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Al-Nusra Murders Dozens of Free Syrian Army Rebels, Taking Base 46 West of Aleppo

Dozens dead as Nusra takes US-backed Syria rebel base: activists

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People inspect the damage at a site hit by what residents said were two mortar shells fired by rebel fighters towards Aleppo’s al-Azizieh neighborhood, a government-controlled area February 26, 2015. REUTERS/George Ourfalian
Agence France Presse

BEIRUT: Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate on Saturday drove U.S.-backed rebels out of a strategic northern military base in fierce fighting that left dozens dead, activists said.

At least 29 fighters from the Western-armed Hazm movement were killed along with six Nusra Front jihadis, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It said fierce fighting had broken out on Friday night for Base 46, west of the city of Aleppo.

“Al-Nusra captured Base 46,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Britain-based Observatory.

Base 46 is a sprawling military compound that rebel fighters seized in November 2012 from Syrian army troops.

In a statement, residents in the nearby rebel-held village of Atareb criticised the attack on the base and appealed to Nusra to instead fight the “infidel regime and its allies.”

The offensive came a month after Nusra — Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria — expelled Hazm from Regiment 111, another base they had taken from Syrian army forces.

Hazm is mainly present in northern Syria. Last year, it was the first to receive U.S.-made anti-tank missiles from its Western backers.

It is one of a number rebel groups that the United States classes as “moderate.” They are loosely branded as the Free Syrian Army.

Someone Is Trying To Use Nemptsov’s Killing To Jumpstart A New Revolution In Moscow

[(SEE:  Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov killed in the center of Moscow) What did it take for American news outlets to jump to this way too obvious conclusion, 5 or 6 hours? (SEE:  West Calls On Russia For Independent Probe Of Nemtsov’s Murder)]

Russian investigators: Nemtsov killing may be provocation

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By JIM HEINTZ Associated Press

Russian police investigate the the body of Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister and opposition leader at Red Square with St. Basil Cathidral in the background in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. Russia's Interior Ministry says Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition figure and former deputy prime minister, has been shot and killed near the Kremlin. Nemtsov, a sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was killed early Saturday. His death comes just a day before a major opposition rally in Moscow.(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Russian police investigate the the body of Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister and opposition leader at Red Square with St. Basil Cathidral in the background in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. Russia’s Interior Ministry says Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition figure and former deputy prime minister, has been shot and killed near the Kremlin. Nemtsov, a sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was killed early Saturday. His death comes just a day before a major opposition rally in Moscow.(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin) The Associated Press

 

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s top investigative body says it is looking into several possible motives for the killing of prominent opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, including an attempt to destabilize the state, Islamic extremism, the Ukraine conflict and his personal life.

A statement from the body, the Investigative Committee, did not address the possibility seen as likely by many of Nemtsov’s supporters — that he was killed for being one of President Vladimir Putin’s most adamant and visible critics.

The 55-year-old Nemtsov was gunned down early Saturday as he walked on a bridge near the Kremlin with a female companion.

The committee said it was looking into whether he had been killed as a “sacrificial victim for those who do not shun any method for achieving their political goals.”

French Lawmaker–Assad Decries ‘Isolation’ in Face of Extremism

French Lawmaker: Assad Decries ‘Isolation’ in Face of Extremism

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W460

Syrian leader Bashar Assad no longer wants to “remain isolated in the face of the terrorist threat”, one of the French lawmakers who met him in Damascus on a much-decried private trip said Friday.

Senator Francois Zocchetto was one of several lawmakers who travelled to the Syrian capital and met with high-ranking officials including Assad on Wednesday.

The visit drew an angry response from the French government, which cut diplomatic ties with Damascus in 2012.

“Bashar Assad is reserved, he does not easily confide in people,” Zocchetto told Radio Classique.

“He said he expected to no longer remain isolated in the face of the terrorist threat.”

The trip was feted by Syrian media as reflecting rising sentiment within Western countries that their governments should re-engage with Assad to try and resolve the four-year conflict and rein in the radical Islamic State (IS) group, which controls swathes of the country.

But both French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the lawmakers’ talks with Assad, whom they described as a “dictator” and “butcher.”

“(They) have taken it upon themselves to meet with a dictator who is the cause of one of the worst civil wars of recent years,” Hollande told reporters during a visit to the Philippines.

Zocchetto said both the head of the Senate and its foreign affairs commission were made aware of the private trip.

He added that one of the other lawmakers on the visit — Gerard Bapt from the ruling Socialist party, who did not attend the talks with Assad — had also informed the presidency and the foreign ministry.

“We do not carry an official message from the French government,” Zocchetto said.

“It’s hard to say that we want to fight against terrorism in France and ignore what is going on in Syria.

“This secular state could disappear tomorrow… because right now there is no longer any moderate Syrian opposition.”

Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov killed in the center of Moscow

Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov killed in the center of Moscow

Russia-Today

Boris Nemtsov (RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok)

Boris Nemtsov (RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok)

Famous Russian politician Boris Nemtsov has been shot dead in the center of Moscow, according to Tass news agency.

“Boris Nemtsov was shot four times in the center of Moscow at Vasilyevsky spusk. Investigation team is working at the scene,” Tass reports siting police sources.

Nemtsov’s colleague has confirmed his death.