"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


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Al Qaeda affiliated Uzbek leader assassinated in Syria- The Long War Journal

The leader of the al Qaeda-linked Uzbek group, Katibat Imam al Bukhari (KIB), was assassinated earlier today in the northwestern province of Idlib. Connected jihadists on social media blamed an “undercover member of ISIS” for the assassination.
The assassination of Salahadin al Uzbeki was first reported by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), al Qaeda’s joint venture in Syria. HTS’ Al Eba News Agency reported that “the infiltrator who assassinated Salahadin, the emir of Katibat al Bukhari, and his companions has been arrested in Ariha, Idlib today.” Reports suggested that three other jihadists were assassinated alongside Salahadin. Photos of the alleged assassin have also been released by jihadists on Telegram.
Salahadin was often seen in KIB’s propaganda, however, usually with his face blurred. A YouTube channel ran by KIB and dedicated to his speeches uploaded a new speech just two days ago. KIB has yet to officially comment on the death of its leader.
According to RFE/RL, Salahadin is a veteran of the jihad in Afghanistan who was sent to Syria by the Taliban and Sirajuddin Haqqani, one of the Taliban’s top deputies and leader of the powerful al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network. KIB maintains a branch inside Afghanistan where it fights alongside the Taliban and several al Qaeda-linked groups, such as the Islamic Jihad Union.
In Syria, the group maintains loyalty to the Taliban leadership and has predominately been an independent group. Some reports have suggested that it was part of Ahrar al Sham, however, this was never promoted by the group itself. KIB took part in the al Qaeda-led 2015 offensive that took over Idlib Province, as well as the al Qaeda-led offensive in the southern Aleppo countryside and renewed clashes in Latakia last year. It has also advertised its training camps in the country, including at least two for children.

Franjieh Says 'Christians Strength in Openness', Warns against 'Isolationism' in Electoral Law- Naharnet

Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh has emphasized that “the strength of Christians lies in endorsing the thought of openness, national integration, coexistence and the creation of a civil state.”
“But isolationist thought is a segregationist thought, even without an announcement, and the proof is what is being raised today about the electoral law regardless of the many formats,” Franjieh added.

Al-Rahi from Tyre: Extension Usurps People's Will, Vacuum Destroys Institutions- Naharnet

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday issued a strong new warning against a new extension of parliament's term and against the possibility of reaching a so-called parliamentary “vacuum.”
“Throughout twelve years, our political officials have not been able to approve a new electoral law, due to failure to endorse the same principled standards and because each group wants the law that suits it regardless of others,” al-Rahi said during a mass in the southern city of Tyre.
“Despite of this, we are still hoping and praying... that they will be able to agree on the appropriate law,” the patriarch added.
“Beware of an extension of parliament's term, because that is a usurpation of the legislative authority and people's will and a grave violation of the constitution, and beware of vacuum, because it would destroy state institutions,” al-Rahi warned.
He added: “Anyhow, the constitution remains the cornerstone to which we must always return, seeing as only the constitution can guarantee the safety of institutions and the life of the republic.”

U.S.-Backed Syria Force Advances against IS in Tabqa- Naharnet

A U.S.-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance is advancing against the Islamic State group in the key town of Tabqa near the jihadist bastion of Raqa in northern Syria, a monitor said Sunday.
The Syrian Democratic Forces now control over half the town of Tabqa, including most of its heart, the Old City, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said fighting was continuing in the town on Sunday morning.
The SDF published photos Sunday it said showed items retrieved from newly captured parts of the town, including at least a dozen guns, as well as missiles, ammunition, and an IS flag.
The SDF entered Tabqa on Monday as part of their offensive against Raqa, IS' de facto Syrian capital.
Supported by U.S.-led coalition air strikes and special forces advisers, the SDF surrounded Tabqa in early April.

Kurdish-Arab force makes gains against ISIL in Tabqa- Al-Jazeera

Fighting rages on, with US-backed SDF controlling about 40 percent of strategic town near ISIL's stronghold of Raqqa.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) near the armed group's stronghold in Raqqa in northern Syria, according to a monitor.
The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, now controls at least 40 percent of the town of Tabqa, and more than half of its heart, the Old City, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR)  said on Sunday.
Rami Abdel Rahman, SOHR director, said fighting was continuing in the town on Sunday morning.
The SDF entered Tabqa on Monday as part of their offensive against Raqqa, ISIL's de-facto Syrian capital.

Syrian Factions May Attend Astana Talks- Asharq Al-Awsat

Beirut – Syrian military factions are expected to announce their participation in the Astana talks which will be held on May 3 and 4.

At the same time, opposition is warring that battles between factions in eastern al-Ghouta, that have been ongoing since Friday, could affect the negotiations in Kazakhstan, the Geneva talks and any resolutions that may establish ceasefire.

Factions have taken a decision to participate in Astana, which will be announced officially within the coming two days, opposition sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Colonel Fateh Hassoun, member of the opposition negotiating team, said that so far nothing has been decided concerning the participation unless new updates occur before the convention is due. He told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that there have been some positive developments and new data added to the negotiations’ schedule, which were sent to them unofficially along with the participation invitation.

Syrian Troops Repel Large ISIS Attack On Khansser Road- South Front

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has repelled a large-scale attack by ISIS militants on the village of Abu Mayalah and Sardah, northeast of the important town of Khanasser. The only government supply line to the city of Aleppo runs through Khanasser.
The ISIS-linked news agency “Amaq” announced that ISIS militants had managed to kill 30 Syrian soldiers and captured four during the attack on government positions east of the Khanasser road.
However, a source from the SAA in Khanasser said that no soldier was lost in the battle. The source said that dozens ISIS terrorists were killed and four their bodies of militants were captured. The SAA destroyed two ISIS technicals (a vehicle armed with a machine gun) and a battle tank.
As a result of clashes the SAA did not lose any position and ISIS terrorists fled the area because of large losses.
According to pro-government sources, the SAA may work on securing the eastern side of the Khanasser road.
  1. They could advance from the eastern Aleppo countryside towards the strategic town of Maskana
  2. Government forces could advance from the Al-Sa’aer gas field in the eastern Homs countryside towards the southeastern Hama countryside.

Syrian Army In Just 600m Away From Dividing Militant-held Qaboun Pocket Into Two Separate Parts- South Front

On April 29, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) captured the electricity company building near the electricity station in the Al-Qaboun district in eastern Damascus.
Thus, the Republican Guard and the Fourth Division deployed in merely 600 meters away from the SAA troops in the HQ of the special forces west of Al-Qaboun district.
The SAA also advanced in the southern direction, near the school of Abdul Ghani Bajqni, the stronghold of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nasra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in Al-Qaboun district.
The SAA is seeking to separate the besieged Al-Qaboun district into two parts: a northern section (the “Tashrim area”) and a southern section. This will cause a collapse of militant defenses in this area. Militants are already suffering from shortages of food and ammunition. If the pocket is separated, the situation will become much more complicated for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies.
Meanwhile, the SAA continued to shell militant positions using Burkan rockets and the UR-77 mine clearing system. Pro-government sources report about “heavy casualties” among militants.
Separately, Ahrar Al-Sham had claimed that it had damaged an SAA tank in Qaboun during the SAA advance. It also published photos showing the attempt of its militants to repel the SAA attack.

The US is trying to stop two of its allies in Syria from mauling each other- CNN

US forces, accompanied by Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters, drive their armoured vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey.

The stars and stripes fluttered in the spring breeze as the column of American armored vehicles rumbled through the village. Men, women and children waved the V for victory sign. Women ululated. The soldiers on board waved back.

It was one of those hero's welcomes that plays well in the United States. In a region where American troops have been killed by the thousands, here was a rare friendly reception.

On Saturday, American troops in northeastern Syria made a very public display of patrolling with their Kurdish allies near the Syrian-Turkish border as tensions flare over American support for Kurds fighting ISIS.

The United States is trying to stop two allies -- Turkey and the Syrian Kurds -- from mauling one another on the margins of the bloodiest, most intractable conflict of the 21st century.

It's all part of a high stakes power play in an already absurdly complicated conflict that has sucked in the world's great powers, and a lot of the lesser ones.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

PKK/PYD'ye ABD zırhı- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye'den PKK/PYD'nin kontrolündeki bölgelerden Türkiye'ye yönelik saldırıların ardından ABD'ye ait zırhlı araçlar ve özel kuvvetleri sınırın bazı noktalarına konuşlandı. Pentagon Sözcüsü, bu uygulamanın amacına yönelik sorulara cevap vermezken "Suriye’nin kuzeyinin tamamında ortaklarımız olan Suriye Demokratik Güçleri ile hareket eden ABD askerleri var. Sınır alanları da bizim hareket alanlarımıza dâhil" dedi.

Suriye'den PKK/PYD'nin kontrolündeki bölgelerden Türkiye'ye yönelik saldırıların ardından ABD'ye ait zırhlı araçlar ve özel kuvvetleri sınırın bazı noktalarına konuşlandı. Pentagon Sözcüsü, bu uygulamanın amacına yönelik sorulara cevap vermezken "Suriye’nin kuzeyinin tamamında ortaklarımız olan Suriye Demokratik Güçleri (SDG) ile hareket eden ABD askerleri var. Sınır alanları da bizim hareket alanlarımıza dâhil" dedi. SDG'nin ana omurgasını ABD'nin de terör örgütü olarak kabul ettiği PKK'nın Suriye uzantısı oluşturuyor. PKK yurt içinde ve sınır boyunda Türkiye'ye saldırılar düzenliyor.

ABD Savunma Bakanlığı (Pentagon) Sözcüsü Albay Jeff Davis, günlük basın brifinginde, Türkiye’nin sınırına yakın ABD zırhlılarının PYD/PKK unsurlarıyla devriye gezip gezmediğine yönelik soruları cevaplandırdı. Davis, söz konusu iddiaya ilişkin, “Suriye’nin kuzeyinin tamamında ortaklarımız olan Suriye Demokratik Güçleri ile hareket eden ABD askerleri var. Sınır alanları da bizim hareket alanlarımıza dâhil” dedi. Ancak Sözcü, bunun, "PYD/PKK’nın Türkiye’ye yönelik saldırılarına TSK’nın karşılık vermesini engellemek üzere yapılıp yapılmadığı" sorusunu ise geçiştirdi.

Bu adımın PYD/PKK’ya güvence vermek üzere yapılan bir operasyon olup olmadığının sorulması üzerine Davis, “Tüm tarafları ortak düşman olan IŞİD ile mücadele etmeye çağırıyoruz, bu çağrımız SDG dâhil herkesedir. SDG'nin şimdilik Rakka ve Tabka’ya odaklanması ve başka çatışmalara sürüklenmemesini istiyoruz.” diye cevap verdi.

Big battle looms in Eastern Ghouta as infighting resumes- Al-Masdar News

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4: 50 P.M.) – More rebel fighters were reported killed today as the infighting among rival insurgent groups continues for the second day in the Eastern Ghouta region.

According to local activists, today’s clashes killed more than 30 people and wounded at least 50, including civilians.

Fierce battles broke out yesterday in several rebel-held towns as the Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam raided positions for Fayalq al-Rahman and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, killing and injuring scores, including two senior military commanders.

eports came in that Jaish al-Islam – the biggest anti-government armed faction in the Eastern Ghouta – has mobilized hundreds of fighters supported by tanks and armored vehicles to storm Faylaq al-Rahman bases in Zamalka and Aebeen.

US military convoy enters Syria from Iraq- Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:30 P.M.) – An American military convoy consisting of several armored vehicles reportedly entered Syria from the Iraqi border on Saturday, arriving in the city of Al-Qamishli this morning.
The American convoy is expected to head to the Syrian-Turkish border in the coming hours as they attempt to deter the Turkish Asrmed Forces from carrying out sporadic attacks against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Recently, the Turkish Army and their rebel allies have purposely targeted the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, killing several people living in this PYD-governed region.
Turkey claims the informed the U.S. prior to attacking the Kurdish forces; however, it’s hard to believe Washington would approve this kind of aggression, given they are aiding the SDF in the fight against ISIL.

Russia's Lavrov says ready to cooperate with U.S. on Syria-agencies- Reuters

Moscow is ready to cooperate with the United States on settling the Syrian crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday, Russian news agencies reported.

Russian authorities reiterate periodically that they stand ready to renew cooperation with Washington on Syria and, more globally, on fighting terrorism.

Relations between the two countries, however, are seen reaching another low after U.S. fired missiles at Syria to punish Moscow's ally for its suspected use of poison gas earlier in April. Russia condemned the U.S. action.

Lavrov's deputy Mikhail Bogdanov also said on Saturday that Russian authorities hope that Syrian armed opposition will take part in Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan's Astana on May 3-4, Interfax reported.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

ABD: Türkiye askerlerimizin hayatını riske attı- Sputnik News

ABD Dışişleri Bakanlığı Sözcüsü Mark Toner, Türkiye’nin, Irak'ın Şengal (Sincar) ve Suriye'nin kuzeydoğusundaki Karaçok Dağı’na yönelik hava harekatıyla bu bölgede bulunan ABD’li askerlerin hayatını riske attığını belirtti.

Rusya’dan İsrail’e tepki- Al-Jazeera Turk

Kremlin Sözcüsü Dimitri Peskov, Şam'ın uluslararası havalimanına yakın bir bölgede gerçekleşen patlamadan dolayı İsrail’i eleştirdi.

İsrail’in Şam'ın uluslararası havalimanına yakın bir bölgede gerçekleştirdiği patlama, Moskova’nın tepkisini çekti.

Basın toplantısı düzenleyen Kremlin Sözcüsü Dimitri Peskov, İsrail ve diğer ülkelerin bölgedeki gerilimi artıracak eylemlerde bulunmaması gerektiğini ifade etti. İsrail saldırısını eleştiren Peskov, bütün devletlere Esed rejiminin egemenliğine saygı göstermeleri çağrısında bulundu.

Rusya Dışişleri Bakanlığı Sözcüsü Maria Zaharova da düzenlediği başka bir basın toplantısında diğer devletlerin Suriye topraklarında düzenlediği saldırıların uluslararası hukuka uymadığını savundu.

İsrail’den dolaylı üstlenme

27 Nisan’da Suriye'nin başkenti Şam'ın uluslararası havalimanına yakın bir bölgede büyük bir patlama gerçekleşti. Suriye resmi haber ajansı Sana, patlamanın İsrail'in hava saldırısı sonucu gerçekleştiğini duyurdu. İsrail İstihbarat Bakanı İsrael Katz da "Suriye’deki hadisenin, Tahran’ın Suriye üzerinden Hizbullah’a gelişmiş silah ulaştırmasını engellemek üzere kurulu olan İsrail politikasıyla tamamen uyuştuğunu teyit edebilirim" sözleriyle saldırıyı dolaylı olarak üstlendi.

PSP Delegation Visits Geagea as Berri's Aide Meets Hariri- Naharnet

A Progressive Socialist Party delegation dispatched by MP Walid Jumblat held talks Thursday in Maarab with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
The delegation comprised MPs Akram Shehayyeb and Wael Abu Faour and the meeting was held in the presence of LF secretary general Chantal Sarkis.
A terse statement issued by the LF said the two-hour talks tackled "the proposed electoral laws, especially the hybrid law which remains the best one."
The conferees also "agreed on the need to continue contacts with all parties in order to reach a new electoral law as soon as possible."
Jumblat had held talks earlier in the day in Clemenceau with Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil.
Speaker Nabih Berri's aide Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil meanwhile met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail.

Bassil Meets Jumblat after Latter's Criticism of His Electoral Law Format- Naharnet

Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil held talks Thursday afternoon with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat.
The meeting at Jumblat's residence in Clemenceau was held in the presence of his son Taimur, Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh and MP Ghazi Aridi.
A terse statement issued by the PSP said talks tackled “the current political developments.”
The PSP's al-Anbaa online newspaper reported later in the evening that the meeting between Jumblat and Bassil “was characterized with total frankness.”
“They stressed the importance of direct communication away from the tendentious rumors that are seeking to distort the bilateral relation,” al-Anbaa said.

Jumblat Says Would Accept 'Proportional Representation Law Taking Minorities into Account'- Naharnet

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat announced Thursday that he would accept an electoral law fully based on proportional representation “if it is based on certain districts that take minorities into account in the current sectarian system.”
In an interview with al-Jadeed television, Jumblat also stressed that there is no parliamentary vacuum in the constitution and slammed a proposed electoral system that involves sectarian voting in the first round as a “segregationist law.”
“The political class must agree before May 15 on an electoral law that mixes between the winner-takes-all and proportional representation systems, or between proportional representation and the right districts. However, should there be no agreement on a new law, the 1960 law that was amended in Doha is still in effect,” Jumblat added.
“I have suggested a solution, but there are other solutions. I don't mind the other solutions but no to the (sectarian) qualification system,” the Druze leader went on to say.
Lambasting the qualification system as “outdated” and “a heresy,” Jumblat underscored that it is categorically rejected and that his ministers would vote against it should it be raised in Cabinet.

Israeli Missile Shoots Down 'Target' over Golan- Naharnet

Israel shot down what it identified only as "a target" over the occupied Golan Heights on Thursday, hours after Syria accused it of hitting a military position near Damascus airport.
"The Patriot Aerial Defense System intercepted a target above the Golan Heights," the official Israeli army Twitter account said, without elaborating.
A military spokeswoman refused to comment on Israeli media reports that the object was a drone.
Syria's state news agency SANA said earlier that several Israeli missiles hit near Damascus airport at dawn.
Israel has not confirmed or denied the reported Damascus attack.
But Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said it was consistent with Israel's policy to prevent arms transfers through to Hizbullah, while stopping short of confirming his country was behind the incident.
"We are acting to prevent the transfer of sophisticated weapons from Syria to Hizbullah in Lebanon by Iran," Katz told army radio.
"When we receive serious information about the intention to transfer weapons to Hizbullah, we will act. This incident is totally consistent with this policy."

Saudi Arabia interested in purchasing Russian military hardware- TASS

MOSCOW, April 27. /TASS/. Saudi Arabia would like to purchase the most advanced military hardware of Russian manufacture, Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Aleksander Fomin said at a meeting with the deputy chief of the General Staff of Saudi Arabia’s armed forces, Fayad Hamid al Ruwaili, on the sidelines of the 6th Moscow International Security Conference on Thursday.

Syria Confirms Israeli Missile Attacks Near Damascus Int'l Airport - Reports- Sputnik News

Israel launched missiles at a site near Damascus International Airport in Syria, causing material damage, Syrian media cited a military source as saying Thursday.

Video released of the alleged Israeli airstrike on the Damascus International Airport- Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:16 A.M.) – Preliminary reports emerged hours ago that an Israeli air raid targeted the Damascus International Airport or its perimeters earlier this morning.
Al-Masdar News has obtained video footage showing the alleged Israeli airstrike targeting the Damascus International Airport.
The reports say that there were five airstrikes against the airport or its vicinity.
The extent of damage or casualties from the alleged air raid has not yet been reported.

Reconciliations: The Case of al-Sanamayn in North Deraa (Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamim Syria Comment)

It is often thought that the regime has a grand strategy for suppressing the rebellion in the western half of the country that constitutes the main conflict within the Syrian civil war. In reality though, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the question of how the regime deals with restive areas very much depends on area and circumstances. In some places, a Sunni-Alawite sectarian faultline has influenced the regime’s approach: thus we see a clear demographic shift in the city of Homs in favour of the Alawites, with the rebellious and predominantly Sunni neighbourhoods largely depopulated. Indeed it seems unlikely that the majority of the original inhabitants of those neighbourhoods will return for the foreseeable future. Some areas that are not tied to this sectarian faultline but proved to be a thorn in the regime’s side for years- such as Darayya, a suburb to the south of Damascus- will also likely remain depopulated for the time being. Indeed, as of the time of writing, Darayya remains a military zone that can only be visited with a special permit, even for Shi’i pilgrims who may want to see the largely ruined Sakina shrine in the area.

However, it would not be feasible for the regime to depopulate every restive area. It is in this context that the mechanism of ‘reconciliation’ (musalaha) exists, whereby an agreement is struck in order to bring an area officially back under regime authority. The exact terms of the reconciliation agreements have varied from place to place, perhaps reflecting some experimentation. This article will focus on the case of al-Sanamayn, a town in north Deraa province where a reconciliation agreement was struck at the end of December 2016. It is of course also important to give the context of the agreement, thus this article will first provide a general description of the town and its history during the Syrian civil war.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ABD: Şengal ve Suriye'de gerginliğin azaltılması için görüşmeler sürüyor- Sputnik News

Türkiye'nin Irak'ın Şengal bölgesine, Suriye'nin ise kuzeyine PKK karşıtı hava harekatı düzenlemesinin ardından ABD Savunma Bakanlığı, her iki bölgede de gerilimin düşürülmesi amacıyla görüşmeler yürüttüğünü açıkladı.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ABD askeri vurulan YPG noktasında- Al-Jazeera Turk

Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri'nin gece saatlerinde düzenlediği hava harekâtında vurduğu Suriye'nin kuzeyindeki YPG hedeflerini, bugün Amerikan askerleri ziyaret etti.

Reuters haber ajansının geçtiği fotoğrafta, Amerikan askerleri, TSK'nın vurduğu YPG hedeflerini incelerken görülüyor. ABD'li askerin yanında YPG üyeleri var. 

Amerikan askerlerinin, vurulan alana helikopterle gelişlerinin fotoğrafı da Reuters tarafından servis edildi. 

Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri'ne ait savaş uçakları gece saat 2'de, Irak'ın Sincar Dağı'ndaki PKK hedeflerinin yanı sıra Suriye'nin kuzeydoğusundaki Karaçok Dağı'ndaki YPG hedeflerini vurmuştu. TSK, hedeflerin 'tam hedefle' vurulduğunu duyurmuştu.

Suriye İnsan Hakları Gözlemevi'ne göre, harekâtta en az 18 YPG üyesi öldü. 

Fateh al-Sham Militant Killed while Preparing Bomb in Arsal Outskirts- Naharnet

An explosion rocked an area on the peripheries of the eastern border town of Arsal on Tuesday, state-run National News Agency reported.
Media reports said the blast resulted from the accidental detonation of an explosive device that members of the jihadist group Fateh al-Sham Front were preparing in the the Khirbet Younin area in Arsal's outskirts.
The explosion killed Fateh al-Sham's bomb maker Abu Qassem al-Talli and seriously wounded his assistant Ahmed Abu Daoud, NNA reported later.
Militants from Fateh al-Sham and the rival jihadist group Islamic State are entrenched in rugged mountains along the Lebanese-Syrian border.
The Lebanese army regularly shells their positions while Hizbullah and the Syrian army have engaged in clashes with them on the Syrian side of the border.
The two groups overran the town of Arsal in 2014 and engaged in deadly battles with the Lebanese army for several days.

Bassil Rejects 1960 Electoral Law and Extension, Slams 'Two-Faced Rhetoric'- Naharnet

Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil on Tuesday rejected the proposed re-endorsement of the 1960 electoral law, describing it as a veiled extension of parliament's term, as he accused some political parties of having a “two-faced rhetoric” on the electoral law.
“The 1960 law is another face of extension and we don't want it, and there will be no vacuum because the constitution prevents vacuum,” said Bassil after the weekly meeting of the Change and Reform bloc, hitting back at parties who have said that extension is necessary to prevent a so-called parliamentary vacuum.
“The proposed extension is like a gun pointed to our heads,” Bassil said.
“We are not clinging to any electoral law... We are seeking respect for the National Pact and correct representation,” he added, referring to the representation of Christians in the political system.

Russia’s Intervention in Syria — A Case Study- CSIS

Russia’s decision to significantly step up its military intervention in Syria in September 2015 came as a surprise to many, if not most, Western observers. Although Moscow had longstanding political and military ties to Syria dating back to the 1950s, had long supported Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his father before him (including with military advisers and facilities in the country), and had expressed frustration with U.S. backing of position forces, few expected direct Russian military action to prop up Assad’s government against the rebel forces fighting to overthrow him.

Understanding what led Russia to the decision to send in sizable forces, what it believed it could accomplish with its military involvement, and what it may be learning from this experience is therefore critical to understanding how Russia views the use of force today.

This case study examines Russian policy changes towards Syria from 2012 to 2016 as Moscow moved from largely diplomatic efforts in Syria to overt military involvement.

Ultimate opportunism: The tacit Israeli-Islamic State alliance in Syria- MEE

A former defence minister's confirmation of Israeli collaboration with IS in Syria shows just how cynical Israel’s motives and choices can be.

In the midst of complaining about the Islamist threat to Israel and the world, Bibi Netanyahu conveniently forgets that his own country enjoys a tacit alliance with the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.  

It is an alliance of convenience to be sure and one that’s not boasted about by either party. But is not terribly different from one that Israel enjoys with its other Muslim allies like EgyptSaudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

"Bogie" Moshe Yaalon served as defence minister in the current Israeli government until he had a falling out with Netanyahu in May 2016. Now Yaalon plans to form his own party and run against his former boss. Unfortunately for him, he’s not polling well and doesn’t appear to be much of a political threat.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Army restores stability to a number of towns in Hama countryside- SANA

Provinces, SANA –Army units restored Monday security and stability to the towns and villages of al-Masaseneh, Zour al-Heiseh, and Zour al-Teibeh in the northern countryside of Hama, killing 300 terrorists and injuring a large number of them , destroying 20 vehicles , two ammunition warehouses and two tanks.
Earlier, an army unit thwarted an infiltration attempt by terrorist groups affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra terror organization in the direction of military positions i in Hama province’s southern countryside.
SANA’s correspondent in Hama said that army units targeted the movements of terrorist groups that moved from the direction of Hur Binafseh town to attack military positions in the surroundings of al-Zara village and the thermal station there, killing and injuring a number of terrorists and destroying their weapons and ammo.

115 militants and some of their families leave al-Waer neighborhood in Homs- SANA

Homs, SANA- A new batch of militants and some of their family members who reject the reconciliation agreement in al-Waer neighborhood on Monday started to leave the neighborhood in a step towards ending all the armed manifestations in it and restoring the state institutions to the neighborhood.
SANA’s reporter in Homs said that 16 buses transporting 115 militants and 475 of their family members have left al-Waer and headed to Jarablos, adding that the process of evacuating them is proceeding according to schedule.
Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi said that the evacuation process is proceeding successfully without obstacles under the supervision of Syrian internal security forces, the Russian military police, and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).
Al-Barazi said that as of May 13th, the neighborhood should be clear of weapons and militants, and repair teams will enter it to begin maintenance work to electricity, communications, and water services.
He also pointed out that more than 700 people resolved their legal status as per the amnesty decree issued in 2016, with 544 of them receiving approval and a cessation of wanted status, allowing them to return to their normal lives, and the rest of the requests are being processed.
The Governor said that authorities in Homs are providing all sorts of support, healthcare, and food in addition to vaccine, and that it calls on locals of al-Waer to benefit from the amnesty decrees and stay in it.
In turn, Homs Police Command Chief lt. Gen. Khaled Hilal said that security forces are ready to enter al-Waer after the militants leave and restore security to it and enforce the rule of law there to end the chaos spread by the terrorists there.
Last Monday and Tuesday, 519 militants and some of their family members left al-Waer neighborhood heading for the northeastern countryside of Aleppo.

Help comes with dangerous strings for Syrian Druze town- Al-Monitor

HADAR, Golan Heights — As the Syrian war continues into its seventh year with no sign of resolution, one town on the edge of Syria’s Golan Heights has had to fend off both opposition-led offensives and Israel's subjugation attempts over the last six years almost entirely on its own.

Hadar, a Druze town with a population of 10,000, according to local officials, has a unique story. Nestled on the Syrian face of Jabal al-Sheikh, Hadar directly faces the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where the Shouting Valley separates it by just a few hundred meters from the Israeli-occupied Druze town of Majdal Shams. A few hundred meters up Jabal al-Sheikh, perched on its peak, sits one of Israel’s largest military intelligence stations. It carefully monitors all activity in the Golan on one side and in Lebanon’s Shebaa and beyond on the other.
Hadar’s other neighbors are armed groups belonging to both the Jordanian-backed Southern Front and the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, now also known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. Between them, they control the villages and the remaining mountaintops overlooking Hadar.
The only access to Hadar is a small dirt track that winds around the mountain from a government-controlled road. On a good day, vehicles struggle to pass through. A particular point on the 20-minute journey from the main road to the town makes travelers clear targets for opposition snipers positioned in the mountains. The track is forced to close by opposition attacks as well as severe weather, and in past years civilians have struggled to bring in goods to survive the harsh winter months.
The already sensitive area has become a tinderbox. Adding to the presence of the Israeli army and the various elements of the Syrian opposition, there are also government forces in the vicinity that are being aided by pro-government militias and the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah.
Everyone wants to co-opt Hadar to serve their own political agendas. “From [Lebanese Druze leader] Walid Jumblatt to Israel to the Syrian opposition,” said Abu Tawfiq, a sturdy-looking man in his late 40s who took up arms at the start of the conflict to defend Hadar from opposition attacks. His local armed faction, known as the National Defense Forces within Hadar, wield a melange of personal weapons from before the war and some others provided by the Syrian army. “But we don’t see ourselves as a sectarian militia, we see ourselves as Syrian citizens,” he told Al-Monitor.

US imposes new sanctions on Syria over suspected chemical attack- TASS

WASHINGTON, April 24. /TASS/. The US sanctioned on Monday 271 employees of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center in connection with an alleged use of chemical weapons Khan Sheikhoun (Idlib province), the US Department of the Treasury said.

"These 271 SSRC employees have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons program since at least 2012," the press center reported.

Army Pounds IS Posts in Bekaa Outskirts amid Helicopter Raids- Naharnet

The Lebanese army launched major operations Monday evening in the outskirts of the Bekaa border towns of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa, state-run National News Agency reported.
“It is firing heavy artillery and multiple rockets launchers at the posts of the militants after detecting suspicious movements,” NNA said.
“Helicopters are hovering heavily over the area and the sounds of shelling are being heard clearly in the northern Bekaa region,” the agency added.
Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) said army helicopters fired several missiles at IS posts in Ras Baalbek's outskirts.
Al-Mayadeen television meanwhile reported that the army had destroyed a large IS post between the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and the outskirts of al-Qaa.
“More than 20 IS leaders and members were killed and wounded in Lebanese army air raids on Ras Baalbek's outskirts,” it added.

Gemayel Blasts Govt. over Electoral Law, Constitution, Sovereignty- Naharnet

Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel on Monday lashed out at the Cabinet for failing to convene for two weeks now, while accusing it of violating the constitution regarding the electoral law and sovereignty.
“The Cabinet has not convened since two weeks, as if the situation is excellent or as if we're in Switzerland,” said Gemayel at a press conference.
He reminded that “only two weeks remain of the grace period that was given by the president for the approval of an electoral law.”
“We also remind you of the social and economic situation and we're heading to an all-out economic collapse amid the huge deficit. Doesn't this deserve the convention of the Cabinet?” Gemayel added.
“Another important issue is the violation of (U.N. Security Council) Resolution 1701, which you had pledged to respect in the ministerial Policy Statement. The violation happened in coordination with the Lebanese state, so how do you condemn the violation after the state oversaw it?” Gemayel went on to say, referring to Hizbullah's announcement that it had “coordinated” its latest border tour for reporters with the Lebanese army and U.N. forces.

Hariri to Introduce Electoral Law Format Similar to 2013 Initiative- Naharnet

Lebanon's political parties rally to put a new format for a voting system that will govern May's parliamentary polls before the term of the current parliament ends on June 20.
In that regard, “Prime Minister Saad Hariri is expected to suggest a format that he previously presented in 2013 from Paris when parties in Lebanon were divided over an electoral law at the time before the parliament extended its term,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday.
“Hariri's proposal is much more than an electoral law,” said the daily, “it goes beyond that to the application of the Taef accord which is based on the establishment of a senate while the parliament would be elected based on a proportional representation system.”
Shall an agreement on a senate fail to be reached within a specific period of time, “the elections will then be held based on the sectarian qualification law in the first stage and then based on the proportional system in the second,” it added.
In 2013, Hariri called for a small-district law for the parliamentary elections and for the establishment of a senate representing all religions and sects as stipulated by the Taef agreement.
According to information obtained by the daily, Hariri is now marketing his proposal with various political parties ahead of May 15 deadline.

Sisi, Suudi Arabistan'da Kral Selman ile görüştü- Sputnik News

Mısır Cumhurbaşkanı Abdülfettah Sisi, resmi temaslarda bulunmak üzere gittiği Suudi Arabistan'da, Kral Selman bin Abdülaziz ile bir araya geldi.

uudi Arabistan'ın başkent Riyad'daki Yemame Sarayı'nda bir araya gelen Kral Selman ile Mısır Cumhurbaşkanı Sisi görüşmede, iki ülke arasındaki iş birliği alanlarını, sağlam dostluk ilişkilerini ve bölgedeki gelişmeleri ele aldı.
Suudi Arabistan İkinci Veliaht Prensi ve Savunma Bakanı Muhammed bin Selman, Dışişleri Bakanı Adil Bin Ahmed el-Cubeyr ve Suudi Arabistan'ın Mısır'daki Büyükelçisi Ahmed bin Abdülaziz Katan, Mısır Dışişleri Bakanı Samih Şükri, Mısır Genel İstihbarat Servisi Başkanı Halid Fevzi, Askeri İşlerden Sorumlu Cumhurbaşkanı Müsteşarı Korgeneral Abdulmunim et-Turras başta olmak üzere iki ülkeden de çok sayıda bakan ve yetkilinin görüşmelerde hazır bulunduğu belirtildi.
Sisi, Haziran 2014'te göreve başlamasından bu yana sekizinci kez Suudi Arabistan'ı ziyaret ediyor.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Damascus Countryside Governor inspects situation in al-Zabadani town- SANA

Damascus Countryside, SANA – Damascus Countryside Governor Ala’a Ibrahim on Sunday visited the town of al-Zabadani in Damascus Countryside which is now clear of militants and weapons, and he inspected the damage to public facilities and infrastructure caused by terrorism.

During the visit, Ibrahim told journalists that the services teams of the Governorate and the Services, Sanitations, and Telephone Departments began work on Sunday to restore services and infrastructure gradually to the town, pointing out that infeastrucutre and properties systained massive damage due to terrorist acts.
The Governor said that locals will return to the town after it’s secured and cleared of landmines and IEDs by the Syrian Arab Army’s experts, affirming that the government is ready to resolve the legal status of the militants who left the town.
The first stage of the agreement on ending all armed manifestaitons in al-Zabadani, Madaya, and Boukein in Damascus Countryside and evacuating the people of the terrorists-beseiged Kefraya and al-Foua’a towns in Idleb was completed on Saturday.