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

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)

Lübnan Marunîleri / Yasin Atlıoğlu


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Militants On Run In Southern Idlib, Syrian Army Liberates More Area- South Front

On December 30, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces, backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces, captured the villages of Atshan, Tall Maraq, Abu Omar, al-Nasiriyah, Jaddu’ah, al-Salumiyah and Zatar Hill, according to the SAA media department. The source said that the SAA killed several fighters of HTS during its advance.
Meanwhile, Syrian pro-government activists claimed that the aim of the ongoing SAA attack is to secure the northern Hama countryside by capturing the town of Khan Shaykhun in the southern Idlib countryside as well as the towns of al-Lataminah and Murak in the northern Hama countryside. Only after securing these important points, the SAA will begin its operation towards the Abu al-Duhur Airbase in the southwestern Aleppo countryside, according to these sources.

Army Chief Refuses to Accept Decrees Rebuked By Khalil- Naharnet

The army's leadership has reportedly “refused” to accept controversial decrees related to the promotion of army officers handed back to the defense ministry by the finance minister after he refused to sign them, asking said minister to provide “written answers” to the reasons and circumstances that justify the decision, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday.
Sources following up closely on the new row between President Michel and Speaker Nabih Berri over the decree said: “It seems the row will find no close solution and the crisis will be wide open with the new year beginning.”
The row is likely to escalate “if the ministry of defense took advantage of promotions as a fait accompli and did not respond to the letter of the minister of finance, in which he requests evidence on the legal grounds to upgrade a number of officers who did not fulfill conditions according to years of service.”
The officers in question were undergoing their first year of officer training at the Military Academy when Syrian forces ousted Aoun’s military government from Baabda in 1990. They were suspended by the pro-Damascus authorities until 1993 before they resumed their officer training course as second-year cadets.

Battalion of elite troops sent to Damascus to help Syrian Army turn back Nusra-led offensive- Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:10 A.M.) – At least a battalion of reinforcements made up of elite pro-government troops has been sent to eastern Damascus to assist local army forces in repelling a large Al-Qaeda-led offensive against a key military installation.
On late-Friday, Al-Masdar News received word that scores of elite pro-government fighters belonging to the Qalamoun Shield Forces were being pulled out of the strategic reserve and sent to Damascus to assist local Syrian Arab Army units in turning back a jihadist offensive in the city’s eastern district of Harasta.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Aoun Vows to 'Build State', Promises 'Better Future' for Lebanon- Naharnet

President Michel Aoun on Friday reassured that Lebanon's future “will be better than its past.”
“Lebanon's future will be better than its near and distant past, because we will build a state no matter how hard things may be,” Aoun told an expat delegation at the Baabda Palace.
“Very soon we will be able to revitalize the economic and financial situations in order to restore prosperity,” the president said.

Syrian Army Capture Strategic Village Of Abu Dali, Several Other Villages In Southern Idlib- South Front

On December 29, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces captured the strategic village of Abu Dali in the southern Idlib countryside, according to the SAA media department. The sources said that several fighters of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) were killed during the SAA attack on Abu Dali.

Abu Dali was captured by HTS in a rapid attack back on October 8. Since then, the strategic village has become a key defense point of HTS and its allies in southern Idlib.
Syrian pro-government sources also reported that the SAA and the Tiger Forces captured the villages of al-Hamdaniyah, Rumidin, al-Nasiryah and mount Daba’a in southern Idlib.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Lebanese foreign minister denounced over Israel comments- Reuters

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese politicians on Thursday criticized Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil over a television interview in which he was shown saying that Lebanon did not have an ideological problem with Israel and was not against it having security.

Congress uses Syria aid funding as Assad leverag- Al-Monitor

Despite the Syrian opposition’s failure to oust President Bashar al-Assad militarily, Congress hopes that it can use US reconstruction dollars as leverage to force a political transition in Syria by ensuring that funds are only available for rebel-held areas. 

Diplomat slams Hmeymim base shelling as provocation to derail Syrian congress- TASS

The Russian Foreign Ministry says the attack might be a staged provocation aimed at derailing the Syrian National Dialogue Congress.

MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. The missile attack against Russia’s Hmeymim base by terrorists could be a staged provocation aimed at derailing the Syrian National Dialogue Congress to be held in Sochi, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters at a press briefing.

"On December 27, militants fired several missiles from the Bdama inhabited community at Latakia International Airport and the Russian Aerospace Forces’ deployment site in Hmeymim. Two of them were intercepted by Russia’s Pantsir air defense system, while the third one, deviating from the trajectory, landed in the outskirts of the city of Jebla," she said.

Berri on Row with Aoun: Every Crisis Has a Solution- Naharnet

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri reassured Thursday that “every crisis has a solution,” in reference to his spat with President Michel Aoun over a controversial decree.
“There is a Constitution, so let it be implemented, and every crisis has a solution,” Berri's visitors quoted him as saying.
“The country should be the winner and what's important is to safeguard it and preserve its unity,” the Speaker added.
The Aoun-Berri spat broke out after the president and Premier Saad Hariri signed a decree granting one-year seniority to a number of officers. Berri and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil have insisted that the decree should have also carried the finance minister's signature.
Aoun and his aides have argued that the decree did not require Khalil's signature because it did not entail any “financial burden,” a point Berri and officials close to him have argued against.

Aoun to Army Command Delegation: No One's Rights Will be Usurped- Naharnet

President Michel Aoun on Thursday reassured an Army Command delegation that “no one's rights will be usurped,” in connection with a growing row with Speaker Nabih Berri over a decree granting one-year seniority to a number of officers.
“You remained loyal to your oath and you did not have any shortcomings in any mission... Forget about the political statements you are hearing,” Aoun told the delegation during a meeting at the Baabda Palace.
“We will continue to do justice to the eligible beneficiaries and our decision to grant promotions was aimed at compensating then over a flaw that happened in the past,” the president added.
And pledging that “there will be no violations and no one's rights will be usurped,” Aoun pointed out that “the current debate is not related to the rights of the armed forces but rather to a political conflict over other issues.”

Jihadist losses keep rising as Syrian Army troops approach strategic town in Idlib- Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:00 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) resumed their large-scale offensive in the southeastern countryside of the Idlib Governorate, yesterday, capturing several sites from the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and Jaysh Al-‘Izza.
Led by elements of the Tiger Forces and 4th Mechanized Division, the Syrian Army secured the area around Um Hariteen and Tal Al-Tawella after a fierce battle with the jihadist rebels.

Following the Syrian Army assault, the jihadist rebels attempted to recover the territory they lost; however, it was too little too late, as HTS and Jaysh Al-‘Izza were forced to retreat further north.
According to a military source in Hama, the Syrian Army killed more than 20 militants during the jihadist attack, including several members of Jaysh Al-‘izza.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Berri Defiant on Officers Decree, Says Stance 'Not against Christians'- Naharnet

Speaker Nabih Berri is “still clinging to his constitutional and legal viewpoint regarding the officers decree and whoever tries to depict the issue as being targeted against Christians would be mistaken,” MP Ali Bazzi of Berri's Development and Liberation bloc said.
“Speaker Berri does not approach things in this manner and maybe if his opinion had been taken into consideration there would have been more than one solution,” Bazzi told reporters after the Speaker's weekly meeting with lawmakers in Ain el-Tineh.
“There is no political clash, but perhaps there are parties who are offering advices in contravention of the Constitution and the law,” Bazzi added.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, who is also Berri's political aide, meanwhile said that had he received the decree to sign it, “there would not have been a constitutional problem.”
Berri and Khalil have insisted that the decree, which grants one-year seniority to a number of officers, should have carried the finance minister's signature along with the signatures of the president and the premier.
“Anything based on something illegal would be illegal,” Khalil added, noting that similar decrees related to the Internal Security Forces had been referred to the finance minister and that “the Finance Ministry's role is not restricted to expenditure but also to the impact of expenditure.”

Medical Evacuations Begin from Besieged Syria Rebel Bastion- Naharnet

Aid workers have begun evacuating emergency medical cases from Syria's besieged rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta, the Red Cross said on Wednesday, after months of waiting during which the United Nations said at least 16 people died.
Families waited in the darkness in the rebel-held town of Douma for their loved ones to board ambulances bound for hospitals in the capital Damascus.
Under a deal with the government, five workmen detained by the rebels during fierce clashes with the army in March were released in exchange.
Three children were among the first four patients to leave, Red Crescent official Ahmed al-Saour told AFP.
He said in total 29 seriously ill people were due to be evacuated.
The first four were a girl with haemophilia, a baby with the autoimmune disorder Guillain-Barre, a child with leukaemia, and a man in need of a kidney transplant, he said.
Eight-year-old Ingy, the girl with haemophilia, gave a broad smile as she boarded an ambulance, wearing a woolly hat and gloves against the cold.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Syrian War Report – December 27, 2017: Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Will Be Eliminated In 2018?- Youtube

Saraya al-Ra'ad: Idlib Local Defence Forces Affiliate- Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Previously on this blog I have sought to explore the Iranian-backed Local Defence Forces (LDF) networks beyond Aleppo province (where it is most prominent), such as the Damascus LDF affiliate Saraya al-Wa'ad. There are also LDF affiliates with visible profiles in Hama province, such as Quwat al-Ghadab based in the Christian town of Suqaylabiyah. When I first wrote about Quwat al-Ghadab, I had not quite appreciated the LDF connection, though the description of it as part of 'Quwat al-Asdiqa" ('Forces of the Friends') became clearer to me over time in alluding to the Iranian role (more specifically, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps- IRGC) in backing this group and other LDF units.
Saraya al-Ra'ad is another LDF affiliate currently based in Hama but in fact is affiliated with the LDF Idlib sector. Although this point may seem confusing at first sight considering that Idlib is almost entirely in the hands of insurgents, an Idlib sector for the LDF was specified in legislation earlier this year regarding the LDF and military services. That is, that the government presence in a particular province may be/may have been limited does not mean no LDF sector was specified for it. A similar point has applied to Deir az-Zor province, where no LDF branch had been operating on the ground when I last inquired but an LDF sector was specified for it in the legislation.

Progress Of Tiger Forces Advance In Southern Idlib- South Front

The Syrian Tiger Forces and their allies have liberated Aswad Hill, Mazraat Qahirah, Ras al-Ain, Qubaybat Abu al-Huda and the Abandoned Air Defense Base in southern Idlib from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda).
Pro-government sources say that the ongoing Tiger Forces advance is a part of the wider effort aimed to re-capture the entire area west of Khanasir from the militants.

Syrian Army overwhelms jihadists to capture several areas in southeast Idlib- Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:25 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is rolling through the southeastern countryside of Idlib, today, capturing several sites from the jihadist rebels.
Led by the Tiger Forces and 4th Division, the Syrian Army began the day by capturing the Air Defense Battalion and large hilltop of Tal Al-Aswad near the town of Um Hariteen.
Following the capture of these sites, the Syrian Army attacked the town of Um Hariteen, where they encountered heavy resistance from the jihadist rebels.
While the Syrian Army was able to enter Um Hariteen this afternoon, they have yet to capture the entire town from the jihadists.
However, the Syrian Army has since captured the nearby towns of Um Huda and Qabibat, forcing the jihadists to retreat back towards Um Hariteen.

Suriye ordusuna ait savaş uçağı Hama yakınlarında düşürüldü- Sputnik News

Suriye'nin Hama kenti yakınlarında Suriye Hava Kuvvetleri'ne ait bir savaş uçağının teröristler tarafından vurulduğu belirtildi. Uçağın pilotunun yaşamını yitirdiği bildirildi.
Suriye'nin resmi haber ajansı SANA, Suriye ordusuna ait bir savaş uçağının Hama yakınlarında teröristler tarafından düşürüldüğünü duyurdu.
SANA'ya konuşan bir kaynak, "Savaş uçağı, teröristler tarafından vurulduktan sonra Hama yakınlarına düştü. Pilot hayatını kaybetti" dedi.

Syrian Army's Warplane Downed by Militants Near Hama, Pilot Killed - Reports- Sputnik News

It has not been immediately clear which militant group was responsible for the plane's downing.
According to local media reports, a Syrian army's military aircraft has been downed by militants in the Hama province.
t has not been immediately clear which exactly militant group was responsible for the plane's downing, while Damascus has yet to comment on the attack.
According to Al Masdar media outlet, terrorists allegedly first captured the pilot and then killed him; however, the information has yet to be officially confirmed.
The plane, reportedly identified as a L-39 Albatros, was downed by anti-aircraft machine guns belonging to the militants, Al-Masdar reported, citing a source in the opposition. At the same time, the media outlet cited a government source as saying that the jet suffered a technical error.

Syria Rebels Reject Sochi Peace Initiative- Naharnet

More than three dozen Syrian rebel groups, including influential Islamists, have rejected a Russian-led initiative for talks next month in Sochi on ending Syria's war.
Russia and Iran, both key allies of Syria's regime, agreed with opposition backer Turkey on Friday to hold a "Congress of National Dialogue" in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 29 and 30.
Syria's government swiftly said it would attend but rebels have pushed back, calling it a Russian bid to eclipse a United Nations-led process in Geneva.
"We completely reject Russia's attempt to circumvent the Geneva track," the rebels said in a joint statement published Monday.
"We call on all forces to stand in one rank against these alarming dangers."
It was signed by 40 factions, including Islamist powerhouse Ahrar al-Sham and groups that have been backed by the United States such as the Mutasem Brigades.
Some of the factions played a significant role in the rebellion since the war broke out in 2011 but most have either been sidelined by other groups or control only small pockets of land.

Russia Starts Forming Permanent Groups in Syria's Tartus, Hmeymim Bases - Shoigu- Sputnik News

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia has started forming a permanent group in Syria's Tartus and Hmeymim, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a conference call.

The Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament, has ratified the agreement with Syria to expand the Russian naval facility in Syria's Tartus on December 26.
The statement follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's surprise visit to the Hmeymim airbase on December 11, and his order to start the withdrawal of the main part of Russian troop contingents in the region back to their permanent location, with the bases in Hmeymim and Tartus maintaining their operation.
The minister went on to say that the Russian armed forces are equipped with modern weapons at 59.5%, while the serviceability of weapons is at 94%. The anti-aircraft defense of the Hmeymim airbase is ensured by the cutting edge S-400 system, while S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, as well as the Bastion coastal missile systems with cruise missiles, cover the Russian Navy base in Tartus.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Al-Rahi: Lebanon Can't Bear Elimination of Any Component, Restriction of Freedoms- Naharnet

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Monday warned against “the elimination of any component” while stressing that Lebanon should not restrict public freedoms.
“Lebanon cannot bear the monopolization of power and posts, the elimination of any of its components, or the restriction of the public freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution, topped by the freedoms of opinion and belief and consequently the freedoms of press, publishing and expression,” al-Rahi said in his Christmas Day sermon in Bkirki.
“These freedoms must be regulated according to their laws and codes of ethics, seeing as diversity and freedom are twins that represent the joy of the Lebanese,” the patriarch added.
His remarks come amid concerns that there are attempts to “isolate” certain political parties, such as the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb Party. They also come amid an outcry over the judiciary’s summoning of prominent talk show host Marcel Ghanem.

Hatay'da Suriyeli aşiret reisleri toplandı- CNNTURK

Suriyeli 55 aşiretin lideri, Hatay’ın Reyhanlı ilçesinde toplandı. Aşiret liderleri, Esad rejimi ile DEAŞ, PKK, PYD gibi tüm terör örgütlerine karşı birlik beraberlik içerisinde hareket etme kararı aldı.

Suriyeli 55 aşiretin lideri 9 Aralık’ta İstanbul’da yaptığı toplantının ikincisini Hatay’ın Reyhanlı ilçesinde gerçekleştirdi. Toplantıda, aşiret liderleri, Esad rejimi ile DEAŞ, PKK/PYD gibi tüm terör örgütlerine karşı birlik beraberlik içerisinde hareket etme kararı aldıklarını belirtti.
Toplantıya katılan Arap, Türkmen, Kürt, Süryani, Dürzi aşiretlerinin liderleri yaptıkları konuşmalarında, Özgür Suriye Ordusu (ÖSO) ile birlikte hareket ederek terör örgütlerinden kurtulmayı hedeflediklerini ifade etti.
Suriyeli aşiretler ve Kabileler Yüksek Kurulu Başkanı Emir Cemal Elşeyş, Suriyeli aşiretler ve kabileler olarak Suriye’nin dokusu, birliği, istikrarının destekçisi ve evlerinden edilenlerin yeniden dönmesinin garantörü olduklarını söyledi.
Elşeyş, "Amacımız, safların birleştirilmesi, PKK/PYD, DEAŞ ile mücadele, Beşşar Esad rejimi ve destekçilerinin yıkılmasıdır" dedi.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Lebanese Army arrests several Syrian Al-Qaeda members near Israeli border- Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:40 P.M.) – The Lebanese Army arrested a large number of Syrian militants belonging to the Al-Qaeda linked Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham jihadist group in the disputed Sheba’a Farms on Saturday, a military communique read.
According to the communique, the Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham militants were arrested by the Lebanese Army during a raid near the Israeli border on Saturday; they would also confiscate a large quantity of weapons and ammunition that were stored in this area by the jihadists.

UN Chief Extends Tribunal for Hariri Killers for 3 Years- Kataeb.org

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is extending for three years the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is prosecuting suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced the extension from March 1, 2018, saying the trial in absentia of four men indicted in the truck bombing in Beirut that killed Hariri and 22 others is taking place at the U.N.-backed tribunal outside The Hague, Netherlands.
He says the tribunal also has jurisdiction over attacks in Lebanon between Oct. 1, 2004, and Dec. 12, 2005, connected to the Hariri attack or similar in “nature and gravity.”

Bogdanov: We call on all Syrian parties to participate in Sochi Congress- SANA

Moscow, SANA – Russian Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, said that his country calls on all Syrian parties to participate in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress scheduled for January in the Russian city of Sochi.
“We call on all and I mean the Syrians participants in the Astana and Geneva processes,” Bogdanov told  Sputnik on Saturday.
He stressed that the lists of participants in Sochi conference are currently being prepared with taking into account the stances of the guarantor states of the cessation of hostilities agreement (Russia, Iran and Turkey).
“I think a constitutional committee will be formed and enjoy a general mandate from the people, so there will be between 1,500 and 1,700 participants,” Bogdanov said.

Russia gives Syrian Army a whole battalion of T-90 battle tanks- Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:15 P.M.) – Photo evidence has merged showing one of the many dozens of modern main battle tanks delivered to the Syrian Arab Army by Russia in recent months.
According to military affiliated sources, the Russian military has delivered no less than forty (40) T-90A main battle tanks – the equivalent of an armored battalion – to the Syrian Arab Army since the beginning of October this year.
The latest generation tanks were delivered to Syria via Russian cargo ships traversing the Bosphorus and arriving at the port city of Latakia.
After reaching Syria, the T-90s were placed in storage until being assigned to a Syrian Army unit for combat operations.

Syrian Troops Cut Off Road Between Militant-held Towns Of Beit Jinn And Mughr al-Mir- South Front

Syrian troops have reportedly cut off the main road between the militant-held towns of Beit Jinn and Mughr al-Mir in the so-called Beit Jinn pocket in the southern part of the country.
On December 23, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) established a full control over the Hanakir area and cut off the road. Now, militants in Mughr al-Mir are de-facto isolated from their counterparts in the rest of the pocket.

Al-Rahi in Christmas Message Calls for Valuing Press Freedom- Naharnet

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi stressed in his Christmas message on Saturday the need to value the freedom of the press, after several encounters in Lebanon that saw lawsuits against journalists, as he asked the State to shoulder responsibility for private school teachers' salary increase demands.
“The Lebanese fear an authoritarian slide towards patterns aiming to restrict the freedom of the press for political or malicious purposes. The judiciary should never be politicized,” said the Patriarch.
The Maronite's remarks came after Thursday's demonstration where a number of civil society groups rallied outside the Justice Palace in Beirut in support of press freedom and to reject “the muzzling of voices.”
The demonstration came in the wake of the prosecution of Marcel Ghanem, one of Lebanon's most prominent talk show hosts, over an episode in which he hosted Saudi journalists who labeled the Lebanese president and parliament speaker as “terrorists.”
Turning to the private school teachers' demands for an increase in salary, Rahi said: “Private schools, mainly Catholic ones, should be concerned with preserving the rights of teachers and relieving the burden of the students' parents. The State must pay the difference resulting from the wage scale approval.”

Friday, December 22, 2017

Astana 8 Talks on Syria Underway in Kazakh Capital- The Syrian Observer

Talks began Thursday between representatives from Syria's government and opposition, as well as guarantor states Turkey, Russia and Iran.

The eighth round of talks on Syria in Astana has kicked off with the participation of the Syrian government delegation, headed by Bashar al-Jaafari, and delegations from Russia, Iran and Turkey, the three guarantor states of the de-escalation zones agreement.

On Thursday morning, the Syrian delegation met with the Iranian delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, for talks on coordination and consultation between the two sides.

Earlier, the Syrian delegation also held a meeting with the Russian delegation, headed by senior negotiator Alexander Lavrentyev. During the meeting, both sides agreed on the importance of consultative meetings for the success of the Astana process.

A Russian source close to the Astana talks said that the guarantor states decided not to expand the list of the participants in Astana process.

According to another source, Turkish, Russian and Iranian representatives will also discuss a date and the list of participants for the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress due to be held in the Russian city of Sochi.

Al-Nusra counter-offensive throws ISIS out of Idlib, sends rival jihadists running for their lives- Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:15 A.M.) – After entering the southern countryside of Idlib province about two weeks ago, ISIS militants have been ejected from the region following a powerful counter-attack by rival jihadists of Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda).
On Wednesday, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham forces in southeast Idlib launched a counter-offensive against Islamic State positions along the region’s provincial border with Hama. For the assault, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham mustered motorized shock troops backed up by artillery support.

Rusya, Tartus’taki askeri üssünü genişletiyor- Şarku'l Avsat Türkçe

Rus Parlamentosu’nun alt kanadı olan Duma, Suriye’nin Tartus kentindeki Rus Askeri Üssü’nün genişletmesine yönelik anlaşmayı onayladı.
Rusya Devlet Başkanı Vladimir Putin, Rus donanmasına ait üssün genişletmesiyle ilgili anlaşmayı 13 Aralık’ta Duma’ya sunmuştu.
Rus Haber Ajansı TASS’a göre anlaşmada “Rusya, donanma tesisini korumak için gerekli sayıda askeri bulundurma hakkına sahiptir” maddesi yer alıyor.
Anlaşmaya göre söz konusu Rus üssü, Suriye’nin sivil ve idari yetkisinden tamamen muaf olacak. Rusya bölgedeki ortak tesisleri de herhangi bir bedel ödemeksizin kullanabilecek.
Rusya’nın üste barındıracağı taşınabilir ve taşınmaz tüm malların arama, el koyma ve diğer işlemlere tabi tutulmasına da muafiyet sağlayan anlaşmaya göre üs personeli ve aileleri de diplomatlarla aynı ayrıcalıklara sahip olacak.
TASS’ın haberinde ayrıca Suriye’nin donanma tesisinin korunmasından sorumlu olduğu, Rusya’nın ise deniz sınır ve füze güvenliği sağlayacağı bilgisi yer aldı.
Rusya ile Suriye arasında yapılan anlaşmanın süresi 49 yıl olarak belirlendi. Tarafların anlaşma süresi bitmeden en az bir yıl önce yazılı olarak itiraz etmemesi halinde anlaşma otomatik olarak 25 yıl daha uzatılabilecek.
Duma Uluslararası İlişkiler Komitesi Başkanı Leonid Slutsky, “Anlaşmanın onaylanması stratejik önem taşıyor. Suriye topraklarında bir Rus donanma tesisi bulunması, bölgesel barış ve istikrarın sağlanması hedefleriyle tamamen uyumludur” değerlendirmesinde bulundu. Slutsky, askeri üssün tamamen savunma amaçlı olduğunu ve diğer ülkeleri hedef almayacağını vurguladı.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hariri: This is the Best Time to Invest in Lebanon- Naharnet

Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Thursday that “this is the best time to invest in Lebanon,” after the Lebanese showed “wisdom” during the November political crisis.
“This is the best time to invest in Lebanon because, thanks to this political stability and security in our country, we have been able to establish that the country is capable of confronting crises in a wise manner,” Hariri said during a discussion with the participants in the Global Business Summit, organized by Endeavor Lebanon and LIFE at the Four Seasons Hotel.
He added that the government's goal is to ensure that the fiscal deficit will not increase from 2017 to 2018, and that the country will be able to meet all financial challenges next year.
“Over the course of this year, we achieved many things. People did not believe at first and thought that this consensus could explode at any time. But it enabled us to overcome a very difficult situation in a wise way,” Hariri said.

State Duma Ratifies Expansion of Russia's Tartus Naval Facility in Syria Deal- Sputnik News

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Russian State Duma ratified on Thursday the agreement on the expansion of the Russian naval facility in the Syrian port city of Tartus.
According to the agreement, Russia may simultaneously deploy up to 11 warships, including nuclear-powered combat vessels, at the Tartus naval facility. Russia will carry out the seaborne and airborne protection of the base, while Syria will be responsible for the land security. Russia will be able to deploy temporary mobile outposts beyond the base, if coordinated with the Syrian side.

Kurdish offensive against Syrian Army produces embarrassing results- Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:50 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army has driven back an assault by Coalition-backed, Kurdish-led militias that was unleashed against its forces at a key town in the east Syrian province of Deir Ezzor.
According to pro-government sources, Thursday morning witnessed pro-Coalition militias operating under the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance attack units of the Syrian Arab Army on the east Euphrates shore.
The Kurdish-led assault was delivered against the government-held town Khasham.
After hours of firefights, the Syrian Army managed to repel the attack, killing and capturing at least 12 pro-Coalition militants.
Many questions arise from this event. At the present time no information exists on what inspired Coalition-led fighters to so suddenly attack Syrian pro-government forces.
Several days ago, Al-Masdar News reported that Syrian army-led forces were withdrawing from Khasham in order to surrender it to pro-Coalition militias. In the event, it has become apparent that Syrian troops did not retreat from the town.

Syrian Army Shells Positions Of US-backed Forces On Eastern Bank Of Euphrates River- South Front

On December 21, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) shelled several positions of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the town of al-Busayrah on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in the southeastern Deir Ezzor countryside, according to the Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA). These claims are not yet confirmed by any official sources.
One day earlier, units of the SDF’s Deir Ezzor Military Council (DMC) attacked SAA oppositions in the village Khasham north of al-Busayrah, acceding to Syrian local sources. The sources revealed on December 21 that twelve fighters of the SDF were killed during the failed attack.
In a related development, Kurdish sources claimed that the SAA is coordinating its “attacks” on the SDF with ISIS. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that dominate the SDF also claimed that there is a deal between the SAA and ISIS in Deir Ezzor governorate to “block the Kurds”.

The border crossings of Syria’s northwest- Syria Direct

AMMAN: Much of the remaining rebel presence in Syria is concentrated in two pockets of the county’s northwest, where small cities and countryside towns intersperse with sweeping tracts of farmland.
One of the pockets spans Idlib province and neighboring parts of Hama and Aleppo to the south and east. There, the hardline rebel coalition Hay’at Tahrir a-Sham is the dominant military and political force. To the northeast, in the northern Aleppo countryside, Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army factions rule a second pocket of territory after driving out the Islamic State in 2016.
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have driven out opposition fighters from most urban and industrial centers throughout the country, leaving rebels and the civil institutions that support them largely sequestered in the northwest and economically dependent on four commercial crossings that fall along Syria’s 950km border with Turkey.
For nearly three million residents of these two rebel-held enclaves, the commercial crossings with Turkey mean an influx of food, medicine, clothing, fuels and building supplies, among other goods. For the rebel factions, the crossings represent an economic opportunity.
By 2014, Turkish exports to Syria had returned to pre-war levels, totaling an estimated $1.8 billion that year, according to a 2017 report by the French Institute of International Relations, a Paris-based think tank. The large volume of commercial trade through rebel-held crossings means that factions and civil authorities can make thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per day charging customs duties of $100 to $200 per freight truck.
This potential for profit makes border zones flashpoints for rebel infighting in both Idlib province and the territories controlled by Turkish-backed FSA factions. In northwestern Syria’s largely agriculture-based economy, the revenue-accruing crossings are a prize for rebel factions. 
The four border crossings in Syria’s rebel northwest—Bab al-Hawa, Bab a-Salama, a-Rai and Jarablus—not only sustain the rebel factions themselves, but also the civil and municipal institutions that lend them legitimacy in the region.

Bab al-Hawa border crossing, north Idlib province
As the sole commercial crossing for the province, home to an estimated two million residents, Bab al-Hawa is “the main lifeline for opposition-held territory in and around Idlib city,” Mazen Aloush, the head of the crossing’s media office, tells Syria Direct. The six other border crossings in Idlib province—including Khirbet al-Joz, Harem, Darkoush and Atma—are now either shuttered or authorized only for medical evacuations and the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Rebel militias aligned with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) first seized control of Bab al-Hawa from the Syrian government in mid-2012. The Syrian-Turkish border crossing sits roughly 35 kilometers north of Idlib city, connecting Idlib province with the city of Reyhanli in Turkey’s Hatay province. Then, in December 2013, the Islamic Front, a largely Salafist rebel coalition including Ahrar a-Sham and Jaish al-Islam, wrested control of the border crossing from FSA factions that had been operating it.
Ahrar a-Sham maintained control over Bab al-Hawa when the Islamic Front dissolved in 2015 and established a civilian administration for the border crossing in April of that year, Syria Direct reported at the time.

UN approves resolution rejecting US recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital- Al-Masdar News

The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution that rejects US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The UN General Assembly passed the resolution by a vote of 128 to 9 with 35 countries abstaining. The resolution condemns both US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as well as Washington’s decision to move its embassy to the ancient city.

UN envoy expresses optimism on prospects of real political solution in Syria- Al-Masdar News

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Thursday that the time has come to promote the political process in Syria.
“We are not only at the turning point of the Syrian crisis, but we also are at the end of the year, an important year,” he noted. “We recognize that now is the time for a genuine political process. That’s why I’m looking forward for these discussions.”

Two killed, four injured due to a terrorist shelling attack in Aleppo- SANA

Aleppo, SANA- Two children were killed and four others got injured Thursday when terrorist organizations targeted with shells residential neighborhoods in Aleppo city amidst public celebrations.
The city was marking the first anniversary of Aleppo’s victory over terrorism when the attack took place.
A source at Aleppo Police Command told SANA that rocket shells hit the Nile Street in Aleppo city, claiming the lives of two children – a boy, six years and a girl, 13 years, and injuring three members of their family in addition to wounding another civilian.
The celebrations prevailed in Aleppo including Saadallah al-Jabiri Square with the participants raising the Syrian flag and banners glorifying the heroism of the Syrian Arab Army, according to the reporter.

Army destroys movement lines of al-Nusra in southern area- SANA

Quneitra/ Damascus Countryside, SANA-Units of the Syrian Arab Army operating in Damascus Countryside and Quneitra killed a number of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists on Thursday.
SANA’s reporter in Quneitra said that an army unit directed strikes on movements of Jabhat al-Nusra coming from the area surrounding al-Toloul al-Homr through the forests of Jubata al-Khashab to support terrorists in Beit Jin Farm and Mogher al-Mir in Damascus Countryside.
The strikes resulted in the killing of a number of terrorists and the destruction of their weapons and equipment, according to the reporter.

Astana 8 meeting on Syria kicks off- SANA

Astana, SANA- The eighth round of talks on Syria in Astana has kicked off with the participation of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation, headed by Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, and delegations of the three guarantor states of the cessation of hostilities agreement (Russia, Iran and Turkey.)
On Thursday morning, the Syrian Arab Republic delegation  met with the Iranian delegation, headed by Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, Hossein Jaberi Ansari.
Talks during the meeting with the Iranian delegation dealt with the coordination and consultation between the two sides to contribute to the success of Astana meeting.
Earlier, the delegation also held a meeting in Astana with the Russian delegation, headed by Russian President’s Special Envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, in framework of Astana 8 meeting on Syria.
During the meeting, the two delegations discussed the issues on the agenda of this round as they agreed on the importance of these consultative meetings for the success of the Astana process.
The Syrian Arab Republic delegation, headed by Dr. al-Jaafari, arrived in Astana on Thursday to participate in Astana 8 meeting on Syria.

Lavrov: Bazı aktörler Suriye çözüm sürecini zora sokmaya çalışıyor- Sputnik News

Rusya Dışişleri Bakanı Sergey Lavrov, Birleşmiş Milletler (BM) Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Staffan De Mistura ile yaptığı görüşmede, bazı aktörlerin Suriye çözüm sürecini zora sokmaya çalıştıklarını belirtti.

Lavrov, Rusya Savunma Bakanı Sergey Şoygu’nun da katıldığı, Birleşmiş Milletler (BM) Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Staffan De Mistura ile düzenlenen görüşmede yaptığı açılış konuşmasında, “Moskova’ya gelme ve Suriye çözüm sürecinin şu anda hangi aşamada olduğu konusunda görüş paylaşımında bulunma davetimizi kabul ettiğiniz için size minnettarız. Bazı aktörlerin bu süreci zora sokmak için kullanmaya çalıştığı birçok faktör var” ifadelerini kullandı.
Rusya’nın Suriye çözümüne yönelik tüm çabalarının, Cenevre’de yapılan Suriye konulu görüşmeleri desteklemeyi amaçladığını söyleyen Lavrov, şöyle konuştu: “Cenevre platformunda ve son yıl Astana sahasında, gerilimi azaltma bölgelerinin kurulması, hükümet ve silahlı muhalefet heyetlerinin arasındaki doğrudan müzakerelerin başlangıcı, ayrıca Türkiye ve İran'la birlikte Ulusal Diyalog Kongresi'ni düzenleme girişimi dâhil olmak üzere Rusya'nın tüm eylemleri, Güvenlik Konseyi’nin kararlarının (2254 sayılı kararının)uygulanmasını amaçlıyor. Rusya’nın eylemler, Birleşmiş Milletler (BM) çatısı altında, görüşmelerin başarılı bir şekilde yürütülmesi için maksimum olumlu şartları oluşturmayı amaçlıyor.”
Lavrov, görüşmede ayrıca Suriye’de ‘sahadaki’ durumu görüşmeyi planladığını kaydetti.