- Footage: ISIS base in north Syria gets stormed by Kurdish special forces
- Breaking: Houthi forces launch ballistic missile at Saudi military camp
- US cuts security assistance to Pakistan, demands ‘decisive action’ against terrorists (video)
- ISIS offensive to capture key base, town in southwest Syria backfires terribly
- Breaking: UN Security Council to hold emergency meeting on Iran
- Jihadist counter-attack drives Syrian Army out of key town in southeast Idlib
- Kurdish forces seize ISIS stronghold in eastern Syria after one week battle
- VIDEO: ISIS car comb attack on Syrian Army in east Homs thwarted
- Exclusive: Syrian Army’s 4th Division forces redeploy to Damascus for major offensive
- Hezbollah ‘ready’ if war is waged against them: Nasrallah
- Islamist rebels admit heavy losses in east Damascus
- Hard road home: Syrian Army attempts to lift siege on strategic base in east Damascus
- US sanctions five Iran-based entities as key parts of ballistic missile program
- Syrian Army attempts to break into jihadist corridor in southern Idlib – map
- Russia warns US against meddling in Iran’s internal affairs – senior diplomat
- Syrian Army officially takes control of all important hills overlooking West Ghouta
- WATCH: Houthi Forces capture US Navy underwater drone
- Iran: Thousands rally for government as general declares ‘sedition’ defeated (video)
- VIDEO: ‘We’re coming to liberate you,’ Syrian commander declares to besieged troops in east Damascus
- Breaking: Elite Syrian troops blast through another 5 towns in Idlib en-route to Al-Qaeda stronghold
- Breaking: Syrian Army 400 meters to lifting siege on base in east Damascus, kills, captures dozens of militants
- Security forces destroy foreign “anti-revolutionary terrorist group” in northwest Iran
- Israel abducted 750 Palestinians in past month alone
- Journalist Maria Maalouf issued arrest warrant for slandering Hezbollah leader
- Breaking: Elite Syrian Army forces steamroll ahead in Idlib capturing 4 towns in as many hours
- Breaking: Syrian Army kicks-off long awaited counter-offensive to lift siege on key base in east Damascus
- None of the wishes of Trump, Israel, Saudi coming true in Iran: Nasrallah
- Syrian Army attempts to advance in southeast Idlib amid heavy resistance from jihadists
- Israeli forces launch retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza
- Despite the protests, Iranian forces not leaving Syria
- ISIS launches mass-suicide bombing offensive against Iraqi forces near border with Syria
Posted: 05 Jan 2018 12:13 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:10 A.M.) – Special anti-terror units of the Coalition-backed Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units have uncovered and stormed an hidden ISIS base in the Syria’s northern province of Raqqa. The operation reportedly led to the foiling of an Islamic State terror plot against the Mabrukah refugee camp.
On Thursday, official sources linked to the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units released combat footage of the militia’s special forces unit (abbreviated as YAT) storming an ISIS hideout in the village of Karama in the eastern countryside of Raqqa province.
As the video (below) shows, Kurdish anti-terrorism units stormed the suspected hideouts with highly-mobile light infantry forces.
Kurdish sources claim the raid resulted in death of 14 ISIS militants as well as the capture of a stockpile of explosives and small arms that were to be used in a planned terror attack on the Mabrukah refugee camp in Hasakah province.
The date on which the operation took place is specified as January 1.
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Posted: 05 Jan 2018 12:04 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:40 A.M.) – Minutes ago, the Houthi forces fired a ballistic missile towards a Saudi military camp near the Yemeni border.
According to the official media wing of the Houthi forces, their rocket battalion launched a short-range ballistic missile towards the Saudi military encampment in the Najran Region of Saudi Arabia.
No further details have been released at the moment.
The Houthi forces reportedly targeted this military camp after the Saudi Coalition launched more than two dozen airstrikes over northern Yemen on Thursday.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 11:36 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:30 A.M.) – US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert announced that the United States is suspending security assistance to Pakistan over what is believed to be a failure of the Pakistani government to adequately confront terror groups within its territory, as she spoke from Washington DC on Thursday.
“We are suspending security assistance; security assistance only, to Pakistan at this time until the Pakistani Government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network. We consider them to be destabilizing the region and also targeting U.S. personnel,” said Nauert.
She went on to say that the move should not “come as a surprise” for Pakistani government adding that the aid could be made available in the future if the country takes “decisive action” to “aggressively confront” terror groups “who threaten US interests.”
Commenting on the recent announcement of the US treasury to penalise Iranian companies linked to the country’s ballistic missile programme, Nauert said that it was to be expected.
“When the President did his big Iran review, he talked about having the ability to sanction various authorities – various authorities that undermine human rights; various authorities that are involved in transferring weapons, providing missiles and ballistic missiles and other types of equipment. And so I think it would fall under that,” she concluded.
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Posted: 04 Jan 2018 10:39 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:40 A.M.) – An attempt by Islamic State-affiliated militants to capture a key town and base in southwestern Syria from rebel forces has backfired battle despite initially making good progress.
According to reports, on Thursday, units of the ISIS-linked Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Walid (also called the Saifullah al-Maslul Army) militant group attempted to capture the town of Ash-Sheikh Saye’ed and its nearby army artillery base (abandoned by Syrian forces years ago) from Free Syrian Army rebels in southwestern Daraa province.
Initially, the advance went well for ISIS with jihadist militants capturing several checkpoints on the outskirts of Ash-Sheikh Saye’ed and cutting the road leading south of the town.
However, as Islamic State fighters approached the gates of the town, rebel forces launched a desperate counter-attack using artillery, anti-tank missiles, heavy machine guns and even tanks.
In the end, ISIS abandoned its assault and withdrew back towards its own lines in the Yarmouk Basin area allowing rebels to recapture the points they had lost earlier on.
Rebel sources on the ground claim that ISIS suffered big losses in the failed assault, however Al-Masdar News has no way of clarifying this.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 10:30 PM PST
The UN Security Council will meet Friday afternoon to discuss the crisis in Iran after the United States asked the body to address deadly protests there, a source told Sputnik.
“The UNSC meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. [20:00GMT] on Friday and will be held in an open format,” the source said.
The Council’s daily program for Friday, published on its website, shows the 15-nation body would meet in the afternoon to discuss the “situation in the Middle East.”
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told reporters Tuesday she would seek an emergency UN meeting in New York City and at the UN human rights agency in Geneva.
Nikki Haley has said that Friday's emergency meeting on Iran protests would try to prevent Syria atrocities from repeating in Iran, in a statement by the US mission.
“Tomorrow the UN Security Council will discuss the troubling and dangerous situation in Iran. The world has witnessed the horrors that have taken place in Syria… We must not let that happen in Iran,” Haley said.
Haley argued in the statement that what Washington sees as a crackdown on protesters was a matter of “international peace and security.” She said it would be telling if any country were to oppose the UN having this discussion.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert warned earlier on Thursday that Washington had ample means to hold those responsible for the violent crackdown on protesters in Iran accountable.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Sputnik the US call for an urgent UN meeting on Iran’s domestic affairs was “harmful and destructive.” He argued that it was not UN’s role as a watchdog of international peace to discuss Iran’s domestic issues.
In the past week, the Islamic Republic has seen the largest popular unrest in nearly a decade. Protests began over price hikes and unemployment but then turned to broader issues like the clerical rule. At least 20 people have reportedly been killed and 450 have been detained.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 09:35 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:35 A.M.) – Jihadist-led militias have pushed Syrian troops to withdraw from a key town in the southeastern countryside of Idlib province following heavy clashes in and around it.
Thursday witnessed rapid drive by Syrian Arab Army assault forces in southeast Idlib province that, over the course of the day, resulted in the liberation of nine towns and villages from jihadist-led militias.
However, towards the end day, Syrian shock troops attempted to enter the town of Sheikh Barakah and, at first, reportedly managed to capture the rump of it.
However, Sheikh Barakah represented one place that militant groups were not willing to so quickly give up on and, during the course of a counter-attack, drove Syrian forces to relinquish all points they held inside the town.
Sheikh Barakah represents the last town to stand between the Syrian Army and rebel groups south of Sinjar – a key jihadist stronghold that commands all road traffic leading from southeast Idlib province into southwest Aleepo and northeast Hama.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 09:01 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:00 A.M.) – Syrian Coalition-led forces (of which Kurdish units form a key part) have ejected Islamic State militants from a key stronghold on the eastern shore of the Euphrates River in the province of Deir Ezzor.
On Thursday, US-backed forces operating in eastern Syria captured the town of Gharanij (also spelt Khara’ij) from ISIS. The settlement, laced with defenses to the point of being a fortress on the Euphrates, served as a key stronghold for the terrorist group.
The battle to capture Gharanij was not easy as Syrian pro-Coalition fighters and Islamic State terrorists engaged in clashes for well over a week.
Initially, US-led Arab and Kurdish militias entered the town one week ago and declared it to be under their control, however, not long after, ISIS counterattacked (mostly using tunnels) and drove them out.
Even with the capture of Gharanij, US-backed forces still find themselves in entangled in two other ongoing battles on the east Euphrates bank, again both for ISIS strongholds – these being represented by the strategic towns of Abu Hammam and Haijin.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 07:56 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:55 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army has prevented a huge car bomb attack by Islamic State forces against its positions in the eastern desert countryside of Homs province.
On Thursday, Syrian state television (SANA) released footage of a car bomb that the Islamic State terrorist group had intended to use against the Syrian Army in eastern Homs. The weapon was seized by army forces before it could be employed on the battlefield.
Reports specify, as the video below shows, that the vehicle ISIS intended to use against the Syrian Army was a Toyota loaded with 500 kilograms of explosive content (mostly landmines), designed to pulverize defense lines and upturn tanks.
Furthermore, sources also say that ISIS intended to sneak the car bomb behind army lines along with its suicide agent and use the weapon at a later time against Syrian forces in the area around the Talilah reservoir (east of the ancient city of Palmyra).
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Posted: 04 Jan 2018 07:16 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:00 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army’s elite 4th Mechanized Division units in the Idib Governorate have been redeployed to the eastern suburbs of Damascus, a military source told Al-Masdar News last night.
According to the source, the 39th and 40th brigades of the 4th Division were given orders, yesterday, to redeploy to the Harasta suburb of east Damascus in order to help with the ongoing counter-offensive.
In addition to helping lift the siege on the vehicle base, the 4th Division will also lead the charge to retake the entire suburb and expel the Islamist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham from the area.
Once this operation is completed, they will likely return to the Idlib Governorate to help with the ongoing offensive to recapture the strategic Abu Dhuhour Military Airport.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 06:49 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:40 A.M.) – Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah conducted an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV, Wednesday, to discuss a number of regional topics, including the ongoing protests in Iran.
The Hezbollah leader accused the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia of meddling with Iran’s internal affairs, adding that their plans to overthrow the government in Tehran had failed.
Among the topics Sayyed Nasrallah discussed at length with Al-Mayadeen on Wednesday was the possibility of war with Israel, which the Hezbollah leader asserted that his forces were ‘ready’ if such a confrontation were to happen.
The resistance axis does not have the choice to engage in a classic war against the enemy; it rather depends on draining Israeli resources and taking advantage of time,” Hezbollah’s leader stated.
“Our aim is to resist, not to get in a war, but Trump and Netanyahu might push the region towards war, and the axis of resistance is ready for that… The war aims at hitting the resistance axis, and this axis must change this threat into an opportunity,” Sayyed Nasrallah continued.
"Tens of thousands will join our side in any war and the whole axis is preparing itself to transform the threat into a historic opportunity that goes beyond Galilee," he added.
"Hezbollah would never make peace with Israel, neither would it acknowledge this entity legitimately even if the entire world did so,” he concluded.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 05:29 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:15 A.M.) – The Islamist rebels of Faylaq Al-Rahman published a statement on Thursday mourning the death of several fighters and their field commander, Hassan Al-Boshi, during the fierce battle for the Harasta suburb of east Damascus.
According to the statement released by Faylaq Al-Rahman, at least 16 of their fighters were killed when an airstrike hit a building they were positioned at near the vehicle base in Harasta.
In addition to the Faylaq Al-Rahman casualties, their allies from Harakat Ahar Al-Sham and Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham also suffered heavy losses from this airstrike, with death toll estimated to be between 20 to 25 militants for the aforementioned jihadist groups.
On Thursday, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched a massive counter-offensive to recapture the territory around the vehicle base and to lift the siege around this imperative military installation.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 04:30 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:10 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) began their important counter-offensive, Thursday, to lift the siege on the strategic vehicle base in the eastern part of Damascus.
Backed by powerful airstrikes from their air force, the Syrian Arab Army’s 105th and 106th brigades of the Republican Guard made their move inside the Harasta suburb, Thursday, attacking Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham’s defenses from several axes.
The powerful assault would prove somewhat successful, as the Syrian Arab Army managed to capture several building blocks that were seized by Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and Faylaq Al-Rahman last week.
While their gains have been limited, the Syrian Arab Army has been able to inflict heavy damage on the Islamist fortifications, paving the way for another big assault that is expected to begin in the coming hours.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 03:46 PM PST
The United States is imposing sanctions on five Iranian-based entities for their role in Tehran’s ballistic missile program, the US Department of Treasury said in a press release.
“Today, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned five Iran-based entities subordinate to a key element of Iran's ballistic missile program,” the release said on Thursday. “Shahid Kharrazi Industries, Shahid Sanikhani Industries, Shahid Moghaddam Industries, Shahid Eslami Research Center, and Shahid Shustari Industries are being designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 for being owned or controlled by Iran's Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group (SBIG).”
On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview that the Trump administration and members of Congress are working on a new set of nuclear and missile-related Iran sanctions that would replace the 2015 nuclear agreement that permits the Islamic republic to resume nuclear weapons development after ten years.
Pence said that US President Donald Trump will again refuse to certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear agreement later this month, as the president did in October.
Earlier on in the day, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told his US counterpart Rex Tilleson that London was still committed to the Iranian nuclear deal, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a Thursday statement after two diplomats held a phone conversation.
“The Foreign Secretary reiterated the UK's ongoing commitment to the Iran nuclear deal and to working with our allies and partners to address Iran's destabilising activities in the region,” the statement published by the UK governmental press service said.
The 2015 nuclear deal with the United States, Russia, Germany, France, China and the United Kingdom required that Iran roll back parts of its nuclear program for ten years in exchange for sanctions relief.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 02:54 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:30 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has been steadily advancing inside the southern part of the Idlib Governorate, capturing several towns and villages that were previously controlled by the jihadist rebels.
Led by their elite Tiger Forces and 4th Mechanized Division, the Syrian Army continued their advance on Thursday, seizing at least three towns from the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham near the northern axis of the Hama Governorate.
According to a Syrian military report, the Syrian Army captured the towns of Fuhayl, Rasm Al-Abd, and Mushayrifah, pushing their way to another jihadist stronghold inside the Idlib Governorate’s southern countryside.
The Syrian Army’s next big target is the town of Sinjar, which is strategically located along the main road to the jihadist stronghold of Ma’arat Al-Nu’man.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 02:11 PM PST
Moscow warns Washington against attempts to interfere in Iran's internal affairs, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told TASS on Thursday.
“We warn the US against attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he stressed. ”
What is happening there is an internal affair, which attracts the attention of the international community. However, despite numerous attempts to distort the essence of what is going on, I am certain that our neighbor, the country that is friendly to us, will be able to overcome the current difficulties and emerge from the current period as a stronger nation and a reliable partner in solving various problems, including those related to further implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Ryabkov stated.
Ryabkov urged the US “not to take steps that hinder further positive and effective cooperation with Iran to implement the JCPOA.”
“The current situation when Washington yields to temptation to take advantage of the moment to bring up new questions with regard to the JCPOA testifies to a deliberate attempt to undermine the global community's commitment to the JCPOA,” the senior diplomat stressed.
“That does no credit to our American counterparts,” he added.
To that end, he again stressed that Russia is in favor of preserving the nuclear deal and “full and strict compliance with it by all parties, primarily, the US.” I say this because there are no complaints regarding the implementation of the deal by the Iranian side and there cannot be. This has been repeatedly confirmed in reports by the IAEA director general,” he said, adding that the agreements that have been reached are an important factor of strengthening regional and global stability.
Situation in Iran
Protests in Iran began on December 28, with participants in demonstrations in different cities expressing dissatisfaction with the growing prices. At least 20 people, including law enforcement officers, have been killed in clashes with the police. According to the Iranian authorities, over 450 people have been arrested for taking part in public unrest.
On January 3, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said the rebels had been defeated.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 01:58 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:45 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has officially taken control of all important hilltops overlooking the strategic West Ghouta region of Damascus.
As part of the surrender agreement, the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham agreed to handover the hilltops of Tal Al-Louz, which overlook much of the Beit Jinn pocket.
Video footage of the Syrian Army taking control of this area was released by Hezbollah’s official media wing on Thursday – please see below:
With control of these hilltops, the Syrian Army now has fire control over the rebel-held Beit Saber pocket.
While this Beit Saber is under a reconciliation agreement, should they violate the terms of the ceasefire, the Syrian Army will be able to impose their will on the rebels from the hilltops.
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Posted: 04 Jan 2018 01:39 PM PST
A new video released Monday shows Houthi navy divers celebrating the seizure of a US Navy underwater drone somewhere off the coast of Yemen.
Four men in diving gear surfaced with a big catch: an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) with the codename “Smokey” printed on the vessel’s main body. The REMUS 600 espionage device was in use by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition against Houthi fighters in Yemen before Houthi navy service members captured the drone at some point over the last week, AMN News reported, citing Houthi media.
The UUV features Hydroid and Kongsberg logos, the companies producing REMUS 600. The vessel was a “passive system being operated by the [US] Navy as part of a meteorological study,” USNI News reported Tuesday, citing a US defense official.
The REMUS 600 “might be the most advanced UUV deployed,” said Dan Gettinger, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, in an interview with USNI News. The vessel “is intended to operate in shallow waters, intended to operate in littoral space, and designed to be pretty autonomous,” Gettinger noted.
Military applications for REMUS 600 include area search, mine countermeasures, hydrographic survey and intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), according to Kongsberg. The vessel can also be deployed for marine research and commercial applications, the Norwegian firm states on its website.
The military UUV produced by Kongsberg is gray in color while the marine research and commercial UUVs are yellow. The captured UUV is yellow, suggesting that it was likely doing some type of maritime research for the US Navy.
A UUV can deploy from a vessel as small as a patrol boat and resurfaces after about 20 hours due to limited power. The UUV might have fallen into the hands of the Houthi navy after its underwater mission ended and before a US or Saudi-coalition ship had time to recover the UUV, Gettiner said.
Taking enemy UUVs is likely to become a more common phenomenon in the future as UUVs become more prevalent.
“Underwater drones are not as frequently spoken about as [unmanned aerial vehicles]. But there’s a recognition, particularly in China and Russia, these will be part of a future fleet,” Gettinger noted.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 12:56 PM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:50 P.M.) – Hundreds of thousands of people rallied on the streets of Iran's second largest city of Mashhad on Wednesday in support of the government and against the violence witnessed in recent days.
Supporters marched holding the Iranian flag and placards of Iranian leaders while chanting anti-US slogans.
At least 21 people have died in anti-government protests since Thursday with rallies against rising food prices, unemployment and alleged corruption.
President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged the public’s anger over Iran’s flagging economy but vowed to crackdown on lawbreakers.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also blamed the recent unrest on meddling by “enemies of Iran.”
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Posted: 04 Jan 2018 06:50 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:50 P.M.) – On Thursday morning, the Syrian Arab Army kicked-off its long awaited counter-offensive aimed at lifting the siege on a key army base in the east Damascus district of Harasta.
Video footage has emerged showing one of the main Syrian Army commanders leading the Harasta counter-offensive, Colonel Nizar Fandi, alongside a captured jihadist fighter from the Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) terrorist group.
In the video, Fandi comments on the captured enemy fighter referring to him as a ‘Nusra dog’ and then goes on to state to the besieged Syrian troops at the vehicle depot base that ‘we’re coming to liberate you.’
Colonel Nizar Fandi is currently leading the elite shock troop battalions of the 9th Armoured Division that are present on the Harasta front. His main area of operations prior to the emergency in east Damascus was Daraa where he has achieved many noteworthy victories.
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Posted: 04 Jan 2018 06:09 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:09 P.M.) – Elite assault units of the Syrian Arab Army have had a busy Thursday in Idlib province with their operations against jihadist-led militias over the last 12 hours resulting in the liberation of no less than nine towns and villages throughout the region’s southeastern countryside.
According to emerging reports from military-affiliated sources, units of the Syrian Arab Army’s Tiger Forces and 4th Mechanized Division have swooped through another five towns in southeast Idlib province during recent hours after capturing 4 other settlements earlier in the day.
The towns have been identified as Um Rajem, Sheikh Barakah, Qasr Abiyad, Al-Haqiyah and Rabit Mousa.
The latest advance now puts the Syrian Army within three kilometers of the jihadist-held town of Sinjar.
Sinjar has immense strategic value; firstly it is a crossroad town that commands the way to the Abu Duhur military airport (a highly sought objective of the Syrian Army) as well as the general traffic routes between northeast Hama, southeast Idlib and south Aleppo provinces and, secondly, it is a major stronghold used by the Al-Qaeda-linked Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) terrorist group.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 05:40 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:39 A.M.) – Forces of the Syrian Arab Army are well on their way to lifting the siege on a key base in the east Damascus district of Harasta since commencing their long awaited counter-offensive against jihadist militias on Thursday morning.
So far, Syrian Army assault units have managed to recapture many tens of building in the Al-Ajmi neighborhood of Harasta district and have gained fire control over the local Basher Hospital.
Moreover, Syrian warplanes targeted and destroyed the main operations room used by the Al-Qaeda-linked Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nursa) terrorist group which led the initial militant offensive. Most fighters present inside it were either killed or wounded.
Overall, dozens of jihadist militants have been killed and captured as a result of fierce battles with the Syrian Army since its counter-blow was delivered this morning.
At the present time, the Syrian Arab Army has covered 400 meters of the 800 meter journey to lift the siege on troops holding out in the military vehicle depot base, putting it right on halfway done.
Despite this, there are reports that the greater aim of the counter-offensive will be to recapture the entire Harasta district as well as other areas in eastern Damascus that have been under the control of militant groups since 2012.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 04:36 AM PST
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (02:35) – Iranian security forces have raided and destroyed a foreign terrorist organisation that had made its way into the northwest of the country, according to Fars News Agency.
“An armed anti-revolutionary team which had recently penetrated Iran with the mission to conduct blasts and kill people in false flag operations to heighten anti-establishment sentiments for continued unrests was identified by the intelligence forces in Piranshahr (…) They fired at the security forces and used a rural woman as human shield while being arrested,” an anonymous official told Fars News.
According to the official, the operation and the subsequent shootout also costed the life of three security forces, while three teams of foreign militants were arrested. The city of Piranshahr lies close to the borders of both Iraq and Turkey.
The alleged entrance of the foreign terrorist organisation into Iran corresponds with the dying down of a wave of protests that swept across Iran in the past week. While originally the demonstrations were intended to protest economic difficulties such as high cost of living and youth unemployment, they quickly spiralled out of control when groups of armed opponents of the Islamic Republic launched attacks on security forces, public property and religious sites.
Since Wednesday, the protests have been dying out as authorities called on protesters to allow the security forces to deal with the armed elements. The past two days have also seen massive demonstrations in support of the Islamic Republic and in opposition to foreign intervention in Iran’s domestic affairs.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 04:15 AM PST
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (02:10 PM) – The Israeli regime has abducted over 750 Palestinian citizens during raids on their houses in the West Bank, according to Palestinian sources.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Israeli soldiers abducted seven people early on Thursday after raiding their private residences in the West Bank, in clear violation of international law and of existing peace agreements between Israel and Palestine.
The abductions took place all over the Palestinian area, notably in Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem and Hebron.
During a raid on the Deheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem, Israeli forces opened fire on civilians and wounded at least 10.
Since US president Donald Trump’s decision on December 6 that saw the United States officially recognize Jerusalem as the so-called “capital of Israel”, Israeli troops have kidnapped at least 750 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, and killed sixteen.
On Wednesday, armed Israelis shot and killed 17-year old Mos'ab Firas Tamimi in the village of Deir Nitham.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 02:06 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:55 A.M.) – Beirut’s First Investigative Judge, Ghassan Oueidat, issued an arrest warrant in absentia for journalist Maria Maalouf, Thursday, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported this morning.
According to the report released by NNA, Judge Oueidat issued the arrest warrant after it was found that Maalouf slandered and defamed Hezbollah’s General Secretary, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on several occasions.
In addition to the charges of defamation and slander, Maalouf is facing charges of inciting violence against the Hezbollah leader.
Maalouf has been a staunch critic of Hezbollah’s role in the region and Sayyed Nasrallah, often blaming the organization for the Lebanon’s problems.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 02:00 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 P.M.) – Elite forces of the Syrian Arab Army continue their relentless drive against jihadist-led militias throughout the lush countryside of southeastern Idlib province, capturing in recent hours some four settlements.
According to military-affiliated sources, the Syrian Arab Army’s elite Tiger Forces Division and 4th Mechanized Division have captured no less than four towns and villages – in about as many hours time – from jihadist-led militias in Idlib’s southeastern country since launching a fresh assault against militant defenses on Thursday morning.
The settlements have been identified as Rasm Abyad, Fuhayl, Mushayrifah and Luwaybidat.
The Syrian Army’s assault was backed up by a wealth of supporting arms fire from howitzers, rocket artillery and warplanes.
As with advances made in previous days, Syrian assault troops appear to be driving northwards towards the key crossroad town of Sinjar and perhaps furthermore onto the strategic Abu Duhur military airport which was captured by jihadist armed groups in September 2015.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 01:29 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:29 A.M.) – Forces of the Syrian Arab Army have launched their long awaited counter-offensive aimed at lifting the siege off of a partially besieged military base in eastern Damascus.
Moments ago, reports came in from military-affiliated sources that the Syrian Army and allied paramilitaries commenced their week-long anticipated counter-offensive to lift the siege off the military vehicle depot base in east Damascus’ Harasta district.
Syrian troops inside the vehicle base became mostly isolated from army-held lines over the weekend after Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood affiliated jihadist factions attacked the main supply line running to the installation.
Early reports indicate that so far Syrian army-led forces have recaptured some key building blocks to the base’s west which overlook the supply line running to it.
All advances are being made under cover of heavy airstrikes and artillery shelling that have been going on days prior to and since the army offensive started.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 01:25 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:15 A.M.) – The Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, was interviewed by Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV, yesterday, as part of their coverage of the ongoing protests in Iran.
During the brief interview, the Hezbollah leader blasted the foreign opponents of the Iranian government and explained the reasoning behind the ongoing protests.
In particular, Sayyed Nasrallah criticized U.S. President Donald Trump, Israel and Saudi Arabia over their persistent desire to have the Iranian government overthrown.
“None of the wishes came true for Trump, his deputy, his administration, Israel, and Saudi Arabia regarding Iran,” Sayyed Nasrallah told Al-Mayadeen TV
“Most Iranians agree with the government’s foreign policies and the Iranian authorities always detail their policies for the people,” he added.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 01:06 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:55 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) resumed their offensive in the southeastern part of the Idlib Governorate, today, targeting a number of sites controlled by the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham.
Backed by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian Arab Army began their assault this morning by storming the towns located west of Mushayrifah.
According to a military report from the area, the Syrian Arab Army is steadily advancing west in the Idlib Governorate, killing and wounding many militants in the process.
The Syrian Arab Army and their allies are attempting to isolate the northern Hama area that is controlled by the jihadist rebels, while also advancing towards the key town of Khan Sheikhoun.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 12:46 AM PST
The Israeli military has said it will continue to “use all means” available to protect the country from attempted attacks from Palestinian territory.
A day earlier, the IDF said that three rockets targeting Israel were fired from Palestinian territories, as part of the recent increase in tensions between the Jewish state and Hamas.
Israeli jets carried out airstrikes on Palestinian targets in the Gaza Strip early on Thursday, in response to the three rockets fired at Israel's territory on Wednesday, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said on Twitter.
It was not immediately clear whether there were any casualties on the Palestinian side.
The IDF also said it will continue to “use all means to thwart attempts to attack the citizens of Israel” and to protect Israel's sovereignty.
On Wednesday, the Israeli military reported that it had registered three rockets launched from the Gaza Strip targeting the territory of Israel. No damage or victims have been reported.
More than 20 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip over the past month amid a fresh spike in tensions between Israel and Palestine, following US President Donald Trump's move on December 6 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
On January 2, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot that Israel would continue taking all the necessary measures to ensure its security. However, according to him, the IDF would avoid using “maximum force” as a retaliatory measure, not allowing Israel to become mired in a renewed conflict in Gaza.
Israel blames Palestine's Hamas movement for the rocket attacks. In turn, Hamas has claimed that the rocket shelling targeting Israel from Gaza is a matter of self-defense for Palestinians and that the move was provoked by the US decision on Jerusalem.
On December 12, Hamas announced the beginning of a third “intifada” uprising to protest the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 12:31 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:55 A.M.) – The Iranian military does not appear to be leaving Syria anytime soon, as their forces are reportedly preparing for a new offensive in the western countryside of the Deir Ezzor Governorate.
According to a Syrian military source in Damascus, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah, Liwaa Al-Fatemiyoun (Afghani-Iranian paramilitary), and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) are preparing to storm the Islamic State’s (ISIS) large pocket in Syria’s Badiya region.
Similar to the Albukamal offensive in late 2017, the IRGC will be leading the charge to liberate this large area that is currently occupied by the Islamic State.
IRGC attack drones have already begun bombing the Islamic State’s positions near the Humaymah area in a bid to weaken the terrorist group’s resolve, as they move more forces to the front-lines.
In response to the bombardment and troop movement, ISIS carried out a powerful ambush against the Syrian faction of Hezbollah, Tuesday, killing several personnel in the process.
The Badiya offensive is expected to begin some time in the next few weeks, as the pro-government forces finalize their plans to storm this ISIS pocket.
Posted: 04 Jan 2018 12:25 AM PST
BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:25 A.M.) – The Islamic State terrorist group has launched a mass-suicide bombing attack against Iraqi forces near the Syrian border. Iraqi troops managed to repel the attack, but only just.
According to military-affiliated sources, on Tuesday, Iraqi forces operating near the Syrian border were attacked by scores of ISIS suicide bombers utilizing both car bombs and vest bombs in what appears to have been a desperate attempt by the terrorist group to overrun the positions of pro-government forces after many failed raids in previous weeks.
Reports state that the attack fell on the 28th Brigade of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units near Tal Sefok and that the resulting battle saw pro-government troops destroy no less than 18 Islamic State fighters with explosive vests as well as two car bombs.
As with many engagements that have taken place between Iraqi forces and ISIS near the Syrian border over the last three weeks, the terrorist assault was once again launched across the border from areas inside eastern Syria that have yet to be cleared.
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