Hezbollah Kills Nine ISIS Members, Including Two High-Level Commanders

Since Hezbollah joined the Syrian Civil War on the government’s side, they have fought repeatedly against ISIS and other rebel factions.

Hezbollah fighters stand on their armed vehicles

Hezbollah fighters stand on their armed vehicles and hold their party flags, as they parade during a rally to mark the 13th day of Ashoura, in the southern market town of Nabatiyeh, Lebanon, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014

Hezbollah’s television station, al-Manar, is reporting that their forces launched two separate attacks on ISIS forces along the Lebanon-Syria border, killing nine fighters including two who they identified as ISIS commanders.

The fighting took place on the outskirts of the border town of Arsal, where ISIS and al-Qaeda have repeatedly launched attacks on Lebanese forces. Hezbollah says they overran a “meeting” being held between the ISIS leaders in the area.

Hezbollah claims the meeting was to plan an offensive against Baalbek, a major Lebanese city in the area, and identified the two slain ISIS commanders as Abu Akrama al-Zouhouri and Ahmad al-Mohsen. The others slain were not identified.

Since Hezbollah joined the Syrian Civil War on the government’s side, they have fought repeatedly against ISIS and other rebel factions. The fighting has mostly been inside Syria, but has also brought attempts from the Islamist factions to attack Shi’ite targets in Lebanon.

(Source / 20.06.2015)

Erdogan and Khoja Arrive in Mardin to Mark World Refugee Day

On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Khaled Khoja, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie have arrived in Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin to meet with Syrian refugees.

The delegation will have breakfast with Syrian refugees to draw the world’s attention to the plight of more than three million Syrian refugees and the six million who are internally displaced.

A UN report shows that Syria beat Afghanistan as the world’s biggest source of refugees last year. The main acceleration has been since early 2011 when war erupted in Syria, propelling it into becoming the world’s single largest driver of displacement.

“I believe things will get worse before they eventually start to get better,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said at a news conference in Istanbul.

Guterres said the responsibility to protect Syrian refugees should not be lie solely with Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and called on the European Union and other parts of the world to open their borders to refugees.

“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “It is terrifying that on the one hand there is more and more impunity for those starting conflicts, and on the other there is seeming utter inability of the international community to work together to stop wars and build and preserve peace.”

There were 7.6 million displaced people in Syria by the end of last year and almost 4 million Syrian refugees, mainly living in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

(Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies / 20.06.2015)

Israel’s ex-minister for military affairs not detained in London

Israeli former minister for military affairs, Shaul Mofaz (C)

Israeli former minister for military affairs, Shaul Mofaz

Israeli former minister for military affairs, Shaul Mofaz, has arrived in London and gone to his hotel despite earlier speculations about his arrest over war crimes.

Mofaz, scheduled to attend a conference in London, landed in the British capital late on Saturday on a flight from Tel Aviv, and went through customs and border control without being arrested.

Earlier, there were speculations that he might have been arrested upon his arrival over war crimes he committed against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank during his 2002–2006 tenure.

Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs and the Israeli embassy in London had struggled frantically ahead of Mofaz’s trip to prevent his potential arrest, which could be considered an embarrassment for the Israeli regime.

However, British ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould had notified Mofaz and the Israeli embassy in London that they could not secure diplomatic immunity for the former minister.

Under UK’s Universal Jurisdiction law, British citizens can press war crime charges against foreigners, who could be arrested upon entry into Britain once an indictment has been issued.

In 2011, the British government changed the law to make it more difficult to obtain arrest warrants against Israeli figures by requiring the consent ofthe Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). However, the law only applies to officials visiting the UK in an official capacity, and those making personal trips can be arrested.

A number of Israeli officials, including former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, have been targeted by the law.

In 2009, ahead of Livni’s visit to London, a court in the UK issued an arrest warrant for her over crimes committed by the Israeli army during the 2008-2009 war in Gaza. Livni, the Israeli foreign minister at the time, did not go through with the trip.

In 2005, Major General Doron Almog, a senior Israeli military official, flew to London but decided not to leave the plane when he was informed that the British police were waiting to arrest him.

An arrest warrant had been issued against him for his role in the controversial demolition of Palestinian homes in the town of Rafah in Gaza.

(Source / 20.06.2015)

BELFAST STANDS WITH KHADER ADNAN

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Scores of éirígí and pro-Palestinian activists descended upon the old Andersonstown Barracks site in West Belfast yesterday [Tuesday, June 16th 2015], to stand in solidarity with Palestinian Hunger Striker Khader Adnan. Speaking after the protest, Pádraic Mac Coitir, éirígí’s Belfast Chairperson, said, “Adnan commenced his current hunger strike on May 6th of this year, having previously committed to another strike lasting 66 days in December of 2011, which 10257262_795869897119758_8639250247524165001_oeventually won him his freedom. What was considered a victory in the Palestinian struggle against the ‘Administrative Detention’ process, ‘Internment’, wasn’t to last, as the Zionist regime re-arrested Adnan in January of 2012, starting his latest round of indefinite detention. There are reportedly 424 Palestinians held under administrative detention orders at present, including children – more than double the 181 held at the same time last year, with some Palestinians having been held for over five years without trial.” He continued, “Khader’s struggle, and the struggle for Palestinian prisoners against the Zionist regime is something we can all identify with here in Ireland. The Irish people are no strangers to Internment without trial, and prison struggles have played a huge role in our history. It falls upon people like us, people that can identify with the Palestinian cause, to continue to build solidarity in Ireland and abroad and to do everything that they can to highlight that.” “As Khader continues his hunger strike, rejecting food, salts or additives, his resolve will push him through much physical and mental anguish – but he can’t go on forever. Now more than ever we must do everything that we can to highlight his cause. With that in mind éirígí are organising further protests in support of Khader in the coming weeks – commencing with the next protest on the Mountpottinger Road, Short Strand, Belfast, at 2PM on Sunday 21st of June. We’re asking supporters to stand in Solidarity with Adnan and his comrades. All relevant banners & flags welcome.”

11297780_887472441317878_779349269_n 11356257_887472427984546_888595295_n   More photos of the protest can be found on our Belfast éirígí page at: Khader Adnan Solidarity Protest

(Source / 20.06.2015)

Bahrain frees Sunni opposition leader after four years

Bahraini demonstrators hold up placards bearing a portrait of jailed political activist Ibrahim Sharif, at an anti-government protest in the village of Karranah, west of Manama, in 2014

DUBAI (AFP) – Bahrain released at dawn on Saturday a Sunni opposition leader who was jailed more than four years for involvement in Shiite-led anti-government protests, his party announced.

The Waed secular group said on its official Twitter account that party chief Ibrahim Sharif was freed.

Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been rocked by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests in 2011 demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Sharif had played a prominent role in the month-long protests and was later among a group of 20 activists tried for plotting to overthrow the Sunni rulers of Shiite-majority Bahrain.

In June 2011, eight Shiite activists were jailed for life, and the rest for two to 15 years. Sharif received a five-year sentence.

The judgement sparked concern in Washington which criticised the “severity” of the sentences and the use of military tribunals to try civilians.

Sharif’s release comes four days after a Bahrain court jailed prominent Shiite opposition leader Ali Salman for four years for inciting disobedience and hatred in the kingdom.

Salman heads Al-Wefaq Shiite political association, one of the key forces behind the 2011 protests demanding reforms in Bahrain, and his arrest in December had drawn US and Iranian condemnation.

At least 89 people have been killed in clashes with security forces since 2011, while hundreds have been arrested and put on trial, rights groups say.

Protesters continue to clash frequently with security forces in Shiite villages outside Manama.

(Source / 20.06.2015)

Mistrust blights coordination between US and Iraqi militias in IS fight

Tensions between American forces and the pro-Iranian Shia militias is limiting the US role in the war against IS

Iraqi Shia fighters from the Popular Mobilisation units ride on the back of a vehicle in Baiji, north of Tikrit – June 10, 2015

BAGHDAD – A breakdown in trust between American forces in Iraq and the Iraqi Shia-dominated Popular Mobilisation forces is limiting the role that the US military can play in the war against Islamic State, Iraqi army and militia commanders have told Middle East Eye.

The tension within the uneasy alliance of US and Iran-backed militias fighting IS in Iraq has seen prominent Shia militias accuse US jets of targeting their fighters in the battlefield.

At the request of the Iraqi government, approximately 3,550 American troops – in addition to 1,500 multinational troops – have been approved for deployment to Iraq since last August. They have been sent to provide training, equipment, advice and assistance to the Iraqi security forces and have been deployed in al-Assad Air Base, Camp Taji, Besmaya base, Erbil and Habbinayah air base.

However, tensions have been growing.

Most of the Iraqi Shia militias, including Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kataib Hezballah-Iraq and Badr Organisation, which represent the backbone of the Popular Mobilisation forces have been accusing the US military jets of deliberately targeting their fighters in the battlefield, instead of IS sites. The Popular Mobilisation force is a government-linked body established last June to co-ordinate the affairs of all the non-formal armed forces fighting IS.

The allegations are based on a number of airstrikes carried out by the US-led coalition that, by mistake, targeted several Iraqi military units and Popular Mobilisation forces that were stationed on the front lines in Salahudeen and Anbar province over the last six months, Iraqi security officials told MEE.

“We have a problem within the command and control system with the coalition forces and this has been causing a bug in coordination regarding the airstrikes,” a senior Iraqi military officer, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media, told MEE.

“These mistakes (strikes against the Iraqi forces and Shiite militias) were repeated several times in several areas. At the end of last year, more than 50 Shia fighters from the Popular Mobilisation forces were killed in an area near Balad (70 km north of Baghdad),” the officer said.

Most of the commanders and fighters of the armed Shia factions which are currently fighting the Sunni militants under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilisation had previously fought US troops during the period of 2003-2011 when the American army was regarded as the occupying force.

The three prominent Shia militias are linked to the great regional power of Iran which has armed, equipped and funded them for years. For these groups hostility to the US troops has always been an essential part of their ideology.

“We will never, ever participating in a military action (against IS militants) with the Americans. Not working or fighting alongside the US forces is one of our principles as an Islamic Resistance,” Jawad al-Telebawi, the spokesperson of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a key Shiite militia, told MEE.

“We cannot believe that despite the high quality of technology which is owned by the US-led coalition, their aircraft mistakenly and frequently struck our troops. It was obvious that they were interfering in favour of Daesh,” Telebawi said while using the Arabic word for IS.

A US-led military coalition spokesman denied targeting any anti-IS forces, and pointed out that the coordinates of strikes are determined by the Iraqi security forces and are subjected to detailed scrutiny by the coalition which works to ensure that there will be no civilian or allied casualties.

“The coalition has not struck any anti-IS forces locations. All strikes are coordinated and requested by the ISF [Iraqi security forces]. There is then a detailed process to ensure there is zero tolerance levels of civilian casualties, collateral damage, and that there has been positive identification of ISIL targets,” the spokesperson told MEE in an email, while using another term for IS.

“The coalition conducted an investigation into an allegation that a coalition airstrike mistakenly killed Iraqi security forces near Beiji on December 24, 2014, and concluded that the claims could not be substantiated,” she added.

US troops’ real role

Although the US-led international coalition recognises that the Popular Mobilisation forces play a major role in the destruction of IS’s capabilities in Iraq, the level of cooperation between the two parties is almost non-existent, which reduces the effectiveness of airstrikes carried out by the coalition, Iraqi military officials said.

“They (US forces) refuse to participate in any battle whenever the forces of Hashid (the Popular Mobilisation) are involved, and their (the coalition) air raids near the battlefield end up being shy and ineffective,” a federal security adviser linked to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence told MEE on the condition of anonymity.

“Now they (US forces) are totally focusing on the training of the Sunni tribesmen in Ain al-Assad and Habbaniyah air bases in Anbar,” the adviser said.

Most of the Sunni-dominated areas in the northern and western parts of the country have been under the control of IS militants since last summer after the dramatic collapse of the Iraqi army.

The US administration believes that the participation of Sunnis in the liberation battles to retake their areas is crucial to defeat IS and break the link between the militant organisation and its local supporters.

So far the US-led coalition has trained five brigades consist of 9,000 troops including Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga (the Kurdish forces), the US-led coalition spokesman, said.

“The coalition forces are not boots on the ground. We are not involved in ground combat operations. We are involved in training Iraqi security forces, advising and assisting at the Iraqi headquarters locations and coordinating airstrikes with the Iraqi government,” the spokesperson said.

“As counter-ISIL offensive operations continue, we can support all elements of anti-ISIL forces [including the] Iraqi Army and Counterterrorism Service, Popular Mobilisation Forces, Sunni tribal fighters, the Peshmerga, Federal Police and others,” she added.

(Source / 20.06.2015)

Amsterdam en de stedenband met Tel Aviv – deel II

Donderdag 18 juni was er een vergadering van de commissie Algemene Zaken van de gemeenteraad Amsterdam over het onderwerp om een stedenband met Tel Aviv en Ramallah aan te gaan. In een eerder artikel is hier al een eerste uitleg gegeven. Dit is deel 2 waar de uitslag van de commissievergadering wordt besproken. Op 1 juli zal er een raadsvergadering gehouden waar het definitieve standpunt wordt ingenomen door de verschillende partijen.

Nadat de rook was opgetrokken van de commissievergadering bleek dat coalitiepartij SP en de oppositiepartijen PvdA, Partij voor de Dieren en GroenLinks tegen de stedenband te zijn.  Eerder had de SP aangegeven kritisch te zijn, maar niet tegen te stemmen, echter tijdens de vergadering trok SP-fractievoorzitter Daniël Peters het standpunt in en gaf aan: ‘Op korte termijn is er geen uitzicht op een duurzame vrede. Wat gaan we doen als de raketten straks weer over en weer vliegen? Als Ramallah een Hamas-burgemeester krijgt? Als Israël de bezettingspolitiek doorzet? Wij zijn bang dat deze stedenband meer problemen geeft dan het oplost.’ (tekst AT5).

Ook op de site van SP Rood Amsterdam wordt aangegeven dat de partij geen stedenband wil met Tel Aviv en contactpersoon Sebastiaan Proos laat het volgende neerschrijven: “Een stedenband met het administratieve centrum van een land wat routinematig mensenrechten schendt en schuldig is aan apartheid is iets waar wij als socialisten geen goed gevoel bij hebben.”

gazademonstratie

Voorstel gemeente

Het onderzoek naar de stedenband met Tel Aviv liep al sinds vorig jaar, maar kwam in de koelkast terecht omdat de SP in augustus bezwaar had gemaakt. Maar half juni 2015 kwam het stadsbestuur weer met het nieuws naar buiten dat ze een stedenband aan wilde gaan met Tel Aviv en Ramallah. Heel slim had het bestuur Ramallah erbij getrokken zodat er misschien een meerderheid in de raad zou zijn om de stedenband met Tel Aviv goed te keuren. Volgens De Telegraaf had burgemeester getracht om de linkse partijen te paaien door het voorstel om gelijktijdig een stedenband met Ramallah aan te gaan. Ramallah stond n het voorstel maar geen Gaza. Als de burgemeester ballen had gehad, had hij Tel Aviv en Gaza gekozen. De vraag is of er dan een meerderheid was geweest voor het voorstel.

Maar het bestuur had niet op de SP gerekend, die dus tegen het voorstel zal stemmen, hoewel Daniël Peters natuurlijk in zijn toespraak nog moest natrappen naar Hamas, een democratisch gekozen politieke partij in Gaza, met een opmerking als “… Hamas bestaat ook nog steeds … “ en “Als Ramallah een Hamas-burgemeester krijgt?”

De Telegraaf wist nog fijntjes te melden dat de linkse partijen ongevoelig waren voor het gepaai van de burgemeester, dit mede onder druk van “zo’n 200 luidruchtige pro-Palestijnse actievoerders.  Het onderwerp staat over enkele weken nog op de raadsagenda, maar zal daar worden weggestemd.”

De Raad

De gemeenteraad van Amsterdam bestaat momenteel uit 8 partijen en 45 leden: D66 (met 14 zetels), PvdA (10 zetels), VVD (6 zetels), SP (6 zetels), GroenLinks (6 zetels), Partij voor de Dieren (1 zetel), CDA (1 zetel) en de Partij voor de Ouderen (met 1 zetel).

Als de leden van de commissies het standpunt van hun partij hebben aangegeven, dan zou op dit moment PvdA + SP + GroenLInks + Partij voor de Dieren reeds tegen het voorstel van de stedenband zijn, wat dus inhoudt 23 van de 45 raadsleden. Een krappe meerderheid waarbij geen persoon geen eigenzinnige mening mag hebben of afwezig mag zijn. Voor de actievoerders is het dus nog even tijd om andere raadsleden te benaderen, een echte lobby is dus nodig !

Een van de mogelijkheden zou de VVD deze keer kunnen zijn, daar de VVD de stedenband met Ramallah niet ziet zitten. Volgens fractievoorzitter Marja Ruigrok wil de partij eerst weten wat voor afspraken gemaakt worden: ‘Het moet wel op basis van wederkerigheid zijn, en geen verkapte subsidie worden. Er moet eerst duidelijk worden op welk gebied we precies samenwerken. Dus wij moeten ons standpunt daarover nog in de fractie bepalen.’ (tekst AT5).

Inspreker Jaap Hamburger

De heer Jaap Hamburger was een van de vier insprekers tijdens de vergadering van de commissie. In zijn toespraak gaf Jaap het volgende aan de commissieleden mee: “ … Mijn naam is Jaap Hamburger, ik ben voorzitter van de joodse organisatie Een Ander Joods Geluid, gevestigd in Amsterdam. Mijn organisatie, met honderden sympathisanten, is gekant tegen de voorgenomen stedenband met Tel Aviv … Israël lijkt slechts gebrand op het doorzetten van de eigen politieke agenda, samen te vatten als: annexatie van grote delen van Palestina, versnippering van het overblijvende gebied en blijvende ondergeschiktheid van de Palestijnse bevolking. Een stedenband verhevigt zo de tegenstellingen die rond dit conflict in de stad al bestaan, tegenstellingen waar niet alleen de burgemeester bezorgd over is, maar wij van Een Ander Joods Geluid en diverse Marokkaanse en Turkse organisaties niet minder … Het spijt mij als jood te moeten vaststellen dat het hedendaags zionisme in Israël op alle bestuurlijke niveaus en in alle lagen van de bevolking een politiek voorstaat die Palestijnen in hun rechten en vrijheden beknot, ook als zij inwoners van Israël zijn. Er zijn in Israël zelf meer dan vijftig wettelijke regelingen en voorschriften met discriminerende werking ten aanzien van Palestijnen. De belangrijkste daarvan betreffen stedelijke uitbreidingsplannen, het recht op grondbezit, immigratie, mogelijkheden een partner te kiezen onder Palestijnen buiten Israël in samenhang met woon- en vestigingsrechten. Die discriminerende wetten en regelingen houden geen halt voor de stadsgrenzen van Tel Aviv, meneer van der Laan … Weten de leden van de Cie. eigenlijk hoe dat samenleven ooit is begonnen, in 1948? Ik citeer de voormalige Nederlandse ambassadeur Erik Ader, partijgenoot van de burgemeester, over hoe dat er toen aan toeging: “…mortieren van Etzel, -een van de toenmalige Joodse ondergrondse terreurorganisaties- bombarderen meedogenloos het centrum van de stad Jaffa bij Tel Aviv, en bewerkstelligden de massale vlucht van de Arabische bevolking.”

“Deze tekst’, vertelt Ader, “staat in het Engels op een muur in een museum, gelegen tussen Jaffa en Tel Aviv: Israëlische terreurdaden tegen een weerloze burgerbevolking om etnische zuivering op grote schaal te bereiken, open en bloot bezongen voor ieder die het horen wil, de schaamte ver voorbij.

Twintig ton explosieven regende die dag, 25 april 1948, neer op Jaffa. De 80.000 Palestijnse inwoners vluchtte naar het zuidwesten, naar Gaza. Bij het beëindigen van de vijandelijkheden mochten zij, in strijd met het internationaal recht, van Israël niet terug naar hun huizen en zij strandden in de inderhaast opgezette vluchtelingenkampen … ”

Inspreker Ghada Zeidan

Een tweede inspreker was Ghada Zeidan, directeur van Palestine Link. Uit haar toespraak het volgende: “ …  Sinds 2013 overweegt de gemeente Amsterdam op verzoek van Ronnie Naftaniel, de toenmalige directeur van het CIDI, de lobby organisatie voor Israël, een stedenband aan te gaan met Tel-Aviv. Vorig jaar werden de voorbereidingen voor de samenwerking met Tel-Aviv formeel opgeschort vanwege de Israelische aanvallen en invasie van Gaza.

Gedurende 50 dagen werden, nog geen jaar geleden, in totaal meer dan 5000 aanvallen op Gaza uitgevoerd. Daarbij werden 2.200 mensen gedood (waarvan een kwart kinderen en meer dan 11.000 gewonden (waarvan een derde kinderen. 1.000 van die kinderen zijn nu blijvend gehandicapt … Een commissie van de mensenrechtenraad van de Verenigde Naties komt één dezer dagen met een rapport over mensenrechtenschendingen en de oorlogsmisdaden die zijn begaan door het Israëlische leger tijdens die oorlog!  In plaats van de verantwoordelijken naar het Internationaal Gerechtshof in Den Haag te ontbieden, gaat Amsterdam op bezoek in Tel Aviv om de vriendschappelijke betrekkingen aan te halen.  Palestina is veroverd op de Palestijnse bevolking vanuit Tel Aviv, waar tot 1967 en nog altijd veel belangrijke instellingen zijn gehuisvest. Jaffa, nu geheel omsloten door de stad werd bijna geheel ontvolkt in 1948 door de zionistische milities. De vluchtelingen mochten niet terugkeren. In plaats daarvan namen duizenden joden uit Europa, waaronder Amsterdam die daar ondanks de verschrikkingen van de Tweede Wereldoorlog geen verhaal konden doen, de huizen in van verdreven Palestijnen … Eigenlijk duurt de oorlog nog altijd voort in mijn land. Zoals in het midden van de vorige eeuw vele Nederlanders wegkeken, lijken zij dat nu weer te doen. Men blijkt niet te begrijpen dat het aangaan van goede betrekkingen Israël aanmoedigt haar beleid ten aanzien van de Palestijnen nooit en te nimmer te wijzigen. Een stedenband met een stad die meer dan welke stad in Israël vervlochten is met de machtsstructuren en daardoor met de bezetting, een stad waarvan velen die er werken wonen in illegale nederzettingen in bezet Palestijns gebied, een stad die alle sporen van de oorspronkelijke bevolking probeert uit te wissen, een stad dat vele instellingen en bedrijven huisvest die meedoen en profiteren van de bezetting van mijn land, een stad waar men het liefst wegkijkt van dat wat twintig kilometer verderop gebeurt, … zo’n stedenband is een verkeerd signaal. Zeker nu een rechts radicale racistische regering in Jeruzalem zit … “

Natuurlijk waren er ook voorstanders te vinden voor de stedenband met Tel Aviv, o.a. Esther Voet, de directeur van het CIDI, die moet vertrekken wegens onenigheid met het bestuur. Mevrouw Voet schaamde zich om Amsterdammer te zijn op 18 juni. Het kan gebeuren.

Henny A.J. Kreeft
KhamakarPress

OPPOSITION ADVANCE IN QUNEITRA, ALEPPO AND IDLIB, WHILE ASSAD DEMOLISHES 500 HOMES TO DEFEND DAMASCUS:

By Peter Clifford              ©                  (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

This week, two of Syria’s Opposition groups launched new campaigns against the Assad regime in southern Quneitra province.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) aligned Southern Front has attacked regime positions not far from Quneitra city at Tel Al-Buzaq, Tell Kroum, Jaba and Tel Shaar.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Opposition Southern Front Launch New Anti-Assad Campaign from Their Command Centre in Quneitra

Quneitra city is largely empty after it was abandoned following the 7 Day War with Israel and the Opposition will be turning their attention to Ba’ath city, the new provincial capital, the town of Khan Arnba and the Liwa 90 Army base.

Capturing all of these would effectively remove the Assad regime from the province.

The Syrian Government claims it has beaten back the assault, “killing 200 terrorists”, but this does not square with reports on the ground or from Israel where the Iraeli Defence Force (IDF) are able to watch events from the Golan Heights.

Heavy battles can be seen in this video footage, HERE:  and clashes at sunset near Tel Al-Buzaq, HERE:

To the north of Quneitra province near Mount Hermon, a second Opposition grouping of Islamic brigades and including the Al-Nusra Front, have surrounded the Druze village of Al-Hadar and captured a nearby hilltop.

After taking control of Tulul Al-Humur the Opposition also gained a stock of regime SA-7 Manpads ground-to-air missile units.

This area of Quneitra is seen as the first line of defence for Damascus city and if the Opposition overrun it, it will mean that it can supply the areas they still control in Western Ghouta, south of the Syrian capital.

In Aleppo city, Opposition fighters have this week captured all of western Al-Rashidin district and parts of the Al Jazira area which surrounds Assad’s Aleppo Military Research Centre. A report from the area, (Arabic only) is,HERE:

Latest reports suggest that the Opposition are also advancing in Aleppo’s western Khalidiya district, HERE: and once again attacking regime positions due north of Aleppo city in the village of Bashkoy.

The Opposition destroy an Assad 23mm gun in Bashkoy with a TOW missile, HERE:  and capture some parts of the area, HERE:

On the borders of Deraa and Suweida provinces, Opposition fighters continue to attack Tha’lah airbase, HERE:  and HERE:

And in Idlib province the Opposition took the village of Ziyadah Qibliyah earlier in the week from where they are in a good position to attack the regime positions around the Thermal Power Plant on the Ghab Plain, HERE:

There have also been clashes on the frontline at Tall Waset on the Ghab Plain, north-west of Kafranbel, HERE:  and they made a good job of destroying a regime tank hiding under a shelter, HERE:

In the south-west of Idlib province, this footage shows interesting action with a night-camera, HERE:

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

FSA Fires Rockets At Assad Positions in Quneitra 17.06.15

In Latakia province, the Opposition made this fine hit on a regime outpost with a recoilless gun,HERE:

While in Damascus there are even more signs that the Assad regime is preparing for retreat from outlying provinces and for the defence of the capital. On Monday and Tuesday around 500 homes in Darraya near the Mezze airbase were demolished.

Activists said the homes were destroyed in the neighbourhoods of Khaleej, Corniche Al-Jadeed and Mashraq and the destruction included the demolition of 5 mosques.

50,000 people used to live in the quarter, where the Al-Sadeq al-Amin mosque and the Sharaf Specialized Surgical Hospital, as well as several nurseries and schools, were.

Residents have been evicted en-masse and sent outside Damascus or have fled abroad.

Darraya district, which is still controlled mainly by the Opposition though under siege for 2 years, is 8 miles to the south-west of the capital and very near a cluster of Army bases. You can read more in NOW Media.

NOW also reports on how the Druze minority in Syria now find themselves, as a Shia offshoot sect, between “ a rock and a hard place”. If they don’t follow Assad’s Shia Alawites who will defend them? If they do follow Assad he is most likely to just use them as “cannon-fodder”. You can read more, HERE:

The BBC reports on how many Afghan families are in distress not knowing what has happened to their loved-ones. Many travel to Iran looking for work but end up being paid to go to Syria and fight Assad’s war – and never return.

At the UN General Assembly yesterday, Thursday, more than 70 countries signed a letter to the UN Security Council demanding an end to Assad’s use of barrel-bombs and in Cairo on Wednesday Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is reported to have told a visiting delegation from Lebanon headed by their Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, to “brace themselves” and be ready “for the fall of Assad”.

(EDITOR: We all sincerely hope so – as soon as possible!)

KOBANE/CIZIRE UPDATE 103: YPG/FSA PUSH ON FURTHER SOUTH TO SECURE ROJAVA, WHILE LINK-UP ALLOWS MAJOR SUPPLIES TO ARRIVE IN KOBANE CITY:

In an operation to make Cizire and Kobane even more secure from Islamic State (IS) incursion, the YPG launched an operation on Wednesday evening from 2 directons going southwards from Silûk to tighten its hold on the M4 highway and roads coming northwards from Ain Issa and Raqqah.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

YPJ Fighter Overlooking Kobane City

Yesterday the YPG liberated the village of Qantariyê and further to the west Faraj and another unnamed village.

An IS military vehicle was destroyed in the operation and 5 x IS Jihadists were killed.

Also in the last 48 hours the Combined YPG/FSA force has liberated the villages of Sekhra, Khazuga, Til Tewîla, Ca’fer, Bîr Etîyê, Genterî, Tirwazîye, 15 more unnamed villages and an electricity sub-station on the M4 highway.

25 x IS fighters are recorded killed in these battles and 4 members of the YPG/YPJ.

12 kilometres to the south of Silûk near Nevala Hutê the YPG have also discovered a mass grave of IS executed victims.

IS launched an attack on YPG positions at Sikêniyê, south-east of Tel Berak on Thursday night but after a counter-attack 2 x IS Jihadists were killed and the rest driven back.

Not surprisingly, morale among IS fighters is reported to be low and while they are taking defensive measures, for example digging in along the canals north of Sharakak, it is clear they are not the fighting force they were once thought to be.

The Huffington Post interviewed former residents of Tel Abyad, now resident in Turkey, at least temporarily, about life under the Islamic State and their mixed responses are interesting and worth reading.

In this video an FSA commander of the Liwa AL-Tahrir brigade fighting with the Kurds in their joint YPG/FSA force responds to the accusations of “ethnic cleansing”, (English subtitles), here:

https://youtu.be/_-Ei134YjNc

There is also an interview with a YPG commander, Bilal Rojava, on the same subject, HERE:

Al-Monitor has a long but interesting interview with a Turk who got drawn into fighting for the Islamic State but was recently injured and captured by the YPG. He goes into great detail about the whole IS operation, HERE:

Between last Monday and this morning, Friday, US Central Command (Centcom) reports 21 airstrikes in Syria, 14 of them near Tal Abyad, Hasakah or in Kobane Canton.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Armoured Vehicles Captured from IS Arrive in Kobane

Altogether in those locations the Coalition destroyed 4 x IS fighting positions, 6 vehicles and an excavator, 2 x IS tunnel systems, 2 x IS antenna arrays, 1 heavy machine gun, 1 x IS mortar position and an IS weapons manufacturing building.

The Coalition also hit 3 large IS tactical units and 7 others of varying sizes.

The unification of Kobane and Cizire Cantons led to more celebrations and a big parade in Kobane this week, with more YPG fighters meeting old friends from the opposite Canton, HERE:

The clearing of roads between Cizire and Kobane has also led to a convoy of trucks and tankers driving to Kobane city bringing fuel and food supplies, HERE: plus some heavy armoured vehicles and tanks captured from IS in Cizire Canton.

For more excellent photographs by Maryam Ashrafi of the YPJ like the one on this page, go HERE:

Rojava Situation Map for 18.06.15, courtesy of @ChuckPfarrer, here:

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

Rojava Situation Map 18.06.15

Next stop Gaza

Around 10 pm Friday, Ship to Gaza’s trawler Marianne of Gothenburg left the port of Messina at the east coast of Sicilia and sailed out on to the Ionian sea through the strait of Messina.

During the coming week Marianne will meet up with the other boats who are part of Freedom Flottila III. Together they will try to break the illegal blockade on Gaza through a peaceful non-violent action. The short stop in Messina was an intensive one with meetings with peace activists and a press conference at the city hall with the mayor of Messina, the famous corruption fighter enemy Renato Accorinti.

On board at Marianne, to participate in this action, one will find:

  • The Swedish journalist, author and social critic Kajsa Ekis Ekman
  • The Swedish-Israeli composer and activist Dror Feiler
  • The Canadanian scholar and activist Robert “Bob” Lovelace, a veteran within movements in support of the Indigenous peoples’ rights
  • The Spanish Member of the European Parliament Ana Maria Miranda Paza (Bloque Nacionalista Galego)
  • Professor Gerd von der Lippe norwegian sport sociologist and former athletics stare.

The following journalists will be attending:

  • The Russian journalist Nadia Kevorkova
  • A New Zealand team from Maoria Television, consisting of the reporter Ruwani Perera and the cameraman Jacob Bryant

(Source / 20.06.2015)

Al Jazeera demands Germany release its journalist

Ahmed Mansour arrested at Berlin airport at the request of Egyptian authorities.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/06/al-jazeera-journalist-arrested-germany-150620171513844.html

Al Jazeera has urged Germany to immediately release its journalist Ahmed Mansour, who was detained at a Berlin airport at the request of the Egyptian authorities.

“The crackdown on journalists by Egyptian authorities is well known. Our network, as the Arab world’s most-watched, has taken the brunt of this. Other countries must not allow themselves to be tools of this media oppression, least of all those that respect freedom of the media as does Germany. Ahmed Mansour is one of the Arab world’s most respected journalists and must be released immediately,” Acting Director General of Al Jazeera network Mostefa Souag said.

Mansour, a senior Al Jazeera Arabic TV journalist, was arrested at Berlin’s Tegel airport at 1320 GMT on Saturday as he tried to board a Qatar Airways flight from Berlin to Doha.

In a phone call, Mansour told Al Jazeera that he would remain in custody until Monday when he will face a German judge who will decide on his case.

Mansour was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison by Cairo’s criminal court in 2014 on the charge of torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011.

Mansour rejected the charges as absurd, while Al Jazeera dismissed the accusation as a flimsy attempt at character assassination against of one of its leading journalists.

In October 2014, the global police organisation Interpol rejected Egypt’s request for an international arrest warrant against Mansour.

In an email to Al Jazeera’s lawyers, Interpol confirmed receiving a request from Egypt’s National Central Bureau about Mr. Mansour, but said that the red notice request “did not meet Interpol’s rules”.


From Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Mansour

I am now in detention in berlin airport in Germany as I was heading back to Doha.  

Ahmed Mansour [Al Jazeera]

The airport authorities detained me based on an Interpol order at the request of the Egyptian authorities.  I informed [ the police] that the global police organisation has rejected Egypt’s request and that I have this document from the Interpol to prove that I am not wanted in any charge. I also told them that all the cases that were filed against me in Egypt were fabricated. They, however, insisted on holding me in their detention centre for investigation. They told me that they will transfer me to face an investigating judge, who will determine my case.  

I refused to sign the detention request until I speak to my lawyer who just got here.  We hope that this misunderstanding will be resolved quickly. It is quite ludicrous that a country like Germany would enforce and support such a request made by a dictatorial regime like the one we have in Egypt. The Interpol itself cleared my name with this document that I have in my hands.

(Source / 20.06.2015)