"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


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

MGK: Terör koridoru oluşturma hedeflerine izin verilmeyecek- AA

Milli Güvenlik Kurulu (MGK) toplantısı sonrası yayınlanan bildiride, "Uluslararası topluma, Halep'te devam eden insanlık trajedisini sona erdirme konusunda her türlü girişimde bulunma çağrısı yapılmıştır. Rejimin, hastaneler dahil, sivil hedefleri bombalamak suretiyle her yaştan pek çok masum insanın ölümüne sebep olduğu, bu durumun artık engellenmesi için derhal devreye girilmesi gereken bir 'insanlık suçu' halini aldığı belirtilmiştir." ifadelerine yer verildi.

Syria Says Israeli Missiles on Damascus Launched from Lebanese Airspace- Naharnet

The Israeli air force fired two missiles at dawn on Wednesday that hit near Damascus, which Syrian state television said were launched from Lebanese airspace.
The airstrikes caused no casualties, the television said.
"The air force of the Israeli enemy today launched two missiles from Lebanese air space," it said, adding that they hit the Sabbura area west of Damascus.
Israel, which is technically still at war with Syria, has sought to limit its involvement in its neighbor’s five-year conflict. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thousands Flee Aleppo, Syria, as Government Forces Advance- The New York Times

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Thousands of people were sent fleeing for their lives on Monday as rebel fighters lost a large stretch of territory to government forces in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, in what could prove to be a turning point in the conflict, both militarily and psychologically.

Residents described desperate scenes of people’s being killed by shells as they searched for shelter after their homes came under the heaviest bombardment yet of the nearly five-year civil war. Years of airstrikes and shelling have destroyed entire neighborhoods of the rebel-held half of the divided city, once Syria’s largest and an industrial hub.

At least 4,000 people have fled from the rebel-held eastern districts to the city’s government-controlled western side and have registered with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Jibreen, a neighborhood there, Jens Laerke, the spokesman for the United Nations office of humanitarian affairs, said on Monday.

Hariri Meets Aoun, Vows to Maintain Good Ties with Berri- Naharnet

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri held consultations Monday with President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Palace after which he pledged to maintain good ties with Speaker Nabih Berri.
"There are some obstacles in the cabinet formation process but we will try to resolve them," Hariri said after the talks.
He also noted that Aoun is keen on the country's economy.
Aoun's election and Hariri's appointment as premier-designate have raised hopes that Lebanon can begin tackling challenges including a stagnant economy, a moribund political class and the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

Egypt denies military presence in Syria- Middle East Monitor

Egypt’s foreign ministry has denied Arab media reports about an Egyptian military presence in Syria.
“These claims only exist in the imagination of those promoting them,” the Egyptian foreign ministry’s spokesman, Ahmed Abu Zeid, said in a statement Sunday, stressing that Egypt is committed to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

Map Comparison: Military Situation in Aleppo City on May 11 vs Aleppo City on November 28- South Front

Syrian troops capture major Aleppo zone- Al-Arabiya

Syrian government forces and their allies captured a major eastern Aleppo neighborhood and several smaller areas Monday, putting much of the northern part of Aleppo’s besieged rebel-held areas under government control, state media reported.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the areas captured by Syrian government troops include 10 neighborhoods and over 3,000 buildings. The ministry said in a statement that more than 100 rebels have laid down their arms and exited the Syrian city’s eastern suburbs.
Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and former commercial center, has been contested since the summer of 2012 and a rebel defeat in the city would be a turning in the five-year conflict. If Syrian forces capture all of east Aleppo, President Bashar Assad’s government will be in control of the country’s four largest cities as well as the coastal region.
The government’s push, backed by thousands of Shiite militia fighters from Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, and under the occasional cover of the Russian air force, has laid waste to Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods.

Rebels lose third of east Aleppo territory- BBC News

Syrian government forces have captured more than a third of rebel-held territory in eastern Aleppo.
The advance, after heavy bombing from the air, is a major blow for the armed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.
State TV said government troops were dismantling mines and explosives and continuing their advance.
Thousands of civilians have fled the besieged districts after a weekend of heavy fighting. Hundreds of families have been displaced.

Turkish Foreign Minister Expected in Beirut- Naharnet

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is expected to visit Beirut next week carrying a message of congratulations from Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan to newly elected President Michel Aoun, and to highlight the latest developments of concern for both countries following his latest visit to Iran, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday.
After his visit to Iran on Saturday where he met with President Hassan Rouhani, Cavusoglu is expected in Beirut to congratulate Aoun on his election, and to hold meetings with senior Lebanese officials including Speaker Nabih Berri, PM-designate Saad Hariri and Caretaker PM Tammam Salam, said the daily.
Talks are said to discuss the latest developments in the region in light of the open connections between the Turkish President and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin which dealt in detail with the developments in Syria and the repercussions of the crisis of displaced Syrians on neighboring countries including Lebanon, it added.

Syria army captures key Aleppo districts- Al-Jazeera

The Syrian army has said that it captured two districts of the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo city in two days, as government air raids continued to target opposition-held parts of the country.
The army said it and its allies had taken full control of the Jabal Badro and Baadeen districts on Sunday, a day after capturing Hanano, a neighbouring residential district.
The fighting has now moved to neighbouring districts, including Haidariya and Sakhur.

Muhalifler Doğu Halep'in "3'te 1'ini kaybetti"- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye’de rejim güçleriyle yanında savaşan İran destekli Şii milisler, son 3 gündeki çatışmalar sonucunda Doğu Halep'te muhaliflerin kontrolündeki 10 mahalleyi ele geçirdi. Muhaliflerin kaybettiği bölgeleri terk eden sivillerin bir kısmı muhalif bölgelere, bir kısmı YPG’nin denetimindeki Şeyh Maksud bölgesine, bir kısmı ise rejimin bölgelerine sığındı.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Syria army captures rebel-held Hanano area in Aleppo- Al-Jazeera

The Syrian army said it had taken control of an important district in rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Saturday after fierce fighting, with rebels blaming intense air strikes and lack of hospitals for their collapsing frontline.
Government forces advanced with a ground and air assault on the edge of the besieged eastern half of the city into the Hanano housing area, a move designed to split the rebel-held east in two.

Rusya: Suriye ordusu Halep’te 8 bölgeyi teröristlerden geri aldı- Sputnik News

Suriye ordusunun Batı Halep’teki 8 bölgeyi teröristlerden geri aldığını belirten Rusya Savunma Bakanlığı, 2.500 sivilin de tahliye edildiğini açıkladı.

Rusya’nın Suriye’deki ateşkes izleme merkezinin günlük bülteninde, Suriye ordusunun Halep’in kuzeyinde kontrolü yeniden sağlamasının ardından 40’tan fazla militanın silah bırakarak teslim olduğu aktarıldı. Açıklamada, “El Kadisiye bölgesinde 42 militan savaşa devam etmeyi reddetti ve silahlarını bıraktı” dendi.

Syria war: Army makes rapid gains in rebel-held east Aleppo- BBC News

Syrian government forces have been making rapid advances into eastern Aleppo, forcing thousands of civilians to flee.
The Syrian army captured Jabal Badro on Sunday, a day after seizing Hanano district, and is making in-roads in other neighbourhoods.
Its aim is to divide the rebel-held east of the city in two.
Some reports said several thousand civilians were trying to escape, to government and other rebel-held areas.
Some 275,000 people are believed to remain in eastern Aleppo, where food and medical supplies have all but run out.

Govt Forces Capture Al Sakhur Neighborhood. Militants Withdrawing from Northern Aleppo – Reports- South Front

The Syrian army and Liwa al-Quds have seized significant areas in the Al Sakhur Neighborhood after the liberation of Jabal Badro Neighborhood, according to local sources.
Intense fighting is ongoing between government troops and Jaish al-Fatah militants. However, Jaish al-Fatah doesn’t have enough defenses in the area to keep it significant time. So, most likely, the area will fall into hadns of the Syrian army in the coming hours. This will split easten Aleppo pocket into two separate parts.
Pro-government sources argue that the whole Al Sakhur Neighborhood is already under the control of Syrian army, but this cannot be confirmed by neutral sources. Pro-militant media outlets say that Jaish al-Fatah is “strategically withdrawing” from parts of northern Aleppo.
Government forces are also storming the Baadeen Neighborhood.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar: A Prominent Loyalist Militia in Suwayda’- Syria Comment

The predominantly Druze province of Suwayda’ in southern Syria has a variety of militia factions, some of which lean more third-way and reformist from within (most notably the Rijal al-Karama movement) and others of a more Assad regime loyalist orientation. Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar (“Guardians of the Abode Battalions,” whose name references the Syrian national anthem Humat al-Diyar) represents one of the latter factions. It is led by Nazih Jerbo’ (Abu Hussein), who is a relative of Sheikh Yusuf Jerbo’, one of the three Mashayakh al-‘Aql representing the highest religious authorities among the Druze in Syria. On account of the Mashayakh al-‘Aql’s links with the regime, Sheikh Yusuf Jerbo’, who succeeded Nazih’s father Hussein on the latter’s death in December 2012, is firmly on the regime’s side and indeed has played an important role in the building of Dir’ al-Watan, a pro-regime formation in Suwayda’ province that was set up more recently than Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar. According to Samir al-Shabali, who led a Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar contingent in the Suwayda’ village of Ariqa but is now in the Kata’ib al-Ba’ath (“Ba’ath Brigades”), Kata’ib Humat al-Diyar’s origins date much further back to 2012.

Qatar will help Syrian rebels even if Trump ends U.S. role- Reuters

Qatar will continue to arm Syrian rebels even if Donald Trump ends U.S. backing for the multinational effort, Doha's foreign minister said in an interview, signaling its determination to pursue a policy the U.S. President-elect may abandon.

But Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the wealthy Gulf state would not "go solo" and supply shoulder-fired missiles to the rebels to defend themselves against Syrian and Russian warplanes.

Two new rebel evacuation deals near Damascus: monitor- Reuters

Two deals to evacuate rebels and their weapons from parts of the Damascus suburbs have been reached, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday, as government attacks on the remaining opposition-held areas around the capital intensify.

The evacuation deals are part of the Syrian government's attempts to conclude local agreements with rebels in besieged areas that have resulted in rebels being given safe passage to insurgent-controlled areas.

Rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad say the agreements are part of a government strategy to forcibly displace populations from opposition-held areas after years of siege and bombardment.

Rouhani urges Iran-Turkey joint efforts in Iraq, Syria- Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on Saturday for greater cooperation between regional rivals Iran and Turkey to help establish stability in Syria and Iraq.

"Today when the region is in a critical condition, cooperation and consultation by Tehran and Ankara in resolving issues can make a difference," Rouhani told visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Iran's state news agency IRNA reported.

"If major regional powers stand together, problems in Iraq and Syria will be resolved without the need for foreign powers," Rouhani added.

"Despite (their differences), the two countries' officials are looking for solutions and seeking to draw closer their points of views, especially on Iraq and Syria," IRNA earlier reported.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Voice From the Shadows (Aron Lund- Carnegie)

A political taboo was quietly shattered this month, when one of Syria’s most powerful security officials, Lieutenant General Jamil al-Hassan, gave his first-ever interview to a Russian news site.
Though Hassan mostly voiced common pro-government positions that are in themselves unremarkable, the interview itself was a groundbreaking event. As head of the Air Force Intelligence Directorate, Hassan has almost never been heard from in public before, and Syrian intelligence chiefs take great care to stay out of the limelight. But another thing stood out, too: Hassan’s implicit criticism of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for having shown too much restraint in the early days of the Syrian uprising in 2011.
This rare public intervention from one of the most powerful men in Syria set off some interesting reactions.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Aoun Vows to 'Protect State's Interests, Citizens' Rights'- Naharnet

President Michel Aoun on Thursday pledged to “protect the interests of the State” and to “preserve the rights of the citizens.”
“Lebanon will rise again and there are signs of improvement. The State will be strong again and Lebanon will return to being the first economic, financial and ethical hub in the Levant,” Aoun told a delegation from the Higher Greek Orthodox Council.
He also promised to cater to “the needs of citizens in Beirut and the rest of the Lebanese cities and towns,” noting that he will meet the invitations that he received from several Arab countries “on the basis of mutual respect, not subordination.”
Aoun's election as Lebanon's 13th president after two and a half years of presidential void has raised hopes that Lebanon can begin tackling challenges including a stagnant economy, a moribund political class and the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hariri and Aoun in Agreement on Cabinet Formation- Naharnet

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri stressed on Monday that there are no disagreements between him and President Michel Aoun on the process of lining-up the new cabinet.
“We are in agreement with the President on everything. There are only some difficulties,” said Hariri after meeting Aoun at the Baabda Palace.
Asked about the parties that are disrupting the formation process, he said: “Those obstructing the formation are known, go and ask them.”
Following the election of Aoun in October, Hariri was designated to form a cabinet.

Aoun Says Keen on Boosting Ties with Riyadh after Meeting Top Saudi Envoy- Naharnet

A high-ranking Saudi delegation held talks Monday with President Michel Aoun as part of an official visit to Lebanon.
“I carried two letters to the president from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (King Salman). The first contains congratulations on his election as president of the republic and the second contains an invitation to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Mecca Governor Prince Khaled al-Faisal said after the meeting.
“His Excellency promised to make the visit after the formation of the government,” he added.
In a statement issued after the talks, Aoun stressed Lebanon's keenness on "strengthening the Lebanese-Saudi ties," hailing "the stances that Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz has taken to support Lebanon.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Aoun Receives Independence Greetings from U.S., U.N., Regional Leaders- Naharnet

President Michel Aoun has received cables greeting him on the occasion of Lebanon's Independence Day from several world leaders, topped by U.S. President Barack Obama, state-run National News Agency reported on Sunday.
In his cable, Obama pledged that the U.S. will maintain its support for the Lebanese people and for Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and stability.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz meanwhile wished progress and prosperity for Lebanon's president, government and people.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Gemayel Vows Support for Aoun, Urges Him to Seek 'New Lebanon'- Naharnet

Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel pledged Thursday to support President Michel Aoun in the beginning of his presidential tenure while urging him to “improve the political system.”
“We will not bargain on our principles, neither for the presidential election nor for a ministerial seat or a parliamentary vote,” Gemayel said in an interview on LBCI television, explaining why Kataeb did not vote for Aoun in the presidential election.
He reiterated that “what happened in the presidential elections gave Hizbullah the power to choose the president now and in the future.”
“All parties considered that they won after the presidential vote and we're the only group in Lebanon that acknowledged its defeat,” Gemayel told LBCI.
“We will bear the responsibility for our stance and we held three days of discussions before taking our final stance and we knew that there would be an attempt to besiege Kataeb in connection with its stance,” the Kataeb chief added.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

In Video: 3 Nusra commanders killed by Russian airstrikes in Syria’s Idlib- Al-Masdar News

Dozens of jihadi fighters, including 3 senior commanders, were killed by Russian airstrikes on their positions in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, Russian Ministry of Defense stated.

ÖSO El Bâb kapısında- Al-Jazeera Turk

Türkiye destekli Suriyeli muhalifler IŞİD’in elindeki El Bâb’a çok yaklaştı. Menbic'den Fırat'ın doğusuna çekileceğini açıklayan YPG ise, açıklamasının aksine, Afrin’den Kobani’ye koridor oluşturmak için El Bab’a girmeye çalışıyor. Washington ise iki grup arasında çıkabilecek çatışmaları engellemenin yollarını arıyor.

Russia Strikes Kill at Least 30 Jihadists in Syria- Naharnet

Russian air strikes have killed at least 30 jihadists in rebel-held Idlib province in northwestern Syria, the defence ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
The strikes, which began on Tuesday, were part of a major operation against jihadists in Idlib and Homs which saw the first missions carried out by Russian warplanes taking off from the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier that arrived off Syria last week.
In the statement, ministry spokesman Igor Konachenkov said those killed were fighters with the Fateh al-Sham Front.
"According to information from different intelligence sources, at least 30 terrorists were killed," he said, indicating that one of them was a jihadist leader charged with "preparing and carrying out a new offensive in Aleppo".

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hariri Visits Aoun as 'Draft Cabinet Line-Up' Surfaces- Naharnet

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri held talks Wednesday evening at the Baabda Palace with President Michel Aoun.
"Some details are being mulled regarding the cabinet line-up and the atmosphere is positive," said Hariri after the meeting.
Asked whether the cabinet line-up will be announced soon, the PM-designate said "God willing."
Several political parties had announced earlier in the day that the government might be formed “within 48 or 72 hours” after resolving the remaining obstacles.
MTV said Hariri submitted to Aoun a draft line-up that might be announced very soon.
The following is the draft line-up as reported by MTV:
- Shiites: Ali Hassan Khalil (Finance, AMAL Movement), Yassine Jaber (Public Works or Economy, AMAL), Ali Abdullah (Public Works or Economy, AMAL), Ali Fayyad (Industry or Agriculture, Hizbullah) and a fifth minister who would be loyal to the president.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Putin sets task to ensure reliable protection of Russian forces in Syria- TASS

SOCHI, November 15. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin set a task to ensure a reliable air support to Russian forces in Syria and sked Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to report how this task was fulfilled.

"I would like to ask you and the General Staff to elaborate and implement a set of measures to ensure reliable protection of the bases in Tartus and Hmeimin from air and from sea. What was done for that?," Putin asked.

Shoigu reported that a lot of work has been done "to organize a multi-tier defense system." Thus, he mentioned the S-400, S-300 and Bastion systems

Başbakan 5-6 Aralık’ta Rusya’ya gidiyor- Hürriyet

BAŞBAKAN Binali Yıldırım, 5-6 Aralık’ta Rusya’ya resmi bir ziyaret yapacak.

Uçak krizinin ardından ilk kez Rusya’ya gidecek olan Başbakan Yıldırım, ziyaret kapsamında Rusya Başbakanı Dmitri Medvedev ile biraraya gelecek. Görüşmelerde iki ülke arasında ticaretin yeniden kriz öncesine dönmesi için atılacak adımlar ele alınacak. Türkiye'nin Rusya'ya en büyük ihracat kalemlerinden olan domates başta olmak üzere sebze ihracatındaki yasağın kaldırılması, ticarette yerel paraların, TL-Ruble'nin kullanılması, serbest ticaret bölgesi kurulması ve turizm gibi başlıklar da gündeme gelecek.

Russian Naval Group in Syria Protected by S-300, Bastion, Pantsir Systems- Sputnik News

The Russian naval group in Syria is protected by the Bastion coastal defense system, S-300, S-400 and Pantsir systems, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday.

Russia's Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier Begins Combat Operations in Syria- Sputnik News

Russian Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft-carrying cruiser has begun combat operations in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday.

"Today, we started a major operation to launch massive strikes on Daesh and al-Nusra Front targets in the Idlib and Homs provinces [in Syria]," Shoigu said at Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with the ministry’s leadership and defense enterprises.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Russian MIG-29 Crashes in Med After Takeoff From Aircraft Carrier- Sputnik News

Russian MIG-29K jet crashes in the Mediterranean Sea after taking off from the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft-carrying cruiser, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The pilot of the MIG-29 fighter jet ejected, his life is not in danger, the Russian Defense Ministry said. According to the ministry, technical fault was the reason for the incident during a training mission.

TSK El Bâb'ı vurdu- Al-Jazeera Turk

TSK'dan yapılan açıklamada IŞİD'in elindeki El Bâb kentindeki 15 hedefe hava harekâtı düzenlendiği belirtildi. El Bâb yönünde İlerleyişini süren ÖSO birlikleri dün kentin 2 kilometre yakınına ulaşmıştı.

TSK, bölgedeki çatışmalarda dokuz Suriyeli muhalifin şehit olduğunu duyurdu. El Bab'ın kuzeyinde yer alan Dana bölgesinde, bir Zırhlı Muharebe Aracı (ZMA)’nın güdümlü tanksavar roketi ile vurulması ve bir insansız hava aracından atılan EYP’nin isabet etmesi sonucu dört TSK personelinin de hafif şekilde yaralandığı bildirildi.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

China’s Interests in Syria and the Middle East – by Dr. Christina Lin- Syria Comment

China’s Interests in Syria and the Middle East
By Dr. Christina Lin
Syria Comment – November 13, 2016
Interview with Dr. Christina Lin about China’s view of Syria, ISIS, Ughurs and Turkey

  • What is China’s motivation for a greater involvement in Syria, considering that many Uighur fighters seem to be going to Syria, with the goal of making a new permanent home for themselves, and thus not returning to China?
China does not want Syria to turn into a haven/base for Uyghurs to attack Chinese citizens and interests overseas as well as in the Chinese homeland.  The August 30 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Krgyzstan, planned by Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria and financed by Al Nusra, is a sign of what is to come if they continue to grow.  This is similar to what provoked Washington to invade Afghanistan in 2001 to deny Al Qaeda a base to plan further attacks against the US.
  • China has traditionally not been very interested in Syria, unlike Russia for example – what are they hoping to gain from helping Assad?
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is the most effective fighting force countering terrorists in Syria.  I’ve documented in my previous Asia Times article about Asian jihadists especially from Uzbekistan and China based in Aleppo and Idlib. So SAA is fighting Asian militants in Syria (which China dub as the new Afghanistan) on behalf of the Chinese and Central Asian states.  It is natural that China would help the Syrian government’s counter-terrorism efforts against anti-Chinese militants and other terrorist groups in Syria.
It is important to understand that China is taking a comprehensive approach towards the two Afghanistans—one in Central Asia and one in the Middle East—they are not separate and are interlinked with the same terrorist actors. China is already training Afghan security forces and will step up its aid to the Syrian security forces.  The West makes a mistake in looking at them separately, but they are the same issue for China.

Al-Rahi Urges 'Inclusive' Govt. Conforming to National Pact 'before Independence Day'- Naharnet

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday called for the formation of an “inclusive government” before Independence Day, which will be marked on November 22.
“The Lebanese want the anticipated new government to be an inclusive, consensual and effective government. A government that unites rather than divides, a government that shares responsibilities with the spirit of the National Pact and the constitution, not with the mentality of the distribution of shares or clinging to a certain ministerial portfolio,” al-Rahi said during his Sunday Mass sermon.
“They hope it will be formed before Independence Day so that their joy would be complete,” al-Rahi added.
President Michel Aoun's election and Saad Hariri's appointment as premier-designate have raised hopes that Lebanon can begin tackling challenges including a stagnant economy, a moribund political class and the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

Russian Air Force launches nonstop airstrikes over northern Hama- Al-Masdar News

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:50 P.M.) - The Russian Air Force has been relentless tonight over the northern Hama countryside, launching nonstop airstrikes above the jihadist positions in several villages.
According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent, the Russian Air Force began the night by targeting the group of villages under jihadist control located near the government-held town of Mhardeh.
The field correspondent added that these airstrikes specifically targeted the large villages of Taybat Al-Imam, Helfaya, Al-Lataminah, Kafr Zita, and Morek.

Syrian army warns Aleppo rebels of 'strategic offensive' within 24 hours- Middle East Eye

Government forces clash with rebels on the outskirts of eastern Aleppo, warning them in messages they have 24 hours to leave.

Syrian government forces clashed with rebels on the outskirts of eastern Aleppo city Sunday, a monitor said, after residents received messages from the army giving opposition fighters 24 hours to leave.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, and an AFP correspondent in rebel-held east Aleppo reported clashes in the Karam al-Turab district and the village of Al-Aziza just outside the city.
The AFP correspondent said the fighting could be heard in much of the rebel-held east, which is surrounded by government forces and has come under repeated assault since the army announced an operation to recapture it in September.
The fighting came as residents in east Aleppo received text messages warning rebels to leave within 24 hours.
"Gunmen in east Aleppo, you have 24 hours only to take the decision to leave," the message said.

Syrian Army gives jihadists 24 hours to surrender before launching massive offensive in Aleppo- Al-Masdar News

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:40 A.M.) - The Syrian Arab Army has given the jihadist rebels 24 hours to surrender themselves to the nearest government checkpoint.
Using a loud speaker, a Syrian Arab Army officer demanded that the jihadist rebels surrender in the next 24 hours or else they will face severe consequences.
What are these consequences? The Syrian Army officer stated over the loud speaker that their forces will launch a massive military operation following the 24 hour deadline.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Russian Warship Flotilla Now off Syrian Coast- Naharnet

A flotilla of Russian warships is now in the eastern Mediterranean off the Syrian coast after being sent to reinforce Russia's military in the area, a naval commander said on state television.
The commander of Russia's flagship Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier Sergei Artamonov said via videolink that the ships are "in the eastern Mediterranean" and "are now jointly carrying out tasks, manoeuvering to the west of the Syrian coast". 

Syrian Troops Reverse Rebel Advance West of Aleppo- Naharnet

Syrian government forces regained control Saturday of areas they lost over the past two weeks to a rebel offensive on the edge of the northern city of Aleppo, ending a major attempt by insurgents to break the siege on eastern parts of the city, an activist group and pro-government media said.
The insurgents had seized a couple of strategic areas in western Aleppo after launching an offensive on Oct. 28 in an attempt to break the siege imposed in July on rebel-held eastern Aleppo, which has also been targeted by waves of Syrian and Russian airstrikes.
Russia said last month that it would halt the airstrikes on the city and urged insurgents to leave. But the fighters, including members of the al-Qaida-linked Fatah al-Sham Front, refused to leave after the government opened corridors for them to cross to the nearby province of Idlib, an insurgent stronghold.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that government forces and their allies have regained control of Al-Assad and Minyan districts, west of Aleppo.
"The epic battle for Aleppo has failed," said the Observatory's chief Rami Abdurrahman, using the term that the insurgents had assigned to the offensive.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Syrian army makes 'significant gains' in Aleppo- Al-Jazeera

Reports suggest Assad forces and allies have seized control of 1070 Apartments but armed groups say they are resisting.

The Syrian army says it has taken a strategic district of Aleppo in what would mark the most important advance in the divided city by the government and its allies in weeks.
However, anti-government fighters say the battle is not over.
The 1070 Apartments district is located on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo and lies alongside the government's corridor into the parts of the city that it controls.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based group that reports on the war, said government forces and their allies seized full control of 1070 Apartments on Tuesday, calling it the most significant gain by the government in Aleppo since September.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Russia to launch 'large-scale' airstrikes on Syria as Americans vote- The Guardian

Russia has threatened to launch “large-scale” cruise missile and airstrikes on Aleppo to coincide with the US election, according to media reports from Moscow.
The strikes, predicted in the 24 hours from Tuesday morning, would be targeted at the outskirts of the city where rebel groups have been seeking to break the Assad regime’s siege of opposition-held eastern districts. They would involve cruise missiles, carrier-based and land-based warplanes, the reports said.
A military source told the Gazeta.ru website: “While in previous cases, when missile attacks were launched from the Caspian Sea, there were dozens of targets destroyed, this time, in literally two to three days, hundreds of terrorist targets will be destroyed from long range.”

Turkey upset at US for backing PKK-linked group- AA

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday it was “not right” for the U.S. to arm the YPG terrorist organization.
Speaking at a news conference in the Turkish capital alongside his Bosnian counterpart Igor Crnadak, Cavusoglu said:
"The U.S. said it did not give weapons to the YPG...We captured some of these guns in the hands of the PKK in Turkey.
“There is no distinction between the PKK and YPG. That is why it is not right for the U.S. to give weapons to such a terrorist organization."
He added Turkey knew the U.S. was arming the YPG. Cavusoglu said Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s top military figure, told U.S. General Joseph Dunford during an Ankara visit on Sunday not to supply weapons to the terror group.
Cavusoglu said, at Akar’s suggestion, a high-ranking American officer would be stationed at the U.S. embassy for dialogue and cooperation between the two countries' militaries.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Kurtulmuş'tan Rakka operasyonu açıklaması: Arap olmayan unsurlarca ele geçirilmesi...- Sputnik News

Hükümet Sözcüsü Numan Kurtulmuş, dün başlayan Rakka operasyonuna dair "Rakka'nın Arap olmayan unsurlarca ele geçirilmesi ve yönetilmesi bölge barışına katkı sunmaz" dedi.

Bakanlar Kurulu toplantısının ardından açıklama yapan kurtulmuş şunları söyledi:

"Son günlerde Türkiye'nin sınır bölgesine yapmış olduğu askeri sevkiyat, Türkiye'nin olası tedbirleri çerçevesinde atılmış olan bir adımdır. Onun için Rakka'nın, tamamı Arap olan bir kentin, Arap olmayan unsurlar tarafından ele geçirilmesi ve onlar tarafından yönetilmesinin, herhangi bir şekilde bölge barışına katkıda bulunmayacağını ifade etmek isteriz.

Zarif Meets Aoun, Says President Election 'Victory for All Lebanese'- Naharnet

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks Monday in Baabda with newly-elected President Michel Aoun as part of an official visit to Lebanon that will also include meetings with other top Lebanese officials.
“I seized this opportunity to extend the warmest congratulations to President Aoun on his assumption of the presidency, in my name and in the name of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and all Iranians,” Zarif said after the meeting at the Baabda Palace which was also attended by caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil.
“We welcomed the fact that the presidential election in Lebanon was held without any foreign interference. Lebanon's success in holding the presidential vote after two and a half years of vacuum is a victory for all Lebanese,” Zarif underlined.
He said his visit is aimed at “developing and boosting bilateral ties at the political and economic levels.”

Aoun Receives Assad Envoy who Emphasizes 'Deep' Ties- Naharnet

Newly elected President Michel Aoun received at the Presidential Palace on Monday envoy of Syrian President and Minister of Presidential Affairs Mansour Azzam, the state-run National News Agency reported.
The envoy was accompanied by Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali, it added.
Azzam conveyed a congratulatory message from Syrian President Bashar Assad to Aoun on his election.
He also emphasized the “deep” ties between Syria and Lebanon.
Later during the day, Aoun received Head of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council Nasri Khoury.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Rebel force targets IS 'capital' Raqqa- BBC News

A US-backed Kurdish and Arab force says it has begun an operation to capture Raqqa, so-called Islamic State's "capital" in Syria.
The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) will be aided by US-led coalition air strikes.
They have warned civilians to steer clear of areas where IS militants are present.
The coalition of Kurdish and ethnic Arab militias has been gaining ground in areas to the north of the city.
The offensive was announced at a press conference in Ain Issa, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) away from Raqqa.

SDG: Rakka operasyonu başladı- Al-Jazeera Turk

PKK/PYD'nin Suriye'deki silahlı kanadı YPG'nin başında bulunduğu Amerika destekli Suriye Demokratik Güçleri, Rakka operasyonunu başlattıklarını duyurdu. Operasyona sadece SDG güçlerinin katılacağını vurguladılar. Al Jazeera'ye konuşan ABD'li bir yetkili, açıklamayı "memnuniyetle karşıladıklarını" söyledi. Rakka'da operasyon sürerken sonraki aşamaları "Türkiye dâhil müttefikleriyle planlamaya devam edeceklerini" ifade etti.

Jumblat Urges Avoiding 'Crippling Demands' in Govt. Formation- Naharnet

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat called Sunday on all political forces to avoid “crippling demands” regarding the line-up of the new government.
“What's important is to facilitate the formation of the Cabinet and shun crippling demands,” Jumblat tweeted, during or shortly after a key speech in Baabda by newly-elected President Michel Aoun.
Aoun's election and the appointment of Saad Hariri as Prime Minister-designate have raised hopes that Lebanon can begin tackling challenges including a stagnant economy, a moribund political class and the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

Syrian Army gains ground in western Aleppo as Tiger Forces launch counter-offensive- Al-Masdar News

Fierce clashes are taking place at a crucial battle-zone in southwestern Aleppo as the Syrian Arab Army's (SAA) Tiger Forces - backed by Hezbollah (Lebanese paramilitary) - are pushing through two key rebel-held sites during a major government counter-offensive.
Beginning on Sunday afternoon, jets of the Russian Air Force and Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) began pounding jihadist-held areas at the 1070 Apartment Project, Al-Hikmah school, Al-Rashideen neighbourhood, Khan al-Assal and Al-Mutha hill.
Warplanes bombarded the rebel-held region with just minutes inbetween following extensive surveillance conducted by Russian drones in recent days.

U.S.-Backed Forces Launch Bid to Capture IS Syria Bastion Raqa- Naharnet

U.S.-backed Kurdish-Arab forces launched an offensive Sunday on the Islamic State group's de facto Syrian capital Raqa, upping pressure on the jihadists who are already battling Iraqi troops in Mosul.
The start of the assault by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) came as Iraqi forces fought inside Mosul for the third day running, with the jihadists putting up fierce resistance.
The two cities are the last major urban centers under IS control after the jihadists suffered a string of territorial losses in Iraq and Syria over the past year.
The U.S.-led coalition battling IS is backing both assaults, hoping to deal a knockout blow to the self-styled "caliphate" the group declared in mid-2014.
Lined up in crisp fatigues at an outdoor press conference, SDF commanders announced the start of the operation against Raqa in Ain Issa, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the city.

Aoun Vows to 'Eradicate Corruption', Says Won't Allow Politicians to Violate Constitution- Naharnet

President Michel Aoun pledged Sunday that “corruption will be eradicated” during his presidential tenure, stressing that he will not allow any politician to violate the constitution as part of his vision for a “strong State.”
“Reaching the presidency is not our goal and the goal is to build a country that is strong through its national unity,” Aoun said before popular delegations that flocked to the Baabda Palace from all regions to congratulate him on his election, in scenes reminiscing the 1988-90 era when Aoun was in the palace as the head of a military government.
“A strong State is one built upon a constitution respected by all politicians and no one will be able to violate the constitution from now on,” Aoun promised.
“Today, we can stand proudly and defiantly before all people and countries because we have created our national unity and we will now begin the second journey, which is building the country,” the president said.

Aoun Supporters Flock to Baabda on 'People's Palace' Day- Naharnet

Supporters of President Michel Aoun were on Sunday flocking to the presidential palace in Baabda from all Lebanese regions to extend congratulations to the newly-elected president in scenes reminiscing the 1988-1990 era when Aoun was in the palace as the head of a military government.
The crowds were exclusively carrying Lebanese flags at Aoun's request. State-run National News Agency said security forces confiscated a number of partisan flags near the palace at the request of the organizing committee and in line with Aoun's wish.
Aoun was expected to address the crowds from the palace's balcony and five long-time comrades were supposed to be standing next to him.