Syria in Last 24 Hours: Army Regains Control of Strategic Towns in Hama Countryside

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army made major advances in Hama countryside in the Central parts of the country and regained control of strategic towns in there.

The army units took control of Al-Jadideh, Al-Malh and Al-Jamileh towns in Mohrad-Salibieh road in Northwestern Hama countryside.

Hama province in Central Syria has a population of over 2 million people and it has been the scene of fierce clashes between the Syrian army and militants in the past three years.

Also in the past 24 hours, more than 4 notorious Al-Qaeda ringleaders were killed in fierce clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front.

Meantime, Sami al-Aridi, one of the ringleaders of the terrorist Al-Nusra Front in Syria, raised fraud accusations against Ahmad Jarba, the president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), saying he has stolen millions of dollars of international aids.

Writing on his Twitter page, Aridi said that Jarba had stolen $75mln of the international aids which were due to be allocated to the treatment of the wounded and refugee Syrians.

Also earlier this year, founder of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) Riyadh Al-Asa’ad claimed that head of the Syrian opposition bloc Ahmad al-Jarba is a spy.

Al-Asa’ad’s accusation came as the rifts among the Syrian opposition are further widening.

Divisions among the foreign-based Syrian opposition have widened after Idris was replaced by Abdullah al-Bashir.

Idris along with more than a dozen senior militant commanders have severed ties with the SNC, widening divisions among the foreign-sponsored opposition.

The military wing of the opposition said it has sacked its chief of staff due to difficulties in the operations against the Syrian government.

The anti-Syria military coalition was established in 2011. But it has never been able to attract people in the war-torn country.

Also, a military source said that a unit of the Syrian army has killed 20 terrorists in Morek in Hama’s Northern countryside on Sunday.

Terrorists Alaa Ibrahim Al-Hamid Al-Eliwi, Mohammad Abdul-Mo’ti Al-Ghazal and Hassan Abdul-Karim Al-Na’ssan were identified among the dead, the state news agency reported.

Also in Aleppo, an army unit eliminated all members of an armed terrorist group in the last of Nazlet Al-Zebdieh in Seif Al-Doula and fully controlled a number of buildings there.

Meantime, the United Nation’s top humanitarian field operations official said more than 9 million Syrians had been displaced by the country’s conflict.

“Some 6.5 million of the displaced people are still inside Syria, while 2.7 million have fled to nearby countries,” John Ging said, warning that those numbers were likely to grow.

“Month-after-month, it’s 5,000 people that are being killed in this crisis. Hundreds of thousands have been injured in this crisis, and again with the intensification of the conflict, these numbers are growing all the time,” he said.

Army units pounded Saturday terrorist groups’ gatherings and dens in various areas across the country, inflicting heavy losses upon the terrorists’ ranks in lives and equipment.

Terrorists of Chechen and Turkish nationalities were killed in army operations that targeted terrorist groups’ gatherings in various areas in Damascus Countryside.

Army units killed all members of several armed terrorist groups in Al-Mleiha farms and Ein Tarma valley in Eastern Ghouta and destroyed all their weapons.

Qaderi Al-Sheikh Baker from Chechnya and Lawrence Al-Bashqati from Turkey were identified among the dead, in addition to Abdulrahman Al-Zarqawi and Ammar Al-Tout.

The army intensified operations on Joubar axis from the eastern side and destroyed several terrorists’ dens, leaving a number of them dead and wounded. Emad Matar and Mohammad Omar Juha were among the dead.

Meantime, Syria’s Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) announced the final list of presidential contenders.

The SCC Spokesman announced that the final list of the country’s approved candidates for its upcoming presidential election came down to three individuals: Bashar Hafez Al-Assad, Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar and Hassan Abdullah Al-Nouri.

The final list of candidates was announced in a Saturday press conference by SCC Spokesperson Majid Khadra, who further added that “the announcement also serves as an official notification to the respective presidential contenders to begin their election campaign as of Sunday, May 11, 2014″.

Source: Fars News

Syria: Militant Groups Target Al-Manar Crew in Maaloula in Qalamoun – Three Martyrs

The militant groups opened fire onto Al-Manar crew in the town of Maaloula in Qalamoun, leaving three martyrs of the colleagues: the reporter Hamza Hajj Hasan, the technician Halim Allaw and the photographer Mohammad Mantash.

The crew was broadcasting the Syria army’s operations in Maaloula when the terrorists targeted their Press vehicles.

Al-Manr TV Channel announced the martyrdom of the colleagues and offered condolences to their parents, asking Holy God to bless them with His mercy. 

Source: Al Manar

“IF IT WERE ME, I WOULD LET DOWN ISRAEL TOMORROW MORNING” Michael Scheuer Former CIA Operative 10.10.2013

Michael Scheuer, ancien directeur d’opérations à la CIA, était entendu le 9 octobre 2013 par le Comité sur la sécurité nationale du Congrès. Dans cet extrait, il est interrogé sur la politique étrangère des États-Unis au Proche-Orient et dans le monde arabo-musulman en général :

Islamist fighters move 12 abducted Syrian nuns from Maaloula to rebel-held town

image

Maaloula town

Islamist fighters have moved the nuns abducted from a convent in the predominantly Christian town of Maaloula to a nearby town held by rebels. The leader of the Orthodox Church of Antioch has called on the international community to help save them.

Vatican envoy to Syria, Mario Zenari, said on Tuesday that 12 nuns including the convent’s mother superior had been taken from Maaloula to the rebel held town of Yabroud, some 20 km away. “They forced the sisters to evacuate and to follow them towards Yabroud,” Zenari told Reuters from Damascus by telephone, adding that he did not know for what purposes it had been done.

Zenari also said that the nuns were among the last residents remaining in Maaloula after most had fled south to Damascus.

On Monday, Syrian state television reported that several nuns had been abducted from the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Mar Thecla after Islamists captured the ancient part of the town and attacked the convent.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry sent letters to the head of the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General urging the international community to condemn the rebel attack on Maaloula and the convent, and to put pressure on the countries supporting the rebels.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, John X urged the international community on Tuesday to speak up in defense of Syria’s Christians.

“We urge the United Nations and all governments to speak out in support of Christians in Syria and to take the steps required to free these nuns from capture,” his statement says.

Febronia Nabhan, the mother superior of another convent in Maaloula, said that apart from the nuns, three “young maids” were taken from the convent on Monday.

Nabhan told the AFP that she talked with Mar Thecla’s mother superior, Pelagia Sayaf, on her phone Monday evening and was told they were in Yabrud, which is located some 80km north of Damascus, “comfortably installed in a house.”

Syrian state television reported that Christians had held a service in Damascus, Monday, to protest against the kidnapping of the nuns as well as for two bishops who were abducted near Aleppo in April.

A report by the pan Arabic satellite TV channel Al Mayadeen said that the Syrian soldiers along with local militias were launching an operation to liberate Maaloula.

The rebels who attacked the town reportedly came over from the nearby town of Nabak in which Syrian forces are carrying out anti-terrorist operations. 

The fighting in Maaloula is part of a wider struggle between Al-Qaeda linked fighters of the Nusra Front and the Syrian army for control of the strategic Damascus-Homs highway, which passes close by the town.

Maaloula was the scene of heavy fighting in September. It is considered to be one of the birthplaces of Christianity and is home to a number of shrines and monasteries, which are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites.

According to the Syrian Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic church, Gregory Laham, some 450,000 Syrian Christians have been forced from their homes by the civil war that began in March 2011. He added that “at least 57 Christian sites” have been damaged or destroyed since the beginning of hostilities, and blamed the United States and its Western allies for aggravating the situation by providing assistance to the rebels.

Christians, who comprise about 10 percent of Syria’s population, are viewed as supporters of President Bashar Assad, fearing the Islamist ideology of some rebels. This has made them the target of attacks.

“I believe it is all systematic and planned,” Sami Housni, a Christian priest in Damascus told RT. “Forcing Christians to leave… In Iraq, for instance, less than 200,000 Christians remain. We do have concerns, we do hope to stick to our land – Syria, which is the cradle of Christianity. We also hope that the Pope and heads of Christian denominations shall call for denouncing violence and adopting dialogue.”

source: Russia Today

Syria Kurds oust al-Qaeda terrorists, Ras al-Ain in full Kurdish control

image


Members of the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) take positions inside a trench in the countryside of Tirbsybya in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakeh on August 30, 2013

Members of the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) take positions inside a trench in the countryside of Tirbsybya in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakeh on August 30, 2013.

Kurdish fighters in northern Syria have expelled al-Qaeda-linked militants from the majority Kurdish area of Ras al-Ain on the Turkish border, an opposition monitoring group says.

“The Committees for the Protection of the Kurds (YPG) have taken over the Manajeer area, scene of battles with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al-Nusra Front and other rebel groups,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

The capture of Manajeer left the whole of the area around the strategic border town of Ras al-Ain in Kurdish control, the group said.

The advance came a day after reports that Kurdish fighters had driven terrorist groups out of 19 towns and villages across northeastern Syria, and a week after they captured the key Iraqi border crossing at Yaarubiyeh.

The al-Qaeda-linked militants “have now lost their last remaining positions in the countryside of Ras al-Ain,” the Observatory said.

The Al-Qaeda loyalists withdrew to the city of Raqa in the Euphrates valley to the southwest, the only provincial capital outside government control, and now dominated by ISIL.

Near the capital, the army pressed its offensive against rebel enclaves, hitting the town of Mleiha east of Damascus with a ground-to-ground missile, the observatory said.

Amateur video posted online by activists showed a huge cloud of grey smoke rising above the town.

Southeast of Damascus, the militants shelled the majority Christian-Druze suburb of Jaramana, a government-held area that has come under repeated rebel attack, the group said.

In the central province of Hama, ISIL militants captured a rebel commander and more than 20 fighters in the latest infighting between the insurgents and mainstream rebels, the group added.

Source: Alalam

Al-Qaeda militants crush ex-partners in Aleppo

image

Al-Qaeda-linked armed groups have fought rival Syria militants near the country’s borders with Turkey in an outbreak of violence driven by the divisions between factions battling to rise to power in the Arab country.

The fighting illustrates the volatile situation in Syria as a team of chemical weapons experts start the process of eliminating the country’s chemical weapons stockpile, with inspections expected to begin next week.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) took control of the northern border town of Azaz last month, kicking out their former partners and prompting Turkey to shut the crossing about 5 km away.

ISIS, which wants to merge Syria into a larger state ruled by their own law, has maintained control of the town since then and clashes have periodically erupted between it and fighters of the Northern Storm brigade, which they had expelled to its outskirts.

The latest fighting broke out Tuesday night after a deadline ISIS had set for Northern Storm fighters to surrender their weapons came to an end.

“There are very fierce clashes on the outskirts of Azaz. ISIS cut all roads leading to Turkey and the situation is very tense,” said one militant source, speaking from Turkey.

Another activist from Azaz said ISIS had seized two checkpoints and a base from militant Northern Storm and had advanced toward the border. He said some ISIS fighters had been killed, but he did not know how many.

“What is happening in Aleppo is clearly a massive terrorist war, aimed at toppling a government, and not by its own people,” Al-Alam reporter said.
He added, “International organizations inaction over the brutal war which is claiming more lives each passing day is more questionable than ever”.

“al-Qaeda linked armed groups not only take victims from their opponents, but also there are many young people who are professionally brainwashed into putting their lives in danger for al-Qaeda to gain more power in Syria,” he said.

As the Syrian army has been fighting a massive foreign-sponsored war, fueled by regional and Western countries, the United States and its allies have not stopped their support to the leaders of the insurgency.

CIA operatives have been training Syria militants in Jordan borders while providing them with military support, according to reports, as huge amounts of money are being flushed into the hands of militants and al-Qaeda-linked groups from several countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

US Senator McCain, who has called for American military aid to militants, visited Azaz in May and was photographed alongside Northern Storm militants.

A US threat to bomb Syria over conflicting reports of a chemical attack on August 21 near Syrian capital was averted by Russia’s mediation that proposed to put Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons under international supervision to avoid further use of illegal weapons.

Syrian government, which has proposed the UN with evidence that reportedly indicate militants were behind the August 21 attack, welcomed the initiative and helped a UN disarmament team to enter the country and start their mission.

The conflict in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.

The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.
Continue reading

Assad: Syria won’t negotiate with al-Qaeda offshoots

image

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has ruled out the possibility of negotiations with al-Qaeda-linked militant groups, who are the main forces fighting to topple the government in the Arab country.

“Regarding the militants, if they give up their arms we’ll be ready to discuss with them anything, like with any other citizen,” he said in an interview with Italy’s state-run Rai News 24 television network on Sunday.

“We cannot discuss with al-Qaeda offshoots and organizations that are affiliated with al-Qaeda,” Assad said, adding, “We cannot negotiate with the people who ask for foreign intervention and military intervention in Syria.”

He also vowed to abide by the UN resolution calling for the elimination of country’s chemical weapons.

“Of course we have to comply. This is our history to comply with every treaty we sign,” Assad said.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on September 27 to pass a resolution requiring Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile.

Under the document, the council “decides, in the event of noncompliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.”

As the Syrian army is struggling with internal and external threats of wider conflicts, people have been forced to live under strict rules imposed by some of the al-Qaeda-linked militant groups who benefit international silence on their crimes.

A US plan to bomb the country over a chemical attack near Syrian capital on August 21 was canceled with Russia’s mediation that sought to ease the tensions by putting Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons under international control.

The offer was widely welcomed both in Syria and other countries that were concerned by US military ambitions and its regional consequences.

Source: Alalam

Al-Qaeda, FSA militants clash near Turkish border

image

Terrorists linked to al-Qaeda have overrun a Syrian town near the border with Turkey after fierce clashes broke out with units of the so-called Free Syrian Army militant group.

Terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Wednesday stormed the town of Azaz, 5km from the Syrian-Turkish border, and killed at least five FSA militants, the Syrian opposition said, adding that 100 people were taken captive.

Reports in the late evening said that fighting was continuing and getting closer to a border crossing at Bab al-Salama, which is controlled by the FSA.

The fighting is the most severe since tensions mounted earlier this year between the foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government.

The fighting could pose a dilemma for the Turkish government, which has been allowing militants to cross into Syria from its territory, but may not be keen to see al-Qaeda so close to its border.

Abu Ahmad, a militant in Azaz, claimed: “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has seized complete control of Azaz. They are in control of the town’s entrances.” 

Abu Louay al-Halabi, another militant, said the fighting broke out after the Storm of the North Brigade, an FSA unit, resisted attempts by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant to abduct a German doctor working as a volunteer at a private hospital in Azaz.

“By taking Azaz, the Islamic State is a step closer to controlling the crossing. Its objective seems to be taking over the whole countryside north of Aleppo,” he said.

The Syria-Turkey border areas have been rocked by insurgency and bomb attacks in recent days.

A bomb attack struck the Bab al-Hawa crossing on Tuesday, and Turkish fighter jets shot down a Syrian regime helicopter when it strayed into Turkish airspace on Monday.

Crisis in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.

The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.
Continue reading

US Military: Al-Qaeda produced sarin for chemical attacks in Syria

image

The National Ground Intelligence Center report states that Al-Qaeda in Iraq produced the sarin gas and then shipped it to the al-Nusra Front for use in Syria

A leaked US military document reveals that Al-Qaeda possessed and produced “kitchen-grade” sarin gas for chemical attacks against the Syrian people, further adding to the evidence that the Al-Qaeda militants launched the Aug. 21 chemical attack in Damascus as a false flag in order to frame Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

In May, Turkish anti-terror police confiscated a two-kilogram cylinder of sarin gas from members of the Jabhat al-Nusra Front based in Southern Turkey near the Syrian border, according to a classified report obtained by WND.

The National Ground Intelligence Center report states that Al-Qaeda in Iraq produced the sarin gas and then shipped it to the al-Nusra Front for use in Syria, a report in the InfoWars said.

Two months prior to the confiscation, 26 people and Syrian government forces died from exposure to sarin gas delivered in a rocket attack on Aleppo, a city in the northwestern region of Syria near the Turkish border.

“The rocket came from a place controlled by the terrorists and which is located close to the Turkish territory,” according to a Syrian government statement in response to the attack. “One can assume that the weapon came from Turkey.”

The document also describes the sarin seized in Turkey as not being military grade but rather a “kitchen variety,” which corresponds to the sarin gas used in the Aug. 21 chemical attack near Damascus, according to Dr. Yossef Bodansky, a top terrorism expert.

Bodansky said that unlike military grade sarin, the sarin used in the Damascus attack did not accumulate around the victims’ hair and clothing.

If it did, said Bodansky, the sarin molecules would have detached from the victims and “killed or injured the first responders who touched the victims’ bodies without protective clothes … and masks.”

Yet there were no reported casualties among the first respondents to the attack, none of whom were wearing adequate protective gear.

High-level US intelligence officials reinforce Bodansky’s conclusion, stating that they are not convinced that the Aug. 21 chemical attack was carried out per Assad’s orders or that it was even carried out by syrian government.

They are not even sure that Assad even knew about the attack beforehand.

Intercepted Syrian military communications reveal that after the Aug. 21 attack, the Syrian general staff were in a complete panic thinking that their 155th Brigade launched an unauthorized chemical attack in defiance of prior orders not to do so.

This led to Syrian intelligence interrogating the major in charge of the brigade for three days, who adamantly denied firing any missiles and encouraged the general staff to count his weapons inventory.

All of the brigade’s missiles were accounted for.

Pierre Piccinin da Prata, a Belgium writer who was kidnapped by the al-Nursa Front, said that during his captivity he overheard his rebel captors admit that they carried out the Aug. 21 chemical attack as a false flag in order to lure the United States into the conflict to help Al-Qaeda topple Assad.

While the Obama administration continues to push our military into entering Syria as “al-Qaeda’s air force,” fighting alongside extremists recruited and armed by the CIA, the evidence strongly points to the al-Nusra Front, designated by the US as a terrorist organization, as responsible for the Aug. 21 chemical attack.
Continue reading