One-day strike hits Arab areas in Israel

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Schools, municipalities and many businesses remained closed today, January 11, in Israel’s Arab areas in protest at Tuesday’s demolition of 11 homes in Qalansuwa, an Arab city in the Triangle region of central Israel.

The strike hit all sectors of public life in Arab towns and cities in response to a call from Arab leaders and the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel.

The strike will be followed by other protest steps, including massive demonstrations in Arab towns and cities and a popular rally in Qalansuwa city.

The homes were demolished on Tuesday at the pretext of unlicensed construction, but Palestinian homeowners say their attempts to get construction permits have always been rejected by the Israeli authorities.

In this regard, activist and professor of architecture Yosef Jabareen told al-Jazeera website that half a million Palestinians face displacement in Israel and east Jerusalem.

During the past two decades approximately 5,000 Palestinian homes in Israel have been demolished, Jabareen estimates.

Palestinian activists believe the reason Israel is now taking action against homes built without permits is to retaliate to the recent evacuation of Jewish settlers from the illegal Amona outpost” in the West Bank.

Last December, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu threatened he would push for demolition of Arab homes to appease Israelis after an Israeli court refused his government’s request to delay the evacuation of Amona.

(Source / 11.01.2017)

Two sides of Syria: Damascus and Aleppo

People walk past a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Bab Sharqi gate, near the Jobar district of Damascus, Syria, Jan. 5, 2017

Lebanon is a country of unsettled scores. Each time I visit the country, I keep seeing and feeling the burdensome legacy of its 15-year civil war, no matter how many years had gone by since it ended in 1990. What would I find in neighboring Syria, as its nearly 6-year-old civil war appears to be winding down?

On Dec. 28, as the car I was riding in climbed the road from Beirut to the Anti-Lebanon Mountains on the way to Damascus, the weather turned quite cold. “If so many trucks are heading to Syria, things must have changed a lot,” I murmured, looking at the heavy traffic. “No, they have not,” the driver replied, explaining that most of the vehicles were headed to the nearby Lebanese town of Chtaura. Indeed, after Chtaura, the road became rather desolate, even though the war zones were far away.

The Damascus that greeted us looked nothing like the capital of a country in the grips of a cruel war. With bustling, clean streets that suggest regular garbage collection and daily life running at full gallop, the city can make one believe the coast is clear. This first impression, however, is misleading.

The Damascus countryside remains controlled by armed groups such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Army of Islam and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra). The war comes to Damascenes in the form of killer rockets fired abruptly from the countryside, water and power cuts that make life unbearable, soaring prices, searches at checkpoints that slow traffic and more than 2 million people displaced from war zones. Still, the city continues to function, and social and economic life remains vibrant.

Water and cease-fire

In the wake of Aleppo’s liberation from rebel groups, two issues dominated the agenda in the capital, some 225 miles to the south. The first was the cease-fire that took effect Dec. 30 and the upcoming talks in Kazakhstan as part of a new peace bid by Russia, Iran and Turkey. The second was the “terror” flowing from the water taps. According to sources in Damascus, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, which was excluded from the cease-fire, bombed water facilities in the Barada Valley, infusing the water resources with oil, affecting 5.5 million people.

Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency, however, had its own take on the “water terrorism.” It reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and Hezbollah were “fiercely attacking” the Barada Valley, describing the region as “Syria’s new Aleppo.” In a second report, it said: “Assad’s cease-fire violations are concentrated in the Barada Valley. … Hezbollah and the Syrian army had besieged the Barada Valley in late July, blocking all entry and exits, in a bid to seize control of the region’s water resources.”

The international media may be preoccupied with the cease-fire, but one can hardly say it has led to great excitement in Damascus — not because of indifference, but because there is little faith that Turkey can fulfill its commitment to rein in armed groups. And the groups that really give the Syrian army a hard time are Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and the Islamic State (IS), which are excluded from the deal. Put briefly, the sentiment in Damascus is that the cease-fire is better than nothing, but a far cry from fixing all problems.

Regardless of whether the cease-fire unblocks the political process, Damascus appears bent on a two-pronged strategy: keep up the war until the armed insurgency is over, and pursue a domestic reconciliation process to cajole armed groups into laying down arms. Judging by the sentiment in Damascus, this strategy will continue, no matter whether a four-way summit is held in Astana, Kazakhstan. Negotiations with armed groups have already proved successful in dozens of regions.

Whether Assad will go to Astana is another issue of speculation. The talk is that Assad could go, depending on conditions, or send someone else. According to Syrians, the prospect of Assad sitting at the same table with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is hard to swallow. Yet even if the two come together for the sake of national interests and diplomacy, Syrians say this would be seen as Erdogan’s defeat, not Assad’s.

Asked whether Assad would go to Astana, a senior military official in Damascus replied with a smile: “It doesn’t really matter as long as [Russian President Vladimir] Putin goes. Putin’s presence there is a guarantee for Syria.” It’s not for nothing that some Syrians refer to Putin by the nom de guerre “Abu Ali Putin,” saying that he’s one of them.

An extraordinary New Year’s Eve

The victory in Aleppo has boosted spirits in Damascus. Preparations for New Year’s Eve were lively, with shops open late and Old Damascus bustling. It seemed to me that more couples were now walking hand in hand, reflecting perhaps less social control and pressure — an unlikely byproduct of the war.

In the narrow lanes of the Old City, the small, unassuming gates that lead to mansions with spacious courtyards stand as a metaphor for Syria’s social and political character — a simple wall on the outside but an utterly different world behind it. Most mansions operate as restaurants, cafes or hotels today. As we strolled the streets, they all had special programs in place for New Year’s Eve and were fully booked. All three places we tried for dinner had to turn us away.

In a cafe booked by a group of friends, the owner had joined the dancing patrons. When he learned we were Turks, he couldn’t resist a few stinging words despite all the commotion around. “Six years ago, I was an Erdogan fan, and the two countries were friends,” he said. “A Turkish friend who used to come and go cautioned me to go easy, saying that not everything is what it looks like. He proved right and we were badly mistaken. Still, I wish the best for the Turkish people, but the harm that Erdogan did to us will unfortunately reach Turkey as well.”

Being a Turk in Syria is a bit difficult nowadays. No one will harass, insult or attack you, for sure, but everyone has a few words to say about Ankara’s transition from friend to foe.

Damascenes greeted the new year with fireworks and live bullets. But festivities aside, life in Damascus, the City of Jasmine, never lost much of its vibrancy. Damascus remains a city leaning against the oldest and reaching out for the newest — even in times of war. I have stopped several times at a cafe where a storyteller, clad in a white robe and red fez, sustains the ancient narrating tradition in the evenings, reading the story of Baibars, the 13th-century Mamluk sultan, to tea-drinking, hookah-puffing patrons.

Commercial life appeared lively as well. The marketplaces were crowded as usual. In the Sulaimaniyah complex, the Tourism Ministry has renovated the shops, and Munir Musaddi, a weaver from Hama, was at work making traditional towels.

On the first day of the new year, I took off for Aleppo early in the morning, accompanied by Damascus-based Turkish journalist Hediye Levent. The streets of Old Damascus were empty, littered with bullet casings — remnants of celebratory fire the night before.

The Homs-Khanasir road, occasionally blocked by IS militants emerging from the desert, looked better than during my 2015 visit, when maintenance work was underway.

Security on the road was provided by soldiers at observation points dotting the route.

The highway that leads to Aleppo via Homs and Hama was closed as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and its allies still control the countryside. The alternate route — one that drivers speed up to cover as quickly as possible — passes between areas controlled by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham to the north of Homs and IS to the northeast, leading first to Salamiyah, then east, then north to Khanasir and Safira before reaching Aleppo. The battle to open this road reduced Khanasir and Safira to rubble. The road to the airport has been opened, but because the areas that have been liberated are still unfit for driving, we had to take a detour around Sukkari and Salahuddin to finally enter Aleppo.

(Source / 11.01.2017)

2 Palestinian brothers sentenced to actual imprisonment in Israel jail

2-broers

The Israeli Ofer Military court on Wednesday sentenced two Palestinian brothers to actual imprisonment and steep fines.

According to the Muhjat al-Quds Foundation for Martyrs and Prisoners, the Ofer court sentenced prisoner Omar Abu Ayash to 38 months in jail and his brother Youssef to 26 months, along with a fine of up to 6,000 shekels each.

21-year-old prisoner Omar Abu Ayash, held in the Nafha lock-up, was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces on January 26, 2015.

Omar’s 24-year-old brother, Youssef, was arrested on September 07, 2015. He has been incarcerated in the Ofer jail.

Omar and Youssef, natives of al-Khalil’s town of Beit Ummar, were charged by the occupation authorities with affiliation with the Islamic Jihad resistance group and involvement in anti-occupation activities.

Another brother of Omar and Youssef—Tamer—was arrested by the occupation soldiers on July 05, 2015 and sent to the Nafha prison on the same charges. No court trial has been held for Tamer so far.

(Source / 11.01.2017)

Monitoring Group: 13,000 Barrel Bombs Hit Rebel-held Areas in 2016

Over 13,000 barrel bombs hit rebel-held areas across Syria in 2016, claiming the lives of hundreds of civilians, a monitoring group has said. This indiscriminate, highly destructive weapon is made of oil barrels that are stuffed with scrap metal and TNT explosives and is dropped from helicopters.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that at least 635 civilians, including 160 children and 80 women, were killed in barrel bomb attacks in 2016. These attacks mostly targeted Rural Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, and Idlib.

Barrel bomb attacks hit nearly 97 vital civilian facilities, 28 medical centers, and 23 houses of worship, the SNHR added.

Regime forces and the Iranian-backed militias have breached the ceasefire more than 399 times since it went into force on December 29, 2016. At least 271 people, including 25 women and 34 children, were killed in those breaches.

According to figures compiled by the Syrian Coalition’s media office, the majority of breaches took place in southern rural Aleppo, Wadi Barada valley in Rural Damascus, rural Hama, and rural Dara’a. The figures did not include areas controlled by the ISIS extremist group.

The Syrian Coalition condemned the continued violations of the truce by regime forces and their allied foreign militias, especially in the Wadi Barada valley. It called upon the UN Security Council and guarantors of the ceasefire agreement to immediately put an end to those breaches and hold the perpetrators to account.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office / 11.01.2017)

Longest-serving Palestinian prisoner transferred to Gilboa prison

barghouti

The longest-serving Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi, 59, has been transferred from Raymond prison to Gilboa prison, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) revealed.

The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has recently transferred Barghouthi for more than four times between Israeli prisons.

Barghouthi is the longest-held Palestinian political prisoner as he has been imprisoned for 36 years in Israeli jails.

Along with over 1,000 fellow prisoners, he was released in 2011 as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange deal.

While he got married after his release and returned to his normal life, in 2014, he was re-arrested along with other former prisoners in a series of arrests in flagrant violation of the prisoners exchange deal.

He was then sentenced to 30 months which he had finished on December 17, 2016.

However, Israeli authorities kept him jailed pending the response of the military objection committee to the attorney general’s appeal calling for applying the same old verdict against him for a life sentence and 18 additional years.

Last week, Israeli military court of Ofer refused to release Barghouthi pending the issuance of the appeals committee’s decision.

(Source / 11.01.2017)

Israeli forces break into martyr’s home, summons his father

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Israeli intelligence agents stormed at noon on Tuesday the home of the Palestinian martyr, Thaer Abu Ghazaleh, in the Old City of Occupied Jerusalem and wreaked havoc in the house. The agents served a summons to the martyr’s father Abdussalam to be questioned in al-Qashaleh investigation center.

Quds Press news agency quoted the martyr’s aunt, Jumana Ghosheh, as saying that the agents searched the house for one hour and a half and confiscated cell phones and laptops. They tore off photos of the martyr along with other martyrs hanged on the house walls, she highlighted.

Martyr Abu Ghazaleh was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on October 08, 2015 after he carried out an anti-occupation stabbing attack in Tel Aviv. His body remained detained by the IOF until August 30, 2016.

(Source / 11.01.2017)

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: What is BDS?

Everything you need to know about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and what’s being done to combat BDS.

File: Israeli border police and soldiers block Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank

What is BDS?

BDS stands for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (and not, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed, for “bigotry, dishonesty and shame”).

The BDS movement’s three aims are grounded in international law and fundamental rights.

It seeks to end the occupation and dismantle Israel’s illegal wall and settlements, demands full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and calls for the rights of Palestinian refugees to be upheld.

When did it start and why?

The BDS movement began when a coalition of 170 Palestinian civil society groups issued a call to “people of conscience” around the world on July 9, 2005.

Palestinians argue that a global citizens’ movement is necessary because – despite decades of “peace process” facade – political leaders have failed to end Israel’s settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing and apartheid practices. In fact, they continue to enable them.

Therefore, only bottom-up pressure from ordinary people will force governments to end Israel’s impunity and help create a just peace based on freedom, justice and equality.

What has the BDS movement achieved?

In the decade since its launch, the BDS movement has gradually accumulated successes around the world, from US churches to UK campusesEgyptian trade unions to the Bolivian government.

In the economic sphere, Veolia and G4S – multinational corporations involved in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians – lost billions of dollars due to BDS campaigns and announced withdrawals from Israel. Foreign direct investment into Israel dropped 46 percent in 2014.

Tens of thousands of students globally have pushed forward the academic boycott, backed by figures such as Stephen HawkingAngela Davis and Judith Butler. Meanwhile, the likes of author Alice Walker, ex-Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters and critically acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach have lent their support to the cultural boycott.

Importantly, the BDS movement has also been endorsed by anti-colonial Israelis and other Jewish groups, as well as Black Lives Matter.

Is BDS racist?

Some of Israel’s defenders claim that BDS is racist. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

Far from targeting individuals on the grounds of ethnicity or nationality, BDS targets institutions on the grounds of complicity in human rights violations and explicitly opposes all forms of racism. That’s precisely why it seeks to end Israel’s entrenched system of racial discrimination and ethnic privilege

In this sense, BDS is comparable with – and takes direct inspiration from – the historic anti-apartheid movement which helped to isolate South Africa globally and end white rule.

Who opposes BDS?

Since around 2010, Israel has stepped up its fight against BDS and so-called “de-legitimisation”. In 2011, the Knesset passed a draconian law against advocating boycotts within Israel. But internationally, this was counterproductive.

By mid-2015, panicky Israeli leaders were calling the non-violent movement a “strategic threat”. Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan was given the task of leading the counter-boycott effort, with an annual budget of $25m and supported by military intelligence agencies.

Erdan stresses the need for cooperation with a network of Zionist groups abroad, because ostensibly independent groups are more credible messengers in civil society. He explained: “It’s not necessarily good that the government is at the front of this battle.”

Because of this, Israeli embassies – many of which have dedicated anti-BDS staff – work closely with Israel lobby groups behind the scenes, as Al Jazeera’s investigation “The Lobby” shows. The investigation also confirms another official tactic: establishing front groups and bodies which appear to be grassroots but are actually “astroturf”.

Wealthy supporters of Israel such as Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban in the United States and Trevor Pears in the UK have pumped large sums of money into a plethora of anti-boycott initiatives. And increasingly, the Israeli government and pro-Israel groups team up to create global public-private partnerships against BDS.

What has the counter-BDS movement achieved?

Unable to win the argument politically, Israel and its allies are waging an aggressive “lawfare” campaign.

Thanks to friends in high places, they have had considerable success promoting laws to criminalise BDS, with about 20 US states considering anti-boycott bills. Another dimension has been prosecutions of activists, everywhere from Australia to France.

However, BDS continues to grow rapidly. Legal experts and the European Union have defended the right to boycott as a free speech issue. And several pro-Israel lawfare cases – for example in the UK where attempts to suppress BDS are also facing a legal challenge – have failed spectacularly.

What does the future hold?

Can a voluntary grassroots movement facing off against a well-funded, state-led, and elite-driven counterattack really hope to survive?  

Expect to see the fight get even nastier with more lawsuits, McCarthyism, “black ops” and smear tactics, covert intelligence gathering and restrictions on BDS activists’ freedom of movement. As Amnesty International has noted with concern, there have even calls for “targeted civil eliminations”.

But Israel’s forte has always been the hard power of military coercion. Indeed, its diplomats appear unable to comprehend the BDS movement without comparing it with a war. It is clueless about how to deal with a non-hierarchical social movement waging a struggle on the terrain of moral persuasion.

As long as Israel flouts international law, no amount of money, repression or “Brand Israel” propaganda will stop the BDS movement continuing to grow and make crucial contributions to Palestinians’ struggle for justice.

(Source / 11.01.2017)

Palestinians in Israel protest against demolition of their homes

Image of Palestinians protesting against demolition of homes by Israel [Nedal Eshtayah/Apaimages]

Image of Palestinians protesting against demolition of homes by Israel

The High Follow-Up Committee for Arabs in Israel has called on Palestinian citizens to take part in a “comprehensive” countrywide strike in protest against the demolition of 11 homes in Qalansuwa, Safa news agency reported on Tuesday.

In a statement, the committee reiterated the importance of Wednesday’s strike. It stressed that the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel — who make up one-fifth of the population — should stand together in the face of the right-wing government’s violations of their rights.

“We blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally for these crimes,” explained committee Chairman Mohamed Baraka. “They reflect his racist mentality in order to distract attention from his own scandals.”

The Follow-up Committee held an emergency meeting with Qalansuwa’s mayor, Abdel Basit Salama, along with a number of members of the Joint Arab List in the Israeli parliament (the Knesset) and representatives of all Palestinian Arab institutions in Israel. Although Salama has tendered his resignation, the committee asked him to withdraw it pending a solution to the problem of the home demolitions.

Further action is planned by the committee, including meetings and an awareness-raising event in the small city.

(Source / 11.01.2017)

My Love for Jesus Led Me to Islam

My Love for Jesus Led Me to Islam

My eyes and mind were opened, when, as a journalism student, I did an article about Muslim women’s rights. That was the beginning of everything

Islamist. Jihadist. ISIS. Terrorist. Women banned from driving in Saudi Arabia. Burqa. 9/11…

For a word that means ‘peaceful submission to God’, Islam is a religion that is connected to some pretty negative connotations and often seen in the media for all the wrong reasons. So, why would an educated, independent and well-traveled young Australian woman decide to convert to a religion widely considered ‘backwards’?

I get confused looks at my fair skin and light eyes. Some Australians ask what country I’m from, and get shocked to hear I’m Australian. Australian AND Muslim? The combination is unthinkable to some.

Converting to Islam hasn’t been easy. I’ve been called names, been scrutinized, rejected and fired from jobs, lost friends and had a really difficult time with my family accepting the changes in my life. Despite the harsh and rude comments about my change in faith (including how some assume I converted for a man), I’ve also had people come up to me and ask me why. It’s a question I’m happy to answer. My conversion to Islam was down to three main factors. This is my story and the story of the journey that led me over the course of two years to where I am now.

Malaysia

Traveling to Malaysia was definitely the foundation for my conversion to Islam. I went there after deciding on a whim to go on student exchange, not imagining what a crazy adventure I had set myself up for. It got me out of my comfort zone and exposed to things I had never seen as a small town Australian girl from Gippsland.

Before Malaysia, I knew nothing about Islam. I had never met a Muslim (to my knowledge) and I always thought of Muslims as wearing heavy black garments somewhere in the Middle East, far, far away from ‘civilization’. I thought Muslim women were oppressed. That they couldn’t go anywhere without their husbands, that they couldn’t have careers, and had to wear black all the time.

My image of Islam was shattered when I went to Malaysia. I found myself becoming curious about the pretty South-East Asian Muslim girls with their colorful hijabs and clothes. I made many Muslim friends who went to university and had jobs. Some wore veils and others didn’t. They all seemed quite content and loved their religion and Islam quickly became a religion I wanted to learn more about.

My eyes and mind were opened, when, as a journalism student, I did an article about Muslim women’s rights. That was the beginning of everything. My mind was suddenly bursting with knowledge about Islam and the fact that women had many rights in Islam! Muslim women were legally given rights (including divorce, land rights, monetary rights, the right to choose who to marry, etc) in the Qur’an and Hadiths hundreds of years before Western women won the same rights.

The first time I stepped into a mosque in Malaysia, I felt an immediate sense of calm and peace. The strong yet humble cry of the call to prayer invoked feelings in me I never felt before. When I first bowed my head toward the Ka’ba, I felt home in my heart. I didn’t convert to Islam in Malaysia – I did that over a year later – but it introduced me in a beautiful way to Islam and to the Oneness of God.

Christianity

I was a very staunch Christian before converting to Islam. My life as a Christian was a focal point of my faith journey; without it I would not be a Muslim and it was my love for Jesus (peace be upon him) that actually led me to Islam.

Christianity is actually the closest religion to Islam, not only theologically but also historically. There are many misconceptions about what Islam teaches about Christianity. To begin, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) wrote a letter regarding how Muslims should treat Christians. We are to treat Christians with respect – even if a Muslim man is married to a Christian woman, she cannot be stopped from praying in her place of worship.

Christians and Jews are commonly referred to as ‘People of the Book’ in Islam, because we all have the same Abrahamic roots. Jesus’ (peace be upon him) name is actually mentioned more times in the Qur’an than the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him). Muslims still believe in the virgin birth and places importance on Mary (may Allah be pleased with her). Jesus is an important figure and you cannot be a Muslim without believing in the life and work of Jesus.

The only difference between Christians and Muslims is that we take Jesus to be a prophet and not to be worshipped alongside God. Islam teaches the Oneness of God, and to worship Allah alone and we believe that Jesus taught this himself. The term ‘Allah’, by the way, is the Arabic word for ‘God’ and is not just an Islamic term. Arab Christians also call God ‘Allah’.

Abridged from www.dissentconclave.com. Read the full story here.

(Source / 11.01.2017)

US B-52 bombed Idlib, Syria, killing over 20 civilians – Russian MoD

US B-52 bombed Idlib, Syria, killing over 20 civilians – Russian MoD

A U.S. B-52 bomber

More than 20 civilians were killed in a B-52 strike carried out by the US on the Idlib province in Syria on January 3, according to Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

Gerasimov slammed the Western coalition in Syria for failing to achieve “any meaningful results,” adding that “at the same time, significant numbers of victims among the civilian population and government forces were reported.

As we remember, in September last year, the US aviation carried out an attack in the Deir-ez-Zor targeting government forces. After this attack, Islamic State started its advance,” Gerasimov said as cited by RIA Novosti news agency.

The latest example of this is the January 3 airstrike, when a B-52 bomber – without warning the Russian side – hit a target in the town of Sarmada, Idlib Province, which is covered by the cessation of hostilities agreement. Over 20 civilians died as a result of the airstrike.

He did not provide any further details.

BREAKING: Strike on Syrian army was ‘regrettable error’, Pentagon says http://on.rt.com/7wed 

Photo published for Strike on Syrian army was ‘regrettable error,’ Pentagon says — RT America

Strike on Syrian army was ‘regrettable error,’ Pentagon says — RT America

Airstrikes on September 17 by the US-led coalition, which killed 62 and injured 100 Syrian soldiers in Deir ez-Zor, were the result of an “unintentional, regrettable error,” the US Central Command…

The US Defense Department announced on January 6 that a strike had killed 20 people in Sarmada, Idlib; those killed were described as Al-Qaeda militants, AFP reported.

The September airstrikes by the US-led coalition killed 62 and injured 100 Syrian soldiers near the Deir ez-Zor airport, a vital supply conduit for the enclave besieged by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) forces.

In November, US Central Command described the incident as an “unintentional, regrettable error,” which was “primarily based on human factors.

READ MORE: Pentagon chief claims US fighting ISIS alone, Russia doing ‘virtually zero’ in Syria

Russia was notified of the planned strike via the “de-confliction” hotline, but was given the wrong location, said Brigadier General Richard ‘Tex’ Coe, who headed the CENTCOM investigation.

When Russian officers called the hotline to report the strikes were targeting Syrian positions, they were kept on hold for 27 minutes because the US officer who was the designated point of contact was not available. The bombing continued in that interval, according to Coe, and stopped once the Russian message went through.

During the Tuesday meeting, Gerasimov said the operation carried out by the Russian Air Force since September 30, 2015 “has turned the tide of the Syrian war.

Since the beginning of its operation in Syria, Russia’s military jets destroyed around 200 illegal oil-extracting facilities belonging to IS, 174 oil-producing plants, 111 groups of oil tank trucks, the head of General Staff added.

This allowed not only to breach the IS supply system, but also to deprive them of their main income,” Gerasimov added.

All strikes are carried out only after the confirmation of data from several sources, including the space intelligence and drones,” Gerasimov emphasized.

(Source / 11.01.2017)