Syria militants ask American senator for US targeted strikes on Hezbollah

US Republican Senator John McCain (center) breifly slips into Syria to meet with leaders of foreign-sponsored militants.

Hawkish US Republican Senator John McCain has slipped into Syria to meet with foreign-backed insurgent commanders, who asked for US bombing of Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, “targeted strikes,” and the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria.

McCain’s brief and largely publicity intrusion into Syria came on Monday near Syria’s Bab Salameh border crossing with Turkey, where he reportedly held talks with leaders of foreign-sponsored militant group, so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), according to his spokesman Brian Rogers cited in US-based press reports.

During McCain’s meeting with Gen. Salim Idriss, leader of FSA’s “Supreme Military Council,” and other militant commanders, Idriss asked the US to supply the insurgent gangs with “heavy weapons, set up a no-fly zone in Syria and conduct airstrikes on Hezbollah,” the Islamic resistance movement in Lebanon, The Los Angeles Times reports on Tuesday.

Idriss further described McCain’s visit as “very useful,” and called on “the US government to take the decision to support” the militant gangs “with weapons and ammunition, antitank missiles and antiaircraft weapon.”

“Of course we want a no-fly zone and we ask for strategic strikes against Hezbollah both inside Lebanon and inside Syria,” Idriss is also cited as saying.

FSA’s political and media coordinator, Louay al-Mokdad further said of McCain’s meeting with anti-Damascus militant leaders: “We asked about targeted strikes… He (McCain) was very open and promised to push for us with the US administration.”

Al-Mokdad is further quoted as saying in a Washington Postarticle on Tuesday that the US senator and the militant gang leaders also “discussed solutions to help remove” President Bashar al-Assad from power amid growing reports on faltering “military and diplomatic efforts to oust him.”

The US-based dailies, however, do not elaborate on what the foreign-backed militant leaders might mean by asking for US “targeted” or “strategic strikes” in Syria and against Hezbollah, but observers believe that they are referring to the use of assassination drones used as part of the Obama administration’s controversial targeted-killing program.

According to the Times report, McCain was not able to meet with many of the foreign-backed militant commanders as planned “because of the Syrian government offensive in Qusayr,” a major city on its border with Lebanon, where the US and the anti-Damascus militants have expressed serious concerns about major Syrian gains, alleging a Hezbollah support role.

“Part of the difficulty in arranging this meeting is that many of the commanders McCain was hoping to meet were on the front lines in Qusayr,” said Elizabeth O’Bagy, political director of the US-based Syrian Emergency Task Force, who accompanied the American Senator into the Syrian territory.

O’Bagy, whose “nonprofit” group provides support for the foreign-sponsored militants inside Syria, further said that McCain’s office “approached the task force two weeks ago about visiting with rebel leader,” the report adds.

McCain’s covert intrusion into Syria, the report adds, came as part of his Middle East tour, during which he has “met with officials from Egypt and Lebanon, spoke at the World Economic Forum in Jordan and visited American troops in Turkey.

While in Jordan, the pro-Israeli American Senator, who is the top Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has also called for the installation of US Patriot batteries on Jordan’s border with Syria as a “first step” in establishing a “buffer zone inside Syria” to better facilitate Washington’s military backing of anti-Damascus insurgents and a possible invasion of the country.

We are prepared to take every step to protect the Jordanian regime’s stability, its people and its territory. The provision of Patriot missiles comes under this protection,” he reportedly said in a interview with Jordan Times newspaper.

Source: Press TV

‘Phoenix jihadist’s’ dad claims son worked in Syria for CIA

Photo from facebook.com/eric.harroun

As US Army veteran Eric Harroun awaits trial in Virginia for allegedly fighting alongside al-Qaeda supporters, the man’s father claims he was working for the CIA and was reporting back to the agency from Syria.

Harroun, a 30-year-old American from Phoenix, Arizona, has been charged by the US government for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (namely a rocket propelled grenade launcher) to conduct an attack against the Syrian government. The US Army veteran dubbed by media ‘Phoenix jihadist’ appeared in numerous videos alongside members of the al-Nusra Front, designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization in December, but which has also been fighting alongside the Syrian opposition to take down the Assad regime. To date, 29 US-backed Syrian opposition groups have linked with al-Nusra, and have signed a petition calling for the support of the Islamist group that the White House believes is a branch of al-Qaeda.

Photo from facebook.com/eric.harroun

According to FBI documents, Harroun traveled to Turkey last November and joined the fight led by the Free Syrian Army shortly thereafter. His father, Darryl Harroun, on Thursday told reporters that he doesn’t understand why the US government arrested his son, who he says was working for the Central Intelligence Agency.

He referred to his son as a ‘patriotic’ American who would never get involved with al-Qaeda, and claims he was  gathering information for the US government.

“I know he was doing some work for the CIA over there,”  the man’s father said. “I know for a fact that he was passing information onto the CIA.”

After seeing the documents regarding his son’s charges, Harroun told a CBS News reporter that it is all inaccurate and misleading and that the truth will eventually come out, since his son was simply gathering intelligence.

“About 99 percent of that stuff that you read on there is a bunch of bull,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any truth in any of this – he’s very patriotic” Continue reading

Syrian Army’s operations in Edlib and Damascus countryside

 

Syrian Army Forces have carried out military operation against Free Army militia

The Army operations have been started in Duma area of Damascus countryside, where Syrian Army killed 18 gunmen near the international road, according to Breaking News Network reporter who assures that there are no victims of Syrian Army.

The reporter points out that other clashes break out near al-Eb bridge between Duma and al-Shefonia, and others in Harasta resulting the death of 12 armed men and many injuries of Syrian Army

Syrian Army targets the militants in Edlib countryside

The forces of Syrian Arab Army have carried out many military operation against the armed militia in Banish town of Edlib countryside, what resulted in the death of 15 armed men, while the army has targeted many spots of the insurgents near Taftanaz airport claiming dozen of deaths Continue reading

A Christian community trapped and completely worn out in the north of Aleppo

About a thousand Christians among Greek-Orthodoxs and Roman Catholics are trapped in the small village of Yaakoubieh, all Christian, in the north of Aleppo. They are completely worn out, with no food, no electricity, lack of basic necessities, and find themselves in the midst of heavy fighting between loyalist forces and opposition groups. They are unable to leave the village and “are in terrible condition, where they risk extinction.” This is the alarm launched through Fides Agency by the Franciscan friar Fr. François Kouseiffi OFM cap, pastor of the church of San Francesco in Hamra (Beirut), who deals with the care and assistance of about 500 Syrian refugees. The refugees have reported to Fr. Kouseiffi the plight of the village of Yaakoubieh, and where many of their relatives are. Before the war there were about 3,000 Christians in the village between Armenians, Orthodoxs and Catholics, and now almost all have fled. In the village there are Franciscan nuns who, says the friar, share the fate of civilians. “The situation is very serious. The faithful are trapped. We are trying in every way to help them to come to Lebanon. In past days, some of our emissaries left to go there, but the journey is dangerous and, after more than a day’s journey by land, they reached Aleppo. The contacts with the remaining Christians are sporadic. They launched the alarm for their survival. They risk of dying in the general silence.”. The Syrian Christians are paying the price of the destabilization of the country and suffer like other Syrian citizens but, like other minorities, they are the most vulnerable groups. Out of the approximately four million Syrian refugees, the Syrian Christians are about 500 thousand, 25 thousand of which are in Lebanon. In past days, recalls Fr. Kouseiffi, “the wave of frost has made their condition even more difficult: we are in the middle of a humanitarian emergency. They talk about their drama, their hopes, and dreams of a better future for their country”. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 10/01/2013)

Source: News Vatican

Syrian Popular Forces Besiege Terrorists Near al-Yarmouk Camp in Reef Damascus

TEHRAN (FNA)- Popular forces succeeded in besieging the armed rebels near the Palestinian al-Yarmouk refugee camp in Reef (outskirts of) Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday.

The clashes are still underway around al-Yarmouk camp in Reef Damascus and the Syrian army is preparing to enter the camp, al-Alam satellite television network reported.

A commander of the Syrian popular forces told al-Alam that they are in control of security around al-Yarmouk camp.

The terrorists have tried hard in the last several weeks to seize control of Reef (outskirts of) Damascus from the army, but to no avail.

Terrorist operations have been on the increase in different parts of Syria ever since a number of armed rebel groups convened in Doha, Qatar, last month and formed a so-called coalition of the opposition. The coalition has provided the US, France and their allies with an alibi to extend their arms and financial backups to the terrorist groups very openly.

Weeks before the Obama administration and other Western nations recognized the new Syrian opposition coalition as “the legitimate representative” of the Syrian people, Syrian rebels were receiving training in the use of light and heavy weapons with the backing of the Jordanian, British and US governments, participants in the training said.

The training took place as far back as October and involved hundreds of rebels, the participants said. In one case, the rebel participant said American intelligence officers observed what was taking place. Another said British officers were helping to organize the training. The training itself was handled by Jordanian military officers, the rebels said, McClatchy reported.  Continue reading

Siege of Bani Walid: Foreign fighters, phosphorus bombs and nerve gas (Graphic images)

The besieged Libyan city of Bani Walid has been plunged into chaos. Several sources told RT the former Gaddafi regime stronghold is under attack by militias bolstered by foreign mercenaries, and they used banned weapons like white phosphorous.

The sources denied reports of the last few days that Bani Walid was retaken by the Libyan government. Residents said that militia forces have continued their assault, while preventing the refugees who fled from reentering the city.

A man who claimed his relatives are trapped inside the besieged city spoke with RT, saying, “There is no food; there is nothing to support the life of people. And the militia does not allow anyone to come back to their homes.”

“They are demolishing homes with machinery and tanks. There is no communication or internet so people are not able to connect with each other,” the source said. He is currently in Egypt, and refuses to reveal his identity over fears of personal safety.

He believes the real reason for the inoperable communications is that many people have been killed inside Bani Walid by the forces besieging the city and now they are trying to prevent information about the killings to be leaked outside.

The militia attackers have claimed they are battling ‘pro-Gaddafi’ forces, but the source slammed that motive as a “lie and a dirty game.”

“They use foreign snipers, I think from Qatar or Turkey, with Qatar covering all the costs,” he said. He claimed that a ship with weapons and other equipment recently docked in the port city of Misrata, where the assault on Bani Walid is allegedly being directed.

“There is no government in Libya. Groups of militia control everything. They don’t care about Libya, they don’t care about the nation,” he said, adding allegations that the majority of militia fighters have dual citizenship or passports from other countries.

“We ask the envoy [Special Representative] of the Secretary-General of the United Nations [for Libya] Mr. Tarik Mitri – where is he now?” he said. “Where is the United Nations? Where is the EU? Where is the Human Rights Watch? We ask for an intervention now as soon as possible – please!”

In an October 23 UN session, the US blocked a statement on the violence in Bani Walid drafted by Russia, which condemned the ongoing conflict in the city and calling for a peaceful resolution.

RT Photo from Bani Walid. RT source. The photo could not be independently verified.

Witnesses claim militia used chemical weapons in Bani Walid

“I can confirm that pro-government militias used internationally prohibited weapons. They used phosphorus bombs and nerve gas. We have documented all this in videos, we recorded the missiles they used and the white phosphorus raining down from these missiles,” Bani Walid-based activist and lawyer Afaf Yusef told RT. Continue reading

US assists, funnels arms to Syrian insurgents: Russia

Insurgent fires towards an army position in Karm al-Jabal district of the northern city of Aleppo on October 22, 2012. (File photo)

Russia says the United States assists and coordinates arms deliveries to foreign-sponsored insurgents battling the Syrian government forces.

“Washington is aware of the deliveries of various weapons to illegal armed groups active in Syria. Moreover, judging by the declarations of US officials published in US media, the US coordinates and provides logistical assistance in such deliveries,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Russia’s chief military officer said that Syrian armed groups have acquired US-made weapons, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.

General Nikolai Makarov said it was not clear who had delivered the arms.

“We have information that the rebels fighting the Syrian army have shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles of several states, including Stingers made in the United States,” he said.

“We need to still find out who has delivered them,” General Makarov noted.  Continue reading

US deploys troops to Turkey amid Syria unrest: US General

Lieutenant General Mark Phillip Hertling

The commanding general of the US Army Europe (USAREUR) says the Pentagon has recently sent a number of American soldiers to Turkey in a bid to assist Ankara in handling the spillover of the Syrian crisis.

“We have had a relatively few number of US Army Europe personnel in Turkey recently,” Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper quoted Lieutenant General Mark Phillip Hertling as saying.

The general added, “Some of that has been sharing intelligence.”

Hertling noted that Turkey is concerned about how to handle the humanitarian crisis on its border with Syria.

“It’s October. What [Turkey is] very concerned about is the approach of winter, and the way they can address the humanitarian crisis on the border,” he pointed out.

If Turkey asks for corporation, American soldiers could be used in evacuation operations, Hertling said. “However, no request has been made yet by Turkey.”

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011.

Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factors behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country and that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey are arming the opposition.

Continue reading

At least 40 killed, over 70 injured in three blasts that rocked Aleppo

Photo from twitter.com user @NMSyria

Syrian state TV reports of three powerful explosions in downtown Aleppo, the financial hub and largest city of the country. Reportedly the blasts were caused by car bombs that terrorists delivered to the city’s main square.

Syrian officials report 27 fatalities and 72 injured in Aleppo terror act.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that activists on the ground report of dozens of casualties, most of them military servicemen. Continue reading