• French jets hit IS group targets in Iraq from Charles de Gaulle carrier

    23/Nov/2015 // 369 Viewers

    © Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP | A French Rafale fighter aircraft carrying bombs is catapulted off French aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, on November 23, 2015 at eastern Mediterranean sea, as part of operation Chammal in Syria and Iraq against the Isla

    French jets struck Islamic State targets in Iraq on Monday, taking off from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier for the first time, the military said on Twitter on Monday.

    The tweet said that two targets had been destroyed.

    The French Defense ministry added that four Rafal fighter jets were sent from the carrier on Monday afternoon, with two each flying over the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Mosul.

    Speaking from aboard the newly deployed carrier, France's armed forces chief of staff General Pierre de Villiers said: "We carried out strikes in Ramadi and Mosul in support of ground forces that were pushing against Daesh troops."

    President Francois Hollande said on Monday that "we're going to choose sites that do the most damage possible."

    President Hollande also said last week France would step up its attacks against Islamic State targets in Syria. He has also called for a grand coalition, including the United States and Russia, to eradicate Islamic State, and is due to meet with Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin this week.

    (FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

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  • Crowds gather in Bethlehem ahead of Christmas mass

    24/Dec/2016 // 354 Viewers

    Palestinians attend a Christian scouts performance at Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on December 24, 2016 during Christmas celebrations in the city in the Israeli-occupied West Bank (AFP Photo/Hazem Bader)


    Bethlehem (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Crowds gathered in Bethlehem Saturday for Christmas Eve celebrations ahead of midnight mass at the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born, with more visitors expected than in 2015 due to a drop in violence.

    Dozens of Palestinians and tourists flocked to Manger Square, near the Church of the Nativity, built over the spot where tradition says Mary gave birth to Jesus.

    Some snapped selfies near the square's giant Christmas tree and watched the annual Scouts parade in the city, located a short drive from Jerusalem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

    The Scouts marched waving flags, banging drums and playing bagpipe music.

    Palestinian security forces were deployed in areas leading up to the church and square, conducting searches of some people.

    Christmas carols in Arabic rang out from speakers.

    Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and who will celebrate Bethlehem's midnight mass, later arrived to cheering crowds.

    The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem heads the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

    "It feels pretty awesome," said Valeria, a 21-year-old from the US state of Wisconsin.

    "This is my first Christmas away from home... but this is really amazing to be in Bethlehem."

    Ramzi Abu Khalil, who was wearing a red Santa hat, told AFP "this is Christ's land, the land of peace."

    "We take pride in him. All Christians should come today to Bethlehem. This is a holy day for us and a day of pilgrimage."

    Celebrations in Bethlehem culminate with midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity -- with the grotto where Jesus is believed to have been born underneath.

    Some 2,500 tickets are usually given out for the mass and those wishing to attend must register in advance. Attendees usually include Palestinian officials and foreign dignitaries.

    Beyond that, tens of thousands of tourists are expected to visit sites including Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Nazareth over the holidays, tourism officials say.

    Israel's tourism ministry said some 120,000 visitors were expected in December, half of them Christians.

    Palestinian officials said they were expecting more visitors than last year, with major hotels in Bethlehem booked.

    There is more optimism this year in Israel and the West Bank after a wave of violence and protests that erupted in October 2015 sharply reduced visits for Christmas.

    The violence saw knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians targeting Israelis.

    Many of the Palestinian assailants were killed by Israeli forces while others were shot dead during clashes and protests.

    The violence has greatly subsided in recent months, though tourists still have to cross Israel's West Bank separation barrier to reach Bethlehem.

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  • Israel settlements: Netanyahu orders UN ties review

    24/Dec/2016 // 468 Viewers


    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will re-assess its ties with the United Nations. The move comes after the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied land.

    The resolution was passed after the US refused to veto it, breaking with long-standing American practice. Washington has traditionally sheltered Israel from condemnatory resolutions.
    Mr Netanyahu insists that Israel will not abide by Friday's vote at the 15-member UN Security Council, which was welcomed by Palestinian leaders.

    "I instructed the Foreign Ministry to complete within a month a re-evaluation of all our contacts with the United Nations, including the Israeli funding of UN institutions and the presence of UN representatives in Israel," he said.

    He described the Security Council decision as "biased and shameful", adding: "It will take time, but this decision will be annulled."
    The Egyptian-drafted resolution had been withdrawn after Israel asked US President-elect Donald Trump to intervene, but it was proposed again by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela.

    The resolution, approved by 14 votes to zero, with only the US abstaining, demands that Israel immediately "cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem".

    It says Jewish settlements are a "flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace".

    Israel earlier announced that its ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal had been ordered to return for consultations and that it was cutting all aid programmes to Senegal.

    Israel has no diplomatic ties with Malaysia and Venezuela. The issue is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians. About 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

    What did the Palestinians say?

    A spokesman for Mr Abbas said: "The Security Council resolution is a big blow to Israeli policy, a unanimous international condemnation of settlements and a strong support for the two-state solution."

    The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour said: "The Council's action, while long overdue, is timely, necessary and important."
    US reaction

    The US envoy to the UN, Samantha Power, said the resolution reflected the "facts on the ground" that settlement growth had been accelerating.
    "The settlement problem has gotten so much worse that it is threatening the two-state solution," she said.

    Criticising Mr Netanyahu, she said: "One cannot simultaneously champion expanding settlements and champion a two-state solution that would end the conflict."
    However, she said the US had not voted in favour of the resolution because it was "too narrowly focused" on settlements.

    Meanwhile, Mr Trump, who will be inaugurated on 20 January, tweeted after the vote: "As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th."
    On Thursday, Mr Trump had urged the council to reject the motion. - BBC

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  • Russia says Syrians should decide own political future

    24/Oct/2015 // 225 Viewers

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin wanted Syria to prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections, as Moscow intensified its drive to convert its increased clout with Damascus into a political settlement.

    In comments which mark a shift in Russia's position, he also said that Russia's airforce, which has been bombing Islamist militants in Syria since Sept. 30, would be ready to help Western-backed Free Syrian Army rebels, if it knew where they were.

    The Kremlin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's strongest foreign ally, has spoken broadly about the need for elections in Syria before. But Lavrov's comments were its most specific call for political renewal yet and came just days after a surprise visit by Assad to Moscow.

    "External players can not decide anything for the Syrians. We must force them to come up with a plan for their country where the interests of every religious, ethnic and political group will be well protected," Lavrov told Russian state TV in an interview broadcast on Saturday.

    "They need to prepare for both parliamentary and presidential elections."

    Lavrov on Saturday phoned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss organising talks between the Syrian government and opposition, the Russian foreign ministry said. It said the two men had spoken of the need to tap the potential of other countries in the region to push the political process forward.

    The U.S. state department declined to comment, pointing to what Kerry had said about Syria in Vienna on Friday when he struck an upbeat note about the possibility of cooperating with Russia to find a political solution even as he acknowledged that the basic disagreement on Assad's future remained.

    Moscow says Assad must be part of any transition and that the Syrian people will decide who rules them. Washington has said it could tolerate Assad during a short transition period, but that he would then have to exit the political stage.

    Lavrov, who also discussed Syria on Saturday with his Iranian and Egyptian counterparts, said the Kremlin had told Assad during his Moscow visit that political progress was needed. Lavrov said the success of Assad's army on the battlefield, with Russian air support, would consolidate his government, making it more interested in a political deal.

    Lavrov's interview was broadcast a day after a meeting in Vienna between Russia, the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia where a political solution to Syria's civil war - now in its fifth year - was discussed.

    Kerry said after that meeting he expected new talks on Syria to begin as soon as next week, and did not rule out the participation of Iran, something Moscow has pushed for.

    Rebel scepticism

    Lavrov said he wanted Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to be included as well as Iran, and spoke of the need for the European Union to start to play a bigger role too.

    He said he felt other countries were finally beginning to better understand the Syrian situation despite their continued criticism of Assad, a shift he said gave Moscow hope that the political process could move forward in the foreseeable future.

    Washington has criticised Moscow for so far focusing most of its firepower on armed groups supported by the West and its allies rather than Islamic State, angering the Kremlin which has said it is impossible to make a distinction between terrorists.

    But Lavrov said Russia now stood ready to provide air support to the Free Syrian Army if the United States would help it identify where it was.

    His offer drew deep scepticism from FSA commanders.

    The commander of an FSA-affiliated rebel group that has been bombed in recent weeks by Russian warplanes dismissed the idea.

    "I will not talk to my killer," Hassan Haj Ali, the head of the Liwa Suqour al-Jabal rebel group, told Reuters.

    Ahmed al-Seoud, head of another FSA-affiliated group, the 13th Division, was equally bemused.

    "Russia hit the factions of the Free Army and now it wants to cooperate with us, while sticking by Assad? We do not understand anything from Russia," he said.

    The Free Syrian Army is a loose alliance of groups, most of them with a Syrian nationalist outlook, that are often led by Syrian army defectors but have no central command structure.

    Bashar al-Zoubi, head of the political office of the FSA-affiliated Yarmouk Army, said Russia's call for elections was pointless because of the huge number of Syrians who had fled, while others were in jail or being hunted by the government.

    "If Russia is serious about a solution it must force out Assad and his gang, and work to secure a peaceful political transition of power," he said

    Russia's planes have flown 934 sorties and destroyed 819 militant targets in Syria since the start of its operation on Sept. 30, the defence ministry said on Saturday.

    Lavrov, whose interview was recorded on Thursday but only released on Saturday, called Washington's refusal to coordinate its Syria campaign with Moscow "a big mistake."


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  • Bidden says US prepared for Military solution in Syria

    25/Jan/2016 // 389 Viewers


    US Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday that the United States and Turkey were prepared for a military solution in Syria if a political settlement was not possible.

    The latest round of Syria peace talks are planned to begin on Monday in Geneva but were at risk of being delayed partly because of a dispute over who will comprise the opposition delegation.

    "We do know it would better if we can reach a political solution but we are prepared ..., if that's not possible, to have a military solution to this operation in taking out Daesh," Biden said at a news conference after a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Daesh is the pejorative Arabic acronym for Islamic State insurgents who hold parts of Syria.

    A US official clarified that Biden was talking about a military solution to Islamic State, not Syria as a whole.

    The Saudi-backed Syrian opposition ruled out even indirect negotiations unless Damascus took steps including a halt to Russian air strikes.

    Biden said he and Davutoglu also discussed how the two NATO allies could further support Sunni Arab rebel forces fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

    Disagreement over Syrian Kurdish group

    Saleh Muslim, co-chair of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main Kurdish political grouping in Syria, said on Friday the Syria peace talks would fail if Syrian Kurds are not represented.

    While the United States draws a distinction between PYD, whose fighters it supports, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, Davutoglu reiterated the Turkish position that the PYD's military wing is part of and supported by the PKK.

    The PYD's military wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG) has seized swathes of Syria from Islamic State with the help of US-led strikes and declared it an autonomous administration, to Ankara's chagrin. Davutoglu said on Saturday the YPG had become an increasing threat to Turkey.

    Ankara has fought a decades-long insurgency against Kurdish PKK separatists which in July reignited into a violent confrontation with Turkish security forces.

    Biden strongly criticised the PKK which is designated a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union and Turkey.

    "ISIL is not the only existential threat the PKK is equally threat and we are aware of that," Biden said. ISIL is another acronym for Islamic State.

    "The PKK has shown no desire or inclination to do that (live in peace). It is a terrorist group plain and simple. And what they continue to do is absolutely outrageous."








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  • Amnesty: Saudi journalist gets 5 years in prison over tweets

    25/Mar/2016 // 357 Viewers


    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Amnesty International says a journalist in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to five years in prison and given an eight-year travel ban over messages he posted to Twitter.

    The rights group says Alaa Brinji was found guilty Thursday of charges including insulting Saudi rulers, inciting public opinion and accusing security forces of killing protesters in the kingdom's predominantly Shiite east.

    James Lynch, deputy director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa program, said in a statement Friday that Brinji was "the latest victim of Saudi Arabia's ruthless crackdown on peaceful dissent."

    Brinji's sentencing in a counter-terrorism court was not reported in Saudi state-run media. Saudi officials could not be reached for comment.

    The Committee to Protect Journalists describes Saudi Arabia as the third-most restrictive country in the world for reporters.

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  • America Protects the ISIS: The Pentagon Is Not Targeting Islamic State Training Camps

    25/Sep/2015 // 398 Viewers

    No airstrikes against 60 camps producing 1,000 fighters monthly 

    The Pentagon has not conducted airstrikes against an estimated 60 Islamic State (IS) training camps that are supplying thousands of fighters each month to the terror group, according to defense and intelligence officials.

    The camps are spread throughout Islamic State-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria and are off limits in the U.S.-led international bombing campaign because of concerns about collateral damage, said officials familiar with planning and execution of the yearlong bombing campaign.

    Additionally, the IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) camps have been so successful that Islamic State leaders are considering expanding the camps to Libya and Yemen. Both states have become largely ungoverned areas in recent years.

    The failure to target the training camps with U.S. and allied airstrikes is raising questions among some defense and intelligence officials about the commitment of President Obama and his senior aides to the current anti-IS strategy of degrading and ultimately destroying the terror group.

    “If we know the location of these camps, and the president wants to destroy ISIS, why are the camps still functioning?” one official critical of the policy asked.

    The camps are regarded by U.S. intelligence analysts as a key element in the terror group’s successes in holding and taking new territory. The main benefit of the training camps is that they are providing a continuous supply of new fighters.

    IS training camps

    An additional worry of intelligence analysts is that some of the foreign fighters being trained in the camps will eventually return to their home countries in Europe and North America to carry out terror attacks.

    A White House spokesman declined to comment on the failure to bomb the terror camps and referred questions to the Pentagon.

    Pentagon spokesman Maj. Roger M. Cabiness declined to say why no training camps have been bombed. “I am not going to be able to go into detail about our targeting process,” he said.

    Cabiness said the U.S.-led coalition has “hit ISIL [an alternative abbreviation for the Islamic State] with more than 6,000 airstrikes.”

    “The coalition has also taken out thousands of fighting positions, tanks, vehicles, bomb factories, and training camps,” he said. “We have also stuck their leadership, including most recently on Aug. 18 when a U.S. military airstrike removed Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, also known as Hajji Mutazz, the second in command of the terrorist group, from the battlefield.”

    Efforts also are being taken to disrupt IS finances and “make it more difficult for the group to attract new foreign fighters,” Cabiness said in an email.

    Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said the coalition has conducted 19 airstrikes against training areas, the most recent on Aug. 5. The Central Command’s news release for that day, however, makes no reference to a training camp being struck in airstrikes. A July 30 release states that training areas were hit.

    According to the Command’s website, a total of 6,419 airstrikes have been carried out over the past year, 3,991 in Iraq, and 2,428 Syria, indicating .3 percent of the airstrikes were carried out against training areas.

    “Whenever we identify ISIL moving, staging, operating or training in any number, target them and strike them,” Ryder said. “As a result, ISIL is not longer able to move freely or train openly for fear of being hit.”

    As a result of the air campaign, ISIL has begun “hiding amongst civilian populations and employing terrorist weapons from entrenched, defensive hiding places,” Ryder said, adding, “regardless, the coalition can and will continue to identify, pursue and strike them relentlessly.”

    According to the defense and intelligence officials, one reason the training camps have been off limits is that political leaders in the White House and Pentagon fear hitting them will cause collateral damage. Some of the camps are located near civilian facilities and there are concerns that casualties will inspire more jihadists to join the group.

    However, military officials have argued that unless the training camps are knocked out, IS will continue to gain ground and recruit and train more fighters for its operations.

    Disclosure that the IS training camps are effectively off limits to the bombing campaign comes as intelligence officials in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of the conflict, have alleged that senior U.S. officials skewed intelligence reports indicating the U.S. strategy against IS is not working or has been less effective than officials have claimed in public.

    The Islamic State controls large parts of Syria and Iraq and has attracted tens of thousands of jihadists in both countries and from abroad. The exact number of fighters is not known but intelligence estimates have indicated the numbers have increased over the past year.

    The military campaign, known as Operation Inherent Resolve, appears to be floundering despite a yearlong campaign of airstrikes and military training programs aimed to bolstering Iraqi military forces.

    A review of Central Command reports on airstrikes since last year reveals that few attacks were carried out against training camps.

    Targets instead included Islamic State vehicles, buildings, tactical units, arms caches, fighting positions, snipers, excavators, mortar and machine gun positions, bunkers, and bomb factories.

    The risk-averse nature of the airstrike campaign was highlighted last month by Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, chief of staff for what the military calls Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

    “The coalition continues to use air power responsibly,” Weidley said July 1. “Highly precise deliveries, detailed weaponeering, in-depth target development, collateral damage mitigation, and maximized effects on Daesh, are characteristics of coalition airstrike operation in Iraq and Syria.”

    Daesh is another name for the Islamic State.

    “The coalition targeting process minimizes collateral damage and maximizes precise effects on Daesh,” Weidley said earlier. “Air crews are making smart decisions and applying tactical patience every day.”

    Other coalition spokesman have indicated that targeting has been limited to reaction strikes against operational groups of IS fighters. “When Daesh terrorists expose themselves and their equipment, we will strike them,” Col. Wayne Marotto said May 27.

    The military website Long War Journal published a map showing 52 IS training camps and noted that some may no longer be operating because of the U.S.-led bombing campaign.

    Bill Roggio, Long War Journal managing editor, said the Islamic State’s training camps are a direct threat to the region and U.S. national security.

    “While the vast majority of trainees have been used to fight in local insurgencies, which should be viewed as a threat. Historically jihadist groups have selected a small number of fighters going through their camps to conduct attacks against the West. The Islamic State is most certainly following this model,” he said.

    According the map, among the locations in Iraq and Syria where IS is operating training camps are Mosul, Raqqah, Nenewa, Kobane, Aleppo, Fallujah, and Baiji.

    The group MEMRI obtained a video of an IS training camp in Nenewa Province, Iraq, dated Oct. 1, 2014.

    The video shows a desert outpost with tan tents and around 100 fighters who take part in hand-to-hand combat exercises, weapons training, and religious indoctrination.

    Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, an analyst with the Middle East Forum, in June translated details of IS training purportedly obtained from a manual produced by a pro-IS operative in Mosul named Omar Fawaz.

    Among those involved in ideological training for IS jihadists in Iraq is Bahraini cleric Turki Binali, who wrote an unofficial biography of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Al-Tamimi stated in a blog post June 24.

    According to a document thought to be written by Fawaz, training differs for native Iraqis and Syrians as opposed to foreign fighters, who generally are less experienced militarily than the regional trainees.

    The document also reveals IS plans to export military manpower abroad, including Libya.

    “Sessions for the muhajireen [foreign fighters] brothers last 90 days or more, and at the highest level deal with organization, determination, and intelligence operation, including training on heavy weaponry in addition to comprehensive Sharia sessions and multiple tests,” according to a translation of the document. “Sessions for the Ansar from the people of Iraq and al-Sham range between 30 to 50 days.”

    The process begins with an application form and questionnaire regarding education, skills, viewpoints, and whether their backgrounds can be verified.

    The training then includes physical fitness, martial arts practice, weapons training, and ideological indoctrination.

    After a week of training, jihadists with special abilities are selected and placed in units. The units include special forces, air defense, sniper units, a “caliphate army,” an “army of adversity,” and administrative units for those capable of using electronic devices and accounting.

    “The rest are distributed in fronts and camps after the end of the military camp training according to where they are needed,” the report said, noting that all graduates are tested in Sharia at the conclusion of their training.

    The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Pentagon inspector general is investigating allegations that military officials doctored intelligence reports in an attempt to present more optimistic accounts of the U.S. military’s efforts in the conflict.

    The probe was triggered by a DIA analyst who stated that Central Command officials were improperly rewriting intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama.

    The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that senior military and intelligence officials inappropriately pressured U.S. terrorism analysts to alter estimates of the strength of the Islamic State to portray the group as weaker.

    Central Command, on its website, stated that in the year since the Iraq operation began on Aug. 7, 2014, a total of 6,419 air strikes were carried out.
    Targets damaged or destroyed include 119 tanks, 340 Humvees, 510 staging areas, 3,262 buildings, 2,577 fighting positions, 196 oil infrastructure targets, and 3,680 “other” targets not further identified.

    Update 29 August, 12:00 P.M: This post has been updated with comment from Bill Roggio of theLong War Journal.

    Update 30 August, 6:40 P.M: This post has been updated with additional comment from a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

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  • Pro-regime militias in Syria

    25/Sep/2015 // 325 Viewers

    © AFP | Portraits of pro-government forces members killed in combat are displayed on a street in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on September 21, 2015



    Pro-regime militias formed since the Syria conflict began in 2011 have between 150,000 and 200,000 members, military and security sources say.

    Created in 2012, the National Defence Forces comprises some 90,000 fighters from all religious confessions dispersed across Syria under the command of Brigadier General Hawash Mohammed.


    'Political militias'


    - "Kataeb al-Baath" (The Baath Phalange, named after the ruling Baath party): headed by Hilal Hilal, this militia of 10,000 men is present in the northern city of Aleppo and in Damascus.

    - "Suqur al-Sahraa" (The Desert Falcons): its 7,000 men are trained by Iranian officers and fight in the desert region in eastern Homs province against the Islamic State group (IS). They specialise in ambushes.

    - "Nussur al-Zaoubaa" (The Tempest Eagles): this militia includes 6,000 sympathisers of the Syrian National Socialist Party.

    - "Jaysh al-Wafaa" (The Army of Loyalty): since 2014, this militia has enrolled dozens of former rebels from the Eastern Ghouta region east of Damascus.


    Confessional militias


    - "Dareh al-Sahel" (Shield of the Coast): made up of hundreds of militiamen mostly from the Alawite community from which President Bashar al-Assad hails, it fights in Latakia province.

    - "Dareh al-Areen" (Shield of the Lion's Lair -- Assad means "lion" in Arabic): comprises fighters originally from Qardaha, Assad's ancestral village.

    - The Syrian Resistance Group: fights in Latakia province, under the command of local leader Ali Kayali.

    - "Al-Hosn" (The Fort): a security company of 6,000 men founded by businessman Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Assad. Has fought in Damascus and Latakia.

    - "Dareh al-Watan" (Shield of the Nation): a Druze militia created in April 2015. Has some 2,000 men.

    - "Sotoro": a Christian group of 500 fighters in Hasakeh province in the northeast.


    Tribal militias


    - "Al-Maghawir" (The Commandos): a force of hundreds of members from tribes in the Badiya desert region. Funded by Iran.

    - The Shaitat tribe militiamen (also known as "Ussud al-Sharqiya", or Lions of the East): in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, it has between 700 and 900 fighters. In 2014, IS killed more than 900 members of the Shaitat tribe.


    Foreign militias


    - Iranian Revolutionary Guards: at least 7,000 fighters have been deployed in Aleppo province. They are sent to Syria for short periods under a rotation system.

    - Lebanese Hezbollah: according to Phillip Smyth, an expert on Shiite armed groups, 5,000 to 8,000 fighters have been present on all main fronts and have played a major role in the Qalamun region, as well as the towns of Zabadani and Qusayr near the Lebanese border.

    - Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas: a group of 3,000 Iraqi volunteers who defend the Shiite holy site of Sayyida Zeinab south of Damascus.

    - Afghan "Fatimids": up to 3,000 men have fought in Daraa province in the south.

    - In the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk south of Damascus, pro-regime Palestinian organisations are fighting rebels and jihadists.

    ? 2015 AFP

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  • Iran finally declares war on the US? [Watch video of Iran's provocative actions]

    26/Aug/2016 // 1171 Viewers


    Video footage shows the vessels swarm in a serpentine formation toward the much larger U.S. craft.

    “Bridge to bridge COMMS were conducted but no response. Weapons uncovered … appears to be unsafe, unprofessional,” a sailor says into a radio as horns blare to ward off the Iranian ships.

    The ships belonged to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which maintains its own navy in parallel to that of the regular armed forces.

    The IRGC navy defends Iranian coastal waters and has the capability to sink larger U.S. naval craft and deny them easy control over the straits.

    Under an IRGC “swarming” attack, Iranian fast boats, typically armed with anti-ship cruise missiles and torpedoes, would set off in a dispersed fashion from hidden coves or small islands scattered across the Persian Gulf and then converge to surprise attack an enemy ship.

    The U.S. Navy is researching ways to counter Iran’s asymmetrical advantages. One promising solution? Laser weapons. And, unsurprisingly, the first U.S. ship to carry such experimental technology is currently stationed in the Persian Gulf.

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  • 'Rise up against apostate tyrants' - IS leader summons help from Saudis

    26/Dec/2015 // 731 Viewers


    BEIRUT, DECEMBER 26, 2015 (DGW) As air raids hitting ISIS targets continue in Syria and Iraq  driving the group into extinction, its secretive leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdad has in an audio recording, the first he has made in eleven months released on Saturday, reportedly called IS supporters for an uprising in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia while pledging an attack on Israel.

    The authenticity of the audio recording is still being called in question by analysts although the voice in the recording seems to match previous ones  and reference was made in the audio recording  to the Saudi-led 34 nations  anti-IS military coalition announced about two weeks ago.

    The speaker denounced the Saudi-led military coalition adding that it is not Islamic since it is not out to aid the people of Syria. 

    Said the speaker in the audio recording,'' They announced lately a coalition... falsely called 'Islamic,' and announced its goal is to fight the caliphate. If this coalition were Islamic, it would have announced victory and aid to the people of Syria.

     Continuing, he summoned help for uprisings against ''apostate tyrants and avenge your people in Syria, Iraq and Yemen'', criticising the royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which has turned traitor and  now a puppet of the West. This is not the first time Baghdadi is launching diatribes against the royal Kingdom.

    Speaking further, he voiced solidarity with the Palestinians who he said have never been forgotten a single bit by the Islamic State militants and pledged attacks on Israel in no time.

    "And soon, soon with God's permission, you will hear the footsteps of the mujahideen... We are getting closer to you day by day," he said.



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