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Kurds, Arab forces recapture Syrian air base, backed by Russian airstrikes

© twitter.com
Artillery striking Minnigh Air base
Kurdish and Arab forces backed by Russian air strikes captured a strategic air base and the adjacent town in northern Syria from rival anti-government factions, a monitoring group said Thursday.

The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and Arab allies on Wednesday night expelled Islamist and other rebel fighters from Minnigh air base and the adjacent town, north of Syria's second city Aleppo, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "The takeover of Minnigh air base and the adjacent town overnight was backed by at least 30 Russian air strikes," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. "There's some coordination between the Kurds and the Russians in Afrin region," he told AFP.

The advance comes after days of fierce clashes that saw YPG forces advance east from the Kurdish stronghold of Afrin and take over a series of villages before reaching Minnigh. "With the defeat at Minnigh, Islamist fighters lost the only military airport they held in Aleppo province," Abdel Rahman said earlier. "Minnigh airport lies between two key roads that lead from Aleppo city to Azaz" to the north, giving Kurdish fighters a strategic launching pad for offensives against jihadists further east," he said.

Government forces lost control of the Minnigh airport in August 2013, two years after the uprising in Syria first erupted. Rebel groups are facing a dual advance by both Kurdish forces coming from the west and regime troops -- backed by a barrage of Russian air strikes -- pressing an offensive north from Aleppo city.

More than 500 people have been killed since the government began its Aleppo assault on February 1, the Observatory said Wednesday. YPG forces regularly clash with Islamist and jihadist fighters in northern Syria, but its most active front is further east against the Islamic State jihadist group. Arab rebel groups have accused Kurdish fighters of ethnically cleansing towns to carve out autonomous Kurdish territories, a claim the YPG has fiercely denied.

More than 260,000 people have been killed and half the population displaced in Syria's complex, multi-front war over the past five years.

Stormtrooper

George Soros: A psychopath's psychopath

© Charles Platiau / Reuters
Georges Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management
According to Soros, Russia's strategy is to "avoid collapse by making the EU implode first - by exacerbating the migration crisis and stoking Islamophobia".

On February 11, the Guardian ran an article by George Soros which had run a day earlier here entitled "Putin is a bigger threat to Europe's existence than Isis."

After a quick check of my vital signs, I confirmed that I was indeed awake and the article was real and in the Guardian not The Onion. Before I look at the tissue of untruths which make up the substance of Soros' article, a few general words about psychopaths are in order.

Comment: For more on the problem of psychopathy see : Ponerology 101: Lobaczewski and the origins of Political Ponerology


Footprints

Saudi, UAE troops unlikely effective against ISIS in Syria, unless...

© www.arabnews.com
UAE ready to fight in Syria if...
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates may not have the capabilities to contribute significantly to the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), two U.S. intelligence chiefs testified Tuesday. "I do not assess that the Saudi ground forces would have ... the capacity to take this fight on," Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Hill reported.

"The Emiratis, very capable, acquitted themselves well in Yemen," Stewart added. "Whether they have the capacity to do both Yemen and something in Iraq-Syria is questionable for me," Stewart said. "I think they're doing extremely well in Yemen, but their capacity to do more is pretty limited."

Stewart and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Tuesday that while Saudi Arabia and the UAE's offers are welcome, questions linger over whether either country's troops would be effective. "I certainly appreciate and value the Saudi willingness to engage on the ground, I think that would be a challenge for them if they try to take that on," Clapper said.

The Obama administration has long sought more help from coalition partners, particularly the Sunni Arab countries U.S. officials feel could better maintain stability after the defeat of ISIS. Ahead of this week's meeting in Brussels of defense ministers from the entire coalition fighting ISIS, Saudi Arabia and the UAE said they'd be willing to send ground troops to Syria.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia made their offers contingent upon U.S. leadership. Clapper said he interpreted that condition as meaning the countries want the Pentagon's command and control capability. Stewart, however, said he saw that prerequisite as a request for more U.S. ground troops. "I think the idea is how do we get more U.S. skin in the game," Stewart said.

Comment: So, are things like they seem on the surface or is there a grand manipulation by the US at hand? The assessment (which may be legitimate) of Saudi and UAE ground troops' incapacity to 'do the job' may be the US creating an open door for its own ground campaign. Syria and Iraq...considerably bypassed in this assessment...will resist ground incursions into their territories, and, without permission of the governments, to do so will be a violation of International Law, surely to bring Russia to action and a line sadly crossed.


Chalkboard

Russia is pounding ISIS, even according to U.S. propaganda ministry


"Let's see here. The U.S. is 10 times more awesome than Russia, therefore only 10% of Russian airstrikes can be effective. Right?"
How a U.S. propaganda line dissolves into embarrassment.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said at a briefing on Wednesday that at most, only 10% of Russian strikes are hitting the terrorist group ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, and Daesh) in Syria.
---
In a report posted Thursday on its website, the [Russian Ministry of Defense] noted that its jets flew 510 combat sorties and hit 1,888 "terrorist objects" in Syria. The previous week's report claimed 464 sorties that hit a total of 1,354 "terrorist objects."

Daily reports from the U.S. military for the same period indicate a much lower level of activity: 16 targets struck in Syria.
---
x * 16 = 1,888 * 0.1
x ~= 12

Comment: In other words, comparing 'successful' Russian airstrikes (according to the U.S.) to U.S. airstrikes (according to the U.S.), Russia is pounding ISIS 12 times harder than the U.S. In reality, that number is probably closer to 150 times harder. That's assuming the U.S. is even remotely successful in targeting ISIS.


Star of David

Meet terrorist Haggai Segal and his deranged sons, Israel's journalists

© Nir Keidar
Haggai Segal in 2011

Translation of the tweet above: Prediction: In 30 years Amiram Ben Uliel is a respected newspaper editor in Israel. Chaim Levinson is a reporter for the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz. His beat is the West Bank.
Haggai Segal is a respected Israeli journalist. He is editor of the right-wing national religious newspaper, Makor Rishon. In 1984, Segal admitted to planting two bombs which were directed at two West Bank mayors. Segal, who was a West Bank settler in his 20s was convicted of causing grievous harm and belonging to a Jewish terrorist organization, which operated in the West Bank and Jerusalem. He received a five-year sentence, of which he served two.

Amiram Ben Uliel, a young religious Israeli settler in his 20s, is currently in an Israeli prison, awaiting trial for throwing a bomb into a home in the West Bank village of Duma which killed three members of the family who lived there. It is alleged that he is part of a Jewish terrorist organization which operates in Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem.
I first became aware of Haggai Segal about eight months ago after noticing a sniping tweet (similar to the one above) that was sent about him by another Israeli journalist to the Twitter feed of his son, the well-known TV reporter, Amit Segal. About a month ago, my curiosity about the elder Segal led me to obtain a copy of his book about the Jewish Underground. I also followed him on Twitter until a response I sent, referring to his past crimes, led Segal to block me. When reading his twitter feed, which was not all that active, I was surprised that even journalists from so-called left-wing outlets, like Barak Ravid, treated him with great respect and affection. What follows is some of what I learned about Israel's terrorist journalist.

In 1984 Haggai Segal was convicted of belonging to a terrorist organization, causing grievous harm, and possessing illegal firearms. Of the two bombs he planted, one blew off the foot of Karim Khalaf, the then mayor of Ramallah. A second, which was intended for the mayor of el Bireh, was discovered, but exploded when it was being deactivated, permanently blinding Suleiman Hirbawi, a Druze member of the Israeli Border Police.

The Jewish Underground, as Segal's gang came to be known, was also responsible for blowing off both legs of the mayor of Nablus, Bassam Shakaa. They attacked the Islamic College in Hebron, randomly killing three students and injuring 33 others. The Underground devoted much effort to developing a plan and stockpiling weapons, some stolen from the army, in a plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock. They hoped that destroying the holy Muslim shrine would somehow inspire Israel to rebuild a Jewish Temple in its stead. These are just the crimes we know about this gang carrying out over the course of at least five years of operation.

Comment: See also: The Most Dangerous Cult in The World!


Flashlight

Israel's destruction of Hamas tunnels under Gaza, $250M since 2004

© www.nowtheendbegins.com
Netanyahu's tunnel vision.
Israel has spent around one billion shekels ($250 million) on countering Hamas tunnel-building under the Israeli-Gaza border since 2004, according to an Israeli TV report. The money went toward things like developing technology for the discovery of the tunnels, as well as other "operational costs," the Times of Israel quoted Channel 2 as saying. IDF officials told the channel that locating and destroying the tunnels was a key priority for the Israeli forces.

According to the IDF, a lot of the work has been carried out in secrecy. It has also been reported that the US will invest $120 million into Israel's tunnel-detection technologies, along with a further $120 million from Israel. Although the current report states that Israel worked to destroy the tunnels since 2004, it was not until 2005 that the IDF left the Gaza Strip and Israel relocated some 8,000 of its residents living there. Two years after that, the Palestinian movement Hamas took control of the Strip.


Comment: The "relocation of 8000 residents" was due to more than tunnel entrances that met with residential destruction. Tunnels are only one facet of this forced Palestinian migration and "relocation" does not assume accommodations nor amenities of any kind. Tunnels are a pretext for piecemeal demolitions to extend a buffer zone for control over Gaza. It is despicable that the US is helping to fund these activities.


Comment: See also: Egypt floods Gaza tunnels on Tel Aviv's request


Dollar

The morally bankrupt Clintons earned over $3.5 million in paid addresses to pro-Israel organizations

Bill and Hillary Clinton are under increasing scrutiny from the mainstream press over paid speeches they have given to big banks in exchange for millions of dollars.According to CNN, the couple has earned a total of $153 million in lecture fees from companies and organizations affiliated with the financial industry.

But the media has been conspicuously silent about the large sums the Clintons have raked in from paid addresses to pro-Israel organizations, including the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which directly participates in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Bedouin citizens of Israel. An evaluation of Hillary Clinton's public disclosures from 2001 to 2015 shows that she and Bill, and their daughter, Chelsea, have earned roughly $4 million in speaking fees from pro-Israel organizations, including JNF and organizations allied with the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The vast majority of these documented payments—$3,599,999—have gone toward the Clintons' personal income, and up to $450,000 has been funneled into the Clinton Foundation.

Comment: The Clintons' drive for more money and power show their lack of conscience; they have no problems striking a Faustian bargain with Israel.


Bomb

Hot for war: Turkey shells Kurdish targets in northern Syria

© Google Maps
Turkey's army has shelled Kurdish militia targets near the city of Azaz in northwest Syria, Reuters reports, citing a source in the Turkish government.

"The Turkish Armed Forces fired shells at PYD positions in the Azaz area," the source said, referring to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Ankara views as a terrorist group.

A Kurdish official confirmed to Reuters that the shelling targeted the Menagh air base, which is located south of Azaz in the Aleppo Governorate.

According to the official, the base was captured by the Jaysh al-Thuwwar rebel group, which is an ally of the PYD and a member of the Syria Democratic Forces alliance.

Snakes in Suits

Isn't that special: Carter says UK must renew Trident to keep 'special relationship' with US

© Gary Cameron / Reuters
The UK has to renew its submarine-borne Trident nuclear weapons system if London wants to maintain its "special relationship" with Washington, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

It's the nuclear subs that allow Britain to "continue to play that outsized role on the global stage that it does because of its moral standing and its historical standing," Carter was cited as saying by the BBC.

"It's important that the military power matches that standing and so we're very supportive of it," he said.

Comment: Carter sure makes the US seem like the ones pulling Britain's strings to influence policies.


Info

President al-Assad interviewed by AFP on Syrian and regional developments

© AFP
President Bashar al-Assad gave the following interview to AFP News Agency on the developments in Syria and the region:

Journalist: Mr. President, we would like to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions in these crucial moments in the history of Syria and the region.

Comment: These AFP reporters' questions were full of western propaganda. Assad replied in an intelligent manner completely opposite of the West's characterizations of him.