"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)

Lübnan Marunîleri / Yasin Atlıoğlu


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Army offensive against Syria jihadis 'timely': Lebanon interior minister- Daily Star

BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Saturday praised Army commander Jean Kahwagi for a "timely decision" to oust Islamist militants out of two strategic positions along Lebanon’s border with Syria.
In remarks published in As-Safir, Machnouk said that “had it not been for the courage of the Army commander, than this achievement would not have taken place.”
The interior minister's comments came two days after Lebanese troops drove Islamist militants out of two strategic hilltop outposts on the outskirts of the northeastern Bekaa town of Ras Baalbek in a preemptive strike aimed at fending off jihadis holed up in the rugged border area with Syria.

Report: Nusra Front Hands Over Demands to Mediator in Hostages Case- Naharnet

Al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front reportedly handed over to the Qatari appointed mediator a list of its demands in return for the release of the Lebanese soldiers and policemen in its captivity.
According to As Safir newspaper published on Saturday, the demands include the names of the inmates that the Nusra seeks their release from Lebanese and Syrian prisons.
Qatari intelligence chief Ghanem al-Kubaisi reportedly tasked an assistant to convey the demands of al-Nusra to the Lebanese state.
He will meet with General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim after he returns from a short visit to Washington to follow up their latest talks in Doha, the daily said.

Report: Two Bishops Kidnapped in Syria in 2013 'Safe'- Naharnet

Two Orthodox bishops kidnapped in Syria in April 2013 are doing well and in a safe area away from the intense clashes between the Islamic State group, rebels and the forces of President Bashar Assad's regime.
According to a report published in al-Akhbar newspaper on Saturday, the whereabouts of the two bishops, Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, remain unknown as the IS militants continuously changed their location “for reasons related to secrecy and to protect them from the surrounding fighting and shelling.”
However, a source confirmed to the daily that they are “in an area under the control of the IS.”
The two bishops were kidnapped at the end of April, reportedly near the rebel-held town of Kafr Dael, near Aleppo in northern Syria.

Syrian Army and Hezbollah advances towards rebel held Dara’a- Al-Masdar News

Government forces launched an operation to retake the strategic southern province of Dara’a two weeks ago.
The Syrian Arab Army’s 9th Armored Division and Hezbollah (Party of God) continue to advance in northern Dara’a with the capture of Himrit and Al-Sultaniyah.
In less than twenty-four hours, the 9th Division together with Hezbollah have secured five villages.
Fierce clashes have claimed the lives of 25 militants belonging to the Al Qaeda-affiliated “Jabhat Al-Nusra” (Al-Nusra Front).

Friday, February 27, 2015

US Spy Chief: Fighting ISIS Not Turkish Priority- Al-Akhbar

Turkey does not place a high priority on fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadists and as a result foreign fighters are able to travel through the country into Syria, US intelligence chief James Clapper said Thursday.
"Public opinion polls show in Turkey they don't see ISIL as a primary threat,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.
According to the director of national intelligence, the Turkish government had “other priorities and other interests" and was more concerned with Kurdish opposition and the country's economy.

Assad Expects End to Isolation in Face of Jihadists: French Lawmaker- Al-Akhbar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad no longer wants to "remain isolated in the face of the terrorist threat," one of the French lawmakers who met him in Damascus on a much-decried private trip said Friday.
The announcement comes as a domestic and exiled Syrian opposition bodies announced a common roadmap for the crisis in Syria following a series of meetings in Syria.
Senator Francois Zocchetto was one of several French lawmakers who traveled to the Syrian capital and met with high-ranking officials including Assad on Wednesday in a visit that drew an angry response from the French government, which cut diplomatic ties with Damascus in 2012.
"Bashar al-Assad is reserved, he does not easily confide in people," Zocchetto told Radio Classique. "He said he expected to no longer remain isolated in the face of the terrorist threat."

Aleppo: Harakat Hazzm Threatens to Withdraw from Handarat Camp; SAA Eyes Regiment 46 Base- Al-Masdar News

The Syrian rebel group “Harakat Hazzm” (Movement of Steadfastness) has threatened the Syrian Al-Qaeda branch “Jabhat Al-Nusra” (Al-Nusra Front) with their complete withdrawal from the Handarat Refugee Camp in northern Aleppo if they did not halt their aggression towards the former.
For the first time since late Fall 2012, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) – in cooperation with the National Defense Forces (NDF) – has made rapid advances at the poultry farms in southwest Aleppo, where they look to retake Regiment 46 Base (formerly) from the militants of the Islamic Front (Jabhat Al-Islamiyya) and Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Fierce clashes continued at the besieged town of Bashkoy, as Jabhat Al-Nusra continued their attempt to recapture the village from the NDF’s possession.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

3 militants dead as Lebanon Army advances on ISIS- Daily Star

BAALBEK, Lebanon: Five soldiers were wounded and at least three jihadi militants killed Thursday in clashes on Lebanon's northeastern border with Syria, security sources and the Army said.
A source told The Daily Star that an officer and four troops were lightly to moderately wounded when a rocket fired by militants crashed near their vehicle on the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Ras Baalbek, hours after the military launched a preemptive operation.
Security sources said the rocket was launched around midday after the bodies of three jihadis were found during the military offensive against Syria-based militant hilltop positions in the same area.

'Plan tüm Suriye'yi kapsamalı'- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye Muhalif ve Devrimci Güçler Ulusal Koalisyonu (SMDK) Başkanı Halid Hoca, Şam ziyaretinin ardından İstanbul'a gelen BM Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Staffan De Mistura ile görüştü.
Hoca, Halep'teki hava saldırılarının ve çatışmaların durdurulmasına ilişkin, Cenevre Sözleşmesi'yle uzlaşmayan herhangi bir uluslararası veya bölgesel girişimin başarılı olamayacağını belirtti.
Söz konusu girişimin, hava saldırılarının yanı sıra ölümleri de durdurmayı hedeflemesi gerektiğine dikkati çeken Hoca, ‘Girişimin geniş perspektifli bir çözümü içermesi ve Suriye'nin tüm bölgelerini kapsaması gerekiyor. Bu bağlamda girişimin uluslararası kararlarla uyum içinde olması gerekiyor. Cenevre Sözleşmesi'yle uzlaşmayan uluslararası veya bölgesel herhangi bir girişim başarılı olamaz’ dedi.
Hoca Suriye'de bazı bölgelerde uygulanan ablukanın kaldırılması ve abluka altında yaşayanlara insani yardımların ulaştırılması gerektiğini dile getirdi.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Suleiman, Gemayel and 7 Ministers Meet over Cabinet Mechanism, Reject Baabda Vacuum- Naharnet

Former President Michel Suleiman and seven cabinet ministers met on Wednesday at Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel's residence in Sin el-Fil to discuss the controversial decision-making mechanism of the cabinet, rejecting the ongoing vacuum at the presidency.
Gemayel said after the talks: “The vacancy at the Baabda Palace would not have persisted had it not been for the coup against the constitution.”
The gatherers voiced their support for Prime Minister Tammam Salam's efforts “that are aimed at creating a productive atmosphere at cabinet.”
“The election of a president will restore normal functioning to institutions as he is the guarantor of Lebanon's unity, entity, and institutions,” added Gemayel.
“The current mechanism at cabinet was approved by all and it has facilitated government. We are therefore now creating problems out of nothing,” said the Kataeb leader.

French Lawmakers Hold Talks with Assad in Syria- Naharnet

Four French lawmakers met with Syrian President Bashar Assad Wednesday during a private trip to the war-torn country, despite a breakdown in diplomatic ties between Paris and Damascus.
The French government, which supports the moderate Syrian opposition and wants Assad to leave power, was quick to clarify that the lawmakers were there in no official capacity.
But four years of bloody conflict, the repeated failure of diplomacy and the eruption of the Islamic State group have undermined France's standpoint as more and more countries consider re-engaging with Assad's regime.
"We met Bashar Assad for a good hour. It went very well," Jacques Myard, an MP from the conservative opposition UMP party, told Agence France-Presse in a telephone interview. 
He refused to reveal the content of the talks, but Syrian state television said they had discussed "the state of Syrian-French relations, as well as the developments in the Arab world and Europe, especially with regard to terrorism."

U.N. envoy de Mistura en route to Syria- Daily Star

BEIRUT: U.N. envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura will land in Beirut Thursday to travel to Syria, a source from the airport said.
De Mistura will not hold any meetings in Lebanon and will immediately leave Rafik Hariri International Airport to go to the neighboring war-torn country.

Death: The Only Reliable News in Aleppo- Al-Akhbar

Battles are raging in the Aleppo countryside, but the residents of the city itself have stopped following the news of the fighting. There are many reasons behind this apparent indifference, including the news of more immediate deaths as a result of the shelling of their neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Aleppo natives continue to devise new ways to survive the conflict.
Aleppo appears today like a strange mix of contradictions, war being the only common factor. Its people still come up with new ways to adapt to the death surrounding them. A sense of despair is strong in the city, but it is coated with cynical indifference, sometimes sincere and sometimes made-up. Only hope is absent from Aleppo, the city that appears to have vowed to continuously live in the shadow of war.
Arriving in Aleppo a day after the recent offensive began in its northern countryside is no different than arriving on any other day. Contrary to what we thought, news of the battle does not receive wide attention here.

Syria: Opposition Figure Granted Bail, French MPs Meet Assad- Al-Akhbar

A Syrian court on Wednesday granted bail to prominent opposition figure Louay Hussein, his lawyer said, more than three months after the veteran dissident was detained.
Meanwhile, four French lawmakers met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Wednesday during a private trip to the war-torn country. This news came after Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called for sanctions and an arms embargo to be imposed on Syria to punish the regime for its continued use of devastating barrel bombs.
Hussein, head of the Building the Syrian State party, "will be tried as a free man on the charges brought against him," human rights lawyer Michel Shammas told AFP.
Hussein, a prominent opposition leader, was arrested by the Syrian government in late 2014 after publishing an article in which he criticized the regime and warned that the Syrian state was faltering badly.
He was detained at the border with Lebanon in November and accused of "weakening national sentiments," a punishable crime.
This is Hussein’s third time in jail for political reasons. His first arrest was when he was a university student, when he was stripped of his civil rights and spent seven years in prison between 1984 and 1991. His second arrest was following the March 2011 protests against the Assad government. He was among the first in line to speak out in support of the uprising.

Shadi al-Mawlawi: from hero to terrorist- NOW

Few people knew who Shadi al-Mawlawi was before his arrest. He worked for his uncle, who had a small business in Tripoli: they distributed plastic bags to shops. Then he turned to Salafism and the Lebanese General Directorate of the General Security had to put quite an effort in bringing him in.

In May 2012, Syrian refugees and anti-Assad regime activists were pouring into Tripoli’s neighborhoods and many Lebanese Sunni families opened their doors to help and shelter them. Mawlawi, a 25-year-old from Bab al-Tabbaneh, was lured out of the neighborhood under the pretext that he needed to cash in some aid for his little girl, who reportedly suffered from hemiplegia. His arrest was caught on tape by the foundation’s surveillance cameras.

Two-and-a-half years later, Shadi al-Mawlawi had become one of the most wanted terrorists in Lebanon. He is wanted for his alleged Islamic State (ISIS) and/or Al-Qaeda connections and for his alleged involvement in Tripoli bombings as well as attacks on the Lebanese Army along with a young fellow Islamist from Bab al-Tabanneh’s Syria Street, Osama Mansour.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

IS Jihadists Kidnap 90 Christians in Syria- Naharnet

The Islamic State group has seized at least 90 Assyrian Christians in Syria, in the jihadists' first mass kidnapping of Christians in the war-torn country, a monitor said Tuesday.
The abductions appeared to be in retaliation for a major Kurdish offensive aimed at recapturing nearby villages, and which has killed 132 jihadists in four days, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based monitor said IS kidnapped the Assyrians on Monday after seizing two villages, Tal Shamiram and Tal Hermuz, in Hassakeh province from the control of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
The group had no immediate details on those kidnapped, including whether women and children were among them, or where they were being held.

Controversial MP Sami Gemayel to Become Head of Kataeb in July despite Uproar- Naharnet

Kataeb chief Amin Gemayel will reportedly step down as head of his party, clearing the way for his son MP Sami Gemayel to succeed him despite objections by some members.
According to al-Akhbar newspaper published on Tuesday, some members warned that Sami's leadership of the Kataeb puts the party at enormous risks.
The daily said that Sami, who was the coordinator of the Kataeb Party's Central Committee, resigned from his post as a first step to lead the party.
Amin Gemayel is expected to announce his decision during the party's upcoming conference in July, which Kataeb is compelled to hold every four years in accordance to its by-laws.
However, several members of the party's poltiburo reject Amin's decision.
MP Nadim Gemayel, the son of former president-elect Bachir Gemayel (Amin's brother), told al-Akhbar newspaper, that they “will hold onto their stance in order to postpone the matter or avert it.”

Doha to pay Nusra ransom for Lebanon hostages: source- Daily Star

BEIRUT: Lebanese Islamist prisoners and a ransom will be exchanged for the captive servicemen being held by the Nusra Front on Lebanon's northeastern border, a security source familiar with the negotiations told The Daily Star Tuesday.
According to the source, ransom money was now the key demand of the jihadi group, and the main reason behind General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim’s intended visits to Qatar and Turkey.
The source said that while Ibrahim would seek ransom money from Doha, he expects Ankara to facilitate the swap deal.

Aleppo: Syrian Army and Hezbollah Retake Most of Al-Malaah- Al-Masdar News

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) – in cooperation with Hezbollah (Party of God), the National Defense Forces (NDF), and Kata’eb Al-Ba’ath (Ba’ath Battalions) – has taken control of 80 percent of the farms in Mazra’a Al-Malaah after arriving in northern Aleppo to reinforce the NDF.
North of Al-Malaah Farms, the militants from the Syrian Al-Qaeda branch “Jabhat Al-Nusra” (Al-Nusra Front) continued their counter-offensive at the town of Bashkoy, where they tried to break-through the NDF’s frontline defenses – they were repelled after a number of attempts to infiltrate.
In Duweir Al-Zeitoun, Jabhat Al-Nusra – backed by the Islamic Front (Jabhat Al-Islamiyya) – attacked this town in northern Aleppo; however, they were unable to advance past the outskirts of this area.

The Aleppo Front: Attacks and Counter Attacks- Conflict News

What initially looked like a stunning victory in Northern Aleppo for the Syrian Regime has turned into an apparent disaster that threatens to actually set the Assad regime in a worse position then it was before the offensive. It is also important to note that many reports are coming in regarding Iranians, Hezbollah and Shia Afghanis. This could be a reflection of the apparent manpower problem that the Syrian Regime reportedly finds itself in. It also could point to a distrust of the Sunni conscripts in the Syrian Arab Army. It has been reported that often Hezbollah or SAA special forces (which tend to be comprised of Assad’s true believers) are the groups that lead and conduct actual assaults.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Gemayel Slams Vacuum: Rivals Should Prioritize Election of New President- Naharnet

Kataeb party leader Amin Gemayel considered on Monday the ongoing presidential vacuum unacceptable, calling on rivals to prioritize the election of a new head of state.
“We are surprised by all the measures taken... which aim at ridiculing the presidential vacuum,” Gemayel said after talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki.
He expressed fear on the fate of the Christians' top state post, considering the presidential stalemate aims at depicting that the state can go on without its head.
Lebanon has been living in a presidential vacuum since May when the tenure of Michel Suleiman ended. The conflict between the March 8 and March 14 camps has thwarted all efforts to reach a quorum at parliament to hold elections and end the vacuum.
“We are only concerned with urging politicians to prioritize the presidency and rivals to include the matter on the agenda of their dialogue,” Gemayel told reporters.
Political disputes between the various political factions on the government's mechanism led to the suspension of sessions in light of the vacuum at the top presidential post.

Hariri meets hostage families, vows help- Daily News

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri vowed Monday to assist in the release of 25 Lebanese servicemen being held hostage by ISIS and the Nusra Front on Arsal’s outskirts.
During a meeting with the families of the hostages in his Beirut residence Monday, Hariri said that he wouldn’t spare any effort to resolve the 7-months-old crisis, according to a statement released by his media office.
Hariri also voiced his support for the crisis cell in charge of dealing with the hostage case, saying that negotiations should be restricted to the government. The abundance of actors involved in the case would only hinder a solution, he added.

Aleppo is symbolic of the coming apart of Syria- Al-Jazeera

Syria's largest city is also the biggest symbol of the damage wrought by the conflict. New drone footage showing Aleppo's neighbourhoods of rubble have been headlined as "shocking" but to those who have been watching the steady grind of artillery fire and barrel bombs it comes as no real surprise.
The Economist described the Aleppo as a "shadow of its former self". History is being made; history as a world heritage site is being erased by high explosives and a ceaseless exchange of small arms fire.
The rise and rise of ISIL has focused attention to the east and the narratives of Kobane and Raqqa. Aleppo lacks a unifying theme and its complex array of opposition groups controlling different neighbourhoods and streets is perhaps best displayed in the maps that show how fractured the city has become.

UN envoy heads to Syria in bid to contain fighting- Al-Jazeera

The UN special envoy to Syria is travelling to Damascus to try to reduce the fighting which has intensified in Aleppo, where rebels claim to have killed 300 government soldiers in the past week.
Staffan de Mistura, who is on his fourth trip to the country since July and is expected to arrive in the capital on Monday, says he has received some assurances from the government that it will stop its aerial bombardment of Aleppo for six weeks.
Mistura has not yet received agreement from opposition groups and in a recent interview with Al Jazeera's Diplomatic Editor James Bays said he knew many believed the odds were against the success of his initiative.
He is expected to travel to Istanbul following his visit to Syria to talk to opposition groups.
"My chances, I hope are not super slim, because that would in a way would also reflect the chances of the Syrian people to see hope at the end of this tunnel," Mistura said.

Syrian Air Force Rules the Skies in Aleppo; 117 Airstrikes in 24 Hours- Al-Masdar News

The Syrian Arab Air Force has reemerged in the Aleppo Governorate after almost a one week absence due to poor weather conditions that left their aircrafts immobile during the National Defense Forces offensive in the northern countryside.
To make up for lost time, the SAAF launched a relentless 117 airstrikes in a 24 hour span, targeting the Syrian Al-Qaeda branch “Jabhat Al-Nusra”, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), and the Islamic Front (Jabhat Al-Islamiyya) positions around the province.

Gemayel Slams Vacuum: Rivals Should Prioritize Election of New President- Naharnet

Kataeb party leader Amin Gemayel considered on Monday the ongoing presidential vacuum unacceptable, calling on rivals to prioritize the election of a new head of state.
“We are surprised by all the measures taken... which aim at ridiculing the presidential vacuum,” Gemayel said after talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki.
He expressed fear on the fate of the Christians' top state post, considering the presidential stalemate aims at depicting that the state can go on without its head.
Lebanon has been living in a presidential vacuum since May when the tenure of Michel Suleiman ended. The conflict between the March 8 and March 14 camps has thwarted all efforts to reach a quorum at parliament to hold elections and end the vacuum.
“We are only concerned with urging politicians to prioritize the presidency and rivals to include the matter on the agenda of their dialogue,” Gemayel told reporters.
Political disputes between the various political factions on the government's mechanism led to the suspension of sessions in light of the vacuum at the top presidential post.
Gemayel warned that he will block the way on those who are trying to “portray the presidential vacuum as an acceptable matter.”

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Turkish soldiers evacuate Tomb of Suleyman Shah in Syria- CNN

(CNN)The danger in Syria has gotten so bad that even ancient remains -- and the Turkish soldiers who guard them -- had to be removed.

Syria: Turkish incursion is 'flagrant aggression'- Al-Jazeera

The Syrian government has said that Turkey informed Syria ahead of a major overnight military incursion but did not await Syrian agreement to the action.
Almost 600 Turkish troops entered Syria on Sunday, relocating a historic tomb and evacuating the soldiers guarding the monument after it was surrounded by fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Turkey's Evacuation of Tomb Guards In Syria Draws Rebuke- VOA

Damascus is calling a Turkish military operation in northern Syria to evacuate dozens of troops and relocate a historically significant tomb an act of "flagrant aggression."
Ankara dispatched tanks, heavy weaponry, and hundreds of military personnel across the border late Saturday to rescue nearly 40 Turkish soldiers tasked with protecting the remains of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the Ottoman Empire's founder, as Islamic State militants surrounded the area in recent months.

Turkey enters Syria to remove precious Suleyman Shah tomb- BBC News

Hundreds of Turkish forces in armoured vehicles have entered war-torn northern Syria to evacuate troops guarding a historic tomb, demolishing it and moving the remains to a different site.
The remains of Suleyman Shah, who died in the 13th Century, were moved to a site in Syria closer to the border.
Turkey considered the shrine sovereign territory.
Islamic State (IS) militants in the area had threatened to attack it last year.
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has lost control over much of northern Syria as a result of the country's civil war, condemned the incursion as "flagrant aggression".
It said that Turkey had informed its Istanbul consulate about the operation but had not waited for Syria's consent.

Turkish Troops Launch Overnight Operation in Syria to Relocate Tomb- Al-Akhbar

Turkish tanks backed by drones and reconnaissance planes entered Syria overnight to evacuate several dozen Turkish soldiers guarding a tomb considered sovereign territory by Ankara and surrounded by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) insurgents.
The Turkish troops, reportedly numbering around 40, were guarding the mausoleum complex of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the Ottoman empire's founder Osman I, which under a 1920s treaty is considered sovereign Turkish territory.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that 572 Turkish soldiers using 39 tanks, 57 armored vehicles and 100 other military vehicles were involved in the operation called Shah Firat (Shah Euphrates).

Syria condemns Turkey tomb operation as ‘flagrant aggression’- PRESS TV

The Syrian government has denounced the Turkish army’s recent operation in the Syrian territory as an act of “flagrant aggression.”
“Turkey is not satisfied with merely giving all kinds of support to its puppets Daesh (ISIL), (al-Qaeda affiliate) the al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups,” read a Syrian Foreign Ministry statement carried on the state news agency, SANA, on Sunday, adding, “It even carried out... a flagrant aggression against Syrian territory.”
Damascus holds Ankara responsible for the repercussions of the operation, the statement added.

Northern Aleppo: Prisoner Exchange in the Works- Al-Masdar News

The battle for northern Aleppo has become the most violent front in this Syrian conflict, as the original NDF offensive was later countered by the Al-Qaeda branch in Syria “Jabhat Al-Nusra” (Al-Nusra Front).
On the first day of the offensive, the National Defense Forces (NDF) captured a total of 87 militants from Jabhat Al-Nusra spread across the 4 villages of Hardatineen, Ratyan, Bashkoy, and Duweir Al-Zeitoun.
The following day, Jabhat Al-Nusra revealed that they captured 49 National Defense Forces (NDF) fighters in the town of Ratyan after posting a video of the captured men.

Al-Rahi Slams Cabinet Performance, Says Government Doesn't Replace President- Naharnet

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi criticized on Sunday the performance of the cabinet, stressing that the government should not carry its tasks presuming that the presidential vacuum is a “normal” crisis.
“The cabinet has no authority to carry out the jurisdiction of the head of state unless it was exercised according to consensus and without the creation of mechanism that violates the constitution,” al-Rahi said during a sermon at Bkirki.
In line with the constitution, the cabinet began exercising the president’s prerogatives after the parliament failed to elect a successor for Michel Suleiman, whose term ended in May last year.

Yeni türbenin inşaatı başladı- Al-Jazeera Turk

Türbenin yeni yeri Şanlıurfa'nın Birecik ilçesinin sınır bölgesindeki Eşme köyünün tam karşısında yer alıyor. Türkiye tarafından gözle görülebilecek bir mesafede, Suriye topraklarının 200 metre kadar içinde.
Askerlerin operasyon gecesi Türk bayrağı diktiği bölgede yer alması planlanan yeni türbe ve karakolun inşaatına başlandı. İki iş makinesi alanda çalıştığı esnada askerler de çevrede güvenlik önlemi aldı. Eşmeler köyüne gitmek isteyen gazeteci ve sivillere ise 'askeri yasak bölge' gerekçesiyle izin verilmedi.

Turkey Launches Syria Raid to Evacuate Troops, Tomb- NBC News

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish forces swept into Syria overnight to rescue about 40 soldiers who had been surrounded for months by ISIS militants while guarding the tomb of a revered Turkish figure.
The Syrian government described the operation as act of "flagrant aggression" and said it would hold Ankara responsible for its repercussions.
The operation, which involved tanks, drones and reconnaissance planes as well as several hundred ground troops, was the first such incursion by Turkish troops into Syria since the start of the civil war there nearly four years ago.
The military said no clashes took place during the operation although one soldier had been killed in an accident.
The 38 soldiers who had been guarding the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, were brought safely home. The tomb, which is on a site within Syria that Ankara considers sovereign territory as agreed in a 1921 treaty, was relocated.

Süleyman Şah Karakoluna tahliye operasyonu: "Şah Fırat"- CNNTURK

Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri (TSK), Türkiye sınırları dışındaki tek Türk toprağı olan Suriye içindeki Süleyman Şah Saygı Karakolu ve Türbesi’ne sabaha karşı "Şah Fırat Operasyonu" adı altında operasyon gerçekleştirildi. Operasyonda 8 aydır karakolda görev yapan “Bordo Bereli” olarak bilinen 44 Özel Kuvvet askeri Türkiye’ye getirildi. Operasyon sırasında meydana gelen kazada 1 asker şehit oldu. Özel Kuvvetler bölgeyi terk etmeden önce, Süleyman Şah'ın naaşı ve değerli emanetler Türkiye'ye getirildi. Naaş ve emanetler için yine Suriye'de bulunan Suriye Eşmesi Köyü'nde bir yer hazırlandı.

Süleyman Şah'a geceyarısı operasyonu- Radikal

IŞİD'in, 11 ay önce kontrol altına aldığı Suriye'deki Türk toprağı Süleyman Şah Karakolu'ndaki 40 asker için TSK ikmal amaçlı harekat düzenledi. Kürt kaynaklara göre Kobani üzerinden çok sayıda tank ve zırhlı araç sınırı geçerek,Süleyman Şah'a gitti

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A daring plan to rebuild Syria — no matter who wins the war- Boston Globe

BEIRUT—The first year of Syria’s uprising, 2011, largely spared Aleppo, the country’s economic engine, largest city, and home of its most prized heritage sites. Fighting engulfed Aleppo in 2012 and has never let up since, making the city a symbol of the civil war’s grinding destruction. Rebels captured the eastern side of the city while the government held the west. The regime dropped conventional munitions and then barrel bombs on the rebels, who fought back with rockets and mortars. In 2012, the historical Ottoman covered souk was destroyed. In 2013, shelling destroyed the storied minaret of the 11th-century Ummayid Mosque. Apartment blocks were reduced to rubble. More than 3 million residents fled, out of a prewar population of 5 million. Today, residents say the city is virtually uninhabitable; most who remain have nowhere else to go.
In terms of sheer devastation, Syria today is worse off than Germany at the end of World War II. Bashar Assad’s regime and the original nationalist opposition are locked in combat with each other and also with a third axis, the powerful jihadist current led by the Islamic State. And yet, even as the fighting continues, a movement is brewing among planners, activists and bureaucrats—some still in Aleppo, others in Damascus, Turkey, and Lebanon—to prepare, right now, for the reconstruction effort that will come whenever peace finally arrives.

Open Border War in Aleppo: Syrian Army Retreats to Bashkoy- Al-Akhbar

The first offensive by the Syrian army and its allies failed to meet its objectives of completing the cordon of Aleppo and breaking the siege of Nubol and al-Zahraa. Nevertheless, the army was able to hold on to its gains in the town of Bashkoy, after withdrawing from the town of Hardatnin. Pending other imminent rounds, the battles could still pan out in a number of different ways.
Aleppo — The battles in Aleppo have become the most prominent arena of the vast Syrian battlefield. This is to be expected given the city’s significance, as well as its central role in determining the next phase in northern Syria. Aside from the media frenzy of each side’s respective supporters, there is an important detail worth keeping in mind: winning a battle does not mean winning the war.
The Syrian army and its allies want to achieve two strategic goals: completing the cordon around Aleppo, and lifting the siege on the towns of Nubol and al-Zahraa. Naturally, thwarting either of these two goals is a priority for the armed groups.
The recent offensive is the culmination of a longstanding plan initiated by the Syrian army and its allies. All has gone according to this plan so far. The last phase, however, seems to be as difficult as all the previous ones combined, due to a number of factors.

'Syria-bound' London girls: PM 'deeply concerned'- BBC News

David Cameron says the disappearance of three east London girls feared to be heading to Syria to join Islamic State extremists is "deeply concerning".
Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and an unnamed 15-year-old friend, flew from Gatwick to Turkey on Tuesday.
Police, who interviewed the girls after another girl from their school went to Syria in December, said the development had come as a "great surprise".
They said nothing at the time had indicated the three girls were at risk.

Syria rebels capture key towns in Aleppo province- Al-Jazeera

Activists confirm Jabhat al-Nusra take strategic towns after fierce five days of fighting with government troops.

Saniora Urges against Adopting New 'Confusing' Measures that Cripple Government- Naharnet

Head of the Mustaqbal bloc MP Fouad Saniora stressed on Saturday the need to respect the constitution and avoid violating, while rejecting the “approval of new practices that would create confusion at cabinet.”
He said during a seminar in the southern city of Sidon: “Such measures have already rendered the government incapable of exercising its duties towards the citizens.”
“We should adhere to the constitution and avoid new practices that we may regret in the future,” he said.
Saniora explained that the constitution stipulates how the cabinet should take decisions in the presence of a president and in his absence.

Hezbollah-Future talks to help economy: Hariri- Daily Star

BEIRUT: Future Movement chief Saad Hariri said Saturday that he expects his party’s dialogue with Hezbollah to bring more stability and economic prosperity to Lebanon.
Hariri, who is also a former premier, made the comments after meeting with representatives of the Economic Committees, a group of bankers and businesspeople.
“Our dialogue with Hezbollah is to ensure the minimum factors for security and political stability, in order to revitalize the economy and ameliorate the people’s living conditions,” Hariri said after the meeting, according to a statement from his media office.

Blast kills 4 in Assad hometown: activists- Daily Star

BEIRUT: A powerful blast killed four people Saturday in Qardaha, the hometown of the Assad family, an activist group said, adding that the origin of the explosion was unknown.
The explosion, the first to hit the center of the western town since the outbreak of Syria's civil war in 2011, hit an area near a hospital, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based group said it was unclear whether the explosion had been caused by a car bomb or by rocket fire.
The explosion "killed four people -- a nurse, a hospital employee and two soldiers," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
The outskirts of Qardaha have previously come under rebel rocket fire.

Battle Update from the Northern Aleppo Front; Syrian Air Force still absent- Al-Masdar News

In a matter of 12 hours, the Al-Qaeda linked “Al-Nusra Front” (Jabhat Al-Nusra) was able to recapture the village of Hardatineen after almost 300 fighters from the National Defense Forces (NDF) withdrew east to Bashkawi.
The capture of Hardatineen by the Al-Nusra Front creates a larger buffer for their militants besieging the predominately Shi’i villages of Al-Zahra and Nubl, while also inching them closer to their cutoff supply route in Bashkawi.
Despite claims that the Al-Nusra Front captured Mazra’a Al-Malaah, the Al-Mayadeen field reporter Khaled Iskef reports that only 2 out of 48 of the farms are under the militants control; furthermore, some 2 hours after this confirmation, the NDF captured Mazra’a Al-Wasita in Al-Malaah.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Syria army fails to cut Aleppo rebel supply route: monitor- Yahoo News

Beirut (AFP) - Syrian rebels on Friday seized back territory from regime forces north of Aleppo, stymying government efforts to sever a key opposition supply route into the city, a monitor said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebel forces had taken back the strategic Mallah Farms area outside the city, as well as several villages seized by government troops in an offensive that began Tuesday.
The advances were a setback for the regime, which had hoped to block the highway leading to the Turkish border from the rebel-held east of Aleppo.
The offensive was also intended to break a rebel siege on two Shiite government-held towns that have been blockaded for more than 18 months.
But on Friday, the Observatory said the regime had failed to achieve either goal in the bloody offensive.
All but one of the villages taken by government troops in the initial fighting have been recaptured by rebels and fighters from Syria's Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, the monitor said.
It reported that the fighting killed 129 regime forces, including five members of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah group, as well as 116 rebel and jihadist forces, among them a military chief from Al-Nusra.
With the capture of the Mallah Farms, the rebels have succeeded in preventing government forces from blocking their supply route and encircling eastern opposition-held Aleppo, the Observatory said.

For Whom the Bell Tolls; Battle for Aleppo Intensifies- Al-Masdar News

In 5 short days, the battle for northern Aleppo has easily exceeded the bloodshed of the previous battles fought in Syria between forces allied to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and jihadist groups loyal to the Al-Qaeda linked “Al-Nusra Front” (Jabhat Al-Nusra).
The battle for Mazra’a Al-Malaah was not short of blood and violence; this battle was propagated by Al-Nusra Front media groups to depict a significant victory for their forces and a demoralizing loss for the “Iranian” and “Afghani” militias fighting for the Syrian Government.
However, there were no “Afghanis” and no “Iranians” present at this battle; in fact, these “foreigners” that appeared in the Al-Nusra Front videos were fallen fighters from Kata’eb Al-Ba’ath (Ba’ath Battalions) and the National Defense Forces (NDF).
Those fallen fighters loyal to the SAA possessed identification cards from the Syrian Arab Republic – most of their identification cards read “Aleppo” for their respected residency.

Aleppo: Syrian Army destroys 400 meter tunnel inside the city- Al-Masdar News

On Thursday, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) unearthed a 400 meter long tunnel that was dug under Aleppo; it stretched from the Bab Al-Jadeed Quarter to the Scientific Research Center in the western part of the city.
According to sources in Aleppo City, the tunnel belonged to the militants of the Islamic Front (Jabhat Al-Islamiyya) and its purpose was to give their fighters access to the SAA’s stronghold at the Scientific Research Center.

Lebanon Maronite patriarch urges Hariri to stay- Daily Star

BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai congratulated former Prime Minister Saad Hariri on his return to Beirut, saying Lebanon “needs you,” local daily Al-Mustaqbal said Friday.
“I always tell him [Hariri] that we need him to be with us in Lebanon and to stay in Lebanon,” Rai said of Hariri, who returned to Beirut last week to lead the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The newspaper, which is tied to Hariri's Future Movement, said Rai's remarks were made upon his arrival at the Beirut airport Thursday after an official visit to Rome.