"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


Monday, November 30, 2015

Deadly Kurd-Islamist clashes in northern Syria- Yahoo News

Beirut (AFP) - Islamists and a US-backed alliance of Kurds and Arabs have fought deadly clashes in Syria, a monitor said Monday, as the almost five-year-old conflict draws in more local and international players.

At least 23 fighters were killed in the fighting between the Kurdish-led alliance and the Islamist rebels who include Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Fifteen fighters from Al-Nusra and its allies were killed Sunday, along with at least eight members of the Syrian Democratic Forces dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Pentagon may send more U.S. troops to Syria- USA Today

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will consider deploying more special operations troops to fight Islamic State militants if its pilot project in Syria shows signs of progress, a senior Defense official told USA TODAY on Monday.

The Pentagon last month announced that 50 commandos would be sent to northern Syria to advise forces battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS. Sending that initial force amounts to "breaking the seal" on inserting special operations forces in Syria and could lead to further deployments, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about planning. The Pentagon will not comment on whether those commandos have arrived in Syria.

In unexpected twist, Assad ally may be Lebanon's next president- Reuters

Lebanon's political crisis has taken a dramatic turn with the possibility that a friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could become president in a power-sharing deal aimed at breathing life back into the paralyzed state.
The idea of Suleiman Franjieh, a childhood friend of Assad, becoming head of state has taken aback many Lebanese, not least because of who tabled it: Saad al-Hariri, a Sunni politician who leads an alliance forged from opposition to Syrian influence in Lebanon. He would become prime minister under the deal.
It is no less startling because of the backing it would require from Saudi Arabia and Iran, rival states that wield decisive influence over Lebanon's competing factions and which are in conflict elsewhere in the region, including in Syria.
As the war escalates in Syria, with Iran and Saudi Arabia increasing their support for Assad and his enemies, a new deal for Lebanon seems unlikely to signal any broader understanding to settle regional conflicts.
But it would point to a desire to preserve a minimal degree of stability in Lebanon. While badly affected by the Syrian war that has triggered militant attacks, driven a million refugees over the border, and fueled a political crisis, Lebanon has avoided the kind of civil strife some had feared.
Yet the country has been without a president for 18 months and a unity government led by Prime Minister Tammam Salam is barely functioning. The Hariri proposal is the most serious effort yet to resolve that political stalemate.

Syrian Government and Armed Opposition to Discuss Political Settlement in Homs City- Al-Masdar

Sources close to Al-Masdar News have revealed an upcoming meeting between the Syrian Government and the armed opposition inside the provincial capital of the Homs Governorate that is geared to discuss the final political settlement for the city.
According to a private source in the provincial capital of Homs, the Governor of Homs – Talal Al-Barazi – will meet with the leaders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their associates from the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” on Tuesday, December 1st, in order to finalize a political deal to secure the exit of the aforementioned Islamist groups from the Al-Wa’er District.
The time and place of this meeting taking place tomorrow could not be confirmed; however, the source added that the Syrian Government’s reconciliation committees have worked vigorously to implement a permanent ceasefire agreement in order to end the hostilities in the Al-Wa’er District, so that the displaced civilians can return to their homes.

Erdoğan ve Putin arasında IŞİD petrolü polemiği- BBC Türkçe

Cumhurbaşkanı Recep Tayyip Erdoğan "Türkiye DAİŞ'ten petrol alıyor yakıştırması ahlaki değil" derken, Rusya lideri Vladimir Putin Türkiye'nin Rus savaş uçağını IŞİD ile "petrol ticaretini korumak için" düşürdüğünü savundu.
"DAİŞ terör örgütünden petrol alan kişilerden bir tanesi Rus ve Suriye vatandaşı olduğu, Amerikan Hazine Bakanlığı tarafından söylenilen George Hasasi'dir. Bunu Amerikan Hazine Bakanlığı da açıkladı. Önce bunu açıklasınlar. İftiralarla bunlar yürümez." dedi.
"Bu iddialar kanıtlanırsa ben bu makamda durmam" diye konuşan Erdoğan Putin'e seslenerek "Sen o makamda durur musun?" dedi.
"Petrol kaçakçılığını yapanları enseleriz. Bilgim dahilinde böyle bir şey bu güne kadar olmamıştır. Bugüne kadar yasal yollardan petrol almışızdır." diyen Cumhurbaşkanı "Rusya'nın Türkiye'ye karşı aldığı tedbirlere yanıt verilecek mi?" sorusuna "Eteklerdeki taşlar dökülsün, ne yapacağımıza bakacağız" diye konuştu.

At NATO, Turkey remains defiant over Russian jet- Reuters

Turkey's prime minister dismissed on Monday any suggestion Ankara should apologize for downing a Russian warplane in its airspace last week, after winning strong NATO support for the right to defend itself.
Six days after NATO member Turkey shot down the Russian bomber in the first known incident of its kind since the Cold War, calls for calm have gone largely unheeded as Ankara refuses to back down and Russia responds with sanctions.
"No country should ask us to apologize," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters following a meeting with NATO's secretary general at alliance headquarters in Brussels.
"The protection of our land borders, our airspace, is not only a right, it is a duty," he said. "We apologize for committing mistakes, not for doing our duty."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Nov. 26 he was waiting for an apology after Turkey's air force shot down the Su-24 fighter jet close to the Turkey-Syria border. Russian officials have said the plane was at no time over Turkey.

Obama Urges Putin to Reduce Tensions With Turkey- VOA

President Barack Obama voiced regret Monday to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Turkish shootdown of a Russian jet fighter last week, and he urged the Kremlin leader to reduce tensions with Turkey over the incident.
The two leaders met for 30 minutes on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Summit outside Paris. Turkey said it shot down the aircraft after it entered its air space, with a Russian pilot and crew member killed in the attack and subsequent rescue effort.  Putin responded by imposing economic sanctions against Ankara.
Obama and Putin discussed the continuing warfare in Syria in detail, Washington and Moscow said, with both agreeing on the need for a political settlement of the four-and-a-half-year-old conflict between rebel groups trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad and forces loyal to his government.

Franjieh Says Still Backs Aoun's Presidential Bid, But Not if It's for 'Obstruction'- Naharnet

Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh declared Monday that he still supports the presidential bid of his ally Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun – if it is not aimed at blocking his own nomination.
The stance was voiced in a Marada statement issued after overnight talks in Batroun between Franjieh and Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil, Aoun's son-in-law.
The meeting was “friendly and frank and did not involve any commitments,” the statement said.
Media reports had said that Franjieh told Bassil that he cannot carry on with his nomination if Aoun does not endorse it.
The Marada statement said the northern leader would “maintain his support for General Aoun and give the issue more time if there is a real inclination for consensus on General Aoun's nomination.”
“But if the nomination (of Aoun) is only aimed at blocking Franjieh's bid, we would take another stance,” Marada added.

Iran Says Saudi Plan on Syria Opposition Violates Vienna Talks- Naharnet

Iran said Monday that Saudi Arabia's plan to host a meeting of armed and political opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad would breach declarations made during recent international peace talks.
Tehran and Riyadh are on opposite sides of the conflict in Syria but both have taken part in two major meetings in Vienna aimed at finding a political solution.
The planned meeting in Riyadh in December could boost unity in the Syrian opposition to enter talks on ending the conflict, in which 250,000 people have been killed, the U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has said.
But Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran's deputy foreign minister for Arab and African Affairs, slammed the planned gathering of anti-Assad political and military groups, calling it "hasty and unconstructive."
"It was agreed in Vienna that the U.N. representative in Syrian affairs try to determine a list of opposition groups by broad consultation," he was quoted as saying on state television's website.
"Tehran does not approve of measures outside this declaration."

Vladimir Putin refuses to meet Turkish president in Paris during climate change talks- The Telegraph

Vladimir Putin has refused to meet the Turkish president in Paris during climate change talks as Russia banned fruit and vegetable imports in its sanctions list against Ankara.
The Russian president's spokesman said Mr Putin did not plan to speak to Recep Tayyip Erdogan but spoke to President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the summit.
"No meeting with Erdogan is planned. There is no discussion of such a meeting," the Kremlin spokesman told journalists.
Relations between Moscow and Ankara have soured dramatically since November 24 when Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 warplanethat it claims violated its airspace despite several warnings.

Bondarev: Pilotumuzun ölümünün sorumluları cezalandırılacak- Sputnik News

Rusya Hava Kuvvetleri Komutanı Viktor Bondarev, Su-24 uçağının düşürülmesini ‘ihanet’ olarak niteleyerek, pilot Oleg Peşkov’un ölümünün sorumlulularının cezalandırılacağını söyledi.

Rusya Hava Kuvvetleri Komutanı Viktor Bondarev, Rus pilot Peşkov'un cenazesini Ankara’dan Moskova bölgesindeki Çkalovskiy havalimanına getiren uçağı karşılayan protokole katıldı.

Rus komutan, “Bugün Oleg Anatolyeviç Peşkov’un cenazesi Rusya topraklarına ulaştı. Görevlerimizi gerçekleştirirken daima onu örnek alacağız. Bu ihaneti gerçekleştirenlerse hak ettikleri cezayı bulacaklar” dedi.

Turkey’s PM says country won’t apologize for downing of Russian jet- Al-Jazeera America

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday his country will not apologize to Russia for shooting down a warplane operating over Syria that crossed through Turkish airspace.
He added that his county hopes that Moscow will reconsider economic sanctions it announced against Turkish interests after one flier was killed in the shootdown. 
Davutoglu told reporters Monday that “no Turkish prime minister or president will apologize … because of doing our duty.”
He spoke after a meeting with the NATO chief in Brussels and said Turkey remains open to talks with Russia about ways to avoid such incidents in the future.

Prisoner Swap Negotiations Suffer Setback as al-Nusra Makes 'New Demands'- Naharnet

Negotiations to free the Lebanese servicemen who were abducted by al-Nusra Front suffered a setback on Sunday afternoon, after steps on the ground and media reports gave the impression earlier in the day that the exchange was imminent.
“Some obstacles emerged in the final moments but the negotiations have not stopped,” Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera television said.
“New developments have prevented the completion of the prisoner swap deal today,” it added.
The TV network had reported that “the Qatari-sponsored swap deal” would take place “within hours.”
The pan-Arab, Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen television said al-Nusra “increased its demands” in the past few hours and that “the fate of the swap deal is not clear anymore.”

Franjieh Continues Efforts to Overcome Obstacles Hampering his Nomination- Naharnet

Head of the al-Mustaqbal movement Saad Hariri and Marada leader Suleiman Franjieh continue their efforts to facilitate the hurdles of the latter's nomination for the post of the presidency, al-Akhbar daily reported on Monday.
Franjieh met on Sunday with head of the Free Patriotic Movement Jebran Bassil for over two hours, but the two men were unable to reach a common agreement on the controversial file of the presidency never the less expressing keenness to preserve the cohesion of the March 8 alliance, the daily added.
Marada leader told Bassil that he is “a candidate for the post of the presidency,” but assured him that his “nomination will not be completed unless MP Michel Aoun gives his blessings.”
A Franjieh-Hariri meeting last week had sparked intense speculation that the two men agreed to the nomination of the Marada chief as president.
“I will not accept to be a reason for a new split between the Christians,” Franjieh told Bassil, adding “nor will I accept to represent part of the Christians. I want to represent them all.”

Türkiye-Rusya ilişkilerinde 'iklim değişikliği'- Radikal

Rusya'nın Türkiye'ye ikili alandaki ilişkilere yönelik olarak uygulayacağı yaptırımlar Rusya'dan çok Türkiye'yi üzecek.

Türkiye-Rusya ilişkilerinde yeni bir sayfa açma maharetini gösterdiğimize göre şimdi bu sayfada yazılı olanları satır satır okumaya başlamakta yarar var.
Yıllardır Avrasya'da yapıcı bir rekabet içinde olmaya gayret ettiğimiz Rusya ile ilişkilerimiz Soğuk Savaş ertesinde karşılıklı anlayış, saygı, sabır ve güven esası üzerine oturtulmuş olarak ilerliyordu. Önceleri güven unsuru belki en zayıf halkayı oluşturuyordu. Soğuk savaş boyunca iki ülke karşı kamplarda yer almış, sınır komşusu olarak dünya dengelerinin sınandığı, gerginliklerin yaşandığı bir hat boyunca birbirleriyle barış içinde bir arada yaşama becerisini zor da olsa göstermişlerdi. Dolayısıyla, soğuk savaşın hemen ertesinde ortaya çıkan yeni uluslararası tehditlerin öncelikle karşılıklı kuşkuya yol açması normaldi. İlerleyen ticari, ekonomik, sosyal ilişkiler ve halkların birbirlerine artan biçimde yakınlaşmaları güvenin de zamanla güçlenmesine yol açtı.

Syria's Newest Rebel Army Has Its Sights on the Islamic State- Vice News

The Islamic State group may have suffered several defeats along the periphery of its so-called caliphate, but so far no one has been able to challenge its control over the core of its territory. While the US-led coalition has escalated its airstrikes on the Islamic State's oil infrastructure, the allied nations have shown little appetite for the grueling ground fight that would be needed to actually drive the group out of Syria's east. And although Raqqa seems to serve as the Islamic State, or ISIS', symbolic and administrative center in Syria, it is Deir al-Zour province that provides much of its oil revenue and serves as a critical link between its Syrian and Iraqi territories.
That may be about to change, thanks to a new force of eastern Syrian rebels with a singular focus on the Islamic State and, local sources say, quiet backing from the United States.
Known as the New Syrian Army or NSA, it first appeared in November in a YouTube video under its Arabic name, Jaish Suriya al-Jadid. Its aim is to retake Deir al-Zour, and it seems to have copious American weaponry and air support from the coalition on its side.
Based on interviews with involved rebels and informed local activists reached via Skype and social media, it is clear the NSA faces tough odds. Its numbers are reportedly few, in part because some Deir al-Zour rebels distrust its American backers. Yet the group, drawing strength from deep-seated local enmity towards the Islamic State, might still offer the best hope of pushing ISIS out of a key province.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rus uçakları Azez'i vurdu: 15 ölü- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye'de Eriha'da pazar yerini bombalayan ve 40 kişinin ölümüne neden olan Rus uçakları akşam saatlerinde de Kilis'in karşısındaki Azez'de sivillerin yaşadığı bir mahalleyi vurdu. 15 kişi öldü.

IS executes 3,500 in Syria since declaring 'caliphate'- Global Post

The Islamic State group has executed more than 3,500 people in Syria, including nearly 2,000 civilians, since declaring its "caliphate" in June last year, a monitor said Sunday.
In the last month alone IS executed 53 people -- including 35 civilians -- in areas it controls in Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The new figures from the Britain-based Observatory bring to 3,591 the number of people executed by IS in Syria since it declared its Islamic "caliphate" after seizing control of large parts of the country.
The new toll includes 1,945 civilians, including 103 women and 77 children, with civilians defined as those who are not taking part in the fighting.
Some were executed for alleged witchcraft, homosexuality and collaborating with the US-led coalition that has been bombarding IS in Syria since September 2014.

AB-Türkiye zirvesinin sonucu: Türkiye’ye üç milyar euro, 2016’da vize serbestisi- Sputnik News

AB-Türkiye Zirvesi sona erdi. AB, Türkiye'nin geri kabul anlaşmasından doğan yükümlülüklerini yerine getirmesi halinde Ekim 2016'dan itibaren vize serbestisine başlayabileceğini karara bağladı. Avrupa Birliği, sığınmacı akınıyla ilgili Türkiye'ye 3 milyar euroluk maddi destek sağlamayı kararlaştırdı.

"Şu anda Moskova'da Türk olmak istemezdim"- BBC Türkçe

Türkiye ile Rusya arasında yaşanan "uçak krizi" diplomatik gerginliğe yol açmakla kalmadı, Rus halkının bir bölümünün Türkiye ve Türklere bakışını değiştirdi.
Aslında Rus toplumunun tepkisini, SU-24 tipi savaş uçağının düşürülmesine Devlet Başkanı Vladimir Putin'in son derece sert açıklaması belirledi.
Putin'in, "Bizi sırtımızdan vurdular" demesinin hemen ardından Moskova birbiri ardına Türkiye'ye yönelik kararlar ve önlemler açıkladı.
Ankara'nın, iki ülke liderlerini görüşmesi çağrısını kabul etmeyen Rusya, Türkiye'ye karşı bir dizi yaptırım kararı aldı.
Bunların arasında, Türk şiketlerine yasak ve kısıtlamalar getirilmesiyle 1 Ocak'tan itibaren vize muafiyeti uygulamasının askıya alınması da var.
Sert tepkinin en üst düzeyden gelmesi ve medyada Türkiye'ye karşı başlatılan kampanya toplumun önemli bir kesiminde yankı buldu.
Şu anda Rusya'da, özellikle başkent Moskova'da, bir zamanlar İtalya'nın Abdullah Öcalan'ı iadeye yanaşmamasından sonra Türkiye'de oluşan havaya çok benzeyen bir hava var.

Jumblat Will Not Withdraw Helou's Nomination, Nor Will Stand against 'Settlement'- Naharnet

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat will not withdraw the candidacy of his nominee MP Henri Helou for the post of president but at the same time prefers to wait until the picture clears up on the possible nomination of Marada leader MP Suleiman Franjieh for the post, al-Mustaqbal daily said on Sunday.
Sources of the Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc said that the bloc's chief Jumblat "prefers to wait up until the picture crystallizes,” they told the daily on condition of anonymity.
“Jumblat has briefed the bloc's members (during their meeting on Saturday) of the recent developments related to the proposed settlement, but he preferred to wait until the stances become clear at the political level in general and at the Christian level in particular,” they added.

Army chief: Germany planning to deploy 1,200 troops for ISIS fight- Al-Arabiya

From a military point of view, around 1,200 soldiers would be necessary to run the planes and ship,” army chief of staff General Volker Wieker told Bild am Sonntag newspaper, adding that the mission would begin “very quickly once a mandate is obtained”.

“The government is seeking a mandate this year,” said Wieker.

Berlin on Thursday offered France Tornado reconnaissance jets, a naval frigate, aerial refuelling and satellite images in the fight against ISIS.

Between four and six Tornados would be deployed to deliver images of the ground, even in poor weather and during the night, Wieker said.

Asked why Germany had shied away from participating in direct air strikes, Wieker said the coalition already had “sufficient forces and means” dealing with that aspect of the battle.

“What is needed is reconnaissance on the ground, so that these forces can be deployed effectively. Our Tornados can contribute a lot in that area,” he said.

El Nusra ve ÖSO, YPG’nin elindeki Afrin'e saldırıyor- Sputnik News

El Nusra Cephesi’nin de aralarında bulunduğu cihatçı gruplar ve Özgür Suriye Ordusu (ÖSO), YPG kontrolündeki Afrin’e yönelik saldırı başlattı.

Aralarında El Kaide'nin Suriye kolu El Nusra Cephesi ile Ahrar'uş Şam, Nurettin Zengin Tugayları, Sultan Murat Tugayları ve Şam Cephesi'nin de yer aldığı cihatçı gruplar, Suriye’nin kuzeyindeki Afrin kantonuna bağlı köylere iki koldan saldırı başlattı.

Afrin’in Meryemine ve Enep köyüne, havan topları ve füzelerle düzenlenen saldırıya YPG’nin karşılık vermesiyle çatışma çıktı. Uzun süren çatışmaların ardından Meryemine ÖSO ve El Nusra’dan alınırken, Enep’deki çatışmalar hala devam ediyor.

Minister: Russia plane entered Israel control zone from Syria- Al-Arabiya

A Russian warplane recently entered Israeli-controlled airspace from Syria but the intrusion was resolved without incident, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Sunday.

Yaalon’s comments come amid deep concern over the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey, which claims it strayed over the Syrian border into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings to change course. Moscow denies the allegations.

“There was a slight intrusion a mile (1.6 kilometres) deep by a Russian plane from Syria into our airspace, but it was immediately resolved and the Russian plane returned towards Syria,” Yaalon told public radio.

Top Jabhat al-Nusrah shar’i attacks Jeish al-Islam, highlights broader jihadist anxieties- Abu al-Jamajem

Below we see Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusrah’s top shari’ah official Sami al-Oreidi issue an unusually direct attack on top leadership in Jeish al-Islam, the most powerful rebel faction in Damascus’s East Ghouta suburbs. Al-Oreidi’s tweets (translated below) make clear that members of Nusrah’s top leadership share and endorse hardline jihadists’ hostility to Jeish al-Islam and its leader, Zahran Alloush. They also speak to broader anxieties among Syria’s jihadists as they attempt to coexist, often uncomfortably, with other political and ideological trends within the Syrian opposition.
Al-Oreidi is apparently annoyed over comments from Jeish al-Islam leader and religious figure Sheikh Sami (Abu Abdurrahman) Ka’ka’ criticizing Jabhat al-Nusrah for shelling Damascus city after an aborted Russian-brokered ceasefire that would have allowed relief into the besieged East Ghouta suburbs. (I’ve been unable to find Ka’ka’s original comments.) Al-Oreidi reproaches Jeish al-Islam for its own overreach and, somewhat more dramatically, endorses premiere Salafi-jihadist theorist Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’s comparison between the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the “Alalish” – Zahran Alloush’s supporters, or Jeish al-Islam.
Al-Oreidi’s comments are in one sense a product of personality clashes and local, Damascus-area politics. Jihadists have long been hostile to Jeish al-Islam and Alloush personally; in turn, Jeish al-Islam and Alloush have had a reputation for heavy-handedness in how they dealt with local political and military rivals. Recently tensions in East Ghouta have spiked amid jostling over control of smuggling tunnels into East Ghoutaand allegations that Jeish al-Islam was behind the assassination of a local jihadist cleric and judge.
These disputes have prompted jihadists outside the Ghouta, many of whom view Alloush as an enemy-in-waiting, to weigh in. A series of leaked video and audio recordings of Jeish al-Islam leaders allegedly plotting assassinations is actually what prompted al-Maqdisi –who has controversially attacked Alloush before – to compare ISIS and the “Alalish.” Now we have apparent evidence that Jabhat al-Nusrah’s top religious official is sympathetic to al-Maqdisi’s position on Jeish al-Islam and Zahran Alloush, which seems to promise new waves of intra-rebel violence.
Al-Oreidi’s reference to “Bosnia,” though, shows that his mind is also on broader rebel-jihadist dynamics. Al-Oreidi’s allusion to his remarks to now-deceased Ahrar al-Sham leader Hassan Abboud (Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi) refers to their sharp back-and-forth over the “Revolutionary Covenant” that was announced in May 2014. “They say, ‘We don’t want the Iraqi tragedy to repeat itself,’” wrote al-Oreidi at the time, “but they are heading towards a new Bosnian tragedy, on Syrian soil. Save yourselves, save yourselves from the whirlpool of the past.” (For more on al-Oreidi and Abboud’s argument, see my June 2014 article on Syrian factions’ “shar’is.”)

Al-Qaeda ‘frees’ Lebanese soldiers in prisoner swap- Al-Arabiya

A prisoner exchange has gone underway for the release of Lebanese soldiers held by Al-Nusra Front, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Sunday.
It is not yet clear which prisoners have been exchanged for the troops.
Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, has held 16 Lebanese soldiers and policemen hostage for more than a year.
In July, the group offered to release three Lebanese soldiers in exchange for an ex-wife of the leader of the militant Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and four other female prisoners.

Turkey hands over body of Russian pilot to Russia- Hurriyet Daily News

Turkey has initiated the process to hand over the body of a Russian pilot to Moscow after his jet was shot down by Turkey, a day before a United Nations climate conference starts in Paris that could bring a “saddened” Turkish president and his Russiancounterpart together. 

In a press briefing held at Ankara’s airport prior to his departure for a EU-Turkey Summit in Brussels on Nov. 29, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the body of Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov, who died after his plane was downed by Turkish F-16s on Nov. 24 when it reportedly breached Turkish airspace for 17 seconds, had been taken by Turkey and would be sent to Russia on its request.

“The Russian pilot, who lost his life during the airspace violation was delivered to our border yesterday night at 1:45 a.m.,” said Davutoğlu, adding that Orthodox clerics in the southern province of Hatay had performed funeral rites over the pilot’s body. 

“The body will be handed to Russia on their request after our initiatives,” he added. 

Peshkov was reportedly killed by Turkmen forces as he descended to ground in a parachute.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Isis: David Cameron plans to go to war, but has not produced realistic plans for defeating the group- The Independent

David Cameron made a reasonable case last week for Britain going to war with Isis in Syria; what he did not do is explain how this war is going to be won by Britain or anybody else. Even now, 18 months after Isis captured Mosul, there is a tendency by world leaders to underestimate its political and military strength. 
Mr Cameron said that “military action [by the US, UK and others] seeks to degrade Isis’s capabilities, so that Iraqi security forces can effectively secure Iraq and moderate forces in Syria can defend the territory they control”. 
It would certainly be nice if that happened, except that the Iraqi state security forces are demoralised, dysfunctional and have had difficulty finding new recruits since they have been repeatedly defeated by Isis over the past two years. In Syria, we are to look to 70,000 “moderate” fighters whose existence Mr Cameron revealed to the House of Commons, but nobody in Syria has ever heard of. 

Franjieh nomination for Lebanese president hits snag- Gulf News

Leading Lebanese politicians have expressed strong reservations against the potential candidacy of pro-Syrian MP Sulaiman Franjieh. Recently, the Lebanese legislator became an appealing alternative after a series of secret meetings between Future Movement leader Sa’ad Hariri and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. Neither of the leaders have formally backed Franjieh but international and regional events seemed to push the two towards reaching an agreement quickly.
Presidential deadlock has plagued the country since May 2014 with the March 8 movement insisting on Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and the March 14 movement insisting on Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
Both FPM and LF officials have raised objections to Hariri’s recent initiative to push for Franjieh’s nomination.
Aoun, known for his long-held obsession with becoming Lebanese president, refuses to bow out of the race. He has conditioned his backing of Franjieh on specific guarantees over a proposed parliamentary electoral law that would facilitate his party’s victory. Hezbollah mouthpieces also reiterated their sole choice for the post was Aoun.

Putin approves economic sanctions against Turkey following downing of Russian warplane- RT

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree imposing a package of economic sanctions against Turkey following its downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber in Syria. The measures include banning several Turkish organizations and the import of certain goods.
A decree on "measures providing the national security of the Russian Federation and the protection of its citizens against criminal and other unlawful acts, and on imposing special economic measures in relation to Turkish Republic" was signed on Saturday, the Kremlin press service said.
Under the decree, the import of certain products originating from Turkey will be temporarily banned or restricted.
A number of Turkish organizations operating in Russia will also be restricted.
Employers in Russia will be prohibited from hiring Turkish nationals for work starting January 1, 2016.
The ban will touch upon only new workers, the decree said, adding that employees who already officially hired as of December 31, 2015 will not fall subject to the sanctions.

Putin, Türkiye’ye özel ekonomik tedbirlerin uygulanması kararını imzaladı- Sputnik News

Rusya Devlet Başkanı Putin, Türkiye'ye yönelik özel ekonomik tedbirler uygulanması yönündeki karara onay verdi.

Türkiye'ye özel ekonomik tedbirlerin uygulanması kararını imzalayan Rusya Devlet Başkanı Vladimir Putin, Türkiye yargı yetkisinde olan kurum ve kuruluşların Rusya’da bazı çalışmalarda bulunmasını yasakladı. Putin ayrıca Rus işverenlerin, 1 Ocak 2016’dan itibaren Türk vatandaşlarını işe alımına da yasak getirdi.

Russia Imposes Economic Restrictions Against Turkey After Downing of Su-24- Sputnik News

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Saturday to boost national security and introduce economic measures against Turkey, the Kremlin press service said.

The visa-free regime between the countries will be partially suspended after January 1, 2016. The measure does not concern Turkish nationals who have a temporary or permanent resident permit, as well as Turkish staff of diplomatic or consular missions in Russia and their families.

Turkey-Russia jet downing: Erdogan 'saddened' over plane- BBC News

Turkey's president has said he is "saddened" by the downing of a Russian combat jet by Turkish forces on the Syrian border last Tuesday.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he wished the incident had not happened and hoped it would not happen again.
He has so far refused to apologise to Russia, accusing Moscow of "playing with fire" in its Syria operations.
The president's remarks came as Turkey warned its citizens against non-essential travel to Russia.

Syrian army advances against Islamic State east of Aleppo: Syria state TV- Reuters

The Syrian army captured territory from Islamic State east of Aleppo including several kilometers (miles) of highway linking the city with the jihadists' de facto capital of Raqqa, Syrian state TV reported on Saturday.
The areas reported captured are east of the Kweires, air base seized from Islamic State control on Nov. 10 in one of several offensives being waged by the Syrian army with support from Russian air strikes, Iranian forces, and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.
Reuters could not independently confirm the report.
A headline flashed on state TV said the army had captured the two villages of Kaskis and Akula and wide areas of agricultural land, seizing tunnels and fortifications built by the jihadists, and were demining areas mined by the group.
The villages are about 60 km (40 miles) east of Aleppo.
The highway mentioned in the report runs southeast from Akula to the west of the Euphrates river. The road passes through Islamic State-held Tabqa on its way to Raqqa, which is 150 km (90 miles) from Akula.

Rusya kabinesi, bugün Türkiye gündemiyle toplanacak- Sputnik News

Rusya hükümeti, Su-24 uçağının Türk jetleri tarafından düşürülmesine yanıt vermek amacıyla, Türkiye'ye karşı uygulanacak ekonomik sınırlamaları görüşmek için bugün toplanacak.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Rusya Kültür Bakanlığı, Türksoy ile ilişkilerini askıya aldı- Sputnik News

Rusya'ya ait Su-24 tipi bir savaş uçağının sınır ihlali yaptığı iddiası ile Türk F-16'ları tarafından düşürülmesinin ardından farklı ülkelerden açıklamalar gelmeye devam ediyor.

Rusya Federal Tarım Ürünleri Denetleme Ajansı Rosselhoznadzor’dan yapılan açıklamada, Kaliningrad’a getirilen 54 ton tavuğun gerekli sağlık koşullarına uymadığı gerekçesiyle iade edildiği belirtildi.
Rusya Kültür Bakanı Vladimir Medinskiy,  merkezi Ankara’da bulunan ve Türkçe konuşan ülkeleri bir araya getiren Türksoy Uluslararası Türk Kültürü Teşkilatı ile arasındaki ilişkileri askıya aldıklarını açıkladı.

Rusya vizesiz girişi donduruyor- Al-Jazeera Turk

Rusya Dışişleri Bakanı Lavrov, ülkesinin Türkiye’ye vize serbestîsinin 1 Ocak itibariyle askıya alınacağını söyledi. Kremlin'den de Putin'in Erdoğan'la görüşmeyi reddettiği açıklaması geldi.

Rusya Dışişleri Bakanı Sergey Lavrov, ülkesinin Türkiye’ye vize serbestîsinin 1 Ocak itibariyle dondurulacağını söyledi.
Kremlin Sarayı'ndan yapılan açıklamada da Türkiye'nin düşürülen Rus uçağı nedeniyle kendilerinden özür dilemediği, bu nedenle Putin'in Erdoğan'la görüşmeyi reddettiği belirtildi.
Türk hava sahasını ihlâl ettiği için Rus uçağının düşürülmesinin ardından Erdoğan ve Putin'in 30 Kasım'da Paris'te düzenlenecek İklim Zirvesi'nde bir araya gelme ihtimâli doğmuştu. Ancak Kremlin'den yapılan açıklamada, "Türkiye, uçağımızı düşürdüğü için özür dilemedi, bu yüzden Putin, Erdoğan'la görüşmeyi reddetti" denildi. 

Turkey warns Russia not to 'play with fire' over downed jet- BBC News

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Russia's President Vladimir Putin not to "play with fire" over his country's downing of a Russian jet.
Mr Erdogan also said he wanted to meet Mr Putin "face-to-face" at climate talks in Paris to resolve the issue.
Mr Putin wants an apology from Turkey before he will speak to Mr Erdogan, the Russian president's aide said.
Russia has decided to suspend its visa-free arrangement with Turkey, Russia's foreign minister announced.

Davutoğlu Times'a yazdı: Rusya ortak düşman IŞİD'e odaklanmalı- BBC Türkçe

Başbakan Ahmet Davutoğlu, İngiliz Times gazetesi için yazdığı makalede, Türkiye'nin bir Rus savaş uçağını düşürmesinin Rusya'ya karşı yapılmış bir eylem olmadığını belirtti. Davutoğlu Rusya'dan, "ortak düşman" olarak nitelendirdiği IŞİD'le mücadeleye odaklanmasını istedi.
Davutoğlu'nun Times'taki yazısının başlığı da, "Rusya ortak düşmana odaklanmalı".
Yazı şu satırlarla başlıyor:
"Kimliği belirlenemeyen jetin Türk hava sahasında düşürülmesi, belirli bir ülkeye karşı yapılmış bir eylem değildi."
Davutoğlu Türkiye'nin, mevcut angajman kuralları temelinde, egemen olduğu toprakların bütünlüğünü korumak üzere harekete geçtiğini belirtiyor. Gerilimi düşürmek için Rusya ve müttefikleriyle birlikte çalışacaklarını da ekliyor.

Russia ready to coordinate steps to block Turkish-Syrian border — FM- TASS

MOSCOW, November 27. /TASS/. Russia is ready to coordinate practical steps to block the Turkish-Syrian border in cooperation with Damascus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday after talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.
Lavrov recalled that French President Francois Hollande earlier voiced the proposal to adopt specific measures to block the Turkish-Syrian border.