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Gulf crisis escalates as major corporations are forced to take sides

Posted: 03 May 2018 12:41 AM PDT

The Gulf crisis that pits a United Arab Emirates-Saudi-led alliance against Qatar is escalating in discreet but no less worrisome ways that effect major third-party commercial interests and could increase international pressure for a resolution of the dispute.

In a major shift away from Saudi and UAE restraint in attempting to force the international community and multi-nationals from taking sides in the 11-month dispute, prominent financial institutions are being sucked into the dispute that erupted last June when the alliance declared a diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.

Executives of JPMorgan and HSBC advised Qatar last month, according to The Wall Street Journal, that they would not be involved in the Gulf state's $12 billion bond issuance because it could jeopardize their relationship with Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom in April rushed a $11 billion bond sale of its own, its fourth international offering, to ensure that it went to market before Qatar did.

Qatar has responded to efforts to persuade financial institutions to reduce, if not halt dealings with the Gulf state by refusing do business with some Dubai-based bankers and consultants. The Qatari response has forced several Western institutions to do business with the Gulf state through their London offices, according to the Journal.

Some bankers and financial executives have, moreover, reportedly been detained at UAE airports because they had Qatari visas in their passports before ultimately being granted entry into the country.

Saudi Arabia, in an unusual move, took the market by surprise when it launched its bond without embarking on a traditional roadshow to market the offering and sought to complete the transaction in one day. The issuance was oversubscribed almost five times.

The Saudi attempt to undermine Qatar failed given that the Gulf state's sale was similarly oversubscribed.

"This reflects the strength of the Qatari economy and the confidence of international investors," a Qatari official gloated.

HSBC was one of the Saudi bond's global coordinators while JP Morgan was one its lead managers. The two banks helped arrange Qatar's last sale in 2016 of a $9 billion bond. Neither was involved in the most recent Qatari sale which was arranged among others by Deutsche Bank, Barclays and Credit Suisse, banks in which Qatar has significant stakes.

In January, Doha Bank, Qatar's fifth-biggest lender, was forced to reduce the size of a two-year, $575 million bank loan that it had raised in December 2015 to $400 million, when it sought a one-year extension of the facility because Chinese, Hong Kong and Japanese banks opted not to participate.

The financial reverberations of the Gulf crisis contrast with failed attempts by the UAE-Saudi alliance in the immediate aftermath of the declaration of the boycott to strongarm African nations into supporting their punitive measures against Qatar.

Omar Ghobash, the UAE's ambassador to Russia, suggested at the time that the anti-Qatar alliance could "impose conditions on our own trading partners and say you want to work with us then you have got to make a commercial choice."

The quiet tit-for-tat between Qatar and international banks suggests that Saudi Arabia and the UAE, frustrated that Doha has proven to be resilient enough to resist surrendering to the alliance's demands, have decided to step up the pressure.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia accuse Qatar of supporting militants and political violence, maintaining close ties with Iran, and interfering in the domestic affairs of its neighbours – accusations Qatar denies. Accepting the alliance's demands would effectively amount to Qatar compromising its sovereignty and ability to chart its own, independent course.

The Wall Street Journal's disclosure of the tit-for-tat with financial institutions comes days after newly appointed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his first overseas trip in his new job told Saudi leaders in Riyadh that "enough is enough" and that the Gulf crisis must be brought to an end.

Stopping the rot in its tracks and averting the potential impact of the crisis on multi-nationals is certainly not the only reason for Mr. Pompeo's stepped-up pressure on Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The United States wants to see a united front among its Middle Eastern allies as President Donald J. Trump gears up for a possible withdrawal on May 12 from the 2015 international agreement that curbs Iran's nuclear program.

Nevertheless, forcing financial institutions to take sides in the Gulf crisis challenges Mr. Trump's America First approach to policy and the interests of major US corporations – a move the president is unlikely to view kindly.

If financial institutions are continuously forced to take sides, Saudi Arabia and the UAE could decide to target other economic sectors as well as Asian nations that depend on the export of labour to the Gulf.

Countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan, two of the most populous Muslim states, as well as India, home to the world's fourth largest Muslim population, fear that Saudi Arabia could threaten to expel millions of migrant workers and expatriates in a bid to force them to join the boycott of Qatar.

Saudi Arabia has a history of using as leverage migrant workers, whose remittances constitute the backbone of foreign currency liquidity of many supplier countries and whose Gulf jobs reduce pressure on domestic labour markets.

Thousands of foreign workers in the kingdom have in recent years already lost their jobs as a result of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's efforts to replace them with Saudi nationals and financial difficulties encountered by major corporations like the Saudi Bin Laden Group and Saudi Oger.

Speaking to the BBC last June, former Bangladesh ambassador to Saudi Arabia Abdul Momen Chowdhury warned that "nothing is impossible" in how the kingdom might seek to build support for its campaign against Qatar. "If anyone obstructs what they want or does not agree with their opinions, they are never hesitant to act." Mr. Chowdhury said.

Potential Saudi and UAE efforts to increase pressure on Qatar would reflect the fact that the two countries have boxed themselves into a corner by refusing to negotiate with the Gulf state unless it first accepts their demands.

The Gulf stalemate is reinforced by the fact that the international community has by and large refused to back the Saudi-UAE position and repeatedly called for a negotiated solution.

So far, the tit-for-tat with financial institutions has not forced any of the banks and financial majors to close offices on one side or the other of the Gulf divide.

Nonetheless, in a sign of the times, JP Morgan remains the region's top merger and acquisition advisor, but no longer ranks among the top five banks in Qatar in terms of revenue. For the first time in nearly a decade, it doesn't even rank among the Gulf state's top 10.

Said a private equity firm executive in the Gulf: “If this continues, international banks will increasingly be forced to choose sides. That would take the Gulf crisis to a new and dangerous level."

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

VIDEO: Syrian forces clash with ISIS in southern Damascus

Posted: 02 May 2018 11:02 PM PDT

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (9:00 A.M.) – Battles break out around the clock in southern Damascus suburbs with the Syrian forces slowly advancing into the ISIS-held enclave.

The assault, carried out by Army units with support from Palestinian fighters, aims at either reclaiming the last ISIS foothold or enforce an evacuation deal in order to secure the entire rural areas around the capital.

ISIS still holds al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood and the southern parts of the Yarmouk Refugee Camp after militants from another jihadi group left to the country’s north.

In the meantime, rebel factions in the nearby towns of Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahm are expected to begin evacuation today after concluding an agreement with the Syrian government.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

North Homs rebels split over reconciliation with Syrian government

Posted: 02 May 2018 10:46 PM PDT

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (8: 45 A.M.) – A group of rebel fighters who had refused to reconcile with the Syrian government defected from their factions as tensions rise in north Homs pocket.

The defected militants reportedly formed a new faction Jaish al-Sahaba, vowing to the fight the Syrian Army until the ‘last drop of blood’.

Firefight erupted between the newly-formed faction and other groups in favor of a surrender deal. Clashes reported to have taken place across several towns in the insurgent-controlled enclave.

Simultaneously, Jaysh al-Sahaba shelled the residential districts in Homs city with Grad missile in a daring challenge to the Syrian government that seeks to concluded an evacuation deal.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Syrian, Palestinian forces liberate new areas in ISIL’s southern Damascus bastion

Posted: 02 May 2018 04:57 PM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:45 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their Palestinian allies continued their offensive operations inside southern Damascus on Wednesday, seizing several new areas that were previously under Islamic State (ISIS) control.

According to a military source in Damascus, the Syrian and Palestinian forces managed to liberate a dozen buildings inside of Hajar Al-Aswad on Wednesday, forcing the Islamic State terrorists to withdraw from several street blocks inside the southwestern part of the town.

Wednesday’s operation was led by the 105th Brigade of the Republican Guard, which is one of the Syrian Army’s elite units.

The Syrian Army is expecting to impose full control over the southwestern part of Hajar Al-Aswad in the coming days, as they continue to intensify their operations inside Hajar Al-Aswad.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Russian Air Force strikes Islamist weapons depot in northern Hama

Posted: 02 May 2018 04:33 PM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:15 A.M.) – The Russian Aerospace Forces carried out several airstrikes over the northern countryside of the Hama Governorate last night, targeting a number of areas controlled by the Islamist rebels near the Idlib provincial border.

According to a Syrian military report, the Russian Aerospace Forces primarily concentrated their airstrikes on the towns of Kafr Zita and Al-Lataminah, which are both controlled by Jaysh Al-Izza.

Among the many targets for the Russian Aerospace Forces was Jaysh Al-Izza’s weapons depot that was located inside of Kafr Zita.

The airstrikes proved successful, as the Russian Aerospace Forces were able to destroy the weapons depot after striking the area at least five times.

Video below was released by pro-opposition STEP News Agency:

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Houthi forces destroy US-made tank operated by Saudi Army (video)

Posted: 02 May 2018 04:16 PM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:00 A.M.) – The Houthi forces continued their attacks against the Saudi Coalition this week, targeting another tank used by the latter in the Gulf kingdom’s Jizan Region.

According to the official media wing of the Houthi forces, their fighters destroyed a US-manufactured M-1 Abrams tank near the Al-Amod military base in southern Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

As shown in the video below, the Houthi forces were able to destroy the Abrams tank and a technical vehicle after they fired an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) at the Saudi forces in the Jizan Region.

Saudi Arabia would later admit that this attack resulted in the death of four soldiers, including two military officers.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Syria’s Hama and Aleppo bombed by Israel with US-made missiles – reports

Posted: 02 May 2018 03:44 PM PDT

According to reports by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 26 servicemen were killed in an airstrike on ammo depots in northern Syria on April 30. No country has claimed responsibility for the strike.

The Syrian Homs-based online media outlet Zaman al-Wasl has reported, citing unnamed military source, that US-made missiles were used by the Israeli air force in an airstrike that took place on April 30 in northern Syria. According to the source, the same type of missile has been used in previous Israeli strikes against the Arab country.

On April 30 reports started to surface that ammo depots in Hama and Aleppo were attacked in an air raid by an unknown power. Official Syrian sources haven’t named any victims, but the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that 26 servicemen were killed, with many of them allegedly being Iranians. Iran has denied such reports, claiming that none of its military advisers stationed in Syria were killed.

The Israeli Defense Forces have refused to comment the allegations that Tel Aviv was behind the attack.

Relations between Israel and Iran have always been tense, with Tehran not recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Israel claims that Iran has military forces in Syria that it intends to use against Israel. Tehran denies the allegations, claiming that it is only sending military advisors to the Arab Republic.

The Israeli air force conducted airstrikes against the Syrian T-4 airbase in February and April 2018. Tel Aviv announced that the strikes targeted “Iran’s bases in Syria,” which Tehran had allegedly been planning to use in order to attack Israel. Both Syria and Iran have slammed the attacks, saying that several Iranian military advisers had been killed in the strike in the beginning of April 2018.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Syrian military seizes Israeli-made weapons destined for northern Homs (photos)

Posted: 02 May 2018 03:39 PM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:00 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) seized a large quantity of weapons from the jihadist rebels, Wednesday, after the latter’s transport was caught traveling to the northern countryside of Homs.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the Syrian military seized several mortar shells, ATGMs, assault rifles, and ammunition from the jihadist rebels.

The SANA report would later claim that much of the weapons were reportedly manufactured in Israel – please see below:

Photo credit:
Photo credit: SANA
Photo credit: SANA

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Poll: Almost 70% of Israelis oppose easing illegal Gaza siege

Posted: 02 May 2018 03:39 PM PDT

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:41 P.M)- According to a new poll conducted by Israeli media, 67% of Israeli Jews oppose easing the illegal siege they enforce upon the people of the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Channel 7 (Hebrew) earlier today published the results of a poll on Israeli Jewish public opinion. The poll conducted was essentially asking Israeli Jews wether they were for or against easing the conditions inflicted upon Gaza, by lessening the restrictions upon the illegally besieged Gaza Strip.

Despite prominent figures making the conditions in Gaza clear – to a certain extent- Israelis still support the illegal siege pressed against its (Gaza’s) people.

Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, stated earlier this year that “Gaza is on the verge of collapse”.

No action has been taken by the state of Israel to ease the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, in fact restrictions have only gotten stricter.

As of this recent poll, it seems that easing the siege has quite some opposition in Israel, let alone the prospect of ending it.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Syrian hero who defied French occupation passes away at 104

Posted: 02 May 2018 09:54 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:40 P.M.) – The Syrian hero, Fadlullah Muqallad, 104, passed away in the Sweida Governorate on Wednesday, locals in the provincial capital reported this afternoon.

Muqallad was known all over the country for his gallantry against the French forces that occupied Syria from 1918-1947.

Muqallad’s most famous feet took place on May 29th, 1945 when he tore down the French flag from the Sweida Castle and replaced it with the Syrian flag.

According to locals in Sweida, Muqalled’s services were held, today, in his hometown; it was attended by many religious and political figures.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Israeli DM warns Iran against ‘hurting’ Israel, vows ‘appropriate’ response

Posted: 02 May 2018 09:23 AM PDT

In the wake of the revelation by Israel of thousands of secret documents on the Iran nuclear program, suggesting that Tehran has been developing nuclear weapons contrary to the provisions of the 2015 deal it signed, tensions in the region have been heightened.

Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Iran on Wednesday of an “appropriate” response to any actions by Tehran that are aimed at "hurting" Israel.

“The State of Israel cannot afford to ignore the threats of Iran, whose senior officials routinely threaten the State of Israel, promise to wipe it out and continue to support terror, and therefore we will do everything we need to do.”

The statement comes after Iranian Defense Minister Amir Khatami warned Israel against “provocative actions” and said Tehran’s response will “be surprising” and Israel will “regret it.”

The developments come amid heightened tensions over Benjamin Netanyahu's Monday presentation, during which he accused Tehran of continuing to develop nuclear weapons “know-how” for the future in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Signed by Iran and the P5+1 (China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) the agreement stipulated that Tehran would allow inspections at its facility to ensure that the peaceful nature of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Netanyahu said Israel had obtained about 100,000 documents proving that Iran’s nuclear program had a military dimension called the “Amad Project.”

The revelation was followed by the US administration's reaction to the incident, with President Trump claiming he would not rule out the withdrawal from the JCPOA. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif then said that Trump had jumped on a "rehash of old allegations already dealt with by the IAEA to “nix” the deal."

European states, including the United Kingdom and France, called for preservation of the deal after the revelation of the secret files. Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should scrutinize the documents to verify their credibility.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed that Russia send a working group to examine the materials, a high-ranking Israeli source told Sputnik on Tuesday. Germany, the United Kingdom and France will also send teams of experts to Israel to assess the files.

The controversy over the JCPOA has been constantly fueled by President Trump, who has threatened to withdraw the United States from the agreement if it is not amended. In January he said he would waive anti-Iran sanctions, as required under the JCPOA, for the last time and requested that Congress addresses the "flaws" in the agreement. Washington is expected to announce its decision on the agreement before May 12 deadline.

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Syrian Army breaks into ISIL’s southern Damascus bastion: map

Posted: 02 May 2018 09:14 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:00 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their Palestinian allies have scored several advances in the past days, liberating a number of areas that were previously under the control of the Islamic State (ISIS).

Led by the 9th Division’s shock troops (Al-Fandi Group) and 105th Brigade (Republican Guard), the Syrian Arab Army broke through the Islamic State’s lines, yesterday, liberating all of the farms in western Hajar Al-Aswad and the Al-Alaf area.

Following yesterday’s advance, the Syrian Arab Army and their Palestinian allies were able to push further into the Islamic State’s bastion, despite heavy resistance from the latter’s terrorists.

Intense clashes are still ongoing at the moment, with the Syrian Arab Army and their Palestinian allies still on the offensive.

Meanwhile, at the Yarmouk Camp, the Syrian Army has fully taken over the rebel-held areas of the district, given them access to the Islamic State’s lines in the northern corridor of this area.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Volunteers install tubes to feed stray cats in Damascus

Posted: 02 May 2018 09:01 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:40 p.m.) – Syrian volunteers set up tubes across Damascus to feed stray cats, as footage filmed on Sunday reveals.

The feeding tubes are filled with cat food and are attached to the bottoms of trees so that any stray cat can easily eat from there.

According to the initiative organiser Maher Dakhakhni, the action was inspired by a similar one in Aleppo.

He explained, “We started it around three weeks ago after I saw an initiative starting in Aleppo, where a team of young men distributed such tubes there. I saw that idea and I liked the matter of feeding cats on the streets.”

Dakhakhni went on to say that the initiative started “on a small scale” but then expanded to a network of 1,200 volunteers”, who he said are “buying tubes at their own expense, placing them next to their shops or houses and taking care of them by [supplying] food and water to stray cats living on streets, where there is no water or food.”

Source: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Kurdish forces, Iraqi Army to coordinate for major assault against ISIS

Posted: 02 May 2018 08:31 AM PDT

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (6:30 P.M.) – A US-backed Syrian group said they are launching a major offensive against the Islamic State in coordination with the Iraqi Army and with support of the US-coalition air power.

The Syrian Democratic Forces; a predominantly-Kurdish group backed and armed by the United States, decided to resume its military operation against ISIS-controlled areas along the borders with Iraq.

The operation – dubbed Cizire Storm – was paused for a while as the Kurdish militia sent part of its fighters to halt the Turkish invasion in Afrin region.

SDF senior commander, Haşim Mihemed, said the new assault will be carried out in cooperation with the Iraqi Army in order to crackdown on the terror group, and with support of US airstrikes.

"We had already announced yesterday that the operation will be carried out in joint coordination with the Coalition forces and the Iraqi army. Because there are several ISIS camps along the Iraqi-Syrian border. ISIS carries out attacks in Iraq and Syria from these military locations and headquarters. That is why we believe it will be healthier to carry out the operation in coordination with the Iraqi army, and we took steps accordingly", Mihemed added.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Syrian government officially takes over parts of Yarmouk Camp following militant evacuation [+Photos]

Posted: 02 May 2018 08:16 AM PDT

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (6:15 P.M.) – The Syrian government officially established control over the northern part of Yarmouk Refugee Camp in southern Damascus after jihadi militants had left to the country’s north.

Troops from the Syrian Army have been deployed to Palestine Street located just on the frontline with the ISIS-held parts of the Camp and Hajar Aswad to the south.

More reinforcements poured into the recently-liberated neighborhood with the aim to open a new front against the Islamic State militants.

Militants from the al-Qaeda-linked Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham surrendered the parts under their control from the Yarmouk Camp following negotiations with the Syrian Army.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

VIDEO: Syrian forces foil rebel attempt to smuggle weapons, drugs into Homs

Posted: 02 May 2018 06:45 AM PDT

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4:45 P.M.) – Syrian security forces managed to confiscate large quantities of weapons, ammunition, drugs and media equipment intended for rebel groups in north Homs countryside.

According to a security officer, the confiscated materials – which also include Israel-made medication – were originally brought from Quneitra province through Darra, with the objective to be smuggled to north Homs via the desert.

Media equipment like cameras, laptops, hard disks and live broadcast device – all carrying the logo of al-Jazeera Media Network – have also been seized in the process.

Rebels still control a pocket in north Homs where negotiations are still underway to conclude a final evacuation deal.

فيديو خاص #دمشق_الآن – قام جهاز المخابرات العسكرية – مكافحة الإرهاب فرع فلسطين بمصادرة كميات كبيرة من الأسلحة والأدوية اسرائيلية الصنع كانت تنقل من درعا والقنيطرة باتجاه ريف حمص عبر البادية .

Posted by ‎دمشق الآن‎ on Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

More rebels to leave southern Damascus under evacuation agreement with Syrian government

Posted: 02 May 2018 06:19 AM PDT

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4:20 P.M.) – Thousands of rebel fighters and their families are set to leave their bastions in southern Damascus after jihadists from the al-Qaeda-linked group surrendered the Yarmouk Refugee Camp.

Up to 17000 of militants accompanied with their families in Yalda, Babilah and Beit Sahm towns agreed to be evacuated to other rebel-controlled areas in northern and southern Syria.

While fighters of the Saudi-backed Jaysh al-Islam rebel group and other FSA-affiliated factions will be evacuated to Jarabulus and Idlib respectively, another FSA-linked militia; Ababyl Horan will head to the southern province of Daraa.

For this purpose, the Syrian government began opening the road to Beit Sahm at the Jamal Roundabout in order to be used as an exit point.

At least 200 militants from Hay’ay Tahrir al-Sham  jihadi group – in addition to their families – arrived at the northern province of Idlib after surrendering the Yarmouk Refugee Camp.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Drone footage shows Russian warplanes pounding ISIS in southern Damascus

Posted: 02 May 2018 05:54 AM PDT

DAMASCUS, SURIA (3:55 P.M.) – Russian fighter jets continue to pummel positions for the Islamic State in southern Damascus as the Syrian forces gain more ground.

The terror organization is well-entrenched in al-Hajar al-Aswad; district that has been under its control for years.

Drone footage published by a Russian media outlet shows precise airstrikes conducted by Russian jets to help the ground invasion.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Russian Air Force destroys underground militant base in northern Hama (video)

Posted: 02 May 2018 03:46 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:30 P.M.) – The Russian Aerospace Forces launched several airstrikes over the northern countryside of the Hama Governorate, yesterday, targeting a number of areas controlled by Islamist rebels.

Among the places targeted by the Russian jets was an underground base that belonged to the Islamist rebels of Jaysh Al-Izza in the town of Kafr Zita.

The Russian Aerospace Forces were able to destroy the Jaysh Al-Izza base with a bunker buster bomb that was able to penetrate to the militant installation.

Below is the video footage of the attack:

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Syrian Army liberates Al-Alaf area of Hajar Al-Aswad (photos)

Posted: 02 May 2018 03:30 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:20 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) scored a big advance in the western part of Hajar Al-Aswad, yesterday, liberating several areas from the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS).

Led by their 105th Brigade from the Republican Guard, the Syrian Arab Army not only liberated the western farms of Hajar Al-Aswad, but also, the Al-Alaf area.

As shown below, the Syrian Army was able to liberate this entire area in broad daylight:

Photo credit: Wassim Issa
Photo credit: Wassim Issa
Photo credit: Wassim Issa
Photo credit: Wassim Issa
Photo credit: Wassim Issa
Photo credit: Wassim Issa
Photo credit: Wassim Issa
Photo credit: Wassim Issa
Photo credit: Wassim Issa
Photo credit: Wassim Issa

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Turkish-backed rebels fight one another for their share of loot in Afrin

Posted: 02 May 2018 03:19 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:00 P.M.) – The Turkish-backed rebels in northern Aleppo clashed for several hours, today, after a long dispute over their share of loot taken from civilian homes in the Afrin region.

According to pro-opposition activists, the Sultan Mohammad Al-Fateh forces opened fire on the Al-Montaser Bilah group inside three towns in the Afrin region, causing several casualties as a result of the hostilities.

The fight reportedly broke-out between the two Turkish-backed groups after a heated dispute over a residential building they share and the loot inside of it.

No further details were released from this recent confrontation.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Close combat footage of Syrian Army troops and ISIS fighting for southern Damascus

Posted: 02 May 2018 03:02 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:40 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) reportedly made significant gains in farmland to the west of al-Hajar al-Aswad, as it continued its plight against the remaining members of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) to the south of Damascus on Tuesday.

Footage shows SAA foot soldiers opening fire on designated targets as smoke billowed from buildings hit by tank-launched shells.

The offensive has been ongoing since the Syrian military announced the full recapture of Eastern Ghouta from militants late March.

Video credit: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

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

Breaking: Syrian Army uncovers mass grave in east Aleppo

Posted: 02 May 2018 02:43 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:30 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has uncovered a mass grave in the eastern countryside of the Aleppo Governorate, today, a military source told Al-Masdar News.

According to the military source, the Syrian Army uncovered this mass while combing through the town of Wadha in the Maskanah region of east Aleppo.

The source added that the Syrian military believes the mass grave contains the bodies of the soldiers that were defending the Al-Jarrah Airbase.

The Free Syrian Army and their jihadist allies captured the Al-Jarrah Airbase in 2013; they would then summarily execute all of the captured Syrian Arab Army soldiers that were protecting this installation.

In 2017, the Syrian Army would retake the Al-Jarrah Airbase and entire Maskanah region of Aleppo.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Armenia: Parliament rejects Pashinyan as PM

Posted: 02 May 2018 02:28 AM PDT

The majority of the Armenian National Assembly's MPs voted against the election of Nikol Pashinyan, a deputy from the oppositional ‘Way Out’ Yelk Faction as Armenia's prime minister in Yerevan on Tuesday.

Pashinyan's failure came with 55 deputies voting against him and 45 in his favour.

The oppositional politician had to secure the backing of at least 53 deputies in order to win the post in the 105-seat legislature.

Prior to the vote, an MP from the Republican Party of Armenia Faction Vahram Baghdasaryan announced the overall position of the ruling party on the candidacy of Pashinyan saying that “we are going to vote against the candidacy of Nikol Pashinyan in an attempt to prevent the visible wave of danger that might emerge very quickly and strangle our country.”

Meanwhile he admitted that the people's movement which had engulfed the Armenian capital since April 13th “may support any candidate for the prime-minister's post.”

In his final speech ahead of the vote, Nikol Pashinyan said that he does not seek the disruption of the Republican party adding that “Republican Party, Republican Faction has already destroyed itself immediately and irreversibly through today's debates and discussions.”

Shortly after the voting procedure Nikol Pashinyan joined the Armenian citizens thousands of who had gathered at the Republican square.

Source: Ruptly

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Syrian, Palestinian forces press forward in southern Damascus amid heavy resistance from ISIS

Posted: 02 May 2018 02:23 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:05 P.M.) – For the third time this week, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their Palestinian allies have stormed the strategic town of Hajar Al-Aswad from several axes.

Led by their 105th Brigade (Republican Guard) and 9th Division shock troops (Fandi Group), the Syrian Army attempted to advance at the western and southeastern axes of Hajar Al-Aswad.

Despite facing heavy resistance from the Islamic State (ISIS) forces at these axes, the Syrian Army and their Palestinian allies were able to score a small advance today.

According to a military source in Damascus, the Syrian Army and their Palestinian allies reportedly liberated a number of building blocks in the western part of Hajar Al-Aswad.

This small advance was secured by the Russian Aerospace Forces, who repeatedly bombarded the Islamic State’s positions inside both the Yarmouk Camp and Hajar Al-Aswad.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

More US, French convoys deployed to northern Syria – reports

Posted: 02 May 2018 02:04 AM PDT

According to the Orient news website, Washington and Paris have dispatched more military columns near Sajour River, northwest of the town of Manbij. At the same time, the Kurdish militias have reportedly started establishing checkpoints inside and outside of Manbij, with sources saying they were put on alert.

Meanwhile, local sources in the town of al-Bab claimed that the American and French forces have been deployed to an area between the Kurdish positions and the territories held by the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield forces.

Earlier this week, the Fars News Agency reported, citing local sources that a military convoy, comprised of 10 Humvees, “three trucks carrying short-range missiles,” and “two vehicles equipped with advanced radar and communication systems,” had departed from a US military base in the city of Kobani to Manbij.

The latest news joins a series of reports on the US' alleged establishment of new military bases in Al-Hasakah, as well as in eastern Deir ez-Zor last month, and France's purported deployment of military convoys to support Kurdish militias; a move that would prove claims by a senior Kurdish official that President Emmanuel Macron had promised to send more forces to the region to "mediate" between the Kurds and Ankara.

The alleged dispatching of military columns comes slightly over a month after US President Donald Trump promised that the American forces would be leaving Syria "very soon" and "let the other people take care of it" instead. His remarks are at odds with earlier comments made by high-ranking officials at the Pentagon and State Department, claiming that US troops would maintain an open-ended presence in Syria.

Since 2014, the US-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes on what it described as Daesh* targets in Syria, without a UN mandate or the Syrian government's authorization. Damascus has consistently slammed the American military presence in the country as "illegal."

Source: Sputnik

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Russia sends another large cargo ship to Syria

Posted: 02 May 2018 01:57 AM PDT

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:40 A.M.) – Russia has sent another large cargo ship to the Port of Tartous in western Syria, Yoruk Isik of the Bosphorous Observer reported yesterday.

According to Isik, Russia’s BSF Tapir Class LST Nikolai Filchenkov 152 recently sailed through the Bosphorous Strait and entered Mediterranean waters en route to the Port of Tartous.

Isik added that the Russian cargo ship is likely transporting the BTR-80 amphibious armored personnel carrier (APC) to the Syrian military.

With the Syrian military already building up their troops in eastern Deir Ezzor, the delivery of more APC’s is very critical.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source

Douma: Part 2 – ‘It Just Doesn’t Ring True’ – Media Lens

Posted: 02 May 2018 01:56 AM PDT

“President Assad is in the process of winning this civil war. And he was about to take over and occupy Douma, all that area. He’d had a long, long, hard slog, slowly capturing that whole area of the city. And then, just before he goes in and takes it all over, apparently he decides to have a chemical attack. It just doesn’t ring true.”

Continue reading at Media Lens

Nope, AMN are still too corporate to republish the full article, but it’s worth the read, so take a peek at the Media Lens site.

Source: AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز - The Arab Source