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Here to stay: Russia expands permanent bases in Syria

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 08:14 AM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (06:15) – Russian daily newspaper Vedomosti reports that the Russian Federation has approved the expansion of permanent Russian military bases in the Syrian Arab Republic, which would see a significant boost of Russian military personnel at least two locations in the country.

The Russian air force base in Khmeimim, in the north-eastern Latakia province of Syria, has reportedly been scheduled by the Russian Federation’s presidency to house a mixed aviation regiment, consisting of helicopter and fighter-bomber squadrons with total of up to 30 aircraft. Aside from this already extensive amount of military hardware, the Khmeimim base is set to also include communication equipment, air defence networks, armed security and a contingent of unmanned aerial vehicles. There are even plans for a military police unit base from which Russian armed forces can perform their duties in de de-escalation zones, as agreed in the Astana talks.

At the same time, the Russian naval base in Tartus is set for an expansion as well, planning an impressive total of up to 4,000 Russian servicemen permanently stationed there. This would boost the Tartus base to a total size similar to Russian bases in other nations allied to Russia, notably those in Armenia, Tajikistan and the de facto independent republic of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Kurdish forces secure two towns from ISIS in east Syria amid renewed offensive to capture strategic region

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 07:37 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:35 P.M.) – Syrian Coalition-led forces have made a new series of key advances against Islamic State terrorists in the province of Deir Ezzor amid a renewed push to capture a strategic region on east shore of the Euphrates River.

On Tuesday, pro-Kurdish and pro-Coalition sources reported that US-backed forces in east Syria captured two villages from ISIS within the strategic and heavily contested Shaitat tribal region, these being Abu Hardub and Al-Nabayi.

Reports go on to state that at least 17 Islamic State fighters died as a result of clashes between the terrorist group and Coalition-led forces for the villages.

At the present time, and for at least the last three weeks now, the Shaitat tribal region – nestled along the east bank of the Euphrates in the province of Deir Ezzor – has witnessed exceptionally heavy fighting between ISIS and US-backed Arab and Kurdish militias as the latter attempts to wrest control of the the region’s main town, Abu Hammam.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

VIDEO: Syrian Army uncovers evidence of Israel’s support for Al-Qaeda in rural Damascus

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 07:13 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:10 P.M.) – As it continues to secure areas recently surrendered by Al-Qaeda-linked militants (per an evacuation agreement) in the western countryside of Damascus province, the Syrian Arab Army has discovered evidence of Israeli support for the internationally designated terrorist organization, something for which suspicions have long existed in regards to the Syrian conflict.

On Wednesday, pro-government media released footage online showing Syrian troops uncovering abandoned jihadist positions, bases and tunnels on top of the strategic ‘Red Hills’ mountain range in Damascus province’s rural west.

Within an encampment used by jihadist fighters, Syrian troops stumbled across processed foodstuffs with Hebrew writing on their packaging. In the past, even more blatant forms of evidence have been found on militant groups in the Golan region, such as ammo boxes with Hebrew writing.

About one week ago, and following a month-long offensive operation, Syrian army-led forces succeed in pressuring jihadist fighters of the Al-Qaeda-linked Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly called Jabhat al-Nusra and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) terrorist group to surrender their bastion in the Beit Jinn valley region of western Damascus province and accept evacuation to other rebel-held areas of the country.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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

East Damascus battle sees Syrian Army pulverize jihadist ranks, killing scores including 2 top Saudi commanders

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 06:32 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:30 P.M.) – Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood affiliated jihadist factions operating in the eastern districts of Damascus city have endured major losses among their rank-and-file since launching a powerful offensive on Friday to capture a key base from the Syrian Arab Army.

For the last five days, jihadist fighters have been attempting to capture the army-held military vehicle depot base in the eastern Damascus district of Harasta. Despite an initial run of success which saw armed groups partially besiege the site, so far all attempts to actually take it from government troops have been firmly rebuffed.

According to both military and opposition sources, Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood linked jihadist militias have sustained at least 50 fighters killed in action.

Among the dead are two top commanders who led jihadist fighters of the Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) terrorist group, ‘Abu Muhhamed Bin Laden’ and ‘Abu Omar’ (seen below) – both Saudi nationals.

Despite several failed attempts by jihadist militias to storm the military vehicle base, all of which have, as mentioned, come at high cost, rebel forces remain content on trying to capture the installation to the point where they are throwing in everything they have on the Harasta front.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Ethnic cleansing in the making: Israel to forcibly deports 38,000 Africans

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 06:29 AM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (04:30 PM) – The Israeli regime intends to expel at least 38,000 African immigrants and refugees from the country, in a deportation campaign of unseen scale.

The thousands of Africans living within the borders of Israel, most of whom are from Eritrean or Sudanese background, will be given a plane ticket and a sum of $3,500 by Tel Aviv, after which they are given a March deadline by which to have left, AFP reported on Wednesday.

Starting March, the payments will be decreased gradually. From April on out, any African immigrants deemed to be residing illegally will be arrested and imprisoned.

“Every country must maintain its borders, and protecting the borders from illegal infiltration is both a right and a basic duty of a sovereign state,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.

Reports amongst Israeli human rights activists indicate that Tel Aviv has reached agreements with Uganda and Rwanda that would see these nations take the bulk of expelled citizens who cannot return to Sudan or Eritrea out of fear of conflict or persecution. This agreement has drawn sharp criticism from many groups for its alleged racist connotation that purely because these nations are in Africa, this would suffice for Eritrean and Sudanese deportees.

Israel is notorious for its harsh treatment of African immigrants and even citizens of African descent. Local human rights groups have condemned these policies, stating that a country that was founded by Jewish immigrants should be more welcoming of immigration.

“The entire world is dealing with millions of refugees. It's baseless for Israel, a developed country, to claim that it cannot take its part in carrying the burden,” Dror Sadot, spokesperson for the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, said.

Israel has a policy of automatic asylum granting to any and all Jewish immigrants, which has allowed many Ethiopian Jews to make a home in the area. However, since most of the Eritrean and Sudanese are not Jewish, they are denied the same rights as Israeli citizens in terms of healthcare and education. Even their children born in Israel are denied passports and are forced to attend ethnically separated preschools. Last May, Israel required that 20% of asylum seekers' salaries be deposited into a fund that would only be released to them only if they relocate.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Mass demonstrations in support of Islamic Republic sweep Iran

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 06:05 AM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA ( 04:05 PM) – Live broadcasts from Iran show large manifestations in support of the Islamic Republic and the Tehran government taking place all over the country.

The mass demonstrations, reportedly drawing tens of thousands supporting the Iranian government and system, come in reaction to a week of anti-government protests and rallies by opponents of the islamic system of governance that have left at least 21 people dead over the course of past week, both protesters and security forces alike.

The unrest originally started as discontent over rising food prices, cost of living and high unemployment numbers, grievances that have been brought up and officially supported by several Iranian politicians and clerics since, but soon spiraled out of control as a core of radical anti-government activists took over.

Iranian television outlets state that pro-government counter-demonstrations are going on in at least 10 cities, including Ahvaz, Kermanshah and Gorgan, where supporters held aloft pictures of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei and chanted slogans like “Leader, we are ready” and “Down with the USA”.

In an official speech on Tuesday, Ayatollah Khamenei spoke about the wave of unrest, admitting the legitimacy of the economic grievances yet condemning in strong terms those who seek to destabilize the Islamic Republic.

“Look at the recent days' incidents,” the Leader said. “All those who are at odds with the Islamic Republic have utilized various means, including money, weapons, politics and (the) intelligence apparatus, to create problems.”

Some analysts believe that the recent radicalization of the protests in Iran are at least partially due to outside interference, a belief further strengthened by the harsh tone taken by US president Donald Trump in condemning the Islamic Republic of Iran and calling for its overthrowing.

According to reports, anti-government protests are dying down all over the country, with only limited protests having taken place in Isfahan and Tehran in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Elite Syrian Army forces sweep through more towns in Idlib en-route to strategic airbase

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 05:59 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:55 P.M.) – Elite Forces of the Syrian Arab Army maintain a steady advance in the southern countryside of Idlib province, shifting their focus east of gains made on Tuesday.

According to military-affiliated sources, combined units of the Syrian Arab Army’s elite Tiger Forces Division and 4th Mechanized Division – backed up by Syrian and Russian airstrikes as well as tremendous artillery bombardment – have secured from jihadist-led militias in recent hours the towns of Mashraft Al-Jouaan, Al-Darbiyah and Umm Sahreej.

In addition to the liberating the above-mentioned towns, Syrian troops also took control of the hilltop of Tal Al-Khalakhil and the Umm Sahreej train station.

Reports also say that since kicking off their assault this morning, Syrian forces have destroyed three armed pickups belonging to militant groups and killed 10 insurgents.

At the present time it appears that Syrian Army units are moving towards the jihadist-held cross-road town of Sinjar, perhaps as part of a greater operation to reach the Abu Duhur military airport.

 

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Russian helicopter crashes in Hama accident, two pilots killed

Posted: 03 Jan 2018 05:44 AM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (03:50 PM) – The Russian Ministry of Defence has confirmed that a Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunship of the Russian Armed Forces has crashed in Syria, leaving both pilots on board dead.

The Ministry stated to Interfax news service that a technical malfunction was responsible for the accident, and that no fire damage had been taken by the helicopter. Furthermore, reports indicate that no fire from the ground towards the gunship had taken place.

Reports have it that the helicopter crash took place in the south of the Hama Governorate last week, but confirmation was only issued on Wednesday.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army commander promptly returns to east Damascus battlefield after being wounded in Harasta

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 10:48 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:45 A.M.) – A high-ranking Syrian Arab Army commander who was very recently wounded during a major and still ongoing battle in Damascus city’s eastern districts has promptly returned to the front despite objections from medical staff who treated him.

On Friday, jihadist militias affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood attacked Syrian Arab Army forces in the district of Harasta with the aim of capturing a key military vehicle depot base.

Wounded by gunfire in recent days of the ongoing battle was one Major Hassan al-Kurdi (above), the director of the vehicle depot.

Although surviving his wounds, Major al-Kurdi was in no position to keep fighting at the time and was transported from the base to a local hospital in Damascus – a dangerous journey in its own right considering the base is partly besieged by jihadist militias.

However, according to the latest reports Major al-Kurdi, against the opinions and wishes of the medical staff, has considered himself fit for battle again and has returned to the front-lines in east Damascus to see the battle through.

Whether or not the Syrian commander has made the dangerous journey back to the partially besieged base to continue the battle there or if he is fighting with the relief forces making their way to the installation.

 

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Senior French Daesh recruiter found in refugee camp in Syria – reports

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 08:09 PM PST

French citizen Emilie Koenig, who is included in the US and UN lists of most wanted Daesh terrorists, a senior recruiter of the terror group, is held in a Kurdish refugee camp in northern Syria, the recruiter's mother said.

“I talked to my daughter at the end of last week. She is being held at the Kurdish camp for refugees, she is being interrogated and tortured,” the woman told the Ouest-France newspaper on Tuesday.

She wants to ask French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to assist in repatriation of Koenig, who “is asking her family, friends and country” for pardon.

Koenig, 33, reportedly adopted radical Islamist ideology being influenced by her first husband, who has an Algerian background.

In 2012, she left France for Syria leaving two children and recruited at least 200 French citizens to fight for Daesh. Koenig, who changed her name for Ummu Tawwab, also called for attacks on French government facilities and servicemen.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

In pictures: Houthi forces kill many Saudi soldiers after big ambush in Jizan

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 07:44 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:30 A.M.) – The Houthi forces carried a big ambush in the Jizan Region of Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, killing several Saudi soldiers in the process.

According to the official media wing of the Houthi forces, their fighters strategically placed IEDs along a road that is frequently used by the Saudi Army in the Jizan Region.

Once the Saudi Army convoy drove along the road, the Houthi forces detonated the IEDs, killing at least a dozen soldiers.

Photos of the ambush was released by the official media wing of the Houthi forces on Tuesday – please see below:

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Iranian authorities control situation in Tehran, other cities – military official

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 06:05 PM PST

The police and internal security forces “fully control the situation in Tehran and other cities of Iran where street protests took place,” the Al Mayadeen TV channel quotes Ramezan Sharif, a spokesman for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), as saying.

According to Sharif, “the law enforcement agencies are coping with their duties well.” “There is no need for assistance from the IRGC and interference in the developments,” the general said.

The Al Mayadeen TV network earlier reported that special units to suppress riots occupied Tehran's Azadi, Enghelab and Ferdowsi Squares on Monday. According to the TV channel, a group of about 100 protesters appeared in the center of the city in the evening on Monday, which was dispersed by law enforcement officers. The police were able to detain one of the instigators of the street protests.

Outside interference

Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told the Al Mayadeen TV channel that “the protests had been caused by the discontent expressed by part of people in Iran due to the current economic situation.” He accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of meddling in the country's internal affairs.

At least 12 people have been killed during street clashes between the protesters and the police since December 28. The protests erupted in Mashhad, Iran's second biggest city. On Sunday, the police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters in Tehran who shouted hostile slogans against the government.

The Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that the law enforcement agencies had arrested nearly 400 people in Iran, including 200 in Tehran, for taking part in the protests.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that “the Iranian people will respond to a minority that breaks the law and opposes its will and revolutionary gains.”.

More:
http://tass.com/world/983895

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Ahrar Al-Sham will not join new rebel operations room headed by HTS

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 05:29 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:20 A.M.) – Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham issued a statement on Tuesday declaring that they will not be joining the new rebel operations room in the Hama and Idlib governorates.

According to the statement, Ahrar Al-Sham will not join any rebel operations room, as long as the Al-Qaeda linked Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham jihadist group is a member.

The rebel group has called on Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham to release the Ahrar Al-Sham prisoners currently held inside their jails and to return all of the bases they seized from the latter.

This latest statement from Ahrar Al-Sham proves that the tiff between their group and Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham has not been resolved, despite repeated attempts at reconciliation.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Haley lauds ‘tremendous courage’ of protesters against ‘Iranian dictatorship’ (VIDEO)

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 04:50 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:45 A.M.) – US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley praised the “great bravery for the Iranian people to use the power of their voice against their government,” speaking in New York City on Tuesday.

“It takes great bravery for the Iranian people to use the power of their voice against their government. Especially, when its government has an old history of murdering its own people who dare to speak the truth,” Haley said, before reading out social media posts written by Iranians in support of the protests.

Haley also rejected Iranian leaders’ allegations that the protests were designed by Iran’s enemies: “We all know that’s complete nonsense. The demonstrations are completely spontaneous. They are virtually in every city in Iran. This is the precise picture of a long oppressed people’s rising up against their dictators.”

“We must not be silent. The people of Iran are crying out for freedom,” Haley said, adding that the US will call for emergency sessions on Iran at the UN in New York and at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

At least 21 people have died in Iran’s anti-government protests that have raged since Thursday, with rallies against rising food prices, unemployment and alleged corruption.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei has blamed ‘enemies’ for the disruption.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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Trump threatens to cutoff aid to Palestine unless peace negotiations resume

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 03:36 PM PST

US President Donald Trump wrote a pair of tweets on Tuesday where he questioned why the US was continuing to give “massive” amounts of money in aid payments to Palestine if they were “no longer willing to talk peace” with Israel.

In the tweets, Trump noted that the US pays “hundreds of million dollars a year” to Palestine in foreign aid but receives “no appreciation or respect for it.” He implied that the money flow will stop if the Palestinians do not return to the negotiating table with the Israelis.

“We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table,” said Trump, referring to his controversial December decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a city that Israel considers to be its capital but the international community writ large does not.

In December, Trump also threatened to end foreign assistance to countries that voted in the UN to condemn his decision to move the embassy. “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they’re doing,” Trump reportedly said during a cabinet meeting. He also threatened to pull US funding of the UN.

While Trump has been known for indulging in idle threats and tough talk over Twitter, he sometimes does deliver. On Monday, he vowed to put an end to foreign aid to Pakistan in retribution for their alleged harboring of Islamic terror groups. The next day, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced that some $255 million in US foreign aid payments to Pakistan would indeed come to a halt.

According to foreignassistance.gov, the US paid $291 million to Palestine in 2017. An additional $251 million in aid is planned for 2018. Foreign aid to Palestine peaked in 2009, when the US gave over $1 billion.

By comparison, the US gives $3.1 billion in aid to Israel every year — in 2017, only Afghanistan received more.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army kills high ranking rebel commander in southeast Idlib

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 02:53 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:45 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) killed another high ranking rebel commander this week, following their rapid advance in the southeastern countryside of the Idlib Governorate.

According to militant activists, the commander of Jaysh Al-Nasr, Ayoub Suwayleh, was killed during a battle with the Syrian Arab Army inside the town of Umm Al-Khalakhal.

A Syrian Army source told Al-Masdar that the Jaysh Al-Nasr commander was killed when the Tiger Forces fired a guided missile at a militant trench; he was killed alongside three other fighters.

Following the death of Suwayleh, the Syrian Arab Army managed to capture Al-Khalakhal, forcing the remaining militants to retreat further west in order to avoid being overrun.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Egyptian Mufti proclaims Bitcoin is ‘haram’

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 02:41 PM PST

With the unprecedented rise of cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin, it seems that religious leaders feel responsible to share their spiritual guidance regarding the new money form.

In an official fatwa Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawki Allam proclaimed Bitcoin "unlawful" according to the teachings of Islam.

The mufti said that because the Egyptian government has not legalized the virtual currency people must avoid using it as it may be harmful to the country's social and economic security.

Shawki Allam's adviser, Magdy Ashour, said that the currency "is used directly to fund terrorists", explaining that its transactions could damage the economy, the publication Middle East Eye reported.

"It has no set rules, which is considered as a contract annulment in Islam, that is why it is forbidden," Ashour added.

A similar stance toward Bitcoin was taken earlier by a Saudi minister, Assim Al-Hakim. He announced that the currency is forbidden in the country because "it is a cryptographic form of money that is vague and gives namelessness to crooks".

"We know that Bitcoins remain anonymous when you deal with it, which means that it's an open gate for money laundering, drug money and haram [forbidden] money," he said. "Muslims should not get involved in such dubious transactions simply to make a quick buck, to make a quick profit. This is not an Islamic concept," Hakim added, according to Middle East Eye.

Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency which is carried out online through a set of codes; it is different from traditional banking as the person using the Bitcoin may choose to remain anonymous. It started circulating in 2009 and has since become the most prominent of the digital currencies.

Since 2014, major companies such as PayPal, Microsoft, Dell and PwC have begun to accept Bitcoin as part of their transactions.

Sources: Sputnik, Middle East Eye

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

No sleep tonight for jihadists in northern Hama as Russian airstrikes illuminate night sky

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 12:57 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:50 P.M.) – The Russian Aerospace Forces are working overtime tonight, launching several airstrikes over the northern Hama countryside.

Russian jets were seen taking off from the Hmaymim Airbase in Jableh tonight before making their way to northern Hama, where they conducted at least a dozen airstrikes over the towns of Kafr Zita and Al-Lataminah.

Video footage of one of the Russian airstrikes over Kafr Zita was released by a militant activist shortly after sundown tonight – please see below:

The Russian Aerospace Forces are still launching airstrikes over northern Hama, but they seem to have shifted their attention to the southeastern countryside of Idlib, where the Syrian Army (SAA) and their allies are attempting to advance.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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‘Bibi go home!’: Thousands protest against Netanyahu government corruption

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 12:22 PM PST

Netanyahu has been questioned by police seven times as part of an ongoing corruption investigation against him. He is suspected of receiving expensive gifts from business circles and attempting to reach a deal violating freedom of speech in the country.

More than 2,000 took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night, protesting against the Israeli government and corruption, chanting “Bibi, go home,” “shame,” “corrupt officials, go home,” “not left, not right, but honest.”

The principal portion of protesters gathered again at the central Rothschild Boulevard of the city for the fifth week in a row as part of anti-government corruption rallies across the country.

The protests raging in Israel are in the wake of the ongoing investigation into Netanyahu allegedly receiving expensive gifts from business circles to advance their interests and trying to reach a deal with the leadership of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, which reportedly agreed to cover the government’s activities in a positive way in exchange for adoption of a law that would limit activities of the Israel Hayom newspaper — the main competitor of Yedioth Ahronoth.

​Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been questioned seven times already, despite repeatedly denying any wrongdoing, explaining that he’s the victim of a smear campaign created by his political opponents.

​Local media echoes the stance, saying that the probe has failed to gather enough evidence to bring formal bribery charges against him.

Additionally, Netanyahu may reportedly face charges over his alleged involvement in a multi-million dollar submarine deal with German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army captures over 50km2 of territory in 24 hours – map

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 12:09 PM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:00 P.M.) – It has been a rough start to the new year for the jihadist rebels in southeast Idlib, as their forces continue to lose large swathes of territory to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the region.

Led by their elite Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army has reportedly captured more than 50 square kilometers of territory in southeastern Idlib since Monday.

The bulk of the Syrian Army’s gains would come this afternoon, following the collapse of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham’s first line of defense around the town of Al-Zarzur.

With the Syrian Army quickly advancing towards the jihadist strongholds of Khan Sheikhoun and Kafr Zita, Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham has issued a call for help from several allied groups in the Idlib Governorate.

Just yesterday, it was reported by militant activists that the Islamist rebel group, Faylaq Al-Sham, had arrived to help their jihadist allies drive back the Syrian Arab Army from southeastern Idlib.

Despite the reinforcements, it is high unlikely that the jihadist rebels will be able to fend off the Syrian Army’s eventual push towards the Abu Dhuhour Military Airport in eastern Idlib.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

US Ambassador praises Iranian protesters, calls for emergency UN meeting

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 11:53 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:45 P.M.) – The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, called on the other members of the U.N. to attend an emergency meeting, Tuesday, to discuss the current situation in Iran.

“This is the precise picture of a long oppressed people rising up against their dictators. The international community has a role to play on this. The freedoms that are enshrined in the United Nations charter are under attack in Iran,” she said. “If the Iranian dictatorships history is any guide, we can expect more outrageous abuses in the days to come. The UN must speak out,” Haley stated, as quoted by CNN.

“We must not be silent. The people are crying out for freedom. All freedom loving people must stand with their cause. The international community made the mistake of failing to do that in 2009. We must not make that mistake again,” she continued

“Right now we’re going to have conversations with the Security Council and see what we need to do to have an emergency session,” she added about Iran. “One way or another, we will have a meeting on what is happening in Iran and their protests and their fight for freedom,” Haley concluded.

Haley has repeatedly slammed the Islamic Republic of Iran in the past, often calling on other nations to criticize and condemn the Persian Gulf nation for their policies in the region.

Most recently, Haley condemned the Iranian government for allegedly providing missiles to the Houthi forces in Yemen.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Ayatollah Khamenei: Enemies deploy various tools to hurt Islamic government

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 11:25 AM PST

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (09:25 PM) – Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei stated that enemies of Iran are using whatever means at their disposal in order to destabilise the country and threaten the Islamic Republic.

“During the events of the past several days, Iran's enemies, using the various tools at their disposal, including money, weapons, politics, and security apparatus, have allied [with one another] to create problems for the Islamic establishment,” the Supreme Leader said during a weekly meeting with families of martyrs of the Iranian armed forces on Tuesday.

However, the Ayatollah said, “the spirit of courage, sacrifice and faith” that live in the Iranian nation will thwart these objectives by the country’s opponents.

Khamenei compared the situation to previous periods of threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran, notably the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, stating that if the enemies of the Islamic Republic had been victorious, “they would have had no mercy and a situation considerably worse than that of Libya and Syria would have been created for Iran.”

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian jets rain airstrikes over Harasta as the army’s counter-offensive commences

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 10:58 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:50 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) unleashed a flurry of airstrikes over the Harasta suburb of Damascus, today, inflicting heavy damage on the defenses of the Islamist rebels.

According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent in Damascus, the Syrian Air Force carried out more than 30 airstrikes over the East Ghouta region, today, targeting the militant movements around the suburbs of Harasta and ‘Arbeen.

Below is video footage released by the pro-militant Qasioun News Agency of the Syrian Air Force’s airstrikes over Harasta

While Syrian jets keep striking militant positions in these suburbs, the Syrian Army has begun their counter-offensive to recover the territory they lost to Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and their allies in Harasta.

Thus far, the Syrian Army has managed to recapture many building blocks in Harasta, while also building a buffer-zone around the strategic vehicle base.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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Yemeni civilians forced into shocking conditions after 1,000 days of war (video)

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 10:47 AM PST

Footage shot in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a on Tuesday shows the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country after 1,000 days of conflict.

Yemenis who fled from the Saudi border to Sana'a after airstrikes, food shortages and disease outbreaks are forced to live in deplorable conditions, the footage reveals.

The 1,000 day milestone was hit in December after the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes started at the end of 2014 following Houthi rebels' advances into Sana’a.

Three years later, on November 5, the Saudi-led coalition announced it would block all land, air and sea access after a ballistic missile fired from Yemen was intercepted over Saudi territory. The rocket was fired at the international airport near the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

The Saudi-led coalition has previously denied aid access to Houthi-held ports, like Hudaida.

Source: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

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Turkey plans to hire nearly 43,000 military personnel in 2018 – reports

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 10:34 AM PST

Around 43,000 military personnel will join the Turkish Armed Forces in 2018, the Anadolu news agency reported Tuesday, citing a military source.

According to the agency, the army is expected to hire in particular around 9,000 officers, more than 13,000 sergeants and 20,500 rank and file servicemen.

The source explained that almost 9,000 servicemen were expelled from the army for alleged links with the movement of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, referred to as Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and accused by Ankara of masterminding the 2016 failed coup attempt.

The move is expected to take place after the reported recent purge of 2,756 people from its public service sector, including 637 military personnel, 360 gendarmerie force members, and 150 academics or other university personnel, claimed to be necessary to remove a threat allegedly posed by Gulen and his supporters, although global critics note that Ankara and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are using power to muffle cultural and political dissent.

A military coup attempt took place in Turkey on July 15, 2016, after which Ankara accused Gulen, who has been living in the United States since 1999, and his followers of playing a key role in it. Though the takeover attempt was suppressed the following day, it left more than 240 people dead and an estimated 2,000 wounded.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Watch the Syrian Army train for their future Latakia offensive

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 09:00 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:55 P.M.) – The Federal News Agency of Russia released a two minute long video from the northern countryside of Latakia this week, detailing the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) training exercises in the province.

Based on the footage released by the Federal News Agency, the Syrian Army is simulating battles that are set to take place in the northeastern countryside of Latakia in the near future.

In particular, the Syrian Army can be seen storming and capturing a Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham base (Al-Qaeda linked group) in the training exercise.

Below is the two minute long video:

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army restores control over entire West Ghouta after six years of war

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 08:49 AM PST

The Syrian government forces have pushed terrorists from Western Ghouta, located in the southwestern part of Damascus countryside, and completed a military operation in the area, Sana news agency reported on Tuesday.

The army also restored control over a strategic area of Tuloul Homr, linking the villages of Sheikh Mountain and areas of Jubata Khashab and Mashati Hadar, and located on important supply routes, the agency reported.

During a military operation, which lasted three months, the Syrian government forces forced armed terrorist groups to surrender after handing over their weapons, according to the agency.

The freed areas were declared safe after army units had dismantled improvised explosive devices and mines planted by militants in the area as part of the preparation for the return of displaced people to their homes, Sana noted.

Syria has been engulfed in a civil war since 2011, with the government forces fighting numerous opposition factions and terrorist groups. The international community has taken a number of steps aimed at settling the crisis, including through negotiations in Geneva and Astana.

Last month, the Russian Foreign Minister reported a complete victory over Daesh terrorists in the east and west banks of the Euphrates in Syria.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز

Syrian Army kicks off the new year with a big advance in Idlib – map

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 08:43 AM PST

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:30 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) kicked off the new year with a bang this week, capturing several towns and villages from the jihadist rebels inside the southeastern countryside of the Idlib Governorate.

Led by their elite Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army was able to capture a half dozen towns from the jihadist rebels this, putting them within striking distance of several important sites, including the imperative towns of Khan Sheikhoun and Kafr Zita.

Khan Sheikhoun and Kafr Zita are home to some of the largest jihadist bases in northern Hama and southern Idlib; their capture are top priorities for the Syrian Arab Army’s High Command.

In addition to their advances inside southeast Idlib, the Syrian Army has also been expanding their buffer-zone around the strategic Khanasser Highway, which is currently the government’s main route to the Aleppo Governorate.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز