The Syrian Army and popular forces beat back a series of attacks by the Al-Nusra Front terrorist group in the country’s southern Quneitra province near the Golan Heights on Saturday leaving scores of militants killed and wounded, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.
"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)
Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea urged on Saturday the March 8 camp to head to parliament on February 8 to take part in the presidential elections.
He said via Twitter: “If Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah believes that the camp achieved a victory in the presidential nominations, why doesn't his camp head to the polls in February?”
Nasrallah had declared on Friday that his party would head to parliament “tomorrow” if it guarantees that Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun would be elected president.
Addressing Nasrallah's remark that “no one can impose anything on our allies,” Geagea said: “Where was this claim when his non-allies were forced to name Najib Miqati as premier?”
The Hizbullah leader also reiterated on Friday his commitment to the election of his ally Aoun as head of state.
Jumblat to Nasrallah: If Iran isn't Blocking Presidential Polls, Why Hasn't Quorum Been Met at Parliament?- Naharnet
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat questioned on Saturday the criticism that was indirectly addressed to him by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah for his recent “sarcastic remarks on Iran's democracy,” saying that “based on the several meetings I have held with him, I recall that he has a political sense of humor.”
He said in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa website: “I was therefore suprised at the reactions that were made over marginal comments I made over the Islamic Republic and its role in obstructing Lebanon's presidential elections.”
“If Iran was indeed not hindering the elections, as you are claiming, then any citizen has the right to ask what are the real reasons for the lack of quorum at electoral sessions?” he asked in an indirect reference to Nasrallah.
He noted that this question holds more significance now that both presidential candidates are members of the March 8 alliance.
Suriye İçişleri Bakanlığı, başkent Şam'da bir Şii türbesi yakınlarında art arda meydana gelen üç ayrı bombalı saldırıda en az 45 kişinin hayatını kaybettiğini, 110 kişinin yaralandığını duyurdu.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Suriye muhalefeti Cenevre’ye gelmek için şartlar öne sürerek, hem ABD’den hem BM’den güvenceler aldı. Kendileri olmadan Cenevre görüşmelerinin tiyatrodan öte gitmeyeceğini de dünyaya kanıtladı. Ancak bu yalnızca başlangıç.Muhalefetin diplomasi direnişi de zorlu geçeceğe benziyor.
Members of Syria's main opposition group arrived in Geneva Saturday, but it is not clear whether the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee will participate directly in U.N.-backed talks on a political settlement of the Syrian civil war.
Despite the absence of the opposition delegation, U.N. officials opened the talks Friday in Geneva the first international effort for a peace settlement since earlier U.N. negotiations collapsed in 2014.
Talks began with a meeting between the U.N. special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and a Syrian government delegation headed by the country's U.N. ambassador, Bashar Jaafari.
Turkey says Russia violated its airspace again — but there's not much Turkey can do about it- Business Insider
On Friday, a Russian SU-34 jet violated Turkish airspace despite receiving radar warnings, Turkey's foreign ministry said on Saturday.
The Russian ambassador was summoned over the incident.
On Saturday, the Turkish ministry said in a statement that the violation was a clear sign thatRussia wanted issues between the two countries to escalate.
Russia will "have to face consequences if it keeps up such violations," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned following the incident.
Russian warplanes have been conducting airstrikes in Syria since late September, sometimes causing tension with Turkey when its planes come too close to the Turkish border.
These tensions first came to a head in late November, when a Russian warplane allegedly violated Turkish airspace and was shot down by Turkish F-16s.
Friday, January 29, 2016
Syrian troops and popular defense forces (NDF), on Thursday, regained control over the town of Bluzah in the country’s northwestern Aleppo province, Iran’s Fars news agency reported on Thursday.
DAMASCUS, Syria — The Syrian regime forces achieved significant progress on the front opened in October on Latakia's countryside by controlling the town of Salma in the north of the province Jan. 12. On this same date, another military offensive opened on the southern countryside of Hama, specifically on the Homs-Hama border.
The offensive began when the regime forces took control of the village of Jarjisa north of al-Rastan lake — which separates the provinces of Homs and Hama — and advanced eastward toward the village of Hirbnafsah — controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra and other Islamic factions. Intense artillery shelling by the regime forces was met with violent clashes with Jabhat al-Nusra militants and other factions.
The Syrian Arab News Agency did not cover the regime offensive on Hirbnafsah very extensively, only reporting Jan. 19 on the Syrian air force's destruction of vehicles of Jabhat al-Nusra fighters in the town. The National Defense Forces announced via YouTube that the regime forces were able to control the al-Madajen area north of Hirbnafsah on Jan. 20, a victory corroborated by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Türkiye, PYD’nin Cenevre’de yapılacak toplantıya katılmasını bloke ederek diplomatik bir zafer kazansa da Suriye’de akan kanın durması için doğru adımı attığı tartışılır.
Uluslararası kamuoyu, Suriye’de altıncı yılına giren savaşta şu ana kadar kanı durdurmakta ve silahlı döngünün derinleşmesini engellemekte aciz kalsa da bir çıkış yolu bulabilmek için diplomatik arenada çabalamaktan vazgeçmiyor. Birleşmiş Milletler’ in öncülüğünde Cenevre’de yapılması planlanan, Suriye’nin kanlı sahnesine taraf olan aktörleri uzlaştırabilmek için yapılacak görüşme bu anlamda yeni bir ümit ışığı olarak gündemde. Bu kanlı döngünün içinde kendini belirginleştiren Suriye Devlet Başkanı Beşar Esad rejimi dışındaki temel aktörlerden ikisi ise toplantı dışında tutulmakta – Irak ve Şam İslam Devleti (IŞİD) ile Suriye Demokratik Birlik Partisi (PYD).
Hundreds of mostly Turkmen refugees fearing intensifying clashes between Syrian pro-government forces and the opposition in coastal Latakia province have fled to Turkey, footage from Reuters TV showed and Turkmen officials said on Friday.
Around 400 Turkmens left the Syrian village of Yamadi and crossed into Turkey via its Yayladagi border post, according to Izzet Sohta, a regional head of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly, an umbrella group for Turkmens in Syria.
Groups of mainly women and children, including babies and the elderly, were brought over the border in buses, Reuters TV footage showed. Relief workers distributed food and water as they disembarked carrying luggage and blankets.
The influx has accelerated since last week, when Rabiya, a key rebel-held town in Latakia province, was captured by Syrian pro-government forces. The displacement occurred as U.N.-backed peace talks, the first for two years, began in Geneva despite a boycott by opposition groups.
The latest attempt to reach a negotiated end to the conflict in Syria was meant to include participation by armed opposition groups.
But their representatives had still not fully committed to the negotiations when the government delegation arrived in Geneva on Friday for talks with the United Nations mediator, Staffan de Mistura.
The main opposition bloc, the High Negotiations Committee, had refused to participate until government sieges of rebel-held towns were lifted and bombings, which continued on Friday, were halted. Still, its representatives flew to Geneva on Friday — not to negotiate, but to talk to Mr. de Mistura and press their humanitarian case to the public.
BM Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Staffan De Mistura, Riyad destekli muhalefetle pazar günü görüşmelere başlayabileceklerini kaydetti. De Mistura, Ortadoğu medyasında çıkan, ‘Suriye Yüksek Müzakere Komitesi'nin görüşmelere katılma kararı aldığı' yönündeki haberler konusunda ise ‘kendisine resmi bir bilgilendirme gelmediğini' söyledi.
The leader of al Qaeda's Syrian wing tried unsuccessfully at a recent meeting to convince rival Islamist factions to merge into one unit, several insurgency sources have told Reuters.
Abu Mohamad al-Golani, head of the Nusra Front, even suggested he was willing to change the name of his group if the others, including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham organization, agreed to the deal, the sources said.
But he made clear that Nusra would not cut its ties with al Qaeda, and its allegiance would remain to Ayman al-Zawahri, who took over as leader after U.S. Navy SEALS killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Much was riding on the outcome of the meeting, which the sources said took place about 10 days ago.
Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham are the most powerful groups in northern Syria: when they briefly teamed up with other Islamists last year in an alliance called the Fatah Army, the rebels scored one of their biggest victories by seizing the city of Idlib.
Some rebels believed a merger would create a stronger rival to Islamic State and might attract much-needed military support and recognition from regional and international powers.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
The Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have staged a spate of major military operations all across Syria over the past twenty-four hours, in which dozens of Daesh and Al-Nusra Front militants were killed and many more wounded, according to media reports.
ABD Dışişleri Bakanlığ Sözcü Yardımcısı Toner, Suriye ile ilgili Cenevre görüşmelerinin barış için tarihi bir fırsat olduğunu belirtti ve muhaliflere, masaya ön koşulsuz gelmeleri çağrısında bulundu. Toner “Anladığımız kadarıyla PYD bu hafta yapılacak toplantıda olmayacak" açıklamasında da bulundu.
The U.N.'s Syria envoy warned peace talks due to be held in Geneva must not fail, but members of the fractious opposition said they would miss the start on Friday.
Delegates from the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee said late Thursday that discussions in Riyadh over whether to attend the U.N.-brokered talks would continue the next day.
But organizers of the Geneva negotiations said no postponement was expected.
U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura, in a video message to the Syrian people, said the talks could be their country's last chance for peace.
"Now we need to hear your voice to everyone who is coming to this conference, and saying this conference must be an opportunity not to be missed," the envoy said.
He said that after several stalled peace processes, the Geneva talks "cannot fail."
A spokeswoman for the U.N. talks, Khawla Mattar, told AFP there is "no postponement from our side."
The United States wants NATO to provide aerial surveillance and coordination in Syria with its AWACS planes. DW's Max Hofmann presents five reasons why NATO should approve the US request.
MOSCOW, January 28. /TASS/. In the run-up to the Syrian settlement negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland, Moscow calls for taking into account the interests of various Syrian political forces, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday after a meeting of Russian presidential special envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov with a delegation of representatives of Syria’s social and political forces.
The Syrian opposition said it will not attend peace talks due to begin in Geneva on Friday, derailing the first attempt in two years to hold negotiations aimed at ending the five-year-long war.
An opposition council convening in Riyadh said its delegation would "certainly" not be in Geneva on Friday, saying it had not received convincing answers to its demands for goodwill steps including an end to air strikes and blockades.
The failure to get talks off the ground on time reflects the challenges facing peace-making as the conflict rages unabated on the ground.
The Syrian government is clawing back territory from rebels with military help from Iran and Russia. It has said it is ready to attend the negotiations, which U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura plans to hold in an indirect format.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
More than 18 towns and villages located in the northern countryside of Latakia province have been liberated by the Syrian Army and the country's National Defense Forces (NDF), media reports said.
The co-leader of the Syrian Democratic Council, Haytham Manna,
on Wednesday he would not take part in peace talks in Geneva unless two Kurdish leaders, Saleh Muslim and Ilham Ahmed, were also invited to participate.
"I'll go with my friends or not (at all). There is no compromise in this question," Manna told Reuters a day after the U.N. envoy to Syria, Staffan De Mistura, sent invitations to join the talks, without including the Kurdish leaders.
"We have one day and tomorrow perhaps also to negotiate all of these things with the Russians, the Americans and De Mistura's staff. We’ll see if they accept our opinion, our view to have really a strong and representative delegation, we are ready to go.”
Deciding who among Syria's fractured opposition should attend the talks has become the main stumbling block to the first attempt at a peace negotiation in two years. There is no sign of an end to the war pitting a range of rebel groups against President Bashar al-Assad's government after almost five years and more than 250,000 deaths.
A national dialogue session was held at Speaker Nabih Berri's Ain el-Tineh residence on Wednesday to address the latest developments in the country.
Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh revealed after the talks that the gatherers did not address the presidential deadlock.
Asked why by reporters, he replied: “Speaker Berri was the one steering discussions.”
He added that he is still running for the presidency, revealing that “his house is still open” to rival candidate Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun.
Aoun was not present at the talks, but Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil represented him at the dialogue.
He left without making a statement.
ABD Dışişleri Bakanlığı Sözcüsü Toner, Suriye'yle ilgili Cenevre görüşmelerine katılacak grupların listesinin henüz açıklanmadığını belirterek, "Kimlerin katılacağı De Mistura'nun tercihi. Bizim anladığımız kadarıyla PYD toplantıda olmayacak" dedi.
BEIRUT – Russian special forces have backed Hezbollah and Syrian regime forces in their recent advances in the mountains north of Latakia, according to a Kuwaiti daily with close access to Moscow’s aerial campaign in the war-torn country.
“Special forces from the Russian army equipped with Howitzer artillery, supported by warplanes and backed by elite units from Lebanon’s Hezbollah… have been entering the fiercest of battles in the heights and towns of Latakia,” sources in the Damascus joint operations room of the “4+1” military coalition of Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah told Al-Rai newspaper’s chief international correspondent, Elijah J. Magnier.
The sources said it was likely that “through intensive use of howitzer batteries and artillery, the Russian formations are inflicting much greater losses to personnel and infantry than the losses the Russian Air Force is inflicting.”
“This is allowing the attacking forces from the Syrian army and Hezbollah to advance from town to town and village to village without any notable confrontation.”
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
As of 10:30 P.M. (Damascus Time) on Monday night, the Islamist rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group) have suffered their biggest defeat in southern Syria after the Syrian Arab Army’s 15th Brigade of the 5th Armored Division and their allies imposed full control over the strategic city of Sheikh Miskeen in the Dara’a Governorate’s northern countryside.
The final battle for Sheikh Miskeen began at 8:30 A.M. (Damascus Time) when the Syrian Arab Army’s 15th Brigade – in close coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF) and the 7th Mechanized Division – captured the Al-‘Umari Mosque in the city’s west district.
This successful military operation was followed by the Syrian Armed Forces seizing the remaining neighborhoods in the Al-Diri District, where the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army had resisted for several weeks after the pro-government forces captured the Battalion 82 headquarters and housing facility.
Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, is a greater threat to the United States in the long term than is ISIS, making the United States' current single-minded focus on the latter group misguided, a new report is charging.
Al-Nusra is "much more dangerous to the U.S. than the ISIS model in the long run," according to the authors of a report labeling both groups "existential" threats. The report was released last week by the Institute for the Study of War and American Enterprise Institute.
MOSCOW, January 26. /TASS/. Syrian President Bashar Assad has not asked Russia for political asylum, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday.
"Nobody has asked us for political asylum.
No offers of the sort have been made," Lavrov said. He also dismissed media rumors the former chief of the General Staff’s intelligence directorate GRU, Igor Sergun, had allegedly asked Assad to step down.
A major Syrian opposition group Wednesday postponed a decision on joining peace talks in Switzerland, as wrangling over who will go threatens to derail the biggest push yet to resolve the war.
The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee -- formed last month in an effort to unite Syria's fractious political and armed opposition -- met in Riyadh for a second day on whether to accept a U.N. invitation to the Geneva talks.
Salem al-Meslet, a Committee spokesman, said the group cannot make a decision until it has received a response from U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.
The Committee insists it must be the sole opposition delegation at the talks and wants "clarifications" after the United Nations issued invitations to other regime opponents.
"Whether we say 'yes' or 'no' depends on the reply of De Mistura," which could come overnight, Meslet told AFP and Al-Arabiya television.
Jumblat Applauds 'Iran's Democracy,' Wonders if it Will Allow Lebanese Elections to Be Held- Naharnet
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat expressed on Wednesday “admiration with the democracy in Iran,” citing the recent exclusion of the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, from contesting elections next month.
The MP said via Twitter: “Given its 'democratic' record, perhaps Iran does not want the election of any MPs Henri Helou, Suleiman Franjieh, or Michel Aoun as president.”
“It is strange that Khomeini's son is unwanted, but this is democracy in its highest form in the Islamic Republic,” he added sarcastically.
“At this rate, what is the authority that chooses – pardon, I mean elects - the president in Lebanon?” wondered the MP.
Perhaps it does not want to elect any of the Lebanese candidates, he noted, “but this is also a democratic choice based on the Iranian way.”
Hassan Khomeini, a 43-year-old cleric with close ties to reformists, was not verified as having sufficient religious competence by the Guardian Council, his son Ahmad said on his Instagram account, despite "testimony from dozens of religious authorities".