"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)

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NEWS AND ARTICLES / HABERLER VE MAKALELER

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Syrian Nat'l Coalition to attend Geneva talks with UN envoy- PRESS TV

Syria’s foreign-backed opposition group, the so-called Syrian National Coalition (SNC), says it will participate in next month’s bilateral talks over the Syrian crisis in the Swiss city of Geneva with the United Nations special envoy to Syria.
Khaled Khoja, the head of the SNC, said in a Tuesday statement that he had informed the UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, that a delegation from the exiled opposition group would attend the negotiations in Geneva in May.
"The coalition reasserted its commitment to a political solution and the resumption of negotiations," said the statement.
UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said on Saturday that invitations had been sent out to all parties who could help end the four-year-old crisis in Syria, including different Syrian factions as well as regional and international players.
According to Fawzi, the talks will kick off on May 4 and will last four to six weeks.
Stressing that terrorist groups such as ISIL and al-Nusra Front will not be taking part in the talks, he added that there will be "those who have relationships with them and, those who can communicate with them."

Syrian Army Advances at Sakr Island in Deir Ezzor- Al-Masdar News

The Syrian Arab Army’s 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard has taken advantage of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham’s (ISIS) recent transfer of fighters to the Al-Anbar front in Iraq by attacking their positions at Sakr Island in the Deir Ezzor Governorate; this resulted in the SAA taking control of 80 percent of the island, including most of the Al’Aleesh District in the north.
At the Al-‘Arfa District, the 104th and 137th Brigades carried out a raid on an ISIS weapons depot, killing 13 enemy combatants before they were able to take full control of the building and seizing the large cache of weapons and supplies stored inside.
Fierce clashes broke-out between the National Defense Forces (NDF) and members of ISIS at Cinema Street, where the latter attempted to infiltrate into the Al-Fouad Cinema; however, this militant assault was eventually repelled before nightfall on Tuesday.

Hollande offers to help end political standoff- Daily Star

BEIRUT: French President Francois Hollande conveyed his country’s readiness to help end Lebanon’s 11-month presidential deadlock to the Maronite patriarch Tuesday, and reiterated France’s support for the Lebanese Army.
The National News Agency reported that Hollande spoke to Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai of the deep bonds betweenLebanon and France, voicing his country’s readiness to launch international initiatives to help accelerate the election of a Lebanese president.
At an hourlong meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Hollande stressed to Rai that France would not meddle in Lebanon’s internal affairs, but believed that the election of a president would help restore the normal functioning of the country’s constitutional institutions. The French president added that his country would continue to stand by Lebanon and support the Army against terrorism.

SMDK Cenevre'ye gidiyor- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye muhalif koalisyonu ülkelerindeki iç savaştan çıkış yolu bulabilmek amacıyla Mayıs ayında Cenevre'de yapılacak Suriye görüşmelerine katılacaklarını açıkladı.


Suriye Muhalif ve Devrimci Güçler Ulusal Koalisyonu (SMDK) Mayıs ayında Cenevre'de yapılacak Suriye görüşmelerine katılacaklarını açıkladı.
Suriye Muhalif ve Devrimci Güçler Ulusal Koalisyonu Başkanı Halid Hoca, BM'nin Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Staffan de Mistura'nın Cenevre davetini kabul etti.
Mayıs ayında Cenevre'de yapılacak Suriye görüşmelerine katılacağını açıklayan SMDK, Suriye krizinin çözümü için mevcut rejimin düşmesi ve hiçbir unsurunun Suriye'nin geleceğinde ve geçiş sürecinde yer almaması gerektiğini vurguladı.
Açıklamada, "Suriye rejiminin hala askeri çözümde ısrarcı olmasına, Suriye halkının özgürlük ve onur devrimini bastırmak için daha fazla vakit kazanmak amacıyla uluslararası girişimleri tıkamasına rağmen SMDK, siyasi çözümde ve müzakerelerin bittiği yerden başlaması konusunda kararlı" denildi.

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘direct aggression’ alongside militants- Al-Arabiya


Syria has accused Turkey of providing supporting fire and logistical help to enable “terrorist groups” to capture the Syrian city of Idlib and the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughour, state television said on Tuesday.

“The terrorist groups’ attacks on Idlib city and Jisr al-Shughour... were carried out by logistical and fire support from the Turkish army,” Syrian television quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

“This is direct Turkish aggression on Syria.”

Syria has recently stepped up its accusations that Turkey is aiding opposition fighters in its civil war and allowing thousands of foreign militant fighters into the country.

Ankara has rejected such charges.


Would-Be Suicide-Bomber Seeking to Attack 'Shiite Target' Arrested in North- Naharnet

A potential suicide-bomber was arrested in the northern city of Tripoli last week as he was headed to Syria where he was set to prepare himself for carrying out a bombing against a Shiite target in Lebanon, reported al-Akhbar newspaper on Wednesday.
Arrested by the General Security, Mohammed al-Aqla, 22, said he had joined the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria.
He was expected to meet up with the group, which would determine the target of his suicide-bombing in Lebanon.
The suspect confessed to belonging to the group and aspiring to follow in the footsteps of Palestinian suicide-bombers, Adnan al-Mohammed and Nidal al-Mougheer, who both hailed from al-Bisariyeh camp.
Mohammed had carried the bombing in front of the Iranian embassy in Beirut on November 19, 2013 and al-Mougheer had carried out the bombing in front of the Iranian Cultural Center on February 19, 2014.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Suriye için sıcak yaz (Mehmet Serim- YDH)

YDH Suriye Temsilcisi Mehmet Serim, Suriye’de cephelerde yaşanan son gelişmeleri ve uluslararası alanda yaşanan bazı olayların bu gelişmelere olan etkisini yazdı.

Son bir ay içerisinde cephelerde yaşanan gelişmeler Suriye’deki savaşı bu yıl içinde bitirme söylemi içinde olan yönetim açısından yaşanacak zor günlerin habercisi.

Cenevre 3, Rusya’nın Moskova girişimi, İran’ın nükleer anlaşması, Yemen’de savaş ve tarafları Suriye’deki savaşın gidişatını da belirliyor kimi kaynaklara göre.

Bu görüşte olanlara göre ABD, Suudi Arabistan, İsrail ve Türkiye Suriye’de ‘gaza bastılar.’

İran’ın nükleer anlaşma sonrası Batı ile yaşadığı bahar havasını bozmak isteyen İsrail, İran’a saldıramadığı için Suriye cephesine yüklenmeye başladı. diğer yandan Türkiye ve Suudi Arabistan İsrail ile aynı sebepler ve üstüne Yemen nedeniyle aynı şekilde Suriye cephesine yükleniyor.

Kerry ve Erdoğan’ın son Suudi Arabistan ziyaretlerinde Suriye’deki savaşın daha derli toplu yürütülmesi için bazı kararların alındığı dile getirilmişti.

Jabhat Al-Nusra Fails to Capture Regiment 137 in the West Ghouta- Al-Masdar News

On Monday, militants from the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” attempted to infiltrate into the Syrian Arab Army’s Regiment 137 base at the town of Khan Al-Sheih, where they were met with fierce resistance from the latter, as they lost a confirmed 16 combatants during this attack.
The Jabhat Al-Nusra attack on this Western Ghouta military base came from the western perimeter, as the latter mercilessly pounded the western corridor with a barrage of rockets and mortar shells before they stormed the guard post on Monday morning.
Unable to penetrate the SAA’s fortifications, the militants from Jabhat Al-Nusra chose to withdraw their attack after three hours of intense clashes at the western corridor; this was followed by the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) launching a number of airstrikes on the enemy convoys that were attempting to flee the area.

PFLP-GC Member Detained for Assassination Bids, Security Scheme Targeting Dahiyeh- Naharnet

A member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) was reportedly detained by the organization for seeking to carry out security attacks in Beirut's Southern Suburbs – Dahiyeh and the coastal town of Naameh, around 20 kilometers south of Beirut.
According to al-Joumhouria newspaper published on Tuesday, Mohammed Mohammed, previously served at the organization's base in Naameh, its most prominent military position in Lebanon, which also contains a quantity of missiles.
The PFLP-GC had expressed willingness to hand over Mohammed to the Lebanese Army Intelligence but is awaiting for a decision by the group's secretary-general Ahmed Jibril.
Mohammed, who hails from the southern Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh, was working within a group led by Bilal Bader, a former leader of the militant groups Jund al-Sham and Fatah al-Islam, to carry out a series of security breaches in PFLP-GC general command center in Dahiyeh's Palestinian Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp, Naameh tunnel and Beirut's southern suburbs.
The suspect allegedly confessed to being tasked with collecting information to aid Bader and his militant group.

Mortar fire from Syria hits Israeli-occupied Golan Heights- Daily Star

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Two mortar rounds fired from Syria struck open areas of the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights on Tuesday, an Israeli security source said.
"Two mortar shells fell in the northern sector of the Golan Heights," the source told AFP, saying it was a result of stray fire from fighting inside Syria and had caused no casualties or damage.
The Israeli army said that "multiple explosions" were heard in the Golan Heights and that sirens had sounded in several areas.
The mortar fire came two days after the Israeli military said the air force had targeted four "terrorists" armed with explosives who were "en route to carry out an imminent attack" on troops on the armistice line.
All four were killed.

Syria Defense Minister in Iran to Discuss Cooperation- Naharnet

Syria's Defense Minister General Fahd al-Freij began a visit Tuesday to key ally Iran to discuss cooperation between the two countries' armies, Syria's official news agency SANA said.
The trip to Tehran comes after a series of recent military losses for President Bashar Assad's regime, which is battling an uprising that began more than four years ago.
During the two-day visit, Freij and his Iranian counterpart will discuss "strengthening coordination and cooperation between the two allied militaries particularly in tackling terrorism and common challenges in the region."
The Syrian government labels all those seeking Assad's overthrow "terrorists".
The Syrian conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests but spiraled into a war after a regime crackdown.

Suriye: İslamcı grupların hedefinde Akdeniz mi var?- BBC Türkçe

Suriye'nin Halep ile Lazkiye kentleri arasında yer alan İdlib kentinin merkezi, Mart ayının sonunda Fetih Ordusu'nun eline geçti.
Bünyesinde El Kaide'nin Suriye kolu Nusra Cephesi'ni de barındıran bir ittifak grubu olan Fetih Ordusu, geçen hafta sonuysa İdlib'e bağlı 'stratejik önemdeki' Cisr eş-Şugur ilçesinin önemli bir bölümünü aldı.
Bu iki gelişme, Suriye iç savaşıyla ilgili dikkatleri hem Fetih Ordusu'na hem de İdlib bölgesine kaydırdı.

Cisr eş-Şugur'da ne oluyor?

Cisr Eş Şugur'da son durumun ne olduğuyla ilgili farkı bilgiler geliyor.
BBC Türkçe'ye konuşan, Suriyeli muhaliflerin destekçisi, Londra merkezli Suriye İnsan Hakları İçin Gözlemevi'nin Müdürü Rami Abdurrahman, "Son dört aydır rejim her gün yeni alanlar kaybediyor" diyor ve Cisr eş-Şugur'u da kaybettiğini ekliyor.
Abdurrahman bununla birlikte Cisr eş-Şugur'da çatışmaların sürdüğünü belirtiyor.
Suriye'nin resmi Sana haber ajansı ise "çatışmalarda birçok teröristin öldürüldüğünü, askeri operasyonların sürdüğünü" bildiriyor.
Fetih Ordusu Suriye ordusunun ilçeden ayrıldığını öne sürerken, Suriye yönetimi ise ordunun sivil ölümlerini önlemek üzere Cisr eş-Şugur'un çevresine doğru çekildiğini belirtiyor.
BBC Türkçe'nin Cisr eş-Şugur'dan ulaştığı bir kaynak da çatışmaların mahalle mahalle sürdüğünü söylüyor.
Çatışmalarda sivillerin de öldüğü belirtilirken bu ölümlerle ilgili farklı bilgiler aktarılıyor.
Rami Abdurrahman "rejimin hava saldırılarında dün (Pazar) 30'u kadın ve çocuk, 73 sivilin öldüğünü" söylüyor.

'Esed'e desteğe son verin'- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye'deki iç savaşı sonlandırmak amacıyla Mayıs ayında planlanan Cenevre görüşmelerine İran'ın davet edilmesinin ardından Washington, Tahran'ın Cenevre bildirgesini kabul etmesi ve Esed rejimine desteğine son vermesi gerektiğini belirtti.


ABD Dışişleri Bakanlığı sözcülerinden Jeff Rathke, "İran, Suriye'deki çatışmanın barışçıl şekilde sonlandırılmasında yapıcı rol oynamak istiyorsa, Esed rejimine desteğini sona erdirmeli ve Cenevre bildirisinin ilkelerini desteklemeli" dedi. 
Rathke’ye günlük basın toplantısında, İran'ın, Suriye barış görüşmelerine davet edilmesine ABD’nin bakışı soruldu.
Konunun farkında olduklarını belirten Rathke şunları söyledi:
"Sizi konuyla ilgili daha fazla bilgi için BM Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Staffan de Mistura ve ekibine yönlendiriyorum. Eğer İran, Suriye'deki çatışmanın barışçıl şekilde sonlandırılmasında yapıcı rol oynamak istiyorsa, ilerlenilecek yol açık: Esed rejimine desteğini sona erdirmesi ve Cenevre bildirisinin ilkelerini desteklemesi. Kapsam, tarih ve katılım BM özel temsilcisinin üzerinde çalıştığı bir şey ama ilkeler açık: Cenevre bildirisi."

Monday, April 27, 2015

Jumblat on Anniversary of Syrian Withdrawal: We Look forward to Army that Controls War, Peace Decisions- Naharnet

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat hoped on the tenth anniversary of the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon for the implementation of the Baabda Declaration that would grant the army complete power over decisions of war and peace.
He said in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa website: “We look forward to the day when we celebrate the existence of a single central authority that oversees all others.”
“We look forward to the presence of an army that alone has the power of war and peace,” noted the MP.
This can be achieved through the actual implementation of the Baabda Declaration, he explained.
“It is time to once again prevent Lebanon from being an open ground for regional interests,” stated Jumblat.

Syrian dissident Louay Hussein flees to Spain- BBC News

A prominent Syrian political activist has evaded a travel ban and fled to Spain before the end of his trial for "weakening national sentiment".
Louay Hussein, head of the Building the Syrian State (BSS) party, said he had felt that his life was in danger.
The 55-year-old was a leading member of Syria's internal opposition, which is largely tolerated by the government.
But he was detained last year after writing a newspaper article that was critical of President Bashar al-Assad.
In February, he was released on bail and banned from leaving the country.

For Maronite Patriarch, without Christians moderate Muslims will also disappear from the Middle East- Asia News

Card Bechara al Rahi pleads with those waiting for the dawn of peace in “the dead of night”. He points the finger at the international community for being "slow" in stopping the "death and destruction" caused by "killers without faith." Peace between Israel and Palestine is a precondition for the preservation of the Christian presence. He inaugurated the new headquarters of the Maronite diocese of France.

"In the dead of night that covers us [. . .] I make a heartfelt plea to all those who wait for the dawn,” said Maronite Patriarch Card Bechara al Rahi. The “Christian exodus from their countries of origin [. . .] will also weaken the role of moderate Muslims,” he added in a speech delivered on behalf of the persecuted Churches and peoples of the Middle East at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Syria changes passport rules for citizens abroad- Yahoo News

Damascus (AFP) - Syrian authorities will allow citizens abroad, including refugees who fled the war, to obtain passports without an intelligence service review for the first time, Syria's Al-Watan newspaper said on Sunday.
The daily, which is close to the government, said the move would "create an appropriate climate" for consultations in Geneva next month on the possibility of renewed peace talks.
It also noted that the fees for the new procedures -- which are being doubled -- would be "an important source of foreign exchange".
The newspaper said the new measures were detailed in a document sent on Thursday to Syrian embassies around the world.
This authorised embassies "to issue or renew passports for Syrians abroad without having to go through the department of emigration and passports in Damascus", Al-Watan reported.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Islamist rebel alliance seizes northwest Syrian city- Los Angeles Times

A loose alliance of Islamist rebel groups seized control of a northwest Syrian city on Saturday, officials said, opening a pathway into Syrian government strongholds on the Mediterranean Sea.

The rebel factions overran the city of Jisr al-Shughur, 55 miles southwest of Aleppo, after a punishing four-day campaign against government forces that made use of suicide bombers, mortars and explosive devices.

The operation, dubbed the Battle of Victory, was spearheaded by the Islamist alliance that calls itself the Army of Conquest and includes the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.

İsrail’den Suriye ordusu ve Hizbullah'a yeni saldırı- YDH

YDH- El Cezire televizyonu, İsrail uçaklarının saldırıyı Cuma akşamı gerçekleştirdiğini ve Suriye ordusu ile Hizbullah'a ait mevzileri vurduğunu bildirdi.

Haberde İsrail savaş uçaklarının saldırısının ardından Kalamun bölgesindeki el-Katife kentinde meydana gelen patlamaların Yabrud ve Kara beldelerinin çevresinden hissedildiği belirtildi.

El Cezire’nin haberine göre İsrail, cuma akşamı düzenlediği saldırıda Suriye ordusunun uzun menzilli füzelerinin bulunduğu 155 ve 65. Tümenlerini hedef aldı.

İsrail savaş uçakları son olarak 7 Aralık’ta Şam uluslararası havaalanı yakınlarındaki Dimas’ı bombalamıştı.

Friday, April 24, 2015

U.N. invites Syrian parties to Geneva peace talks in May- Reuters

The United Nations envoy to Syria said on Friday he will begin meeting in May with the country's government, opposition groups, and regional powers including Iran to assess by the end of June whether there is any hope brokering an end to the war.
Staffan de Mistura briefed the U.N. Security Council on the latest bid to find a political solution to the 4-year conflict that has killed some 220,000 people, displaced an estimated 7.6 million and forced nearly 4 million to flee the country.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked de Mistura earlier this month to "focus much more to re-launch a political process" after his attempt to broker a local truce in the northern city of Aleppo failed to materialize.
"There is nothing new telling us today that the political process will succeed or not," de Mistura told reporters. "We will start in early May and we will be meeting one after the other, everyone. Not together, separately."
"By the end of June we should hopefully be in the position of reassessing whether there is any convergence on issues of substance or not," de Mistura said, adding that he will report his findings to Ban.
He said Iran would be invited as it was a major player in the region and had influence in Syria. Ban withdrew a last minute invitation to Iran to Syria peace talks in January last year after the Syrian opposition threatened to boycott.
"The U.N. and myself have the right and will be inviting everyone, including Iran," de Mistura said.

Other key world powers would also be consulted, but not the militant groups Islamic State or Nusra Front, which are classified as "terrorist organizations," U.N. spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said earlier on Friday in Geneva. Some of those present at the talks would be able to communicate with them, he added.

Are Saudi Arabia and Turkey About to Intervene in Syria? (Aron Lund- Carnegie Endowment)

In a heated exchange at the United Nations on April 21, Riyadh’s representative, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, made a thinly veiled reference to the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen before saying that Saudi Arabia will spare no effort to also help the Syrian people. This provoked a sharp response from Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, who accused the Saudis of “cultivating a culture of sectarian bloodshed in the region,” and promised that any hand that touches Syria would be “cut off.”
The diplomatic spat comes as speculation intensifies about a Saudi-led push to weaken or destroy President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Damascus. Since late 2014—once the immediate shock of the Islamic State’s summer offensive in Iraq and eastern Syria had subsided—the Syrian conflict has been in a strange state of suspense. The diplomatic atmosphere is swirling with conferences and plans of uncertain value, while actors on all sides seem to be waiting for a decisive shift on the ground.
In mid- to late 2014, Assad seemed to be ascendant; he had cemented his hold on central Syria and was moving to encircle Aleppo in the north. But these offensives stalled and rebel attacks chipped away at the army, as Assad struggled with a failing economydiminishing foreign support, the rise of militias, and a dangerous dearthof reliable fighters. Flow turned to ebb, and in early 2015 the fortunes on the battlefield seem to have been reversed once again, with rebels on the offensive in the Idlib-Hama region in the west and in southern Syria.

Filistinlilerin birbirleriyle savaştığı kamp: Yarmuk (Hediye Levent-BBC Türkçe)

Yarmuk'ta ağır hasar görmüş binalar bir biri ardına sıralanıyor. Sokak aralarında, keskin nişancılara karşı gerilen perdeler sallanıyor.
Binaların arasında nereden geldiği belirsiz kazlar dolaşıyor. Birçok yerde, yüksekliği birkaç metreye ulaşan toprak yığınları bulunuyor. Son toprak yığınının birkaç yüz metre ilerisinde ise çatışma bölgesi başlıyor.
Yarmuk semti Suriye'de ayaklanmanın başına kadar çoğunluğu Filistinli yaklaşık 200 bin kişiye ev sahipliği yapıyordu. Bugünse tam anlamıyla harabeye dönmüş durumda.
Zira Suriye'deki iç savaşın derinleşmesiyle burada yaşayan Filistinliler arasındaki ortaya çıkan ayrımlar da derinleşti ve silahlı çatışmaya dönüştü.

Kamp içeriden de 'kuşatma' altında

Suriye'deki Filistinliler ülkedeki krizin başında önce yönetim yanlıları, muhalefet yanlıları ve tarafsızlar şeklinde üçe bölündüler.
Yönetim yanlısı ve karşıtı Filistinliler Suriye'de, hem Yarmuk hem de yaşadıkları başka bölgelerde çatışmaya başladılar.
Ancak zamanla muhalefet yanlısı Filistinliler de kendi aralarında bölünmeye başladı.
Bu Filistinlilerin bir kısmı Nusra Cephesi ve IŞİD gibi örgütlere katılırken bir kısmı ise Suriye ordusu ile anlaşma yapma yoluna gitti.

BM'den yeni Cenevre girişimi- Al-Jazeera Turk

BM, Suriye'de iç savaşı sonlandırmak hedefiyle ayrı ayrı görüşmeler yapmak üzere muhalefet ve rejimi Mayıs ayında Cenevre'ye davet etti. Toplantılara 'büyük devletler' ve İran da davetli.


BM Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Staffan de Mistura Suriye rejimini ve muhalefetini Mayıs ayında Cenevre’de yapılması planlanan görüşmelere çağırdı.
BM Sözcüsü Ahmed Fevzi, dört ila altı hafta arası bir sürede gerçekleşmesinin planlandığını belirtti.
Fevzi’ye göre, görüşmeler İsviçre’nin Cenevre kentinde taraflarla ayrı ayrı yürütülecek.
Sözcü, görüşmelerin sade bir şekilde gerçekleşeceğini sürecin sonunda büyük bir toplantı düşünülmediğini ifade ederek, beklentilerin yüksek tutulmaması gerektiğinin sinyalini verdi.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Presidential Elections Postponed to May 13- Naharnet

The presidential elections were postponed once again after parliament failed for the 22nd time to meet the required quorum to hold the polls.
Speaker Nabih Berri postponed the elections to May 13.
MTV reported that 44 lawmakers were present at the session.
Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor.
Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise presidential candidate have thwarted the polls.
The Loyalty to the Resistance bloc of Hizbullah and the Change and Reform bloc of Michel Aoun have been boycotting the elections.

At least 42 dead in rebel-ISIS clashes near Damascus: activists- Daily Star

BEIRUT: At least 42 fighters were killed in 24 hours of fierce fighting between Islamist rebels and ISIS in Syria's Damascus province, an activist group said Wednesday.
"At least 30 Islamist rebels and 12 fighters from IS were killed in fighting since Tuesday" in the hilly region of Qalamun, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Qalamun is divided into a western portion, which borders Lebanonand is mostly controlled by the regime and its ally, the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

ISIS member confesses to beheading Lebanese soldier- Daily Star

BEIRUT: A ISIS suspect detained over terrorism charges confessed Wednesday to beheading the first of four Lebanese captives to be killed by ISIS and the Nusra Front, judicial sources told The Daily Star.
Military Judge Imad Zein interrogated Wednesday cousins Omar and Bilal Mikati, who were charged this month with belonging to ISIS, committing terrorist acts and murdering Lebanese Army soldiers.
Bilal Mikati confessed to beheading Lebanese soldier Ali al-Sayyed, who was being held captive by ISIS militants on the outskirts of Arsal last summer, according to judicial sources.
Omar Mikati also participated in the beheading and was present at the scene of the crime.
Sayyed was the first of four captives to be killed by ISIS and the Nusra Front.

Russia arms Iraq, Syria to help combat Islamic State: Lavrov- Reuters

(Reuters) - Russia is arming Iraq and Syria to help them fight Islamic State, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, calling the radical militant group the main threat to his own country's security.
"Islamic State is our main enemy at the moment. If only because hundreds of Russian citizens, hundreds of Europeans, hundreds of Americans fight alongside IS," he said in an interview with three radio stations. "They are already coming back... and to enjoy themselves could stage vile acts at home."
Russia has criticized air strikes by a U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq, and encouraged Washington to work with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the battle against IS.
"We are helping both Iraq and Syria, possibly more effectively than anyone else, by providing weapons to their armies and security forces," Lavrov said, without giving details of the weapons.

Moscow faces an Islamist insurgency in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus region and President Vladimir Putin has warned that other countries could use radical Islam to try to weaken Russia.

Kahire'de 'Ortak Arap Gücü' toplantısı- Sputnik News

Mısır'ın başkenti Kahire'de Arap Birliği Genel Merkezi'nde toplanan üye ülkelerin genelkurmay başkanları, geçen ay Şarm El Şeyh'teki son Arap zirvesinin ardından alınan 'Ortak Arap Gücü' oluşturulması yönündeki kararın uygulamaya yönelik konularını ele aldı.
Toplantı Mısır Genelkurmay Başkanı Mahmud Hicazi başkanlığında gerçekleştiriliyor. Hicazi, toplantının açılışında yaptığı konuşmada, oluşturulması planlanan gücün hiçbir ülkeyi hedef almadığını söyledi.
Hicazi, kurulması planlanan Ortak Arap Gücü'nün rolünün 'terörle mücadele' amaçlı olduğunu vurguladı.
Ülkelere bağlı ulusal silahlı kuvvetlerin tek taraflı olarak terörle mücadelede yeterli olmadığının açıkça ortaya çıktığının altını çizen Hicazi, zorunlu görüldüğü durumlarda hızlı müdahale için güç oluşturma mekanizmasının ihtiyaç halini aldığını ifade etti.
Hicazi, söz konusu silahlı müdahalenin ilgili ülkelerin egemenliğine halel getirmeden o ülkelerin istekleri üzerine gerçekleştirileceğini söyledi.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The End of the Levant Front (Aron Lund- Carnegie Endowment)

Just short of four months ago, I published a post here on Syria in Crisis describing the creation of the so-called Levant Front, or al-Jabha al-Shamiya in Arabic. Announced on Christmas Day 2014 after days of negotiations, it was to be thelargest rebel coalition in northern Syria, combining five major insurgent groups into one single organization:
  • The Islamic Front’s Aleppo wing, consisting of what was previously known as the Tawhid Brigade, as well as parts drawn from the more hard-line salafis ofAhrar al-Sham and affiliate groups. The Tawhid Brigade founder and leader Abdelaziz Salameh was appointed head of the Levant Front.
  • The Noureddine al-Zengi Brigades, another big faction in the western Aleppo countryside, led by Tawfiq Shahabuddin.
  • The Fastaqim Kama Umirta Gathering, a group mostly active inside the rebel-controlled eastern half of Aleppo City, led by Saqr Abu Quteiba.
  • Smaller Aleppo-area factions of the Asala wa-Tanmiya Front, an Islamist coalition with links to Saudi religious figures.
What these groups shared was enemies in the form of President Bashar al-Assad and the Sunni extremist faction known as the Islamic State. And, even though they cooperated militarily with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front against these enemies, they all seemed to be worried—albeit to differing degrees—by the rapid rise of the Nusra Front, which has acted in a more aggressive and domineering fashion since summer 2014. By uniting, they sought to close ranks to avoid being gobbled up by the jihadi group.
It was also, of course, a question of messaging. Even though the Levant Front contained Islamist figures that had traditionally shunned the use of opposition symbols such as the Free Syrian Army name and the independence flag with three red stars, the Levant Front wholeheartedly embraced these symbols. It also showed up for joint meetings with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, which is the main Western-backed body of Syrian exiles, andvowed to protect minorities and secure equal representation for all citizens in a democratic Syria. It was the Free Syrian Army rhetoric of 2011 all over again—and, all in all, a strong pitch for U.S.-approved material support from the Turkey-based multinational logistics and supply center known as MOM.
Unity itself had a morale-boosting effect for some opposition supporters in northern Syria. A prominent Syrian dissident I met in Istanbul earlier this month told me that even though he had been skeptical of the Levant Front at the time of its creation, he had come to appreciate it after a trip to Syria this spring. The checkpoints on the roads into Aleppo had previously flown a dazzling array of flags to symbolize the rival factions that ran them, but this time they were all under the Levant Front banner. Seeing all these identical flags, he said, had felt both strange and reassuring—how rare is that to hear from a Syrian these days?

Assad: French-Syrian intelligence services 'held meetings'- Middle East Eye

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has claimed that French intelligence officials have been in contact with their counterparts in Syria but that his services had refused to cooperate.
In a wide-ranging French television interview this week, Assad said: "We held meetings with some officials from the French intelligence services, but there was no cooperation or exchange of information."
He added that France had sent representatives to Syria, but said no Syrian officials had travelled to France, accusing Paris of supporting "terrorists" opposed to his rule.
During the interview broadcast by France 2, Assad said he was open to talks if the West "convinces us they are not supporting the terrorists."
Last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry said he would talk to Assad to help end a conflict that has seen more than 220,000 Syrians killed. France’s President Francois Hollande has ruled out any official talks with Damascus.
"How can we establish dialogue with a country that supports terrorism in our country?" Assad asked in an apparent reference to France, which has said it has supplied weapons to Syrian rebel groups.
Assad, who succeeded his father in 2000, said that France had "become a kind of satellite for American foreign policy in the region. It is not independent, it has no weight and no credibility."

Esed: Fransa istihbaratıyla görüşüyoruz- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye Devlet Başkanı Beşşar Esed, Suriye istihbarat teşkilatının Fransa'daki istihbarat temsilcileriyle iletişim halinde olduğunu ancak fiili bir işbirliği yürütmediklerini söyledi.


Fransa’nın France 2 resmi televizyon kanalına mülakat veren Esed, iki devletin istihbarat organlarının iletişim halinde olduklarını ancak fiili bir işbirliği yürütmediğini söyledi.
Esed, iletişimin Suriye’ye ziyarette bulunan bazı Fransız istihbarat yetkilileri üzerinden yürütüldüğünü belirtti. Görüşme isteğinin Fransa tarafından geldiğini belirten Esed, Fransız istihbaratından herhangi bir şey talep etmediklerini ifade eden Esed, "Teröristler hakkında bütün bilgilere sahibiz" diye konuştu.
Fransa Dışişleri Bakanlığı bu iddialara yönelik henüz herhangi bir açıklama yapmadı.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Saudi-funded French arms arrive in Lebanon- FRANCE 24

The first shipment of French weapons and military equipment arrived in Lebanon on Monday under a Saudi-funded deal worth $3 billion to bolster the Lebanese army's fight against militants encroaching from neighbouring Syria.

Lebanese news channels showed a military plane at Beirut International airport with green boxes of weapons and missiles laid out in front. Saudi and French flags waved and the French and Lebanese ministers of defence attended the ceremony.
Lebanon, whose sectarian divisions have been exacerbated by the war over the border in Syria, has said it needs more resources and better hardware.
The deal will involve about 20 French companies and cover a mix of land, sea and air equipment, including armoured vehicles, heavy artillery, anti-tank missiles, mortars and assault weapons, a French defence ministry source has said.
A security source from Lebanon, which is still rebuilding after its own 15-year civil war, said the first shipment was 48 "Milan" anti-tank missiles.