Middle East Articles.

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Sep 30, 2015

Syria Confirms Requesting Military Aid From Russia

Ali Ahmadi, an adviser to Syria's information minister, said that when the Russian government comes to the aid of the Syrian army, especially using the Air Force, it helps the Syrian army save the country.

An adviser to Syria's information minister confirmed Wednesday that Damascus has requested military aid from Russia. 

"When the Russian government comes to the aid of the Syrian army, especially using the Air Force, it helps the Syrian army save the country. Especially as all this is happening at the request of the Syrian government," Ali Ahmadi told Rossiya-24 television.

Source : SputnikNews

Sep 25, 2015

Russian Naval Flotilla Heading for Syria

A fleet of Russian warships is bound for the Eastern Mediterranean for drills off the coast of Syria, the Defense Ministry said in a statement Friday.

The flotilla, led by the Black Sea Fleet flagship — the guided missile cruiser Moskva — sailed from Sevastopol, Crimea on Thursday and is due to reach the exercise area late on Sunday.
 Also taking part in the drill will be the guided missile frigate Smetlivy and the Tapir-class landing ship Saratov as well as a variety of auxiliary ships.

They will join another frigate and a missile gunboat that had earlier transited out of the Black Sea into the Mediterranean.

Civilian aircraft have already been warned to stay away from an area between Cyrpus and the Tartus Russian naval base in Syria.

During the exercise, to run into October, the sailors are to perform over forty different combat missions, including missile and artillery firings at surface and aerial targets, anti-ship and air defense as well as search-and-rescue activities and rendering assistance to a distressed vessel.

Source : SputnikNews

Sep 12, 2015

Yemen : Saudi Arabia Coalition Airstrikes Rock Yemeni Capital

The deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on Yemen's Houthi-held capital of Sanaa show no signs of abating, according to the latest tweets by residents of the Yemeni capital.

The latest tweets from residents of Yemen's capital city Sanaa have confirmed that the Saudi-led coalition has intensified its airstrikes on the city, which had already been hit by previous air raids; scores of people are feared dead.

The fresh strikes came few days after at least even civilians were killed in the air raids, according to independent security and health officials cited by media reports.

In the past couple of days, Sanaa's Al-Nahda neighborhood has reportedly seen intense airstrikes as the Saudis and their partners targeted Houthis' homes, weapons depots, and camps.

Yemen is currently embroiled in an armed conflict pitting the Houthis fighting for former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against fighters loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

In September 2014, the Houthis managed to take control of Sanaa's government buildings, in what was followed by their advance across Yemen.

This prompted a Saudi-led and US-backed coalition, which mainly includes Gulf nations, to launch airstrikes on Houthi positions in Yemen that have been continuing since March 2015.

In June, the United Nations described the war in Yemen as a humanitarian crisis of the most severe category, assigning it Level Three.

According to media reports, more than 3,000 people have already been killed and one million more displaced since the beginning of the crisis in March.

Source : SputnikNews

Aug 21, 2015

Israel Pounds Syrian Army Targets With Artillery, Airstrikes

Five civilians were killed in the attacks that the Israeli army said were in response to rockets launched by a militant movement in Syria.

Israeli forces launched an artillery and aerial attack on Syrian military positions in Golan Heights in retaliation against the country's government for failing to prevent an attack by “Iran-funded Islamic Jihad” group.

“We attacked with tanks, artillery, and one target from the air ... We attacked several kilometers into Syria, five or six sites with multiple targets within each site,” the Israeli said in a statement quoted in Ynetnews. “Our attacks are much more severe this time around, in order to send a message and underscore the severity of this incident.”

The Syrian army shortly after the Israel air raid informed that five civilians and one of its soldiers died in the attack.

Israeli military sources said their air force and artillery pounded Syrian army compounds about six times, while two of their rockets struck open areas in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Israel attack also targeted a Syrian army regiment near the capital Damascus. There are no reports of victims or damages as of yet.

“The Israeli army sees Syria as responsible for the fire, and it will pay the price for it,” the Israeli military statement said.

The attack Israel is pinning on the Islamic Jihad movement “with Iranian funding and direction,” occurred Thursday. No injuries or damages were reported in the attack, which came several hours after Israel installed Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in Ashdod and Be’ersheba.

Israeli army intelligence assures the rockets were fired on Israel by the militant movement from the central part of the Golan Heights, which they say is controlled by the Syrian army.

However, the Islamic Jihad movement has denied involvement in the attack.

“Israel is trying to divert attention from the defeat that it suffered in the face of the determination of the hero prisoner, Mohammed Allan,” Dawoud Shehab, an Islamic Jihad spokesman in Gaza told Reuters.

Allan is in jail in Israel and was on hunger strike for 65 days until Wednesday, when an Israeli court ordered his release.

In April, the Israeli Air Force bombed a series of Syrian bases in the mountains of Al-Qalamoun, where Syria keeps its long-range missiles. Tel-Aviv justified the bombing claiming it was preventing Syria and Iran from providing this kind of weaponry to Hezbollah. Israel has carried out numerous attacks against the Syrian government since the civil war in that country began in 2011.

Source : Telesur

Aug 20, 2015

Yemen : Saudi-Led Coalition Strikes New Houthi Positions in Yemen's Southwest

According to a military source, bombardment took place shortly after the Houthi political opposition faction seized a municipality in the Yemeni province.

A coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia carried out several airstrikes against Houthi targets in Lahij Governorate in southwestern Yemen on Thursday, a military source told Sputnik.
 The bombardment took place shortly after the Houthi political opposition faction seized a municipality in the Yemeni province.

"The coalition’s aircraft launched a series of airstrikes against positions of the Houthis in the Kirsh municipality after Houthis and some army units [loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh] fully regained control over it," the source said.

No casualties have been reported following the airstrikes.
Meanwhile, four Houthi militants have been killed in airstrikes in the central province of Marib, a local source told Sputnik earlier in the day.

Yemen is being torn by an armed conflict, with ethnic Houthi militias fighting troops loyal to President-in-exile Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. In an attempt to counter Houthi advances, Hadi asked the Arab League for military aid, and a number of countries joined the Saudi coalition, launching airstrikes on Houthi positions.

Source : SputnikNews

Aug 16, 2015

Saudi Arabia Constructs Naval Base on Yemeni Island After Its Occupation

Saudi Arabia has been involved in a military conflict with Yemen for nearly half a year, seeking to return to power its close ally Yemeni fugitive president Mansur Hadi.

Saudi Arabia started building up a major naval base on the Yemeni island of Socotra, which it invaded and occupied during the recent military conflict between the countries, FNA reported.

"Hundreds of workers from Asian countries have been deployed by the Saudi navy to construct the kingdom's naval base on the island," FNA wrote, citing Arabic-language Al-Ittihad news’ website. 

Socotra Archipelago is located about 400 km from the Yemeni mainland in the Indian Ocean and consists of four islands. Its largest island, also called Socotra, was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2008.
 Saudi Arabia has been involved in the military conflict with Yemen for 144 days. Saudi authorities seek to bring back to power the country’s former president Mansur Hadi, who resigned in January 2015 and fled the country due to attacks of the Houthi rebels.

The Saudi bombing campaign has so far claimed lives of about 5,419 Yemenis, including women and children.

Source : SputnikNews

Aug 14, 2015

Low Oil Prices Destroy Financial Power of Saudi Arabia

Oil barrels
A sharp decline in global oil prices has seriously damaged the financial power of Saudi Arabia. According to different estimates, the deficit of the country’s budget may reach up to 20 percent of GDP.

The decrease in oil revenues forced Saudi Arabia to issue government bonds worth 20 billion riyals ($5.3 billion) for the second time over this summer. In June, the country issued bonds worth 15 billion riyals ($4 billion).
 According to Bloomberg, this year Saud Arabia sold its first bonds since 2007.
The kingdom may raise a total of $27 billion by the end of the year, Dmitry Postolenko, a portfolio manager for asset management company Kapital, pointed out.

Saudi Arabia is in need of money after oil prices halved, the analyst said.
"In 2015 the country needs oil prices of around $105 per barrel to balance its budget. The country relies on oil sales for 90 percent of its budget revenue," Postolenko explained as quoted by Gazeta.ru.

Tim Callen, who led an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Saudi Arabia in May, said in 2015 "the decline in oil prices is resulting in substantially lower export and fiscal revenues."

"Government spending in 2015 is expected to remain strong, partly due to a number of one-off factors, while oil revenues have declined. As a result, IMF staff projects that the government will run a fiscal deficit of around 20% of GDP [nearly $140 billion] in 2015," Callen was quoted as saying by International Business Time.

Until recently, Saudi Arabia compensated the loss with money from the government reserves. Since August 2014, the country withdrew $65 billion from its general monetary reserve which currently is around $672 billion.
Bond selling would help slow down the decline of the country’s monetary reserve, analyst at Promsvyazbank Alexander Polyudov explained.

The point is that the current fiscal problems of Saudi Arabia resulted from its own policy in the oil market. The country has maintained an oversupply of oil as well as low prices to preserve its market share and obstruct the production of shale oil in the US.

Nevertheless, Grigory Kosach, an expert at the Institute for the Middle East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, opposes a theory that Saudi Arabia in cooperation with the US deliberately dropped oil prices to damage the Russian economy.

"I can’t see any evidence to assume that Saudi Arabia is coordinating its actions [in the oil market] with the US. As I can say, there is a struggle for market underway. American companies as well as Saudi Arabia’s Aramco are acting on their own interests," he was quoted as saying by Gazeta.ru.
 He also noted that according to Saudi officials the country plans to stick to its strategy in the future.

Despite the sharp decrease in oil revenue, Saudi Arabia would not cut down government spending and continue to unveil money for healthcare and educational programs, the analyst concluded.

"The country will overcome its budget problems. I’m absolutely sure that stability will be preserved in the near future," he added.

Tim Callen also said the effect of the oil prices decline on the rest of the economy has so far been limited. The IMF projects growth to slow to 2.7 percent in 2016, and over the medium-term, growth is expected to be around 3 percent.
To achieve this goal the country will have to maintain a high level of government expenditures, including taking money from the reserve. Despite the fact that $672 billion seems to be enough for now, the experience of other countries shows that reserves easily dry out, especially without any austerity measures. In the current situation, Saudi Arabia is likely to continue selling bonds, Gazeta.ru pointed out.

Source : SputnikNews

Aug 7, 2015

Iran to Have ‘Golden’ Future Due to Discovery of New Gold Reserves

Iran might literally be a hidden goldmine, after the government recently discovered over 1,200 potential gold reserves across the country, Press TV reported.

Prospectors have struck gold in the Yazd Province of Iran. It's still unknown how many tons of gold could potentially be lying underground in the province, a senior mining official said.

"After tracing possible gold-bearing zones in 21 provinces across the country, gold mines have been marked in 10 provinces," deputy head of the Geology and Mineral Discoveries Organization Behrouz Borna said, as cited by Press TV.

It's proven that Iran currently has an estimated 340 metric tons of gold reserves in 24 mines. Fifteen gold mines are currently operational, one is being equipped, and the remaining eight are not working.
 With the new found gold reserves, Iran can now increase its gold production to 10 metric tons per year.

Iran's Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammadreza Nematzadeh said gold is a top priority mineral for exploration and in the future Iran can further boost its gold reserves by discovering new mines.

Source : SputnikNews

Jul 31, 2015

Palestine : Jewish Settlers Kill Palestinian Baby by Setting Home on Fire

Palestinian officials blame Israel for the attack, while Israeli prime minister calls the incident an act of terrorism.

An 18-month-old baby was burnt to death and several other family members
 seriously injured after Jewish extremist set fire to a Palestinian home
 in the occupied West Bank Friday in an incident that has been described
 as an act of terrorism by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Police officials said the house in Duma, a small village near the city
of Nablus, was torched while the family was sleeping and graffiti in
Hebrew reading “revenge” was scribbled on the wall outside.

A helicopter was deployed to the home to rush to hospital the parents of
 the dead child and his four-year-old brother, officials said.

According to Reuters, this was the worst attack by Israeli extremists
since a Palestinian teenager was torched to death in Jerusalem a year
ago. That followed the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers
 by Palestinian militants in the West Bank, which led to the
indiscriminate 51-day bloody Israeli attack on Gaza.

A witness identified as Ibrahim Dawabsheh told Reuters he heard people
shouting for help from the house and rushed to it. "I saw two masked men
 outside," he added.

"We found the parents outside with burns, they said there was another
son in the house, we brought him out and then they said there was
another boy inside, but we couldn't reach the bedroom because of the
fire. He was left inside until rescue forces came," Dawabsheh said.

Other witnesses told Al Jazeera they saw at least four Jewish settlers
running away from the scene. There are at least three illegal Israeli
settlements near Duma village. The Israeli settlements are considered
illegal under international law.

Netanyahu said he was shocked. "This is a terrorist attack. Israel takes
 firm action against terrorism, no matter who its perpetrators are," he
said in a statement, adding that "all means" would be used to bring the
assailants to justice.

Nabil Abu Rdainah , a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,
 blamed Israel for the attack.

"Such a crime would not have occurred if the Israeli government did not
insist on pursuing settlements and protecting settlers," he said in a
statement on the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The United Nations recently reported that at least 120 attacks by
Israeli settlers have been documented in the occupied West Bank since
the beginning of this year.

Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza

Source : Telesur

Jul 30, 2015

Gulf Nations Increase Purchase of United States's Weapons After Iran Deal

U.S. weapons continue to fuel wars among Arab nations, while Gulf states increase weapons purchases claiming Iran is now a threat.

United States is already profiting from the Iran nuclear deal, as Gulf
nations react to the agreement by purchasing massive amounts of U.S.
weapons systems, beginning with Saudi Arabia that is buying 600 advanced
 Patriot missiles worth US$5.4 billion.

The U.S. State Department has already approved the request by Saudi
Arabia to purchase the PAC-3 missiles, according to a memorandum the
Pentagon sent Congress on Wednesday.

“The proposed sale will modernize and replenish Saudi Arabia’s current
Patriot missile stockpile, which is becoming obsolete and difficult to
sustain due to age and limited availability of repair parts,” said the
Pentagon’s notice to Congress. “The purchase of the PAC-3 missiles will
support current and future defense missions and promote stability within
 the region.”

According to Russian news outlet RTS, Saudi Arabia already bought a US$2
 billion shipment of Patriots in April.

Last week, according to Defense One, the Pentagon purchased US$1.5
billion worth of Patriots intended for Qatar, the United Arab Emirates,
Taiwan, South Korea and the Saudis.

RT wrote that Gulf Arab states are eager to purchase U.S.
counter-missiles, as embargoes on conventional weapons and missiles
against Iran are expected to be lifted in the next five to eight years
under the terms of a nuclear deal reached in Vienna on July 14.

The United Arab Emirates have already purchased a Terminal High Altitude
 Area Defense (THAAD) system, with a greater reach than the Patriot’s,
RT added.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have also expressed interest in the THAAD, while
Qatar is now likely to proceed with the purchase of a missile-tracking
radar system, RT said.

In March, the Guardian said the U.S. accounted for nearly half of all
arms sales to the Middle East, followed by Russia and the United

Sales of weapons to Gulf states have increased by more than 70 percent
over the past five years, according to research quoted by the Guardian.

“We’re going to see more of this,” Thomas Karako, a missile defense
expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in
 Washington told Defense One. “So long as the Iranian missile threat
exists, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and other countries in the region
 are going to have to invest in counters, offensive and defensive.”

In May, President Barack Obama guaranteed his Arab allies that
Washington would “stand by our GCC – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman,
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – partners against external

In 2009, President Obama said if Iran was still a threat, missiles would
 have to be deployed in Europe nor the Middle East, but apparently he
has forgotten those words as the sale of arms and the deployment of
missiles and anti-missile systems are increasing now that the nuclear
Iranian threat has supposedly been eliminated.

U.S. Weapons Fuel Wars Among Araba States

In April, the Financial Review said that Unites States weapons fueled
the wars among Arab states. For example, they said, “To wage war in
Yemen, Saudi Arabia is using F-15 fighter jets bought from Boeing.

Pilots from the United Arab Emirates are flying Lockheed Martin's F-16
to bomb both Yemen and Syria.”

They added, that, “As the Middle East descends into proxy wars,
sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in
 the region that have stockpiled U.S. military hardware are now actually
 using it and wanting more.”

This supports the theory that one of the greatest beneficiaries of a
deal with Iran are the United states.

The Financial Review also said the United States will now be more
willing to sell massive quantities of weapons to Arab countries, because
 they no longer represent a threat to Israel. Tel Aviv agrees as they
now have a common enemy: Iran.

"When you look at it, Israel's strategic calculation is a simple one,"
Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies
said. The gulf countries "do not represent a meaningful threat" to
Israel, he said. "They do represent a meaningful counterbalance to

Source : Telesur

Jul 28, 2015

Iran Ceases Financial Aid to Hamas in Gaza, Official Claims

Iran has completely cut off its financial aid to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, a senior Hamas official claimed on Monday, according to Israeli media reports.

Since a rapprochement between the two last year after a rift emerged three years earlier over the Palestinian group's refusal to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Tehran has been a financial backer of Hamas, who have controlled the Gaza Strip since elections in 2006, and their military operations.

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard has transferred millions of dollars to the Palestinian group's military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades, within the last year to finance Gaza's tunnel network and replenish rocket caches used against Israel during last summer's conflict, according to Western officials. However, Hamas's politburo chief Moussa Abu Marzouk, who is believed to currently reside in exile in Egypt, has now claimed that Iran's financial backing has dried up.

"All assistance has stopped—both civilian aid to the Gaza Strip and military assistance to Hamas," he was quoted as saying in an interview with Al Jazeera by a number of Israeli media outlets. "[Iran] greatly helped the resistance in Palestine; without this assistance it will be hard for us to cope."

"The relations between Hamas and Iran are not advancing in a direction in which the organisation (Hamas) is interested and aren't improving to the degree the organization wants in order to help the Palestinian issue," the official added.

The alleged termination of funds to Hamas contradicts recent comments by Iran's political elite following the landmark nuclear deal, agreed earlier this month with six world powers in Vienna. Last week, Iranian foreign minister Abbas Araqchi confirmed that the Shiite country would continue to arm its allies in the Middle East, which include Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah and another Palestinian militant group, Islamic Jihad.

"We have told them [the P5+1 world powers] in the negotiations that we will supply arms to anyone and anywhere necessary and will import weapons from anywhere we want and we have clarified this during the negotiations," he told Iranian state TV.

While Marzouk said that Hamas was still attempting to better ties with Iran, the decreased funding from the Islamic Republic comes during warming relations between Hamas, a Sunni Muslim group, and the Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

Last week, the Hamas leadership outside of the Gaza Strip, living in exile in countries such as Qatar and Turkey, visited Saudi Arabia for the first time in three years to discuss relations. The group's top political leaders held a meeting with King Salman in Mecca, in an attempt by the royal leader to pull the Sunni militant group away from Tehran's sphere of influence. Marzouk was one of the members of the Hamas delegation which travelled to Riyadh.

Ron Gilran, vice-president at the Tel Aviv-based geopolitical consultancy The Levantine Group, says that the cut in Iranian funding for Hamas is likely to be caused by the Palestinian group's recent rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, and "less linked" with the Iranian nuclear deal.

"This [rapprochement] has been going on for the last two to three months, it's a new policy of King Salman, getting close to elements in the region in order to block Iran's influence," he says. "However, I wouldn't say that there are no ties anymore. It's a game between two powers in the region for influence. I would view such comments as part of this rather than anything definitive."
A Hamas representative declined to comment.

Source : NewsWeek

United States Set to Deploy More Troops, Combat Aircraft to Turkey

The United States is looking to broaden its military presence in Turkey with more personnel and combat aircraft, in its effort to intensify fight against ISIL alongside Turkish armed forces, a Pentagon official announced Monday.

According to an emerging cooperation program between Ankara and Washington, more troops and US warplanes and troops are set to deploy into Turkey, with the aim of battling more effectively ISIL militants’ strongholds along the Syrian border.

"We're talking about logistics… berthing and force protection and things like that," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson, said Monday.

The official declined to comment on the number of additional troops to be sent to Incirlik and — potentially — three other air bases in Turkey, but added that "you would need to have more people to do more operations."
 According to the Pentagon, there are approximately 1,700 US personnel — mostly Air Force — based at Incirlik, near the border with Syria.

The US Department of Defense confirmed that talks with Turkey’s military to determine what forces and capabilities should be used in the joint operation are still ongoing.

"The purpose of the operation is to clear the border and close the border to Daesh (ISIL)," a senior Obama administration official earlier told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He also underscored that the US does not intend to create a specific "no-fly" zone in Syria along the Turkish border, which Ankara has long lobbied for, stressing instead that the agreement with Turkey will involve establishing an "ISIL-free zone," but that the US is "not committed to a specific zone per se."
 Davis was similarly noncommittal when it came to the Pentagon’s current position on Syrian President Bashar Assad:
"We're not cooperating with the Assad regime nor are we waging war with the Assad regime," the spokesperson said.

Last week, the Turkish government announced it would permit US air strike operations against ISIL to fly out of Incirlik Air Base. While Ankara had previously tried to remain unengaged in the fight against the terrorist group, the death of 32 students in a suspected ISIL suicide bombing forced Ankara’s hand into reversing that policy.
 On Friday, Turkey launched a two-front military campaign against ISIL militants in Syria and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) in northern Iraq. The campaign involves airstrikes by F-16 fighter jets and shelling from within Turkish territory.

While Turkey has been attacking Kurdish forces in Iraq, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia has proved a major military asset for US strikes against ISIL in Syria. This could become a serious obstacle for a full-scale joint military operation, as Turkey may veto any US activity perceived to be in favor of the Kurds, Middle East experts Neil Quilliam and Jonathan Friedman wrote for Reuters.

Source : SputnikNews

Jul 27, 2015

NATO Emergency Meeting Called Amid Tensions in Turkey

Ankara wants to discuss efforts to fight the Islamic State group. On Sunday Turkey requested a NATO emergency meeting to discuss the threat of the Islamic State group.

NATO confirmed in a statement released shortly after that the North
Atlantic Council, which includes the ambassadors of all 28 NATO allies,
would meet Tuesday following Ankara's request, which invoked Article 4
of the alliance's founding treaty.

The request comes after Turkish forces bombed camps of Kurdistan Workers
 Party (PKK) militias in northern Iraq and Syria on Saturday and Sunday.
 The PKK, a group fighting for Kurdish rights and independence, has led
efforts in the fight against the #Islamic State group #in both
countries. The airstrikes elicited protests and clashes inside Turkey.

Despite government claims the airstrikes on PKK positions were in fact
meant to weaken the Islamic State group, it is believed the government's
 aggression toward the Kurdish armed group, which it considers a
terrorist organization, is growing again after a few years of peaceful

The request is also hot on the heels of a terrorist attack in the border
 town of Suruc, which left over 30 people dead. The attack, for which
the Islamic State group claimed responsibility, targeted left-wing
organizations providing humanitarian aid for the Syrian town of Kobani,
also known as Ayn Arab, which is being defended by the PKK and local
Kurdish forces.

“The presence of a Turkey that can use its force effectively can lead to
 consequences which can change the game in Syria, Iraq and the entire
region; everyone should see that,” said Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu to the local Hurriyet Daily News.   

In its statement, NATO affirmed its support for the measures taken by
the Turkish government, but only referred to the Islamic State group,
not the recent Turkish airstrikes that affected the PKK.

Experts and Kurdish politicians have repeatedly pointed out that Turkey
has done little to fight the Islamic State group — which has taken over
swaths of the Middle East and is creeping near to the Turkish border —
and that by actively supporting efforts to oust Syrian President Bashar
Assad, the Turkish government has contributed to the radical group’s

United States President Barack Obama criticized Turkish authorities last
 month, during the G-7 Summit in Germany, for not doing enough to fight
the terror group.

Source : Telesur

Jul 26, 2015

Israeli Forces Storm, Vandalize Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque

Police reportedly fired tear gas, beat guards and worshipers of the mosque as Jewish settlers tried to enter Islam's holy site to commemorate holiday

The Israeli police invaded Sunday the Muslim holy mosque of Al-Aqsa in
Jerusalem Sunday and injured more than 20 people.

The police entered the mosque's perimeters after groups of Jewish
settlers stormed the mosque to commemorate what they call Tisha B’Av,
the Jewish day of remembrance for the destruction of the First and
Second Temples.

Jews refer to Al-Aqsa mosque as Temple Mount, the holiest site in

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Israeli forces, which is
according to Al-Jazeera Arabic were part of special units, assaulted
number of youth and worshipers who confronted the settlers who tried to
enter the Muslim holy site. The Israeli forces also used tear gas
against worshipers inside the mosque and shut down all entrances to it.

Temporary checkpoints were set up by the police as Palestinians under 50
 were not allowed to enter the mosque.

According to Palestine News Network, the Israeli police have also broken
 the fire system in the mosque, making the water leak all through the

In Islamic belief, Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem, is considered the
third holiest place in Islam. For Jews, it is called Temple Mount and
considered to be the holiest site in Judaism.

While the holy site is under Israeli occupation, Jews are allow to enter
 it but barred from praying their to avoid tensions and confrontations
between the different religious groups.

The Palestinian news agency WAFA, said Jewish settlers had assaulted a
Palestinian child near one of the gates leading to Al-Aqsa Mosque on
Saturday, prompting a group of Palestinians to intervene before the
police dispersed them.

Also, Times of Israel said that tensions were high over the weekend when
 a video of an Israeli women insulting the Islam's prophet Muhammad went
 viral. The Jewish woman, who was part of a group visiting the holy
sites in Jerusalem, was caught on camera saying in Hebrew “Muhammad is a

Source : Telesur

Turkish Prime Minister Rules Out Boots on Syrian Soil

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ruled out on Sunday sending ground troops to fight the Islamic State military group in Syria, according to the Hurriyet newspaper.

In an interview with Turkish media, Davutoglu commented on the agreement with Washington to provide air cover to what they consider to be moderate Syrian rebels, such as the Free Syrian Army and other forces that have the same goal of weeding out ISIL insurgency in the war-torn country.

He stressed that if Ankara was not going to send in ground forces, and it was not, then moderate rebels should at least be protected from above.

Turkey still wants to see Syrian leader Bashar Assad deposed, Davutoglu added. He also said that Kurdish separatists from the PKK party might have a "place in the new Syria" if they sever contacts with Assad. 

On Friday, Turkey officially launched its two-front campaign against PKK in northern Iraq and the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria.

The air raids followed a week of violence in Turkey – which shares southern borders with Syria and Iraq – including a suicide bombing in the Turkish border town of Suruc that killed 32 people and injured over 100.

Source : SputnikNews

Jul 19, 2015

Israel Closes Palestinian TV Channel to Protect "Sovereignty"

Israel shut down a local Palestinian channel dedicated for its Arab citizens because according to authorities it was an anti-Israel “propaganda” tool.

Israel has closed Saturday a local TV station that was tailored for
Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel in order to protect Israel's

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan signed the order on
Thursday for the closure of Palestine 48 TV channel for at least six

"I will not allow for Israel's sovereignty to be harmed or for the
Palestinian Authority to gain a foothold in Israeli territory," Erdan
said then. The channel is reportedly funded by the Palestinian
government. It was launched on June 18, the first day of the Muslim's
holy month of Ramadan.

Hours after its launch, the Israeli broadcast authority threatened to
shut down the channel. Those behind the project were "wolves in sheep's
clothing," said Communications Ministry spokesperson Yechiel Shavi at
the time.

Echoing statements made by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
 in March as part of his election campaign, Shavi added that
Palestinians would never achieve statehood, but "can continue to dream
forever" of realizing it. 

However, Palestinian officials and Arab lawmakers in the Israeli Knesset
 argued that the move was illegal. Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation
President Riad al-Hassan said the move against the channel, which is
broadcast through the Palestinian company PalSat, was "illegal" and that
 it would be challenged in the supreme court.

The channel is dedicated to revive the history of the Palestinian
community in Israel and move away from Arabic-language Israeli TV
channels seen by Arab citizens of Israel as propaganda tools.

However, the channel comes at a time when Israel has one of the most
conservative and right-wing governments in its history.

The name of the channel, Palestine 48, makes a reference to the year
1948 when Israel was established after a major Palestinian exodus and
racial cleansing by the Israeli forces with the help of the mandate
British government.  

More than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forcibly evicted from their
homes and villages by Zionist forces.

Currently, Israel is home to more than 1.5 million Palestinians, most of
 whom speak Hebrew and have citizenship, but who also say they suffer
from systemic apartheid and are treated as second-class citizens as they
 lack basic civil rights and access to education and healthcare, things
that other citizens enjoy for simply being Jewish.

With a staff in their 20s and 30s, the channel aims at breaking through
the culture taboos and initiating a national dialogue among the
Palestinian youth, something the current Israeli government has long
perceived as a threat to its very existence.

So to neutralize the threat, Israel always maintained a patronizing
policy towards Palestinians while also portraying them as the enemy,
Dana Winkler, who wrote her PhD on Israel's failed Arabic-language
television initiative, told Al-Jazeera.

Source : Telesur

Gaza : Several Simultaneous Explosions Rock Hamas's Officials

Several car explosions took place in Gaza Sunday morning in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, security officials from the Gaza strip said.

The officials said six car explosions occurred at the same time and that
 at least two people were injured . The cars belonged to senior
officials from the Islamic Jihad resistance group and from the Hamas
party, the party running affairs in the strip. The cars were parked in
front of the houses of the officials in the neighborhood.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the explosions, but in
recent months there were several confrontations in the Sheikh Radwan
neighborhood between Hamas security forces and fighters from a group
affiliated with the Islamic State group operating in the impoverished

Security forces prevented people from approaching the scene of the
incidents for safety reasons. According to witnesses, a freshly painted
graffiti of the Islamic State group flag was seen on the wall nearby the
 location of the explosions.

Hamas has been cracking down on the group and arresting their operatives
 for the past several months. Following the crackdown, the Islamic State
 group, which is operating from Syria and Iraq, vowed in a recent video
early July to attack Hamas and other groups based in Gaza. 

Source: Telesur

Jul 18, 2015

Syria : ISIL Seen Launching Chemical Weapons Against Kurds

Investigators registered three incidents in which ISIL fired chemical mortar shells at Kurd positions in recent weeks, according to a report provided to the government of Iraqi-controlled Kurdistan by the Conflict Armament Research and Sahan Research think tanks.

The Islamic State (ISIL) militant group uses chemical shells manufactured in its workshops against Kurdish militiamen in Iraq and Syria, the New York Times reported Saturday.
 Citing a report provided to the government of Iraqi-controlled Kurdistan by the Conflict Armament Research and Sahan Research think tanks, the newspaper said that the investigators registered three incidents in which ISIL fired chemical mortar shells at Kurd positions in recent weeks.

The most clear case was registered on June 21 or 22, when a 120-millimeter chemical mortar shell hit a Kurdish position near Mosul Dam in northern Iraq. The munition did not explode and was recovered for analysis.

“Soon we should have an exact composition of the chemical in this projectile, but I am certain it is chlorine,” Gregory Robin from Sahan Research said as quoted by the newspaper.

The report advised Kurdish officials to improve their forces’ readiness for chemical warfare amid evidence of production by ISIL of the internationally-condemned form of warfare.
 Chlorine is classified as a “choking agent,” burning the lungs, and has lethal consequences when inhaled in large quantities.

Since late 2014, there have been multiple reports from Kurdish officials, as well as from Iraqi and Syrian authorities and medical staff that the ISIL has been using bombs filled with chemical agents.

In December, the Syrian government warned the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that armed groups had seized several industrial areas in Syria where chlorine-containing substances were stored.

Damascus has been in the process of eliminating its chemical arsenal with the help of the OPCW.

Source : SputnikNews

Jul 15, 2015

Saudi Arabia's Allied Yemenis Take over Aden Airport as Crisis Deepens

In first major advance against rebels, Saudi-backed government forces seized control of Aden airport in Yemen, as aid groups warn of deepening crisis

Yemeni forces allied with Saudi Arabia and fighting the country's
Ansarullah rebels seized control Tuesday of the international airport in
 the city of Aden along with other districts in the city, exiled
government officials said.

"The fighting in Aden began in the morning as the forces approached Aden
 from different positions," said Ali al-Ahmadi, spokesman for the
anti-rebels Southern Popular Resistance. "After violent clashes that
continued for hours the forces were able to enter the airport and Badr
base and they killed a large number of the militias."

The official added that the advance was aided by several Saudi-led
airstrikes in and around the city of Aden. However, the rebels said that
 they had retreated from the city after they “cleansed” it of al-Qaida
and Islamic State group.

Tuesday's takeover by the Saudi-allied forces is the their first major
advance since the beginning of the hostilities. It also comes as a
10-day United Nation-brokered humanitarian truce went into effect Sunday
 and proved unsuccessful as the Saudi-led airstrikes and the fighting

Saudi Arabia and 10 of its regional allies have been bombing Yemen since
 late March, aided by United States logistical and intelligence support,
 in a bid to restore Saudi ally, exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur
Hadi, to power, and drive the rebels out of control.

The Ansarullah rebels took control of the capital Sanaa and government
institutions in January. They claim the president had not done anything
for the most improvised country in the region since he came to power
following the Arab Spring-inspired protests in 2012, which then led to
the ouster of Yemen's strongman and long-serving President Ali Abdullah

The rebels also say that al-Qaida group in Yemen, considered to be the
group's strongest branch, has in fact gained a larger foothold in the
country during Hadi's time in office.

Therefore, they say they want to be in control in order to fight off the
 extremist Sunni group and others like the Islamic State group, which
has recently been gaining a foothold in Yemen.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said Tuesday that at least 142 civilians
have been killed in Yemen over the past 10 days, bringing the civilian
death toll in more than three months of violence to 1,670.

Also, fuel shortages in Yemen – only 20 percent of what needed is
available – could soon lead to a deeper humanitarian crisis that could
cause even more deaths than the ongoing violent conflict, Oxfam warned

The U.N. refugee agency also said that nearly 1.27 million Yemenis are
now displaced within their own country, while more than 51,000 people
have fled Yemen for Djibouti, Somalia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Source : Telesur

Jul 13, 2015

Video Footage Reveals Palestinian Teen Who Posed “Immediate Danger” to IDF Soldier Was Fleeing When Shot and Killed

New video footage has emerged of the moments before an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldier shot and killed 17-year old Mohammed al-Kasbah on July 3, 2015 in the West Bank village of al-Ram near the Qalandia checkpoint. The recording was captured by a security camera posted at a gas station and contradicts Col. Yisrael Shomer’s account where he said he fired at the Palestinian teen because his life was in imminent danger.

In the footage an Israeli army vehicle stops on a busy street near the gas station. Palestinian youth are seen approaching and stone throwing. Two soldiers then exit the Jeep and pursue the youth on foot as they flee out of frame. A third solider also stepped out of the vehicle, but remained by the side of the car. Thirty seconds later, the soldiers return, pile into the car, and speed off.

During the brief moment when the soldiers are off-camera Shomer shot al-Kasbah three times in the chest, head, and back.  Al-Kasbah was then taken to a public hospital in Ramallah. His heart had already stopped beating. Hospital staff told Mondoweiss he was then resuscitated, but died 15 minutes later around 7am due to blood loss from the injuries.

The video was released by the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem that also conducted an investigation. “According to several eyewitnesses, Col.

Shomer shot Ali-Kosba [Kasbah] from a distance of some ten meters and then went up to him and moved him with his leg. Then, instead of obtaining medical aid for the injured youth, the soldiers drove off,” said B’tselem in a statement today.

Al-Kasbah’s two older brothers were also killed by the Israeli army when they were teenagers.

Following the shooting Central Command Maj. Gen. Roni Num said he “fully backed the brigade commander and the way he handled the incident, in which the force was faced with real mortal threat.”

The IDF spokesperson’s office told Mondoweiss the officer shot al-Kasbah because he posed “immediate danger” to the soldiers. They added that a verbal warning was given in Arabic first, to stop throwing stones. Next a warning shot was fired in the air. Then shots were aimed at al-Kasbah. While the B’tselem video does dispute if cautions were given before the officer opened fire, it does counter the claim of threat to life because al-Kasbah and the other Palestinian youth were running away from the Israeli forces.

The Israeli army opened an investigation Shomer’s conduct on the day the shooting occurred.

Source : GlobalResearch

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