Friday, September 30, 2016

Will Aleppo Be Syria's Dresden?

We could very well be seeing the start of one of history's bloodiest battles.

The story comes from YNET.

Syrian government launches Aleppo blitz

The Assad regime has launched its biggest ever ground assault against the rebels holding out in Aleppo, Syria's former economic capital; heavy fighting is being reported around the city; Hezbollah leader Nasrallah: 'there are no prospects for political solutions ... the final word is for the battlefield.'

Syrian government forces and their allies attacked the opposition-held sector of Aleppo on several fronts on Tuesday, the biggest ground assault yet in a massive new campaign that has destroyed a US-backed ceasefire.

The United States says the assault on Aleppo is proof that President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and regional allies have abandoned an international peace process to pursue victory on the battlefield after nearly six years of civil war.

Washington, which agreed a ceasefire with Russia this month that collapsed after a week, says Moscow and Damascus are guilty of "barbarism" and war crimes for targeting civilians, health workers and aid deliveries in air strikes.

More than 250,000 civilians are believed to be trapped inside the besieged rebel-held sector of Aleppo, where intensive bombing over the past week has killed hundreds of people, many trapped under buildings brought down by bunker-busting bombs.

One air raid killed 12 people from two families when it brought down a building on Tuesday, bringing the death toll in opposition districts to more than 30, said Bebars Mishal, a spokesman for the Civil Defence emergency service.

A video purported to be of the attack's aftermath showed emergency workers bringing an apparently lifeless, dust-covered body out of the wreckage in a cherry-picker crane.

Only about 30 doctors are left in rebel-held Aleppo, coping with hundreds of wounded each day who are being treated on the floors of hospitals that are bereft of supplies.

Senior combatants on both sides said pro-government forces were massing in several parts of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city before the war, now divided into a western zone held by the army and a smaller, besieged area held by rebels.

The commander of an Iraqi Shia militia fighting in support of Assad told Reuters a large force spearheaded by the army's elite "Nimr", or Tiger, forces had started to move in armoured vehicles and tanks for an attack on rebel-held areas.

Quelling the uprising in the city would give Assad his biggest victory yet of the war and deliver a powerful blow to his enemies.

It is far from clear whether an all-out attempt to storm the rebel-held area is planned soon: that would require a massive assault by the army, backed by Lebanese and Iraqi Shi'ite militias, Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Russian air power.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

MH17 downed by Russian-made missile: probe

The 298 people slaughtered aboard Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 saw their lives ended by a Russian missile, fired from a Russian launcher, fired by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine.

There you have it.  By the way, the American media is more concerned with what happened to a Miss Universe contestant 20 years ago.

The story comes from Al Arabiya.

MH17 downed by Russian-made missile: probe

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile fired from a launcher brought into Ukraine from Russia and located in a village held by pro-Russian rebels, international prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The findings counter Moscow's suggestion that the passenger plane, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2014, was brought down by Ukraine's military rather than the separatists. All 298 people on board, most of them Dutch, were killed.

The conclusions were based on thousands of wiretaps, photographs, witness statements and forensic tests during more than two years of inquiries into an incident which led to a sharp rise in tensions between Russia and the West.

Among the key findings were: the plane was hit by a Russian-made Buk-9M38 missile; the missile was fired from the rebel-held village of Pervomaysk in eastern Ukraine; and the launcher was transported into Ukraine from Russia.

"This Buk trailer came from the territory of the Russian Federation, and after the launch it was returned again to the territory of the Russian Federation," said Wilbert Paulissen, chief investigator with the Dutch national police.

The Ukrainian government said the findings pointed to Russia's "direct involvement". Russia - which has always denied Moscow or pro-Russian rebels were responsible - rejected the prosecutors' conclusions, saying they were not supported by technical evidence and the inquiry was biased.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said its radar data had "identified all flying objects which could have been launched or were in the air over the territory controlled by rebels at that moment".

"The data is clear-cut ... there is no rocket. If there was a rocket, it could only have been fired from elsewhere," he said.

The investigators, from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, said they had not had access to Moscow's radar images but would gladly include a Russian contribution to the inquiry.

Ukrainian and Western officials, citing intelligence intercepts, have long blamed the pro-Russian rebels for the incident, which played a big part in a decision by the European Union and United States to impose sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine conflict and has damaged Dutch-Russian economic ties.


In reaction to the investigators' findings, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on Russia "to lend all possible cooperation" to the inquiry, which will now shift its focus to identifying individual suspects.

Prosecutors said that while they had not brought charges against culprits or established a court, they had identified 100 individuals of interest in relation to the incident on July 17, 2014.

"Of a number of them, we know pretty exactly what their role and position was, for instance those who organized the arrival of the Buk rocket and who were in charge of the transport that day," said Fred Westerbeke, chief prosecutor at the Netherlands National Prosecutor's office.

"We know exactly what happened, but who exactly was in charge, and whether it was done intentionally, there the investigation is still continuing," Westerbeke said.

He declined to specify the nationality of any potential suspects, and called on witnesses to come forward and help determine who gave the order to shoot the plane down.

Victims' families, who were informed of the findings earlier in the day, were skeptical about the investigation's progress.

Silene Fredriksz, whose son Bryce was on the airplane with his girlfriend, Daisy Oehlers, said Russia would never hand over any suspects voluntarily.

Moscow was "going to have to be put under intense pressure, with sanctions - that's the only way to make it possible", she added.

A civilian investigation by the Dutch Safety Board also concluded last year that MH17 was hit by a Buk missile fired from eastern Ukraine, but did not specify who fired it. The board criticized Ukraine's government for leaving its airspace open to civilian traffic.

At the time of the incident, pro-Russian separatists were fighting Ukrainian government forces in the region. The Boeing 777 broke apart in mid-air, flinging wreckage over several kilometers (miles) of fields in rebel-held territory.

Harun Calehr, uncle of two boys killed in the crash, said he was not holding out hope for a swift resolution. "I think there will never be a judicial conclusion to this nightmare," he said.

"Even a political agreement with financial compensation for the victims' families by Russia and Ukraine seems tenuous, and perhaps two decades in the future."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Oh Great. Now Iran and Pakistan Are Becoming Best Buddies.

Gimme a break.  Barack Hussein Obama has destroyed just about every relationship the U.S. has with an ally in this world and he's bowed to our enemies like Iran who mock us and then go strengthen their relationships with our other enemies.

The story comes from DAWN.

Iran's naval fleet docks at Karachi for joint exercises ahead of 'Aman 17'

KARACHI: Iranian naval fleet docked at the Karachi port on Tuesday on a three-day visit to hold discussions on the regional political situation and matters of mutual interest, said a statement issued by Pakistan Navy.

Four Iranian Naval Ships — Lavan, Konarak, Falakhen and Khanjar — were received by the senior officials of Pakistan Navy and Iranian diplomats at the docks, the statement added.

"During the visit, the naval forces of both the countries will undertake joint drills in the Pakistani waters for three days."

Iranian naval vessels are on visit to Pakistan for the joint drills ahead of ‘Aman-17’ exercise, which the Pakistan Navy will host early next year.

Operational training activities and sports activities are also planned, said the statement by Pakistan Navy.

The visit of Iranian fleet is expected to promote peace and security in the region and enhance maritime collaboration between the two brotherly Islamic countries, read the statement.

The naval forces of Russia, China, Turkey and Iran are expected to participate in the annual international naval exercise 'Aman-17' next year.

The objective of the exercise is to exchange naval experiences and improve regional security.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Did Anyone Even Notice Obama Claiming Israel Occupies "Palestinian land" ???

The end of the reign of Muslim champion Barack Hussein Obama cannot come soon enough for those of us who support Israel.  Someday, Mr. Obama, you will be standing at the pearly gates and that pass card ain't gonna work to get you in - remember this day when you blasphemed the covenant between G_d and the children of Israel while you bang away on the gates to be let in.

The story comes from Israel National News.

Presidential error at the UN

Despite Barak Obama's speech last week at the UN being endlessly analyzed, there has been no meaningful reference to the way in which the president referred to Judea and Samaria. The president remarked parenthetically that Judea and Samaria are "Palestinian lands". Only the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has responded and protested the inaccuracy in Obama's words.

Obama said that "Surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land”

The ZOA remarked that the use of the term Palestinian land "prejudges the issue of sovereignty and borders and is not accordance with international law, which designates Judea/Samaria as unallocated territory, without a recognized sovereign."

Moreover, they added that "the President’s use of this term is political in nature, as it automatically and unjustly designates the biblical, religious, and historical heartland of the Jewish people for millennia, before the Arab conquest of the region in the seventh century, as belonging to Palestinian Arabs.

“It is well-known that there are conflicting claims to the land, but it is also important to note that Israel has a better claim in law than any other party.

“The territory of the West Bank was earmarked for Jewish settlement in 1920 at the San Remo Conference. This decision, enshrined in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine entrusted to Britain that shortly followed, has never been superseded by an internationally binding agreement. To the contrary, it was reaffirmed by Article 80 of the UN Charter.

“The Arab states rejected the 1947 UN General Assembly partition resolution that called for an Arab and a Jewish state to be established in the territory of the British Mandate. As a result, no agreement on statehood and borders was ever reached. Jordan, which illegally invaded and annexed the territory from 1948 to 1967, formally relinquished its claim to the territory in 1988.

“In the absence of a peace settlement, Judea/Samaria is unallocated territory under international law, not the sovereign territory of another state that Israel ‘occupies.’

“As a result, Israel is not ‘occupying and settling Palestinian lands’; Israel permits Israelis to live, and build homes and communities in this territory to which it has a strong legal claim, having captured the territory from Jordan in 1967 in a war of self-defense."

Over the course of the past 100 years, Judea and Samaria have been ruled by Ottomans, the British mandate, Jordan and Israel but has never been under Palestinian control.

The ZOA added that the Palestinian authority was founded in 1993 but did not gain control over the areas with Jewish communities and "the Oslo agreements do not prohibit Israeli residence and construction in these territories; to the contrary, the Oslo agreements provide for Israeli and Palestinian building in zones under their respective controls.

"Oslo also lists this as a final status issue, to be negotiated by the parties themselves, and Israel is entitled to assert its right for its citizens to live and build in these territories until such time as a peace settlement is reached."

Monday, September 26, 2016

US military is hunting al Qaeda in at least 7 Afghanistan provinces

Fifteen years after 9/11/2001 and the hunt continues.

The story comes from The Long War Journal.

US military is hunting al Qaeda in at least 7 Afghanistan provinces

The US military’s top commander in Afghanistan said yesterday that American forces are hunting al Qaeda leaders and members in at least seven Afghan provinces. General John W. Nicholson Jr., who leads NATO’s Resolute Support and US Forces Afghanistan, listed the provinces in response to a question about how many senior al Qaeda leaders remain in eastern Afghanistan. He specifically mentioned the provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni, Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar.

In October 2015, Gen. Nicholson reminded reporters, “there was an operation conducted down in the Shorabak District of Kandahar where…Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda [in the] Indian subcontinent were present” in a “training base that was destroyed.” After the Shorabak raid, General John Campbell, then the commander of Resolute Support, said the al Qaeda base was “probably the largest training camp-type facility that we have seen in 14 years of war.” At approximately 30 square miles in size, it is easy to see why this is true.

“We…see them [al Qaeda] in the east, stretching from you know, to Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni area in the Southeast and then up in the areas to the Northeast which you are familiar with, Kunar, Nuristan, Nangarhar, there’s some very mountainous area which — which lends itself to a sanctuary,” Gen. Nicholson explained. Al Qaeda and affiliated groups, including jihadist organizations that draw members from neighboring countries in Central Asia, are operating in other provinces as well.

US and Afghan forces have conducted multiple raids against al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan over the past year. In addition to the operation against the al Qaeda camp in Shorabak, Gen. Nicholson mentioned another raid that took place in Paktika province. “The raid in which we rescued Haider Gilani, the son of the former Pakistani prime minister, that was…against an Al Qaeda target, and so Al Qaeda was holding that individual hostage,” Nicholson said.

After he was freed, Gilani told the press that al Qaeda was attempting to trade him for Ayman al Zawahiri’s daughters, another al Qaeda widow, and their children. Al Qaeda claims the women were freed in early August under murky circumstances.

The US military and Afghan forces also targeted al Qaeda bases in two other operations over the past year. In the summer of 2015, US forces targeted an al Qaeda encampment in Paktika. Abu Khalil al Sudani, a top al Qaeda’s leader, is thought to have been killed during that raid. Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security struck an al Qaeda “base” in Zabul.

Gen. Nicholson didn’t give an estimate for the total number of al Qaeda leaders being targeted, saying he wouldn’t “get into matters that would affect future operations.” Regardless, along with the Islamic State’s Khorasan branch, al Qaeda “remains at the top” of the US military’s “list” of targets and the Americans “continue to hunt them every day.”

Of the “98 US or UN-designated terrorist organizations around the globe,” Nicholson pointed out, “20 of them are in the Af-Pak region,” which “is the highest concentration of the numbers [sic] of different groups in any area in the world.” As The Long War Journal has reported on numerous occasions throughout the years, many of these same groups are closely allied with al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda’s participation in the fighting throughout Afghanistan is not a recent development. For example, a memo recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound summarized al Qaeda’s presence in eight different Afghan provinces as of June 2010. The file specifically mentioned Farouq al Qahtani, a veteran jihadist.

In February, the Treasury Department added Qahtani to the US government’s list of designated terrorists. Qahtani serves as the head of al Qaeda’s eastern zone in Afghanistan. He has been a key al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan since 2009, directing “the delivery of funds and weapons to Taliban associates.” Qahtani has also contributed to al Qaeda’s external operations, meaning its anti-Western plotting.

The US government and the military has downplayed al Qaeda’s presence for more than six years, despite evidence that al Qaeda has remained entrenched in Afghanistan some 15 years after the 9/11 attacks. From 2010 up until the spring of 2016, US officials claimed that al Qaeda had been “decimated” in Afghanistan and maintained a consistent, minimal presence of 50 to 100 operatives. This was in direct conflict with the US military’s own reporting on operations that targeted al Qaeda in the country between 2007 and 2013.

In April 2015, Resolute Support admitted that the previous long-held estimates of al Qaeda’s strength in Afghanistan were wrong. Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, the top spokesman for Resolute Support, said that the Shorabak raid forced the military to revise the often-repeated estimate of 50 to 100 operatives in country to upwards of 300. That figure is likely too low as well.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tweet of the Day: The Media Time Delay

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gun, suicide bomb attacks kill 12 in Iraq's Tikrit: police

Sometimes, ISIS will just amaze you with the seemingly never-ending randomness of their terrorist attacks.

The story comes from DAWN.

Gun, suicide bomb attacks kill 12 in Iraq's Tikrit: police

MARRA: Militants killed 12 people in a shooting and a suicide bombing Saturday in the northern city of Tikrit, which was recaptured from the Islamic State group last year, police said.

Tikrit was seized by IS in June 2014, but the city has largely been spared attacks that have plagued other parts of the country since its recapture.

Militants shot dead four police at a checkpoint on the west side of the city, then continued north and detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle at another checkpoint, killing eight more people, a police colonel and lieutenant colonel said.

The attacks also wounded a total of 23 people, according to the officers.

Tikrit, located 160 kilometres north of Baghdad, was the second city to fall to IS in 2014 as the militants swept through large areas north and west of the capital.

It was also the first city to be recaptured by Iraqi forces, which are now preparing for a push on Mosul, the last IS-held city in the country.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Stronger Together

What If?

What would happen if, across America, a law was implemented that made it illegal for law enforcement to draw a weapon on any and all black males?


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Iran abandons discretion of role in Syria war

When the most powerful country in the world's leader, bows to you, legitimizes your regime and then gives you a fast track to nuclear weapon capability, you tend to feel a bit more emboldened than before.

The story comes from Al Arabiya.

Iran abandons discretion of role in Syria war

Abandoning a long-standing reticence, Iranians are increasingly candid about their involvement in Syria’s war, and informal recruiters are now openly calling for volunteers to defend the Islamic Republic and fellow Shiites against Sunni militants.

With public opinion swinging behind the cause, numbers of would-be fighters have soared far beyond what Tehran is prepared to deploy in Syria, according to former fighters who spoke to Reuters, and commanders quoted by Iranian media.

Iran has been sending fighters to Syria since the early stages of the five-year war to support its ally, President Bashar al-Assad, in the struggle against rebels backed by Gulf Arab states and Western powers.

Once Tehran described these forces as military “advisers” but with around 400 killed on the battlefield, this discretion has slipped and several thousand are now believed to be fighting Islamic State and other groups trying to topple Assad.

Many Iranians initially opposed involvement in the war, harboring little sympathy for Assad. But now they are warming to the mission, believing that Islamic State is a threat to the existence of their country best fought outside Iran’s borders.

“The first line for the security of Iran is Syria and Iraq,” a would-be volunteer named Mojtaba told Reuters by email from Tehran. Mojtaba, who asked that he be identified by only his first name, said he had been trying in vain to get out to fight in Syria for the past two years.

While ISIS still holds large areas of Syria and Iraq, it has so far failed to stage attacks in neighboring Iran like it has in Turkey.

Nevertheless, Iranian media have reported the breaking up of cells linked to the extremist group at home, and the large numbers of people such as Mojtaba willing to join the battle in Syria suggest Tehran has the stamina to pursue its involvement there for years if it wishes.