"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, June 30, 2018

Syrian Army nearly in control of all east Daraa- Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:00 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is on the verge of being in control of all of the eastern countryside of Daraa, following several reconciliation deals with the rebel forces.
Starting with Al-Karak, the Syrian Army was able to secure a reconciliation deal with the locals of the town, which brought about the hostilities between the rebels and government in the area.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Italian officials allegedly met with Syria's top military adviser- The Guardian

A secret meeting that is alleged to have taken place between a senior military adviser to Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and top Italian officials has come under scrutiny from human rights organisations.
Italy’s decision to host the clandestine meeting violated EU rules, the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) has claimed.
In its legal complaint, filed against Italy at the European commission, the ECCHR has alleged a meeting took place in early 2018 between Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s national security bureau, and Marco Minniti, a former intelligence chief who was serving as Italy’s interior minister at the time. It claimed the meeting violated an EU travel ban that was put in place against Mamlouk in 2011. Italy’s head of intelligence, Alberto Manenti, also allegedly attended.
Initial unconfirmed reports in February stated that Italy had provided Mamlouk with a private jet to fly to Rome, but the alleged meeting was not officially recognised or announced. The ECCHR stated in its complaint that it had “received confirmation about the visit and the meetings by several government officials as well as journalistic sources”.

Damascus Government And Free Syrian Army Are About To Reach Fully-Fledged Reconciliation Agreement In Southern Syria- South Front

The Damascus government and groups of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are about to reach a reconciliation agreement in several towns and villages of the southern governorate of Daraa, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on June 19. The state-run news agency didn’t reveal any details about the expected agreement.
From its side, the Hammurabi’s Justice News blog, which is linked to the US-led coalition and the FSA, confirmed that a reconciliation agreement on southern Syria is about to be reached. According to the pro-opposition blog, the agreement will be announced within “24 hours” if Russia approves few demands of the FSA.

Map Update: 6 Settlements In Southern Syria Accept Reconciliation Agreement With Damascus- South Front

The settlements of Um Oualad, Tafas, Saida, Um Mayazin, Taybah, Nassib and Jabib in southern Syria have accepted a reconciliation agreement with the Damascus government, according to pro-government sources.
These 8 settlements will be fully controlled by pro-government forces soon. Servicemen of the Russian Military Police will also enter the area according to some reports.

Syrian refugees’ impact on Lebanese labor market- Daily Star

The countries neighboring the Syrian Arab Republic are the largest refugee host-states. In March 2011, the Syrian Crisis erupted and the major spillover was a 5.6 million influx of displaced Syrians to the Middle East and North Africa region. Given the juxtaposition of these neighboring nations to the inflicted country, they absorbed large numbers of refugees. UNHCR figures by May 2018 show 982,012 Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon, 3.4 million in Turkey, almost 653,000 in Jordan, 247,000 in Iraq, and approximately 127,000 in Egypt.
Lebanon currently hosts the highest per-capita population of refugees in the world. Lebanon emerged as one of the two key transit hubs for refugee-flows, after Turkey, owing to the closeness of culture, Lebanon’s geographic proximity, as well as the humanitarian “open border” policy adopted by the national government from 2011-14. By 2015, one in every four individuals in Lebanon was a Syrian refugee as per the ILO (2015) and the UNHCR (2015). The World Bank and national officials estimate the total refugee population hit at least 1.5 million by 2017, including nonregistered Syrians and more than 40,000 Palestinians from Syria. Today, “1 person out of 3 in Lebanon is a displaced Syrian” and this reality profoundly impacts the Lebanese labour market.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Four Fronts in the De-Escalation Zone: Who Fights with Whom in Syria at the Present Time- South Front

Written by Evgeny Satanovsky; Originally appeared at VPK, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront
This article was released by VPK on June 18, 2018
The Syrian war is ongoing. The weakness of Damascus, the tenacity of its opponents and the caution based on the experience gained in Afghanistan and Chechnya make Russia wary of being drawn into a large-scale guerrilla conflict.
At the same time, the Syrian authorities, with the support of the Russia Aerospace Forces take control of one province after another. The last one was East Ghouta. It is the turn of the Syrian south. The US is balancing between Turkey and the Kurds, trying to keep under control the eastern shore of the Euphrates and part of the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Who to be Friends with, Who to Kill

On June 14, the US State Department expressed concern about reports that the Syrian government troops are conducting operations in one of the de-escalation zones in the south-west of the country. As stated by the Iranian agency Fars, in the province of Deraa in southern Syrian, fighting broke out between the government army and rebel groups. Units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are operating there against Assad’s troops. Earlier, Damascus issued an ultimatum to the militants in the provinces of Deraa and Quneitra with the requirement to lay down their arms and transfer the controlled territories to the government army. Some warlords said they did not intend to give up.
The soldiers of the Syrian Army eliminated the threat of a breakthrough of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in the south-west of Aleppo. As the news portal Surya Al-An reported, the gangs attacked the government troops positions near the village of Khan Tuman. In the province of Deraa, troops attacked the Jabha al-Nusra bases and its allies in the area of Tell al-Harra. According to the newspaper Al-Watan, the command of the armed forces moved army reinforcements to the south for the operation against terrorists. Soldiers deployed at the request of local residents of the villages of Khan Arnab, al-Chabaria, Deir Maker and Khodr. Al-Watan points out that the operation against the terrorists in Umm Batna area will involve fighters from the Palestinian brigade Liwa al-Quds fighting on the side of Damascus. Until now, the Palestinians, who are members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), were involved in the battles only in Eastern Aleppo and Yarmouk. Here they replaced the Shi’ite pro-Iranian formations. The government forces, with the support of allies, intend to put an end to the irreconcilable militants in the southern de-escalation zone after Ramadan. Relevant consultations with the Americans and Jordanians were conducted during the last month, but ended in nothing.
The talks culminated in the Russian-Israeli agreement on the withdrawal of Iranian forces and their Lebanese Shi’ite allies from the Northern border of the Jewish state in the course of the upcoming operations in exchange of relinquishing air strikes on Syrian territory. For the Israelis this was a necessary step, as the consultations with the Americans and the Jordanians did not bring any results, the government forces operation in southern Syria was approaching, and the best course of action was to involve Moscow as a guarantor of the absence of the Iranians on the border.
Israel has put forward the withdrawal of Shi’ite militias on the Syrian territory as a condition to support the counter-terrorist operation. Consultations will continue. Thus, President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed the situation in Syria in a telephone conversation on June 15. But Israel’s position is constrained, and it would be more willing to have on its border even Islamists, but not Iranians or the Syrian Army, which the Israelis suspect of close cooperation with them.
As recent experience has shown, groups of banned in Russia ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra numbering tens of thousands of people took refuge in the abolished re-escalation zones under the guise of “moderate opposition”. Currently, two de-escalation zones continue to operate in the province of Idlib and in the south of Syria, on the border areas of Jordan and Israel in the provinces of Deraa and Quneitra. The last two years have brought militants from all over the country to Idlib, but the situation is southern Syria is not so clear. The southern de-escalation zone was established in May 2017 following the Astana talks. On July 8, its status and operating procedure were clarified during the talks between the representatives of Russia, the USA and Jordan.

Syrian army battles to bisect rebel area in southwest- Daily Star

BEIRUT: The Syrian army is fighting to cut rebel ground in the southwest in two by seizing an air base near the Jordanian border, an insurgent official said on Thursday, as intensifying air strikes killed dozens of people nearby.
President Bashar al-Assad has sworn to take back every inch of Syria, and recapturing the southwest, one of the first hotbeds of the uprising against him, would leave rebels with only one remaining stronghold, in the northwest.
The area is in a "de-escalation zone" agreed last year by the United States, Jordan and Assad's ally Russia to curb fighting. But despite American warnings that it would respond to an attack, it has not done so and Syrian opposition figures on Wednesday decried Washington's "silence".
Assad's offensive in the southwest has been backed by air strikes and shelling that have killed 93 civilians since June 19, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said, including 46 on Wednesday and Thursday.
Insurgent territory in the southwest is strung along the borders with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, narrowing to only a few kilometers wide at the city of Deraa.

İnşaat devi Lafarge'a 'IŞİD'e ödeme yaptığı' gerekçesiyle 'insanlığa karşı suça ortaklıktan' dava- Sputnik News

Suriye'deki faaliyetlerini sürdürebilmek için aralarında IŞİD'in de bulunduğu terör gruplarına haraç verdiği ileri sürülen Fransız çimento devi Lafarge hakkında soruşturma açıldı.

French Firm Lafarge Charged with Complicity in Syria Crimes against Humanity- Naharnet

French cement giant Lafarge was charged Thursday with complicity in crimes against humanity and financing terrorists for paying millions to jihadists, including the Islamic State group, to keep a factory open in war-torn Syria.
The company, whose Syrian subsidiary paid the armed groups through middlemen, has also been charged with endangering the lives of former employees at the cement plant in Jalabiya, northern Syria.
Lafarge, which has since merged with Swiss firm Holcim, immediately said it would appeal the charges.
French rights group Sherpa, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said it was the first time that a parent company anywhere in the world had been charged with complicity in crimes against humanity.
The allegations are the most serious against a French company in years.
A panel of three judges in Paris ordered Lafarge to hand over 30 million euros ($35 million) to authorities as a security deposit ahead of the trial.
Eight former executives, including ex-CEO Bruno Laffont, have already been charged with financing a terrorist group and/or endangering the lives of others over Lafarge's activities in Syria between 2011 and 2015.

Syrian Refugees Living in Arsal Start Returning to Syria- Naharnet

Several hundred Syrian refugees who fled the war ravaging their country and took refuge in the border town of Arsal are expected to return back to their hometowns in the Qalamoun Mountains located northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus.
A number of Syrian vehicles and pickup trucks had transported around 400 refugees from Wadi Hmayyed in Arsal --reportedly hosting around 61,000 displaced Syrians-- after having requested permission from the Lebanese and Syrian governments.
It's the first batch of refugees to return to Syria from Arsal.
A refugee managing the return of the refugees has registered the names of those willing to go home and delivered them to Lebanon’s General Security forces which in return completed the preparations,
He said only a few hundred have voiced the desire to go back to their hometowns, explaining that living in refugee tents and sheltering from the searing sun in summer and cold weather conditions in winter was difficult.
The repatriation comes amid a row between the Lebanese government and the U.N. refugee agency. Beirut accuses the agency of trying to discourage refugees from returning home, accusations the UNHCR rejects.

Hariri Says Each Party to Get 'Right Share', Denies Rift with Aoun- Naharnet

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri reassured Thursday that the cabinet formation process is “inching closer to a solution” and that “every party will get the right share.”
“We will soon reach a solution regarding the government and I'm still optimistic. All parties want the government to be formed. There are things that we haven't managed to resolve but we are inching closer to a solution and every party will get the right share,” Hariri said after pre-scheduled talks with President Michel Aoun in Baabda.
He also denied reports that a 24-minister Cabinet is being mulled as a possible solution.
As for his relation with Aoun, Hariri noted that “the Constitution is clear regarding government formation as well as the powers of the prime minister.”
“President Aoun and I are in agreement on all minor and major issues,” Hariri emphasized, dismissing recent media reports.
“The settlement with President Aoun is still ongoing and I will do everything needed to protect it for the sake of the country. Whoever tries to manipulate this settlement will be in a confrontation with the president and the premier-designate,” Hariri warned.

27 Aircraft, 1,140 Personnel Withdrawn From Syria Over Past Days: Putin- South Front

Over the past few days 24 aircraft and 1,140 personnel have been withdrawn from Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the alumni of military academies at a reception on June 28.
“This withdrawal is continuing now. Only over the past several days, 13 planes, 14 helicopters and 1,140 personnel have been pulled out,” Putin said adding that the pullout of Russian forces from Syria began in December 2017. “You and your fellow servicemen together with them will fully use this experience of the personnel’s combat training here in Russia to perform the most difficult and outstanding tasks during snap checks, strategic and tactical exercises, and learn how to use the unique new generation equipment, which the forces start receiving.”
The president said that the expirience gained in Syria must be used in training Russian military personnel.
“The Russian army clearly demonstrated its growing potential and better coordination among military units in the struggle with terrorists in Syria,” he said. “All of you and your fellow servicemen are now to use the experience of that operation in combat training.”
The Russian military kicked off its anti-terrorist operation in Syria in late September 2015. Since then, the Russian military involvement has changed the crouse of the war and has allowed the Damascus government to retake large areas from terrorist groups.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Jumblat Slams Int'l Community, Arabs for 'Handing Over Daraa' to Regime- Naharnet

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat on Wednesday accused the international community and the Arab League of “handing over” the southern Syrian province of Daraa to the Syrian regime.
“What a sad and tragic coincidence. After the peaceful uprising that Daraa's children staged seven years ago, and after legendary resilience in the face of the regime of brutality, the so-called international community and the futile Arab League are handing over Daraa to the jailer of torture, arrests, disappearances and murder,” Jumblat tweeted.
“Long live the resilience of Daraa's children,” he added.
Deadly air strikes pounded rebel-held towns across southern Syria on Wednesday, as relief groups sounded the alarm over a Russian-backed push for the region and its main city Daraa.
The south is meant to be protected by a ceasefire put in place last year by Russia, Jordan, and the United States, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has set his sights on retaking the area.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Hezbollah did not withdraw its forces from Syrian-Lebanese border: expert

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:20 P.M.) – Hezbollah did not with any of their military personnel from the Syrian-Lebanese border, regional expert Elijah Magnier stated this evening.
“Hezbollah did not…I repeat, did not pull out one single element from the area,” Magnier began.

Russians Withdraw from Syria-Lebanon Border- Naharnet

A Russian force that deployed on Syria's border with Lebanon has reportedly withdrawn and been replaced by Syrian troops.
The Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV, which has reporters throughout Syria, says the Russian force withdrew Tuesday from the border area on the outskirts of the town of Qusair, a stronghold of the Lebanese Hibzullah group. Russia and the Iran-backed Hizbullah are both fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.
Al-Mayadeen and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Russian troops had deployed to the area on Monday. Neither provided details as to why they left.

Kataeb, LF and PSP Leaders Join Measures as Per Naturalization Decree- Naharnet

As part of coordinating efforts to counter a controversial naturalization decree granting Lebanese citizenship to foreigners, lawyers of three political parties met on Tuesday at the Kataeb headquarters in al-Saifi, the National News Agency said on Tuesday.
Lawyers from the Kataeb party, Lebanese Forces and Progressive Socialist Party held talks to discuss the law that is yet to be disclosed.
Kataeb chief MP Sami Gemayel headed the meeting.
It comes one day after the same parties dispatched delegations to the interior ministry asking for a copy of the decree which raised criticism.
After the meeting Gemayel said: “Kataeb MPs have met with Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq yesterday who issued a statement saying the decree will be announced in 48 hours and the names to be granted the citizenship will be disclosed. We hope to get an answer tomorrow.”
Gemayel said getting a copy of the decree is a “priority so that we can study it and give an opinion about it. In order to take any legal or constitutional step we need to have the full text and names.”